S: The History of Our Family
FC: The History of Our Family From Hungarian Villages to the USA
1: IN SEARCH OF OUR ANCESTORS I have always wondered about our family. Growing up in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, living in a Hungarian neighborhood, going to a Hungarian elementary school, attending a Roman Catholic Hungarian church, socializing with many Hungarians, and even going to sleep away camp at the Hungarian Nuns convent in Staten Island, NY, I knew I was Hungarian but I also knew I was 100% American. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and their friends all spoke Hungarian, but they never taught the language to the children. We ate Hungarian food, celebrated religious holidays with a Hungarian “flare”, but no one ever told us about our ancestral land of Hungary. We (the grandkids) had no idea of their immigration experience coming to the United States in the early 1900s, where they lived, how they made a living, and most importantly, how they managed to create a life for their family in Trenton, NJ and Miami, FL despite troubling economic times, dynamic social changes, prejudice and discrimination, marriages, divorces, illnesses, deaths and everything else that challenges people everywhere who go about living a life. All we had were bits and pieces that we gathered by overhearing their conversations among family members and with their friends at social gatherings. We did know certain Hungarian “commands” when our grandparents wanted us to do something or take them somewhere since they didn’t drive a car or pick up some type of Hungarian foods that friends and family would share with them from time to time. We knew by their Hungarian phrases when they were upset and exasperated with us and we knew what must be done in order to get back into their good graces. As we grew up, went off to college and work, married, had our own kids, we would get together from time to time and swap stories and memories of our childhoods in Trenton, NJ. We all added our fragments of knowledge to a family story and sometimes found out that we were wrong with our facts or we didn’t fully understand the impact of the event. We would laugh about it or wonder how much more we didn’t know . We learned that if we wanted to know more it was fruitless to ask our family because secrets were honored and we didn’t need to know any more than what they were willing to tell us. Being part of a family certainly gave us a sense of who we were, things we valued, and a sense of belonging which, in spite of living in different cities and states, we still share when we come together for a happy occasion or a sad one. Like it or not, we’re related to each other and we share an interesting ancestral line. Having done some research on ancestry.com and collaborating with Joe Szekeres who shares our same great great grandmother and father way back in the 1800s, we were able to trace our family back as far as the 1800s to their place of birth, Gencs , Szatmar Megye, Hungary or as it is today Ghenci, Satu Mare,Romania. (A word to the wise: don’t ever refer to any of our family as Romanians! They are Hungarians by birth and really don’t care when, where, who or how borders were moved after 1914. Their ancestral home was Hungary—past, present and future.) And so our travels begin Patricia Ann Zelenak Wilkes November, 2011
2: After World War I, the boundaries of Hungary were altered and the villages of some of our ancestors became under the rule of Romania. | Paulus Nagy married Julianna Joo in the village of Gencs, Hungary. The dates of their birth and death are not available yet. The next tier of the family tree shows the emigration of their children to the US, entering through Ellis Island, NY.
4: The first task was to find the family Joo, of whom Julianna appeared as our great great grandmother in our search. We, my husband John and I, traveled by air to Budapest, then via train to Oradea, Romania where we met our guide for three days, Costin Soroceanu. The visit to Gencs was immediately a treasure as we met a family named Joo who invited us to their home. We did not find evidence of the statistics for Julianna Joo, but more detail was requested from Mr. Joo who will be providing this.
5: At the table are Ludovic Joo, b. 1950, his wife (nearest the camera) Maria Meszaros b. 1953, and his mother Irina b. 1928. "Joo" is pronounced "yo." The Joo family name is common in this area.
6: There is one main street in Gencs for cars and horses. The two churches face each other, one Reformed and one Catholic. We went with Mr. Joo to the cemetery to look for gravestones, but found none for Julianna. It is common practice to use the same grave area when there has been deterioration of older graves.
8: These are lists of veterans on the wall in the reformed church.
10: Elizabeth Nagy Gasco, aka Gasco Grandmom | Midwife by Profession
11: Our Grandmom Gasco | Many of you who will read this volume remember this amazing woman, Erzpbset Nagy Gasco. She was born in Hungary, Gencs, in 1864, the only female child of Paulus and Julianna. She and her husband, Denes Daniel and their two children, Pearl and Denes, arrived in Ellis Island, NYC June 24, 1902. Their third child, Ethel, was born that year in the US. The destination was Fairmount, WVA, location of the Hungarian Mining Company. Our Great Grandmom Gasco was a dynamic woman, surely ahead of her time. She traveled to Rome, Italy to study to be a midwife, and according to overheard comments by our grandmother,aunts and mother, she never lost a mother or a baby in all of her deliveries. Great Grandmom Gasco lived on Genessee St., Trenton, NJ directly across from our Catholic elementary school. She watched us as we played in the street during lunch and recess time, noted when we arrived at school and walked home and was the "Crime Watch" of the neighborhood . Nothing got past her and, even though we couldn't always see her, she saw us and, if warranted, reported any misbehavior to our parents.
12: One of the children of Paulus and Julianna, Elek, emigrated to the US in 1903. He went to West Virginia where his sister had already been with her husband Denes Gasco. The Hungarian Mining Company had been the magnet for workers to come to the US from Hungary.
13: Pearl Gasco, b. 1890 in Gencs, emigrated to the US with her mother and father. She married Stephen Tamas in 1907 in New Jersey. Denes Gasco, b. 1900 in Gencs, emigrated to US with his mother and father. He married Amelia Kovacs. Ethel Gasco, b. 1902 in US, married Frank Mitrosky. | Pearl with sister and brother, Dan and Ethel | Pearl and Stephen Wedding
14: Pearl Gasco Tamas | Wedding of Priscilla Tamas (Thomas) and Alexander Zelenak | Standing: Elizabeth Mishani, Ethel Kleindinst, Pearl Thomas, Alexander Zelenak, Priscilla Zelenak, Stephen Thomas, Sr., Stephen Thomas, Jr., Marie Thomas. Front: Mary Jane Mishani, Mary (Tekerman) Kun, Betty Ann Mishani, Adam Mishani
15: The Gasco/Tamas Families | Mary (Tekerman) Kun: Joseph Tekerman Glenn Gregg Tori Elizabeth Mishani: Betty Ann (Semberger) Zima Susan John Jeff Adam Mary Jane Ringkamp Mary Lynn Kirk Thomas Eric Stephen Thomas Stephen Kristen Ethel Kleindinst: Rita Semler Diane James
16: The Gasco/Tamas Families, continued | Ethel Kleindinst, continued: Frederick Two Daughters Stephen Thomas: Dorothea Hamilton David Diane Stephen Priscilla Zelenak: Thomas Kara Kristin Thomas Alexander John Patricia Wilkes Amanda Martha Christine Pedersen Wendy
17: Thanks to all those who helped discover an interesting portion of our family history. This is not complete, and it gives us all a task to fill in the missing information. | Train from Budapest to Oradea, Romania | Our guide in Romania, Costin, and my husband John.
18: N.B. This book of our family history is intended only as a first attempt to discover our roots and fill in facts as we have come to know them. It is not, by any means, a complete work, nor was it ever intended to end here. Please feel free to continue the story, share with your family, add facts, correct any errors, include more photos, and insert your own personal commentary.