T A T R A A R E A R E S E A R C H G R O U P
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Newsletter for February 2008
Ahojte (welcome) TARG members! It's hard to believe this is the 87th issue of this e-newsletter I have done. Though time-consuming, I am glad to do it. Please feel free to read back issues. They are all here on the TARG website and there is some very good information there to help you.
So very much is going on related to genealogy, and also in our Tatra Area Research Group's sphere, I can hardly keep ahead of it! So much to cover -- let's get straight to it!
-- Paul K. Bingham
1. TARG's official website: www.e-TARG.org!
2. Helene B. Cincebeaux's new 2008 Treasure Tours Schedule is out! Go to her website at: www.Our-Slovakia.com!
3. FT-DNA is offering a promotion to transfer and/or upgrade DNA results: www.familytreedna.com/PDF/PROMO_GAP.pdf (Thanks to Karen Melis for this link)
4. New website with a map feature to let you look for surname occurances in Poland: http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/ (Thanks to Lucjan Soltys for this link.)
5. Here's a WWII Memorial website where you can register your relatives who were in WWII, including pictures, if you want. http://www.wwiimemorial.com/default.asp?page=home.asp (Thanks to Judy Clauss for this link.)
---Hi Paul, Are the Roman Catholic "Second Writings" located at Spisska Kapitula, Slovkia found anywhere else, like the state archives? I'm looking for Podvilk and Bukovina-Podszkle, two Orava villages handed over to Poland in 1920. I know the LDS already filmed in six Slovakian regional archives -- was hoping Catholic records might be included. Any reason why the Krakow Roman Catholic archives would not request second writings from these ex-Orava/Spis village parishes? How many pages are there in an average parish book per year? If the Orava and Spis villages now in Poland are without microfilmed records, it seems like all one needs is a laptop, scanner, good relationship with the parish, and someone to scan each book. Also, do you know if the1869 Hungarian census records for the former province of Arva (Orava) had been filmed? -- Scott J., IL
***Hi Scott, You have asked some good questions. Let's see if I can give you some good answers. Even though Podvlk and Bukovina-Podszkle were handed over to Poland in 1920, the parish records were not. The original books will still be in the parish churches (Podwilk & Bukowina-Podszkle). The second writings also did not go to the Roman Catholic archives in Krakow, Poland as one would suspect, but those specific documents ended up in the Spisska Kapitula, Slovakia RC archives. Unfortunately, none of the
records in either of these two Catholic archives have been fully photographed. (Here is a map showing the original jurisdictional area for Spisska Kapitula.)
The rest of the parish churches in Poland and Slovakia where the borders did not change in 1920 did have their records sent to central state archives under Communisim. In Slovakia's case, most all of these records have since been microfilmed by the LDS. In Poland they have not. I've looked at several films from Spis in the State archives in Levoca, Slovakia. The films and even the microfilm readers there were provided by the LDS church.
Several of my ancestral villages were part of the 1920 border change you refer to. While I felt put upon to have to travel to the parish churches to review the old records, I can now say that it was a life-changing experience, something I am glad I did. You may well have to travel over there, too, or hire a genealogist located there (someone like Vlado Flak) to do the research for you. There were many locations where the Communists set up archives for confiscated parish records throughout all the Western Slavic countries. A man I talked to who went as an American with his Slovak 1st cousin to one there in the late 1960s was turned away at gunpoint and told he would be arrested if he asked for entry again. Happily they are now open to the public and the LDS church has photographed all of the records in most of them.
As I have been told, the Communists came into each village and demanded the records and to see the priest (who was then arrested). But the Highlanders love their freedom, and by the time most of the officials got to their more remote villages the priests and the records were gone. When asked where the priest was, the inhabitants said: "Haven't seen him." And the records? "Not sure." Years later when the Communists left, the priests and the records miraculously again appeared. Since the fall of Communism, generally the parish in Slovakia who still had original records in their possession ultimately did send them to the archives. Most all of the Slovak villages lost to the 1920 border change with Poland elected not to send theirs to Krakow, Poland, but kept them in their local parish church. I say most: Podvlk may be an exception.
By 1920, the "Second Writings" (an annual handwritten duplicate copy of that year's pages from each record book in the parish) were no longer being sent in by each parish as that particular practice had been done away. Thus all of the Slovak parish second writings we are concerned with were already in the hands of the Spisska Kapitula archive prior to 1920. I'm guessing that there was an agreement between the Roman Catholic archives in Krakow and Spisska Kapitula not to move the second writings from one archive to another. That may stem from the fact that they are in different formats. You see, the Polish second writings are loose pages kept in bundles tied by string and stored by village name. But in Slovakia they are in bound in volumes organized not by village, but by year. Thus the individual parish records from the villages lost to Poland cannot be easily removed from among the other remaining Slovak village records for that same year without damaging all the pages in each volume. I would one day like to see the Slovak second writings' pages filmed and categorized by village. Copies could then be provided to the Krakow archives.
