Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 09/29/10: Mystery Women

Another family mystery photograph

Original photo & Digital image. Privately held by Lisa Alzo [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New York, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 6 (Part 2)

After the lovely afternoon luncheon, we next went in search of Fencsaks and Leskos--my paternal grandmother's lines. Robert, Renata, and Helena (Helen) drove to Possa--another of my ancestral villages.


We stopped at several homes where Helen asked some of the people she knew if they remembered the Fencsak or Lesko families. We met a Mr. Nadzam (shown at left, below) who wanted to go with us on our little adventure. and took us to one of the houses where we might find someone to talk to about the families. Mr. Nadzam said that he never dreamed when he woke up that morning that he would have such a "special visitor'" all the way from America. He also said "Mountains don't move, but people can."


We were invited in to one home of a gentleman with connections to these families. He had some documents from the U.S. and let us take some photographs of them so that I could further trace the connection. It seems I found a potential distant cousin.

While there was no genealogy "slam dunk," I at least took away a few more pieces to the family puzzle. Again, I wondered if I had made this trip too late? Would I have had more success finding family 15 years ago? Maybe...maybe not. I truly believe if you are willing to take risks in the search for your roots, eventually some of them will pay off. So, you have to keep on knocking on those doors.

to be continued...

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 8, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 09/22/10: Mystery Couple Family Photograph

Another unidentified family photograph.


Original photo & Digital image. Privately held by Lisa Alzo [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New York, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 6 (Part 1)

I was awakened the next morning by the rooster. His cock a doodle-do-ing sounded like he was quite close by. It was hot and humid and I was quickly reminded about how spoiled I am having central air conditioning in my own home.

After a light breakfast of some homemade bread and butter with coffee (I could barely eat another bite after enjoying all the wonderful food from the day before) we were set to leave to pick up another Alzo cousin (Helen) and then head on to a restaurant (Cafe Restaurant Junior) in Vranov where Renata had made lunch reservations. The restaurant was lovely and we had our own private room for lunch--the table looked like it was set for a very fancy party.




Renata's sister joined us. Everyone said that if my hair was longer we could be twins!

Then, it was time to eat again! We ordered off the menu. I had a shot of pear vodka and a delicious combination of haluski, pirohy and potato pancakes. Then for dessert, palacinka.





We spent the entire afternoon discussing family connections, looking at photographs and just enjoying the visit.


Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 8, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 09/15/10: Mystery Wedding Photograph

Starting a series of postings of "mystery" family photos. This one an old wedding photograph--received from a cousin on my paternal side of the family. Haven't had any luck in identifying the couple...yet.

Original photo & Digital image. Privately held by Lisa Alzo [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New York, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Friday, September 03, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 8)

After the big cemetery visit and walking tour around town, it was time to go back to the house. Before we entered the kitchen we took our shoes off and turned them upside down.

Renata's mother was hard at work--cooking again! This time, for dinner, we enjoyed Holupky (stuffed cabbage) and potatoes.


Photo by Lisa A. Alzo

More wine, and more nut and poppyseed rolls! Everything was so delicious! We enjoyed more time talking about the Alzo family in America and the Alzo families in Slovakia--making connections, sharing stories. Renata's father reminded me so much of my own father. They were first cousins and shared the same first name (Jan, John), as well as the Alzo smile and sense of humor. Jan agreed to take a DNA test the next day (I brought a kit with me). I had hoped Jan would agree to do the test because my father had taken one a few years before he died. Up until now there have not been any matches in the database. But, after spending the day with Jan, I knew he did not have to take the test to prove we were blood relatives. Still, I was glad I brought the kit along.

After a very long, but fulfilling day, it was time to call it a night. As I was about to shut my eyes and go to sleep, I was thinking how surreal it was to be sleeping in a bed in the house on the land where my grandfather once slept. I felt so grateful to my grandfather--for having the courage to leave his home and family and start a new life in America.


Ján Alzo


Andrej Alzo

I thought about how he left his parents, his home and the village. Renata told me that my great-grandmother was so heartbroken when he left that she wanted to have another baby. It was not long after that Renata's grandfather, Andrej, was born. But these two brothers never met face to face. They only knew of each other from photographs and letters sent across the ocean. I just kept thinking: "how sad."

I was looking forward to the next day--we would be having a family luncheon and I would be meeting more Alzo relatives!

to be continued...


Photos owned by Lisa A. Alzo

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 5 (Part 7)

The most amazing part of Day 5 was seeing the house my grandfather grew up in, and to walk on the very same soil where he once walked.




It's difficult to put into words what it meant to me to stay in a house that was on my family's land.


Renata's father had built a new house across from the old homestead and this is where I spent two nights. The old house, while still standing, is not structurally fit for anyone to live in it. The family uses it for storage now. The dirt floor, the paint, and a few things inside are all original. Wow...going back to the late 1890s...so much history in such a small space!

While taking the tour of the homestead, I collected some soil, and I also learned more about my Alzo ancestors. Janos Alzso Czigas - (now written "Cigas" but read "Chigash") was apparently my great grandfather's name/nickname. I learned from my cousin Jan (translated via Renata) that my great-grandfather was working at the manor house in Kucin, (which is still there, about 10min walk from the Alzo house). It is a very old, but very basic house (nothing like the castles in other places). Renata put it very nicely, "...but compared to one-roomed people’s houses/accommodation at that time, it must have felt 'rich'." My great-grandfather was working there as a servant with horses and a cab, and in Hungarian, the name for that post was apparently "cigas."

My grandfather died before I was born, and just being in the place where he played as a boy, worked, and spent time with family helped me to feel close to him. And so, thankful to him too--for having the courage to leave it all behind--his family, the home, the land, the village for the unknown world of a steeltown in Western Pennsylvania.

to be continued...

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 7, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: September 1, 2010: Funeral Photographs Kučín, Slovakia


Funeral photographs: Borbála Manyovszki Alyzsó (d. 12 April 1961). A short note: Borbala's son, Jan (my grandfather) died the same year (on 10 June 1961) as his mother.


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

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved