TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
© TARG All rights reserved.
Newsletter for September 2005
Greetings to all TARG members! And a special warm welcome to members of
the Polish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles where I was honored to speak
last Saturday, September 24th. There are a couple of members with Tatra
roots in that group, as well. I spoke about the Australian Crownland of
Galicia, which included Nowy Targ and Krakow on its far western end. I will
be adding some material from this talk to the TARG website. For more on
this, visit our TARG website's homepage at: www.mytarg.net.
I also just heard from Helene B. Cincebeaux. She just barely returned
from being in Eastern Europe all summer. Her last tour was a first-ever
September tour which included both the Slovak and Polish sides of the
Tatras. She had a couple of TARG members with her for that. I am hopeful
they will share some of their experiences with us.
-- Paul K. Bingham
1. TARG's website is: http://mytarg.net (or also www.mytarg.net).
2. Great used book sources: www.Alibris.com and www.Amazon.com
3. http://www.flickr.com/ the great free online photo gallery.
4. Vladimir Flak, Slovak Genealogist: vflakspisnet.sk.
5. Helene Cincebeaux's Tour Info: www.our-slovakia.com
6. Contact information for the Catholic Archives in Spisska Kapitula,
Slovakia: archivmail.sk. E-Mail to Mr. Tomasov or Mr. Olenjik.
--- Hi Paul, You've been giving us sections of the Tatra Mountains Book in
your newsletters. It is extremely interesting and informative. Do you have
the book for sale? - Sylvia Cooke
***Hi Sylvia, The book is entitled "The Tatra Mountains" by V. A. Firsoff
and published in 1942, just as war was coming to the Tatras. The book is
long since out of print, and, no I do not have any copies for sale
unfortunately. However, you can perhaps find old library or estate sale
copies of it available online like I did by checking with such sites as
www.Alibris.com and www.Amazon.com (used books section). I'd like to know
what became of the author. In the 1946 edition (3rd printing) I have, there
is an interesting dedication. It reads: "No roll of honor will carry your
name -- no flags will wave over your grave." Then it says: "To my young
brother fallen in the unarmed struggle for human dignity, who loved the
mountains, flowers and the sky of the Tatras." -- Paul
---Hello Paul, I am on your email list but have never communicated until
now. We are going to Krakow and Zakopane in October. All I know from my aunt
is that my grandparents were from Belke Lupinca (I think that is close to
the spelling) in the Tatra mountains. Can you tell me where that might be or
have been? I think they came over around late 1800s. The surname is
Svientek. Thank you. - Nancy
***Hello Nancy, How nice to hear from you. And how wonderful you get to go
back to the land of your ancestors! I'm sure you will have a very memorable
time there. As to precisely where your Svientek ancestry comes from, well,
it got me to looking. If you go to the TARG website's homepage at
www.mytarg.net and under "EXPLORE:" click on the "Village List", you will
bring up the TARG master list of over 800 villages. If your Svienteks indeed
came from the Tatra Mountains, chances are they came from one of these
villages, as these encompass all of the Tatras. Going through the list,
though, I do not see "Belke Lupinca" listed or anything really close to
that. I do, however, see "LIPNICA WIELKA, PL (AKA VELKA LIPNICA, SK)". This
was a Slovak village until the border change in 1920. So in the late 1800s
it was known as "Velka Lipnica" which is much closer to your aunt's
recollection of "Belke Lupinca". Also, since the Polish alphabet does not
have the letter "V" in it, your surname spelled "Svientek" is decidedly
Slovak. When I check for Svientek in our database of over 36,000 surnames
known from the TARG area, I only get two hits: Podvlk and Velka Lipnica! I'd
say we have a match! On the TARG website's homepage click on "Interactive
Maps" and then click on map G. On the map's right side in grid C3 you will
find the Polish town of "Lipnica Wielka" just west of Jablonka and on the
edge of the current Slovak border. This is the same Velke Lipnica, now with
its Polish name as it has been known since 1920. We have many TARG members
with roots from Lipnica Wielka. The name Svientek is not a very common name,
though. It was spelled S^vientek in Slovak, thus being pronounced
"SHVEE-en-tek" in Slovak. Like the name of the town, many of the surnames in
this area have also long since adopted Polish spellings -- mostly to
preserve the proper pronunciation of the name. In Polish the surname would
be spelled "S'wie~tek", where the accented S would be pronounced "sh" and
the E with the hook under it would be pronounced "en". Though spelled
differently, the new spelling would be pronounced almost identically to the
original Slovak pronunciation of the surname. When I look up this Polish
spelling of S'wie~tek in our TARG database, I again come up with a hit in
Lipnica Wielka! Since most of these Polish entries in the database came from
recent phonebook listings, it's a good bet you have relatives still living
in the town you didn't even know about. When I look up S'wie~tek in the
phonebook I brought back recently, sure enough: I find a listing for a Mr.
