History of Blazov

Today, if you visit the place where the village of Blazov once stood, you would find it hard to imagine that once more than a thousand people inhabited the area where near where you are standing. Other than a cellar door marking the cellar once owned by the Bajus family and four stone pillars of a barn where the rectory once stood, there is no other evidence of the village’s existence. Even the cemeteries and grave markings of those villagers who once lived and died in the village have been returned to nature; nurturing the meadows and forests that were there before the first settlement. The village has vanished almost without a trace but the memories remain of those who refuse to forget. It is as it was in the beginning, natural and beautiful.

The Area of Blazov

Until 1918, the village of Blazov belonged to Saris County in the Sabinov District of Austria Hungary. Then in 1918, the villagers found themselves citizens of the newly created country of Czechoslovakia. Today, the village lands are attached to neighboring TichyPotok, a village in the Presov Region of the County of Sabinov located in the Northeastern part of Slovakia.
Blazov stood in the northeastern part of the Levoca Hills where the Chmelov, Ciernohuzec, Zamcisko, Kaligura, Ciernahora and Ciernakopa Mountains form the northern ridge of a small valley. The Javorinka Hill massif closes the valley to the south where the Torysa River flows.
This is old land. The Torysa River may derive its name from the Celtic “thor iza”, which means mountain water. Local legend holds that an ancient castle stood atop Zamcisko Hill; and a document from 1600 does say, “on the top of the Zamcisko we can see the round, stone watchtower.”
In the 13th century, people called the land Seuwold, old German for “pretty woods”. Within the 17,000 acres where Blazov stood, dense forests of fir and deciduous trees grow. The woods give way to mountain meadows. Springs, streams and creeks dot the landscape. Deer, fox and wolves live here, along with many kinds insects, reptiles and birds. There are mushrooms and wildflowers of seemingly endless variety and beauty.


The Origin of the Blazov

In 1274, lords Kokos and Rikolf of Velka Lomnica received Torysa village and its vicinity in a land exchange with Detrik, leader of the Spis Saxons. Kokos and Rikolf were of German origin, and they chose the settlement of Brezovica near Torysa village as their home. Their descendants would be titled the Berzeviczy de Berzevicze et Kakaslomnitz (Berzeviczy of Brezovica and Velka Lomnica). In the 18th century, the family became simply Berzeviczy.
In 1317 in the ecclesiastical town Spisska Kapitula (Spis Canonry), Rikolf's son, John, and John's sons: Michael, Rikolf, John and Henrik, signed a contract with Blazej of Brezovica. The agreement, based on the so-called German law, allowed Blazej to settle a village in an unpopulated area previously called Grunwald. The contract contained the following conditions:



- Settlers may cut 40 parts of the forest, and the forest they clear may be converted to fields.
- Blazej shall hold the hereditary title soltys (village head).
- The soltys may own: one field, a windmill, and a brewery.
- Settlers may build a church without paying tithe and may freely choose a priest
- Settlers may hunt and fish within the borders of the new village.
- Settlers will be exempt from taxes for next 18 years.
- After 18 years, each settler will pay tax in the form of:
7 denars, 1 bread, 1 chicken, 1 pig,
- the whole village shall provide 1 barrel of beer
- The soltys has the right to serve as judge in the village, and to receive from peasants in the village every sixth denar of the paid tax.
The contract was dated:
“Datum IV. feriaproxima ante Ramispalmarum. Anno Domini MCCCXVII”.
(4th Friday before Palm Sunday, 1317 = March 19th 1317)

Thus, Blazov, the village named after Blazej, came to be. Called Balázsvágás in Hungarian, the village name means Blazej's Glade.
Little is known about Blazej, except that he was the son of Leutasch of Brezovica. However, he may have been one of two servients (military free men in service to the king) described in a document from Spis Canonry. In the year 1270, Princess Kunigunda awarded lands in Pokoj village to servients Blazej and Marcel. A Dispute over Marcel's land caused him to leave Pokoj and move to the Upper Torysa. Likewise, Blazej sold his land in Pokoj in 1286. Perhaps he followed Marcel to the Upper Torysa and became the Blazej of Blazej's Glade.

