Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Nemecka Poruba in 1900

The following description of Poruba is based on information given to me by Baba, who described it as it was when she left there in 1911.

NOTE: 2 photographs above were taken at Humenne skansen, an open-air museum that features Rusyn living quarters as they commonly appeared pre-WW 2.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, Poruba contained just over 100 houses. Its population was composed mainly of Carpatho-Rusyn and Slovak, but also had a number of Jews who ran many of the commercial enterprises in the area--beer gardens, shops, etc. There were Hungarians, Gypsies, and a few Germans as well.

Nearly every family was engaged in pastoral pursuits. The cultivated area surrounding the village was sectioned off into long strips of land, and most families owned one or more pieces. Wheat, potatoes, oats, and rye were grown. Cattle were raised. Wood was cut, stockpiled, and sold on the plains far from the mountains in order to raise cash for items not easily manufactured at home. Woodpiles awaiting sale covered many acres around the village. Charcoal was made in the woods and sold in the surrounding cities. There was a flour mill in Poruba where farmers took their grain for grinding. Shoemakers produced boots for village residents.

Houses were all one story made of brick, or less often of logs, but always with a thatch roof. These dwellings commonly held multi-generation families. There was no electricity and roads were rarely anything but dirt. For products not made at home or not available in one of Poruba's three drygoods stores, villagers traveled six miles southeast to Sobrance to shop. The larger city of Michalovce, eleven miles to the southwest, was also occasionally visited as it was the location of the farmer's market.

Slovak was the predominant language in the village but many also spoke Rusyn or Ukranian, and Hungarian. School was taught in Hungarian as the area was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Greek Catholicism was the principal religion in Poruba, and there was a church in the village [built circa 1837] as well as one in Jovsa, which was also the name of the parish. There was no Roman Catholic church nearby so the few Roman Catholics in Poruba attended the Greek Catholic church.

Nemecka Poruba had been known by several names over the years. Nemecka is Slovak for German, thus German Poruba. Nemetvagas was the Hungarian name. Vagas means cutting, thus German Cutting. Currently it is called Poruba pod Vihorlatom, which means Poruba under Vihorlat, but it is usually shortened to simply, Poruba. Commanding the northern skyline above the village, Vihorlat is the highest peak in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Slovakia, rising to 3530 feet above the Hungarian Plain.

Nemet Poruba coat of arms courtesy of http://www.fotw.net/flags/sk-mi-pv.html