Friday, June 22, 2012
We arrived in Podolínec and went straight to the records office to see if we could find any records for my great-grandparents, or for my grandfather’s sister. I knew her married name (from a receipt for money my grandfather sent to her in Podolínec from America in 1927).
|Records Office in Podolínec, Slovakia
Michal told them who we were looking for and the dates (it sure was helpful to have someone who could communicate with the clerks with me!). After a few minutes of looking through the record books, we had success. My grandfather’s sister’s (Katarina’s) marriage record (1919) to Michal Hotary (a widower who had children), and also my great-grandmother’s death certificate (she died in 1927).
But still no record of my great-grandfather’s death (still a mystery). The clerk asked if we could come back at noon for the certificate copies–she would prepare them for us. The other office clerk was helping us look for registrations of burials in the cemetery and when she heard one of the names we were searching for, she said she knew the family and could take us to meet someone. We walked across the street and down the road a bit to a row of houses and knocked on the door. A woman answered, and when Michal told her who I was and why I was there she told us to wait a few minutes. She came back out with a handwritten family tree that included my grandmother’s sister! She worked on it with her cousin and said she could introduce me. We walked a short distance and the cousin was there to greet us.
|My grandfather’s sister on the family tree from Podolínec
I had a lovely visit and thanks to my Flip-Pal scanner I was able to scan many old photographs they had, while Michal translated the information for me. V. and Z. took us to the cemetery and showed us where their fathers are buried and told us that my grandfather’s sister is buried in the Czech Republic (she also had children from a previous marriage). They also showed me the house where my grandmother’s sister lived with Mr. Hotary. (We took a photograph together in front of the house but to respect my cousins’ privacy I am not sharing these publicly). But, I felt like I’d won the family history lottery. Talk about “Who Do You Think You Are?” moments. I finally had one–on the last day of my visit! We said we would keep in touch and V. and I have followed up via e-mail.
Soon it was time to go back to see the clerk to pick up the records and then drive back to Kosice where I would be staying the night before my departure back to the U.S.
Photos by Lisa A. Alzo
Copyright 2012, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved