Hungarian Family History Tutorial

Notes Pertaining to Miscellaneous Documents
Notes on 1828 Census Records

General Information about the 1828 Census: This census was mandated throughout Hungary. The purpose of this census was to provide information about taxable property and conscription information. The entire census is available on 319 rolls of microfilm available in the FHL. The films are organized by county, and within a county with towns and villages in alphabetical order.

This census is of limited value because it doesn't include every household, and even for those households enumerated it names only the principal taxpayer.

It is important to note that most nobles were exempt from taxes, and therefore they and their manorial land was not included in this census. Likewise, most peasants did not hold taxable property and so they also were not included. That does not mean these other peasants went untaxed. They did not. In addition to their feudal obligations to their landlord, they were taxed by the county ... just not on the basis of their land. So, who is included in this census:

  • Burghers: usually city-folks who were merchants, artisans, professionals such as lawyers, etc. who owned their homes and businesses.
  • Non-Noble Landowners: these farmers existed in significant numbers in only a few areas but overall in Hungary they were few in number.
  • Jobággy - the top-echelon of Peasants: whose significant feudal holdings made them subject to taxation. By 1828 the distinction between the jobbágy and non-noble landowners had blurred considerably.
  • Tax-paying Nobles: usually the poorest of nobles who owned very little land, or in some cases none at all, who were subject to taxation as a result of recent changes in the law.
  • Other People: such as the "inquilini" (cotters) and the "subinquilini" (farm laborers) on this census record, who in some cases owned taxable property, but were probably more often included out of military conscription considerations.

Block 3 Categorization of People: The several categories provided have some overlap, but in general they are:
Honoratiores = Professionals, probably including clergy, teachers, lawyers, etc.
Civis = Citizens -- Polgár. Though non-noble landowners were sometimes classified as polgár, here I believe they mean only citizens (ie. voters) in Royal Free Cities (ie. burghers). Note: in the counties (ie. everywhere except the few Royal Free Cities) only nobles were permitted to vote.
Coloni = Farmers. I believe this category included the non-noble landowners mentioned above, the szabados (literally freemen, peasants who bought themselves out of their feudal obligations), and the more numerous top-echelon of peasants (jobággy). These farmers had a house, kitchen garden, and sufficient land to support a large family. The key difference between these groups was that the jobággy didn't actually own their land. Rather they held feudal tenure on the land and therefore had feudal obligations to the landlord including service. It is important to note that in 18th and early 19th century Hungary, the top-echelon of peasants were often better-off than the lower nobility.
Inquilini = Cotters -- in Hungarian "Zsellér." These were the lesser peasants. They typically had a house and a kitchen garden. But, their farmland was too small to support a family, so they probably also worked as "share-croppers" on manorial land.
Subinquilini. This lowest category of peasant usually did not have their own house, but had a hearth for their family in the house of another peasant. Essentially they were farm laborers on manorial land.

The Other Categories were all employees, of the sort that might be found on very large estates or in county seats. Some of these employees may have been inpecunious tax-paying nobles. The categories are: Servi and Ancillae are manservants and maidservants respectively; Opifex is an artisan; Mercator is a merchant; and a Quaestor is a treasurer (one who "keeps the books") or magistrate.

Notes on 1869 Census Records.

Information on these Records: The 1869 census provides a 4-page snapshot of each household on 31 Dec 1869. The census forms I have seen (only Zemplen county) were printed in Magyar and Ruthene (which is a western Ukrainian language written in the Cyrillic alphabet). I assume the others are similar in format, and I believe some are in Magyar and Slovak, others in Magyar and German. The real problem with using this census is that it's only available for limited areas, primarily in the north of Hungary. But, since many Hungarian-Americans came from that part of the country, I have included it here.

