Saturday, June 15, 2019

Could "Cousin Essti" Be "Esther Simonowitz" of Ungvar?

1914 naturalization petition of Edwin Kramer and Esther Simonowitz
This is the latest in the ongoing saga of researching my grandpa Tivador "Teddy" Schwartz and who he was coming to see in 1902 when he arrived at Ellis Island!

Teddy told Ellis Island immigration authorities that he was going to "Cousin Essti S___."

Teddy's mother's maiden name was Simonowitz (spelled and pronounced creatively in different ways). I'm hoping to trace Simonowitz family members who came to the United States. And of course, if those relatives had descendants, perhaps there are living cousins! It's still early in the process, however.

Marriage Certificate: A Potential Clue

As suggested by Lara Diamond, I went to a local Family History Center to view the image of the marriage certificate for Esther Simanowitz and Edwin Kramer. She was one of two Esthers with a last name very similar to the one scribbled on Teddy's immigration form.

Marriage cert for Esther Simanovitz and Edwin Kramer, 1906
I was intrigued by this possibility because the groom's mother's maiden name was Theresa Schwartz. Yes, Schwartz is also Grandpa Teddy's family name.

However, Esther didn't marry Edwin until four years after Teddy arrived, so this connection would not be the reason Teddy listed Essti. It's still a very powerful potential clue, one I'm keeping in mind. But wait, there's more...

Naturalization Petition: Another Clue

At the Family History Center, I was also able to view the Petition for Naturalization filed by Edwin Kramer in December, 1914. As shown at top, he listed his wife, Esther Simonovitz, and her birthplace of Ungvar, Hungary.

Now that's a really key clue, because my Grandpa Teddy was born and lived in Ungvar. More than likely his mother, Hani Simonowitz, was also from Ungvar. The match with Ungvar gives me hope.

Notice that Edwin was born in Nagy Ida, Hungary, which is today Vel'ka Ida, Slovakia. That's about 35 miles west of Ungvar. A bit far but not out of the realm of possibilities for a member of the Schwartz family to live there.

A BIG "But"

I've traced Edwin & Esther and their 3 children up to 1940, when they were living on East 142d Street in the Bronx, NY.

And here is where my knowledge of my family's history makes me wonder whether I have the correct Esther.

Nowhere in the 30 years worth of Farkas Family Tree minutes did I see the name "Kramer" as a guest at a family gathering. What does that mean?

My Grandpa Teddy, being married to Hermina Farkas for decades, would most likely have invited one of his cousins to a family gathering held in the Bronx or Manhattan. After all, he invited his sister Mary and her husband Edward Wirtschafter more than once (their names were in the minutes). I imagine Teddy would ask a cousin to come at least once, especially since the Kramers lived only a subway ride away until at least 1940.

To be sure my memory is correct, my next step is to skim the Farkas family records again in search of "Simonowitz" and "Kramer."

Until and unless I find more evidence, my tentative conclusion is that Esther Simonowitz is not "Cousin Essti."


  1. Is it possible that Teddy and this cousin didn't get along. My family doesn't get together often even though a brother lives an hour away and a cousin lives 4 hours away.

  2. Devon, this is a good point. Maybe Teddy and Esther didn't get along. I wish I could go back in time and find out! But there are also other research steps I can of my cousins suggested I continue looking at Esther to find out more about her arrival in America and her parents. Maybe there are more clues that will help me come to a more definite conclusion.

  3. Marian, I hope you are able to solve this family history mystery. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. :)

  4. Like Devon, I was going to suggest that perhaps they were never close or had a falling out?

  5. Still researching and no luck yet. Edwin Kramer, Esther's future husband, came to NY to be with his uncle, Joseph Schwarz. There are a lot of people with that name, and the address was illegible. But maybe I'll find some link with Esther in a different way!