The People of Blazov

IIn 1427, a Berzeviczy family inventory described the village of Blazov. The village contained just six houses. The agricultural customs of the original Slovak and German settlers did not suit the terrain, and Blazov failed to grow. Incursions by the Polish army into north-eastern Slovakia in the 1470s and 1490s also contributed to decline.
The arrival of Wallachs (Ruthenians) repopulated the and. Evidence for their existence appears in court records. In 1480, an investigative document from Saris County described an attack by Wallachs from Blazov against Nicholas from Brezovica. Nicholas had been traveling from Zilina town with a wagon load of clothes and fabric.
Stanislav from Brezovica, the landowner (landlord) at that time attacked and killed a Wallachian living in Tichy Potok while he was on the road near Blazov.
Another legal document from 1513 confirms the presence Wallachs in Blazov. Peter of Spis Hrhov, landlord of the village Nizne Repase, charged in Spis County court that serfs of Francis of Brezovica had illegally grazed their sheep in the meadows of Nizne Repase. When Peter seized the sheep, armed Wallachs from Blazov and their landlord burst into Nizne Repase. They reclaimed their sheep, took some cattle, and wounded one villager.
Landowners invited robust Wallachs from Galicia and Ruthenia to settle in the area that is now northern Slovakia. They signed agreements according to Wallachian law setting out the privileges and conditions for the new-comers. The law required Ruthenians to guard the borders of the kingdom in the Carpathians, and to ensure the protection of roads. In exchange, the Ruthenians received free use of royal pastures and forests. After ten to twenty years of tax freedom, but an obligation to pay tax of one-twentieth cattle, wool and cheese.
Wallachian dukes possessed powers similar to those of the old soltys, although they were elected to the title by their fellow Wallachs. The duke represented the village in negotiations with the authorities, collected taxes for the suzerain, supervised tending of the forest, and determined how many sheep would graze on which javorina. (a javorina is a meadow suitable for grazing sheep.) The Wallachs kept these privileges until the Urbarial reforms of Maria Theresa in 1773.
Blazov and its surroundings suited the Wallachian lifestyle. The villagers grazed sheep on the slopes Javorinka Hill. They turned gentle slopes north of the village into fields for farming. On the steeper slopes, they grew meadows of hay for cattle.
The village thrived and became one of the largest villages in the area. Blazov received royal privileges allocated to significant villages. Beginning in the 18th century, Blazov had the right to hold two markets a year. Also on the 18th century, Blazov received a royal forge for the smelting of iron ore and iron working. Blazov also had the privilege to produce charcoal, a by-product of wood shingles and other wood products made in the village.
The residents of Blazov were mostly Ruthenians, but there were also descendants of the original Slovaks, Germans and others who had migrated to the area over the years.
Some residents already had surnames in the 18th century, such as Fenda, Gargala, Gradzilla, Garnek, Pacinda, and Sweda. Even so, many villagers are remembered in church records only as: Andrij from the slope, Jurko from the garden, or Misko from the bridge, and so on.
Surnames in Blazov didn't stabilize until the second half of the 19th century. Church records from 1818 refer to one Blazov man as "Jurko from Zagorodka". In 1830, his name is written as "Georgius Havrilovitz". In 1845 he becomes "Georgius Havrilyak alias Bajusz". In 1860, finally, he is “Georgius Bajusz”.
Interestingly, church records indicate that one resident, Nicholas Krajnyak (1766 – 1870) lived to be 104 years old. The oldest age recorded of any person who lived in Blazov.


The Hunting Lodge

At the confluence of the Torysa and Skapova Rivers, the Berzeviczy family built two stone houses used by family members and their guests for hunting and occasional stays. One house was for the family and one for the servants. They also built a great ice-cellar, which was filled with ice every winter. It stored fish caught from the rivers and streams, and game bagged from the woods and fields.