This census is sometimes called the Zemplen County Census since it is quite complete for that geographically very large county. Note that the Zemplen county of historic Hungary is now divided into three parts; the northeastern part is in the Ukraine, the rest of the north and the central part make up much of eastern Slovakia, and the southern end of the historic county is in present-day northeastern Hungary. There are also a very large number of films for Nyitra county, but several areas of that populous county are not included. For each county, the towns and villages are either arranged alphabetically or grouped by district on the microfilms. Here are the list of counties and towns for which this census is available from the FHL, check Place Search in the catalog for details:

  • Abauj-Torna County -- 14 films.
  • Bars County -- 29 films.
  • Esztergom County -- 5 films.
  • Komárom County -- 53 films.
  • Nyitra County -- 157 films.
  • Sáros County -- 64 films.
  • Szepes County -- 57 films.
  • Zemplen County -- 171 films.
  • Györ, Györ m. -- 7 films by district.
  • Hajduszoboszló, Hajdu m. -- 1 film.
  • Nyiregyháza, Szabolcs m. -- 1 film.
  • Szentes, Csongrád m. -- 16 films by house number.

Inventory of Livestock: Horses () are grouped into stallions (csödör), mares (kancza), geldings (herélt), and foals (csikó) under three years. The three categories under each of the first three groups are heavy (nehéz) and light (könnyü) species (fajta) and the total (összesen) for the group. This farm had only two light geldings. The next two columns are for mules (öszvér) and donkeys (szamár).

The second large grouping is for horned cattle (szarvasmaha) which are separated into Hungarian (magyar) and Swiss (svájczi) and buffalo (bivaly). The first two of these categories are divided into bulls (bika), cows (tehen), oxen (ökör), and calves (borju) under three years. Not being a 19th century Hungarian farm-boy, I'm not sure of the difference between Hungarian and Swiss cattle -- but, I suspect Hungarian cattle are what we call long-horns (which were more common in the large ranches on the plains of southern Hungary) and Swiss are what we typically see in this country as short-horned dairy cows. Anyway, this farm had only two Swiss cows and two calves. Apparently they borrowed a bull from time-to-time.

The next two columns are for sheep (juh). They are categorized as either "select" (nemesitett) or "common" (közönséges). This farm had six common sheep. The last three columns are for goats (kecske), pigs (sertés) of which they had eight, and finally beehives (méhkas). Note that fowls (chickens, ducks, and geese -- of which I'm sure there were many) were not included in this inventory.

Housing Facilities: Following the identification of the town, and the form headings, is a place for the street address (utcza -- note old spelling of utca) or the house number (házszám). A street address would only be used in larger towns, small villages used house numbers ... in this case, house #4. Then comes information about the house.

Does the house have? (A lakás van?): a cellar (pinczében); a ground floor (földszint); a loft (félemeleten); how many upper stories (hányadik emeleten); an attic (padlácson). Note that this is a one-story house without cellar or attic.

The house is made up of how many? (A lakási képezi hány?): sleeping room (szoba); pantry (kamra); living room (elöszoba); and kitchen (konyha). Note that this is only a two-room house consisting for a living room and bedroom.

Next is a statement that the house is used only for living (lakásra) -- ie. not for business. Then there is a question concerning additional facilities and buildings used for a business (in this case farming).

Business-related facilities: shop or store (bolt); pantry (kamra); cellar (pinczér); implement shed (félszer szin); storehouse (raktár); stall (iztállö); sheepfold (akol); barn (csür). We see this farm has a barn, four stalls, and an implement shed. Given the small farms I've seen recently in eastern Slovakia, in all probability the women did the cooking in the shed, which explains the lack of a kitchen in the house.

Census of Residents: We've established that this is a rather small house ... now we find that nine people live in it. The leftmost two columns (0 and 1) simply represent the house number, and numbered lines for each individual recorded.

Column 2 lists the names of the people. The instructions are simply a long-winded way of saying count everyone who lives at the house. Column 3 specifies the sex of each person (ferfi = male and = female); and column 4 specifies the birth year of each person. So, we see that there are two families of four, plus a 10-year-old male servant living in the house. Remember, I have no other information about these people other than what we find here. But, it appears the Gombita family consists of an older couple and their two youngest daughters. The Rakar family is a younger couple, also with two daughters. Mrs. Rakar may be the daughter of the Gombita's (the age is right) but we can't be certain. The boy Stefan Dunaj is from a nearby village and apparently was hired out to help on this farm by his parents. He may or may not be related.

