“Road trip” is another one of those themes that I needed to ponder for a bit. Nothing really jumped to mind when I thought about car trips that our families have taken. I suppose ancestors migrating from the East Coast could be considered road trips of a sort, but no one in the family knows anything about the migratory trips they made except that they “went there.”
I decided instead to focus on a road trip that I had told Dave a few years ago that I would love to make. The plan hasn’t come to fruition yet, but it is a definite possibility for a future vacation.
I confess that I have been very, very lucky to have been able to visit some of my ancestors’ home towns, both in the U.S. and abroad – through the years. My dream road trip would take a bit more planning – and travel to areas where languages are spoken that neither Dave nor I speak, but the trip is certainly doable.
Why would this be my dream vacation? There are still two ancestral homelands in Europe that I have not visited – the German Palatinate home of Dave’s Whitmers and Stufflebeans and my father’s grandparents’ homes in Slovakia. All of the ancestral villages are quite small and we could fit in stops in some beautiful, historic cities along the way.
Here is my travel plan:
1. Arrive in Munich. Pick up the rental car.
2. Head west to BARBELROTH, Germany, which was the home of Dave’s 5x great grandfather, Johannes Whitmer, who was born in Barbelroth in 1751. He was a small boy when his family left Germany and settled in Frederick County, Maryland. Barbelroth has always been a small village. Today, there are about 600 residents.
3. Leaving Barbelroth, we would head north to LAUBENHEIM and LANGENLONSHEIM, home of the Stufflebeans, known as Stoppelbeins in 1740, when they emigrated to Columbia County, New York. Laubenheim is also a small village with a population of about 800. Langenlonsheim is a town of about 3,700.
4. Leaving Laubenheim, we would head east and stop in Dresden, Germany and Cracow, Poland. Both are said to be beautiful cities, but, as they are not ancestral homes, I won’t do more than mention them here.
5. Next, we will cross into Slovakia, homeland of my paternal ancestors. Both my grandfather, George Kucharik, and my grandmother, Julia Scerbak, were born in the United States after their parents emigrated. The Scerbaks were in Passaic by 1890, but decided to return home about 1898, when my grandmother was about five years old. Her father, Michael, was from the village of UDOL, (known as Ujak back then) and which today has only 400 residents. Her mother, Anna Murcko, was born in HAJTOVKA, about a mile from Udol. Hajtovka’s population today is 75! These villages are a short distance southeast of Cracow as the crow flies and they sit in the foothills of the mountains separating them from Poland.
My grandmother’s youngest brother’s family never came to the United States so I have a number of second cousins still living near Udol. We have exchanged letters and photos through the years, but they don’t speak any English and I don’t speak Slovak. We’ve needed intermediary translators to help with the correspondence.
6. The last ancestral stop would be about forty miles southeast of Udol and Hajtovka. My grandmother had no idea where husband George’s family lived in Slovakia. Unlike the Scerbaks, when the Kuchariks left about 1885, they were never to return to Europe. It took years to unearth the name of their village. While part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, it was called Felso Sebes and was in Saros County, Hungary. Today, it is called VYSNA SEBASTOVA and is a small town of about 1,000, a bit east of Presov, Slovakia.
7. As we would head west back towards Munich, visits would be made to Vienna, Austria and Salzburg, Austria.
The total round trip would cover about 1,650 miles and, ideally, it would be wonderful to spend about two weeks there.
Now, I just need to talk Dave into planning out an actual trip!