It’s a small world

Last October my wife and I attended the CGSI (Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International) conference in Pittsburgh — it was awesome!  You can read more about it on the CGSI website.  Anyway, after one of the sessions I struck up a conversation with another guy in the audience, his name was also Jim.  Turns out we both have relatives from Sambron, Slovakia.  I mentioned to Jim that I had visited Sambron a couple times and I had taken photos and videos of the cemeteries.  I told him I’d look through my pictures and see if any of them have the surname of his relatives.  Well, I didn’t find any, but that’s not the end of the story.

Fast forward a few months and I’m putting together information for my grandfather Peter Marsinick’s page.  I go out to Find A Grave and find Peter’s memorial page.  I’m grabbing the source citation information and there he is, the same Jim that I happened to run into at the CGSI conference is the person who submitted the memorial for my grandfather.  I guess we were supposed to meet.

Following Jim’s urging I’ve now created memorials for my great grandparents, Peter’s parents.  These 2 memorials for my great grandparents John and Mary Marsinick are my first memorials on Find A Grave.  I’ve used the site for years as a research tool but I’ve never submitted a memorial.  I think I’ll start adding more.

My Great Grandparents

Sambron Cemetery Photos Online

I stumbled upon a site that will probably be of interest to anyone with relatives from Sambron, Slovakia.  This site has an index of the grave sites in both of Sambron’s cemeteries along with photos of them.  It’s a little difficult to figure out how to get there so I figured I’d create this “how to” post.

Start with the Sambron main website at  Once there, click on “Geoportal” in the left sidebar. website

Clicking on “Geoportal” brings up this CLEERIO map site of Sambron.  There are a bunch of overlays and map options you can play with but the one I want to explore here is the cemetery info.  Cemetery in Slovak is “cintorin”.  Click “Cintorin” in the left sidebar.

Click on “Cintorin” and then click on the icon of the table to bring up the list of grave sites on the right.

Once you get the index up on the right side, you can click on the “Hroby” tab to have it show the grave sites on the map.  Then, if you click on one of the rows of the index, it will show you that location on the map and also bring up the information for that grave site, along with a photo.

You can continue to click on all of the grave sites and bring up the information and photo for each.  Some don’t have any information listed when you bring them up but you can still look at the photo.  There’s also a search option if you want to try and search but the images without information won’t be found.

Who was Elizabeth Vas?

As I’m getting organized to compile my grandmother’s life story, Elizabeth Bodnar, I’ve been digging a little deeper into her traveling companion, Elizabeth Vas.

One mystery (of the many) I’ve had with my research is “Who was Elizabeth Vas?” and why did she come to the U.S. at 86 years old?  I’ve asked my new-found Bodnar relatives from Slovakia if they know who she was but they don’t.

Here’s the story.  My grandmother’s Ellis Island record shows that she came to the U.S. in 1926 at the age of 24.  Traveling with her is an elderly woman, Elizabeth Vas, who is 86 years old!  Wow, she must have been in good health to make that difficult journey at that age.

Clip from the 1926 Passenger List

Not surprisingly the pair was detained at Ellis Island for a doctor’s evaluation.  As it turns out, they ended up being detained for 6 days and then they were admitted.  They were headed to Murray City, Ohio, to meet Elizabeth Vas’s son, George.

Ellis Island destination column

Going through the 1920 and 1930 census records for Murray City, Ohio, I found George and his family.  George is married to Susie they have 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Helen.  But no sign of the elder Elizabeth in 1930.

1930 Wash (Vas) Family

A little digging and I find Elizabeth (no pun intended).  She passed away in 1929, 3 years after making the journey to Ohio from Czechslovakia.  She was able to be reunited with her son and his new family in the U.S.

Elizabeth’s headstone.

A little more searching on findagrave and I find the rest of the family.  The 2 daughters are buried together, apparently never marrying.  Elizabeth died very young at the age of 24 in 1930.

Wash (Vas) daughters

So why did my grandmother travel to the U.S. with this woman?  As far as I can tell they weren’t related.  I found George’s baptism record from Pavlovce nad Uhom and none of the surnames have ties to my family.

Here’s a theory, but it’s only a theory.  I can’t find any proof.

When my grandfather, Joseph Kichka, came over in 1928, (see his life story), he mysteriously said he was going to Homestead, Pennsylvania.  But, I know he was ultimately heading to Cleveland, Ohio, where his brothers lived and he would marry my grandmother in 1929.  So why did he go to Homestead?  What was in Homestead that made him go there?

My grandmother had two older sisters, Mary Bodnar Rectosh (1882-1946) and Anna Bodnar Polischak (1883-1936) both living in Homestead, PA.  Homestead is not that far from Murray City, Ohio, a couple hundred miles.  Could my grandmother have agreed to accompany Elizabeth Vas on her trip and take care of her along the way with plans to then go to Homestead to be with her sisters?  Then, when my grandfather came back he met up with her in Homestead and brought her to Cleveland?

The Ellis Island record says that George Vas paid for the passage for both of them and, where it lists how much money they have, it says that Elizabeth Vas has $30 and my grandmother has $0.  Was this also a financial arrangement for my grandmother?  Did she agree to take care of her in exchange for having her passage paid for?  There’s no way of knowing.

So the mystery remains, who was Elizabeth Vas and what part did she play in my grandmother coming to the U.S. ?

Joseph Kichka’s Story

Joseph Kicka

Over the past several days, since I’ve been off work for the holidays and it’s cold and snowy outside, I’ve been starting to add content to the site.  I started with adding Joseph Kichka’s (Kička) life story.  Joseph was my paternal grandfather.  I’ll be adding life story pages for each of my grandparents but his is probably the most detailed because I have the most information on him.

Here’s a direct link to Joseph’s life story page.  Let me know what you think.

Getting Started

Where do I begin?  As I said on the My Story page, I’m not a writer.  I’m not quite sure what to do with this Blog page and posts in general.  I know that others use their blogs to post instructional things like what software packages are good for this or that and what sites are out there for doing research.  That isn’t my intention for this site.  Besides, I’m not on the bleeding edge of genealogical research, I’m usually following.

My current thought is I’ll use posts to talk about what I’m working on.  If I have a new hint or DNA match that looks promising I’ll put that out there.  If I found a new site with information on my families I’ll share that.  Maybe something interesting that I’ve found that may help someone else.  Beyond that, I’m not quite sure what will show up in my posts.

My wife suggested that I post about new stuff that I add to the site as I add it.  That’s a good idea.  She has lots of good ideas about how I should do things 🙂  So that’ll be my next post.