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Investigating One's Roots

Story ID:5459
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Bezovce Uz Slovakia
Person:George (Juri) Megles
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Anyone who saw Alex Haley's "Roots" miniseries years ago or even read
his book probably came away thinking as I - I have to do research on my family
tree! How long that ambition lasted is anyone's guess, but my feeling is that
those interested as I found the project too daunting. After some perfunctory
tries, we all probably gave up in despair of ever opening up our genealogical
family trees.

That was then and this is now. Recently, I was incredibly lucky to connect on
the computer with David Jay Webber, an Arizona genealogist. He was doing
research on his family tree and he also had the surname Megles among his
relatives. He contacted me re this, and I told him I didn't believe we were
related because his family was basically Hungarian. My father neither claimed
to be Hungarian or did he speak it. He spoke an Eastern Slovak dialect. There
was much confusion re the true nationalities of those persons who emigrated
to America in the early 20th Century from what was then the Austro-Hungarian

Arriving at Ellis Island, they were asked the country of birth, and naturally if they
said Austro-Hungary - they were often put down as Austrian or Hungarian and
this was erroneous in many instances. Had they asked what language they
spoke - they would have gotten a truer picture of their nationality. Some would
have answered as my parents - Slovak. Others might have answered Rusin,
Czech, or Moravian as well as Hungarian or Austrian.

As a surprise for me, David Jay Webber did compile some notes re my Dad's
genealogical tree of our side of the Megles family. He told me that since he
already had the microfilm files of Bezovce, UZ (county) where my father was
born- that he would provide me with a free research of my family on my Dad's
side. I was absolutely thrilled as anyone would be who is interested in their

Normally, he would have charged $360 for the 12 hours of work he utilized to
compile the notes in this regard which almost filled 4 pages. It started with
my Dad in 1892 and goes as far back as 1750. Wow. Never in my wildest dreams
did I believe I would ever come to learn about some of my ancestors in this way.
However, I was incomparably lucky to have visited Slovakia in the 70's and
actually saw my father's home, his church, and the graves of his parents.

From David's research, I learned that my Dad was born and BAPTIZED on the
same day -Dec. 26, 1891 instead of Dec. 25, 1892. David said that discrepancies
such as this one are not unusual as dates were not as carefully recorded as
we do today. I learned that I had 5 uncles and aunts -all died in infancy except
for young Michael who my father told us fell from a tree and was killed. That
may explain why these faith-filled people and their priests probably decided to
baptize the babies on the same day they were born. I had not known about
these little angels because the only one my father had told us about was re
Michael's tragic death at 11. And it was interesting that my grandparents
named these infants who died - Zuzanna, Anna, Michael, then Anna and
Michael again. David said there may have been more children who survived
and the baptisms of these children could likely be found elsewhere in the
Bezovce registers. I did miss seeing my Aunt Mary's birthday among the
names given by David and he told me that he had not done a comprehensive
genealogical report. However, all these notes which took him so much time
I consider treasures - comprehensive or no.

I also didn't know that my grandmother was Roman Catholic as Grandfather
was Greek Catholic as was the church in Bezovce which they attended and
where my father and Aunt Mary and the rest of the children were baptized.
When Dad and Aunt Mary came to America -both of their families belonged to
Greek Catholic Churches- my dad in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland and
my Aunt Mary in Linden, New Jersey.

To say that I am very grateful to David Jay Webber is an understatement.
He also sent me the genealogical report he did on his family (Balint/Megles)
which I found very interesting. The report is on line for anyone else interested
in seeing a sample of his work: http://tinyurl.com/5zgqfw

While I spent 6 weeks in Slovakia - David spent 8 years in the Ukraine in
pastoral work. Quite a difference. He is so lucky to have learned so much re
this region of his ancestors on his mother's side. And interestingly, his father
is a Mayflower descendent of Governor William Bradford, among others.

I am so blessed to have gotten his expertise in investigating half of my family
tree. Left to my own devices - I couldn't even find the names of the ships my
parents embarked from when they landed at Ellis Island. Maybe some of you
will want to learn more re your family tree also. If interested in contacting
David Jay Webber, he is listed with other Arizona Genealogists on the internet
site-- PilgrimsAndPalatines.vze.com.