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A Challenge for Advanced Researchers - My Slovak Family

Replies: 21

A Challenge for Advanced Researchers - My Slovak Family

Posted: 18 Mar 2013 6:35AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 19 Mar 2013 8:28AM GMT
I'm desperately stuck and am hoping someone out there might have suggestions regarding my Slovak family... This side of the family has long been a mystery to all of us. Im currently set to begin earning a certificate in Genealogy from BU and just completed a course in Czech/Slovak History and Genealogy, and it all started out of my need to crack the case of who my paternal family was. Here is what I know: My maiden name is Copjec - and as far as I've been able to find, we are the only family with that surname spelled that way. Obviously it is an anglicized spelling of the original surname. My great grandparents died long before I was born, and nobody seems to have known much about them, except that we were "Czechoslovakian", and our great grandparents names were Julia and Peter. I was able to find the family in the 1940, 1930, and (after several long nights of manually searching page by page) the 1920 Censuses in Forestville CT under the following spellings: Copjec (1940), Kupelica (1930) and Kopcsak (1920). Additionally, my great grandfather, who Ive learned was separated but never divorced from my great grandmother from 1935 until his death in 1947, lived in a separate home in the 1940 Census under Kopek. They had 5 children plus an infant that died shortly after birth, and nobody in my family had ever heard of the oldest child. After months of investigating, I was able to learn he was injured in a CCC camp in 1933 and subsequently put into a mental hospital, where he did 11 years later from TB at age 28. Their children were Peter Jr., Anna, Mary, John (my grandfather) and George. None are living and I've been unable to locate any living cousins. From all the information I've recieved (my family had nothing, so I had to obtain everything from outside sources- this includes obituaries, death certificates, medical records, a Depression-era social services file on the family, newspaper articles, land records, birth certificates for their children, draft cards, employee files from my great-grandmother's workplace, and some photos), I've been able to ascertain that Peter was born between 1885-1893 (it varies depending on the document) and Julia in either 1892 or 1893, though there are rumors she was older, so it could be anytime as early as 1885. Both consistently listed Slovak as language and ethnicity, but gave varying birthplaces - Hungary, Austria or Czechoslovakia. Ive taken an entire course on the political influences and border shifts in that area and so far all I can say is they were both from somewhere in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Strangely, in all documents that called for birthplace, they only gave that generalized answer - never a town or village. Julia's maiden name was some variation of Geryk - Gerich, Gerric, Gerricha, etc. Each document differs. In 1925, she told a social worker that she had married at age 20, though a census says she married at age 16. She also told the worker that she knew very little of her husband's family, except that he was his mother's only child by her first marriage, and she had 2 more children by her second marriage - my great grandfather's half brothers, named Jan and Gyorgy. Im unsure if Copjec/Kopjec is his birth father's name or his step father's name. Julia also told the worker that her husband had been in America longer than her, and had first settled in Pennsylvania before coming to Forestville CT to start his family. I am trying to find out if Julia lived in PA as well, or if they met and married in CT, etc. Their oldest son, Peter Jr, was born in CT in 1916. It seems both Peter and Julia came to the US anywhere between 1905-1913. Neither naturalized, though im hopeful that they may have complied with the Alien Registration in 1940...Im awaiting a reply from the Archives. Julia's death certificate, for which my grandfather was the respondent in 1969, lists her birthplace as Austria and her parent's names as "Andrew Gerrick" and "Anna Gerrick". In 1925, she told that social worker that she had younger siblings back in Austria and that her parents were alive in Austria and living on her brother Charles' farm. Her siblings were Mary, Veronika, Charles and Mike (Mihaly). It mentions an unnamed married sister in her 40's as well. I have no idea who either grandparent camt to the US with, when or where they arrived, or why. I've tried every name variation and tried using Czech/Slovak versions of their first names ("Juliska" and "Pietr"). Ive used Steve Morse's One-Step Searches. I've browsed every database. I'm just lost. I cannot verify any immigration or emigration record as belonging to either great grandparent. Julianna Gyuricska sounded like a possibility and had a birthdate and date of arrival that comes close. There is also a Jula Gericz that sounds like a possibility, and even listed her destination as "Forestville, PA" (not Forestville, CT which is where my Julia lived). This Jula Gericz was traveling with a cousin, Anna Fedeles...though I cant find any later mention of a Jula in Anna's life and vice versa. Any insight or guesses would be much appreciated. Perhaps I need a pair of fresh eyes on this.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Joannamichell... 18 Mar 2013 12:35PM GMT 
marksabol21 18 Mar 2013 2:33PM GMT 
Joannamichell... 18 Mar 2013 3:36PM GMT 
marksabol21 18 Mar 2013 4:57PM GMT 
ZlaticaBeca 18 Mar 2013 4:01PM GMT 
Joannamichell... 18 Mar 2013 4:07PM GMT 
ZlaticaBeca 18 Mar 2013 4:15PM GMT 
Joannamichell... 19 Mar 2013 1:42PM GMT 
ZlaticaBeca 19 Mar 2013 2:34PM GMT 
Joannamichell... 19 Mar 2013 2:39PM GMT 
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