52 in 52: Week 13: The Old Homestead

House in Popovo where my grandmother stayed 1914-1921DSC_0242 2Bulgaria:Grandmother house:outside:Popovo

Bulgaria Map
Popovo, Tutrakan, Tarnavo, Varna, Sofia

This is the “old homestead” for my grandmother, Yordanka Kosta Stanchoff during the period of 1914-1921 had to live with her “in-laws.” It was an Ottoman Empire” Turkish requirement for married women whose husbands were not present. Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottomans for 500 years so Turkish rules became the norms in Bulgaria. My grandfather, Todor had left for Yakima, Washington in February of 1914. WWI began in August of 1914. My grandmother was “stuck” with the sister-in-law and family of 9 in Popovo. Yordanka was afraid to travel because troops were marching to and from battle right in front of this house. It was on a main road in Popovo, a crossroads for troops to travel to all other countries. It was a fearful time for all.  My grandmother did not often eat and went to bed hungry many nights because she wanted to keep the food for the 7 children in the family. She cried almost every day. She finally was able to grow a garden behind the house and provided food for herself and the family. This house is a museum because the oldest daughter, Mara, was like Norma Rae here in the USA. She was an advocate for textile workers. Mara tried to improve working conditions for them. Mara was hanged in 1942 by the invading Nazi and Fascist troops. Mara is a hero. Because of that, this house has been preserved all these years and made into a museum. The two remaining original pieces of furniture are the large brown chest and the blue bed. The rest is decade representative.  This house has 2 bedrooms upstairs and one large room, or a 1/2 basement below.  It was remarkable to visit where my grandmother had lived for 7 years while she waited to travel to the  USA to meet with her husband. They had married January 24, 1914 and he left for the USA by February, 1914.  The USA was in WWI from 1918-1919 but Bulgaria was in the war from 1914-1919.  It was a long time to be in fear, starving and be exposed to battle all those years.

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