History of St. Dimitry’s Parish, Udol/Hajtovka, Part 1: Middle Ages

As my research into the one-place study of St. Dimitry’s Church parish, comprising the small villages of Udol, where the church is located, and Hajtovka, one mile away, it is time to share what life would have been like for my ancestors.

Both Hajtovka and Ujak, as it was originally named, are mentioned in the Middle Ages, appearing in Saros County records in 1427. Ujak’s name indicates its birth as UJ = new and LAK = settlement.

This region represents a crossroads of sorts, where settlers from far and wide made their homes. People from today’s Germany, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and points east left their marks.

Hajtovka and Ujak sit on the banks of the Poprad River in a valley near the Tatras Mountains in eastern Slovakia.

The earliest settlers, who arrived by the 1200s,  were mountain shepherds, livestock herders and farmers from an area of Romania called Wallachia; the people were known as Vlachs.

This Google Maps image gives a sense of the rolling hills and valleys at the foot of the Tatras.

The two villages seemed to thrive for over 100 years, as they were part of the Plavec castle estate well into the 16th century, but by the 1550s, the villages were deserted and all but disappeared from existence.

A short 40 years later, a new group, the Rusyns, an eastern Slavic ethnic community, began migrating into the hilly land that is home to St. Dimitry’s parish today. The exact origins of the Rusyns – whether from Ukraine or Russia – is uncertain and the topic is somewhat controversial even today.

What is clear, though, is between the 1300s and 1600s, Rusyns steadily moved westward and settled 200-300 villages in the eastern portion of modern day Slovakia, along the borders of Ukraine and Poland.

Primitive new homes in Ujak and Hajtovka were built by these Rusyns and, by 1600, there were 17 serf houses plus the Soltys house, for the noble who owned the land.

Rusyns were easily identified by (1) their dialect related to the Old Russian language and (2) their fervent faith and membership in the Eastern rite Orthodox/Catholic church.

A bit of church history is necessary here to understand the differences between the Roman Catholic religion and what became the Greek Catholic, or Byzantine Rite, Church.

In 1054 A.D. the Roman and Orthodox churches split into two factions. The differences in religious beliefs kept them apart until 1646, when the Orthodox Church united with Rome. That was an event not welcomed by many Orthodox church members, but, by 1672, the Greek Catholic Church was officially recognized (apart from the Orthodox rite, which continued to be a political issue well into the 20th century).

Therefore, with the division between Orthodox and Byzantine, Rusyns had to choose between religious practices and traditions. They chose the Byzantine, or Greek Catholic Church.

Those who have grandparents or earlier ancestors who belonged to the Greek Catholic Church almost surely are of Rusyn descent.

Ujak became almost exclusively Greek Catholic. Few Roman Catholics could be found there even in the 1800s. Hajtovka, a village less than half the size of Ujak, was also predominantly Greek Catholic, but there were a number of Roman Catholics living there who worshiped in the nearby village of Plavnica. More on that in the next post.

Greek Catholic churches were built in a distinctive wooden style, which unfortunately means that few early churches survived as the structures burned down. Divine Liturgy (rather than Mass, as in the Roman Catholic rite) was celebrated in Church Slavonic, the modern day version of the Old Russian language.

Sections inside the church were divided – one area for men, one for women and one for the priest. While portions of the Divine Liturgy are sung, no musical instruments are used during the service.

The Rusyns brought with them not only their religious practices, but distinct Rusyn dialects, which over time, have taken new words into the language – from Slovaks, Hungarians, Poles, Romanians and even Germans. In modern times, English has also enriched the Rusyn language. These language influences reinforce the central idea that Ujak and Hajtovka are located in the heart of cultural and ethnic crossroads.

Life didn’t change much for the villagers from the Middle Ages until well into the 19th century.  In 1755, the village of Ujak burned. The church was built on a hill slightly above the village to save it from town fires. I haven’t found evidence that the church burned at that time, but St. Dimitry’s was rebuilt in 1866.

By November 1827, when St. Dimitry’s Church records begin, there were 88 homes in Ujak and, based on history, there were perhaps 40 homes next door in Hajtovka.

St. Nicholas, the protector of the poor and of herds, is a popular figure in Greek Catholic churches. It may be a reflection of the hard lives they led for centuries.

Next, we will look at life in the 1800s through the eyes of my ancestors.

Background history about the area was found at Farnost Udol, where Google Translate was my friend, and in An Ethnic History of Slovakia, by Jan Botik, PhD, published in 2021, pages 180-202, which has been translated into English. I downloaded the PDF, but now that I am searching for the original link, it isn’t showing up.




Richard Kimball & Ursula Scott, England to Massachusetts, 1634

This is part of a series about my New England colonial ancestors who arrived by during the Great Migration. If you have early Massachusetts ancestry, be sure to check out AmericanAncestors, as the Great Migration Study Project can be viewed there with a membership to the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Richard Kimball was born c1595, possibly in Essex, England, the son of Richard Kimball of Lawford, Essex, England.  He married Ursula Scott, daughter of Henry and Martha (MNU) Scott, c1614, probably in Kent, England.

