Showing posts with label Uzhorod. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Uzhorod. Show all posts

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.






Sunday, December 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #52: My Schwartz Family from Ungvar


I'm honoring Great-grandpa Herman Yehuda Schwartz and Great-grandma Hana (or Hani) Simonowitz Schwartz in this final post of the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" series, a wonderful weekly challenge by Amy Johnson Crow that has attracted hundreds of participating blogs.

My Schwartz family was based in the market town of Ungvar, Hungary, which is now known as Uzhorod, Ukraine. It's a busy town at the base of the Carpathian mountains that passed from one empire or nation to another as the map of Eastern Europe was redrawn again and again in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Three of Hani and Herman's grown children left Ungvar before 1906 to make their homes in New York: Sam (originally called Simon), his younger brother Tivadar (hi, Grandpa Teddy!), and their younger sister Mary. I know, from photos and postcards that have been passed down to me, that the Schwartz siblings in America stayed in touch with their family in Ungvar year after year.
The patriarch of the Schwartz family, Herman, died sometime before 1926, when his granddaughter Viola was born. Matriarch Hani died in the 1930s, after teaching her granddaughter Viola the basics of sewing and cooking and baking.

Tragically, the Ungvar-based Schwartz siblings and their spouses and children were all victims of the Holocaust. The only survivor was Viola (my Grandpa Teddy's niece), who returned to her hometown after the war and built a new life in Ukraine and, later, in Israel. This final post in the "52 Ancestors" series is dedicated with love to Viola and her family.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New View of Ancestors' Lives via "The Golden Age Shtetl"

Having read a recent review of The Golden Age Shtetl, I dove in for insights into my ancestors' lives in early 19th-century Eastern Europe.

Fiddler on the Roof is one way to look at shtetl life--but not the only way. This book shows the shtetl in its heyday, decades before pogroms drove many (including my ancestors) to leave for good. Although it focuses on shtetls in what is now central Ukraine, its observations apply to a great many shtetls that ultimately came under Russian dominance.

As other reviews and interviews have noted, I was surprised to learn that many shtetls were not impoverished, shabby, shanty towns. In the mid-1800s and earlier, they were often thriving settlements with the right to hold lucrative market days at regular intervals. Some shtetls were quite large, others rather small. The homes weren't dark and dingy--many were brightly colored, as suggested by the book jacket above (picture painted by the book's author).

For family and business reasons, marriages were planned between wealthy merchants when their children were quite young--sometimes only 11. Ordinary families, however, had few assets to consider and could afford to let love make the match. Because of tax consequences, such families might wait a long time to register their children, which of course complicates present-day searches for ancestors who were children in the early and mid-1800s.

The photos and sketches of shtetl homes and synagogues were eye-opening. The sketch on p. 245 is, in my mind, a smaller, wooden precursor of the larger, more solidly-built restaurant that our family long ago operated on the market road to Ungvar (a bustling city then part of Hungary, now Uzhorod, Ukraine). The main floor was where guests were served, the upper floor was for family use, and the lower levels and outbuildings were for supplies and storage. The family also had a mill and cows to supply the restaurant.

The Golden Age Shtetl goes into considerable detail (both a plus and a minus) but it also gave me several ideas for further research into the daily lives of my ancestors in Hungary, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Who Grandpa Left Behind in Ungvar

Schwartz siblings, 1915
When my maternal grandpa, Tivadar Schwartz, traveled from Ungvar, Hungary to New York City in 1902, he left behind his parents, Herman Schwartz and Hani Simonowitz, and all his siblings.

Grandpa never returned to his hometown--in fact, he never left America after he arrived on the S.S. Maltke from Hamburg on March 20, 1902. He never again saw the siblings in the photo at left.

Except for a brief Florida "honeymoon" decades after he and grandma (Hermina Farkas) were married, Tivadar stayed in New York City. 

Two of Tivadar's siblings left Ungvar: His brother Sam (original name: Simon) came to New York City in 1904, and they brought their younger sister Mary in 1906.

The above photo shows Tivadar's sisters and, we think, the husband of one sister. By the time Grandpa received this photo in the summer of 1915, he had been married for 4 years and was the father of a son.

At right, the inscription on the back of the 1915 photo. "Tivadarnak" was an endearment. Grandpa was gone, but not forgotten :)

Between WWI and WWII, Ungvar became part of Czechoslovakia. Even after Ungvar was renamed Uzhgorod when it became part of the USSR's Ukraine after WWII, Grandpa had one answer when asked about his home country: "Czechoslovokia."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Holocaust Remembrance Day: The Schwartz Family of Ungvar

Sad to say, the Holocaust wiped out most of the family that my grandpa Teddy Schwartz left behind in Ungvar, Hungary (briefly part of Czechoslovakia, then Russia, and now Uzhorod, Ukraine). This post is in remembrance of my family and others who were Holocaust victims.


Teddy lost his mother, Hani Simonowitz Schwartz (at left) in the Holocaust (UPDATE: She died a few years earlier). His father, Herman Schwartz, had died many years earlier.

Also, two sisters, Paula and Etel Schwartz were killed in the Holocaust. At right, Paula and her daughter Violet (who survived and later submitted Paula's name to the list of Holocaust victims). Possibly some nieces or nephews also perished.


