In his final resting place
No one even knew the empty grave site in the back of Calvary Cemetery in North Catasauqua belonged to Pavol Hudak.
Then Mary Valek, a great-granddaughter, took a trip to Slovakia in 2007.
“I was asking the people of our little village in Lendak where some of the relatives were buried. They said that Pavol was buried in Pennsylvania,” Valek said.
That started a search that ran through Ellis Island, Ancestry.com and finally Harrisburg, where she found his death certificate.
Pavol Hudak died Oct. 22, 1907, and was buried a few days later. No marker noted his final resting place.
He died in an accident at Lehigh Portland Cement Company when he was caught by a cement conveyor belt.
Once Valek had the death certificate, she went to St. Andrew’s Church (now St. John Fisher) to review the records of the North Catasauqua church.
“St. Andrew’s was always our church,” Valek said. “Everyone in the family went to that church, but we didn’t know that Pavol was buried there.”
She and the church curator searched the records and determined where he must have been buried — in a section of the cemetery shared with early Irish immigrants.
“We created a marker for him, and now he can rest in peace,” Valek said.
Father Eric Gruber officiated at the graveside prayer service Aug. 5.
Valek extends her kindest thanks to Ben Porobenski at Northampton Memorials and Rick Morrissey of Rich Mar Florist.
“My father had a flower shop in Allentown, so I spent time delivering flowers to grave sites when I was helping him,” Valek said. “It’s important to honor the dead.”
The family has spread to all corners of the country. The ceremony drew members from New York, Texas, Virginia, Atlanta and all around Pennsylvania.
“There are Hudaks and decedents of Hudaks all over, but he was the first Hudak to come to America,” Valek said.
The interesting history of Pavol Hudak is he first came to America in 1898. He made several trips back to Lendak to build a fine house in his village. The house remains as the family home.
The ties to old-country villages still remain strong.