Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 07/28/10: Slovakia: Crosses

A typical scene in Slovakia. Crosses along the road.

Digital images privately held by Lisa Alzo [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New York, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 1)

I could hardly sleep Sunday night in anticipation of what Day 5 (Monday) would bring. I was about to meet my cousin Renata and her husband Robert for the first time. They live in London and we had been corresponding by e-mail for many months--sharing family information and photographs. When I found out that they would be visiting her parents in Slovakia during the time I would be there I knew that serendipity was somehow intervening to bring us together.

Andy, Ginny and I headed out to ŠARIŠ PARK to meet Renata and Robert for breakfast--then we would drive about an hour to Kučín, where I was set to meet Renata's parents and other Alzo family members.

It was wonderful to finally hug my beautiful cousin, Renata.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast and great conversation as everyone became acquainted. Robert and Renata spoke excellent English. We then set out for Kučín. I rode in the car with Robert and Renata so we could chat more about family. Andy and Ginny followed in their car. I was delighted that they wanted to come along with me on this journey to meet my family. Fellow genealogists are great like that...they just get it.

My brain was functioning over time trying to take in the scenery of the drive as well as all of the details of the conversation. As we approached Kučín I could feel my heart beating faster--it was my Grandpap Alzo's village.

I never knew my grandfather because he died before I was born. I have pictures of him and plenty of stories from my father, my cousins and others who did know him. But in that moment I felt like I would finally be introduced to Grandpap--even if it was only a scene played out in my mind.

to be continued...

All photos by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 07/21/10: Scenes from Slovakia

Photographs taken in Kucin, Slovakia, June 2010

Digital images privately held by Lisa Alzo [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New York, 2010

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City July 29-31

We're just about a week away from another fantastic Family History Expo--this time to be held in the Midwest--in Kansas City, Missouri. This event will not just focus on Midwest resources, but will include presentations on a wide variety of topics. There will be something for everyone so you don't necessarily have to have Midwestern roots to attend. Hope to see many of you there!

The following was received from the folks at Please address all inquiries to

For more information:
Holly T. Hansen
FHExpos Founder/President

What: Midwest Family History Expo

LDS Historical Feature Tour: July 29, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Free Keynote Address: July 30, 8:30 a.m.
Family History Classes: July 30-31 all day
Screening of “The Forgotten Ellis Island”: July 30

Where: KCI Expo Center 11730 N. Ambassador Drive, Kansas City, Missouri.

Exhibitor Registration: Online at or call 801-829-3295


Spectacular Opportunity for Exhibitors at Midwest Family History Expo

Hundreds of family history enthusiasts will gather at the inaugural Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City, Missouri, to “learn the tech to trace their roots” on July 30-31. The event will take place at the KCI Expo Center, 11730 N. Ambassador Drive, Kansas City, Missouri.

Exhibitors and vendors must not miss Midwest Family History Expo. As participants attend more than 100 classes at the event ample time will be given to tour the exhibit hall between sessions. Registrants get excited about starting, furthering, or refining their research skills and will be looking for your products and services to assist them. A wide variety of exhibitors allow professional networking and great communication with potential leads.

Midwest Family History Expo is sponsored in part by industry giants like Family History Expos, FamilySearch, and These organizations have loyal patrons who flock to the Expos they support in search of great related products. This event is also sponsored by AGES-Online, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Generation Maps, and Mid-Continent Public Library.

Pat Carpenter is a loyal Family History Expos follower. She said, “Family History Expos are the greatest! After attending several over the past few years, I can honestly say I am much more confident about my ability to research, organize, and share my genealogy -- both what I inherited from others and what I have been able to find myself.”

Carpenter was a complete novice when she began attending Family History Expos, “I began attending classes on a wide variety of subjects -- including: how to get started, what software programs will help me the most, how to research, how to organize all my information and photos, what websites are available to help me online, and even how to write and publish a family book.”

Sign up now to be an exhibitor at the Midwest Family History Expo. Spaces are limited so register early for best space selection.

[Disclaimer: I have been invited to present three lectures at the Midwest Family History Expos, for which I will not be receiving any payment or reimbursement for travel expenses.]

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 4 (Part 4)

When we returned to Pekľany from attending mass in Sabinov, Pavel and family already had the barbeque going. He was cooking, chicken, pork, and sausage on a big open fire pit.

Oh my gosh, it smelled so good! And, it was delicious! We had more cookies, and toasted to family with shots of slivovitz (plum brandy). We were also treated to some authentic Slovak music played by Cyril and Co. I was taking it all in--sitting in Slovakia, listening to that music and enjoying the food and drink. In my mind I was transported back in time--imagining that this must have been what it was like for my ancestors whenever they could break from working the land and doing their other chores.