Franciszek S'wie~tek living in house number 696 in Lipnica Wielka. (If you
want to see how to write a simple letter announcing your coming to visit,
see the May 2001 TARG Newsletter. A copy of it is in the Newsletter Archive
on the TARG website at www.mytarg.net.) I also found a few current listings
of the name S'wie~tek in the neighboring Polish villages of Podszkle,
Pieniakowice, and Podczerwone. You may find as you go back in the old parish
records that your roots extend into other villages beyond Lipnica Wielka --
including these other villages from the area. But I would concentrate in
Lipnica Wielka first, then work backwards. May you have
a wonderful trip -- and please keep us posted on any developments and
especially on how things turned out when you return. If I can answer any
other questions for you, just let me know. -- Paul
---Paul, Thank you for another TARG newsletter. I have a suggestion to
start an online collection of photos at Flickr.com? What makes Flickr better
than other online photo galleries is that it was one of the first adopters
of weblog "tags" (i.e.; such as TARG, Goral, Orava, individual villages
names, etc.). This makes it very easy to reuse or locate the photos. Here is
an example from a distant relative (through Kukuchin):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benko23/32864/. I would suggest tags such as
Goral, Tatras, TARG, etc. - Scott Rains
***Hi Scott, Wonderful suggestion which I will share with everyone! - Paul
---Hello Paul, Can you tell me how to find message #157 in the TARG
guestbook? - Joan
***Hello Joan, Go to www.mytarg.net and along the left side of the home page
near the bottom you will see a link "Postings Archive". Click on this and it
will take you to all of the guestbook postings through mid August 2005. The
numbering system was reset by the server some months ago, so message #157
will be a ways down the page. I believe it is Melissa Fairbank's posting
listed below that you are seeking. I've copied this for you below. She did
not leave her e-mail address in that one, but did later in message #35.3.
You can also go to the Guestbook and read messages, but going back many
pages is time consuming and sometimes the Guestbook is down -- especially
when hackers get to it. The "Postings Archive" link on the home page can
take you to all of the previous posts on a single page and will be available
even if the guestbook itself isn't functioning. Good luck! -- Paul
(Next is a follow-up conversation which thread started in the last
newsletter) ***Hello Agnes, I received the following suggestion from TARG
member Sylvia Cooke, who also has family ties in Dursztyn. I thought I would
pass it along to you. -- Paul
(Forwarded message) ---Dear Paul, Please tell Agnes Gecik that she can most
likely find information on the family of Joseph Hornik, from Durstin, by
going to a Family History Center and requesting film #2162284. This is the
record of the 1869 census. Durstin actually was a part of Hungary as the
castle of Niedzica was under the Hungarian flag, but the census record names
Slovensko/Spis as the locality. My grandfather, Abraham Fischgrund, lived in
Durstin and the 1869 gave all the names and dates of birth of his family, as
well as other information about them. I have been fortunate to have visited
Durstin and it is a charming village surrounded by beautiful scenery. I am
sure the folks at the Family History Center will be happy to help her. --
---Dear Paul: Thank you for your reply. I will try to get the film from the
Family History Center. It would not show Joseph because he was born in
1878. It might show his father Jakub as a single man and some of his uncles
& aunts if it is decipherable. (Joseph's mother was Mary Timek of Durstin.
