Finding missing pieces of the puzzle at the Košice state archives

I recently traveled to Slovakia to research family history records not available in the United States. The records were part of a set supposedly available online. But due to a frustrating bureaucratic snafu, I have not been allowed to view critical early records.

My Slovak ancestors – forbears of my maternal grandmother Anna Sabol (1904-1988) – were Evangelical Lutherans who lived in the small villages of Kysak, Trebejov and Obišovce, in what is now eastern Slovakia. Their lives centered around a small church in Obišovce, which kept metrical books of births, marriages and deaths. From 1787-1895, those church ledgers were the official vital records. Beginning in 1896, a local government office in Kysak took over that function.

The Obišovce church records were all filmed by the Family History Library of the Church of Latter Day Saints, part of a massive, global effort. They were originally made available on three rolls of microfilm and, fairly recently, online. But the first 200 pages (1787-1837) were embargoed for a completely stupid reason. They were on a roll of microfilm that included records from another town that were less than 100 years old. Under Slovak law, records can only be made public after 100 years. And even though the records I was looking for were more than two centuries old, I could not get them released.

Included in the embargoed records were all marriage records before 1838. I really needed those records to figure out who was who. In the dozen or so villages surrounding the church at Obišovce, there were only a small number of family names in use. And for some strange reason, parents used the same handful of names for their children. Boys were almost invariably Andrej, Jan, Juraj or Michal. Girls were predictably Anna, Alžbeta, Barbara or Maria. So in the same small village you might find three Anna Filaks and four Andrej Sabols.

I really wanted those missing records. So I did a little research and figured out that I could view them in Košice, Slovakia’s second largest city. I also gathered that some of the post-1896 civil records might be viewable there, which provided more incentive to book a flight.

Košice was worth the trip. It’s a quiet city with a beautiful, historic city center. My first stop was the Košice State Archive on ulica Bačíková. It is a regional branch of the national archive system, housed in an attractive pre-World War I building near the city center. There, I had access to the missing first roll of microfilm. I spent two days poring over those records. I also photographed each page to allow further review back home.

Košice State Archives building on ulica Bačíková.

Written in Latin, those early records contained many important finds, particularly among the marriage records. The oldest marriage record for a direct ancestor dates to January 28. 1790. My fourth great-grandparents Andrej Macko and Dorotya Marton were married that day. From the record, I know that my fifth great-grandparents were Jan Macko, Alžbeta Kolar, Juraj Marton and Alžbeta Madzak.

Marriage record for my fourth great-grandparents Andrej Macko and Dorotya Marton dated January 25. 1790. Click to enlarge.

Marriage record for my fourth great-grandparents Andrej Macko and Dorotya Marton dated January 25. 1790. Click to enlarge.

The records also allowed me to trace the Daniel family back seven generations to my fifth great-grandparents. This helped to resolve a question about the family’s origins. My second great-grandfather Andrej Daniel was born in the town of Žehňa, home to another Evangelical Lutheran church. He moved to Obišovce as a young boy with his widowed mother. Now I know know definitively that the Daniel family’s roots are in Obišovce, not Žehňa. This marriage record from January 25, 1804 documents the union of my fourth great-grandparents Andrej Daniel and Barbara Galdun, both residents of Obišovce. Their parents (and my fifth-grandparents) Matej Daniel, Barbara Benko, Jan Galdun and Anna Zuropal were all from there as well.

Marriage record for my fourth great-grandparents Andrej Daniel and Barbara Galdun, dated January 25, 1804. Click to enlarge.

Marriage record for my fourth great-grandparents Andrej Daniel and Barbara Galdun, dated January 25, 1804. Click to enlarge.

Finally, I may have learned something new about the Sabol family. I found the November 5, 1828 marriage record of my third great-grandparents Michal Sabol and Anna Tkacik. It lists Michael’s parents as Michal Sabol and Alžbeta Misik. But other records say his mother was Alzbeta Suchodolinsky. Sure enough, there is a marriage record dated February 8, 1809 between a Michal Sabol and Alzbeta Liska. The Liska family seems to be closely entwined with the Sabols. The families even lived together for a time. And, intriguingly, Alžbeta’s father is identified as Georgius (or Juraj) Suchodolinsky. So is this the marriage record of my fourth great-grandparents? Seems likely, but a little more sleuthing is in order.

Marriage record for my third great-grandparents Michal Sabol and Anna Tkacik, dated November 5, 1828. Click to enlarge.

Marriage record for my third great-grandparents Michal Sabol and Anna Tkacik, dated November 5, 1828. Click to enlarge.

Marriage record for Michal Sabol and Alzbeta Liska, dated February 8, 1809. Were these my fourth great-grandparents? Click to enlarge.

Marriage record for Michal Sabol and Alžbeta Liska, dated February 8, 1809. Were these my fourth great-grandparents? Click to enlarge.

I also spent a morning at a second archive, located in a drab Socialist office tower on the far outskirts of the city. There, I was able to pore through a decade’s worth of original marriage and death records from 1896-1905, bound up in giant ledgers.

Satellite branch of the Kosice State Archives with post-1895 civil records.

Satellite branch of the Košice State Archives with post-1895 civil records.

Those volumes contained death records for two of the four great-great-grandparents who watched their children leave for a new life in America. I found the death record for Barbara Macka, mother of my immigrant ancestor Maria Daniel. In bureaucratic Hungarian, we learn that she died on November 23, 1899 of senile exhaustion (aggkori végkimerülés).

Death record for my great-great-grandmother Barbara Macka who died of "senile exhaustion" on November 23, 1899.

Death record for my great-great-grandmother Barbara Macka who died of “senile exhaustion” on November 23, 1899.

Finally, and most surprisingly, I learned that Jan Sabol, father of my immigrant ancestor Andrej Sabol, died of gelation (megfagyás) on New Year’s Eve 1895. Put another way, he froze to death.

Death record for my great-great-grandfather Jan Sabol, dated January 1, 1896. It reveals that he froze to death on New Year's Eve. Click to enlarge.

Death record for my great-great-grandfather Jan Sabol, dated January 1, 1896. It reveals that he froze to death on New Year’s Eve.

I have found so many missing pieces of the puzzle so I have to say it was worth the trip. I am still analyzing this trove of records and will write more about my findings in future posts.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Family Line - Sabol, Slovakia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Finding missing pieces of the puzzle at the Košice state archives

  1. Pingback: A visit to ancestral hometowns in Slovakia: Trebejov and Kysak | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  2. Pingback: A visit to ancestral hometowns in Slovakia: Obišovce and Žehňa | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  3. Slavomir Sabol says:

    Hi, my grandfather Michal Sabol (born 1899) was in US and Canada and I have one picture of 5 men and one person is very very similar to man on your picture on your web side (the firtst man from left) . Michal Sabol leaved in Lemesany and it is close to Obysovce and Kysak. Let me know any email adress and I will send it to you. Then pls let me know comment if I am right.
    Br
    Slavomir Sabol

    • johnkowal says:

      Dear Slavomir,
      Thank you for writing. It would be interesting to see that photo. I will write to you at the email address attached to your post.
      From my review of the records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Obisovce, Slovakia, there were Sabols living in various towns in the area. I’m not sure if they all were related. As you probably know, the Sabol name is based on an occupation (tailor) and there were probably tailors in different towns who took on the same surname.
      My Sabol ancestors originally lived in Seniakovce (Senyik), between Kosice and Obisovce. One of them, also Michal Sabol, moved to Trebejov when his first wife died.
      John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s