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.

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