Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Rest of the Story.....Part 2

Guess what I have found!  I wasn't sure there was one, but alas, here it is!

...The Coroner's Report for our little Joe Farkas. If you didn't get a chance to read about him before, then head to Part 1 and read it before you begin this post.

So what do we know? We know that Joe was hit by a car and died on the 7th of January, 1921. That is the extent of what his death certificate tells us. The Coroner's report gives us details of the accident that we could not have known otherwise. The documents do not detail that Joe was riding a bike. However, family lore dictates this fact, so I will add it to his story.

A young boy and his bicycle in 1921
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

It was a warm day in the middle of winter. The temperature was in the mid-50's. Joe had gone out to play and enjoy the rare, warm day. He decided to go ride his bike. He probably got the bike for Christmas, the week before. It was probably brand new, a real treat! He would have been too young for the bike before and he was too old for a "baby" bike. How exciting that would have been. A new bike and a lovely day to go ride it. Could his bike have looked like this, in the photo above? Maybe he was still learning how to keep his balance and he did not mean to be in the street. Maybe the bike was just too big for him and he had not grown into it yet. He might not have had control of the bike, rather than riding in the street on purpose. The accident happened late in the afternoon, maybe he was racing to get home before it became dark.

Fatefully, that afternoon, he was struck by a vehicle in the intersection of 3rd Ave and Ross Street. This intersection was several blocks from his home that was located at 542 Fourth Street. Even in 1921, that area was an extremely busy intersection. Even though cars were new on the scene, Pittsburgh was teeming with vehicles and streetcars. Notice from the map below that there is a park just a block away from where the accident occurred. Even though that park is relatively new, it begs the question: Could he have been going to or from a park somewhere close by?

The pinned labeled "A" is the location of the house and the Red Dot is
the intersection where the accident occurred.
Courtesy of Google Maps
542 Fourth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
Current street view from Google Maps

Joe arrived at the hospital in care of the police and the driver of the car at 5:45 pm on Tuesday,
January 4, 1921. He was examined by Dr. Murray who stated that the patient was unconscious, bleeding from several locations around the head, with several bone and skull fractures. They operated on him to relieve some of the cranial pressure at 7 pm. He improved slightly, but never regained consciousness. He struggled for his life for 3 days, but lost the fight on January 7 at 2:30 pm with his mother by his side.

Also present at Joe's death were Dr Murray, Gerald Walsh, Stanley Gorka, Daniel Schaney, Charles McGraw and Julia Leitner. The last 4 individuals were all local people. They might have been Mary's friends, at the time.

Mary dictated a statement or signed a statement written for her, after identifying the body on the 8th. "That the decedent is my son. On Tuesday, Jan 4th, 1921 about 5:30 oclock pm I was notified that my son, the decedent had been struck by an automobile at 3rd Ave and Ross St, Pittsburgh Pa and had been taken to the Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh Pa. I visited the hospital the same evening, Tuesday Jan 4th 1921 and found him unconscious and I was present when he died. That was on Friday Jan 7th 1921 at 2:30 oclock pm."  Shortly after this, Joseph Farkas was buried at Calvary Cemetery.

From the list above of those present at Joe's death, is Gerald Walsh. Who is he, you might be asking? He lived in Knoxville, Pennsylvania. in the northeastern part of the state. Mr Walsh, a 20 year old, from out of town had struck a boy with his car late in the evening. It was probably near dusk at that time of the year.It might have been hard to see a child at that time of the day. If you remember from above, he was the one that took Joe to the hospital. He didn't even wait for an ambulance. They were at the hospital within 15 minutes. He also stayed with him for the entire time, and was present when Joe died. This man, the driver of the car, was obviously devastated and traumatized, as well. What a horrible experience for everyone involved.

After Joe's death, the coroner asked for an inquest into the alleged accident. A few weeks later, six jurors, including the deputy coroner, declared that the 5 year old child died from the result of an accident.

All I hear is the gavel as it hits the table when the verdict is announced. It leaves me numb. A little child's life cut short before anyone got to know him.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We Never Got To Know You

Now that we have the first Farkas ancestor here in United States, I am going to start bouncing around and tell you some of the stories that I have uncovered.

