Unexpected Find in Church Registers

How often do you take the time to browse page by page in an online church register? I’ll be the first o admit to having spent many hours, probably totally days, doing exactly that in both Scandinavian and Slovak church registers.

Sometimes, there are unexpected surprises in them. The geographic area that is Slovakia today has been governed by many different peoples through the centuries. There is only one surviving census of which I am aware and that is the 1869 census conducted by the Hungarian government when the village of Udol was part of Saros County.

Church records begin in 1828, but those are pretty much the only records in existence documenting the families who lived there. Most were peasant farmers and owned no property. There was no will or probate when an individual died. There was nothing to pass on to anyone except a new generation of poverty and most were illiterate or perhaps could sign their names and do some basic addition and subtraction.

The only appearances in official records were the recordings of baptism and death, plus a marriage record if one survived childhood.

Two surprises were found in the Udol-Hajtovka church registers – actually the same type of record for two different years, 1853 and 1858. I found house censuses for those two years! Now, it only listed the head of household or two heads if different families shared one house, but they are still great records to have as they tell a bit more about the neighborhood and FAN clubs. Here is the list for 1853, on the left side:

1853 Families
Source: FamilySearch

The longer list is for Ujak (now Udol) and shows 84 inhabited buildings. The shorter list on the same page is for Hajtovka, an even smaller village, and which shared the same church with its Ujak neighbors. Hajtovka (pronounced HIGH-TOE-KEY)had 39 inhabited buildings.

Five years later, the list actually took two pages:

1858 Families, Ujak on right side
Source: FamilySearch

Finish of Ujak and then Hajtovka, left side
Source: Family Search

When I compare the two lists, it is obvious that the house numbers were arbitrarily assigned and there were five fewer inhabited buildings in Ujak in 1858 compared to 1853. There were three fewer inhabited homes in Hajtovka in 1858 compared to 1853.

What do these thriving metropolises look like today? Not much has changed, but they are each a bit larger than they were 175 years ago.

Udol, Slovakia

Hajtovka, Slovakia

Both villages look similar. Here is a street view of Hajtovka:

Hajtovka Road

As for the population – Udol currently has about 400 residents and Hajtovka has about 90 residents. Time has not been kind to Nana’s villages, which had about 800 and 400 when she lived there at the turn of the 20th century.

The countryside, though, is quite pretty. Mapio has some photos of Hajtovka and Udol. I suspect that the first photo, second row on that website, shows a home that might have been standing in the early 1900s so one would have a good idea of the living quarters for one or more families sharing a building like those.

Back to the original topic of this post – I love the two house censuses and plan to browse more pages to see if there were any further entries.

I have seen this same type of list in a couple of Scandinavian church books, so if you are looking for family in small towns or villages, you might take the time to browse through the records. You never know what you might find.


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