Proud member of
National Genealogical Society

May 2024

May 2024 President’s Letter
Here in Arizona, summer has arrived, and we’ve had our first 100 degree day. Every year I try to hold off turning on my air conditioning until May 1st because once it’s on, it doesn’t go off until November!
Although I have been working on my family history for over ten years, I must admit that I’ve collected names, BMD (birth, marriage, death) records, census and other records but what I’m missing are the stories about their daily lives and their past.
My paternal grandparents immigrated to this country in 1902 from what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire. I am sad to say that I know nothing about their life in what is now Slovakia.
They were only 15 and 16 years old when they immigrated and were not married to each other at the time. I  know nothing about how they traveled to their port of departure from their respective villages. Looking at modern maps, the journey would have been over 500 miles and they would have traveled in the winter time.
I have so many questions to which I would like to find answers. For instance,  how they would have accomplished that journey?  How did they travel? Were there trains? Did they walk? Ride on a wooden cart pulled by oxen? They arrived in the US with $8 and $6 USD.  How long did it take them to save that money? Why did they come? Why did they come alone? Was their plan to come first and then send for other family members? How did they get from New York to their destination in Pennsylvania?  How did my future grandmother and future grandfather know each other in their native country? Or did they? They both immigrated in 1902  but on different ships on different dates and came from different villages.
My goal for this summer’s research is to try to find the answers to these and other questions I have.  Unfortunately, I never asked my grandparents any of these questions while they were alive. So the moral of this article and most others I write, is to ask questions- interview- your elder relatives while you still can. I may never find these answers because I never asked. But I sure want to try…
Katie Gertz