25 October 2023


Vincent (& Theo) Van Gogh
Eddie (& Alex) Van Halen
Van Helsing
Van de Kamp chicken
Townes Van Zandt
Dick (& Paul) Van Dyk
Camper Van Beethoven
Gus Van Sant
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Rip Van Winkle
Martin Van Buren
Van Morrison
Van Nuys, CA
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Wilder
Ricky Van Shelton

Family Roots – Finding Great-Grandma’s Transcarpathian Origins

Countless hours of genealogical research over the years led me to so many dead ends, but I have finally discovered – via Facebook of all places – that multiple place names that were used across various documents are actually all references to THE SAME VILLAGE, which was once part of Hungary, then Czechoslovakia, and now Ukraine.

This is where my dad’s maternal grandmother Helena (Ilona) Straus came from, when she arrived to Ellis Island – and eventually Chicago – in 1911. I learned recently from my uncle that her parents wanted her to marry someone whom she did not want to marry, and so she fled to America.

In Chicago, she married Joseph Tikal, a Slovak who left a neighboring Transcarpathian village for Chicago seven years earlier, in 1904.

English translations below are via Facebook.


#історіяСвалява #Свалявськийрайон 

Ervindorf - Neudorf with New Selo (New Suskovo), гадки: 1856: Ervinfalu, 1882: Ervinfalva, Szuszkó újfalu, 1895: Szuszkó-Ujfalu, 1910: Szuskóújfalu, Erwinsdorf, 1913: Szuszkóújfalu, 1925: Susko Nové Selo, Novo Selo, 1930: Selo Nové, 1944: Szuszkóújfalu, Сусково

The history of the village begins from 1850. His other name is New Suskovo, and at the times of the prosperity of the Austrian community, the settlement was called Neudorf and Erwinsdorf.

Because it was Erwin Schoenborn in 1856 that brought 12 families of colonists from German lands of the Czech Republic here to work in the forest. As Roman Catholics, the villagers belonged to the Drachyn parish. The immigrants held onto their language, their faith.

After World War II, many Germans were repressed. The church is on fire. Her remains were dismantled in the second half of the 1970s. A wooden cross was installed at the site of the church.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary Wendelina in the village. New Village. A piece of historical knowledge. Anton Muller. Carpathian Ruthenia. Throwback (script). Ludwigsburg, 1954, s. 139-140.

Recorded in Novi Sela 1991 from the words of Maria Venk (1905 r. n)

Source: https://www.facebook.com/groups/972655726636505/permalink/1306109296624478/


#MissingVillagesTranscarpathia - villages that no longer exist

301. Ervindorf

Ervindorf is a former village in Ukraine, in the Transcarpathian region.

United with the village of Suskovo

Сегадки: 1856: Ervinfalu, 1882: Ervinfalva, Suszkó new village, 1895: Szuszkó-Ujfalu, 1910: Szuskóújfalu, Erwinsdorf, 1913: Szzkóújfamu, 1925: Susko Nové Selo, Novo Selo, 1930: Selo Nové, 1944: Szusko New Village, Сусково

Source: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid0ELT6xJap9E7QYZUAs5GfnCUoniNBCeJHqJ8Ux9sYzkSTeD1XXJP2DiuU12KejtvUl&id=100003579045232


Photo of Helena Straus and Josef Tikal with their children in Chicago. My grandma is on the far left.

09 August 2023

If You’re Going to Genealogy, Then Genealogy

 What’s with DNA matches on genealogy sites that say “[Name] appears in a family tree with 5 people…”

So that person built a tree with him/her self, 2 parents, and only 2 grandparents… and then gave up and took a DNA test?

Do people even know how to do research anymore?

Here’s a good one, can’t even be bothered to add grandparents.

If DNA results via genealogy sites were more accurate:

“Great-grandmother’s 1st cousin 3 times removed… cut off from the family, sent into exile, and finally 86’d with the body dumped somewhere in the back 40.”

* * *

In my case, by researching and filling branches of the tree I’ve discovered real family connections I would’ve never known about otherwise.

The most remarkable to date are two connections in Germany to my great-grandmother Helena Straus, who migrated to Chicago from a small farming settlement in Transcarpathia, which at that time was part of Hungary, then Czechoslovakia, now Ukraine. She was a dead end, information-wise, but I now have contacts to both her father’s Strauss lineage and her mother’s Baumann lineage.

I’ve also found matches for my maternal grandfather’s relatives in Denmark and my paternal side in Poland… and my maternal grandma’s family I can now trace back to arrivals to North America as far back as the 1600s, with multiple ancestors fighting in the Revolutionary War – including later-arriving German Hessian mercenaries who arrived circa 1776 as reinforcements for the British forces, then gambled big by turning against their British employers for a chance at a new life in America (my how times have changed – for my chance at a better life I’ve migrated back to Europe).

* * *

A Tip Regarding Best Sources of Correct Names and Dates

Census records are rarely a good source of correct names and birthdates. Think of it like this... when someone was responsible for quickly filling in the names and ages of a family of 8, 12 or 15 people, for a report that had a tendency to be focused on ethnicity, profession, and such, you will find a lot of discrepancies.

Birth, Marriage, and Death records tend to have the most accurate details for an individual, as they are more apt to be meticulously completed for that one person, with less time constraint.

I hope this helps anyone just beginning their genealogical research journey.

* * * 

Am I Back to Blogger?

Yeah, this is an old blog and I’m dusting it off... might start musing here again.

Greetings from Brno, #GreatMoravia.


23 February 2014

It's Complicated: Relationships in 2014

Three articles were making the social-media rounds this February and, together, they just might be an odd enough trinity to tell us something about relationships in the year 2014.

First, an Atlantic article showing how Facebook can predict who will be in a relationship -- perhaps before the couple themselves are even aware of it.

Second, a Guardian reprint of a New York Times piece titled "Does equality kill sex?" -- with the result being that men who do only 'manly' things and don't try to 'help around the house' have sex more frequently and with partners who report greater sexual satisfaction.

And third, a short Independent article suggesting that polyamory may be the key to a longer, happier marriage -- that is, 'outsourcing' a few needs, as the needs couples place on each other are allegedly increasing over time.


After reading all three articles, I started to get the feeling, however, that there may not be anything 'new' to any of these studies. Of course two people will increase their communications before 'hooking up', of course male/female gender roles are adequately hardwired no matter how much we may try to reprogram them, and throughout all human history, of course, it seems to have been too much for one person to fulfill all of another person's emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical needs. It seems that the old saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same" has struck again, despite whatever 'newness' researchers try to attach to their data. Human relationships are just... complicated.

05 September 2012

New Jason Mashak poems en route

I'll soon have new work coming out in Amsterdam Quarterly and the revived Lummox Journal.

Earlier this year (2012), I had work published in Unshod Quills (as featured poet!) and some poems that appeared earlier in a printed volume, in both English and Czech translation, reprinted on the web edition of Kumquat Poetry.


UPDATE: You can read my poems in Amsterdam Quarterly here: