The Ghost Captain of the kuk Kreigsmarine

FTB Bela and siblings hi-res cropThere are those things that we rarely think about when we are young but are more important to some of us when we get older. For instance, what were our parents lives like? Who were the people in their families?

My father escaped from communist Hungary in 1948, came to Canada and married my mother. His parents left after the 1956 uprising and came to live with us. We never met any other members of his father’s family. And now that I am older and they are all gone, I want to know.

Mom pestered everyone for details about all the branches of the family which she dutifully records in the book that my sister gave her for that purpose. Here is the page for dad’s father’s family. There are lots of dates missing. Over the past few years I have managed to fill in some of them. I know when and where all the other children were born. I know when and where their parents died.I found Otto’s marriage record to Erzsebet Klinghammer. Recently I even found the marriage record of elusive Cousin Margit.Marine_Österreich-Ungarns_(Meyers)

But great-uncle Imre has remained a ghost. He was my grandfather’s favorite brother. And a Naval Captain! How could he be so hard to find? I looked in all the places where the other children were born.  I searched every online Austro-Hungarian military database for every imaginable spelling of his name. And I came up empty every time.

The Austrian kriegsarchiv (military archives) require that you have the name, date and place of birth of any enlisted man that you want researched. But out of sheer frustration I finally gave it a try. I wrote and asked if they would be able to search for an officer without those details. Early the following morning the email response came back from the kuk Kreigsmarine (Austro-Hungarian Navy) archive;

KUK re Edes Imre box“ein Marineoffizier mit dem Namen EDES, Imre oder Emmerich ist nicht bekannt und auch in den Akten nicht nachweisbar. Es gibt überhaupt keinen k.u.k. Marineoffizier mit dem Namen EDES.”

I do not know any German but had a pretty good guess what it said. This was confirmed by one of the volunteers at the Facebook group Genealogy Translations;

“a marine officer with the name EDES, Imre or Emmerich is not known and in the records not found. There is not one marine officer known with the name EDES”

I feel like I smashed into a 3 foot thick brick wall. I will have to regroup and think of another way to approach this problem.

Until then, I will keep thinking of Imre as a ghost of the Navy that disappeared with the Empire he served in it’s dying days.

Zsigmond Joins the Navy

Pola_Gruss_aus

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. Continue reading

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.

I followed the reference and found that the twins were indeed baby sisters of Zsigmond. Continue reading

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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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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Madar, 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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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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A Very Very Bad Day

August 29th was a very very bad day in Hungarian History. 800px-Grimm_Battle_of_Mohács_1857On that date in 1526, the Hungarian army, led by young King Lajos, was defeated by the Turkish forces of Suleiman the Magnificent at the Battle of Mohács. In retreat from the bloody battle, Lajos fell off his horse crossing the river. Weighed down by his armor he drowned. More than 14,000 Hungarian soldiers were killed. Continue reading

Komárom Earthquake 1763

250 years ago today the most devastating earthquake to strike Hungary hit Komárom on June 28, 1763. Estimated at 6.3 on the Richter scale, it caused at least 63 deaths, over 100 injuries, and heavily damaged buildings.

Aftermath of 1763 Komárom earthquake. Painting by Karl Friedel.

Aftermath of 1763 Komárom earthquake. Painting by Karl Friedel.

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All Antonia’s Babies

budišovský kostel

Church of the Assumption, Budišov nad Budišovskou

Infant and maternal mortality was a fact of life in our ancestor’s lives. But sometimes a family suffered more than their share.

I have been researching a story about Antonia’s daughter Anna Terk and her family. The godfathers of two of Anna’s children were named Ferdinand and Ödön Terk. I thought they were Anna’s brothers and wanted to confirm.

That’s how I wound up spending days going through the church records of Budišov nad Budišovskou, a small town in Moravia.

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