In 1857, the Mengersen family received this land as a wedding present for Mary Berzeviczy - Mengersen. And around 1890 the family built a modern brick house. This house became known as the mansion. This land remained in the family until the end of World War II.

The Czechoslovak state confiscated this property in 1945.



The Dolina Settelment

The settlement was founded as a base for the hunting lodge. There were two mills, one sawmill, and in the mid 18th century, the royal forge was built there. The population consisted of skilled laborers invited by the nobles of Brezovica to manage the forest, process timber, iron works and fill related jobs.
Most members of the settlement were Roman Catholic. A Jewish community also settled there, and in 1898 it numbered 23 people. Gypsies lived in houses along the river between the Berzeviczy hunting lodge and Dolina.
The last inhabitant was Anna Garancsovsky, born 1897, who died in 1955 . She was the last villager to die in Blazov.



The Certez Settlement

(Certez – an old word meaning border)
The first mention of Certez comes from a church visitation around 1840 when the settlement was known as Nova Colonia, or New Settlement. Residents of the settlement came from Blazov, Dolina, and from the village of Tichy Potok. Among the first residents were: Andreas Miljo, Joanes Biros-Pjatak, and Andrew Blasko.



The Zdiar Settlement

Sometimes referred to as a Huta (latin: Mallaestra, English.: smelting works)
Zdiar lay on the border lands between Blazov and the village of Nizne Repase. By its name, we assume that Zdiar was built on a spot where the forest had been cleared by fire. The word “zdiarenie” is an old word meaning to burn a portion forest to create fields. Charcoal burners and people dealing charcoal founded the settlement, which suggests that the Zdiar settlement coincided with the building of the forge in Blazov - Dolina in the mid 18th Century. The forge stood on the banks for the Torysa River near Zdiar.
The German names Zoller, Zonger and Roth appear in the church records as living in Zdiar. These German, Roman Catholic families maintained lasting relationships with other German families in eastern Slovakia, as evidenced by two residents of the town Stos who died in Zdiar during the cholera epidemic of 1831.


The Lazy Settlement

All that is known of this village is from the Berzevicy family property inventory of 1427. The inventory states, “the settlement Laszinóvágása (also known as Lazyouagasa) is located on the border area between villages Blazov and Bajerovce.” The settlement later disappeared.


The Ludrovec Grange

The Ludrovec Grange is first mentioned as a seperate farmstead in 1851 (At that time as Rudlovec). Seven people lived there at that time. The grange sat at the lower end of Blazov, under the Cierna Hora mountain. The owner was the Dzug family from Brezovica.


Religion of the village

Immediately after the founding of Blazov, a church was built. We know this from the 1330 roster of the Priestly Fraternity of Upper Torysa. Nicholas is named as the pastor of Blazov. Fourteen priests belonged to the fraternity.

The church was built from stone, and was described during a visitation by Michael Manuel Olsavsky in the year 1751. He wrote, "Blazov - stone Catholic church which they say has been standing there since time immemorial." Ruthenians joined the congregation, and the church stood until 1853 when the new Church of the Holy Spirit was consecrated.

Wallachian immigrants brought with them the Byzantine rite of the Catholic church in which the language of the liturgy is old church Slavonic. Wallachians were free to choose their priest or "batko". The priest could be married and have a family, but he did not always have the privileges accorded Roman Catholic priests. He could not require tithes, and he held a position similar to other serfs.
Ruthenian priests never held major assets, as can be seen in the record of a 1750 ecclesiastical visitation to Blazov. The record describes the pastor's property, his annual income, and expenditure. The record notes that the priest holds only basic ceremonial clothes and simple liturgical objects, of which the gold-plated, silver chalice is most precious. While the church is constructed from stone and in good condition, the record says that the pastor lives in a ruined, ancestral cottage near a small garden. The record includes a price list of religious services:
Baptism: 90 dimes
Marriage: 1 Denar
The larger funeral:  1 Denar
The smaller funeral : 72 dimes
Blessing of the house: 60 dimes

The consecration of the new Church of the Holy Spirit took place September 28, 1853. The Bishop of Presov, Joseph Gaganec, and famous Ruthenian national revivalist Alexander Duchnovic attended. The church was destroyed in 1987, at which time it had been the longest-standing building in Blazov.
Roman Catholics attended services in Brezovica. Jewish villagers joined the Jews of Brezovica for worship there too.

