36232Re: [S-R] Slovaks' genealogy interviews: A rule of thumb?
- Jul 7, 2013Tonya,
Thanks for the means and ways you have to do your research. It shows
that genealogy is not just about "bean counting", as one member put it. My
approach has been that the "bones" of genealogy is the family trees the
research creates. But the "flesh" is those stories, pictures, documents and
visits to Slovakia that bring the trees to life. Excellent work you and your
family have done.
From: Tonya Harmon
Sent: Sunday, July 07, 2013 6:37 PM
Subject: Re: [S-R] Slovaks' genealogy interviews: A rule of thumb?
I thought I would chime in with my experience regarding religion (my Slovak
family is Protestant) and genealogy research and relatives in Slovakia. My
family seems to be very different than what's been described by others.
Over the last 150 years at least, my family has actively researched and
collected information about the family. They have also made a point of
actively keeping in touch. Even during WWI, II and through communism, my
family kept in contact with relatives in Slovakia, Vojvodina, Canada, the
US, Argentina and Australia. A Shuster family member, a professor, in the
1950's documented the family tree back to the 1700's when the Suster family
was first sent to Vojvodina by Queen Maria Teresa. My dad still has the
huge carefully calligraphed tree that's the size of a car windshield.
We've also got many photographs dating as far back as 1869 that were kept
by my great great grandfather, then his daughter, then my grandfather, then
father and now me. We've been able to identify most people in the pictures.
My Andel family in Dolny Kubin was the same at taking and keeping photos,
so we've got hundreds.
I grew up hearing the oral history of my family, about my great grandfather
in WWI as a POW and member of the Czech and Slovak Legion, and others about
gypsies stealing the family's horses in 1906, and a great uncle feeding a
barking dog hot paprika once. Because my family went to visit relatives
from the 1960's on, there are many stories about WWII. The Susters were
partisans, blowing up Nazi bunkers, and some were caught by the Hungarian
Army and sent to concentration camps. I spent a few years writing all the
stories down, and interviewing neighbors, friends and relatives.
We've got many Slovak cookbooks, handwritten and purchased, that were owned
by my great grandmother and grandmother, and in them I found handwritten
letters from the 1920's and '30s. Since my great grandmother died in 1941
decades before I was born, it's wonderful to hear her voice through the
letters. Other relatives have given me the original birth certificates
created for all Suster family members in the 1930's, when they changed the
spelling briefly to Schuster, in order to distinguish themselves from
Jewish people, I guess. My great grandmother's grave has the Schuster
spelling. I've got the original offer letter from the church to a relative
asking him to be the minister in return for the annual salary of 12
chickens and a goat. My great aunt went to high school in the early 1900's,
and I've traced back to her school and the people in it. She was one of
only 2 females at school, and went to school with Fulla and other famous
Slovak artists and writers of the 20th century. Fulla's grandson actually
wrote to me when he found my blog. My great grandfather went before her,
and lived with *Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav for a time.*
I found these things out in a number of ways:
1. I tracked down every person I could who immigrated to Canada in 1938
from the same small town of Pivnica in Vojvodina. I was lucky enough to
have a family photo of the whole gang of about 35 people who traveled
together by train and then boat, and then I started looking them up.
Miraculously, some are still alive today, in their late 90's. I went to
visit them, asked them to tell me their stories of coming to Canada, and of
life in Pivnica. I asked to see their photographs, and took pictures of
2. I blogged about the stories and the names, and people have started to
contact me from all over the world who are related or who were from the
same town. I've met some very interesting people and some have become good
friends. I've collected their stories and pictures too.
3. I tracked down a local historian of the town through his website that he
maintains on the history of the place. I translated what he wrote, and he
actually had stories of the Suster family from the early 1800s, including
pictures of their houses. He wrote a book on the village a few years ago,
in Slovak only, and is busy updating it with all the new people and stories
I've tracked down since. He sent me a church record of Milan Stefanik
signing in as a guest to the wedding of his brother Igor to a Suster girl
in Pivnica in 1906.
4. I am lucky to have a few history buffs on both the Suster and Andel
sides of the family who still live in the same Slovak villages, and they've
provided a wealth of information. They've collected military records,
church records, journals, photos and more. We trade pictures and new
discoveries every month. On the Andel side, I've visited the church my
grandparents were married in and had a private tour of the wooden church,
and heard the stories of how Beethoven used to visit and play there. Those
kinds of records are being dug up by researchers who are going through the
church archives dating back over 300 years. My curiosity in this link to
Beethoven lead me to Google his name and that time and place together, and
I actually found a book written nearly 100 years ago, in English, about his
lifelong friendship with the church founder's son. I bought the only copy,
found online in Paris. I also found letters written between the two of
them on line, and a piece of music Beethoven wrote for him as a joke, "Duet
with Two Eyeglasses" (they were both nearsighted).
5. I went to visit the grave sites in Slovakia and Vojvodina and took
pictures of every name that sounded familiar. I've been slowly cross
walking these to the family tree.
6. I visited local museums and gave family names, and asked if there were
records on them. At the museum for Pavol O.H. in Dolny Kubin, I found a
golden leaf wreath with the names of each Slovak village in Vojvodina,
including Pivnica, dedicated to him through my great grandfather. I'm sure
there is more to discover at the school across the street where he and my
great aunt went to high school - haven't visited there yet.
7. I visited the homes were my relatives used to live and asked to go
inside, asked questions. One had found an old tax bill behind a piece of
furniture from 100 years ago. I also visited lots of old people,
neighbors, churches and asked and asked and asked. It was amazing what I
learned - more names, stories, addresses, photos.
My interest in all of this family history started about 5 years ago when a
photo of a plane crash that my grandfather had kept since 1919, peeked my
interest. Curious, I finally figured out that it was the crash scene of
Milan Stefanik, after Googling a bit. But to this day, I still haven't
figured out why my grandfather had kept the picture, and whether his
father, an officer in the military at the time, had anything to do with it.
So the hunt continues...
On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 10:50 PM, htcstech <htcstech@...> wrote:
> Michael (MGMojher) recently wrote:
> "During my six trips I discovered that genealogy for most Slovaks is
> limited to those relatives they met in person. So it was rare to get
> I too found the same thing as it was explained to me that they only knew
> relations that they met or otherwise spoken about.
> The strangest and most telling quote was from the matriarch of my family
> line who said:
> "There are lots of Marafkos, but none of them are our relatives."
> And yet, their neighbour living behind them who was their friend - was
> a Marafko but they never considered him to be a relative, even though I
> could prove to them that this was not the case. There were many instances
> of this.
> This very attitude or perception was quite ingrained and actually stopped
> me from finding and interviewing 'non-relative' Marafkos.
> For those that have visited, is this a common place problem?
> Peter M.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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