Sunday, October 31, 2010

100 Years of Gratitude

On October 29, 1910, 16-year-old* Janós Alsio from “Also-Kocsen”, Hungary, arrived at Ellis Island in New York on board the ship the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. He had $25 in his pocket and was headed to McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.

The search for work eventually took Janós to Duquesne, Pennsylvania, where he secured a job as a Millwright in the Bar Mill of the Carnegie steel plant. While staying at a boarding house owned by Mary Ceyba, he met Mary’s sister, Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Fencsak, who came to Duquesne in 1914 from Poša, a village about a mile from Janós’ hometown. The two were married in Saints Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in January of 1915.

Passenger record screen shot from www.ellisisland.org 10/31/10 (*record indicates age at arrival as "17"--Janos Alzo date of birth 01 Jan 1894: Source: Civil Birth registration certificate, Kucin, Slovakia - copy in personal files of Lisa Alzo)

List or Manifest of Passengers to the United States. Manifest source: Ancestry.com, accessed 10/31/10

Janos was the first of my four grandparents to immigrate to the United States, but the last one I researched.

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, I gave a presentation at the quarterly meeting of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International chronicling my grandfather's journey to the United States, and my own personal genealogical journey. My grandfather died 2-1/2 years before I was born, so genealogy has provided me with an opportunity to learn more about him. My talk was based on an article I wrote for the summer issue of Slovo: Publication of the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library. During Part 2 of my talk, I included a live Skype feed of my cousin, Renata, who lives in Europe and she talked about how we connected (Renata's grandfather and my grandfather were brothers who never met. Andrej was born 20 years after Janos), and our visit together this summer in Slovakia. She told the audience how she believed that it was more than coincidence that we found each other--that our ancestors somehow played a role in our connection). The audience enjoyed seeing a live demonstration of how modern technology to connect and stay in touch with family around the world.

I concluded my talk by telling the audience my reason for doing genealogy, which I some up in one simple word: "gratitude." I owe everything I have become to Janós, and my other grandparents—if they had not had the courage to get on those boats, I would not have the opportunities I enjoy today.

To Janós and Elizabeth, and Janós and Verona, I simply say: Ďakujem!


Click here for a link to a PDF file of my article.

Copyright 2010, LIsa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

2 comments:

Claudia's Genealogy Blog said...

I was interested in your post. My grandfather Willi SChridde arrived from Germany in 1926 and was also a Millwrite employed at the mill in Duquesne PA. He died in 1937 when he as electrocuted by a lightening strike at his home in Mifflin Township.

He had lived on Carl Street in Duquesne upon his arrival. I wonder if they knew each other?

Lisa A. Alzo said...

It's very likely they did know each other since Duquesne was not a very big town. What church did he attend?

Have you found any old newspaper stories about his death?