In our journeys through life, two paths can come together. They will sometimes intersect, crossing one another for a brief time. When a marriage occurs, that intersection becomes a merger, as the history of one life melds into another.
My husband Bill and I had our paths intersect at first in the late 90’s, and before the end of the millennium, our paths had merged. Over our years together, he has shared with me some of his family stories, and, with parts of my own family history becoming blocked off for the time being, I took the opportunity to now turn my attention to Bill’s family history.
On my side of the family, I still didn’t know when my ancestors had arrived in the United States or even from where they came. On Bill’s father’s side of the family though, while he didn’t know the when, he most certainly knew the where. His grandparents had immigrated from Hungary and eventually settled near Columbus, Ohio. Family lore stated that they came more specifically from Transylvania. He would joke about being from the area where Vlad the Impaler (also known by his patronymic Dracula) ruled. Mainly, he would reference Dracula, the character in Bram Stoker’s novel. My “Hungarian Bloodsucker” as I would teasingly call my husband, also had another potential tie-in with vampires on his mother’s side of the family. His maternal grandfather’s name was Schreck (a shortened form of Schreckengost, and Bill often wondered if Max Schreck, the actor who had played Count Orlock in F. W. Murnau’s silent classic Nosferatu, could possibly be related.
So, for now, putting thoughts of ancestors that could possibly turn into bats or go off in search of a blood feast, I started looking for records that could lead me back to the time when Bill’s grandparents came to the US. It didn’t take me long to find them in the 1930 US Census (names of the children have been blurred for privacy).
Grandpa Mike (as Bill calls him) is doing pretty good for himself. He owns a home, valued at $2,100.00 and he has four children already. He is a laborer and works at a boltworks.
When I looked at the rest of the fields for this census data, I found that all of the children were born in the US, and that Grandpa Mike and Grandma Mary had not become US citizens yet. Both could speak English though. We do know that Hungarian was spoken in the home; Bill said that he can remember his grandmother speaking Hungarian most of the time to his grandfather, especially when she got angry at something.
Bill’s Dad, who was the youngest, was pushed by his brothers and sisters to learn English before going to school; they didn’t want him to struggle the way some of them did.
One last thing I noted on this census was the years that each had come to the US. Mike arrived in 1908; Mary didn’t arrive until 1921. This meant that I would not be able to find her in any other US census previous to this one. My search would then need to focus on Mike and his family.
As you can see, Grandpa Mike’s father’s name is also Michael. That made for some interesting conversations when I was trying to explain some of the records to my husband. Grandpa Mike is working at the boltworks on this census too, while his father, Michael Sr., works for a scrap iron and metal company. Bill’s great-grandfather has done well enough since coming to the US to own his home free and clear.
I was really surprised by the gap in Grandpa Mike and his brother’s ages. I wondered if they had tried to have other children in the 14-15 year span between the births of these two boys.
I did note that Bill’s great-grandparents had come to the US about two years apart. Apparently, Mike Sr. came over about 1906, and two years later, wife Anna came over with Mike Jr. So now I was going to be looking for three boats and not two. I would be looking for the boat that brought Michael over to prepare the way for this wife and son, the boat that brought Anna and Michael over to reunite the family, and finally, the boat that would bring Bill’s grandmother to the US where her path would intersect and later merge, with that of his grandfather.