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 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:, 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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International Quarterly Meeting 10/30/10

Join me at the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International’s quarterly meeting tomorrow, Saturday, October 30, 2010, 1:15 p.m. at the Minnesota Genealogy Society, 1185 Concord Street N. St. Paul, Minnesota.

I will be presenting “100 Years of Gratitude: A Granddaughter’s Genealogical Journey." Click here for more information.

Looking forward to seeing many of my colleagues and friends and meeting some new folks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 10/27/10: Wildseed Farm, Fredericksburg, Texas

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

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 8 (Part 2)

We drove to Košice and before we had to return the rental car we went in search of Andy's Rabatin relatives. It took us a bit, but we finally found the street and the house. Just as everyone else we had met, they were so welcoming, serving us sandwiches and pastries, and drinks.

We had a lovely visit. Ginny and I were so thrilled that Andy was finally getting his "WDYTYA moment," even if it was on the final day. He said that based on some misinformation he received from a researcher before his last visit to Slovakia, he wasn't going to follow up with them. And, he wasn't even sure he would get a chance to meet with them, but it all worked out. It just proves that it really isn't too late, and that you should never take information at face value. It pays to investigate every lead.

It was getting a bit late and we needed to return our rental car and then catch a cab to the hotel and do our final packing. If only we had more time.
to be continued...
Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 9, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 8 (Part 1)

I woke up early on Thursday - our final full day in Slovakia. I had to finish packing and we wanted to clean up a bit around the house. I was sure wishing we had another week or at least a few more days.

Our host, Stevo, came to meet us and then we went to Presov. There was a street fair going on with all types of vendors--food, clothing, jewelry, and more. We bought a few souvenirs and took some photographs. Andy snapped this picture of one of the "babas" near her booth.

Photo by Andy Rabatin

We then drove to the home of Alzbeta and Cyril-they were having a lunch for us. Alzbeta gave us some lovely gifts--lace doilies she made and some candy. The lunch was delicious--sandwiches, some berries (said to be medicinal) and pastries.

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo

Cyril brought out some homemade Slivovitz (it sure had a kick but it sure was smooth going down). We then left to visit Marta and Pavel to say "farewell" - they showered us with so many gifts! After hugs, and some tears, we then left with Stevo to head to Kosice where we would stay that evening in preparation for our departure.

to be continued...

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 10/20/10: St. Stanislaus Church, Bandera, Texas

Built 1876, serves Polish settlement dating from 1855, one of oldest Polish parishes in U.S.

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

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 7 (Part 2)

After the cemetery exploration, we went back to the house for a quick lunch and then it was time to leave to drive back to Presov.

I said farewell to my gracious hosts--Emelia and Ján. I was sad to be leaving so soon, but grateful to them for such a lovely visit.

In Presov, I met up with Ginny and Andy again and listened as they told about their adventures exploring some other towns in Slovakia and the Presov archives.

It was an emotional time saying my goodbyes with Renata and Robert. I had only spent two days with them, but felt like I had known them all of my life. We promised to keep in touch and I knew that it was more than just words.

Later that evening, we went to dinner with Marta, Martin, Stevo and met up with researcher Michal Razus.

Time to enjoy some more wonderful Slovak foods. I had a fried cheese platter with parsley potatoes and a type of cole slaw. Again, a delicious meal.

I couldn't resist snapping a photo of Andy's dish--pirohy sprinkled with poppyseed and dusted with powdered sugar.

It was a great end to the day. We headed back to Peklany to pack for our pending departure. On Thursday we would be driving to Kosice to return the rental car and stay the night in a hotel near the airport so that we could be at the airport before 5 AM on Friday.
Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 9, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Happy to pass along this announcement from Leland Meitzler regarding the 2010 Salt Lake Christmas Tour. If you haven't yet heard my friend, Thomas, speak at a genealogy event, then you're in for a treat. He's a fantastic lecturer. You will learn so many great tips and have fun too!


