PODHALE AREA RESEARCH GROUP
© The Podhale Area Research Group (PARG) -- all rights reserved
Bi-Monthly Newsletter # 2 -- Sept-Oct 1999
Greetings all fellow Podhale researchers! You are receiving this because
we have been in contact before or you have posted somewhere on the web that
you are researching your roots from somewhere in northern Orava county,
Slovakia or southern Poland's old Nowy Sacz province (now Malopolskie, this
was extreme SW Galicia). This issue is being e-mailed free to all who are
online and to the rest via standard mail.
The PARG study area is just west of the very popular ski resort town of
Zakopane, Poland. The official study area is a circle roughly 12 miles in
radius with Liesek, Slovakia at its center. Over 80 villages of both Slovak
and Polish origin are in PARG and they include the dozen or so Slovak
villages which became part of Poland when the border changed in 1920.
We have a temporary website which lists of all of our PARG villages at:
I just returned from this beautiful area. What a MARVELOUS trip we all
had with Helene B. Cincebeaux and her crew! Thank you so very much! And the
beauty of this land our ancestors left to come to the New World -- it just
left us all in wonder. But the culture and the kind inhabitants of this
precious land are still there -- often as though time has stood still! What
a treat to meet and mingle with these people and eat their food and walk
through their streets and churches and sit in their homes! I know I speak
for all of us that went when I say that none of us will ever be the same.
Those who can make this trip to this area one day should plan to go -- it
was truly wonderful!
-- Paul K. Bingham
PARG Team Leader
***Now I'm going to slip in a few excerpts from a couple of letters written
to me by others who went just to give you their impressions:
(1) Marti Haney writes: "The trip was wonderful and Tom and I are still
talking about it daily. I was surprised at how much Tom (the Irishman)
enjoyed it. We had always avoided tours and he has no ties to that part of
the world. But we both agree that Helene and her mom, the others on the
tour, and this magnificent area of the world made it so special. -- Marti
(2) Peggy Grinvalsky writes: "I just arrived home to 40 e-mails. It's been a
long trip..quite incredible and still good to be home. I'm going to need
months to munch on all of it! I am also dropping my change into my travel
jar... got to learn Slovak and go over the words I know every day. I'm just
settling in for the winter to make the money to go again! Mom made her way
through everywhere...not much she couldn't do....she is finished with
traveling to the cities, has no desire to go back...but is ready to head
back to the Tatras!
"I want to thank you for all the help you gave me...we clearly owe all
that has come about to your caring help. None of these last weeks would have
happened if you hadn't e-mailed me with your information on the research
area, our family names and the contacts you have pulled together. You have
done my whole family an incredible service. And it was good travelling with
you! -- Peggy
MORE ON THE AUGUST TRIP_____________
I was able to go through many of the PARG villages on my own while over
there. As I visited this area right after the ten-day tour led by Helene
Cincebeaux, it was late August. Unfortunately this is right before school
starts and also when most of the village priests (who generally teach
school) take their vacations! So getting in to see parish records was not as
successful as I had wished. This was especially discouraging for me in
Namestovo, SK where I had hoped to find my own grandmother's birth record. A
good excuse to return, as I look at it now!
Because of the threat of art thievery, most of the churches have iron
gates just inside the back door which do not allow access to the interior of
the church. But more often than not there was someone in town who had a key
to the church and could let us in to photograph some of these very old
historic buildings even with the priest gone.
I had my cousin Lucjan with me from Jurgow, PL. He is a college student
in Bratislava and speaks perfect Polish, Slovak and also very good English.
He was indispensible on this trip. We did visit the Polish PARG towns of
Chocholow, Czarny Dunajec, Dzianisz and Witow in September and were able to
find priests there -- although this didn't necessarily mean we got to see
the parish records. In Chocholow the priest said the older Witow and
Dzianisz records we wanted had been turned over to those parishes (both of
which are only a few decades old). Since we had seen such a thing in other
Polish villages (not in Slovakia, however), we assumed he was telling us the
truth. The Polish churches generally kept a separate book for dependant
villages that were part of a larger parish. Then when the village built its
own parish church, the old records could easily be turned over to the new
priest. I say COULD be turned over -- this was not always the case.
