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Revak

Replies: 4
Posted: 27 Aug 2001 3:12PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 13 Feb 2002 8:11PM GMT
For anyone who's interested, I've done considerable research on the Revak ancestors of my own family line--both in microfilms of village records at the LDS and visits to the "old country." I've been to my ancestral village and have met distant relatives. So I'd be happy to share some of the things I've learned, in case there's any connection.

The Revak surname existed on both the Polish and Slovakian sides of the Carpathian Mountains. On the Polish side, it's spelled "Rewak" (in Polish, "w" is pronounced "v.") On the Slovakian side, it's spelled "Revak."

Way back when, because of the way the Carpathian Mountains lie and the natural passes that cut through them, it was often easier for people to visit back and forth from one side of the mountain to the other than it was to visit villages over the hill on the same side of the mountain. That is one reason you will find Revak's on both the Polish and Slovakian sides of the mountains.

My Revak grandparents came from the village of Losie (Nowy Sacz county), which is located in the foothills of the Carpathians in southeastern Poland. Nearby villages are Labova, Nowa Wies, Uhrin, Berest, the spa town of Krynica, and Muzina/Muzinka.

For hundreds of years, there were many Revak's living in the village of Losie. So far, I've been able to trace a few ancestors back to the 1700's. The eldest father figure I've found so far was named "Pantelemon" Rewak.

The countryside is absolutely beautiful--very green with rolling green hills and thick forests much like Pennsylvania.

Historically, this area was called by many different names: Austria, Austria-Hungary, Galicia, Poland--and on the other side of the mountain, Slovakia , Galicia, and Hungary.

Most of the people who lived along the slopes on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains belonged to an ethnic group called "Rusyn" (aka Carpatho-Rusin, Karpatski-Rus, Rusnak). Those who lived in southeastern Poland were called "Lemkos."

At the end of World War II, Europe was divided and the Soviet Union was awarded the eastern territories. It acquired parts of Germany, along with all of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, etc.--and also rearranged many borders.

For example, the Polish city of L'viv /L'wow (which was home to many Rusyns/Lemkos) was suddenly part of Ukraine. People living in Uzhorod went to sleep living in Slovakia and woke up living in Ukraine--without ever having gotten out of bed.

In 1945, the Ukrainian Partisan Army rose to fight against Soviet rule. Massacres were rampant, yet the rebels couldn't be routed out. In 1947, the new Communist government, in an effort to smash the rebellion and, at the same time, do away with all ethnic diversities, enacted the tragic Operacja Visla (Akcja Vistula).

People living in the foothills--including the Lemkos in Poland (and some of our Revak ancestors)--were forcibly deported from their villages and relocated to distant, undesirable locations. Sadly, these proud and gentle people were far removed from the fighting but were punished anyway, even though they had nothing to do with the rebels.

In villages throughout the area, soldiers of the Polish Communist government suddenly appeared, banging on doors with their rifle butts, and giving the villagers mere hours or days to pack what they could carry, then report to the local train station.

Villages were split up so that only a few families from the same village could reside in their new village. Families were torn apart and sent in different directions--some to the east (Soviet Union), others to the west (territories reclaimed from the Germans). They were herded into cattle cars, where they spent days with nothing to eat or drink, and without seeing daylight.

Meanwhile, the Lemko villages themselves were either destroyed, left abandoned, or reoccupied by ethnic Poles.

My cousins ended up in the tiny village of Lubiaz, which is about 30 miles outside the city of Wroclaw, Poland (which used to be Breslau, Germany). Two of my cousin's aunts and their families were sent to the Soviet Union and never heard from again. You see, no one ever knew (and couldn't find out) where anyone was sent.

Also during WWII, many of our people were sent to forced labor camps in Germany. This happened to a cousin, Jan Rewak, who ended up marrying a German woman and remaining in Germany after the war. Some fled to South America. (In fact, one Michal Rewak became Miguel Revak.) Later, during the communist uprising, many people fled to Australia (where there is a sizeable and active Lemko/Rusyn community today).

The whole point of this explanation is that, depending on when your ancestors came to the U.S., they probably identified themselves with the particular ethnicity and country in effect at the time. On the other hand, the rulers and boundaries of their country may have changed so much that they didn't know for sure what to declare themselves to be anymore.

Also, don't be surprised to find the Revak name spelled different ways (Revak, Rewak, Revack, Rebak, etc.). In U.S. records, this was often due to language barriers between immigrants and immigration officials, census takers, civil servants, employers, etc.

In the "old country" records, the differences can depend on who was ruling at the time, and whether the records were written in Latin, Polish, Slovak, Hungarian--or Rusyn (cyrillic). For example, a great-great grandfather's name is spelled Jan Ferencz (in the Slovak records), Joannes Ferenc (in the Latin records), and Janos Ferents (in the Hungarian records). This was at the time of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.

My Revak grandparents immigrated to the U.S. around the turn of the century. My grandmother sailed from Bremen to Philadelphia, where I understand there are many Revak's. I don't know my grandfather's ports. In fact, I haven't had any luck locating either one of them on immigration lists.

My grandfather's name was Kondrat (Conrad) Revak. He had many brothers/sisters, step-brothers/step-sisters, and half-brothers/sisters. (His own father was widowed and remarried, which was quite common back then). Kondrat and his brother, Ambrose, settled in Donora, PA. I haven't yet tracked down where his other siblings may have settled. I believe he had a first wife named Anna.

My grandmother's name was Cecilia Krawczyk (Krawczak, Kraf'cik, Krowich). She also was from the village of Losie and, I suspect, may have been a widow when she married my grandfather.

I fear that I've gone on far too long here. But if anyone is interested in more information, I'll be happy to share whatever I can with you. Who knows, we may all have a connection somewhere in our Revak ancestry.

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
NancyRevak 27 Aug 2001 9:12PM GMT 
FOREVERANDADA... 13 Dec 2001 11:24PM GMT 
Jane Haranin 28 Sep 2006 2:22AM GMT 
david hamrah 31 May 2008 2:03AM GMT 
wojtowycht 28 Oct 2009 11:14PM GMT 
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