Zsigmond Joins the Navy

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Greetings from Pola

Zsigmond Édes was 17 when he went to Pola and joined the Navy. Military service wasn’t required until age 19 but my great-grandfather would have had good reasons to enlist. Joining the Navy allowed him to avoid being drafted into the army. He probably also wanted to “see the world” as promised by Navy recruiters.

The Navy would have been a good fit for him. Growing up in Vukovar along the Danube he would have had experience on the water. I imagine him as a young boy playing with toy boats with his older half-brother János, and watching the ships cruise by. He may even have worked on boats with his uncles.

The Imperial and Royal War Navy, as it was called, was established after the 1867 Ausgleich, which created the Dual Monarchy of Austria and Hungary. The name in German was kaiserliche und königliche Kriegsmarine, abbreviated as k.u.k. Kriegsmarine. In Hungarian it was Császári és Királyi Haditengerészet.

“The battle fleet stood guard on an Adriatic border that . . . was as long as the Austro-Hungarian border with Russia.”*   During peacetime the Navy provided experience for newly graduated cadets by sending them on overseas missions in many parts of the world to “show the flag”.  They were also involved in scientific expeditions including several missions to the Arctic. Late in the 19th century, there was more emphasis on the role of the Navy to encourage trade and industrial development in the Empire.

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Pola Naval Yard

As a seaman, Zsigmond would have served, probably as a mechanic, on board one of the steamships that made up the fleet at that time. He may have participated in one or more of the overseas missions as well as serving on ships that patrolled the Adriatic.

Pola could have been a little intimidating at first for the teenager. The city, more than twice the size of Vukovar, was a bustling port and home of the naval arsenal. Now known as Pula, Croatia, it is in a beautiful location on the Istrian peninsula surrounded by lush green hills. It has been settled for centuries, changing hands many times. On a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea is one of the largest surviving Roman arenas in the world dating from Pola’s time as a Roman settlement. A Roman forum stands in a busy city square. In Zsigmond’s time, the streets were filled with people in foreign dress, speaking many different languages from all over the Empire and the world.

Zsigmond  had some experience in a multi-national community. His father, for whom he was named, was Hungarian. His mother, Julianna Vill, was  Donauschwaben. Her ancestors were Germans who had settled in that region of Hungary in the 1700s. The Donauschwaben spoke a dialect based on 18th century German that incorporated vocabulary from their neighbors. They lived among Hungarians, Serbians, and Croats.

His childhood was marked by loss. When he was 3 years old his father died of pulmonary edema leaving Julianna with 6 small children.  Two years later János died. The death of a younger sister  followed a few years later.  When he left for the Navy his mother was home with his 3 remaining sisters.  Some of Julianna’s family would have been living with them. But as an older teenage boy, Zsigmond would have been expected to support himself and perhaps contribute to the household.

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Pola Sailor Romance

After completing his 4 years of active duty he stayed in Pola working as a mechanic. It was there that he met Anna Terk from Moravia. They were married in 1885 and moved to Budapest. He completed his naval reserve obligation in 1889. His discharge certificate shows that he advanced from an entry level Matrose classe IV (seaman 4th class) to Matrose classe I.

Zsigmond continued to travel. He lived with his family in cities across Hungary to Transylvania working  for the railway. At the time of his death from tuberculosis in 1903 he was a telegraph supervisor in the Transylvanian city of Nagyenyed. He was 41 years old. As with his father, his death left a widow with 6 children.

His time in the navy was surely a defining period in his life and his stories of glory days as a young seaman in Pola would have inspired his son Imre who later became a captain in the Navy.

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Naval Discharge Certificate of Zsigmond Édes 1888

* Sondhaus, Lawrence. The Naval Policy of Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918 p.ix

Many thanks to Dr. Lawrence Sondhaus, Professor of History and Department Chair of the department of  History & Political Science at the University of Indianapolis.  Through his book and our personal correspondence he provided an understanding of the life and times of a seaman in the Austro-Hungarian Navy of the late 19th century.

Postcard images from Wikimedia commons. Zsigmond would have dressed like that but most certainly would have had a bushy Hungarian mustache.

Twins in the Family

twin dolls

I found twins! While working on a story about my great-grandfather Zsigmond Édes I rechecked the birth index from Vukovar where he was born. I stumbled upon an index reference to twin sisters, Rosina and Anna, which I had not noticed earlier.

