Many of you know we were able to go to Hungary in May 2012 as a family. What a wonderful experience! Yes, we saw the beautiful countryside. Yes, we saw amazing architecture, and, yes, we ate some incredible meals. But then there was the best part of the trip:
Meet Erika [Pictured l to r: Erika, Landon, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Lauren]
She was so brave by being the first to initiate all the contact with relatives she had not met before. She coordinated our initial meeting and agreed to travel with us for 5 days before she had met us. She does a much better job with her English than we do with Hungarian! She is delightful and it has been so fun to get to know her and her family!
Erika’s mom, Margit, remembered there were some letters from a relative in the US that had been saved. They went back and re-read the letters and decided to see if they could locate these relatives using the internet. The one writing the letters was Clara, my grandmother. Clara was born in Tiszakeszi, Hungary and came to the US as a child with her parents in the early 1900s. She left Hungary when she was very young and grew up staying in contact with her first cousins in Hungary.
Clara married another Hungarian, Stephen Szabo, whose family was from Geszthely (near Miskolc), and they went on to birth 7 little Hungarian-Americans. They raised their children speaking Hungarian in the home. Unfortunately, only 3 of their children survived to adulthood. She wrote about her life in the U.S. and her 3 children–Elmer, Ed, and Steve.
Erika contacted my Uncle Ed in the summer of 2011 after finding an email address for him via the internet. After establishing that Ed (my dad’s brother) was indeed the person they were looking for, a lot of communication helped us get connected. Uncle Ed had photos from his mother’s possessions that were not identified but after a few scans and emails back and forth, we quickly found out we had a lot of photos of Erika’s mom, grandmother, and the great aunts when they were little girls. AMAZING!
I told Erika we were planning to visit Hungary with our children and would love to meet her and her family. We spent a wonderful afternoon in Várdomb with Erika, Erika’s parents, siblings, etc.
Erika also told her grandmother that we were coming and her grandmother asked if we would travel to see her in Tiszakeszi. Of course, we agreed. So we spent a day in Tiszakeszi meeting quite a crew of precious relatives. Erika’s grandmother is one of my grandmother Clara’s first cousins. We were able to meet 4 of the 6 of my grandmother’s first cousins. What a special opportunity. My grandmother had moved to the US before her first cousins were born and she never had a chance to meet them face-to-face.
We were also excited that as word spread we were coming for a visit, some family members that even Erika had not met had invited us to spend the afternoon in Miskolc.
Everyone we met was so sweet, patient, and gracious and fun to meet! Thankfully a couple of people in the family knew some English. Some of us know a tiny bit of Hungarian and we also used dictionaries, phrase books, and a bit of “charades” to connect.
We had the most interesting time working on the family tree. Reminder: If you have things that need to be written down or recorded for your current relatives or future generations, do not delay.