Unfortunately, there's one problem with this nice picture ... the age of Mrs. Gombita. If she really was born in 1807, she's too old to be the mother of the two Gombita girls listed here. If, instead, she was born in 1817, the hypotheses above all make sense. While women often fib about their age, that rarely is intended to make them older. Perhaps it was just a recording error by the census taker. Obviously, other information is needed (and is probably available in church records) to correctly understand the relationship between all these people.

Column 5 gives the religion of each individual. This is a Roman Catholic household (note: the little squiggle is in effect a ditto mark). The instructions give the following choices of religion: Roman, Greek or Armenian Catholic; Greek or Armenian Orthodox; Evangelical of the Helvetic Confession (ie. Reformed) or of the Augsburg Confession (ie. Lutheran); Unitarian; other Christian denominations; Jewish; other non-Christian denominations. Column 6 is the marital status of each individual [nös = with wife; ferjes = with husband; hajadon = maiden; nötlen = bachelor are seen here; özvégy = widow/er might also be found.] Column 7 lists the office(s) held -- none by these people.

On the second page of this two-page form, column 8 identifies the type of work performed. Mr. Gombita is a telkes, a smallholder (ie. peasant farmer). Mr. Rakar is a telkes seged helper to the smallholder. Their wives are both listed as háztars, a housekeeper. The four girls are seged -- ie. help out on the farm/house. The Dunaj boy is listed as an éves szolga, a year's servant (presumably that's the duration of his being hired out to the Gombita's). If any of the children were in school, they would probably be listed as students (tanár) -- so the implication is that none of them are in school. Column 9 is birthplace -- note that only Mrs. Gombita and the four girls were born in Cernina, possibly implying that they were living on her parents' farm. Column 10 is citizenship -- all are helybeli (local) rather than idegen (foreign). Columns 11 and 12 relate to whether the persons were at home or away at the time of the census, with special instructions for those who had been away for more than a month. These did not apply to this household.

Column 13 relates to literacy -- on the left able to read, on the right able to read and write. Here the two parts were not used consistently, and legibility of the entries is a problem. My guess is that the two men and the younger woman could read and write (ir) and the older woman and girls were illiterate, indicated by a nem -- no. I have no idea what the census taker tried to write for the servant-boy. Even so, I can't be sure of any of this since the ir (if that's really what it is) looks remarkably like the ditto marks. Column 14 was reserved for notes (jegyzet), which were not used here.

Notes on 1867 Army Muster Roll.

Military Service in the Dual Monarchy: Each year the number of recruits for the army was set by acts of the Austrian and Hungarian Parliaments, the total number of recruits required being apportioned between the two components of the Dual Monarchy. Two years of service was mandatory for all able-bodied men, three years for service in the calvary. This was followed by 7 or 8 years in an active reserve unit, and two years in an inactive reserve status. Men of military age not drafted into the regular army held the same mandatory service periods, but spent these in various reserve units. Even if you weren't drafted at the normal age, you could be called at any time for a variety of reasons.

There were always some volunteers. Some men saw the army as adventure, others as a way to get away from oppression and/or poverty. Many noblemen joined as officers. But, forcible and unlawful conscription continued to be used even during the Dual Monarchy, particularly in times of emergency or when required by local conditions. An official of the county government might arrive in a town or village during a crisis and ask for the number of recruits required. More often than not, men were taken from their farms and their homes with little hope of returning anytime soon. Men were considered suitable for military service until age 42. The only way to avoid the military completely was to emigrate before you were called. Once inducted, you could not leave until all your military obligations -- including reserve obligations -- were complete, by which time most men would be well into their 30s.

Notes on 1937 Death Notice

Death Notices -- Purpose and General Information: A death notice is a document that was (and throughout much of Europe, still is) mailed to relatives and acquaintances upon the death of a loved one. While details of funeral arrangements are usually included, in reality the purpose of these documents is to give notice of the death of an individual to those who are unlikely to be in attendance at the funeral, and also to commemorate the life.

