Americans looking for their Slovak roots

So Slovak

Americans looking for their Slovak roots

18. 10. 2019 12:05

Stories of Americans with Slovak heritage returning to their country of origin are stories of searching and finding, laughing and crying, family histories as well as possible futures. All these are to be found within our special theme cycle. Zuzana Botiková has joined a group of American expats in search of their roots and relatives in Eastern Slovakia.

01_Searching for Slovak roots
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According to a census from 1920, around 5,000 immigrants from the eastern Slovak region of Spiš region settled in the Youngstown, OH, where most of them were employed in the steel industry. Since 1991, Youngstown has a sister city partnership with Spišská Nová Ves.

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02_Youngstown Spiš
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In 1910, Ján Hudák from the village of Hrabušice left for the USA. More than 100 years later, his grandchildren travel from Ohio to Eastern Slovakia to visit their relatives. We join their special family reunion.

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03_Hudakovci
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Learning about one's own family history and visiting the places where the family actually came from is also an important part of building one's own identity. At the same time, it can turn into quite the work for a professional detective. Nevertheless, many non-professional, yet eager enthusiasts take on this mission, especially if it concerns their family roots. One of them is also Janet Zumrick from Ohio.

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05_Janet Zumrick
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One American who popped to our Pyramid building in the Slovak capital during summer holiday 2018 on the way to his Rusyn origins. Martina Šimkovičová asked him a few questions.

04_Adam Mackler
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Bob Macko, from Michigan, has strong family and friendship ties in Slovakia. Over the past years, he has regularly been coming to Slovakia to visiting not only his relatives, but also the relatives of his friends.

06_Bob Macko
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Lisa Deli and her father Janko, who thanks to over 100 years of letter exchange between the Slovak and American branch of their family did not actually have to conduct any search for their Slovak relatives. They had their postal address, now social media contacts stored in a safe and precious place.

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07_Janko and Lisa Deli
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Next we will hear from Tony Lonardo, who one year ago didn't know he still had relatives living in Slovakia. On the picture below, you can see Tony and his newly "discovered" Slovak family.

08_Tony Lonardo
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From eastern Slovakia we will now move to Ružomberok and talk to the Pokabla family, who felt emotional just passing the road sign of the northern Slovak town. Cousins Rob and Tom were happy to visit this place for the first time ever.

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09_Pokabla family
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Stories of Americans with Slovak heritage returning to their country of origin are stories of searching and finding, laughing and crying, family histories as well as possible futures. All these were to be found within our special theme cycle, which we will conclude (at least for now) in Tichý Potok. A village in eastern Slovakia, approximately a 5 hour drive from the capital, Bratislava. A village of 330 inhabitants. A village that is dear to John Biros.

10_John Biros
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This was the last story of our special cycle… at least for now! However, we are eager to hear your stories of family connections to Slovakia, or any other connections you have. Please let us know, drop us an email to englishsection@rtvs.sk. You can also write to us how you liked the stories we have presented and suggest new ones. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Zuzana Botiková Foto: Tony Lonardo, Illustrated Magazine

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