When I first began my genealogy journey, the only Farkas family that I knew was the immediate family. By that, I mean my Mother and her Sisters, my Grandparents and Piroska, my Great Grandmother. Mathew Farkas, Piroska's husband, the man that I have talked about here in prior posts had passed when I was a little girl. I do not remember him. That was the extent of my understanding of the Farkas Family. However, the other family members remember some conversations about a few other Farkas's that they had never met.

There had been talk of my Great-Grandfather, (Matyas, Mathew,) having another son that had died as an infant. No one knew anything other than his name might have been Joe. There was also some talk of his death being the result of  negligence from his mother while involved with another man. The child had been outside riding his bike unsupervised and was hit by a car. Whoa!  Now I was intrigued. And, if you know me, I couldn't let that go. There were many questions that would have to be answered if I were to uncover the real story of this little Farkas.

I didn't even know where to begin my research. Should I be looking for a Joszef in Mezokovesd, Hungary; a Joe in Akron, Ohio; a Joseph in Pittsburgh, PA; or a child with a different name located somewhere else? Was he born in one city and died in another? Or was both of the events in the same location? What year should I start looking for this child? Was this family story fact or fiction, or a little of both? I literally did not have one factual element to point me in the right direction. Right now, you are thinking that I was dead center, in the middle of  a conundrum. And you would be right. The only way out was to create a hypothesis and follow it where it took me.

So here is how I began. I knew that Mary Popp (Papp) Farkas came over from Hungary in June of 1914  and she did not have a baby with her. She was alone. Her ship manifest says that she was going to see her husband in Akron, Ohio. Mathew's documents state that he was married until 1918. At that time he declares his intent to become a naturalized citizen and that he is divorced. I went with the assumption that the child would have born before they were divorced and after she came to the states. That left me with a possible time frame to start my research. 1914-1918.

To make a long story short, after years of looking for this little Farkas, I finally found him. This is the story of Joe Farkas, as I see it to date.

Maria Farkas came over to the United States looking for her husband. She left her young son, Maytas, who was only 3 years old home in Mezokovesd. Why did she leave the child behind? One can only speculate. That's for another blog post. But I believe that this fact began the demise of their marriage.  Her end ticket was for Akron, Ohio. Mathew was living in that city at that time, even though he lived in Kenmore for awhile.

Within months, she became pregnant and then later gave birth to a little boy on 11 May,1915 in Akron, Ohio. He was delivered by a Hungarian mid-wife named Mrs. Joseph Kremlp. She lived in Barberton and obviously did not know English. The American birth certificate was filled out in the Hungarian language. Why did she come all the way from Barberton? Was she the only Hungarian speaking mid-wife in that general area? One might have to think that that was the case. I don't believe that she was a personal friend. That name has never been brought up nor have I seen it in any documents. (I had never seen this type of document written in a foreign language. This is very interesting to me.) It says that the child's name is Jozsef Farkas. His parents were Matyas Farkas, a factory worker and Maria Pap, a housewife, who were from the land of Hungary. They lived at 120 Broad Street in Kenmore, Summit County, Ohio.  Matyas and Maria now had 2 children. One young son who lived in Hungary without his parents and now, a newborn son. It also states that the child was legitimate. That means that they were not divorced yet.

Now, at some point before 1918, Maria and Mathew get a divorce. I do not now if she went directly to Pittsburgh or just ended up there, but she is later to be found living in Pittsburgh with her young child. Her oldest son is still in Hungary. Mary is running a boarding house or at the very least working in one, about this time in downtown Pittsburgh, a thriving metropolis. This part of town had many foreigners, primarily Hungarians. They were there to work in the factories. Although not provable, it is plausible, that she could have been with another man at this point. She was divorced and a single mother. She could have been living a life of necessity. Or she could have been involved in a serious relationship with a gentleman. Either scenario fits the bill. Now what actually transpired, we will never know. Was Mary a witness to an act that she had no control over or was she being negligent and did not know that Joe had left the house by himself and was out in the busy city street riding his bicycle. But in January of 1921, a little boy was struck by a car and mortally wounded. The child made it to the hospital, but to no avail, Joe Farkas died on the 7th of January, 1921. Joe never had a chance to meet his older brother, who was my Grandpa, and probably never saw his father that he was able to remember.

