Showing posts with label Hungary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hungary. Show all posts

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gen Go-Over: Eyes on the Prize

Yesterday, my cousin (found through genealogy, of course) said something profound that applies to this year's Genealogy Go-Over. My cousin is a brilliant businesswoman and has keen insight into people. When she talks, I listen.

She was talking about a friend who played golf very, very well. This man was a perfectionist. When he was in a tournament, he would agonize over every swing and analyze every shot afterward, going over and over what he should have done and how he could improve.

While this gentleman was trying to perfect each shot, his competitors were playing golf. And winning. His obsession with perfecting technique derailed his ability to win.

My cousin's point: Keep your eyes on the prize. She was reminding me not to miss seeing the forest by being distracted by all the trees. Every tree is important (just like every ancestor is important) but the big picture is equally important. Stepping back to see the big picture is every bit as vital as checking, sourcing, and documenting every last detail.

One of my goals is to find out about ancestors who are known only by name, like Rachel Shuham and Jonah Jacobs, who were my paternal 2d great-grandparents from Lithuania. We know Jonah died some time before Rachel and their two children and grandchildren came to New York City in the 1880s. Lots more to learn there!

So for me, the Genealogy Go-Over is really about carefully reviewing what I know and using that info, plus new cousin connections, new techniques, and new data, to move ever closer to the prize of understanding who my ancestors were, where (exactly) they were from, and whether we have other cousins out there, still to be found!

I'm awaiting DNA results from Ancestry that I hope will offer a window into a different family story, one about my maternal grandfather's background. The story is about the various tribes that conquered Hungary hundreds of years before grandpa Tivador Schwartz was born in Ungvar. The tribes raped and pillaged their way across the landscape, and supposedly some of that tribal blood found its way into my grandpa's bloodline generations back. Will my DNA results reveal any trace of the conquering tribes? Waiting to see.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Those Places Thursday: Ungvar's Changing National Borders

My family gifted me with a wonderful reference book for anyone with European ancestry: The Family Tree Historical Maps Book, Europe.

Magnifying glass in hand, I used it to trace the changing national borders surrounding UNGVAR, the hometown of my Grandpa Teddy Schwartz (1887-1965).

Ungvar wasn't always spelled that way on the maps, and today it is known by an entirely different name bestowed upon it by the Russians after WWII.

It's an easy place to find on the book's maps. I simply look for the Carpathian Mountains, and scan cities just south of it along the river Ung. Ungvar was a market town and therefore was always visible on the maps.

Here's what I learned from the book about Ungvar's changing national borders:

1836: Unghvar is part of the Austrian Empire, in the northeast of Hungary, not too far from Galicia (which is over the Carpathian Mountains).

1856: Unghoar is in the northeast of Hungary, part of Austria.

1873: Unghvar is within the borders of Hungary, part of Austria.

1891: Unghvar is within the borders of Hungary, part of Austria-Hungary.

1901: Unghvar is within the borders of Hungary. 

1925: Ungvar is within the borders of Czechoslovakia.

1948: Uzhgorod is renamed (from previous name of Ungvar) by Russians and moved to USSR map. 

TODAY: Uzhhorod (Uzhgorod/Uzhorod) is in Ukraine.






Saturday, December 12, 2015

Was Cousin Alex Roth's Wife Blanche a Cousin of Tony Curtis?

Tony Curtis (Bernard Schwartz) was born in Mateszalka; my Roth cousins were born in Vasarosnameny.
Maybe one glamorous star of stage and screen isn't enough for the Roth branch of my family tree. We know that the 1940s Broadway and Hollywood star Gloria Warren  (original name: Gloria M. Weiman, daughter of Herman Weiman and Julia Weiss Weiman) was a cousin. She was related through the Farkas-Kunstler cousin Bela Roth (1865-1941), who frequently visited the Farkas Family Tree meetings--my mother's side of the family.

Cousin Alex "Sandor" Roth (1892-1949) was the oldest son of Bela Roth, born in Vasarosnameny, Hungary. The Roths came to New York in the early 1900s. While living in the Boston area and working in a car dealership (a family occupation in the Roth line), Alex married Blanche "Blanka" Schwartz (1897-1986). I've sent for Alex's Social Security application, and hope to have it before the calendar clicks over to 2016.