A poor peasant is not going to run out to a printshop and spend his last "dime" to have a death notice printed on the day of his mother's death. Obviously, this type of document is only likely to be used in more affluent families. But, if your family used death notices, that single page can convey a significant amount of important family history data. This is not the type of document that an immigrant would bring to America with them. But, rather, death notices were often received by mail for years or decades after an immigrant arrived here. When received, they were probably stored with other family mementos like old photographs.

They are normally black-bordered, and are often folded for mailing. In the pre-World War I period, Hungary had special low postage rates for mailing death notices. With regard to these two examples, I found one in Hungary recently, the other was mailed to my grandfather in New York at the time of his uncle's death in 1937. While every death notice is different, by convention they tend to have some common features. Therefore, this topic focuses on those common features.

These two death notices, together, I believe have considerable illustrative value. Both men were elderly widowers at their deaths, and both are related to me, but, they were unrelated to each other and their deaths were separated in time by almost forty years. Both were prominent lawyers -- though one only at a local level, the other nationally. One was Roman Catholic, one Lutheran. One had a large family, the other practically no family at all. I think that, between their death notices, you can get a good idea of what to look for in other death notices that you may find. [Please note: my ability to translate Hungarian is very limited. Therefore, these "translations" are more in the form of a paraphrase, that hopefully conveys the gist of documents.]

Identification of the Author of the Notice: 1899 translation, "Vilma and József Osztróvszky, with great sadness, announce that their beloved father ..." and 1937 translation, "Dr. Dezsö Berecz and his wife Blanka Conrad of Sonnenstein, on behalf of themselves and in the name of the entire family body, with deepest sadness announce the call from the Lord to life in death of ..." OK, what have we learned so far? 1) It is pretty obvious that both these men were widowers, since both notices are from children only. 2) The Berecz family is more religiously-oriented than the Osztróvszky family -- I haven't told you yet which is Lutheran and which is Roman Catholic, but it doesn't matter. A family's focus on piety (or lack thereof) is often apparent in these initial phrases as well as elsewhere in the death announcement.

Those are the key points, but a couple of little things also become evident right here. Vilma Osztróvszky (the daughter) is an "old maid" and Blanka Conrad (the daughter-in-law) is a "big-shot." With regard to my great-aunt Vilma, there's no mention of a husband anywhere and her father died in his 80's. Also, many Hungarian's tended to broadcast their aristocratic affiliations, a death notice is a good place to do it. So, mention of Blanka's title (sonnensteini) will remind everyone of the family's connections -- by marriage, anyway. You probably haven't heard of her father, but people in Sopron in the 1930s certainly did. FYI, Blanka's father was Field Marshal Ferenc Conrad, Count of Sonnenstein and Hötzendorf, who served as Chief of Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I.

The Accomplishments of the Deceased: 1899 translation, "József Ostróvszky -- retired presiding judge of the Kuria; Knight of the Order of the Iron Crown, Second Class; 1848 Revolutionary Commissioner of the City of Szeged, its representative to the National Parliament, and its one-time mayor." 1937 translation, "Ábel Berecz -- lawyer; member of the National Parliament; counsellor to the Trans-danubian District of the Lutheran Chruch; presecuting attorney for the Royal Free City of Sopron; member of the municipal council and of the Sopron Bar Association."

For what it's worth, note that it took two lines to describe the career of a man who was the equivalent of our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and four lines to describe the career of a man who was a distinguished local attorney. It seems the Berecz' had a greater need to tell everyone of their prominence, while the Osztróvszky's had no such need ... for they were well-known throughout the establishment. Reading a death announcement can give one clues to how status-conscious a family was and how they felt about themselves.