In 1977, my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk) wrote down what she knew about her father Teddy's family, more than a decade after he had died. Here's what she wrote:
"He came from peasant people in Czechoslovakia and never spoke about his home life. He came here at 13*. He was always silent about who staked him and how he got here, except that steerage was the most common method; neither he nor Mom (Hermina Farkas Schwartz) ever elaborated on the ocean voyage but it must've been sufficiently unpleasant for them to never to have unlocked their lips over it.
"Anyway, he lived as a boarder with a Hungarian family on the Lower East Side [of New York City] as many others did, and worked as a runner for the steamship lines and then he tried to be an insurance salesman and finally started a small grocery business--the first couple failed.
"The letters from Europe [from Ungvar] I remember asked for money constantly.  They all thought we lived in the lap of luxury here; and he always sent money home. Just before WWII he stopped hearing and never head again; later he learned his family was wiped out. His brother and sister had come here also**, but the exact timing I don't know."
*Actually, Teddy was 14 (nearly 15) when he arrived on the S.S. Moltke from Hamburg on March 20, 1902. He was shown on the manifest as Tivador Schwartz from Ungvar, along with this note: "Passage paid for by father, 14 years old, student." Below, a photo of the S.S. Moltke showing steerage passengers readying for the landing in New York City.

**Mom didn't realize that Teddy had helped both his older brother Sam and his baby sister Mary come to New York. Nor did she remember that both had kids and grandkids--and those grandkids are my 2d cousins, who I've come to know thanks to genealogy research.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sibling Saturday: Schwartz Sis & Child in Ungvar

This lovely lady is possibly Etel or Paula Schwartz, both of whom were younger sisters of my grandpa Tivador/Theodore/Teddy Schwartz.

When Teddy, his older brother Sam, and their baby sister Mary Schwartz all left for America, sisters Etel and Paula stayed behind in Ungvar, Hungary.

Later called Uzhorod, this small city formed part of Czechoslovakia after WWI. And before Uzhorod became part of Russia, the photo on the left was taken and sent to my grandpa Teddy in New York City.

The reverse side of this lady in profile has the wording shown below left. The date appears to be March 24, 1929--84 years ago tomorrow.

The circular stamp is the name of the photo studio in Uzhorod, Ungvar.

Szeretettel translates from the Hungarian as "with love" or "affectionately." "Blankatol" doesn't match either Paula or Etel, but the lady looks a lot like one of the Schwartz sisters.

At right is the inscription of a baby photo from Ungvar. Again signed, "affectionately," but with a different name, "Yenaketol" perhaps, followed by Uzhorod and the same date as the lady in profile (March 24, 1929).

Also there's a sentence that refers to "Yenake" which I suspect is a nickname for the child who is shown in classic baby pose, below.

(Please, if anyone can read that final sentence in Hungarian, would you let me know?)

So the three Schwartz siblings, who lived in or near New York City after leaving Hungary, probably never saw this sister again and never met this niece or nephew.

Now, 84 years later, the photos are part of our family's genealogy research, memories of the family's Hungarian hometown of Ungvar. (By the way, when asked where he came from, grandpa Teddy would tell me, "Czechoslovakia.")





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...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Siblings in Ungvar, 1915

I've been trying to learn more about the siblings of my maternal grandfather, Tivadar/Tivador (Theodore) Schwartz, born in Ungvar, Hungary (Uzhorod in Ukraine today, see map).


To my knowledge, Teddy was second of five children:
  • Sam Schwartz (came to NYC and married Anna Gelbman)
  • Teddy Schwartz (came to NYC and married Hermina Farkas)
  • Paula Schwartz (stayed in Ungvar, married, and had one daughter, Ibolyka, pictured in yesterday's entry)
  • Paula Schwartz (stayed in Ungvar, family status unknown)
  • Mary Schwartz (came to NYC and married Edward Wirtschafter, had two children)

The postcard photo here is a treasure, just unearthed in a box of newly-discovered family photos and documents. It shows Etel and Paula (back left and seated, right) and others, unknown, from the Schwartz family.

It's dated August 15, 1915 and inscribed to Tivadar, my grandfather.

Clearly the young man is in uniform, but I don't know what country he's serving.* The young lady in front, at left, is a mystery as well. More mysteries than solutions, but a treasure in any case!

*Thanks to Greta Koehl, whose husband identified the uniform as Austro-Hungarian. Yes! This link shows such uniforms and hats. Another confirming detail. Thank you!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Those Places Thursday - Ungvar (now Uzhorod)

Grandfather Teddy (Tivador) SCHWARTZ and his siblings (including Paula and Etel, above), came from Ungvar, then part of Hungary and now in the Ukraine. After Teddy, his older brother Sam, and their little sister Mary moved to New York, they periodically received photo portrait postcards like the above from the old country. Whether Grandpa sent photo postcards back, I don't know. Sadly, I also don't know for sure what happened to Etel Schwartz.

Curious to see more about Ungvar, I located this site with vintage postcards of the city in the 19th and 20th centuries. Wow, it was more cosmopolitan than I expected. Even though Grandpa probably lived outside the city, it's interesting to see the skyline and buildings he would have seen in the city itself.