Spelling variations are a common problem in genealogy research and so is the challenge of deciphering century old handwriting. Édes is a simple name but it can look like Eles, Eder and even Ecles. I followed the reference and found that the twins were indeed baby sisters of Zsigmond. Continue reading

Escape – My Father’s Story

My father was a young physician in Budapest during WWII when standing up for your principles was dangerous. He escaped in 1948. This is the story as he told it in his curriculum vitae soon after his arrival in Canada.

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I was born on the 14th day of July, 1921, in Kispest, a city with a population of 70,000 – a suburb of the Hungarian capital Budapest. Being the only son of middle-class parents, who were merchants; I had every opportunity to pursue the career to which I felt most drawn.

At the age of six, I entered elementary school; where a four year course of studies was followed, as a preparation for middle school. In my native country, as in other Central European and most Western European countries, there prevails this middle or Intermediate school, (called “Gymnasium” ) a system assigned to give a preliminary education for University during an eight year course. I graduated from this school with the best qualifications obtainable.

Dr. Endre Édes ~ age 25

I enrolled at the Medical Faculty of the University of Budapest, and in September 1939, started my studies there in medicine. This course consisted of five years of University study, and one year of compulsory rotating internship.

During my third year as student, I was rewarded with one of the six scholarships, sponsored by the City Council of the Capital, which covered all my University expenses. In October, 1944, I graduated from the University with the qualifications, “Summa cum Laude”, among the first four of a group of 120 graduates.

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Soon after my graduation, I was drafted into the Army, but refused to enter. Continue reading

A Wedding in Pola – Zsigmond Édes and Anna Terk, June 20, 1885

Summer days in Pula, Croatia are sunny hot and humid. The heat is tempered by a breeze that sweeps up from the Adriatic to the surrounding mountains and rain showers several times a day.  We were there last July to visit the place where my great-grandparents were married 130 years ago.

Their wedding took place in late June so it might have been a little cooler than on our visit. I imagine they appreciated the cool of the stone cathedral where the ceremony took place.

Great-grandchildren and 2xgreat-grandchildren of Zsigmond Édes and Anna Terk (and spouses)  July 2014

Great-grandchildren (and spouses) and 2xgreat-grandchildren of Zsigmond Édes and Anna Terk July 2014

It was originally built as a Roman temple around the 4th century on a site where early Christians had met secretly to practice their faith. Later it was taken over by the Catholics and expanded and named the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. The bell tower stands separate, next to the church where it overlooks the sea below. It is dark and cool inside. Angels and geometric designs are carved into the stone columns and walls. A mosaic portrait of the Virgin laid into the floor was being restored when we were there. It was a gift paid for by a long ago young couple whose names are recorded in the mosaic. Continue reading

The German Letter, Budapest 1939

I have had Grandfather’s box of papers for a couple of years now. I’m still trying to understand what they all mean.

Along with a priceless collection of birth/death and marriage certificates for his family line, there are fragments of stories, transcriptions of historical documents, handwritten drafts, and carbon copies of typed letters. They often lack addresses or return addresses or dates so I’m not always sure if they were letters he was sending or receiving or someone else’s correspondence entirely. Most of these documents are written in Hungarian or Latin. But there is one German letter.Edes Bela German letter 1939.pct75

I can tell that it is a request for a copy of the marriage certificate of his parents in Pula, Austria (now Pola, Croatia) in 1885. But I didn’t know what the rest of the letter said.

I tried transcribing the document and feeding it to Google Translate. Unfortunately, Google gagged on the letter and returned digital barf.

Fortunately, there are Angels waiting on the Facebook Genealogy Translations Group. I posted the letter and minutes letter got a response. Continue reading

Hey it’s my Birthday!

2nd bdayHere’s some birthday music to listen to while I tell you about it.

It’s not really MY birthday, but the second  birthday of this blog. My first post was on 4JAN2012. Since then I have learned a lot more about the family history, about blogging, and genealogy research and all that. I hope you can tell.