In 1915, agitators traveled through the villages of the Upper Torysa trying to convince Greek Catholic believers to convert to the Orthodox faith. The agitators were mostly emigrants returned from America. They argued that the Greek Catholic Church was weak and virtually unknown in the United States. Their efforts to convert were unsuccessful, partly due to the activities of pastor Emanuel Mankovich.
In 1950, the communist government of Czechoslovakia banned the Greek Catholic Church, and gave all of Greek Catholic Church assets to the Russian Orthodox Church. Greek Catholics, including villagers from Blazov, fought the ban, and they regained the Greek Catholic Church in 1968. One of the main Greek Catholic champions, along with Bishop Gojdic, was Bishop Hopko, who grew up in Blazov from the age of seven with his uncle Demeter Petrenko.


Known pastors of  Blazov:
1330 Nicholas
unknown
1726 - 1735 Basilius
1735 - 1737 Anton Jaromis
1737 - 1757 John Mankovich
1757 - 1757 Georgius Tarasovich
1757 - 1791 Michal Mankovich
1796 - 1852 Andrew Mankovich
1852 - 1863 Andrew Samovolsky
1863 - 1892 Anton Rojkovich
1892 - 1924 Emanuel Mankovich
1924 - 1940 Demeter Petrenko
1940 - 1948 Nicholas Rojkovich


School

Blazov opened its first school in 1833. The school was closed in 1848 during the rebellion, and reopened in 1853, and school remained opened until the end of the village in the Fifties.

In 1878, the village contained 207 school age children. Of those 207, 141 attended school. The members of the school board were: John Haladej, Michal Koly, Jozef Lazor, Nicholas Orjabinec (janitor), Juraj Ondricko, Vasil Bajus, Ondrej Smolej, Stefan Krahulec and Stefan Geci.
From 1921 to 1945, the school was known as the Blazov Greek Catholic Grammar School.
From 1945 to 1949, it became the State Grammar School.
From 1949 to 1953 it was the National School.
The schools spanned grades 1 through 9 in four classes of 35 to 40 students each.
In 1950, a Ukranian language, lower, secondary school was established.

Known teachers:
1843 - ? Ladislav Krafcik
1857 - 1867 Michal Krafcík
1838 - 1872 Alexander Ilykovich
1873 - 1897 Peter Keselak
1876 - ? John Kopcak
1898 - ? Joseph Stulakovic
1903 – Theodorus Jobbágy
1908 - Ján Magyar, Margaretha Tátrai
1931 – Adalbertus Silla

Emigration

After the abolition of serfdom in Austria-Hungary in 1848, many former peasants left northern Slovakia. The majority of people traveled to the United States. One of the first emigrants from Blazov was Jewish man named Samuel Hartsein, who arrived in America in 1871. Until the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, many villagers followed Hartsein. Some moved permanently, other stayed in America long enough to earn money to buy land in Blazov. Some traveled between Blazov and the U. S. more than once.
These first wave emigrants from Blazov headed mainly to Farrell, Sharon and Sharpsville in Pennsylvania, and to the Youngstown area in Ohio.
A second wave of emigration began around 1920 when the American-born children of returnees reached adulthood. These children exercised their right to U. S. citizenship, and headed for Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and California.
A third wave left Blazov in 1946. They moved to the Czech Republic where the government offered property abandoned by the Sudetenland Germans.
The fourth and final wave of emigration was in 1947 when about 70 people emigrated from Blazov to the USSR. It was based on an agreement between Czechoslovakia and the USSR about the return of the Czechs from the Volyn area in Transcarpathian Ukraine and the voluntary eviction of Russians and Ruthenians living in Czechoslovakia to Volyn. At that time, 33,000 Czechs returned to Czechoslovakia, however Russians and Ruthenians weren't interested in moving to the USSR. Communist agitators visited Ruthenian villages and promised large, fertile fields and nice homes in the Ukraine and about 12,000 Ruthenians believed the propaganda and left for Volyn only to find the promises nothing but lies as they found themselves with nothing, losing even their Czechoslovak citizenship, and being told any attempt to their return was illegal. Finally after years of pleadings, Nikita Khrushchev made a determination to allow their return to their village and about 70 percent of those who had a chance to return, did so, but by that time the village no longer existed.