As for the Hungarian census, up until about 8 years ago, only Slovakia's Zemplin county's census records had been microfilmed by the LDS. But their team has since been working on photographing the rest of the old counties or "Komitates". If Arva (Orava) isn't finished yet, I'm sure it soon will be.
As for record photography, I have seen the records in many TARG parishes, personally photographed the records in three in Polish Spis, and one in a village outside Zakopane. I also know of at least two other villages' records photographed by other TARG members. I will tell you that while many of these books are happily in pretty good shape, many others are in rough shape. Some are simply weathered pages with crumbling edges sitting one on top of another in a pile that used to be a bound volume before the cover fell apart. We have used digital cameras on tripods with flashes to capture acceptable images from above. In my case, I then downloaded them to my laptop and burned CDs of the images. I can't imagine using a scanner on some of the volumes I've seen, though. Some are just too fragile. I plan to go back and photograph in more villages the next time I return. One must get permission from an often very reluctant parish priest to do so. I always take my cousin Lucjan (who lives in Polish Spisz and speaks Polish, Slovak and English) with me to negotiate. But we are not always immediately successful. By the way, Poland and the Czech Republic have thus far refused to let the LDS church photograph their old parish records held in their state archives. Only Slovakia allowed that to happen. Many TARG members with family roots from those other two countries are hoping they will someday change their minds. -- Paul
---Hi Paul, I wondered if you would add something to your next newsletter about an update on the Zamagurie Region Dual Geographic DNA project. Oh, by the way, I am into my second semester of Slovak language class! I'm hoping to travel overseas for additional studies this summer! The language will never be the same! Thanks. -- Karen Melis, PA
***Hi Karen, Sure, we'll dedicate a section to it. (Please see "Zamagurie DNA" article below). And good luck on the Slovak. If it can survive me trying to learn it, it can survive anything! -- Paul
---Hi Paul, Please update my email address on the guestbook archive, entry number 162, Oct. 16, 2004. Thank you, Diana Druback
***Hi Diana, I'm happy to. You may also want to post your information here with our more recent TARG postings. - Paul
ZAMAGURIE REGION DNA PROJECT___________
Here's an update on the Zamagurie Region Dual Geographic DNA project administered by long-time TARG member Karen Melis. She reports: "We currently have 31 members and have results for both Y and mt-DNA across the Zamagurie Region. The results are quite varied and reflect the geographic location of the Zamagurie region being along the trade routes. The project web site is updated at least monthly and TARG members should check back often for new surnames that have been added. DNA kits are currently being sponsored for overseas testing. The villages provide a concentrated "bang for the buck" as participants generally still have long ancestral roots based in the villages on both sides of their family tree. (Link: www.familytreedna.com/public/zamagurieregiondnaprojectformerspiscountySlovakiaPoland)
Also, if any of the TARG members have participated in the National Geographic DNA project called Genographic Project, they can transfer their results to our Family Tree DNA sponsor FREE and participate in the Zamagurie Project. They can do this simply by going onto their Genographic site and typing in their kit number. At the bottom is a section called 'What else can I do with my results?' Since Family Tree DNA does the testing for the Genographic project, they offer to add the results to the FT-DNA database FREE! So participants can then compare with ALL the FT-DNA database. By selecting participation in our Zamagurie Region Dual Geographic DNA project, TARG members may compare their results with others from their ancestral lands. In addition, for those who have tested with other DNA commercial companies, FT-DNA is offering a promotion to transfer and/or upgrade their results for reduced pricing. These companies include Relative Genetics, DNAHeritage, Ancestry, Oxford Ancestors and Genebase. This promotion form can be found in this link: www.familytreedna.com/PDF/PROMO_GAP.pdf. The promotion also provides an opportunity to UPGRADE one's results for a reduce price. Information provided by Karen A. Melis, Group Administrator
NEW EUROPEAN FAMILY TREE WEBSITE__________
On November 29, 2007 www.itsourtree.com, the family network for online family trees was launched in English. A huge interest in European countries shows a trend concerning family trees and genealogy on the internet. Apart from the English site, there are sites in Germany (www.verwandt.de), Poland (www.moikrewni.pl) and also others in Spain, South America and Portugal. The service in Germany won community of the year and has become the fastest-growing German Social Network. Reportedly, the platform will continue expanding to other European countries as well. Overall the effort is supported by leading business "angels" and Neuhaus Partners, a well-known venture capitalist. Each of these sites let you create your family tree by entering in information that you already know about your ancestors (names, birth and death dates, photos etc). By inviting more relatives, you'll be able to collaborate to fill in the blanks on the chart, and track down more of your relatives. Itsourtree operates several different sites and currently the sites don't charge any fees for services like some competing sites do.