This was true in Dzianisz, and the priest there was kind enough to let
us look through the records and photograph entries out of it for an hour or
so. The Witow priest is a wonderful man -- very kind and helpful -- with a
great sense of humor, too. But he did not have the older church records --
they had never been turned over to him. The Chocholow priest would not talk
with us again when we called him on this. Frustrating!
In Czarny Dunajec there are a couple of priests. We finally caught them
on their way from school to a meeting. They looked through our paperwork and
identified the surnames we were looking for as being from their parish, but
had no more time to spend with us. If you go over there, finding a priest
who has time to let you pour over the records is hit-or-miss at best. I was
successfull in seeing and photographing the records from my other ancestral
village of Jurgow only because I was staying there for nearly two weeks with
my cousin and his family. The priest was hard to catch there, too, but
because I was staying in town we could be more persistant.
Let me relate how that went, to give you an idea of what is possible if
you allow the time for it. After getting to know the priest in Jurgow and
attending Mass for two Sundays and making a donation or two, the priest
allowed us on two separate days to actually take over his office and
photograph all of the birth, marriage and death records dating from 1770 to
1900. He would come down and bring us tea and juice and things to nibble on
and see how we were doing. He was very kind! We noticed that these records
have entries not only from the village of Jurgow but also many other places
in the area as this parish predates many of the others around. The records
actually went back to 1740, but I was told that a fire in the priest's home
more than a century ago destroyed these.
The records from 1770 to the early 1800s are actually in the best shape
of any of them. Later when they had to switch to Hungarian pre-printed pages
in different books the quality really deteriorated. The paper was crumbling
and the binding had all fallen apart completely. I almost felt like I was
handling Dead Sea scrolls at times! One book was nothing more than a stack
of loose pages. There were occasionally missing pages, too, as we went
through these records. Now when I look at those microfilmed records from the
LDS (Mormon) Family History Center library, I am not so inclined to blame
the photographer for some hard-to-read pages. I've seen some of these
records for myself now, and some are really in poor shape!
With the help of the records I photographed, I have been able to follow
these particular lines of mine back to the mid-1700s. I also now know that
some of the surnames in my lines are the same ones from neighboring villages
that others are researching in our group. I may find other members are
actually cousins, too, as we continue digging!
PARG REGION SURNAMES________________
° Jablonka, P (Surnames off headstones in the large cemetary there):
ALBERTUSIAK, BALCZYRAK, BALCZYZAK, BALIGA, BASISTY,
BIALON, BIEL, BOMBA, BOROWKA, BOZAK, BRZAKALA,
BUGAJSKI, BUKOWSKI, BULAWSKI, BURTAN, CABALA, CAJA,
CHOWANIEC, CIELUCH, CZAJA, DROZDA, DUDZIAK, DURCAK,
DVORSZCZAK, DWORSZCZAK, DZIEDZIC, DZIUBEK, FIEDOR,
GAJNIAK, GALAS, GALIK, GAWRONSKI, GIADLA, GJADLA,
GORA, GURA, GUZAK, GUZIAK, HAJDA, HARKABUZIK,
HELEGDA, HETENIAK, JABLONSKI, JABLONSKY, JANDWIAK,
JANOWIAK, JARZABEK, JEDRASZCZAK, JEDRUSZ, JONIAK,
KADLUB, KADLUBEK, KASPERCZYK, KASPRAK, KASPRAZAK,
KASPRZAK, KLOZYK, KNAPEREK, KOBYLAK, KOJS,
KOLKOWICZ, KOWALCZYK, KOZAK, KOZBIAL, KRECICKA,
KRZYSIAK, KUBACKA, KUBIK, KUBIKA, LEBWORUCH,
LEDWORUCH, LICHOSYT, LITWIAK, LUKA, LYSIAK, MACHAJ,
MACHAY, MARTYNAK, MIESIARCZYK, MIGAS, MIRAJ,
MODLAK, MORZYNIEC, NOWAK, OBROCHTA, OBROKTA,
OBROTKA, OBYRTACZ, OPTULOWICZ, ORLOWSKI,
