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Where is my home?

Slovak Immigration to North America (1870–2010)


Mark Stolarik

Between 1870 and 2010 over half a million Slovaks migrated to the USA and Canada. As other ethnic groups from East Central Europe, they headed principally to the industrial triangle of the USA and to central Canada’s cities in search of work. Finding themselves in strange surroundings, they quickly established institutions that helped them to survive in a capitalist economy and to also preserve their religion, language and culture. As for many other ethnic groups, the border between the USA and Canada was to them irrelevant. Slovaks crossed it according to economic need and stayed in touch with each other. Meanwhile, they also remained in touch with their families in Europe and helped their people to survive Magyarization in Austria-Hungary, to achieve self-determination in the new Republic of Czechoslovakia and, finally, independence.
For the first time ever, the author has told the epic story of Slovak immigration to North America. Based upon forty years of archival and library research, supplemented by the life histories of over two dozen families scattered across the USA and Canada, and lavishly illustrated, this book will satisfy both academics and the general public who have long been waiting for a comprehensive history of this significant member of the family of Slavic nations.


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Chapter 1 - America, America... 1


Chapter 1 America, America… When Imrich Stolárik Sr. sailed to America to find work at the beginning of the twentieth century, he found a host of mature Slovak colonies. His countrymen had started to migrate to the United States in the 1870’s, and by 1900 they had created all the attributes of institutionally complete neighborhoods, including saloons, board- ing houses, fraternal-benefit societies, churches and a newspaper press. They had even started a political movement to free their countrymen in the Kingdom of Hungary. All of this became in- creasingly clear to his grandson Mark Stolarik, who had started to study the phenomenon of Slovak immigration in 1968, and who had returned to Slovakia in 1970 to continue with his research. “Are you Mr. Stolárik?” asked the bespectacled, short and well-dressed gentleman in the checkered suit as he approached me in the dimly lit regional archive in July 1970. It was located on the main square in the neoclassical building of the former county seat of Levoc¡a, in northeastern Slovakia, then a part of the Czechoslo- vak Socialist Federation.1 “Yes I am,” I answered in a puzzled tone, as I glanced up at him and his tall, muscular, and menacing partner dressed in a black jacket and matching turtle-neck sweater. Briefly, I was reminded of the American comic-strip characters “Mutt and Jeff.” “You can’t interrogate him here!” protested Betka, the petite assistant archivist, who instantly realized who they were. “Shut up, girl! Don’t you know who we are...

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