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,