Details of the Death and Funeral: 1899 translation: "... on April 22 of this year at 2:30, at the age of 82, he died. On the 24th of this month at 4 in the afternoon, the body of the late-lamented will be accompanied from his home at 44 Damjanich Street to the Kerepesi Street cemetery. A Holy Mass of Reconciliation with the Almighty will take place on the 25th at 10AM at the Erzsébetváros parish church." 1937 translation, "... a memorably good father, brother, father-in-law and relative, who lived 87 years, and after long suffering was returned to the Creator on the 2nd of this month at 9AM. The body of the dearly departed will be laid to rest on Sunday, April 4 at 4PM at the funeral colonnade of the Lutheran cemetery."

The Mourners and Other Information: 1899: the list of mourners (gyászolják) can provide a snapshot of the living family members at that time (but, see Special Note below). First listed is his daughter-in-law (menye) "Mrs. József Osztróvszky born Irma Kankovszky" then his grandchildren (unokái) beginning with "Mária Heszlényi a married woman [now called] Mrs. Károly Wéhly ..." Remember, the living children were listed in the introduction above, and note the difference in the handling of a woman who married into the family and a woman who was born into the family. [Note: szül. is the abbreviation for születtet "born" and ferj. is the abbreviation for féjezett a woman who "married" -- literally "went to a husband"] Following them are his six Wéhly great-grandchildren (dédunokái) living at that time, and then his orphaned niece and nephew, named Haday, for whom Osztróvszky had been the legal guardian (gyámgyermekes) since their childhood. And, it claims as mourners "... finally numerous relatives, friends and acquaintances" which is the typical ending for a list of mourners. The date and place are stated and the epitaph "Peace and blessing be upon the departed."

1937: there is no list of mourners, probably due to the small family (the only son had no children). The date and place are stated and the epitaph is a line from a poem concerning our duty to the dead (which I'm unable to translate adequately), and finally the rather curt statement, "No visitors will be received."

Special Note: Who's Missing?

There are living relatives who are omitted from each of these death notices. We can only guess the reason why. From the 1899 notice, there's one possible and one definite missing person. A woman in Budapest, who died in 1920, claimed to be the daughter of József Osztróvszky. She's mentioned nowhere else in family records, and her claim may have been false. But, my grandfather is not mentioned as a grandchild of Osztróvszky. He had been orphaned as a young boy, and was raised by his aunt Vilma (one of the senders of this death notice). At the time of his grandfather's death, he was still living in Hungary and serving in the Army. After coming to the U.S. (many years later) he told his children that he was estranged from his family in Europe because of a dispute with his sister. Could this be why he's not listed? Perhaps someday we'll figure it out. Regarding the 1937 death notice, Ábel still had one living sister at the time of his death. While she is not mentioned by name, her existence is implied by the statement that he was a good brother. Probably we'll never know the reason for her not being named.

But, the thing to keep in mind is that you can be quite positive that people listed were alive at the time of the notice. And, if you have evidence that others were living and unlisted, you may have an interesting research topic concerning family relations at that time.

Notes on Church Histories

A Legibility Issue with this Record. You will note that as you move toward the bottom of this page, it is progressively more out of focus. You will find this problem with a small percentage of films ... or sometimes just a few pages of a film. It doesn't usually concern individual records which are typically only a few lines long, and so you simply adjust the focus of the microfilm reader when you scan down the page or before you copy a part of a page. The difficulty here was that I wanted to copy the entire page for this tutorial and could not get it all in focus. But, this problem was not an issue of legibility of content, since I also copied the top and bottom of the page separately ... each well-focused ... for my own personal work.

Why is Vadosfa so important to Hungarian Lutherans? Vadosfa was identified by the Habsburg king in the 1600s as one of the few articulated places -- towns which were guaranteed the right to have a Protestant church for all time. During the Protestant repression of the mid-1700s, these were the only places in northwest Hungary where Lutheran churches remained open. Therefore, the Vadosfa congregation served the religious needs of over 30 towns and villages in the Rábaköz area of eastern Sopron county.

