The villages of Udol and Hajtovka, Slovakia are ancient settlements, but they are now and always have been small villages. The parents of Helena (Julia) Scerbak Sabo, my paternal grandmother, were born in these villages.Udol and Hajtovka are in the foothills of the Tatras Mountains, which lie between southern Poland and Slovakia.
Udol is the larger of the two. Although I have searched for documented histories of this area, I have found very little. Many years ago, I photocopied this information from a reference book I found somewhere, probably either in Los Angeles or Salt Lake City:
With the help of Google Translate, I have figured out the general idea of what this says.
First, in Section I, the village was first mentioned in the year 1427 and called Wyak. By 1786, it was called Ujak and, in 1948, at the end of World War II and the creation of the country of Czechoslovakia, it was renamed Udol, the name it retains today.
My ancestors were most definitely hardy people, as can be seen by the few population censuses and church records that survive today. Section 5 of the statistics, above, give the village population as 718 in 1869. By 1910, there were only 490 inhabitants, probably because the other half of the village had emigrated to Passaic, New Jersey to work in the factories and mills! The latest population count for 1970 showed 574 souls living there.
Over all, the population has remained fairly steady over 150 years, considering the fact that not only did many leave for America, but the mortality rate was extremely high. Along with every day deaths in the village, every few years, epidemics of measles, cholera and diphtheria and other pestilences swept through the villages. It’s amazing that there was anyone left living there.
Section II talks about the condition of the land. The village is on the left bank of the Poprad River; the land has been deforested and has limestone rock. (Note: which has made for poor farming soil.)
Section III mentions the number of homes at various time periods – after the village burned down in 1755! There were 61 homes and 416 inhabitants in 1787 and 88 homes with 663 inhabitants by 1828. Throughout time, the villagers were peasant farmers.
Section IV covers religion. The residents of this area were mostly Greek Catholic. The original Church of St. Dimitry, built in 1866, is gone, but The Carpathian Connection has a photo of the inside of the old building. It was quite beautiful, but by the end of the 20th century, it could no longer be repaired. This old church is the one that my grandmother Julia, her parents and grandparents would all have attended.
Source: Google Earth
The new church was built in the latter part of the 20th century. It sits up on the hill, overlooking the village.
I have a photo of the house where my grandmother’s brother, Stephen lived until he passed away in the 1990s. This was the brother that my grandmother never met because he wasn’t born until seven years after returned for good to the United States.
The house sits up on a hill and it looks like there was an old garage or storage area next to it. Since the village only has one main road and only a section of it is up the hill, a street visit using Google Earth didn’t provide many possibilities for what the house looks like today. Notice the orange triangles on the siding of the house? I think this is how it looks today from the street:
This is the only home on the hill that has the same type of triangles on the sides. If it is the same house, then it appears that the old garage/storage area has been replaced with the white one to the left of the house.
Many of the homes in the village look to have been built perhaps from the 1950s to the 1970s. What did the homes look like when my grandmother and her family lived there at the turn of the 20th century?
Well, there are still several of what I would call vintage homes in Udol:
I’d say the entire village probably looked much like this house!
Tomorrow, we will take a quick look at Hajtovka.