Friday, December 11, 2015

The Original Surname of Zsa Zsa Gabor's Family

Very few people, if any, know much about Zsa Zsa Gabor's paternal side of the family. I had previously conducted research on Zsa Zsa's maternal side of the family several years ago (Article 1, and Article 2). The marriage record of Zsa Zsa Gabor's parents yielded the necessary information to continue researching further back on the paternal side of her family. Not many know that her family's surname was not originally Gábor, and that her father changed his surname to assimilate and become more Hungarian. The entire family was Jewish.

The marriage of Farkas Miklós Grün and Janka Tilleman occurred on 13 September 1914 in Budapest, District VII. As determined from previous research, Janka was born 30 September 1896 to Jónás Hers(ch) Tilleman and Chawe Feige Reinharz. Farkas Miklós Grün is listed as a merchant who was born 19 September 1881 to the late Salamon Grün and Rozália Kluger. Notes were later recorded on the marriage record explaining that Farkas Miklós Grün changed his surname to Gábor in 1916 (document number 174292/1916, Belügyminisztérium) and his given name to Vilmos in 1917 (document number 852911917/XI, Polgármesteri Hivatal). While conducting further research into Vilmos' family, I located at least three siblings:

Czeczilia Grün

Czeczilia, much like her nieces and sister-in-law Janka, was married and divorced several times. Her first marriage was to a previously divorced man 15 years her senior named József Weisz. They were wed on 02 August 1908 in Budapest, District IX. He was a merchant born on 06 May 1869 to Jakab Weisz and the late Rozália Diamantstein. Czeczilia was born 22 June 1884 and her father Salamon had already passed away by the time of her marriage. The marriage was dissolved ten years later in 1918.

Czeczilia's second marriage was to a metal-spinner's assistant named Miksa Lichtig, on 01 May 1921 in Budapest, District IX. He was born on 27 November 1886 to Jakab Lichtig and the late Rozália Lefkovics. The marriage was dissolved eleven years later in 1932.

Czeczilia passed away the next year on 06 December 1933. She is listed as the former wife of Miksa Lichtig and a fruit merchant, residing at Közraktár street 10 in Budapest, District IX. She passed away from psychosis in Budapest, District I, at Hieronymi street 1.

Róza Grün

Róza was was married to Ernő Keszler on 26 May 1914 in Budapest, District IX. She is listed as being born on 04 July 1885 and residing in Budapest, District IX, at Csarnók place 3. Ernő was born on 31 July 1886 to Móricz Keszler and Háni Brüger, both having passed away prior to this marriage. He was a waiter and resided in Budapest, District VIII, at Teleky place 9. It appears a family member named Jakab Keszler, who was a witness to the marriage, was also residing at the same address as Ernő. The other witness, Károly Fodor, was Róza's neighbor. Nothing further is known about Róza at this time.

Lajos Grün

Lajos is the youngest sibling I have found, having been born on 07 August 1894 in Budapest. He was married to Erzsébet Izabella Dinner on 07 October 1925 in Budapest, District VII. Lajos was a merchant residing in the same district at Rákóczi street 6. Erzsébet was born on 31 August 1904 in Budapest to Mózes Dinner and Chaja Pinia Rohatyu, and was residing in the same district at Dohány street 22. According to the later recorded notes on his marriage, Lajos changed his surname from Grün to Gábor in 1933 (42296/1933 III, Belügyminisztérium).

The death record of Lajos states that he died at noon on 08 August 1945. He was a jeweler and a resident of Budapest, District V, at Báro Aczél street 3. His death is recorded as occurring in Budapest, District V, at Szent-István boulevard 30 and because of a gunshot to the head. Considering everything that was going on in Europe at the time, it's rather tragic to think that Lajos was killed 7-8 months after the liberation of the Hungarian Jews in Budapest (occurred between January and February of 1945). I'm certainly curious to know more surrounding Lajos' unfortunate death and why he was shot.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #13

The theme of today's tip is: Hungarian Surname Origins & Meanings

The origins and meanings of Hungarian surnames can date back to well before the creation of the Kingdom of Hungary, and can be broken down into several categories.


Patronymic surnames are derived from the given name of male ancestors. They can appear several different ways in Hungary and are easily distinguishable. One variation they appear as is simply a male's given name, such as György, Péter, Mihály, Antal. Any given name could be a surname.

Another variation is slightly different in that it includes the suffix of -fi, -ffi, -fy and -ffy. This suffix, which as you see can has many spelling variations, means 'son' and when combined with a given name creates surnames very recognizable to English speaking countries. Examples of these surnames are Péterfi/Péterfy (Peterson), Jánosfi/Jánosfy (Johnson), Pálfi/Pálfy (Paulson).