Here's what the death certificate says in a nutshell. He was struck  by an automobile and had a fracture at the base of his skull. He was 5 years, 7 months, and 23 days old. It also states that he was born on the 15th of May in 1915. We know that his birthday was actually on the 11th. His parents were Mathew Farkas and Mary Papp. She lived at 542  4th Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA.  A coroner viewed the body the next day and released it for burial.

I have looked in the papers and there were not any reports of a little Hungarian boy who had died tragically that day. How sad that is. Hungarians were not always thought of as persons worthy of recognition. Maybe the Hungarian paper has an account of it. I hope to find it one day. There does not even appear to be a coroner's inquest to the "accident."

The next day, Joe was buried at Calvary Cemetery, many miles away from his home. It is a beautiful and extremely large Catholic cemetery.  It overlooks the river down below and is a peaceful resting place. Years later, his mother will join him in that very same spot.  Nyugodjék békében (Rest in Peace)

Yes, you caught that. The birthdate on the tombstone is incorrect.

One day, I hope to have a picture of this young child so I can see how he resembled the other family members. I imagine he looked just like his brother, my Grandpa. That would complete the story of little Joe Farkas,  as I know it today, the child that no one knew existed.

Friday, July 19, 2013

SS Pennsylvania Ship Manifest

After debarking the ship, Matyas had to go through the interrogations and inspections at Ellis Island. Everything and every answer was verified with the information from the Hamburg ship manifest   and then verifed again in New York. Below is the ship manifest that shows Matyas Farkas and his personal details that were required to enter the United States of America.


This is the entire first page of the manifest. Matyas is the second person from the top.Below I have an enlarged and highlighted view of the above manifest.


Below is the second page of the manifest, again with Matyas on line 2. Below is the enlarged and highlighted view of his entry.
1. No. on List. 2
2. NAME IN FULL. Farkas Matyas
3. Age: Yrs. | Mos. 25
4. Sex.M
5. Married or Single. M
6. Calling or Occupation. laborer
7. Able to — Read. | Write. Yes Yes
8. Nationality (Country of which citizen or subject). Hungary
9. Race or People. Magyar
10. Last Residence (Province, City, or Town). Hungary Mezokovesd
11. Address and Name of whence alien came wife, Maria Farkas, Mezokovesd
12. Final Destination (State, City, or Town). Oh  Kenmore
14. Whether having a ticket to such final destination. yes Akron, Ohio
15. By whom was passage paid? self
16. Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much? $24
17. Whether ever before in the United States; and if so, when and where? No
18. Whether going to join a relative or friend; and if so, what relative or friend, and his name and complete address. father in law, Istvan Papp, Box 292, Kenmore Ohio
19. Ever in prison or alms house, or institution for care and treatment of the insane, or supported by charity? If so, which? No
20. Whether a Polygamist. No
21. Whether an Anarchist. No
22. Whether coming by reason of any offer, solicitation, promist, or agreement, express or implied, to labor in the United States. No
23. Condition of Health, Mental and Physical. Good
24. Deformed or Crippled. Nature, length of time, and cause. No
25. Height in Feet and Inches  5'6"
26. Complexion Fair
27.Color of Hair and Eyes Black and Blue
28.Marks of Identification None
29. Place of Birth, Country and Town Mezokovesd, Hungary

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A View from the Ship

The day of April 5, 1912,  began early with the sun rise at 5:31 am.  Remember that Daylight Savings Time had not yet been enacted.  Quickly the temperature rose to nearly 70 degrees. The air carried a brisk breeze. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful spring day in New York City!

The SS Pennsylvania, finally finished its journey and arrived at the harbor in New York. Matyas Farkas had arrived at his destination.  Ellis Island was finally a reality. There was a buzz on the ship, everyone had heard so much about this large city. However, the imagination could not have prepared them for the sight that greeted them upon arrival. A bright sun shiny day allowed them to perfectly see the large metropolitan city of New York off in the distance. There must have been a mix of excitement and trepidation among the passengers. Their new life was about to begin. A cacophony of various languages are heard and all are asking the same questions. What would this new world bring? Would they be able to pass the upcoming inspection at Ellis Island?  Would they be sent home? Would they be able to move around this big city without the ability to speak and understand the English language? Would they be able to get a job that was promised them? A job that would allow them the extra funds to send home to their families in Mezőkövesd?

What would have been the thoughts that ran through your mind if that was you? Your entire life you spent in a rural, agricultural and impoverished country. Now, the sights that are in front of you must blow you away.

