Family History in Slovakia

21:42 Alyson Tart 2 Comments

When I was pregnant but didn't know it yet, I had a horrible cold that kept me up all kind of weird hours. And rather than watch television, I somehow decided to fill my time researching family history. How my family fled Texas to Mexico to escape the stigma of sharing a name with a famous train robber. How my family came from France during the Protestant Reformation to escape prosecution. And that research is actually what inspired mini-Tarts name as it came from my great grandmother.

As luck would have it in 2015, I had a chance to learn more about Paul's side of the family as well. Paul's great-great Grandfather was born in Smolnik, Slovakia, but when the area was turned into a reservoir, everyone was moved out. He immigrated to the US, but Paul's grandfather still likes to go visit where the family came from originally.

Unlike Bratislava, there aren't quite as many flight options into Eastern Slovakia. Luckily, there was a flight on Wizz Air to Kosice which was a short drive from nearby Michalovce. We were staying at a hotel by the lake a little bit out of town, close to the castle.

The weekend was pretty relaxed - we spent it with the locals that Paul's grandfather stays with every visit and celebrating Easter, which is a very important holiday in the region. Over the weekend, we went to 3 different church services (all in Slovakian). One church was near the Hungary border in an old stone church, no heating or air conditioning and so cold we could see our breath. Following that service, we were invited to a parisoners house for lunch - I had no idea what we were offered as English wasn't spoken, but especially being pregnant, I was offered more and more food!

A main reason for the visit was to learn about Paul's history - the trouble is that Smolnik is now part of the area that surrounds the reservoir, a main water source for the area, meaning it's not just for every Tom, Dick and Jane to go in. Luckily, we had friends who made special arrangements and got passes to drive us through. Even though the day was cold, we took a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful greenery. We stopped by the cemetary where there are still gravestones and foundation of the church. They still hold celebrations there occasionally for the family of old towns people and put a tent up over the church.

It was amazing to see a place that a century ago was the home of family - how much can change in a lifetime or two?

On the way out of town, we spent a little time in Kosice, just to get our fill of the cobbled streets, churchs and quaint shops of Eastern Europe. If you're looking for Slovakia away from the crowds, Kosice just may have what you're looking for!

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