Tuesday, June 21, 2016

110 Years Ago Today, Great-Grandpa Farkas Became a US Citizen

Moritz Farkas (1857-1936), my maternal great-grandpa, was born in Botpalad, Hungary. He arrived alone at Ellis Island on August 8, 1899, seeking to escape debts after hail destroyed his crops, and make a fresh start in NYC for his growing family. Great-grandma followed him a year later, temporarily leaving her children in Hungary with their Kunstler grandma.

Although it was great-grandpa's fond wish to have a more rural life (by farming in the Midwest rather than living in the concrete canyons of New York City), great-grandma Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938) knew she had daughters to marry off. She insisted they live near a ready pool of suitable suitors in the big city. So they stayed put in NYC, moving from Manhattan to the Bronx, which was then a suburban-type area.

Great-grandpa took the oath of US citizenship on June 21, 1906 and his naturalization was filed on June 22, 1906. His witness was Sam Weiss, a real estate dealer. The Weiss name is intertwined with the Farkas and Schwartz families of my mother's family tree, as well as with the names of other cousins like Weiman and Roth, but whether Sam was a relative or an in-law or a colleague, I don't yet know.


  1. Isn't it great when you know this much detail about ancestors? What they wanted, what they sacrificed for their family, etc.
    Your post title reminded me of last Christmas dinner when I somehow genealogified a conversation I was having with an in-law. When I said that it was recently the 100th anniversary of a great-grandfather's death, he was floored that I knew that off the top of my head.

    1. Anna, you are so right that this level of detail really gives us insight into our ancestors' lives! Thank you for reading and leaving me a comment.

  2. I love the detail in these documents. I would imagine this was a bitter sweet day for him in many ways---glad to be a citizen and living in a free land, but at the same time a day of memories of other friends and family they left in Hungary.

  3. Michelle, you bring up a good point I sometimes wonder about -- that feeling our ancestors had when they left the "old country" knowing they would likely never see the family and friends again. It must have been bittersweet, as you say. My impression is they were eager to make a new and better life for their children. If only they could see how their sacrifices paved the way for descendants to flourish.