Belej Family of Udol, Slovakia

This family is part of my one-place study of St. Dimitry’s Greek Catholic (today Byzantine Catholic) Church parish, serving Udol and Hajtovka, Slovakia, covering the years 1827-about 1920. I will be sharing family records, roughly once a week, until all families in the parish are posted. Be aware that ages at marriage and death frequently don’t match baptismal records, when found. If you have ancestors who lived in these two villages and would like to receive an invitation to a shared Dropbox folder, please leave a comment and I will contact you.


 Belej, Andrew & Susanna Tomko, Ujak, GC

  1. Anna, born c1823; married John Szklepko, born c1819, son of Mathias Szklepko & Maria Szeman, 25 November 1844

Belej, Andrew & Susanna Zavacky, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Maria, 10 February 1830

Belej, Andrew & Susanna Molnar, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Maria, bp 5 August 1832
  2. Andrew, bp 11 March 1838; buried 9 July 1838, aged 1 year

Belej, Andrew & Susanna Palko, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Maria, bp 15 September 1835

Belej, Andrew & Susanna Unknown, Ujak, GC, RC

  1. Michael, bp 3 December 1839

Belej, Andrew, Ujak, buried 20 July 1847, aged 40 years

 Belej, Elizabeth

  1. John, bp 15 September 1846

Belej, Elizabeth, born c1800, midwife, Ujak 7, died 5 April, buried 6 April 1883, aged 85 years
In 1869, Elizabeth, aged 69,  lived with the family of John David & Helen Fengya/Ilyasa.

Belej, Helen, Ujak, buried 17 August 1836, aged 80 years

Belej, John, son of Michael, Ujak, buried 17 February 1829, no age

Belej, John, Ujak, born c1754, buried October 1831, aged 77 years

Belej, John & Helen Kosztizak

  1. Helen, born c1809, married Nicholas Horaj, born c1805, son of Paul Horaj & Maria Petruko, 15 November 1830

Belej, John, son of Andrew, born c1835, buried 12 July 1847, aged 12 years

Belej, John, son of Peter, Ujak, born c1846, buried 10 August 1847, aged 1 year

Belej, Maria, daughter of Michael, Ujak, born c1800, buried 16 October 1830, aged 30 years

Belej, Michael, Ujak, born c1784, buried 23 June 1831, aged 47 years

Belej, Michael & Helen Pon__, Ujak GC

  1. Andrew, bp 3 December 1827

Belej, Michael & Helen Petrus, Ujak, GC

  1. Anna, born c1821, married Michael Koval, born c1817, son of Michael Koval & Susanna Katsar, 13 February 1842

Belej, Michael & Helen Jakuby, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Andrew, bp 4 April 1830

Belej, Michael (c1829-1850+) & Anna Kovalycsik (c1824-buried 31 January 1854), married 7 November 1850, Ujak 45, GC, GC
Anna, buried 31 January 1854, aged 30 years. This couple has no known children.

Belej, Michael, son of Andrew, born c1844, buried 9 July 1847, aged 3 years

Belej, Peter & Elisabeth Hajduk, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Michael, bp 24 March 1830

Belej, Peter & Elizabeth Unknown, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Helen, bp 2 June 1835

Belej, Peter & wife, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Maria, bp 19 February 1840; buried 4 September 1842, aged 3 years (sic)

Belej, Peter, & Maria Legnaztska, Ujak, GC, GC

  1. Michael, bp 30 November 1840

Belej, Peter, Ujak, born c1799, buried 4 March 1844, aged 45 years

 Belej, Peter, Ujak, son of Andrew, born c1832, buried 5 June 1847, aged 15 years

 Belej, Susanna, Ujak, born c1807, buried 15 July 1847, aged 40 years

It is unknown whether any members of this family emigrated to America.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What First Sparked Your Interest in Family History?

January has flown by. I can’t believe we are almost through the first month of 2022. Randy Seaver has an excellent challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week:

1)  Daniel Loftus and several other genealogists on Twitter (see genealogists to share what first sparked their interest in family history.  What was yours?

I distinctly remember the two bits of family information that kicked off my lifelong adult obsession with family history research.

Interestingly, one of the triggers came from my mother’s side of the family and the other from my dad’s.

I’ll start with the paternal side because that was really more of a mulling over and wanting to learn more. Before I was even a teenager, I had spent time poring though old photographs that Nana had in a box in her closet.

I was very aware that her family lived in what was then Czechoslovakia, which to me was quite an exotic place! I also knew that my cousins in Europe spoke no English or else I likely would have corresponded with them. Nana told me all about my cousins, although she wasn’t aware terms like second cousins. She just knew that because letters and photos were from her family that I was also “cousin” to all of them, too.

That’s about the time I asked her why she never taught me to speak Slovak (which I now know was the Presov region dialect of Rusyn). The answer was that we were Americans and spoke English here. Little did I know how much cultural knowledge I was missing out on!

By the late 1970s, I was also asking my maternal grandmother about the family.

Like Randy, I was not influenced by the popularity of Roots. I was living in Mexico City when it came out and we didn’t have money to spend on American satellite TV. We didn’t even have a television in our apartment. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie to this day.