OSKWAREK, OTREMBIAK, OWCZAR, PAKOSZ, PALENIK,
PANIAK, PAS, PASS, PAWLAK, PEZDEK, PIERARCZYK,
PIEROG, PIEROZEK, PILCH, PLASZCZA, POLOCZNY, POLUS,
RAFACZ, RYS, SACZEK, SANDRZYK, SARNIAK, SERWINEK,
SERWINSKI, SLANICKI, SMIECH, SMUTEK, SOBCZAK,
SONCEK, SPERLAK, SPISZAK, SPITKOWSKI, STACHULAK,
STANEK, STASIAK, STEC, STERCULA, SUWADA, SWIETEK,
SZPERLAK, TOKARCZYK, ULMANEK, WACLAWIAK, WALEK,
WARCIAK, WAS, WDOWKA, WIERCIEK, WIERCZEK, WOJT,
WYRWA, ZADLO, ZACHORA, ZAHORA, ZBOREK, ZGAMA,
° Slanica, SK (Surnames off headstones in the small cemetary behind the
church now on the Island of Slanica in Orava Lake -- only accessible by boat
May-Aug): BODORIK, BRNOVA, DRBA, FLASINSKI, GOGOLAK,
GOLEYOVA, GRACIK, HERETIK, JACKULIK, JANEK, KALANIKA,
KAUCIARIK, LIPOS, MATTAY, MINTHAK, NANISTA, ONDRASKO,
PAJDUSAK, PAVLAK, PAVOLCIK, PAVOLSCIK, SIKORA,
SIMALOVA, SIMULCIK, SYKORA, TUOLROZIVA, TRABALIK,
ULIK, VOJTANEK, VOLCEKO, ZEMANCIK
*** We are going to continue digging and post MANY more! If you have
surnames from villages known to be within the PARG's region please send them
in so we can share them with the others!
ON A SAD NOTE________________
We must sadly announce the passing of a special member -- Marge Fetsko of
Pittsburgh, PA. For some she was a beloved relative, to others a great
teacher of Slovak, and to all an advocate to keep Slovak culture and the
memory of our immigrant ancestors alive. As one cousin, Agnes Pavlik so
aptly described Marge: "She was so into Slovakia that sometimes I thought
she was just on loan to America."
Karen Melis sent in the following about Marge:
"When I first started, I wanted to know more than just names and dates.
I was anxious to learn about the villlages, customs, culture and history of
our Slovak ancestors. I never imagined ever finding one person that was so
knowledgeable about our Slovak heritage...until I met Marge Kuchta Fetsko.
"In September 1996 Marge and I started a phone friendship. Our phone
bills were never the same. She'd 'invite' me to various meetings, Slovak
festivals, and activities to learn more about our heritage. Marge would talk
for hours telling stories about our villages, the people, their lives and
music. I listened and learned.
"Marge was SO excited about the August 1999 trip. Calling the night
before we left, she said that she couldn't wait for us to go but couldn't
wait for us to come back! She wanted to know what we thought about 'Her
Slovakia'. Marge assured Irene Vodzak Kusmira who would be going on the trip
that she would easily remember how to speak Slovak 'po na ciemu' (meaning
our way) when we heard our relatives speak. She was right! The conversations
flowed as if they were at the kitchen table on the South Side.
"Irene and Marge met to exchange items from the family after getting
back. They talked and laughted about the trip. Sadly, Marge died in a car
accident the next day.
"We used to laugh and say that my grandparents and her parents would be
happy to know we were friends and that they were watching over our new found
friendship and smiling. I hope Marge will join them and continue to guide
me. May we remember....and be remembered.
Marge Kuchta Fetsko (1929-1999)
(1) For those looking forward to the 1 1/2 hour August trip video you
ordered, its being edited now and should be ready in October. I have nearly
20 hours of digital video -- getting it down to 1 1/2 hours is not going to
be easy! (2) Due to ISP anti-spamming policies this newsletter is sent out
in groups of <20. (3) Contact us if you would like the e-mail address of
someone in PARG. (4) If you have comments, questions or missed any
newsletter issues, just ask! (5) If someone else might benefit from this
newsletter just send their address and we'll add them to the list. (6) Your
comments, questions and submissions are welcome! Thank you!
Hope to hear from you soon!
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