Some families leave many records of their lives behind, while others seem to leave so few as to be somewhat of a mystery.
The Repka family is one of those with a dearth of records, due to two circumstances. The first is the circumstances of their births – they were poor peasants toiling on the small farms of today’s Slovakia. The second circumstance is that the church registers in that village begin in 1809, meaning that there are no other resources aside from baptisms, marriages and burials. They owned no property so real estate and probate documents don’t exist. I don’t think there was even an opportunity for children to attend school there until the turn of the 20th century so inhabitants were unable to even read or write their own names.
Even with the handful of records created during Maria’s lifetime, I have come to believe that one of them – her own baptismal record – might have an error recorded on it by the priest, that of her mother’s name.
Maria Repka’s Baptismal Record
Maria Repka was like born about the 6th or 7th of January 1829, as she was baptized on 8 January 1829. The family was Roman Catholic and, with infant mortality rates as high as they were at the time, it was unusual for babies to be baptized when they were much older than 2 or 3 days.
Her father was Stephen Repka. The church record names her mother as Elizabeth Gulyas. I believe she was a Gulyas, but I think the priest might have had a memory lapse and should have entered “Helena Gulyas” as the mother.
That is because Stephen Repka married Helena Gulyas on 22 October 1818. He was 21 years old and bride Helena was 19. Their son, Stephen, was baptized on 22 June 1819 and daughter Anne was baptized on 26 January 1825.
There is no burial record for Helena Gulyas Repka found between 1825 and 1829 when Maria was born, nor is there a new marriage record found for Stephen Repka in the same time frame. We are talking about a small village here and marriage records appear complete.
Next, the godparents – Stephen Szeman and Barbara Hajtas – are the same godparents named on all three baptismal records.
Lastly, there are no other children recorded in the church register whose parents are Stephen and Elizabeth.
Maria next appears in the parish register in Okruzna when she married John Kucharik on 11 August 1849 at the age of 20.
Kucharik-Repka Marriage in 1849
The Repkas had moved from Varallya, where they attended the Roman Catholic church, to Szengeto, where they attended the Greek Catholic church. Changing religions was a common occurrence in the area. Roman and Greek Catholics often intermarried with the wedding in the bride’s church and future children baptized in the groom’s church.
John Kucharik has also been somewhat difficult to track as it was quite some time before I realized that John didn’t die as a young man. That idea came about because Maria appears in the 1869 Hungarian census of Saros County as the wife of John Tomko.
Tomko Family in 1869 Census
Eventually, I sorted out that John Kucharik used the alias John Tomko, although I never figured out why. Remember, this family lived in a small village and it definitely wasn’t overrun with other Kuchariks!
John and Maria were the parents of five children:
1. Anna, born c1854; died after 1869 census
2. Stephen, baptized 6 February 1855, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; died 4 June 1933, Wallington, Passaic, New Jersey. He married Maria Kacsenyak (1859-1926) on 28 August 1877, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia.
3. Michael, baptized 18 June 1859, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia. He married Susanna Magnus, 25 September 1882, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia. He has not been found in the burial records.
4. Maria, baptized 13 October 1861, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; died 11 September 1916, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia.
5. John, baptized 16 May 1865, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; died after 1869 census.
John Kucharik aka John Tomko died on 9 February 1893. Maria Repka Kucharik/Tomko apparently survived her husband by just a few years, passing away on 12 January 1896. Her burial record says she was 80 years old, but she was only 67. I am quite sure this is her because the Kucharik/Tomko extended family was quite small and Maria Repka is the only one married to John who was up there in years, so to speak.
Both were buried in Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia.