First the discovery of Grandpa’s house – thanks to the kind offer of Miloš, a student in my first class, to drive me to Nedašovce. That led to visiting the local village church and records of family baptisms. The following year there were more discoveries, records of marriages, clues about a shoe factory. And some friends in unexpected places who have helped to turn over even more stones.
Like Ladislav Holečka, clerk at the State Archive, Nitra. Birth, marriage, death and census records up to 1895 are stored there. Miloš suggested I write to this archive, requesting information about Grandpa Stefan’s parents, Augustine and Anna. One morning before class, Miloš helped me to compose a request for information. We made copies of Grandpa’s birth certificate and then mailed a copy to the archive as well as sending an email request. And then we waited. An email came back in a few days saying they were unable to read and process my request. We emailed another request. Miloš warned me that the wheels of Slovak Socialist bureaucracies turn slowly and impersonally. But Ladislav proved that wrong, and his next email took us by surprise. He had followed the link after my signature on my email, which took him to the CCE web page, to read my story (2015) and now – he wanted to help. Another gift! It would be weeks after my return home that I would reap his harvest. I received a registered letter in the mail from the archive; a payment was required before sending me the results of the Diviš search. An American check was neither an option, nor a credit card and the cost of a wire transfer was several times the bill of $22 Euro. Again Ladislav pushed through policies and regulations, and cut thru the snarl by emailing me an “unofficial” copy. And, finally, my treasure! Not only had he turned over a few stones, Ladislav had mined some precious gems as well – a new generation of the Diviš family – the grandparents, both paternal and maternal, of Stefan – which would be MY great great grandparents! This was news to me! And what a story came with the discovery! From Ladislav’s research:
Augustinus Diviš, (aka Gustav, Gustavus) father of Stefan, was born on 28th Aug 1856 in Oponice, to parents Jacobus Diviš and Eva Lanyi. August married Anna Navratil in Nedašovce on 9 Nov 1879. Augustinus/Gustavus lived in Velke Uherce at the time and worked as a seat manufacturer. He died on 24th Oct 1894, age 38, of tuberculosis and was buried in Oponice.
Anna Navratil Diviš, mother of Stefan, was born July 7, 1860 in Nedašovce to Martinus Navratil, shoemaker, and Veronica Nezhiba. Anna died August 29, 1937 at age 77.
Martinus Navratil, Anna’s father, Stefan’s maternal grandfather, was born around 1823, per 1869 census record. Birth location for both Martinus & Veronica was given in that record as an area now in the Czech Republic (Dad – we ARE part Czech!!) Our scribe, Ladislav, noted other information recorded on that census – Martinus could read and write, owned a piece of land and that the family owned two pigs! Ladislav found no record of Veronica’s death, probably because she died after 1895. Her birth date was estimated to be around 1830.
And here’s where it gets really interesting…..
Jacob/Jacobus, Stefan’s paternal grandfather, born in Austria, (perhaps a part of Slovakia governed by the Austrian Empire) worked as a hunter (forester, latin venator dominalis) in Nitra. He was married FOUR times! He was twice a widower when he married widow Eva Lanyi, who bore him four children, one of which was our Augustinus, Eva died on March 4, 1862 of “typhus”.
Jacob went on to marry a fourth time and fathered a total of eleven children. Ladislav found a very interesting bio of Jacob. He shares: In the record, it is written that Jacob was the holder of the Austrian Silver cross for merit, a significant state award. Ladislav found documents in the Prime Minister’s Hungarian state Archives that said, on Nov 3, 1897, Divišch, Jakab the woodsman in county of earl Apponyi Lajos, was rewarded for long and loyal service.