All photos: Library of Congress
These photos were taken between 1910-1920
"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."  - Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Arriving at Ellis Island

Matyas departed for the United States of America on the 23rd of March in 1912 from Hamburg, Germany. They made a stopover in Cuxhaven, before taking the  journey to Ellis Island in New York.

The ship manifest shows that the ship arrived on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1912.  However, the New York newspapers show that the SS Pennsylvania actually arrived on April 5, 1912. That makes the journey only 13 days. Yes, I agree, that is still a long time on an extremely overcrowded ship, in steerage, no less. They might have had to stay on the ship for 2 days until the ship inspections could be accomplished and then they had to wait their turn in line to debark since there were 15 ships that had arrived at the harbour on the 5th that had to be processed. It took a long time to inspect and process each ship and its passengers, with all of the thousands of people involved. I would only know that was the true reason if the passport and the personal travel documents for Matyas still survived. They would tell the date that he had undergone inspection and claimed his luggage. This would be my guess as to why there is a 2 day discrepencey in the arrival dates. Imagine having to spend an extra 2 days on board the ship knowing that you had arrived, looking at your new life from afar and not being able to do anything about it. There must have been some rare nerves on that ship.

The Sun (New York);  Friday; April 5, 1912;  pg 15

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Leaving Home

At 22 years of age, a newly married father, left his country, home and family to come to America to make a better life for himself and his family. Times were rough in Mezökóvesd. Work was hard to come by and food was a rare commodity. The alternative that most young men chose, was to go to America and work in the factories or mines, where work was plentiful and pay was 2-3 times better than at home. This amount of money would allow for a savings that could put food on the table, firewood in the fireplace and hopefully, enough leftover to purchase some land from the landlords. This would allow for a much improved standard of living for his family in Mezökóvesd.

Matyas Farkas left Mezökóvesd for the port of Hamburg, Germany in March of 1912. He traveled with a few friends and neighbors from his village. He departed from Hamburg on the 23rd of March in 1912 on the ship named the SS Pennsylvania.

Photo from the Library of Congress depicting emigrants leaving the port of Hamburg on a steamship
Photo of the SS Pennsylvania from Wikipedia

The officials for the Hamburg-Amerika Line kept records of those departing from their port. Some of these German records still exist today. The record for Matyas still exists. It lists him as a 25 year old (even though he is only 22 years old), married, male from Mezökóvesd, Hungary. His ethnicity was Magyar and he was a day laborer. He traveled in steerage with his friends, Josef Szabo, Ferencz Csirmar and Josef Kalo. I believe, further research will show that these three other gentlemen are related. They all carry the surname of our ancestors.

They traveled down the river to Cuxhaven and then on to New York's Ellis Island. They arrived
April 7, 1912. The trip took a total of 15 days.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."  -Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Family Surnames

Everyone has 4 sets of great-grandparents. How many people can claim 6 of the 8 are coincidentally from Hungary. The 4 family lines that are handled here on this blog were all from Hungary, inside of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and Hungary before and after the governmental merger. During that time period, if your were a true Hungarian, within the boundaries of the country of Hungary (not Austria-Hungary) you were called Magyar. All others were not given that distinction. It is used as an ethnicity. The people who were Magyar were very proud of it.

My mother's family were all considered Magyar. The paternal line came from Mezőkövesd, in Borsod megye and the maternal line came from Veszprém megye in the village of Dudar. These 2 locations always have been and are still located in Hungary.

Within the limits of Mezőkövesd, we will be following the family lines of Farkas, Papp, Varga, Vamos, Sipeki, Czirmaz, Parmadi, Balog, Biro, Adám, Fugedi, and Demeter among others. Spellings of these names would vary depending on the document and who was writing it.

In Dudar, in Veszprém county, we will be following the family names of Simon, Szam, Béd, Jakab, Veiland, Kiss, Baumann, and Szabo. Here we will travel to several other small villages within Veszprém county. Once again, spellings of these names would vary depending on the document and who was writing it.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."  - Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mezőkövesd, Hungary

Now that I have made up my mind to do this, I don't know where to start. There is so much to share. I guess the best place to start is where I started.