Vadosfa also had another distinction. In 1751 a religious riot took place there, and since at least one Roman Catholic was killed, the establishment could not stand idle and let it pass. The Vadosfa pastor, Gregory Fabri ... who was also the Lutheran Superintendent (ie. Bishop) of Trans-Danubia ... was thrown into prison (along with many of his parishoners, including one of my ancestors). The congregation largely ceased to function for about two years, until he was formally dismissed and a replacement found. As a result of all this, Vadosfa stands out as a symbol of militant Protestantism standing firmly in the face of religious oppression.

Who wrote the record and when. If some historical information is in the normal context of the register, it can usually be assumed that it was written at the same time as the rites being recorded, and that it was written by the clergyman responsible for the register. But, if the historical note is found at the beginning or end of a register (or of a major section of a register), it may have been added at a later (sometimes much later) date. Sometimes the historical note itself will give you a clue as to when it was written.

This note is on a page that was originally blank, at the beginning of the register. That it was written much later is immediately evident from the fact that early information is very sketchy and later information is much more detailed. It was probably written and added to the register by the congregation's pastor in the early 1800s, when he realized what an important historical record these Vadosfa records were.

List of Pastors: The first part of this separate historical note from a Vadosfa register is a list of pastors. For the first four pastors (Várju, Áts, Jugovits, and Büki), only their names are given. These pre-date any extant registers for Vadosfa and they are not mentioned elsewhere in the Vadosfa registers. The next three (Vásonyi, Fabri, and Kutsera) are named, and other information is provided. In actuality, all the information about these three men found here -- and much more -- can be found in the body of the registers as written by the men themselves. Finally there is a much more detailed account of the history of the church during of Bersenyi pastorate which began in 1786. Lajos Bersenyi is the likely author of these historical notes, and it was probably written shortly after 1808 (the latest date mentioned in the text of the note).

Other Congregational Information: Early information about the construction of the church is found in other notes, not this one. But this note has detailed information about the addition of a tower, and other congregational projects during the tenure of Pastor Besenyi. It also discusses the relationship to the congregation in Beled. Note: Beled is a much larger town than Vadosfa, and is almost entirely Lutheran. But, its church was closed in 1716 and not reopened until the 1780s. Even after that time (actually until 1827) the Lutheran records for Beled (and other towns as well) continued to be recorded in Vadosfa.

Other Congregational History: The Vadosfa church registers contain many forms of historical records. I will mention several here (as well as a few not found in Vadosfa) so you know what to look for in other registers.
  • Separate Historical Notes such as the one seen in this example.
  • Beginning of Pastorate Notes. Each of the Vadosfa pastors wrote these and they are often a full-page (though not very dense). In Vadosfa, they tended to tell more about the previous pastor and his accomplishments than about the earlier life of the new pastor.
  • Construction Notes. Pastor Vásonyi wrote a separate note about the completion of the congregation's second church building in 1734, and the dedication service.
  • Pastoral Actions. Pastor Fabri documented his "ecclesiastical examination" of 1748 under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Györ. This was an attempt to find fault with Fabri so he could be dismissed or the church in Vadosfa closed.
  • Notes about Missing Data. Missing data is often evidenced by no rites being recorded for a longer than normal period. But, in the Vadosfa records we find specific notes written by Pastor Kutsera concerning the period of almost two years between the riot of 1751 and Pastor Fabri's formal expulsion. In one case Kutsera wrote: I found a scrap of paper with the following baptisms written on it ... and he recorded a few baptisms that were done by Fabri and not formally recorded by him.
The following types of data are sometimes found ... particularly in Protestant registers, but do not show up in the Vadosfa registers.
  • Notes about Teachers or Assistant Pastors coming to a congregation.
  • Notes about Special Meetings. I have seen minutes and expenses for both congregational meetings, and for convocations of pastors and or teachers from a church district.
  • Records of Contributions to the Congregation by Members. These are most often found in Reformed congregations which tended to make member's contributions public knowledge. Note that these only recorded cash contributions, not contributions "in kind" (ie. chickens, etc). Therefore, do not expect to find a complete list of congregational members and their giving.

