Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Slovak Family

My Humenne cousins are a lot of fun; they're great cooks and hospitable in every way.  I have met all of them over the past 13 years but it took 3 visits to Slovakia to see them all.

They are all descended from George Bubnas, who was the oldest of the 5 Bubnas brothers of Valaskovce.

3 of those brothers, John, Andrew and Michael, immigrated to the US in the 1880s-90s and settled in Great Falls Montana before 1900 to work in the coal mines.  They eventually became ranchers and farmers.  Another brother (and my gr-grandfather), Paul, came to the US in the 1880s, then returned to Valaskovce and died of TB at the age of 29 in 1891.  The above-mentioned George Bubnas came to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines and then returned home to Valaskovce to inherit the family's land as the eldest son.  Most of his descendants still live there today.

Circa 1938 the Czechoslovak government claimed the land in the mountains where Valaskovce was located, for use as a military base where troops were trained in using tanks and weapons.  One reason it was a desirable spot for the military is because of its remoteness.  All the people in the village were relocated below the mountains to a newly built area of Humenne christened New Valaskovce.  Most of my relatives still live in that part of the city.

On our trip there last month Marian and Matus met us at the hotel; actually, they did that in 2002 as well.  We felt so welcome seeing family waiting for us!  Anna cooked a chicken dinner for us, Gabi we saw at the bakery, Magda provided us with pastries from the bakery, and Lucia--Lucia translated for us.  She speaks excellent English!

My cousins who live outside of Humenne in Modra--Eva, Jozef, Monika and Jozef Jr.--took care of us on our first visit.  I stayed with them and Monika went everywhere with me to translate for me.   We visited them during our 2010 visit and Monika still speaks great English and now has three children!  Eva cooked us some delicious halupky.  Jozef  and Eva are wonderful hosts.

My cousin Juraj's family lives in Prievidza, further west than Humenne.  They grow a huge garden every year.  We have enjoyed visiting with them at their home and through the internet.  All 3 children are now married and living in Bratislava.

front: Ladislav Jr. and his girfriend,  Irina
center: Magda, Monika, me, Pavel Jr., Lucia
back: Pavel, Anna, Ladislav Sr.

seated: Marian, Ladislav
center: Marianna, Daniela, me, Gabi
back: Matus, Anna, Ratislav [?], Lucia, Ladislav Jr.

seated: Ladislav, Zofia, Darina, Magda, Irina
standing: Viktor, Maria, Lucia, Villiam, me, Jozef, Anna, Janka, Eva

Craig, Juraj, Veronika, me, Juraj Jr., Katka, Katarina

Craig, me, Juraj, Katharina


  1. Great people and wonderful hosts!

  2. Was it awkward meeting your family the first time or did you already have close connections? I didn't know if you found them online, called (or e-mailed) and said,"Hey, did you know we are related" or if you had strong ties already. I've never met any European ancestors and really would have no idea where to begin. This is very fascinating to me.