Minneapolis and St. Paul are Siamese twins. We
moved from one to the other by passing through an
intersection, or crossing a bridge, or simply turning a corner, with no
street sign to mark the change.
Minneapolis has a
well-developed commercial downtown with glass and metal skyscrapers
along with city and county offices; St. Paul is in a different county,
has preserved some older buildings (including a beautiful library with
a marble staircase), and boasts the state capitol, the Basilica of St.
Mary, and an enormous (!) Minnesota History Center.
A few months ago, we didn't know that we had any relatives in
Minnesota; after this trip we know there are over a hundred cousins,
descended from a great aunt and a great uncle who emigrated from
Slovakia after 1900. We were greatly assisted by a cousin we
had already contacted by email. John and his wife Jean
graciously took time off from a hectic work schedule to show us
gravesites and introduce us to more relatives.
Many of the Slovaks married Swedes, and of course the resulting stock
are plain Minnesotans; it's the old story of the American melting
pot. Auntie Hildur, 86, was happy to have visitors and talk
Northeast Minneapolis was the neighborhood of choice for Eastern
European immigrants who worked in the flour mills. We learned
that great uncle Andrew had originally stayed with grandfather John in
New Jersey, but was frightened of living in a frame house -- so he
built a solid brick edifice which is still standing.
aunt Anna had an arranged marriage in 1912, and lived in the same
house, two blocks away from her brother's, until her death in
1979. By now many of the descendants have moved to the
Minneapolis has built a new Public Library -- grand opening on May
20th! Unfortunately for us, that meant the research material
in the central library was unavailable because the staff was involved
in the months-long process of transporting and reshelving all the
library's collections. We succeeded with our genealogical
discoveries because of the records at the Minnesota History Center, the
Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and the St. Paul Public
Library. Our final discovery was a modern online obituary for
a cousin who died in 2003; the funeral home had the record and
graciously e-mailed us a copy.
In the first half of the century the church was just called St.
Cyril's, because the bishop (an Irishman) thought "one saint was
enough." The largest ethnic group in the church today is
Ecuadorian; the priest told us the Mexicans living nearby deserted the
church because they preferred Our Lady of Guadalupe to Our Lady of the
Not far from the church we found a modern Polish deli, whose proprietor
emigrated to the U. S. to escape the communist oppression, and now
served us a delicious luncheon with pierogy, stuffed cabbage,
sauerkraut, and fresh rye bread.