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From the Carpathians to Pennsylvania

This Page is dedicated to the memory of my parents, FRED DRAN (1900-1972) and MARY SIRAK DRAN (1913-1975) who were children of immigrants, and to all of the relatives that came before and after them. It is also dedicated to the inhabitants of the Carpathian Highland villages of my ancestry,

SWIATKOWA WIELKA and DUDYNCE, both located in the crownland of Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1772-1918 after which they became a part of Poland , as well as the village of HRABOVCIK on the southern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, which also was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the part that was administered by Hungary, later being incorporated into Czechoslovakia and still later Slovakia.

My ancestors were peasants with small land holdings and had a self-sufficient lifestyle dependent on the land. In May 2002 I first traveled to my ancestral villages, now located in southern Poland and eastern Slovakia. Somewhere in my mind I envisioned an idyllic life of the past and anticipated visiting and entering a “time warp” of village life. Time changes things and so do war and politics. I found a few of the typical log cabin homes, but in most cases homes had been destroyed and rebuilt after WWII. In two of the villages, Greek Catholic residents had been deported in 1947. Houses were abandoned, decayed or scavenged, leaving only an empty space. Like shrines, springtime apple trees bloom and bear witness to the past souls who once lived there on the still beautiful but sparsely settled rolling landscape of the Carpathian Mountains.

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