Sunday, July 8, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?, Part 1

There is a television show in the states called Who Do You Think You Are, where they take a celebrity and help them to trace their roots and find information about their genealogy. I had two days like this on our journey from Poland to Slovakia.  The original intention of our trip to Poland was to hope to find some clues about my mother’s parents and her family members but we had no clues and all leads came to a dead end. I changed my genealogy focus to finding some information about my dad’s mom, who was born in Slovakia.
On an off chance, I found a few people with her surname in the town of Orkucany and I wrote to them. Sure enough, they are my cousins and they started writing to me and we decided a meeting was in order. I have only known about these families for a few months but when we met it was like we had known each other all our lives.
There are three men who are my dad’s first cousins who still live in the same area and even on the same street where my dad’s uncles lived. Luckily, Jozef, Jr., who is the son of my dad’s cousin, spoke very good English. He was our interpreter and tour guide for two days.

Jozef and his dad drove 3 hours to Zakopane to pick us up at the hotel and then drove us back through the beautiful country of Slovakia. I started crying when I met them. I really could not believe I was meeting these cousins that my dad never knew.  I was impressed by the open spaces and farmland of Slovakia and getting more and more excited to see where my grandmother had lived her first 20 years of life before coming to America in 1920, as a mail order bride.
After a brief stop at one of the museums in the Sabinov area that showed houses from a typical village in the area (1800's-1950)


and a lunch stop at a restaurant for local specialty foods, 


Jozef took us to our hotel where we could shower and get ready to meet the family. I was probably the hottest I have ever been. The weather was unbearably hot and humid, so this rest to refresh was a welcome stop. 
When we arrived at Jozef, Sr.’s home I was overwhelmed with the 8-10 people who were already waiting for us who had brought photos of their family member who were one of the 9 siblings of my grandmother. As we were going through the photos one of them had a photo of Paul and I from our wedding day! I guess my grandmother must have sent it to them. That was so funny. They did not know it was I until I told them!
As we sat in the backyard and talked as fast as Jozef, Jr. could interpret, more and more people started arriving and soon there were almost 20 people, all related to me, in the backyard!

there were several camera shy people, not in this photo

They brought out the local spirit, Slivovica, along with beer, wine, water and sodas.

And then they brought out a tray of home made pastries that made me cry again! The same kolachke and jam filled pastries that my grandmother made and later taught my mom to make.


We walked to the local family cemetery plot where I saw the graves of my great-grandparents and then we walked passed what remains of the house my great-grandfather built in 1878.



After a few hours of talking, most of the people went home and it was just Jozef and his immediate family. His mom made us a wonderful dinner of potato cakes and chicken stew with a yummy salad  and we talked the rest of the night.



In the next installment, I will tell you what I learned about my grandmother.



Thanks for stopping by,

"di"

20 comments:

Cindy said...

How sweet! I bet you had a great time and can't wait o tell your immediate family all about it.

Kati from Kati's Quilting said...

Di, your story made me cry :) My grandparents are also from Slovakia ans it was so nice to read your family history. I can also make the beigels on one of the pictures (the walnut and poppy rolls) and there's a Hungarian wine (Tokaji) on the booze picture :))) I'm glad you're having a great time! Thanks for sharing the pictures, it was so nice to see the Slovakian country side.

Geri - eatpaintlearn.com said...

It sounds like it was very emotional for you. I'm glad you were able to connect with them.

Katie @SwimBikeQuilt said...

This is so cool! Can't wait to hear more.

Flying Blind... said...

Amazing - I am so happy that it turned out beyond expectations! Did you take enough baseball caps!?

Carla said...

So happy for you Diane. What a blessing to be able to connect with distant family who are no longer distant : )

Jennie P. said...

This was so interesting and fun to read. Can't wait to hear more too. Did your mother teach you to make the pastries as well? It looked delish!

Patchwork and Play said...

I love that they had a copy of your wedding photo! They knew you all along!! The photo mosaic of Sabinov is beautiful!

Betty said...

Thank you so much for sharing this trip with us - it's been remarkable!

Cindy said...

Amazing.

Leanne said...

Well if you had any doubt, that wedding picture ended it. Your grandmother must have loved you very much to send your picture home to people were not likely to ever meet you. Wow.

needle and nest said...

What a wonderful story and I can't wait to read more! I love that your family knew about you long before you ever met them. Your grandmother was obviously very proud of you!

Angie said...

I am so glad you are having this wonderful experience. My great parents were born in Poland and I've had so much trouble finding information about family there.

susan said...

Oh Di, this post made me cry is was so lovely. I can just imagine what the day did for you. Thrilled that it went so well.

Linda Coleman said...

what a great trip for you Diane, to meet family you didn't know and to see where part of your family came from. Can't wait for the next installment

**nicke... said...

such a beautiful story di! i loved reading it, and i cried all the way through! i am such a sap!

mahoo said...

What a wonderful gift, to bask in the love of family you didn't know you had! It truly is a small world.

Dana - Old Red Barn Co. said...

I'm a little misty eyed sitting here reading . . . and re-reading cause I didn't want to miss a thing . . . you post. Sounds like meeting them exceeded your wildest imagination. And those kolaches look to die for!

LuLu said...

Wow, that is truly amazing! What a wonderful opportunity. I would be crying too!

Katy Cameron said...

So glad you were able to hook up with so many family members, it looks like a great time :o)