Early Sunday morning July 7th, found Iveta busy in the kitchen rolling out dough. She put me to work cranking the handle on her pasta maker, catching the noodles that wiggled out of the spout and she set them on a pan to dry. The Proverbs 31 wife has nothing on Iveta! Kitchen chores done, it was time for church and an opportunity to hear Ivana play the organ to accompany the hymns. After the service, we drove toward the heart of Slovakia, making our way to the Historic Town of Banská Bystrica/Banská Štiavnica, the oldest mining town in Slovakia, established in the 13th century. It is located in the mountains of Štiavnické Vrchy, central Slovakia, where it sits in the middle of an immense caldera created by the collapse of an ancient volcano. As we walked up and down the hilly cobblestone streets we passed the mining academy “Banícka académia” which was established in 1762. This was the world’s first technical university, and it trained specialists in silver, gold and metallurgy for mining in the surrounding area. It had a chemistry department and in 1807 added forestry to its study programs. We passed the afternoon in this picturesque Renaissance town, a tribute to Slovak ingenuity and creativity! (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/618)
We finished Sunday with another wonderful meal from Iveta’s kitchen and some time in her garden. Monday morning was soon upon us, and my team set out to resume our investigation. Miloš, chauffeur, tour guide and concierge, Ivana, chief investigator, oldest sister and interpreter extraordinaire, and me – Slovak/American tourist and wannbe genealogist– set out to conqueror… or at least see, Partizánske. After a short drive, we located city hall. We were met by Lenka Ďuríčková, who had arranged for some of her colleagues to join us. One, an amateur historian, had read my story, but did not have any new ideas for us. Another was the director of the Bata Shoe Factory museum, curator PhDr. Vladimír Marko who came to give us a tour. But before joining him, we were taken to a small office of the records clerk, keeper of Slovak documents for this area, who searched by hand through an old metal file cabinet. She flipped through small, hand written cards, which looked like something out of a library card catalog index, circa 1970s USA. No electronic data bank here!
The Diviš family bloodline runs through this region, as Ladislav would later confirm with Jacob. Grandpa Stefan was becoming a naturalized citizen in the USA about the time of his niece Emilia’s birth. It was Emilia that I hoped to find a trace of in this area. Searching marriage records last year (2016) in Rybany, a small town 12km/7 miles from Partizánske, we found the record of Emilia Alzbeta Diviš ’s marriage to Stefan Haucko. Emilia was born Aug 13, 1929 in Nedašovce. She was the fifth child of Josef and Maria Jedlicka Diviš. Stefan was born March 14, 1923 In Badovny. Emilia’s occupation was listed as “worker in shoe factory” and Stefan’s was “manager in shoe factory”. Their wedding date was July 5, 1948. A gentleman by the name of Rudolf Tlsty was their witness. All of this pointed to the Bata shoe factory. But without a date establishing Emilia or her husband’s death, the clerk couldn’t locate information about either of them. We learned no secrets from those cards, but it was an interesting glimpse into the Slovak record filing systems here in Partizánske! (And at this time in our adventure, we didn’t know about Jacob and his wives from nearby Oponice.) It was time to join PhDr. Marko to visit the museum.
Batovany, as Partizánske was originally named, was once the sight of the Bata Shoe Factory. First built in the Czech Republic by brothers Jan Antonin & Tomáš Bata, the business expanded to Slovakia in 1938-39. It was a welcomed employment opportunity for the town residents and surrounding area, quite possibly Emilia and her Stefan. Unfortunately, many records and artifacts of the Bata shoe factory were destroyed by the Communists, Phdr. Marko told us. The museum was a tribute to the shoe production facility, and many of the artifacts were donated by local residents who had rescued and preserved part of the operation. This included sewing machines, leather working machines and items collected by the Bata family, reflecting the history of the enterprise and its impact on the area. The Partizánske town crests bear the image of a shoe and in the town square is a 4 ft. heeled slipper, shaped out of foliage and greenery. The name Partizánske means “resistance “and was named for anti-Nazi resistance fighters called ‘partisans”.