Crying Place


Sírhely/Gravesite/Crying Place

Sírhely  the Hungarian word for gravesite was new to me. Sír (sheer), I knew, means cry and hely (hay) is place. On a day trip from southern Hungary we visited two crying places, scenes of heartbreaking death and destruction that took place over 4 centuries apart.

Grave Posts

Grave Posts

In 1976, 450 years after the battle that destroyed the Kingdom of Hungary, the Mohács Memorial was opened. Scattered about the wide green park are 120 wooden grave poles beautifully carved in the Hungarian style depicting the horrors and sorrows of a brutal war. They are not grave markers, but reminders of the vastness of the bloody battlefield.  Still, I was careful where I walked on the lawn, respectful of the souls that died here.

Dying horses

Dying horses


Near the entrance one statue shows the young King Lajos who died that day. Another shows the suffering of an impaled man. Another, the anguish of one of the mothers who killed their own injured sons to spare them torture by the Turks.  There are terrified horses, wounded and dying. The victor, Sultan Suleiman “the Magnificent” holds a bag of heads of slaughtered Hungarians. More than 15 thousand men, and 10 thousand horses perished in one afternoon.

Mohács Memorial

Mohács Memorial


At the center of the park concentric circular paths lend themselves to quiet contemplation. Several hundred of the dead are interred in 5 mass graves in the center. It is a somber place of old death, fear and agony.DSCF8147xp20

After Mohács, we crossed the Croatian border travelling south to the city of Vukovar, named for the Vuka River that joins the Danube there. We came to see the Church of Saints Philip and James where my great-grandparents were married in 1858 and where my great-grandfather was baptized 4 years later.

Church of Saints Philip &James  Vukovar

Church of Saints Philip &James

In the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when my family lived there, it was a lovely baroque city. That all changed in 1991 when Vukovar was under siege by the Serbians during the Croatian War of Independence. The siege ended when the  2,000 self-organized defenders were overwhelmed by the attacking 36,000 troops. Hundreds of civilian volunteers, and women and children were massacred in the hospital.DSCF8138p20

Many buildings still show the bullet holes from the fighting and many buildings are just piles of rubble. Saints Philip and James Church on the hill looks down on the heavily damaged water tower about a mile away. It is left as a permanent reminder of the battle. But life goes on. The tower is in a small park that it shares with children’s playground equipment.

Water Tower damaged in the 1991 Massacre of Vukovar

Water Tower damaged in the 1991 Massacre of Vukovar

South of town is the Heroes Memorial graveyard. A sign at the entrance warns to stay on the path as there are still land mines in the area. Row upon row of gravestones, many with pictures, mark the tombs of those brave young volunteers. More open gravesites wait for those who have not yet been found or identified.

Heroes Graveyard  Vukovar

Heroes Graveyard

The graves in Vukovar are lovingly tended and decorated with flowers. At the memorial in Mohács there are flowers as well, and the traditional Hungarian wreaths beribboned in the national red white and green. I wonder if centuries later there are still families that go there to cry.

Wreath at Mohács Memorial

Wreath at Mohács Memorial

Great-grandpa’s house in Kolozsvár !

20140709-230032.jpgThis is the address where my great-grandparents lived in Kolozsvár, Hungary when my grandpa was born. Today the city is called Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Some of the buildings on the street are run-down but this looks better and it has some nice details. It has lace curtains in the windows and a bit of a garden in the back. I bet great-grandmother would have loved that.20140709-233053.jpg










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Time for a little Redecorating

gallery wallInspired by a post on Family Tree Frog ( a great name for a genealogy blog!) I decided to join in on the Spring Cleaning your Blog day. A little late to the game, as I usually am with anything related to housecleaning, I am inviting fellow genealogy bloggers for feedback.

Please comment on something you like about my blog and something you think could improve the look.

Here’s a link to the Spring cleaning story.


Greatⁿ-Grandma Katalin, Hajdú Warrior

kato egri copyKerekes Katalin is hands down my favorite ancestor. Our lineage gets a little fuzzy in the 17th century so I’m not sure how many ‘greats’ apply. In the early 1600s Katalin was fighting by the side of her warrior husband, Édes Gergely, and his brothers. She received nobility in her own name because of her valor. This was no small accomplishment at a time when women were considered less than human. She was “a big strong armed woman who fought like an animal’ according to the patent of nobility. Her husband’s family was from Székelyföld. No word about her dad, but Katalin’s mother was a hajdú.