Forced Evictions – The end of Blazov

 

In 1952, the Czechoslovakian government established the Javorina military base in accordance with act number 169 of 1949. The base overlapped Blazov and other nearby villages. In Blazov alone, the government would evict 212 families, and ultimately raze their homes and church.
Building Javornia meant more than creating a military base. It meant suppression. The ruling communists regarded the people of Blazov as rebels. The majority of villagers had been against the ongoing collectivisation of agriculture. Successful farmers in Blazov held a strong influence, and they were joined by new landowners who had made money in America and bought land here.
Although most people in the village disagreed with the eviction, and were unimpressed by the compensation provided, evictions began on May 30, 1952. The first to be thrown out were the residents of Certez. They resisted and the police were called. Dolina was next to be evicted, and finally the entire village of Blazov.
Villagers were resettled to Sarisské Michalany, Zakovce, Sabinov, Huncovce, Sobrance, Snina and SpisskePodhradie. However, some returned home. In 1953, a handful of brave Blazov villagers reclaimed their former homes. More villagers returned until the government took action. People were forcibly removed, and their houses destroyed. There would be no place left to return. The last villager left Blazov on May 26, 1955. Now majority of people were moved to the village Zakovce, on the foot of the Hight Tatras Mountains, where they built their new houses.
In 1954, four men who opposed the forced evictions were arrested and convicted. Each received suspended sentences from between 1 month to 1 year. They were: Juraj Valko, Mikulas Parimucha, Juraj Kol, Jan Kravec and Michal Sekerak.
After 1955 only the Blazov church and a few barns remained standing. . The church was demolished later to prevent it becoming a shrine and/or a pilgrimage destination.
On December 1, 2010, the Slovak government passed Regulation No. 455/2010) and officially abolished the Military Area whose creation forced the eviction of Blazov. The land is now attached to the village of Tichy Potok.

 

Short history

Blazov is established in 1327

Six houses occupy Blazov in 1427

A church is built circa 1330 and the priest is Nicholas

The Wallachs arrive in 1480

1513, litigation between Blazov and the village of Nizne Repase over a border dispute

In 1585, after court proceedings that lasted decades, the family of Frederik Berzeviczy and representatives of city Levoca agree on the border between the villages Blazov and Torysky. Chancellor Martin Berzeviczy mediated the agreement and it is confirmed by Emperor Rudolf II. Punishment for a breach of was the loss of honor and a fine of 3000 Denars.

The Union of Uzhhorod between the Mukachevo Diocese and the Roman Catholic Church concludes in 1646. The Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantine Catholic Church in the Eparchy of Mukachevo shall enjoy the same rights. Greek Catholics accept the Pope in Rome as head of their Church.

1656. Ladislav Berzeviczy, landlord of Blazov, protests in writing against the village privilege of running a brewery.

1668. Baltazar and Zigmond Berzeviczy complain that the Wallachs of Blazov are destroying forests to expand grazing land for sheep.

The 1715 Hungarian census takes place, and is the first census since the Turkish occupation of Hungary. According to the census, twenty residents of Blazov are required to pay tax.

  Juraj Mankovic is born in Blazov in 1738. He later becomes the 20th Bishop of Mukachevo and takes the name Georgius Blazovsky.

