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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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Conclusion“How Did You Ever Find Me?” 333


Conclusion “How Did you Ever Find Me?” It’s a long way from the Carpathian mountains in Slovakia to the sandy beaches of Fort Myers, Florida. And, yet, the history of Slovak immigration to the USA and Canada shows that many Slovaks in North America make this annual flight as “snowbirds” to the land of sand and sunshine. The Stolarik and Zongora fami- lies are no exception. When Mark Stolarik first met his grandmother Zuzanna Stolárik in the summer of 1968 at her log cabin in Dlhá, near Turzovka, she immediately asked him, “How did you ever find me?” It was incomprehensible to Zuzanna that her grandson, whom she had not seen since 1943, would be able to travel all the way from America to her hilltop home deep in the Beskidy Mountains. Zuzanna, dressed in widow’s black, as was the custom in Slovak villages, was illiterate, while her grandson, in colorful jacket and trousers, was doing research for his Ph.D. dissertation. Mark pulled a map of Europe out of his green Volkswagen “Beetle,” and showed Zuzanna how he and his wife Anne had taken the train from Paris to Stuttgart, and from there had driven along various roads through Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, Trenc¡ín, Z¡ ilina, C¡adca and Turzovka to her home. Zuzanna had difficulty comprehending the journey. Grandmother and grandson lived in two completely different worlds and, yet, were able to meet and communicate with each other. Zuzanna’s question must have been asked by thousands of Slovak...

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