Sunday, November 6, 2016

The End of An Era

in memory of a generation past

This past summer a distant cousin, Margaret Evans, passed away in Florida.  She was 94 years old.  I never met her personally, but had corresponded with her.  She knew my Baba and Aunt Mary well as she was a first cousin to my grandfather.  Margaret E. was the last living member of my grandfather's generation.

Here's a simple chart to show relationships:

John Szorokacs             married             Anna Kalyanin

 they had 8 children:

John 1866, Mary 1868, Anna 1871, Michael 1873, Eliz 1875, Andrew 1878, George 1881, Paul 1883

The Mary born 1868 is my great-grandmother, her son John was my grandfather

The Michael born 1873 had 10 children; Margaret E. was the youngest 

The 8 children listed above had a minimum 39 children between themselves, and Margaret E outlived all her siblings and cousins.   There are very likely more than 39 children of that generation, but some remained in the old country and I don't yet have information on them.  It's extremely unlikely that any of that generation in the old country is still living--life spans are significantly shorter there.

The 39+ children of those 8 siblings were all born between 1889--1930, a 41-year span.  Margaret E. was on the younger end, born 1922.

The Szorokacs's native village, is called Valaskovce or Valyaskocz in Slovak, or Pasztorhegy in Hungarian (shepherd mountain).  It was situated on the north slope of the extinct volcano called Vihorlat.  I say "was," because in 1938 the Czechoslovak government moved the village population into a city down below the mountain, called Humenne.  The village was razed (except for the tiny Greek Catholic Church) so the army could use the area for military training.  Vihorlat was the highest mountain in the central Carpathian Mountains (think wolves and bears and yikes, vampires!).

Because Margaret E. was one of the younger children of her generation, she never met her grandparents; they were long gone before she came along.  It's remarkable to note that the grandparents of this 94-year old who died this past summer were born in 1843 as serfs on the great estate nearby.  What obscure, rustic, rude lives they must have lived on top of that mountain in what was then the middle of nowhere, in a time when peasants were still bound to the lord of the manor.

May the generations to come carry on the reverence for family, the work ethic and the religious devotion exemplified by those who have gone on.

 Eastern Slovakia.  Poland is to the north, Ukraine barely off the map to the east, Hungary to the south.  The arrow shows the location of Valaskovce.


  1. We were in a pool in Myrtle Beach this summer, and met a lady who said she was Czechoslovakia. Well, she lives in Pennsylvania now. She said she was from the Slovakia part of that country. I heard her talking with family/friends in another language...that's why Andrew thought to ask where she was from. :)

    I enjoyed this post about your family.

  2. Does the Slovakian ancestry show up in your DNA?

    1. Hi Susanne. How are you?? Yes, some Eastern Europe shows up in my DNA, and my brother's, but not country-specific. Maybe someday technology will make that happen. There are tons of people in Pennsylvania with Slovak ancestry, so am not surprised about the woman going there. In many PA towns you can buy halupky and other 'hunkie' foods. I went to a funeral in Wilkes Barre PA a couple weeks ago, and it was a very Byzantine service; what I noticed was the funeral home workers were all tuned in to Byzantine tradition, likely because they do so many funerals for people whose ancestry is from Slovakia.