© The Zamagurze Area Research Project (ZARP) -- all rights reserved
Monthly Newsletter # 7 -- September 1999
Hello ZARP members. Here's our seventh newsletter -- now being sent
monthly. This edition will cover initial thoughts and findings from our trip
to beautiful Zamagurze and its many villages all within ZARP. But first we
must sadly announce the passing of a special ZARP member -- Marge Fetsko of
Pittsburgh, PA. For some ZARP members 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."
Our Team Member in charge of Frydman, Karen Melis sent in the following:
"When I first started this project, 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 our trip the 15 of us were taking last month
to the Zamagurze area. 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)
I stayed on in Slovakia until September 9th doing photography for many.
When I worked on Marge's I remember not finding very many KUCHTA
headstones. That was disappointing, but I didn't stop looking. One day late
into my trip I happened to be in the village of Toporec and in the cemetary
there discovered many, many KUCHTA headstones. I remember how
thrilled I was and how I looked forward at sharing this discovery with her!
Now I look back through my calendar and that Toporec cemetary visit was on
the morning of September 6th -- a little more than a day after Marge left
us. And now somehow I think she may have shared in that discovery as it
happened. And now I have the photos and video to pass on to her relatives as
I'm sure she would have it. D'akujem, Marge. We'll all miss you.
-- Paul K. Bingham

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. (And I must add that all of the ZARP folks
that went are the nicest bunch and so fun to travel with -- they must all be
Slovaks!!!) -- Paul Bingham
Now I'm going to slip in a few excerpts from letters written to me by
others who went just to give you a flavor of what we experienced.
(1) ZARP member Bob Williams writes: "Tuesday morning Ondrej (one of
Helene's Slovak genealogy contacts) picked me up at 9 am and had a young
lady with him that teaches English. We spent the next 4 days together and
traveled to Brataslava with many stops along the way. Ondrej and I spent the
weekend in Nowa Biala. The grouchy Polish Priest from Nowa Biala was away
and got back on Saturday. I thought you might like to know that same
afternoon I met with him. He went to get his books and....they were gone! I
am sure you know what happened to them, Bill. Am I right? (See related story
under 'Parish Record Update' below!)
"But Ondrej and I had a great time there. We went to Mass Sunday morning
and visited many people there. There was a visiting priest there (born
nearby but has a parish in Allentown ,Pa). He said Mass Sunday and invited
use to the place he was staying. We spent several hours with him that
afternoon. Ondrej will go back again later this month to do some research on
his own family which will probably link with mine.
"Another thing: I was talking to Mrs. Bednarczyk about the library and
she wishes she had children's books in English. Well, I have begun sending
books to her. So far I already have another 40lbs ready to go. I'll send a
box about every 2 weeks until She says enough already!
"So how soon are we going back? I hated to leave. I want to have Ondrej
over here after Easter. And I would like to spend next summer traveling
around that part of Europe again! -- Bob
(2) ZARP Team Member Karen Melis writes: "Vlado Flak (another of Helene
Cincebeaux's Slovak genealogy contacts) is wonderful! We met at Zakopane to
plan our two days. I had info telling us to start in Lapsze Nizne. The
priest was somewhat reluctant, but cracked the books open. We found a huge
missing piece of info on my ggm's side -- and that sent us to Niedzica.
"In Niedzica, we conveniently avoided family to avoid eating vs. "doing
what we came for" (Vlado's comment). Once again, the priest hovered over the
book, asking for a Vlado did his stuff. The priest let us go with
the books under the distant eye of the housekeeper. We worked from 11:00
until 1:00. The housekeeper wanted to go, so I talked to her a while. We
found we had a common ancestor name, so she let us go a little longer!
"The Niedzica priest was surprised but happy that we were successful. He
pulled more books out and let us go. He came back several times to tell us
he did his genealogy and that the church records started in 1650's by
government decree. Again we found records dating back to the 1700's with
some lines being sent to Matiasovce. I can now appreciate having been there
how close this really is to our other villages.
We found a great book...actually paper between two boards dating to
1684! Believe it or not we worked our way back to this book. Another young
priest brought us juice and again left us. The priest came back from 7:00
Mass and we bid our fairwell. He was quite pleased with our success.
"The next day was Frydman. All the time I thought this was the "site" of
our earliest ancestors...proved just to be a one to two generation stopping
ground. Here we found family links to Czarna Gora and Nowa Biala. We
searched back to the mid 1700's with links also going to Mala Frankova &
Jurgow. So all in all I did extremely well with Vlado's help to expediently
search 200 years of records in two days. With confidence and digital
pictures I am back on many of our lines to the mid 1700's. I've updated my
charts and it's amazing! -- Karen
(3) ZARP member 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 the magnificent area of the world made it so special.
"I have been to the LDS library three times since I got back home and
have found two films from Zdiar. I also ordered two others, so I think I
will be busy for the next year or so! Oh, I did get to the Plavnica files in
Presov with Vlado on our last Monday in Kosice - and did find some records.
Vlado is great! -- Marti
(4) ZARP member 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 over the last 18
months.. we clearly owe all that has come about to your caring help. None of
this last 6 weeks would have happened if you hadn't e-mailed me with your
information on the ZARP research area, our family names and the contacts you
have pulled together. You have done my whole family an incredible service.
It was good travelling with you! -- Peggy

