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Every time I have been at an airport, I watch the board that lists the arrival and departure times of the various flights.  When I am the traveller, it allows me to estimate the time I have before my flight leaves; if I have time to get that last cup or coffee, or make a last-minute pit stop before boarding.  When I am waiting for someone at the airport, it allows me to gauge the wait, and usually gets me more excited with the anticipation of their arrival.

In reviewing the census data, I now had the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of four of my husband’s relatives:

  • Michael Sabados Sr. – 1906
  • Anna Sabados and Michael Sabados Jr. – 1908
  • Mary Sabados (née Bakai) – 1921

We had gotten Bill’s grandmother’s maiden name from one of his aunts.  We would not be able to find her arrival without it, as she had not been married to his Grandpa Mike when she came to this country.

I was very excited about this part of the investigation.  I’ve always had a certain amount of fascination about ships.  I’ve never been on a cruise before, but I have always wanted to travel on an ocean liner.  Growing up near the Great Lakes, I’ve seen my share of freighters and tankers.  Even smaller boats have held my fascination.  I can remember being young and going to Boblo Island with my school.  I don’t really remember much about the park or the rides, but I loved that cruise down the Detroit River.

Even ship wrecks capture my imagination.  I kept tabs on the recent events with the Costa Concordia for several days.  Growing up in Michigan, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was more than just a Gordon Lightfoot song.  And the first movie Bill and I went out to see on a date?  Titanic.

So, I was very excited to find out about the ships that brought them to the United States.  We found Mary’s ship first, and I was really excited, because I knew the name of the ship when I saw it.

Name of the ship from the alien passenger manifest - S. S. Mauretania

Picture of the Mauretania

The Mauretania was a ship on the Cunard Line.  In its heyday, it was one of the fastest ships crossing the Atlantic, and only its sister ship ever beat her record prior to 1929.  The Mauretania was the younger sibling of a ship made even more famous by historical event; the Lusitania.  In 1915, during World War I, the Lusitania was sunk by a German torpedo.  Of the 1,959 passengers and crew aboard, 1,153 drowned, among them 128 US citizens.  While the US did not enter the war until two years after this event, the sinking of the Lusitania did change public opinion regarding the war, and likely made it easier for the US to later become involved.

The Mauretania spent a portion of the war docked, as passenger service declined during the war.  Later, the “Maury” would see service as a troop transport ship and a hospital ship.  In 1919, she was put back into her duties as a passenger ship, and two years later, Bill’s grandmother would board her to come to America.

One piece of information I noted was that in July of 1921 (the same month and year Bill’s grandmother arrived), A fire broke out on the Mauretania in Southampton, and she was out of service from that time until March of 1922.  The date of the fire was July 15th, ten days after Mary arrived in the US!  Who knows how history for our family would have changed if the fire had happened a few weeks before!

There was more difficulty in trying to locate Anna and Michael on their arrival in the US.  I was looking under Sabados and under Szabados (the Hungarian spelling), and was finding some hits for Anna, but nothing for her son.  Then, I realized that I’m looking for a Hungarian using his anglicized name!  So, I went to a search engine and quickly typed in “What is the Hungarian equivalent of Michael?” and got the response:  Mihály.

Now looking for Anna and Mihály Szabados, I found a possible match!  I still wasn’t sure it was them, and I did store the passenger list in my Shoe Box for a time.  I would soon find I already had a piece of information in my possession that would confirm this match, and lead me not just to the port of call they had departed, but back to where their journey had begun.