Our hosts asked us to sing some "American" songs. We were at a loss. I don't sing--can't carry a tune to save my life so I was a bit intimidated. Unfortunately, the best Ginny and I could come up with was "On Top of Spaghetti". They couldn't understand the words, but clapped for us anyway. It didn't matter though--we were with family and everyone was just enjoying the celebration.

It was a marvelous day--one I will always remember fondly.

As I went to sleep that night my mind was racing in anticipation of the next day when I would be meeting my Alzo cousins for the first time. I couldn't wait for morning to arrive.

to be continued...

All photos by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Friday, July 16, 2010

Elusive Immigrant Ancestors?

There's still time to sign up for my live online Webinar with Family Tree University - "Ellis Island: Find Your Ancestor in a Sea of Online Records" - Wednesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Come learn how to track down your elusive immigrant ancestors. Best of all, you can do this from the comfort of your own home--even in your jammies!

From the Family Tree University Site:

Register today to attend this live webinar!
Session date:
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Starting time: 7 p.m. Eastern (6 Central/ 5 Mountain/ 4 Pacific)
Presenter: Lisa A. Alzo, frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine
Duration: 60 minutes

About the Webinar:
Almost half of all Americans have a relative who immigrated through Ellis Island, making its passenger records a key source for linking your family tree to the old country. Online databases of the more than 22 million people on those lists are accessible to everyone if you know the secrets to finding your ancestor in the sea of records. This live webinar will show you how to identify your Ellis Island immigrant ancestors, take you around the website, and give you the tools to search efficiently.

What You'll Learn:

    • Tricks to searching the Ellis Island passenger list database
    • Secrets from a demo search of a hard-to-find immigrant
    • How to use Stephen P. Morse¹s search tools as a "back door" to locate elusive passengers
    • The differences between and
Registration Includes:
    • Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
    • Access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you like
    • PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
    • Bonus handout

Who Should Attend?

    • Anyone with an immigrant ancestor who came through Ellis Island
    • Genealogists who need guidance on researching passenger lists
For more information, or to register, click here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 4 (Part 3)

One of the highlights of the trip was attending Roman Catholic mass in Sabinov at Farnosť mučeníckej smrti sv. Jána Krstiteľa (Roman Catholic Parish Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist) on the Sunday of our family gathering. A few of the family members were going in the evening and asked if I wanted to go along. Since none of the other folks spoke English, I was happy that Martin (who did) agreed to go and said I could ride in his car with him.

The church in Sabinov was lovely and the mass was fully attended - there wasn't a seat available. We arrived early enough to find an empty pew. It was so amazing to hear the prayers recited and hymns sung in Slovak. There was no mistake that you were in church. I also noticed that the priest was very young.

It reminded me of Christmas time in the church I attended while growing up--Holy Trinity--which was always known as the "Slovak" (or "hunky") church. They used to sing carols in Slovak and some of the prayers were said in Slovak as well.

This was definitely a part of the trip I know my mother--who was a devout Catholic--would have cherished. I know she was smiling down on me that I took the time to attend mass in our ancestral homeland.

On the way home from Sabinov, Martin, told me we were going to have "another lunch"--a barbeque Pavel and family were preparing. More food!

to be continued...

All photos by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 07/14/10: Visiting Presov

Lisa, Andy, and Ginny in Presov, Slovakia, June 2010

Digital image. Owner: Andy Rabatin. Digital copies privately held by Lisa Alzo [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]
New York, 2010

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 4 (Part 2)

We continued our lunch with fish prepared by Marta. It was lightly pan fried in olive oil with some flour, onion, salt, pepper, paprika, garnished with lemon, and served with rice. Delicious!

After lunch we enjoyed watermelon, and a cool treat: slices of ice cream rolls.

Then, it was time for visiting and sharing family stories and photographs. I showed the pictures in my book and Ginny shared the many she had stored on her computer.

It was such a beautiful day. As I sat there on the patio, gazing upon the breathtaking greenery surrounding us, I just kept thinking: "Wow! I can't believe I am really here in Slovakia!" I had just met my extended family, but they were so warm and welcoming--like I had known them for years. As I would discover, "warm and welcoming" would be one of the main themes of the entire visit.

to be continued...

All photos by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Hurry! Last Day for Early Bird Price for Family Tree University's Ellis Island Live Webinar

If you need help tracking your immigrant ancestors, join me for the Family Tree University Live Webinar "Ellis Island: Find Your Ancestors in a Sea of Online Records" on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 7 p.m.

