Narodny Slovensky Spolok, First Slovak Fraternal Society in America

Sometimes, I seem to get on genealogical tangents. Since I found the Masonic membership cards online, I started looking at other items in my family collection that might link members to fraternal or other organizations.

I remember asking Nana, Julia (Scerbak) Sabo about this ribbon many years ago.

Slovakian Medal from Passaic
Pannonia ODB XIX
Nar. Slov. Spolek
Passaic, New Jersey

Nana was never very clear telling me anything about this ribbon, although it is obvious that it is quite old and that with the handshake emblem at the top, it belonged to some sort of Slovak fraternal organization.

Besides the ribbon, I also have this tiny pin:

Slav-USA Piin
Less than one inch across

It also has NAR SLOV SPOL and USA around the four sides. I have a vague memory of trying to find out more about this organization years ago, but had no luck. With more and more information online, I took another look.

NAR SLOV SPOL USA stands for Narodny Slovensky Spolok, or the National Slovak Society in America. This fraternal organization is the oldest such Slovak group in the United States and it is still in existence today. It was found by Peter V. Rovnianek in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1890. The society was the first to offer nation wide membership, at least in areas in which Slovaks settled, and it was a non-sectarian fraternity – no religious affiliations.

Search engines have brought me several surprises lately and Google didn’t let me down while I was researching this group. The pin appears to date from the early 1900s, so I thought it probably belonged to my great grandfather, Stephen Kucharik, who also socially used the surname Sabo.

When I entered PANNONIA ODB XIX  in Google, one of the results was the 1910 city directory of Passaic, New Jersey! Although my family lived in Passaic, I really expected hits reflecting national membership.

Here is the very small listing in the directory for the Narodny Slovensky Spolok:

NaSlovSpolPassaicCityDirectory
George Sabo Jr., sec.!

First, I didn’t think my family started using the Sabo surname until around 1915. They are enumerated in the 1910 census as Kucharik. Second, George Sabo Jr. was my father, but he hadn’t been born yet, so the “junior” part is an error. My grandfather was George, but his father was Stephen. The junior tells me that Stephen was probably a member, too, though.

My grandfather, George, was only 17 when he served as the secretary, but that isn’t really too surprising because I have his 8th grade school certificate from Passaic School #2, so I know he was literate.

GeorgeSaboSchoolCertificate

Most of the older members had little chance for an education in the village back in Europe. At 17, George then would probably have been one of the oldest members literate in both Slovak and English.

The Passaic chapter of the National Slovak Society met on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. The president was Anthony Patak, who I found in the 1910 census. He and his family lived at the back of 125 Fourth Street in Passaic, which was part of the First Ward where the mill hand immigrants lived and worked. At 66 years old, Anthony was considerably older than George and probably did most of the talking while George did most of the writing!

There are literally hundreds of fraternal and other organizations in local communities. If your family settled in one area, particularly if they were immigrants, chances are excellent that they might also have belonged to whichever fraternal/social ethnic organization that was active at the time in the town.

Spend some time examining the organization’s history and you might discover your own ancestors in those records.

One thought on “Narodny Slovensky Spolok, First Slovak Fraternal Society in America”

  1. Hi Linda,
    I have a photo of some gentlemen signing a document with a Nardony Slovensky Spolok and U.S. flags in the background. Most of the gentlemen are wearing pins, but they look to be larger than the one you posted. I’d really like to send you an email of this picture to see if you could tell me anything more about the photo, the organization or any of the members. My maiden name is Gasperec and I’m told one of these gentlemen are my great (or possibly great great) grandfather.

    Thank you,

    Julie Gasperec Rubien

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