Instead, my interest was piqued by a comment that my maternal grandmother made about the Massachusetts family name – Adams. She said that we were related to the Presidential branch of John and John Quincy Adams, but not directly descended from them.

That Adams “branch” would be Henry Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts by 1632.

I decided I wanted to prove, or disprove, our family connection to John and John Quincy Adams and so began writing letters and seeking birth, marriage and death certificates.

I soon learned that my 2X great grandparents were born in New Brunswick, Canada, making a presidential connection not impossible, but unlikely, and indicating a very possible tie to Loyalists.

That is indeed what I found out – my family was actually descended from Edward Adams of Milford, Connecticut by 1640; 140 years later, Loyalist John Adams and family left via New York in the Fall Fleet of 1783 and began a new life in New Brunswick, Canada.

While pursuing my Adams family, other branches of the family tree began to blossom. I was hooked on the ease of New England research and started asking many more questions about my Rusyn family.

Little did I know, it would be my full time job after retirement. My husband still can’t believe I haven’t “finished”!

Thanks, Randy, for this week’s fun prompt.

Accessing Revolutionary and Civil War Claims Case Records

War claims case records have always interested me, but I have never found any ancestors who filed claims with the government for property lost during the American Revolution or the Civil War.

First of all, I have to admit that this particular kind of research, to me, is almost like finding a needle in a haystack. Not to say that it can’t be done, but it will take some effort.

Why? Well, many of these records are housed at the National Archives and may only be available on microfilm, which requires an on-site visit. Second, a possible ancestor/s need to be identified.

How would I approach this research task?

First, I would begin with a family known to have lived near the site of wartime activity, not just battles, but troop movements or other events that might have caused a family to have a loss of horses, crops, etc.

Next, I’d search out town and county histories, which usually provide lots of information about military actions, to determine the likelihood of claims for losses being generated. I’d also contact local historical and genealogical societies to inquire about such activity and would probably also call the local reference librarian at the public library.

Third, I would look for finding aids, whether at NARA or some other repository, to learn what might be indexed or, even better yet, available online.

Today’s post is only covering the American Revolution and the Civil War, but claims cases were created that cover most wars/conflicts throughout American history.

For Revolutionary War claims cases, there is the Index to the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 by John P. Butler. There are five volumes, published in 1978.

This set might be in a library close to you. Genealogy libraries of any size will probably have it, but university libraries might also have it on the shelves. I checked WorldCat and I only have to drive 10 miles down to the University of Arizona Library to access this book.

Remember, this is just the index, but if the name I am searching isn’t in it, I can cross this book off my “to do” list.

There is also the Revolutionary War Prize Cases: Records of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture, 1774-1787, by J.C. Bancroft Davis, published by NARA i 1949, but only available on microfilm.

In my case, I’d need to head to UCLA to view the film, which doesn’t seem to be in the Family History Library.

Claims cases from that time period are much more limited in scope than cases arising in the 19th century.

Let’s look at Civil War resources.

At the top of my list for a Southern family would be Gary B. Mills’ Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission: a Composite Directory of Case Files, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1994. This book is searchable on Ancestry.

Also by Mills is: Civil War Claims in the South: An Index of Civil War Damage Claims File​d Before the Southern Claims Commission, 1871–1880, published in 1980.

By J.B. Holloway, there is: Consolidated Index of Claims Reported by the Commissioner of Claims to the House of Representativ​es from 1871 to 1880.,published in 1892.

There is also one article i n the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, volume 75:141-152 from June 1987, written by Donna Rachal Mills, “Civil War Claims Commissions: The Mixed Commission of British and American Claims.”

These are the easiest paths to pursuing damage claims submitted during the Revolution and Civil War.

By the 1860s, there were more people and more claims filed with the government for damages and losses during the Civil War. The two indexes already mentioned are the two most easily accessed.

However, there are also a number of guides and finding aids to microfilmed records held at the National Archives.

Preliminary Inventory of the War Department Collection of Confederate Records: Record Group 109 by Elizabeth Bethel in 1957 and updated by Craig R. Scott in 1994 will help you navigate RG 109.

The Record Group Explorer for NARA shows about half of this collection is viewable online:

Maizie H. Johnson’s guide, Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, published in 1967, covers NARA Record Group 92. The Record Group Explorer shows only 6% of this record set has been digitized and placed online.

There are also some guides to Record Groups 56, 76, and 205, but between 0-1% of those records have been digitized.

Remember, too, that Bethel’s and Johnson’s publications are simply GUIDES to each collection, NOT an index.

For those brave hearts who welcome a challenge, there are some microformed record sets at NARA, such as Southern Claims Commission, Approved Claims, 1871-1880 for Alabama and a few other states (remember there is Gary Mill’s index), but microfilm/fiche means onsite research.

I highly recommend the St. Louis County Library excellent two-part online guide: Researching Southern Claims Commission Records: Resources and Step by Step Strategy for Finding a Claim. There is a wealth of information on the two links and well worth the time to check out the online resources.

The second website I can recommend is the FamilySearch wiki page: Southern Claims Commission, which is even more comprehensive that the SLCL website.

Locating claims case records is not a simple action. It takes some digging and might involve access to a local branch of NARA. However, these resources should get you started.