Meanwhile, I'd heard a whisper that Blanche Schwartz was some kind of cousin of Tony Curtis, whose original name was Bernard Hershel Schwartz. So I've been trying to find out more.

Parents of Blanche Schwartz
An experienced researcher interested in the Schwartz connection to Tony Curtis shared with me the following information:
  • Blanche Schwartz was very likely the daughter of Frank (Ferencz) Schwartz and Frieda Frimet Klein. We will know for sure once I get a copy of Blanche's Social Security application in January.
  • Blanche was born in Mateszalka, Hungary, which is close to Vasarosnameny, the home town of the Roth family (see map at top).
  • Blanche had 3 sisters who lived to adulthood: Elaine (married name was Stern), Violet (married name was Winton and then Fidel, and she was an actress), and Elizabeth
Because this researcher suspected that Blanche's parents were buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in New Jersey, I took a field trip and photographed their stone, shown above. Translating, Frank is the son of Shalom, Frieda is the daughter of Dov Ber.

The researcher also discovered that Frank Schwartz's mother's maiden name is Weiss. Remember Weiss? That's the maiden name of Gloria Warren's mother. Coincidence? Very possible, given how many Weiss families lived in that area of Hungary. But then again, there were a number of intermarriages with the Weiss family on my mother's side.

To discover the connection between Blanche Schwartz and Bernard Hershel Schwartz will require investigating older ancestors in the Mateszalka records. This is going to be quite a challenge!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Those Places Thursday: In Search of Farkas Connections in Botpalad

My maternal great-grandpa, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936), was born in Botpalad, Hungary (shown circled in red with a black arrow, above). This is an area still considered part of Hungary but very close to the borders of modern-day Ukraine and Romania (two red arrows at far right).

Moritz's parents were Ferencz Farkas and Hermina Gross. Farkas is a common name in Hungary, but we know we're definitely connected in some cousiny way with another branch of the Farkas family.

The young granddaughter of Ida Farkas Weiss (1873-1924) was at my parents' wedding in New York City and she vividly remembers attending Farkas Family Tree meetings in NYC during the 1940s and into the 1950s. She and her parents were known to be cousins, but nobody told the younger generation exactly how we were related.
Today I want to look at Ida Farkas's niece, Gizella Steinberger, who was the daughter of Josephine "Pepi" Farkas and Noe Steinberger and the granddaughter of Elek and Roszi Farkas. I'm guessing that Elek Farkas was the brother of Ferencz Farkas. That would make Gizella my 2d cousin, 2x removed.

Born in Botpalad on November 6, 1898, Gizella Steinberger arrived at Ellis Island in December, 1923, and applied for U.S. citizenship in 1926.

In 1929, Gizella married Irving Huppert (1900-1982). They were living at 1821 Davidson Ave. in the Bronx when she became a naturalized U.S. citizen, as shown on this index card.

Gizella and Irving had two children and lived into their late 80s. They are buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens. I'm going to "edit" the relationships of each on Find A Grave to show husband and wife, and include their dates and places of birth.

Still searching for more Farkas connections from Botpalad, Hungary!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

52 Ancestors #22: Great-Grandma Lena Kunstler Farkas from NagyBereg, Hungary

My great-grandma Lena (Leni, in Hungarian) Kunstler was 58 when this photo was taken. She was born in 1865 in NagyBereg, Hungary (now Berehi, in Western Ukraine).

Lena's parents Samuel and Toby Kunstler were people of some status: They had money and land, and operated vineyards.

Lena's younger brother Joszef Kunstler (1869-1935) became a very successful businessman in Berehi, virtually owning the entire town, including the grain mill, and employing nearly every resident.

My cousin B from Boulder visited Berehi years ago and found in the tiny cemetery a number of Kunstler graves. In addition to Joszef, Lena's sisters Sarah, Hinde, and Yehudis are buried there.*

Lena married Moritz Farkas around 1884. Moritz was a "gentleman farmer" who leased land and did well enough until one autumn, the harvest failed due to hail storms. Moritz had neglected to insure his crops that year and couldn't pay his creditors, so he decided to seek his fortune in America. Moving to America was also a way of keeping his sons from being conscripted into the Russian army when they were old enough.