For Immediate Release
October 13, 2010

Contact: Leland K. Meitzler
Salt Lake Christmas Tour
PO Box 830
Bountiful, Utah 84011
+1 (801) 992-3705


Featured Speaker To Offer Technology Education for Genealogists

October 13, 2010 – Bountiful, Utah: The 2010 Salt Lake Christmas Tour – an annual genealogy event in its 26th year and celebrating its 25th anniversary – is pleased to announce that noted genealogist and technology educator Thomas MacEntee will be joining in the holiday fun as its featured speaker. The Tour takes place beginning Sunday, December 5, 2010 and runs through Saturday, December 11, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Over a five-day period, MacEntee will offer eight different presentations covering various aspects of genealogy and how technology and social media can be used to expand the genealogy experience. Topics include “Building a Research Toolbox,” “Facebook for Genealogists,” “Build a Genealogy Blog,” and “Twitter: It Isn’t Just ‘What I Had For Breakfast’ Anymore.”

The Salt Lake Christmas Tour ( ) is an annual event attracting genealogists and family historians and is renowned for the genealogy research success of its attendees, many of whom come back year after year. The Tour provides the highest ratio of professional researchers to attendees of any genealogy research tour utilizing the Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Throughout 2010, Thomas MacEntee has been covering the United States and Canada presenting technology education to genealogists and family historians in an easy-to-learn format. All presentations demonstrate applications such as Facebook and Twitter in real time and include cheat sheets and other handy reference materials.

Leland Meitzler, of Family Roots Publishing Company and owner/organizer of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour, says “we think that this year’s Tour not only offers an excellent research opportunity at the Family History Library but also provides a way to increase your technology knowledge especially as it pertains to genealogy. Thomas has a way of making technology approachable no matter what your computer skills.”

Register before October 31, 2010 to take advantage of special savings and to reserve your space on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour. Not only will you be amazed at the progress you can make in your genealogy research, but you’ll do so in good company and be able to witness the sights and sounds of Christmas in Salt Lake City.

About Thomas MacEntee

As a genealogist specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and to interact with others in the family history community, Thomas MacEntee relies upon his 25 years of experience in the information technology field. And as the creator of, he has organized and engaged a community of over 1,300 bloggers to document their own journeys in the search for ancestors.

Thomas shares his knowledge of technology and experience as a genealogist with others through various forms of social media and speaking engagements. Through his business High-Definition Genealogy, he provides consulting services in the genealogy industry covering such areas as market research, education, technology and more.

Thomas MacEntee is available nationwide for presentations and classes focusing on social media and technology as a way to assist genealogists and genealogical societies.

About the Salt Lake Christmas Tour

The Salt Lake Christmas Tour specializes in professionally assisted genealogy research at the world-famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now in its 26th year and celebrating its 25th anniversary, the tour is renowned for the high success-rate of its attendees, due in part to the outstanding professional to attendee ratio. Hosted by Leland K. Meitzler, Patty Meitzler, Donna Potter Phillips, and Bill Balter, the 2010 tour promises to be one of the best ever! For more information and registration, see:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 10/06/10: Cemetery Cross

Cross in the center of the cemetery in Poša, Slovakia. Donated by the Fencsak family

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

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 7 (Part 1)

After spending two wonderful days visiting with living relatives, it was time on Wednesday to spend some time with the dearly departed ones. We were up early and after a light breakfast made our way to two cemeteries. The first was in Nizny Hrabovec.

Robert, Renata, and I walked up and down looking at all the stones for various surnames: Alzo, Masztilyak, and more.

Then we went in search of more gravestones in the Poša cemetery. I took plenty of photographs. Now I have to match the stones to the burial records I have from previous research.

The sun was so hot that day. I didn't realize how hot until later on when I saw the glowing red sunburn on the back of my neck. A small price to pay for being able to walk in the cemetery where so many ancestors have been laid to rest.

The time was going by so quickly. We had to drive to Presov so that I could meet back up with GInny and Andy. We were going to have a light lunch and look at some family photographs before our departure. I did not want to leave. Oh, how I wish I had an extra day!

to be continued...