The hajdúk (plural for hajdú) had been peasant cattle drovers on the puszta, the eastern plains of Hungary. Driving herds of the big grey long-horned ‘Magyar szürkemarha to market, they had to become fierce fighters to defend themselves on the vast treeless plains.

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Madár, a Hungarian Village in Slovakia

Easter in MadárAfter World War I and the fall of the Hapsburg Empire parts of Eastern Europe were chopped up by the Treaty of Trianon. Prime cuts went to the winners and Hungary lost 2/3 of its territory and 1/3 of its population. This left substantial ethnic enclaves on the wrong side of borders. Some people migrated; others stayed and made the best of it.

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Béla’s Hometown – Growing up in Kolozsvár

Cluj 1897 cropBéla Édes, my grandfather, was 6 years old in 1897 when this map of Kolozsvár was published. His family lived on Nagy utca, shown by the red line drawn on the map.

You may notice the tracks along the street for the villamos (tram) that would have taken the family to the city center (now Unirii Square).

Kolozsvár villamos

Kolozsvár villamos

Kolozsvár is located in a wide valley on the bank of the Szamos river. It was described as “a pleasant, clean-looking town, with wide streets diverging from the principal Platz, in which is the Gothic Cathedral of St. Micheal” 1. Szent Mihály templom, as it is known in Hungarian, is at #17 on the map. The imposing cathedral was begun by King Sigismund in 1401 and named for the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of the city. Béla’s Catholic family would have gone there for mass on Sundays, then probably home for a big Sunday meal.

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4000 views today!

4000 viewsWow!

A big Köszönöm! (Thank You)  to all our readers from 56 different countries. Today the view count reached 4000 since ÉdesOrbá launched last January.

'Kerekes Katalin and the Warrior Women of Hungary'

The all time most popular post is ‘Kerekes Katalin and the Warrior Women of Hungary’. I’m glad you liked it. Katalin is one of my favorite ancestors. Watch for another story about her family coming soon.

Thanks for following! Please share the link with your friends who have an interest in Hungarian Genealogy,  and please keep coming back!!

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The Story of the Origins of the Édes family

Fighting nobles, religious conflicts, deceit, treachery and shifting allegiances were all part of the landscape in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 17th century. Add in the story of a fearless Hajdu woman who fought at the side of her family, and you have the history of the origins of the Édes family.Ede clan on the move - no cows

Among Belá Édes’s documents are copies of the ‘Incunabulum’ the history of the family.  István Édes documented the oral history as told by his father in the 17th century. He then hid the document in the lining of a book where it was discovered in the mid 1800s.

The story tells of the Édes clan who lived in the Székely land in the 1600s. They were brave and noble warriors who served Gábor Bethlen, the Prince of Transylvania. After Bethlen’s death they fell out of favor with the new Prince and fled to Royal Hungary in the area of Komárom Castle County.

Recently translated into English, the document retains the character of the ancient story.  Click HERE to read the translation.

The original document is shown HERE. Emil Édes has a transcription in Hungarian on his website HERE. It includes additional notes from author Istvan Mate.

The illustration above was adapted from the monumental 19th century painting, the Arrival of the Hungarians by Árpád Feszty

The Szekely Land in Winter (Székelyföld télen)

My great-grandmother, a shyly smiling little woman in a black babushka summer or winter, was Both Borbála (in English Barbara Both). both borbala 1 b75pct  She was born in Csíkkarcfalva, Erdély, Hungary in 1883. In 1921, after Trianon, it became part of Romania and was renamed Cârţa.

It is a little village high in the Hargita Mountains of Transylvania where the winters are long and harsh. It lies up the road about 20km from Csíkszereda (Miercurea Ciuc) where Hockey is a religion. Continue reading

Google Bookshelf of Hungarian Social History

Google Books is my new favorite bookshelf. Searching for accounts of life in 19th century Austro-Hungary to  fill in the context of lives of our ancestors,  I have added several dozen free volumes to my reading list that were all published in the 1800s or very early 1900s. There are more contemporary volumes available for download for a nominal price. I’ll look at those later when I finish with the current virtual tower of books.

all books row 1

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