On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be a very difficult surname to research. Kacsenyak is the maiden name of one of my maternal great grandmothers, Maria Kacsenyak, who married Stephen Kucharik on 28 August 1877 in Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia, which is in the Presov district in the eastern half of the country.
The surname itself is rather uncommon, which normally should be a blessing. However, it can be spelled a myriad of ways – Csenyak, Kosenyak, Kaczeniak, Ksenyak, Kacsenik – which can be challenging to find in records.
To add to the difficulty, not very many people with this surname emigrated to the United States and no other close family relations of my Maria appear to ever have reached U.S. shores.
Today, in Slovakia, the name appears in both the Presov and Kosice districts, which are perhaps 40 miles apart in distance, with Kosice being directly south of Presov.
The final drawback in researching this family is that local church records only begin in the early 1800s. Given that my Maria was born in 1859, that doesn’t leave many years with surviving records beforehand.
The earliest Kacsenyak for whom I have any details is John Kacsenyak, so I consider him the family patriarch of this branch of my tree. John was born about 1798, likely in or near Vysna Sebastova, Presov, Slovakia. He was reportedly 26 years old when he married Anna Fucsik on 8 December 1824 in the Greek Catholic church in Okruzna. The church record noted that John and Anna both lived in Szengeto, which today is part of Vysna Sebastova. Anna was born about 1800, the daughter of John Fucsik. The marriage record doesn’t name the father of the groom.
Slovakia had a mix of Greek Catholics and Roman Catholics, who made up the bulk of the population in the 1800s. However, Catholic was Catholic and the two groups intermarried frequently. The tradition was that the couple married in the bride’s church, but the children were baptized in the husband’s church.
John Kacsenyak was Roman Catholic, while Anna Fucsik was Greek Catholic. Therefore, they married in the Greek Catholic church, but all future entries regarding the family – baptisms and burials – are found in the Roman Catholic church, which was nearby in Nizna Sebastova.
While working on this family, I also discovered that John Kacsenyak used an alias, but for what reason, I have no idea. His surname wasn’t common, but several records for his children record him as John Petro. Maybe Kacsenyak was too much of a mouthful. However, it is clear from the combination of family records that the two surnames relate to a single person.
John and Anna had a large family, but a number of children died very young.
- Anna, baptized 27 September 1825; buried 28 September 1825.
- Anna, baptized 29 October 1826; buried 3 August 1832.
- Maria, baptized 14 January 1830; buried 5 September 1831.
- John, baptized 18 October 1832; buried 13 February 1837.
- Michael, born September 1834; died after 1881 and probably after 1900, as no burial record has been found for him through 1899, when the burial records end; married Anna Haluska.
- John, baptized 29 April 1837; married Barbara Desatnik.
- Barbara, baptized 17 September 1839; married Stephen Kvasny, 1864.
- Andreas, baptized 16 January 1842; married Anna Merhel(y), 1864
- Anna, baptized 28 August 1844; buried 12 December 1844.
- Anna, baptized 16 December 1845; buried 31 December 1845.
The Kacsenyak family is another sad example of the infant mortality rate in Slovakia. Of ten children, only Michael, John, Barbara and Andreas lived to adulthood and married.
John Kacsenyak aka Petro was buried on 21 December 1849. No death or burial record has been found for wife Anna, but son Michael was listed as an orphan when he married on 28 September 1858. Burial records for Nizna Sebastova from 1853-1858 are missing. She likely died in that time span and no second marriage record has been found for her.
- Michael Kacsenyak, baptized 21 September 1834, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; married Anna Haluska, 28 September 1858 in Ruska Nova Ves. Michael was Roman Catholic, while Anna was Greek Catholic. Both were alive for the 1869 census and no burial record has been found for either through 1899, the last year the church registers are available.
They had nine children:
- Maria, born June 1859, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; died 5 March 1926, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey; married Stefan Kucharik, 28 August 1877, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia.
- Anna, born 1861; buried 17 September 1863, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia.
- Barbara, baptized 22 February 1864; Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; died after 1869 census.
- Anna, baptized 12 June 1865, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; died before 1869 census.
- John, baptized 28 August 1868, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; died before 1869 census.
- Anna, baptized 29 July 1870, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; nuo further record.
- Erzebet (Elizabeth), born and died 16 January 1875, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia.
- Maria (name might be entered incorrectly since first child Maria was still living), baptized 3 February 1879, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; no further record
- John, baptized 23 July 1881, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia; no further record
2. John Kacsenyak was the second surviving child of John and Anna (Fucsik) Kacsenyak, baptized 29 April 1837, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia. He married Barbara Deszatnik, 2 June 1862, Ruska Nova Ves, Slovakia. She was born about 1836. No further record on her has been found.
They had five children, all born in Ruska Nova Ves, Presov, Slovakia:
- Maria, baptized 10 December 1863; buried 2 October 1866
- Anna, baptized 8 June 1866; buried 8 July 1873
- John, baptized 2 March 1869; died after 1869 census and possibly emigrated to the U.S.
- Dorothy, baptized 4 May 1871; no further record
- George, baptized 21 April 1874; no further record
3. Barbara Kacsenyak was the only surviving daughter of John and Anna (Fucsik) Kacsenyak, baptized 17 September 1839, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia. She married Stephen Kvasni, 30 June 1864, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia. He was born c1839.
They had seven known children:
- Anna, baptized 6 January 1865, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; buried 15 February 1865
- John, baptized 6 January 1866; died after 1869 census
- Anna, baptized 26 May 1868, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; buried 1 December 1868.
- Stephen, baptized 12 August 1870, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; died soon.
- Stephen, baptized 1 December 1872, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; no further record.
- Michael, baptized 19 September 1874, Radacov, Presov, Slovakia; buried May 1887.
- Maria, baptized 20 March 1880, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; no further record.
4. Andreas Kacsenyak, the youngest surviving child of John and Anna (Fucsik) Kacsenyak was baptized 16 January 1842, Vysna Sebastova, Slovakia and married Anna Merhely, on 30 June 1864 in a double wedding with his sister. She was born about 1844. Andreas, his wife and Michael all lived with brother Michael Kacsenyak and his family, along with sister Barbara Kvasni, her husband and son at the time of the 1869 census.
They had two known children:
- Michael, born c1869 and in the 1869 census.
- John, born 24 February 1873, Nizna Sebastova, Slovakia; no further record.
As most of these village church records end about 1900, I am limited by a lack of records into the modern era, just as I am trying to move further back into the 1700s.
Right now, the only Kacsenyak that I can prove is part of this small family is my great grandmother, Maria Kacsenyak Kucharik. The Ellis Island site only lists four Kacsenyaks, all arriving between 1900 and 1913. However, two – Dorothy, aged 30 and Anna, aged 2, arriving in 1905 show Ujfalu as their home. Ruska Nova Ves had a village by that name in the 1800s so they might be part of the family. they were headed to the Yonkers, New York to Dorothy’s husband, Stephen.
If you see anyone here that you think might be your family, please leave a comment. I’d love to find some cousins in this branch of the family, as I don’t know of a single relative right now.