During the past few days, I have written several posts about my family from Szengeto, Slovakia. Today, it is a village called Severna and is part of Vysna Sebastova, which sits slightly east of the city of Presov.

The area is still quite rural, with farming fields to the north, likely the same fields that my peasant tenant farmers worked back in the 1800’s and for centuries before that.

Road to the east of red pin, above

Thanks to Google Earth and its street view, I can see what the village looks like today.

The saying goes, “A picture is worth a 1000 words.” Yes, in two ways. These images give us a view that wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago unless an in-person visit was made.

There is another picture of life in the village, though, and that picture comes from the burial records for the people of Szengeto. Keep in mind that the parish priest often recorded house numbers in the baptismal, marriage and burial records he kept AND – this is important – I have not seen a house number in Szengeto higher than #12.  That’s it – 12 homes!

As you read this list, keep in mind your own neighborhood today and think of your neighbors six houses to either side of you. How many of them have passed away in the past ten years? In 26 years in our home in California, not a single person on our street died. Also, keep in mind that some of these villagers were Greek Catholic, while others were Roman Catholic. The burial records for the Roman Catholic Church are missing from 1864 through 1866. There likely were a few more deaths. Some of the ages are not readable because they are hidden in the center fold of the books. Some causes of death I either couldn’t read well enough to translate or else no English equivalent appeared when I tried. At times, the priest didn’t record the house number. My family lived in Szengeto #2, but was related by marriage to the Fucsiks, Koszelnicks, Boszaks and Kravjars.

Szengeto Burials, 1863-1873

1863 – None
1864 – Onufrej, Michael, Szengeto #?, 2 years old, fever
1865 – Fucsik, Michael, Szengeto #3, _ years, weak
Fucsik, John, Szengeto #3, _ years, weak
1866 – None
1867 – None
1868 – Tomko, Maria, Szengeto #2, _ years, cough
Nemcsik, Michael, Szengeto #6, 1 week, “incapax”1869 – Mikita, Peter, Szengeto #?, 22 years, dropsy
Koszelnik, John, Szengeto #1, 27 years, ?
1869 – Karahuta, John, Szengeto #?, _ hours, weak
Fedorisko, Maria, Szengeto, ______, weak
1870 – Boszak, Barbara, Szengeto #?, 50 years, ?
Nemcsik, John, Szengeto #5, 10 months, ?
1871 – Kravjar, Michael, Szengeto #11, 45 years, atrophy
Kravjar, John, Szengeto #11, 67 years, atrophy
1872 – Vavrek, Anna, Szengeto #9, 48 years, dropsy

Then, as it did every decade or so, an epidemic hit. Sometimes, it was diphtheria, sometimes influenza or another pestilence. This time, it was cholera.

1873 – Karahuta, John, Szengeto #?, 21 years, cholera
Tomko, George, Szengeto #2, 34 years, cholera
Kravjar, Maria, Szengeto #?, 68 years, cholera
Kucharik, John, Szengeto #2, 13 years, cholera
Platko, Katallina, Szengeto #8, 4 3/4 years, dropsy
Vavrek, Andreas, Szengeto #?, 55 years, cholera
Karsik, Stephen, Szengeto #8, 7 months, cholera
Vavrek, Michael, Szengeto #1, 60 years, cholera
Kravjar, John, Szengeto #?, 12 years, cholera
Vavrek, Stephen, Szengeto #1, 4 years, cholera
Fucsik, John, Szengeto #3, 55 years, cholera
Nemcsik, Michael, Szengeto #6, 56 years, cholera
Karahuta, ______, Szengeto #?, 42 years, cholera
Blasko, Anna, Szengeto #11, 2 1/2 years, cholera
Kravjar, Michael, Szengeto #12, 50 years, cholera

The only word I can think of to describe this is heartbreaking.

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