Sojourn in Slovakia: The Sequel: Day 5: Research in the Archives and Cemetery

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It was time to depart Vranov and begin the second half of my trip.  My guide/translator, Michal Razus, drove to Vranov to pick me up and drive me to Presov.

After saying farewell to my cousins, Robert and Renata, Michal and I headed to the archives in Vranov. I was on a mission to see if I could find a birth record for my grandmother’s brother, Mihaly Fenscak.  We spent about two hours there without any luck.  I did find a register of birth for my Grandpap Alzo’s brother, Michal.  The archive staff was a bit challenging to deal with.  There were a ton of forms to complete and sign.  I had to show them my passport.  We had to buy stamps to pay the fee to look at the records and for the copy that I requested.  They asked that I stay there while Michal went to the post office to get the stamps. I guess they thought we might not pay.  I thought I might be asked to leave a DNA sample next (kidding).  Once we finished there we drove to Nizny Hrabovec to visit the town clerk to get a few more certificates for some of my Alzo ancestors.  In contrast, the secretary there was extremely nice and helpful.  

For anyone hoping to do your own research in Slovak archives, you must be prepared–every place has different rules and you may be disappointed.  It GREATLY helps to have a researcher with you who speaks the language and knows the practices and policies of the archives.  Michal Razus did a wonderful job of helping me look for and obtain records as well as communicating with the staff.  

Next, Michal drove me back to Michalovce so I could visit the burial place of Dr. Jan Mastiliak because we did not have time to do so on Monday.  We had no trouble finding the cemetery.  Once there, Michal asked one of the workers if he knew what section the grave was located in and he took us there and I took some photographs.

Then it was time for Michal to drive me to Presov and Saris Park where I would be staying that night.  The hot and humid weather continued.  I had dinner in the Saris Park restaurant with the Vavrek family (our gracious hosts during the 2010 trip).  It was great to see them again and I got to have pirohy (cottage cheese ones like my grandma used to make!).  It was a wonderful evening.  After a long day, I was pretty tired so headed up to my room and put the lights out early.  The next day I would be heading to the Carpathian mountains and to my grandfather’s village!  It was very hot in my room despite the fan (again, no AC) and I was excited about the next day so wasn’t sure I’d get much sleep….

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo
Copyright 2012, Lisa A. Alzo
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