Family History

ohne Herkunft, ohne Zukunft!


seal of Papradno

The Vascik family stems from Papradno, a small village in northwest Slovakia along the border with Moravia. Juraj Vaščik, son of the village shopkeeper and owner of considerble forest land, emigrated to the United States in 1908. After a wandering life in the American West, he joined the United States Army and participated in the campaign against Pancho Villa and the First World War. After his honorable discharge in 1922, he settled in Ford City, Pennsylvania, where he met and married Anna Augustiny. In 1930, the family moved to Rossford, Ohio, so that Juraj (now George) could work in the newly established glass factory there. George and Anna’s third son, George (known as Juriko or Little George within the family), was my father.

seal of Trencin

The Augustiny family stems from Trencin, a major town in the Vah river valley. Unlike sleepy Papradno, Trencin was a county seat, with a vibrant mix of Slovak, Magyar, German, and Jewish inhabitants. The site of the town was originally a Roman fortress at the time of Marcus Aurelius, and an extensive castle still sits on the strategic heights over the town. Alois Augustiny, who emigrated with his young wife Anna Johannes and family to America in 1908, was Slovak. Anna’s family was originally German, but had Slovacized by the time of her marriage. Anna Augustiny, although born in Ford City, grew up in a Slovak-speaking home.

The Rhineland

seal of Rheinbreitbach

The Westhoven family stems from the small village of  Rheinbreitbach, on the right bank of the Rhine between  Koblenz and Bonn. Albert Westhoven, son of a Weingutsbesitzer, emigrated to the United States in 1858. He purchased a piece of land along the Maumee River between Grand Rapids and Napoleon, Ohio, which he cleared and upon which he raised a large and prosperous family. Albert’s grandson Lawrence was my grandfather. He passed away when my mother was six years old.


Hanoverian flag

Ferdinand Heising fled his native Hanover in 1870 rather than being drafted into the army of the Prussian occupiers. He found his way to northwest Ohio, where he settled into the established German Catholic community of Fort Jennings. He married Margaret Kramer, daughter of a local businessman, and eventually owned his own lumber yard. Heising was very active in local Democratic politics, and served for many years as township clerk. When Augustine Pilliod, owner of a number of mills along the Maumee River, advertized along the Miami and Erie Canal for a young German-speaking apprentice, Ferdinand’s eldest son Frank moved to Grand Rapids to work at the Pilliod mill there. Frank eventually came to own the mill (now a Toledo Metroparks historic site known as the Issac Ludwig Mill), built a comfortable home, and married Katherine Carter, daughter of Duncan Carter, who served in the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment during the Civil War. Their second daughter, Margaret, was my grandmother.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s