USING THE POLISH SITES MAPING FEATURE__________
Even though the Polish site is in Polish, the map page is still something you will want to use. On the special map page found at: http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/, you will find sample maps with colored-in districts of occurance, buttons to access various information, and a box to fill in. The text box (labeled "Mapa nazwisk") is where you type in the surname you want to research. Once you have that hit "Szukaj" (the Search button), and if the surname is anywhere in the large growing database, a map will come up with hundreds of districts show. For example, there is a Zakopane district, a Nowy Targ district, etc. There will be at least some of these districts on the map colored in. Districts with a color other than white mean there are occurances of the surname in them as contained in the database. There is a heirarchy: green with a few, to yellow, to orange, to brown and finally red with the most. The program seems to change the numbers associated with each color based on the total number of occurances found, but the range is always represented by green with the least and red with the most. Which district are each of these? Just roll your mouse pointer over each one and a dialoge box will appear giving you the name.
When searching village surnames, remember that many families have members who have moved to the big city for work. So your surname may also occur in Warszawa and Krakow, too. I did a search of the surname NOWOBILSKI, which I know is prevalent in Polish Spisz. Sure enough, most were found in the Zakopane, Nowy Targ, and Nowy Sacz districts. You will need to include the diacritic marks to make those surnames using them come up. If you can't type them from your keyboard, not to worry. Just use the list of letters at the bottom of the main screen. ALl of the letters are here, and by clicking on them you will travel to nestled lists of surnames in the database. I followed the surname LAPCZYNSKI which starts with an "L" with a / through it and the "Y" has an accent mark. I didn't need to type these in, just followed the steps to it by clicking on the letter and then one through the lists. Play with it and you will find it quite simple!
(Thanks to my cousin Lucjan for sending us this useful link.)
TATRA MOUNTAINS BOOK - PART 13__________
Chapter 6 "Zakopane and Progress" concludes:
In winter there are skiers and mutually hostile ski schools, some tobogganning and a bob-sleigh course, though it is not too grand if compared with the paragons of its kind. When later hours bring rest upon the toiling earth, there is dancing and bridge-playing in places devised for the purpose. And, above all, whatever the time of the day or night, there are the Tatras -- all in white!
Zakopane, despite all its modernities (some of them quite sufficiently horrid), is an old place and that gives it character, which local residents seem often to forget. It is still half-village-half-town, with the empty spaces, wooden cottages with steep roofs and walls built of heavy beams, the slots between which are stuffed with pleated wood-shavings or, when the house is very old, with moss. This distinguishes the place from the smaller and neater, but rather nouveau-riche, fashionable resorts on the Czecho-Slovak side of the mountains.
Outlying hamlets in the neighborhood of Zakopane still remain practically untouched by modern civilization, and people there have escaped many of its shadier aspects, so often apparent among the populations of tourist resorts. They are nicer there -- just as they have been described by the Polish writer Kazimierz Tetmajer in his cycle of short stories In the Rocky Highlands. They can still say like the Finns, Our land is poor, so it shall be, to them who thirst for gold....
One foggy day in the Western Tatras, as I was carrying myself moodily up a grassy slope, with the wind shivering on the boulders and glittering spray settling on my waterproofs, I met an old Highlander, one of those who used to be --- with long straw and silver hair, combed down straight. 'Praised be Jesus Christ', he said. 'For the centuries of centuries, Amen', I answered. This formality over, the old man shook his head and asked, 'And where are you going like that?' 'Up!' I retorted curtly, bekoning to the invisible summit. 'Oh, you would', he said thoughtfully after a becoming silence. 'Why, wouldn't you come down to my hut? It isn't much to mention, but it's a cold day and you can warm yourself a bit and have a hot drink of milk.'
I thanked him and followed him down to his little chalet with a roof weighted with stones against the foehn. We sat and had a chat about how the world was going on, the weather and things. The old man nodded, made little witty remarks and again relapsed into the thoughtful silence of an Indian chieftain. But money for his milk he refused with indignation. 'Do come again when you are here', he said as we parted. 'It's lonely up here for an old man like me.' I promised I would, but have never been there since.
(Chapter 7 "The White Room and the Black Room" of Firsoff's 1946 book will begin in our next issue. Also, the photo above is not from the book, but rather of a rare 1939 stamp showing a Highlander on skis patrolling the Tatras. These stamps are available here.)
To contact the TARG Editor, the new e-mail address is: TatraAreaResearchGroupgmail. Our "snail" mailing address is still TARG, P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033. use it for sending in orders or photos and anything else you want to share with the group. (If for some reason you are unable to contact us at the new address above, go ahead and use the old address targ_net@hotmail.).
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