Lists of Congregational Staff

Identifying Clergy and Teachers: information of this type is sometimes important, sometimes not. Since my family includes many pastors and teachers, to me it is often more important than to other family researchers. This is because you can sometimes reconstruct a man's career from such histories ... and if he's your ancestor (or other relative, in the case of celebate Roman Catholic clergy) this information can be of great importance. There are several ways this information may be gleaned from registers:

ID from Rites Performed. The easiest (and often the only) way to identify clergy and teachers is by the identification associated with a rite (baptism, marriage, or burial) that was performed. Many registers identify the person performing each rite ... often with "ditto" marks (or the equivalent) when many rites are performed by the same person. These can sometimes be used to define the duration of service of an individual to a congregation. Other information may sometimes be garnered. For instance:

  • Many Roman Catholic families who had a priest in the family, called upon him to baptize their children -- even if that priest was not normally assigned to the given church. So if the priest's name sounds familiar, try to find a family connection.
  • In Protestant congregations, burials were normally a duty of the schoolteacher. This fact has two obvious ramifications: 1) you can sometimes trace the career of teachers from burial records; and 2) if the Pastor does the burial personally, this may indicate that the deceased is one of the wealthier or more influential members of the congregation.
  • Where rites performed in several villages were recorded in a single register, the identification of the officiant can identify the place the rite was administered.

ID from Year-End Notes. Sometimes the clergyman wrote a short note at the end/beginning of each year -- often simply thanking the Lord for another good year. But, such notes identify the clergyman responsible for the congregation at that date.

ID from Beginning of Pastorate Notes. Sometimes a clergyman wrote a note in the register when he came "on-board." These are useful to identify the beginning of a pastorate, but may also give useful information about the individual ... place of birth, education, location of previous assignment, etc. On occasion, a new pastor will extol the virtues of his predecessor.

ID from Separate Historical Notes that include lists of Pastors and/or Teachers. These lists -- as shown here -- are more commonly found in Protestant, than in Roman Catholic, registers. Such lists are often added to a register long after the dates of service of many of the individuals in the list, and therefore may be prone to error.

Lists of pastors are likely to include dates of service. Lists of teachers are much rarer than lists of pastors. For Protestant churches closed during the 18th century repression, it is very unusual that a list would include the pastors who served prior to the closing of the church -- as is the case below.

Context of this Teacher List:
  • The first set of entries were probably made by János Nagy in 1772, when he wrote that he succeeded Lörintz Varga in that year. He also wrote most of the previous entries, probably based on the memory of living parishoners at that time. Note that he left a half a page blank, probably hoping that later research would lead to the names of the teachers who preceded those he listed.
  • The names of two earlier teachers -- Csik and Körösi -- were almost certainly added later, without further information. They are definitely in another hand. I am uncertain whether the third name on the list -- Czegledi -- was written by Nagy or someone else.
  • Following Nagy' departure to Csapag in 1775, there are a series of marginally legible entries that may have been written by several different people.
  • On Page 321, beginning with the entry of 1815 -- Székszai -- the entries more or less run-together. I suspect that my ancestor József Szundi recorded the information from 1815 until his death in 1854.
  • The last several entries seem to each be written by a different person, with the last entry being simply the year "1909" which presumably was the date of the death (or perhaps retirement) of Lajos Molnár who began teaching in Fokszabadi in 1886.
  • Obviously, entries that appear to have been written contemporaneously with the events have more credibility than those that were added well after the events. Therefore the pre-1768 events and 1815-1834 events have a higher probability of containing erroneous data than the others.