A sub-category of patronymic surnames originates from the ancient clans or genus (nemzetség in Hungarian) of the early Kingdom of Hungary prior to the 13th century, with about 180 clans known to history. Some of the more recognizable names are: Aba, Baksa (or Baxa), Balog and Balog-Semjén, Csák, Dorozsma, Győr, Monoszló, Szemere, Tyukod and Zsadány. The -fi/-fy suffixes can apply to any of these names and clans. I must also note that many Hungarian noble families can claim descent from these early clans of Hungary, as well as some European royalty such as Queen Elizabeth II.


As with patronymic surnames and although rare, matronymic surnames are also easily recognized and taken from the given names of female ancestors. Ágota, Berta, Éva, Katalin and Rózsa are some of these surnames.


Many of our Hungarian ancestors took on a surname reflecting the occupation or trade that they performed and were well known for in their community. Kovács, meaning smith or blacksmith, is one of the most common surnames in Hungary. Others include Biró (judge), Dobos (drummer), Juhász (shepherd), Lakatos (locksmith), Mészáros (butcher), Molnár (miller), Papp (priest or clergyman), Szabó (tailor), Takács (weaver) and Varga (cobbler).


These surnames explain where the original ancestors with these surnames came from or lived. A very large majority of surnames ending with the suffix -i or -y are prime examples. The -i and -y suffix, which are equally interchangeable, mean the exact same thing: 'from' or 'of'. We must not jump to conclusions though, as not all Hungarian surnames ending with -i or -y have this meaning: Borbély (barber) and Sovány (thin). Examples of toponymic surnames include Árvai, Csányi, Budai, Forrai, Mérai, Hagymási, Somogyi, Szatmári, Szilágyi, Váradi and Veszprémi (or Beszprémi).


Surnames derived from ethnic and cultural backgrounds are probably the most easily recognizable. Common examples of these surnames that most of us have probably seen during our research are Cseh (Czech), Görög (Greek), Horváth (Croatian), Lengyel (Polish), Németh (German), Olasz (Italian), Orosz (Russian), Rácz (Serbian), Sveda (Swedish), Török (Turk), Tóth (Slovak) and Zsidó (Jewish or Hebrew).


Physical features are known to have been used as surnames and are quite common: Bajusz (moustache), Barna (brown), Erős (brawny, strong), Fekete (black), Fehér or Fejér (white), Fodor (curly hair), Kövér (fat, plump), Nagy (large, big; such as tall height), Szőke (blonde), Tar (bald) and Vörös (red).


Our ancestors were social and had unique personalities just like us today. A small portion of these surnames include: Baráth (friend), Csendes (quiet), Kecses (graceful), Kedves (kind), Nemes (noble, generous) and Ördög (devil or fiend).


Nicknames were as commonplace today as they were centuries ago. Most nicknames were a shortened variation of the original longer surname: Barta Bene (Bénjámin), Deme (Demeter), Fóris (Flórián), Jósa/Józsa (József), Mihók (Mihály), Pete/Pethe (Péter). Another example of these nickname surnames combines the -fi/-fy suffix mentioned above: Benefi/Benefy and Petefi/Petefy.

Objects or Things

In the end there's a good chance that when your surname doesn't fit any of the above categories, it could simply be a Hungarian word for something: Boros (bor=wine; may also reflect an occupation), Csuka (pike), Farkas (wolf), Kárász (Crucian carp), Medve (bear), Sörös (beer; may also reflect an occupation), Szarvas (deer) and Virág (flower).

Monday, November 9, 2015

3,000 Members! And A Sale!

The Hungary Exchange Facebook group has reached 3,000 members! I'm delighted that both the website and Facebook group have grown so much in the past FIVE! years since their creation! It gives me such joy to help my fellow Hungarians learn more about their ancestors and heritage. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make our group as successful as it has been, and continues to be. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful group of fellow Hungarians and genealogists! Köszönöm szépen!

In light of this fantastic milestone, Hungary Exchange is offering a pre-holiday sale of 15% off professional services*. Detailed information about what research you can be assisted with can be found here, at the Hungary Exchange website. Free estimates and references are always available and I can be contacted directly at my email address:

The sale ends Sunday, November 15th, 2015.

*Cannot be used towards Romanian photography or existing projects.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Urbárium Census of 1767

We had previously mentioned the 1767 Urbárium census in our latest Research Tip #12, but we felt it needed much more attention. As previously mentioned, these "records were ordered by Empress Mária Terézia in 1767 to help grasp a better understanding of the peasantry of Hungary. The over 300,000 pages of material contains a wealth of information such as how much livestock a peasant had, who the serf owed his obligations to and the amount of land the serf cultivated. These records only provide the name of the 'head' of the household/land. Most images are available for this collection and the front page [of the website] is available in English. Navigation of the documents are easily organized by county and then town or village name, alphabetically. Archaic or older spelling variations for the town or village name may be used. These records are not indexed by name."