Moritz booked passage on a ship to New York City and arrived alone in 1899 to get set up. Lena remained behind with their eight children: Alex, Minnie (hi Grandma), Albert, Julius, Peter, Irene, Ilka, and Freda. A year later, Lena set out for New York to reunite with Moritz. In 1901, four of Lena's children arrived on the S.S. Amsterdam to live with Lena and Moritz in New York City. In 1903, the remaining four arrived on the S.S. Konigin Luise. Lena and Moritz had three more children after they settled in New York City: Rose, Fred, and Regina.
Lena's obituary appeared on March 5, 1938.
Moritz Farkas died in February of 1936 and his wife Lena Kunstler Farkas died just two years later, in March of 1938. It was the end of an era for their eleven children and numerous grandchildren.

*Sarah died in 1893 and we are wondering whether her nickname was Zolli or Sally. If so, she might be the first wife of Bela Roth, one of the cousins I've been researching in recent months.

Friday, January 10, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Sandor Farkas from Botpalad, born in 1884 or 1885?

For the second week of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, I'm focusing on my great-uncle Sandor Farkas (called "Alex" in the family). He was born in Botpalad, Hungary, in 188_ (4 or 5) and died in Manhattan in January, 1948. His Hebrew name was Shmuel Zanvil, named for his late grandfather.

Here's what Sandor looked like in 1909, when he was photographed for the fifth anniversary of the Kossuth Ferenc Hungarian Literary, Sick, and Benevolent Society in New York City, where he and all his siblings lived.

A few months ago, I posted a query about Sandor's father, Moritz Farkas, on Ancestry's Szatmar/Hungary message board. A kind, knowledgeable respondent told me to check the Family Search microfilm Hungary, Szatmár, Fehérgyarmat - Jewish records. And that's where I found Sandor's birth info, shown below (as well as Moritz's birth info!).

Interestingly, this birth record indicates that Sandor was born in Botpalad on December 12, 1884. (See that handwritten notation in the heading? It translates to "84.")

But Sandor used the birthdate of December 25, 1885 on his draft registration and other papers.

So was Sandor born in 1884 or 1885? My inclination is to believe the document from Hungary, not Sandor's memory.

Here's a photo of Alex on his wedding day, December 24, 1916, when he married Jennie Katz. My Farkas grandparents and uncle are at right in the photo.





Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past Go Home with a Granddaughter

Edward and Mary (left) with friend at Coney Island
My grandfather Teddy Schwartz and his older brother Samuel Schwartz scraped up money to bring their younger sister Mary Schwartz to New York City from their hometown of Ungvar, Hungary in November, 1906.

In 1913, Mary married Edward Wirtschafter, who founded a furrier business in the Big Apple.

More than 80 years after the photo below was taken, my cousin Harriet still remembered sitting beside her brother Burton in the studio and wearing a lovely pink chiffon dress made by her mother. They're Ed and Mary's children.







Now all these wonderful faces from the past are going home with Mary and Ed's granddaughter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Mystery Couple, Hungary, 1924

My maternal grandfather Theodore (originally Tivador) Schwartz came from Uzhorod (Ungvar), Hungary.

Among the photos passed down to me is the photo of a couple dressed up and posed at the photographer's studio (at left). It has a date of 1924 on the back.

Who are they??


Is the lady above one of my great-aunts, either Paula Schwartz or Etel Schwartz?

These two sisters of my grandpa are shown at right in about 1910-1915, photographed in a different studio in Ungvar and clearly much younger.



For comparison, Paula Schwartz is shown at left, with her daughter Ibolyka (Violet), in 1930.

This is my Wordless Wednesday mystery...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Hungary Exchange for Genealogy

Thanks to the 100 Years in America blog, I found out about a new site for Hungarian genealogy. It's the Hungary Exchange and it has a small but growing database. It doesn't have my ancestors' names as yet, but I'll be submitting data this summer in the hope of connecting with other family researchers.

Aren't genealogy bloggers wonderful? I really appreciate the ideas, the inspiration, and the information I get from reading other blogs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This photo was in a box of old family photos from my mother. Probably these are distant relatives of my grandmother's, who came from Hungary, but who knows? No names, no info. That's why I resolve to label my photos for the benefit of future generations.