Today is the last day to get the early bird price of just $39.99. Plus everyone who signs up will get $25 of the Family Tree University "Tracing Ancestors" course. Click here to register or for more information.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 07/07/10: Video on St. Ed's Wrestling Featuring My Uncle Joe

It's not a photo, but I thought I'd share this video about the St. Ed's Wrestling Program in Lakewood, OH. My late uncle, Joe Figlar, introduced wrestling to the school in 1979. Thanks to my cousin, Brandon, for sharing the link. Miss you Uncle Joe! video: St. Edward's High School: wearesteds's channel

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Remembering Mom

Thinking of my mother today as she would have turned 85. It's hard to believe that she has been gone for so many years. Still miss her so much, and I know how much she would have loved all that I discovered on my trip to Slovakia (in fact, I am sure she would have gone with me if it would have been possible).

This is a photo of my mother taken on one of her birthdays.

We celebrated that day at my Aunt Helen's house with a cookout and birthday cake. Mom received some nice presents and cards - including a "Maxine" doll.

Mom liked Maxine. I still have it. Here she says "Don't worry, be crabby." Haven't looked at this doll in years but thought I would take it out to reminisce today.

Here's to you Mom. Love you.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 4 (Part I)

Our fourth day in Slovakia was a Sunday. Our hosts planned a wonderful day for us with them and their extended family at the house where we were staying. It was going to be a picnic in Pekľany!

The weather was absolutely perfect. Beautiful blue sky, warm sunshine, and a nice light breeze. It was going to be a day of family, food, and fun. I was looking forward to meeting everyone.

Marta was preparing a wonderful lunch for us. Before lunch she brought us the most delicious pastries she picked up at a bakery.

But this would just be the beginning of all the wonderful foods we would get to enjoy that day.

As everyone started to arrive so did more food and drink. Next, we enjoyed some delicious homemade puff pastry made by one of ladies (Alzbeta). They were light and airy and had rye seeds on them and some filled cookies too.

Next up: Marta's homemade chicken soup (It was just like my grandma used to make!) served with potatoes and carrots.

This was just the beginning! There was much more to come!

to be continued...

All photos by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Friday, July 02, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 3

Our third day in Slovakia was one without a concrete plan.  We had thought we'd try to go and explore some other villages, but because of the rain and flooding we decided against it.  The weather cleared up and we saw the sun!  Hooray!  

Photo by Andy Rabatin

Our hosts had to clean up from the flooding which unfortunately hit their business.  We offered to help, but they would not let us--and they even cooked lunch for us despite all of the work they had to do cleaning up after the flooding.  We enjoyed a wonderful meal:  cabbage soup, bread, fish or pork and rice, cooked red cabbage.  And a pizza-like dessert.  

Later that evening, we went to Prešov to walk around.  

Photo by Andy Rabatin

We got to see St. Nicholas church  - it was very beautiful.  We arrived as one wedding was ending, and ducked in to look around before the next wedding was set to begin.  It seemed like the church was a popular place with so many weddings back-to-back.

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo

We stopped to enjoy some delicious ice cream (zmrzlina), and the watched a parade.

Photo by Lisa A. Alzo

We decided to pretend the parade was for us!  How nice of them to welcome the American visitors!  Really, it was for the Strawberry festival that was happening that weekend, but it was so nice to be there!  I really enjoyed seeing all of the historic buildings and enjoying the sights and sounds of Slovakia.

to be continued... 

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 2 (Part 5)

After a long day of searching for relatives, it was time to relax a bit and have something to eat. We went to Sabinov in search of a restaurant.

We walked around the main street for a bit and then decided on "Broadway Bowling"--a cute little restaurant with a two-lane bowling alley!

The menu was quite extensive--not just Slovak food, but Italian, Mexican, and even some American dishes. I decided to stick mostly with Slovak food since I rarely get a chance to enjoy it at home.

I order borscht and then fried cheese. I also ordered a "greek salad" because I wanted something healthy.

This restaurant must have had a small kitchen because they brought each order out one by one--the first person to order got their food, then the next, etc. Finally, we all had our meals. The portions were large. We then ordered palacinky--crepes. One was with cheese and the other jam (my favorite). We chose the ones served with ice cream (I never had these with ice cream!). They were delicious! Glad we all shared them because I never would have been able to eat the huge serving by myself.

After our meal we headed back to Peklany. It was a full day. Ginny, Andy and I sat around talking about all that happened and transferred our pictures to our computers. It was a great second day in Slovakia. We didn't have any set plans for the next day--there were a few different options. We wanted to wait and see what our hosts would suggest and see what type of weather we would face.

to be continued...

All photographs in this post by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010, Lisa A. Alzo