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Old 10-15-2017, 10:05 AM
 
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I understand that many of the Eastern European countries were all considered part of the Austrian Empire in the late 19th century and then split out into separate countries sometime in early 20th century. So, if my ancestor came from a town that is now considered Slovakia but it was part of the Austrian empire back in the time period when my ancestor was born, does that mean my ancestor is SLOVAK or AUSTRIAN or possibly POLISH since Poland was also part of this area? As far as I can tell, the ancestor is SLOVAK. Family names, language, census records, immigration records, etc. all state the person's country as SLOVAKIA or Czechoslovakia. The person settled in a SLOVAK parish in the city and not Polish. However, someone told me that since the town was part of Poland at that time, the ancestor is considered POLISH not SLOVAK. I am a little confused. How does one really decide the ancestor's country of origin if all the countries were combined into the Austrian empire?
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Ozark Mountains
634 posts, read 538,888 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smt1111 View Post
I understand that many of the Eastern European countries were all considered part of the Austrian Empire in the late 19th century and then split out into separate countries sometime in early 20th century. So, if my ancestor came from a town that is now considered Slovakia but it was part of the Austrian empire back in the time period when my ancestor was born, does that mean my ancestor is SLOVAK or AUSTRIAN or possibly POLISH since Poland was also part of this area? As far as I can tell, the ancestor is SLOVAK. Family names, language, census records, immigration records, etc. all state the person's country as SLOVAKIA or Czechoslovakia. The person settled in a SLOVAK parish in the city and not Polish. However, someone told me that since the town was part of Poland at that time, the ancestor is considered POLISH not SLOVAK. I am a little confused. How does one really decide the ancestor's country of origin if all the countries were combined into the Austrian empire?
You should read more about the House of Habsburg.
At one point, and under the House of Habsburg, Spain ruled Europe, including Austria, Holland and Italy.
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Old 10-15-2017, 01:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smt1111 View Post
I understand that many of the Eastern European countries were all considered part of the Austrian Empire in the late 19th century and then split out into separate countries sometime in early 20th century. So, if my ancestor came from a town that is now considered Slovakia but it was part of the Austrian empire back in the time period when my ancestor was born, does that mean my ancestor is SLOVAK or AUSTRIAN or possibly POLISH since Poland was also part of this area? As far as I can tell, the ancestor is SLOVAK. Family names, language, census records, immigration records, etc. all state the person's country as SLOVAKIA or Czechoslovakia. The person settled in a SLOVAK parish in the city and not Polish. However, someone told me that since the town was part of Poland at that time, the ancestor is considered POLISH not SLOVAK. I am a little confused. How does one really decide the ancestor's country of origin if all the countries were combined into the Austrian empire?
Don't get confused between ethnicity and nationality. They are not always one and the same. The Austrians ruled over other ethnic groups. I don't know anything about Slovak people.

My main ancestry is English, but I am not of English nationality. I am American nationally. Your ancestors may have been Austrian citizens, I'm not sure, but their ethnicity, culture, etc.. was Slovak.

So are they Austrian or Slovak? That depends. Are you asking about their nationality or their ethnicity?
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Old 10-15-2017, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,255 posts, read 14,309,458 times
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Originally Posted by Mattks View Post
Don't get confused between ethnicity and nationality. They are not always one and the same. The Austrians ruled over other ethnic groups. I don't know anything about Slovak people.

My main ancestry is English, but I am not of English nationality. I am American nationally. Your ancestors may have been Austrian citizens, I'm not sure, but their ethnicity, culture, etc.. was Slovak.

So are they Austrian or Slovak? That depends. Are you asking about their nationality or their ethnicity?
This. This is precisely why, for example, several US census years required not only the place of birth recorded but the mother tongue as well, because they were not necessarily the same.

https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1900.shtml
https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1910.shtml
https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1920.shtml

One of my ancestors was ethnically German. Her parents and entire ancestry were born in Germany, they had German names, they spoke German, etc. But she was born in France. They only lived in France for a few years before coming to the US, and German was her native language, but technically she was born in France and probably a French citizen.
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Old 10-15-2017, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Arizona
6,276 posts, read 5,750,930 times
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For Austria Hungary go by the language and location.

The Slovaks and Croatians always considered themselves Slovak or Croatian, never Austro-Hungarian. You will find many ethnic parishes in the US built before 1918. They weren't Austro Hungarian churches, they were Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian or whatever churches.

On passenger lists you may see Austria but that's about the only place.

Years ago I saw something about if Austria Hungary came back into existence how many languages would you need to know to talk to over half of the citizens. I think it was 7.
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Old 10-15-2017, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Canada
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My maternal grandmother’s ancestors left Germany as colonists in the late 1700s, attracted by promises by the Austrian government who built separate villages for them in Austrian-controlled Galicia in Eastern Europe and provided them with free land to farm. Their descendants retained their German culture and language until they came to Canada pre WWI.