Entries for my ancestor József Szundi:
  • In the middle of page 321 an entry reads - “Ez Polgárdira válrosván 1836b Szondi Josef jött helyébe Kiskesziröl” with a second entry immediately following in different handwriting - “Szundi Jósef meghalván 1854det év Január 5en.” Translation: "This native of Polgárdi, Josef Szondi, came here in 1836 from Kiskeszi." and "Josef Szundi died in the year 1854 on January 5." Note: in that period, the family name was spelled either Szondi or Szundi, depending upon the writer.
  • The first part of this entry (and the previous entry) were almost certainly written by József Szundi himself. So, I am fortunate enough to have a sample of my great-great-great-grandfather's handwriting.
  • In his own hand we are told where he was born, and where he had taught previously. Unlike farmers, who tended to stay put for generations, professionals such as teachers and clergy, and business people such as the millers in this same branch of my family, often moved from place to place. Their whereabouts are often very hard to trace, and peripheral clues such as this teacher list can be a great help.
  • The next teacher (presumably) gave the date of the death of my ancestor. This piece of information was not as critical, since I would have easily found the death record in that same Fokszabadi church register.
  • I will use this opportunity to again encourage you to look over the entirety of microfilms of church registers, keeping an eye out for notes and other lists that were either inserted among register entries or on blank pages. As with this 2-page teacher list, such notes can provide very valuable information for your family history research ... if you get lucky.

Notes on Confirmation Records

No Notes on Confirmation Records: .

Notes on Conversion Documents

Why Protestants Converted to Catholicism. The ruling Habsburg dynasty were devout Catholics, and did all in their power press their faith on their subjects. The fact that they were not completely successful in this effort in their Hungarian lands, indicates that some aspects of traditional Hungarian law held sway despite the Habsburg push toward absolutism. Needless to say, life was easier in Hungary for Catholics. Therefore, some conversions were matters of expediency, taking place for social, business, or political reasons. But most were the result of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and the subsequent need for a quick wedding. The priests took advantage of such opportunities to require the non-Catholic party to profess their "new found faith" in the Roman Catholic Church before he would bless the marriage.

Protestant to Catholic Conversions. The Roman Catholic Church and the two major Protestant faiths (Reformed and Lutheran) recognized a common Christian sacrament of Baptism that was typically performed on new-born infants. Therefore, rebaptism of the convert was not necessary, and was in fact considered sinful. As you will see elsewhere, Protestant pastors were nominally supervised by the Catholic Bishop. This strange relationship was primarily to ensure that Protestant baptisms were fully compliant with traditional Christian baptismal doctrine.

Register of Conversions. This page shows 10 conversions over a 14 year period, so it bears out the premise that conversions were infrequent. Most of the conversions were of unmarried young adults, no surprise there. There happen to be equal numbers of men and women. But, one 12 year-old child and one married woman are listed also. Most of the conversions were of Lutherans, though at least one Reformed conversion is shown. I expect this simply reflects the population mix of the area. The nearby town of Csernye was populated largely by ethnic Slovaks whose religion was Lutheran. One man is identified as a nobleman. Presumably the rest of the persons converting were "commoners".

Roman Catholic to Lutheran Conversion Register. The column headings in this single entry register of conversions are:
  • Sequence Number: 1
  • Birthdate of the Converted: 19 April 1853
  • Year and Day of Conversion: 11 April 1873
  • Name of the Converted: John Kovács
  • Names of the Parents of the Converted: Michael Kovács and Susanna Horvát living in Nemes-Szalók
  • Residence of the Converted: Nemeskér
  • The Previous Confession of the Converted: Roman Catholic
  • Notes: Identifies the Roman Catholic parish with which the convert was associated, etc.

Baptism of a Jewish Convert. In this register, the baptismal entries consist of five columns. The baptism of the convert from Judaism is the third entry down on the page.

1) Date: same as above ("Eodem") -- 16 May 1779.
2) Baptismal Name: John Nepomucene -- with the note "convert from Judaism." (FYI: Saint John Nepomucene was a 14th century Bohemian martyr.)
3) Parents: For this entry, the parents' names are not applicable. The convert's family name ("Appellatus") is written as Übermäss. His given Jewish name -- Joseph -- is crossed out.
4) God-parents: The sponsors are Joseph Koller and his wife Josepha. He was a nobleman and county official. Perhaps he was a friend of the convert, perhaps his participation reflects the wealth and/or prominence of the convert.
5) Priest's Name: Note that the pastor of the parish ("Parochus") performed this baptism, not one of the assistants ("Kaplány") as was typically the case in a large parish such as this. Again this may speak to the unusual circumstances, or to the prominence of the convert.