What do you know of Spisska Kapitula? They have not answered for several
weeks. My E-Mails come back as undeliverable. It's as though they are
closed for good. Is Spisska Kapitula an archival location for records of
persons born in Durstin when it was part of Slovakia? If they were in
business and had those records, I finally could get the information I am
looking for. I realize there would be a charge. At present, I am in my
anxious-waiting mode day after day. At times it seems hopeless. Thanks for
your help. It is much appreciated. Sincerely yours, Agnes Gecik
***Hi Agnes, I have visited the archives in Spisska Kapitula, Slovakia and
done research there. It is owned and run by the Roman Catholic Church. You
can go to our TARG website at: http://www.mytarg.net/Maps/spiskamap.html and
map of the jurisdictional boundary or the Archive's collection until 1920.
Along the map's upper edge (in the center) is the portion of Slovakia lost
to Poland. While the map's resolution only allowed them to show larger
Parishes like "Krempach" (Krempachy) and "Fridman" (Frydman), rest assured
Dursztyn (or "Durstin") was part of it. They will indeed have the Dursztyn
Parish records, and are the only place outside of the Parish church which
does. The room where all of the records are kept is amazingly small,
considering they are in bound volumes covering from about 1800 through 1920
for all of the villages and towns on the jurisdictional map. The shelves are
to the ceiling and there is one small table in the front of the room on
which to work. Mr. Olenjik was the one who helped us while we were there. He
admitted through a translator that they were not very good about answering
inquiries by mail. Know, too, that all records in Spisska Kapitula are bound
by YEAR, not by VILLAGE. This means if you don't know an exact date, you
must start looking through a range of books and thumbing through to each
village page in each year's book. It can be very time consuming. Compare
this with the Krakow Archives -- also run by the Roman Catholic Church --
where when you ask for the village they bring you out a pile of manuscripts
that cover more than a century, making it far easier to research. (Krakow
also answers inquiries!) If the e-mails you are sending to the Spisska
Kapitula Archives are bouncing back as undeliverable, then they are not
getting through. Slovakia has had lots of internet providers that have come
and gone, so it may not be the fault of the Archives who were forced into
getting a different e-mail address. I have had this with almost every Slovak
contact I have had over the years. You may want to turn to a professional
genealogist in that area that many TARG folks have used named Vladimir (or
"Vlado") Flak. He is a Slovak and very familiar with the Spisska Kapitula
Archives. He could certainly make a call or visit for you. There would be a
fee, but it would be reasonable, I'm sure. He also speaks English very well.
The last e-mail address I had for him was vflakspisnet.sk. If this is no
longer a valid address, contact Helene Cincebeaux at helenezxaol for a
more recent address or even a phone number you could call him. I really hope
you can solve this puzzle. I'm not sure what else I could offer as a
suggestion to help you at this point. Good luck and may God bless you. --
---Dear Paul: When I woke up this morning the first thing I did (as I
always do) was go to my E-Mail Station. What a wonderful sight to see your
TARG name on my incoming mail. I at once read them all and I am filled with
renewed hope of finding the information that I urgently need. Since my
daughter has a computer in our area, she'll be able to access the www type
addresses, while I can do the E-Mails. So much you wrote and that of the
other "seekers" is extremely helpful, and I'll get on the ball as soon as I
can. Thank you immensely !!! God Bless you!! THANK YOU !!! Agnes Gecik
***Hi Agnes, Here are some testimonials for others who have used Vlado:
(1) From July 2003: Hi Debbie, I have used an English speaking genealogist
in Slovakia who was excellent. His name is Vladimir Fl'ak. His email is
vflakspisnet.sk. He speaks English (oops, I said that) and he charged me
$10/hour, and I got a lot for the $10. He came highly recommended to me by a
woman named Albina Senko, who lives in Pittsburgh. She is the wife of Mr.
Joseph Senko, the Honorary Consul to the Slovak Embassy. You can verify this
by looking up the site for the Slovak Embassy to the United States. Vladimir
lives in Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, near the center of the country. His
city is centrally located. The great thing about Vladimir is he operates off
the honor system. He will do the research and SEND you the results FIRST.
Then, after you get his package, you pay him. I paid him with American
Express Gift Cheques. As far as your own research, check out the Mormon
Church Family History Centers. There are several in each state. They are
excellent, and they have more microfilmed records then anybody.