The church register begins in 1740.
-  In 1817, the register is written in the old Cyrillic script using the old Slav language
- 1817 - 1852 Latin
- 1852 - 1853 Russian in Cyrillic
- 1854 - 1918 Latin
- 1918 - 1953 Slovak

Maria Theresa abolishes the privileges of Wallachs in 1773.

Also in 1773, Maria Theresa issues a decree to give all assets of the Orthodox Church in Hungary to the Greek Catholic Church.

In 1785,  Michal Mankovic is born in Blazov, the significant painter of religious paintings for the Eparchy of Mukachevo.

In 1787, Blazov has 81 houses and 622 inhabitants.

A document written in 1808 says that in Blazov is a royal forge administered by the Administrator of the Hungarian Royal Chamber. The forge was built circa 1750.

The Diocese of Presov is established in 1818 by the solemn declaration of The Bull Relata Semper to the congreation, and confirmed by Pope Pius VII.

On July 27, 1824, a powerful hail storm destroys crops and kills poultry.

1828. Blazov has 136 houses and 812 inhabitants;

A large crop failure occurs in 1830.

A cholera epidemic breaks out in 1831. Villagers in Blazov and elsewhere claim that their suzerain wants to poison them with large doses of disinfectants and take their land. During three months of the epidemic, 79 people died in Blazov.

The primary school is established  in 1833. It closes, temporarily circa 1848.

1834. A severe drought brings crop failure and epidemic typhus.

1844. A great flood.

Austria-Hungary abolishes serfdom in 1848.

1851. Blazov: 785 inhabitants; Dolina: 108 inhabitants.; Certez: 30 inhabitants .; Rudovec: 7 inhabitants.

The new Church of the Holy Spirit is consecrated in 1853.

1853. School re-established.

In 1857,  Blazov is divided in two halves One half remains with the lords from  Brezovica. The second half goes to Mary Berzeviczy as her dowry when she marries Baron Mengersen .

1873. Blazov: 821 inhabitants; Dolina: 161 inhabitants ; Certez: 30 inhabitants.

1898.  Blazov: 1,089 inhabitants; Dolina: 220 inhabitants; Certez 84 inhabitants. (1,278 vilagers are Greek Catholic. 23 are Jewish. There are 74 properties.)

1908. A great flood.

1914 – 1918. World War One

 Czechoslovakia is established in 1918.

In 1920, the first elections are held in Czechoslovakia. In the Blazov doesn't vote. The newspaper "Sarisske hlasy" wrote  on 25/04/1920: "Elections could not be held only in Blazov in the district of Lipany because the candidates did not come to introduced themselves.”"

1939 – 1945. World War II
- Eugen Feuereisen, born in 1905 in Blazov- Dolina, perished in Auschwitz 26.6.1942.
In the fight against fascism, these natives of Blazov died:
- Stefan Semancík, born 8.9.1915, fell 3.4.1945  near Bobrovec
- Stefan Duda, born 25.2.1915, fell 15.4.1945 in Moravia
- Joseph Piskura, born 2.2.1921,  fell 23.4.1945  near Martin    
- Peter Valko, born 6.7.1919 Certez, fell 4.5.1945 in Moravia.
- Stefan Bujnak, born 23.2.1919, fell 8.5.1945 in Moravia

1942 Including the settlements of Certez and Dolina. Blazov contains 1,092 inhabitants living in 235 houses.

In 1950, the Czechoslovakia bans the Greek Catholic Church.

In 1952 the government established the Javornia military base and disbands the village of Blazov.

On April 2, 1955, Anna Garancovsky, born 1897, is the last inhabitant to die in Blazov.

The last villager leaves Blazov, May 26, 1955.

In 2010, the Slovak Republic by regulation no. 455/2010 dissolves the Javornia military district. Javorina and the former lands of Blažov are joined with Tichy Potok.

2011 a forest and agricultural cooperative is begun.