Carl Kotlarchik and Martin Votruba have created and provided column header translations for the 1767 Urbárium census. More information about Martin Votruba and his resources can be found here. We have based these translations entirely off their work, with only a few minor changes and updates.

Kereszt és Vezeték Nevek = first name and surname

Jobbágy Helynek Minémösége = indicates the size of the farm in terms of a whole or fraction of a sessio;  the size of a sessio varied depending on the quality of the land;  a sessio included a house, barn, garden area, cultivation field and meadowland used to produce hay

Jobbágy helynek = peasant’s place (the farm)

  • Belső & Külső = (Internal & External) indicates the location of the land either out in the fields or inside the village
  • Mivolta = the nature of or type of land 
  • Posonyi Mérőre való = Pozsonyi Mero = Bratislava Merica;  this is a unit of grain equal to about 14 dry gallons;  it is used here to measure the land under the house and barns and the garden the size of which is determined by how many Bratislava merica would be need to sow this land if it were not built upon;  
  • Szántó Föld, Hold = ploughland; this a measure of the number of “holds” of land that the peasant had under cultivation;  a hold is equivalent to ~1.066 acres
  • Rét Ember Vágó = meadowland used for growing hay the size of which is indicated by the number of men required to cut this hayfield in one day
  • No. = number

Esztendőbeki Szolgálatok avagy Robot = yearly service requirement; this is the peasant’s days of obligation to work on the squire’s land each year based on the size of the land he farmed

  • Marhás Robot Két Marhával = These are the number of days the peasant had to work on the squire’s estate if he used draft animals;  note that only oxen and horses were used as draft animals
  • Vagy e hel[y]ettkézi Szolgálat = these are the number of days a peasant had to work on the estate if he did not use draft animals
  • Nap = day

Kilenczed = ninth;  the peasant farmer had to give the 1/9th  part of his crops to the nobleman

Adózások = taxes

  • Esztendőbeli Árenda = household tax of 1 florin (gulden) per year
  • Tűzre való Fa = fire wood the peasant had to provide measured in “öly”  
  • Fonyás = yarn measured in “funt” ( ~ 1.2 pounds)    
  • Ki főzött Vaj = butter measured as oil (melted)
  • Icze = 8.5 dl 
  • Kappany = capons; a castrated rooster used for food; castration made the meat more tender
  • Csérke = chickens
  • Tojás = eggs
  • No. = number

Belső ház-hely, és Rétek fogyatkozásának helyrehozása, a' melyből kilenczed nem adattatik = this says that the peasant did not have to give 1/9th of the things he grew in his house garden or in depleted or damaged fields

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #12

The theme of today's tip is: Taxation Records

Although Hungarian taxation records aren't immediately beneficial to the genealogical aspect of research, they do provide an insight into the lives of our ancestors that church records otherwise wouldn't. Many taxation records for Hungary have been digitized and made available online, but you have to know where to look. In this article, we're going to highlight several of these digitized and available taxation records.

Urbéri tabellák, 1767-1773
These taxation records were ordered by Empress Mária Terézia in 1767 to help grasp a better understanding of the peasantry of Hungary. The over 300,000 pages of material contains a wealth of information such as how much livestock a peasant had, who the serf owed his obligations to and the amount of land the serf cultivated. These records only provide the name of the 'head' of the household/land. Most images are available for this collection and the front page is available in English. Navigation of the documents are easily organized by county and then town or village name, alphabetically. Archaic or older spelling variations for the town or village name may be used. These records are not indexed by name.

Urbaria et Conscriptiones
This collection of records is comprised of censuses, taxation records, urbaria and various other documents relating to estates and households. These documents began in 1527 and date all the way into the 19th century. The front page is available in English and navigation of the documents are categorized under REGESTRATA and IRREGESTRATA, and subsequently under file numbers. These records are not indexed by name, but rather by town or village name. Archaic or older spelling variations for the town or village name may be used and the use of wildcards and other search tips are recommended. These are our personal tips for searching and making use of this database to its full extent:

  • The wildcard characters available are * (which is used in place of any number of characters), ! (which is used in place of exactly one character) and ? (which is used in place of zero to one character). You may also use AND, OR and NOT.
  • All of the records have been indexed to include town or village names and whether a list of names from a census or taxation list is provided. Our tip to find those lists that contain names is to search név*. To help narrow down this search down to a county, you would search név* AND Szabolcs. To narrow a search down even further to a town or village, you would search something along the lines of név* AND Miskolc*. I include an asterisk (*) on the end of Miskolc because I know the spelling of the town could appear as both Miskolc and Miskolcz. Searching for név* AND Miskolc will bring back only 33 results, but searching név* AND Miskolc* with the additional asterisk brings back 78 results. There is no guarantee that each result will contain a list of names, so each result must be thoroughly searched to determine so.
  • More information about helpful spelling variations can be found on our previous article, Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #5.
County Archives
These records may be slightly more obscure in locating and obtaining, but they are out there. One specific county archive that I know of which has digitized and made available [some] of it's census and taxation collections, is the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg Megyei Levéltára (Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Archive). These records are not indexed by name. We at Hungary Exchange have created helpful town and village indexes to some of these documents which contain lists of names, and can be found here.

