This research homepage details my paternal grandfather's lineage back to a few villages in Austria-Hungary that now are part of Slovakia. It is my most original area of work and most rigorously documented. Stephen Vajda was born in Čáry, Slovakia and his future wife Anna Somolanyi was born in Kuklov, Slovakia. These small villages are about 1.5 miles apart, so although they immigrated to the United States three or four years apart, it seems likely that they knew each other prior to their arrival in the United States.
Large scale Slovak immigration to the United States began in the 1870s with the forced magyarization policies of the Hungarian government. The Vajda and Jurina families ended up in Orangeburg, New York, where the men worked for the Fiber Conduit Company of Orangeburg.
The term derives from Slavic voi or voj (war-man) + vodi (to lead), and thus originally meant war leader or warlord. The word has developed to take various forms in the modern Slavic languages, such as wojewoda (Polish), воевода (voyevoda, Russian), войвода or воевода (voyvoda, voevoda), Bulgarian, воєвода (voyevoda, Ukrainian), vévoda (Czech) and војвода or vojvoda (Croatian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene and Macedonian). It has also been borrowed into some non-Slavic languages, taking such forms as voievod (Romanian), vajda (Hungarian) and vaivads (Latvian).
This etymology is perfectly parallel, though unrelated, to that of equivalent Germanic titles and terms like the Old English heretoga and the German Herzog, which in feudal times was equated with the Latin dux (originally a term for either a barbaric war leader or a Roman commanding officer and/or military governor, which later evolved into such feudal and modern titles of peerage rank as duke). For this reason, the Slavic terms are sometimes translated as duke. However, although in some countries and periods the rank of voivode was equivalent to a Western duke, it was not universally so.
Stephen Vajda Sr. (b. 1898) pitched for a semi-professional baseball team, and once pitched against Hall-of-Fame pitcher Leon Cadore. Cadore pitched in the 1920 World Series for the Brooklyn Robins, and shares the single game innings pitched record for pitching 26 innings in game.
At the age of eight, Anna Justina Jurina (b. 1898) immigrated to the United States without any family members onboard. She had $5 with her.