Unbelievable. Their URL is www.familysearch.org. Good Luck!
- Joe Mahonchak
(2) From March 2004: Hi Rosie, The name of the genealogy researcher in
Slovakia that Helene recommended: Vlado Flak: VFLAKSPISNET.SK. The name of
the person I am using to translate English to Slovak etc. using email
instead of post office: Martin Hyross: mhyrosshotmail. Hope this info
helps some of the members. - Florence
(3) From January 2001: Go to:
http://www.centroconsult.sk/genealogy/researchers.html. This is a list of
researchers who do work in Eastern Europe. Vlado is on the list with his
address, etc. (I know besides Vlado Flak, that TARG members have also used
Vladimir Bohinc and Peter Nagy off this list with good results.)
(4) From 1998: This website has a story about Vlado helping this fellow find
his roots -- even has a picture of Vlado!
TATRA MOUNTAINS BOOK - PART 4__________
Chapter 2 "The Robbers"
If the ordinary peasant saw in the Tatras only a waste, a terrible
desert in fact, with which it was better to have as little contact as
were others who found a use for it. As we have already said, until about a
hundred years ago (1840) the whole district, except for a few patches of
pasture or cultivated ground, was one continuous forest. There were but
scant and rough tracks, mainly left over by the Saxon miners who used at one
time to work some silver, copper, and iron mines in the mountains for the
Polish kings. Later, however, the mines were exhausted and abandoned and the
roads grew over with grass. The wild character of the mountains made them
inaccessible according to the standards of the times.
Among these vast forests and mountain recesses found refuge all those
who for some reason or other sought to escape the arm of the law, and
particularly those independent spirits among the peasants who could not bear
the burden of serfdom and preferred to live the life of outlaws. "Drink,
drink and go past Nowy Targ, Once you've passed it, you are safe" says one
So, the tall, moss-grown spruces swayed in the wind and clouds raced
across the Tatras as the robbers trod the forest way and sang their savage
song of freedom:
"The night is dark!
There's a glow among the trees.
The night is dark!
Does the evil evil woo?
In the glade between the spruces
*Vatra's burning in the thicket.
Are the forest wives a-warming?
Do the devils lead the dance?
"Hey, young brother!
Come and join the jolly band!
Hey, young brother!
Come and join the jolly band!
If the fates should turn against you,
On the gallows you will swing,
Or doubloons and silver thalars
You will shower on your way...
(From the "Robbers' March. The original rhymed but here has been sacrificed
for character. *"Vatra" is Goral for fire.)
Apart from the outlaws of all classes, among whom were not a few Polish
nobles as well, the Tatras had there own population which lived in rather
primitive conditions and until relatively recent times remained pagan. Its
history and origin are matters of conjecture; this has probably given rise
to the idea, at present officially adopted by the Nazis, that the people of
the Tatras were one of the "lost German tribes" -- the Marcomanni. There is,
however, no conceivable evidence to support this view, which may be brushed
lightly aside as one of the minor German brainwaves. In fact, it is
completely absurd and it seems fairly probable that the scarce pastoral
population of the Tatras was of Rumanian origin. So at least certain
linguistic affinities would indicate, although, there may have been Saxon
miners or Zipper Germans among the Robbers.
Sheep supplied the main wealth for this population, though some other
forms of farming were practiced on a very modest scale -- as far as the
short summer and the poor soil allowed. The swelling ranks of the outlaws
gradually absorbed the local population, forming what might almost be
described as a new race. They, though largely living the peasants' life,
could not make much of a living out of their peaceful occupations and sought
other sources of income. Their eyes began to turn to the rich Slovak and
Hungarian plains to the south of their mountains. Bands of resolute and
fierce Tatra Highlanders would suddenly descend on some Hungarian manor,
convent or a small settlement, sack it and escape back to their mountain
fastness, beyond the reach of Austro-Hungarian gendarmes.
(We will continue with Chapter 2 "The Robbers" in next month's issue.)
To contact the TARG Editor, the new e-mail address is: TatraAreaResearchGroup-AT-gmail-DOT-com. 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. It is still: targ_net-AT-hotmail-DOT-com.
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