Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Family Record - Treasure Chest Thursday

Documentation can get pretty interesting when one is dealing with 19th c. Eastern European records. One is looking for records kept in lands pummeled by Hitler, communism, Stalin (an entirely different issue from communism) and other plagues; for records written in multiple languages - Latin, Church Slavonic, Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Rusyn dialects that are fast vanishing - if not vanished.

I've been overjoyed (and overwhelmed) by the Slovak church registers appearing on FamilySearch. Decoding the images is slow, but I have made some progress on my grandmother's Pereksta and Sidor families. My grandfather Stefan Popp's family however is far more difficult. His home now lies in the Ukraine. There is not even a hint that any of those records will be available outside the country in my lifetime. I am ever grateful for the notebooks, letters and the records he kept. I cannot read all of them. But slowly I am working out a strategy for analyzing and preserving them.

Stefan wrote a family record of his, his wife's and their own family in a pocket calendar that I have. It's written in what I have been told is a Rusyn/Ukrainian dialect. My translations are not exact, but I believe they communicate the basic information.  This first part is record of his parents' family.

Family Record for Ivan Papp and Maria Tegza

My Daddy and Mama

Ivan Papp was born in Drahov on December 9 in the year 1846. He died in 1909 on December 7. He lived 64 years minus 2 days.

Mama Marya Tegza was born in Berezov in the year 1857. She died July 6 in the year 1920. She lived 63 years.

Their children
Vasily, Ivan, Elana, Anca, Stefan, Marika, (second page begins) Mikula, Marika, Hafya, Luka, Mikula and Petra.

Marika, Mikula and Petra died as children.

Marika Papp Hricak died February 21 in the year 1942.

Luka Popp died September 25 in the year 1944.

Stefan Popp died 9-8-48.

Notes -

My family's name is most often spelled Papp or Pap in European records. It was not changed at Ellis Island. It was changed when my my grandfather, his brother and cousins grew tired of hearing it pronounced as "pap".  All the family in America opted to spell the name as close to the phonetic pronunciation as possible. Thus in the United States we are Popps. 

My great-grandparents reused the names Marika and Mikula after the older children bearing those names died. I have been told both by my aunt and by cousins in the Ukraine that the record accurately gives the children's birth order. 

Three of the Popp children, Marika Popp Hricak, Luka and Stefan settled in America. 

The last entry recording Stefan's own death was obviously written by someone else. I believe his daughter made the entry. 

"Popp-Pereksta Family Record." (MS. Binghamton, NY, 1930-1982), p. 1-2; Digital Images.  Privately held by Susan Popp Clark, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. 2008.  


  1. Fascinating! So, what is your "strategy" for analyzing these records? Did you learn some of the dialect or did you use an Internet tool to get the translation, or what?

  2. This is great! Nothing beats the record in their own hand. I'm curious about how you are translating these too. Is it very close to a language you know?

  3. Fascinating. I just located my husband's great grandfather's obituary from San Francisco in 1912 but it's in German. Not only a foreign language but in the old world German font. Thankfully I have a friend with tremendous patience who was able to translate most of it using Google Translate.

  4. Translating is a loaded word with these records. I'm not always sure what language my grandfather was writing in (he spoke at least three languages and wrote in the above dialect and Hungarian). My aunt has written out the data from this notebook in English so I've used that as a basis, asked Rusyn/Slovak speakers to review the records and give me their translations (which have varied) and then gone with my best efforts. I do not read or speak Rusyn, but I do have enough of a genealogical vocabulary to be able to decode records. His letters and some old deeds are another issue altogether. Still working to have them translated from Hungarian.

  5. Hi Susan,
    It's wonderful for me to see the written records from the ancestors of others' families. These are just the best! Thank goodness we had ancestors who thought it was important to record data and save it. These are truly historical documents - not just for your family -- documents that can help students of history understand how our country came to be -- it's the regular folks who have made America. I was thrilled to see the original handwriting and your (even if approximate) translation. As you know, I am posting my family's story based on the same kind of old documents. Ain't it a thrill!

  6. Файні фотки. Моя баба впознала вуйка

    1. Спасибі, Майкл! Яке задоволення почути від двоюрідного брата. Будь ласка, дайте привіт всієї родини, особливо твоєї бабусі.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Comments related to the information shared here are most appreciated. All comments are moderated, and since I am not actively researching right now it many take a day or two for your comment to post. Please know that it will post, and that I much appreciate the feedback.