Re: [S-R] Re: Holiday Greetings/Other Stories
Per your request for other stories; mine combines both the Carpathian Mountains and immigration.
My paternal ancestral villages of Plavnica and Hromos are 57 km / 34.2 miles from Tatranska Lomnica at the eastern end of the High Tatras.
From 1976 when my Mother visited her relatives in Slovakia I heard her stories of how beautiful the High Tatras were. In 2000 when I was planning my first trip to Slovakia I contacted a cousin who had gone in 1998 to visit relatives in Plavnica. The one thing she said that struck me was, "I don't understand why our relatives left, it is so beautiful there." For my wife and I Yosemite National Park is in our "back yard", we a been there over a hundred times. So I was wondering just how the High Tatras would compare.
My first view of the High Tatras was somewhat unique. We were touring Lubovniansky hrad in Stara Lubovna. On the castle ramparts we were looking out the cannon portals at the countryside. From one the High Tatras could be seen. In May they were still snowcapped and their rugged beauty such a contrast it seemed you could almost touch them since the air was so clear. The High Tatras were spectacular the first time I saw them. The next day when we drove to them it was equally breathtaking. As we came out of Vel'ka Lomnica the flatness Popradska Kotlina landscape made it seem as if the High Tatras just exploded upwards.
On each of my five trips to Slovakia the different views of the High Tatras is something I always remember. I now make sure I always sit on the left side of the plane when I'm flying to Kocise so I can see the High Tatras and the land of my Goral ancestors.
I now understand why my cousin questioned why our ancestors had come to America in the early 1890's. It wasn't until I read Slovak history that I understood the circumstances that made over half a million Slovaks immigrate to the United States from 1880 to 1914. For those of us whose ancestors were from the Hungarian counties of Zemplin, Germer, Saris and Abov the precursor event was the Eastern Slovak Peasant Uprising in the summer of 1831. The peasant class became aware that serfdom was an anachronism. The political, social, religious and economic ferment of the era brought about need and opportunity for the great emigration for the next generation.
After many years I was able to put together the story of how my family participated in this period of emigration. The first piece of the puzzle was the last to be found. On the my great-grandfather's ship's manifest on coming to the United States in 1905 he was asked if he had been to the United States before. He answered yes. He said he was in Ridgeway, New York from 1883 to 1886. This was the first time I had ever know about this. It seem to explain how it was possible that four of his children were able to afford to come to the United States within a year in 1893. In 1905 when most people were arriving with in the United States with less than $20 in their pockets, great-grandfather declared that he had $500. It would appear that he had liquidated all he owned in Hromos. On subsequent trips to Slovakia I learned from relatives there that our family had a history of being temporary emigrants to the United States. Like my great-grandfather most returned with enough money to buy land and move themselves up in the social order. Some more than once. My great mystery is why great-grandfather decided to immigrate back to the United States in 1905 with great-grandmother. The left three younger children there. He died here in 1906. I have not found great-grandmother's death here or in Hromos. In the 1910 Census she is with my grandfather. In the 1920 she isn't. The search goes on.
----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Tarkulich
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2007 4:20 AM
Subject: RE: [S-R] Re: Holiday Greetings
I have only driven through the Tatras. When you are destined to see your
living, breathing relatives, it becomes difficult to take a diversion like
For my GP's, they left out of desperation while in their late teen-age
years. The land could not support the numbers the family had grown to and
starvation was prevalent.
My GF's cousins, all single males (or with wives in then-Hungary), worked in
a glass factory in Corning NY. All eventually returned home. The pull must
have been strong. My GF married a girl from a nearby village back home, had
kids, and as they say, one thing led to another. Who had the "better" life?
It's hard to say, depends on how you measure things. Obviously my GF and
his cousins had differing opinions on the matter. It is far too easy for
us, in our comfortable American lives to go back and draw sudden conclusions
that seem so "obvious."
I can however testify first-hand that a second wave of immigration from our
ancestral has begin. Within the EU constructs, Slovakia citizens are free
to leave and gain employment anywhere in the EU without the need for papers
or visas. Again, it seems to be for economic and opportunistic reasons.
The feelings are the same - sad to leave, but left with no reasonable
alternative. The good news this time is that travel back to their lands is
I would be interested in hearing the stories of others.
From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of david1law@...
Sent: Tuesday, December 25, 2007 11:51 PM
Subject: Re: [S-R] Re: Holiday Greetings
I sometimes think similar thoughts. My father told me that the two things he
remembered his mother, my my grandmother, Veronika Hronec, telling him was
about the Tatra Mountains and the rich folks that would come to the spas /
sanitariums. My grandmother had been born in the well-known resort of
Smokovec, where both her father and her great grandfather had been
great, great, great grandfather Jan Hronec had been one of the early
mountain climbing guides in the High Tatras, I believe that you are right
being hard to leave the beautiful mountains and highlands of Slovakia for
work in factories, etc in the U.S. From what I can gather, our ancestors
to find a better living in the U.S. Two of my grandfathers' brothers came
the U.S. and worked for some years to earn money, and then returned to
Slovakia. Did you get a chance to hike any part of the High Tatras? I
always loved mountains, and hope some day to hike in the High Tatras and
of the Carpathian Mountains.
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