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 8, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 04, 2010

Countdown to California Family History Expo - October 8-9

The California Family History Expo is happening this week in Pleasanton, California.

The following information was provided by Please address all inquiries to

Learn the Tech to Trace Your Roots,

California Family History Expo

Learn the tech to trace your roots at the California Family History Expo, October 8-9 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, Pleasanton, California.

Family History Expos can be a beacon in a dark sea of confusing documents and information,” founder and president Holly Hansen said. “We want to be a guiding light.”

The Expo begins at 8 a.m. on Friday with a keynote address by Beau Sharbrough. Houston native and graduate of Texas A&M, Beau is presently self‐employed, maintains the website and is the author of Gene’s Anniversary Scrapbook. He was the founder of the FGS and GENTECH web sites, former president of GENTECH, Product Manager at and VP of Content at

“He is an amazing speaker and we can’t wait for him to open the show,” Hansen said.

The Expo will feature almost 100 classes and demonstrations on techniques and technology to conduct family history research. The classes and demonstrations are taught by professional genealogists and industry experts from throughout the country. The cost of registration for the event, $75, allows participants to select from a variety of classes being taught throughout the two day Expo.

“We have something to offer everyone from those who are just curious about family history to those who are performing genealogy research professionally,” Hansen said.

The exhibit hall, open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 9a.m. to 4p.m. on Saturday, will feature companies focused on families and family history research. The event is sponsored by FamilySearch,, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Generation Maps, Flip Pal, California Genealogy Society, and Criminal Research Press.

Butch and Jean Wilcox Hibben of Sawdust and Strings will be the highlight of the luncheon both days. Hibben plays multiple instruments and is frequently accompanied by her husband, Butch, on the saw. Hibben is a board certified genealogist and president of the Corona Genealogical Society and the Southern California Chapter of APG. Hibben has a doctorate in folklore and an MA in speech communication. She is a national speaker and staff trainer for the Corona California Family History Center.

Our Friday evening event features genealogy podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke who will be chatting with the audience and a captivating line-up of guests including Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie and Sheri Fenley of The Educated Genealogist blog. Attendees can partake in a delicious dessert bar and see first-hand a podcast production in action.

At the door registration for the Expo begins at 7 a.m. on Friday, and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Register in advance online at Contact Family History Expos by telephone at 801-829-3295.

Let Your Light Shine at the

California Family History Expo 2010

October 8-9, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Exhibit Hall opens at 9 a.m.)

At the door registration begins at: 7 a.m. Friday & 7:30 a.m. Saturday

Learn the tech to trace your roots with two full days of classes, hands-on demonstrations and exhibits.


The Alameda County Fairgrounds

4501 Pleasanton Ave.

Pleasanton, California


Classes and Workshops

At the Door: $75 for both days, $40 for a single day, or $12 per class

Register right now online at and receive immediate access to all class syllabi! Note: Online class syllabi are available only to those who register online.


Disclaimer: I have been invited to be a speaker at the California Family History Expo. I am not employed by FHExpos and will not be receiving any compensation for my time, lecture, or travel expenses for this this event.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sojourn in Slovakia: Day 6 (Part 3)

We drove Helen back to her house and she insisted we come in to visit. Her husband Mike was there. It was just a matter of minutes until the food and drink came out. Helen served a platter of bread, cheese and other Slovak specialities, including some wonderful pastries.

Mike brought out a bottle of pear brandy. Renata said she would be the designated driver. Every time Robert and I looked down we each had another shot glass full of the clear, smooth liquid.

Mike even insisted that we had to have a final toast "at the gate" (the equivalent of the American "one for the road"). Soon, we realized it was nearly 10 p.m. Renata's mother was expecting us--for DINNER! I couldn't believe I had to prepare to eat yet again!

But the food was so delicious. Chicken with this fabulous cream sauce, potatoes, cucumbers. Oh my...

You just can't beat the Slovaks when it comes to hospitality. It was a wonderful end to a truly memorable day.

to be continued...

Photos by Lisa A. Alzo, June 8, 2010

Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved