Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn Genealogical Research
CLEVELAND, OHIO AND CUYAHOGA COUNTY
1880 TO THE PRESENT
AND ITS SLOVAK IDENTIFICATION
By Joseph Hornack
Cleveland Ohio and Cuyahoga County from early on has been a target location for those coming
from what is now the Slovak Republic. The first Slovak immigrants came as early as 1880. By
1882 this steady flow of immigrants produced a large Slovak speaking nucleus of people. When
Jacob Gruss first arrived with his wife in 1880 he found only one countryman living in Cleveland
already, all we know of him is his surname was Roskos. Jacob Aloysius Gruss was born 18 May
1854 in the community Lipovce, County Saris. He was 26 years old when arriving in Cleveland
and died 4 April 1939 at the age of 84. When arriving in America at the port of New York Gruss
was advised by a Bohemian (Czech) employment agent to proceed to the mining regions of
Pennsylvania but said he preferred working above ground, Cleveland was then suggested by the
agent as having lots of job opportunities. Jacob Gruss went on to become a charter member in the
First Catholic Slovak Union, founded in Cleveland on 5 May 1889 as the then Saint Joseph's
Society to later become the Jednota on 4 September 1890.
Slovak Garden in Cleveland, Ohio
There is no official record showing growth of Slovak population in Cleveland but this can be
estimated and localized when looking at the history of Slovak churches in Cleveland and the
nearby suburb of Lakewood. The first wave started after Father Stefan Furdek began holding
regular Slovak Roman Catholic services in 1885. The site for the first permanent church was
Buckeye Road between East 79th and Woodhill Road, it opened in 1889 as St. Ladislas Parish.
At that time in America it was only the 7th Slovak organized church and 1st in the state of Ohio. (
4 PA, 1 IL, 1 NJ ) To complete this first wave followed Holy Trinity Lutheran Parish dedicated 5
December 1892, making it the 3rd Slovak Lutheran church in America, and, St. Martin Roman
Catholic Parish dedicated in 1894. These last two were located in the downtown eastside area.
Slovak Institute, Cleveland, Ohio
The 2nd stage of Slovak growth followed in just ten years when the first three church found
themselves inadequate at handling a steady influx of new immigrants. Building churches nearer
industrial employment became a major factor. Slovaks crossed the Cuyahoga River building St.
Wendelin's on the near westside of Cleveland in 1903 and in the far western suburb of Lakewood
opened Sts. Cyril & Methodius, both Roman Catholic parishes. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin
Mary was also formed in 1903 in the East 93rd and Aetna Road area. St. Andrew's Roman
Catholic came in 1906 on Superior Ave. near E. 55th. Martin Luther Slovak Evangelical Lutheran
congregation was founded in 1910 in the West 14th location.
Czechoslovak Legionaires Plaque, Cleveland, Ohio
It was noticed that in most Slovak communities where there was a Roman Catholic church then
later a Greek Catholic church followed. During this period of church in America there was no
structured hierarchy for the Eastern Rite church so the early clergy did not teach to a geographic
area of roots in Europe but rather the larger European Slavic mixture. Early Greek Catholic
churches in Cleveland with a majority from Slovakia were: St. John the Baptist on Scovill
Avenue, the Church of the Holy Ghost on Kenilworth Avenue near West 14th and St. Joseph on
Orleans Avenue near East 93rd. The largest Slovak Baptist church was the First Slovak Baptist
Church located at Collage and Tremont Avenues, later titled Scranton Road Baptist.
In the year 1918 all these churches totaled about 35,000 members. At the bottom
of this page is a map of the Slovak churches of Cleveland.
Stefanik Memorial in Cleveland, Ohio
With the tragic death of Milan Rastislav Stefanik in a airplane crash on 4 May 1919, near
Bratislava, the Cleveland Slovaks raised money to remember this national hero with a monument.
This sculptured bronze figure atop a stone base was commissioned to Slovak sculptor M. Frico
Motoska in 1922. This monument standing tall is located in Cleveland Wade Park, at the foot of
University Circle. The Slovak Cultural Garden extending 3 acres along Rockefeller Park began in
1929 as a civic plan to join with other nationalities along this long parkway extending north from
University Circle. There are 24 nationality gardens along this route. On 28 October 1934 this
Slovak Garden was dedicated with two bronze busts. Father Stefan Furdek, a gift of the First
Catholic Slovak Union, and, Lutheran Minister Jan Kollar, a gift of the Slovak Evangelical Union
and Lutherans of Cleveland.
Slovak Benedictine Abbey in Cleveland, Ohio
The Benedictine Abbey of St. Andrew Svorad founded by Slovak Benedictine monks became a
independent priory on 2 October 1929. It remains in the neighborhood of the first church for
Slovaks back in 1889, St. Ladislas. It is also home of the Slovak Institute and Benedictine High
Furdek Memorial, Cleveland, Ohio
The U.S. Census of 1990 brings us up-to-date statistics. Cleveland and its neighboring suburbs
are located in Cuyahoga County and there are 88,770 people saying they have Slovak in their
lineage in this census. In the United States only Pittsburgh and Allegheny County with 94,108
have a higher concentration of Slovaks. Top cities in Cuyahoga County are: Cleveland 19,668,
Parma 12,603 and Lakewood 5,113. Across the United States there is a total of 1,882,897 in this
same census. Pennsylvania and Ohio again being one and two.
The Parishes of Cleveland, Ohio
In 1930, Slovaks from Cleveland, Ohio were members of or sponsors for the
printing of religious book and music in the Slovak language by the Sv. Vojtech Society,
based in Trnava, western Slovakia.
For more information on the history of Slovaks in Cleveland, visit the
Saint Ladislas Parish web site.
Declared Slovaks by State, U.S. 1990 Census
History of Krakovany / Straze
The DSSV Surname List for Krakovany
Map of Krakovany Area, Nitra County
The SLRP Surname Project
Associate Correspondents in Slovakia-SLRP
View the SLRP on line Surname Index
E-mail Joseph Hornack
Krakovany / Straze Section Copyright 1998 -
Joseph J. Hornack, Independence Ohio: Nitra county – Husband and father of six grown
children. His paternal grandparents immigrated to America in 1905 from Krakovany, Nitra
County. In 1983 he visited Slovakia, Krakovany, for the first time; later escorting tour groups in
1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997. In 1986, he founded the Slovakia – Surname Location Reference
Project (SLRP); he directed in 1991 its expansion to include County Associates publishing
columns and logging lineage submitted. Two SLRP booklets have been produced: a book of
compiled Columns published in the ongoing series, and the other, the Database alphabetical by
surname and by location submitted. He remains active in Cleveland-Bratislava Sister Cities, Inc.
(CBSC) since its formation in 1991; members dedicated to the exchange of cultural and
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