ZARP Team Member Bill Serchak, who on a previous trip was able to photograph
all of the Trybsz parish records had even more incredible luck on this trip!
Here's how he explains it:
"Fortunately while we were there for the last few days the Krempachy
priest was minding the store for the usually grumpy Nowa Biala pastor who
was vacationing. He let us photograph the Nowa Biala records! The regular
Nowa Biala pastor was probably not happy when he found out on his return
what happened. We got in only because he was gone and his substitute didn't
have any qualms. A real window of opportunity!
The photography looks good so far. I've got 41 rolls of print film
in hand and eight rolls of slides. I was determined to get the most I
could this time and it seems to have worked. It will take several more
weeks to finish cataloging each print, archiving the negatives, and
making 8.5x11 color copy enlargements of each page.
So that's briefly what happened and where things stand for now. I have
lots of long hours ahead of me getting all this material organized and
transcribed. In order to make the new material useful and accessible and to
help you and others with an interest in Nowa Biala, I will put in several
hours each day whittling away at the task.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Similarly, ZARP Team Leader Paul Bingham had some good luck, as well! Here's
more: "I was staying with a probable cousin in Jurgow. He and family are
very close to the parish priest. The priest allowed us on two separate days
to 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 so kind! We
noticed that these records have entries not only from Jurgow but also Czarna
Gora, Rzepiska, Brzegi, Bukowina, Javorina, Podspady, Lysa Polana and
probably many other places in the region 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. One in
particular that would have linked my family to my 'cousin' Lucjan's was one
such missing page!
"After such a success in Jurgow we found the priest home in Lapsze
Nizne. He was kind enough to let us in and then let us look up some names
for another woman in our ZARP group. I had Lucjan tell him these records
were one-of-a-kind and that he should have a copy of them made to store in a
safe place. I asked him what would happen if these records were ever lost in
a fire. He replied that nothing like that was ever going to happen. Then
armed with our knowlege of the Jurgow records we explained that a fire did
destroy the priest's home and some of the records in Jurgow years ago. I
then said we had the equipment and would pay for the film and processing to
provide him and us with a copy, if he would allow it. He thought for a
minute and then said he would let us do it Friday morning at 8:00 a.m.
We were there and in the three hours he gave us we were able to
photograph all of Lapsze Nizne's birth and marriage records covering 1742 to
1900. These records were generally in much better condition than those in
Jurgow which was fortunate, because we had to work fast. Again, we saw many
entries for neighboring villages as well for as Lapsze Nizne itself.
*** NOTE: As you can gather, filming these records has not only been
time-consuming, but also very expensive. Printing all of these as
8.5x11-sized prints will also be very expensive. Many ZARP members now and
in the future will benefit greatly from the information contained in these
records! With such a precident, it is likely more ZARP-area records can be
photographed. Please help with some of these costs if you can! Thanks!

OTHER NOTES______________________________
(1) Due to ISP anti-spamming policies this newsletter is sent out in groups
of <20. (2) Contact us if you would like the e-mail address of someone in
ZARP. (3) If you have comments, questions or missed any newsletter issues,
just ask! (4) If someone else might benefit from this newsletter just send
their address and we'll add them to the list. (5) For those looking forward
to the 1 1/2 hour ZARP trip video you ordered, its being edited now and
should be ready next month. I have nearly 20 hours of digital video --
getting it down to 1 1/2 hours is not going to be easy! (6) Note: As always,
this issue is e-mailed free to all project contributors who are online and
to the rest via standard mail.

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