~ Discovering Your Family's Past To Shape Your Future ~
Where in the world did John Hussle of Saginaw, Michigan come from? Census and other records over the years gave a different country nearly every time. And it turns out that was a blessing in disguise. After grumbling aloud for a little while (with my 3-year-old saying “Mommy, what happened?” over and over), it dawned on me that these places and name changes actually told me almost exactly where he was from.
Over the years John is listed as being from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Austria-Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, and he was raised speaking Slovak and German in his home. I pulled out my historical atlases and started looking at boundary lines over the course of the late 1800s and early 1900s for central Europe.
First, did the actual date of recording match with the country name at that same date? Boundaries in Europe changed a LOT during this period. Check. So whoever was providing the information (perhaps John, perhaps not) kept up on their European geopolitics.
Second, where did these countries overlap – is there one area that was all of them in succession to match the order of the record creation? Check!
And the answer is…Bratislava! John, not a U.S. citizen, registered with the draft for World War 1 in 1918 at the age of 42; perhaps he felt more than a civic duty to do so since his hometown was at the heart of the Great War. Prior to the war, it was part of Austria-Hungary; the city had sided with Hungary in the war that led to the creation of Austria-Hungary as a political state before John’s birth in 1876. In the aftermath of WW1, Bratislava became part of the newly created Czechoslovakia, but was still demographically Slovak, rather than Czech.
John’s draft card is dated 12 September 1918, just before the armistice with Germany that effectively ended the war on 11 November 1918. The Treaty of Versailles – which many view as the formal end of the war – was signed in 1919.
So he never served in the war that was so far away and yet so close to home.