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. 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