The Kimballs were more fortunate than most who lived in the 17th century, as they had eleven known children who all lived to adulthood.

The Kimball family left England in April 1634, sailing on the Francis. On the same ship was the family of Henry Kimball, about five years older than Richard. He was from Mistley, Essex, while Richard Kimball had been living in Rattlesden, Suffolk. The two towns are only about 20 miles distant from each other. In spite of the differing towns, Richard and Henry were brothers per the Great Migration Study, but others are not so sure.

Upon arriving in Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Kimball brothers and their families settled in Watertown. However, Richard Kimball soon moved to Ipswich, Suffolk, Massachusetts.


  1. Henry, baptized 12 August 1615, Rattlesden, Suffolk, England; died before 16 June 1676, probably at Wenham, Essex, Massachusetts, when his estate inventory was taken; married (1) Mary Riddlesdale, c1640 (2) Elizabeth Black.
  2. Abigail, baptized 5 November 1617, Hitcham, Suffolk, England; died 17 June 1658, Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts; married John Severance, c1636.
  3. Elizabeth, born c1621, England; died after 5 March 1674/75 when she was mentioned in her father’s will. If she married, the name of her husband hasn’t been found.
  4. Richard, born c1623, England; died 20 May 167[torn], Wenham, Essex, Massachusetts; married (1) Mary (Cooley?) (2) Mary Morris, after 2 September 1672.
  5. Mary, born c1625, England; died 12 July 1686, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts; married Robert Dutch, c1646.
  6. Martha, born c1629, England; married Joseph Fowler, c1657. He was killed by Indians on 19 May 1676 Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts. No further marriage or death record has been found for her.
  7. John, born c1631, England; died 6 May 1698, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts; married Mary Bradstreet, c1657.
  8. Thomas, born c1633, England; died 2 May 1676, Rowley (now Bradford), Essex, Massachusetts in an Indian attack; married Mary Smith, c1658.
  9. Caleb, born c1635, Massachusetts; died before 23 September 1682, when his estate inventory was taken, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts; married Anna Hazelton, 7 November 1660, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.
  10. Benjamin, born c1637, Massachusetts; died 11 June 1695, Bradford, Essex, Massachusetts; married Mercy Hazelton, 16 April 1661, Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts.
  11. Sarah, born c1639, Massachusetts; died 12 June 1690, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts; married Edward Allen, 24 November 1658, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.

Ursula (Scott) Kimball died c1661m probably in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts. Richard married (2) Margaret Cole, 23 October 1661, Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire, but they had no children together.

Richard Kimball died on 22 June 1673, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.

My line of descent:

  1. Richard Kimball & Ursula Scott
  2. John Severance & Abigail Kimball
  3. James Coffin & Mary Severance
  4. Ebenezer Coffin & Eleanor Barnard
  5. Cromwell Coffin & Ruth Coffin
  6. Joseph Coleman & Eunice Coffin
  7. Joseph Coleman & Ruth Spur
  8. Thomas Coleman & Mary Elizabeth Astle
  9. William Coleman & Sarah Moriah Crouse
  10. Hartwell Thomas Coleman & Anna Elisabeth Jensen
  11. Vernon Tarbox Adams & Hazel Ethel Coleman
  12. George Michael Sabo & Doris Priscilla Adams
  13. Linda Anne (Sabo) Stufflebean – Me!

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Genealogy Database Statistics

Another weekend has rolled around and it’s time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings.

This week’s challenge is tech-related:

  1. If you have your family tree research in a Genealogy Management Program (GMP), whether a computer software program or an online family tree, figure out how to find how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in your database (hint: the Help button is your friend!)

Although I have several genealogy software programs, like Randy I use RootsMagic. However, I haven’t had time to play with RM8, so my Properties view is slightly different:

I have:

People – 9116
Families – 3769
Events – 17070
Places – 1640
Sources – 70
Citations – 319
Multimedia Items – 5017
Multimedia Links – 7082


I made a lame attempt a couple of years ago to use the source templates and I’m actually surprised that there are 70 sources and 319 citations in this list. I would have guessed under 25.

I still prefer to list my sources in the Notes section for each person.

The Alternate Names option frankly makes me crazy and I purposely went through the tree and deleted them all. My person list looks much cleaner and, again, I prefer to put alternate names in my notes and recording a slight misspelling of someone’s name isn’t particularly important to me. Names that are mangled I do note.

One of my goals for 2022 will be to jump into RootMagic 8. I just haven’t had the time, as compiling the links to county histories for all 50 states took close to three months (at 8 hours or more per day 7 days a week) and I am almost done with my one-place study of St. Dimitry’s Church parish (Udol & Hajtovka, Slovakia), which has taken almost 3 months.

With those projects off my plate, I might just make a real effort with the source citation templates. Part of my reluctance was wondering if I would have to go back and fix anything in RM8.

Thanks, Randy, for this week’s challenge. It has me thinking ahead to my 2022 genealogy goals.