On the 1911 Canada census, they listed their country of birth as Austria. After WWI, Galicia became part of Poland. So on the 1921 Canada census, those same descendants listed their country of birth as Poland. If those descendants had been alive in 1951, they would have listed their country of birth as the Ukraine, as Galicia was split between Poland and the Ukraine after WWII.

I consider this ancestral line simply as ethnically German. They didn’t speak Polish or Ukrainian and never integrated with the local population.
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Old 10-16-2017, 12:18 AM
 
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The Austro-Hungarian Empire was explicitly multi-ethnic and the empire did not expect its subjects to call themselves Austrian or Austro-Hungarian. In your case they were Slovak.
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Old 10-16-2017, 01:04 AM
 
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You have to work it out via the history books, and it can be maddening.

Here's how it worked for my grandmother and grandfather:

My grandmother was born in 1865 in what was then Austria. So, she was technically born in Austria.

In 1867, the part of Austria that she was born in became Hungary.

My grandmother immigrated to the U.S. in 1892 from Hungary -- that's what it said on her immigration record at Ellis Island.

In the 1900 and 1910 Census, her birthplace is listed as Hungary.

In 1918, Czechoslovakia was formed. It initially included the place where my grandmother was born, which had formerly been in Hungary AND Austria (at different times).

On the 1920, her place of birth is listed as Czechoslovakia. Notice that Czechoslovakia includes both Czeco AND Slovakia. On the 1930 Census her place of birth is simply Slovak.

In 1939, after my grandmother had died, Slovakia became independent. The city she was born in and immigrated from became part of the new independent country, Slovakia.

So, growing up, I was told by my father (whose Mother died when he was a young boy) that he thought that my grandmother was from either Austria or Hungary, but later, when I started trying to find the city listed on her immigration manifest, I couldn't find it anywhere in current day Hungary or Austria. I got even more confused when I found the early census said she was from Czecholovakia and couldn't find that city there.

Then, I realized it was not only in Slovakia but also that the name of the city had been changed from the Hungarian spelling to its current spelling. I only figured this out thanks to the help of a kind woman from Slovakia I met online. She also helped me understand that my grandmother's maiden name and her mother's maiden name were NOT Hungarian, but Slovakian. The area where my grandmother was born was ethnically Slovak, and actually a hotbed of rebellions against Hungary even when my grandmother was a young girl.

In any case, my grandmother was born in what is now modern day Slovakia. Based on her maiden name and my great-grandmother's maiden name, and her calling herself "Slovak" on that last census, I know that they were probably ethnic Slovaks, not Hungarian. So, I consider my heritage to be Slovakian.

In my grandfather's case, all of his records after he immigrated to the U.S. in 1870 said he was from Germany. My father grew up knowing that his father was German.

But, I could find no record of my father's name, or even his unusual family name, anywhere in the genealogical records for Germany.

It wasn't until I realized that Germany once included what was called Prussia that I found them.

When he was born, that area was, indeed, in Prussia, which was part of Germany (but had once been part of Austria.)

But, after WWII, the city where his family was from became part of Poland. And, again, the name of the city changed at that point from a German name to a Polish name.

However, my father's father and grandparents identified themselves as German. They spoke German at home, not Polish.

So, I consider my heritage on that side to be German, even though where they lived is not part of current-day Germany.

As for the strange name, I have reason to believe that it actually may have originally been Danish in origin. You see, once upon a time, parts of Denmark were part of Prussia too, and that name is more common in Denmark than it is in Germany (and it's non-existent in present day Poland). But that's a whole different line of research yet to be done.

So, yeah, it can be a challenge.

But, a few things may help. First, if you have ancestors who once lived in what is today Poland, Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, Hungary, or other Eastern European countries be aware that city and country names may have changed at different points. So, again, it helps to read up on the histories of the current E. European nations in order to figure out a timeline that matches with your ancestors' lives.

And, also, make sure that you have the spelling of your ancestors last name as correct as possible. Consider alternate spellings. My grandmother spelled her name correctly on her immigration paperwork, her marriage license, and her naturalization application. But she died when my father and his siblings were very young. They knew their mother's maiden name only by the way it was pronounced. They'd never actually seen it written down on anything.

So, what got passed down to me as my grandmother's maiden name was not the correct spelling. It was only later that I realized that the spelling SHE had used was different by a couple of letters, and that's when I finally started finding my grandmother's true history.

Last edited by RosieSD; 10-16-2017 at 01:17 AM..
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Old 10-16-2017, 01:21 AM
 
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Also, here are a couple of excellent resources for anyone who is doing family history research involving any Eastern European Country:

East European Genealogical Society

Home | FEEFHS

https://www.facebook.com/eegsociety/

The ancestry discussion forums on different countries are also very helpful. In both my grandmother's and grandfather's case, the kindness of strangers on those boards helped me get things sorted out.
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Raleigh
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How does your family identify themselves? Sounds like Slovak to me.

Put it this way. Does someone whose family came from Ireland identify as British since the British colonized Ireland all those years? How about Scottish?
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