My very first clue, long before we found the treasure box, was my mother's birth certificate.(This, by the way, is rule #1 in genealogy...Start with the known, close to home, then work your way backwards.  From the known to the unknown.) It listed her parents' names and places of birth. My Grandmother was born in a nearby town in Ohio. That was pretty easy!  But my Grandfather's birthplace was a mumble-jumble of letters that made no sense to me, followed by, Hungary. Then I plugged those letters into Google to see what it could tell me. They had never heard of the place either. So next, I played around with the lettering alittle and Googled it again. Still nothing. But this time, Google asked me if I meant

Mezőkövesd, Borsod megye, Hungary

So I told Google..."You bet, that's what I meant" with a snicker to my computer screen. "That's exactly what I meant."

I began my quest to find everything I could about this town. I had never heard of it or knew where it was. But, I'll be honest, my education only taught me that there was a city named Budapest in the country of Hungary and that was all. So anything that I learned would be "a first" for me. So here comes the geography lesson.

Country:  Hungary
County: Borsod
Village:  Mezőkövesd
Location: east of Budapest, 30 miles from Miskolc and 9 miles from Eger.

Before WWI, Hungary was part of a much larger entity, called Austria Hungary. This name was used interchangeably with Hungry, although there was a country, among others, called Hungary.

After WWII, Borsod county merged with other counties and is now called Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen County. It is now the northeastern county in Hungary.  The river Tisza forms the southeastern border and the river Sajo flows through the county.I will explain the history at a later date in another post. I wouldn't want to overwhelm you with all this schooling.

1)  Here is a current map of Hungary:

2)  Below is a map of the old county of Borsod in the year of 1910. Can you find the village? I'll give you a hint. It is down in the yellow section.

3)  Here is a current map of the area from Google maps. Use the controls and take a look around. Scroll in real far to street view and drive around or scroll back to see where it is in relation to the other towns. It's okay to play with it. You can't do anything wrong to hurt Google maps. If something happens, go back to the beginning and start playing again.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." -Benjamin Franklin

Friday, February 15, 2013

Grandpa's Treasure Chest

My journey started when my oldest son came to me one day a few years ago and asked me what ship my Grandpa came to the United States on. He was exploring the Ellis Island website and he wanted  to find the ship manifest for me. That was a puzzle. I didn't know the answer to that question.  How could I not know that. That seemed like something that I should have known. But I didn't. I was a little embarrassed that I didn't know. So, I began asking the family questions to see what they knew, but they did not know either. How could the family not know that answer? I was told that Grandpa never talked about it and no one ever asked. Heck, I never asked him either, even when I was studying about Ellis Island and the immigrants when I was in school. Hmmmm! Why not? I asked myself. (In my later research, I found this to be a common scenerio in many immigrant households across the county.)


To make a long story short, I eventually ran across an old metal security box that held the papers that were needed for his probate after he had passed away. It was assumed that the only thing that was in that box was those papers and nobody ever looked at the rest of the contents. When I found out about its existence, I wanted to look at it. I was still on the hunt for some information about when he came to the United States. I knew that sometime back in the late seventies, Grandma and Grandpa went back to Hungary to visit.  There had to be passports or something that showed whether he was even a citizen or not. Surely those documents would not have been thrown away after his passing. I needed a clue. So that evening my parents and I, opened that box and began opening the envelopes.

UREKA! We had hit paydirt. I got goosebumps.We had finally found the TREASURE BOX!

Inside these envelopes were land papers, mortgage papers, loan papers, their U.S. passports from the seventies, his Hungarian birth certificate, his wedding certificate and his Hungarian passport from when he came over in 1926 on the RMS Olympic. This  document was nearly a hundred years old and was still in excellent condition. It had probably not been touched since he filed it away after he arrived in the United States.

Now...my curiousity was piqued... I wanted to learn about the ship, why he came over, did he come alone, did he acquire U.S. citizenship, what was his life in Hungary like, did his parents come from the same village, when did they come over, etc?


Follow along with me and see how I am learning about my Hungarian ancestors, how I am learning the "art" of genealogy, the associated history lessons and how they are all entwined.We will be following the surnames of Farkas, Szam, Jakab, Simon, Papp, Suto and others from towns with names like Mezokovesd, Dudar, Hetyen, Akron, Barberton and others, as well. . It will be an interesting ride. So strap in and off we go to learn what else may come from the Family Treasure Box.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."   -Benjamin Franklin