Rozsa Dobokay , an Educated Woman

My great-grandmother Rozsa Dobokay was born on September 4, 1857 in the city of Brassó (now Brasov, Romania) the only child of Zoltan Tamás and his wife Heidi.  Rozsa was baptized in the Hungarian Reformed Church.

At that time Brassó was on the eastern border of the Kingdom of Hungary with the Kingdom of Romania. Zoltan worked there as a customs agent. Heidi was the daughter of a professor of German. At a time when most of the population was engaged in farming, the Dobokay family was more educated than most.

Portrait of a Woman in Lilac by Szinyei Merse Pal

Portrait of a Woman in Lilac by Szinyei Merse Pal 1874

Rozsa was fluent in French and German and made her living as a governess. The family story is that she taught the children of a Transylvanian baron. Perhaps it was on the baron’s estate that she met György Orbán, a widower with a 2 year-old daughter, Ilona.

It seems like an unlikely match. She was protestant. He was Catholic. She came from an educated family. He worked as a groundskeeper and shoemaker. Perhaps Rozsa liked little Ilona and was ready to leave her position and start her own family. She was older than the usual marriageable age and given the sentiment of the times other marriage offers were perhaps not likely.

Most likely they were married in 1892 but we don’t know where the wedding took place. Rozsa was 35 and György was 32. Their only child together was my grandfather Balázs who was born on June 9, 1893 in Etéd. She and Gyorgy would have been very proud to have a son.

Gyorgy died in 1916 at the age of 55. Rozsa lived another decade as a widow in Etéd.

In 1923 Balázs married Erzsébet Nagy. According to family stories, Rozsa was a bit of a snob and refused to meet Balázs’ wife Erzsébet Nagy whom she considered to be a peasant. We don’t know if she ever met her granddaughters.

Balázs and Erzsébet had their first daughter, Elizabeth in November 1923. Their second child, another girl, Ibolya (Violet) was born 2 years later. When the baby was only 6 months old Balázs left for Canada in August 1926. Rozsa died of pneumonia a month later. She was 69 years old.

We have no photograph of Rozsa but this painting by a Hungarian artist of the time evokes the dress and the setting of her life as a governess.

 

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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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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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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.

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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 Wolf in the Family

Bórbala (Barbara) Both was mother’s mother’s mother. She grew up in the little town of Csik Karcfalva in the Hargita mountains of Transylvania. According to Wikipedia it is still a small town. In 2011 it had a population of 2,688, of which (99.67%) are Székely Hungarians

Csik Karcfalva fortified church

Csik Karcfalva fortified church

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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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