The most popular posts have been the two I wrote about my Greatⁿ-Grandma Katalin, the Hajdú Warrior. I think she was pretty amazing. Last summer we got to visit Hajdúhadhaz, the town where she was born in eastern Hungary. 4 centuries later, we didn’t expect to find any trace of the Kerekes family in the graveyard, and we didn’t, but I had to check. There was nothing. We also visited the nearby Hajdú museum and danced with the 7 warrior guys.

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The 3rd ranking post is the Family Tree. Perhaps someday a distant relative may find me through that.

4th and 5th are Genealogy in Romania, and A Wolf in the Family (about my maternal 2nd Great-grandmother).

I plan to write more later about Genealogy in Romania, and my other Ancestor Countries. For that I started a new blog to talk about the research process.

I have lots more stories in the works for this blog, so please come back again.

Thanks for stopping by to help me celebrate!

 

Note: The birthday balloons are from BackinSkinnyJeans

Then and Now: The Killer Lake

The Killer Lake, Gyilkostó in Hungarian, is high in the Hargita Mountains in the Székely region of eastern Transylvania. The name in Romanian is Lacul Roșu, or Red Lake. The ‘red’ color comes from the sediment of the Red Creek that feeds the lake, although it really is more of a murky brown. Of course the ‘bloody’ color is also the origin of the more creative Hungarian name.Gyillkos To Szekelyfold  about 1985-300px

A massive landslide in the 19th century caused the entire mountain side of trees land in the lake upside down. The tree stumps are easier to see in this picture of my parents in 1983. 31 years later the stumps are disappearing. I’m glad we got there before they were all gone.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my parents. They looked very happy. Dad was very hip in those flared leg pants and sideburns. It was Dad’s first time back to Hungary since he escaped in 1948, and Mom’s first time visiting her parents’ homeland.

A&D Gyillkosto 300pxWe were happy too. We spent the day driving the crazy mountain roads with my dear cousin and her amusing husband. And this picture is one of my favorites from the trip.

Dancing with my Ancestors

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The Seven Dancing Hajdú in the town square of Hajdúbosormény, with a couple of extras.

In Eastern Hungary close to the great plains, in the town square of Hajdúbosormény, the 7 Hajdú warriors are dancing. There is one for each of the original 7 villages built on the land donated by Bocskay István in the 1600s. The dancers are rugged and fierce and carry their weapons of war. They all wear big bushy very Hungarian looking moustaches.

These are the people of my oldest named grandmother, Kerekes Katalin who was born in nearby Hajdúhadhaz.

The beautiful baroque buildings on the square contrast with the shabbier businesses and homes elsewhere in town. Around the corner, the building that houses the Hajdúsag museum is in need of a paint job. It looked so sad we were surprised that it was really open. But, we were in luck.  We had the place to ourselves and were amazed at the quality of the exhibits in such an out of the way place.

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Artist’s conception of bronze age couple with tools and adornments found in archeological dig in Hajdú region.

A special exhibit told of excavations of the Bronze-age treasures being discovered in nearby ancient burial grounds. An animated video in Hungarian told the story of those ancient people.

There were many exhibits of life in the Hajdú towns.

Illustration of men's uniforms. The fur coat on display had a pest strip tucked inside for protection.

Illustration of men’s uniforms.

Beautifully embroidered ladies’ capes and men’s heavy fur coats helped keep them warm in winter. The massive fur coat on display had a pest strip tucked inside for protection.

Hajdú lady's embroidered fur cape. "kisbunda"

Hajdú lady’s embroidered fur cape. “kisbunda”

An exhibit of an old style hut and household equipment gave an idea of what life in the area would have been like.

Village life. Corn grinder and bee hives.

Village life. Corn grinder and bee hives.

I estimate my hajdú heritage to be about  0.1%. I’m proud of that little bit of these brave proud people.

Growing up in a Hungarian community we would go to parties where the grownups danced the csardás, dancing and stomping their feet as the gypsy fiddler played faster and faster. I can imagine the hajdú dancing to the music and keeping up just fine.

Note: The museum website had pictures of some of their exhibits but at the time of this post the site was infected with malware. 

Gérgely Édes and Éva György – November 26, 1724

1724 M Edes Gergely&Eva x gold-300290 years ago 25 year old Gérgely Édes and his bride, Éva György were married in her hometown, the port city of Komárom, on the Danube River.

Soon after they married they moved to the nearby town of Komáromszentpéter (now Svätý Peter, Slovakia). Continue reading