1715 and 1720 National Censuses
Although these were two national censuses, we feel the vagueness of information provided in these documents fits more into place along with taxation records. Both the 1715 and 1720 censuses can be browsed or searched by surname and town or village name: 1715 is found here, and 1720 is found here. Archaic or older spelling variations for names, towns and villages may be used, so take into consideration the above mentioned Research Tip #5 for spelling variation help and guidance.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nagy-Várad, Bihar County - Marriage Records

Over 1,200 marriage records for the Evangelical and Roman Catholic parishes of Nagy-Várad, Bihar county, Hungary (present-day Oradea, Bihor county, Romania), have been added to the Hungarian Marriage Project at Hungary Exchange. Nagy-Várad was the capital of Bihar county and in 1880 had a population of over 30,000 people. At that time, the population in Nagy-Várad was about 87% Hungarian and about 7% Romanian. You can find more about this history of Nagy-Várad/Oradea here.

The Evangelical records date from 1827-1915 and are comprised of 491 marriage records. The Roman Catholic records date from 1889-1910 and are comprised of 748 marriage records.

Work is currently in progress to index the Reformed marriage records from 1853-1908. Contributions and donations to Hungary Exchange will help make even more records available.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #11

The theme of today's tip is: 'Notes' On A Record

The one thing I will always emphasis on, is reviewing the actual parish records. A great deal of information can be uncovered about the family simply by just looking at their baptismal, marriage and death/burial records. One thing that is always a pleasant surprise, is later-written notes indicating a marriage, death and even possibly a name change. The remainder of this article
will be the examination of the various 'notes' that can appear on church and civil records. I hope it makes you pay close attention to the entirety of your family's records.

Alföldi Juliánnának
törvényes férje Nácsa
János él ugyan: de 2. év
óta [olta] nem laknak együtt.
Jegyzette Szalai István, lelkész
This excerpt was taken from the 'comments' (észrevételek) column on a baptismal record from 1854 in the Reformed parish of Szentmihály in Szabolcs megye, Hungary. It states that mother of the child was the same Alfödi Juliánna whose legitimate husband was Nácsa János; but they have not lived together for two years. Recorded by the pastor, Szalai István.

Say, perhaps, that this was the baptismal record for your 2nd-great-grandparent. With these additional notes written in about the mother, you will be able to more accurately find our who Juliánna was. The next step you would take, is looking for a marriage record for Nácsa János to Alföldi Juliánna.

Bende Johannával 19 évig,- másdoik
nejével 15 évig élt,- 1 fiu maradt
This next example comes from a death record for a 69 year old man. It states that he was married to his first wife, Bende Johanna, for 19 years and his second wife (named on the document) for 15 years, and he had 1 son. These notes open up a wealth of information to be found about the family: two marriage records (one to each wife), a death record for wife #1 and a baptismal record for his son. Watch for any notes and all information provided on those documents, as they'll open up the possibility of even more records.

első szülött fiu
m.h. 1854 Janu 2
This example highlights the thoroughness that some parishes had; this 'note' comes from a baptismal record. It states that the child being baptized was the "first born son" and that he died (m.h.=meghalt) on 02 January 1854. This, of course, allows for the possibility of finding several records: firstly, the death record for the deceased child; and secondly, a marriage record for the parents.

Always be thorough in your research and analyze every piece of information on a document. One such item, such as a house number or the mention of a divorce (elvált), could be what makes your brick-wall crumble.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hungarian Family Name Encyclopedia

          An interesting discovery today on the internet! I found this publication written by Mihály Hajdú which contains approximately 1,230 of the most common surnames up to the 19th century. In addition to explaining the frequency of the surname, it also explains the surname's origin, meaning and spelling variations. Surnames of other common languages such as German, Slovak and Romanian is also provided.

You can find the publication HERE.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In celebration of Hungary Exchange's Facebook group reaching 2,000 members, I have decided to have a contest! Magyar Marketing and myself have graciously donated several items for the contest:
  • A laminated map of Hungary, circa 1910, highlighting the borders of Hungary prior to it's separation from the Treaty of Trianon. Each county is highlighted in it's own color and crests (coat of arms) for each county can be found along the borders of the map.
  • A DVD of "Trianon", a film directed by Gábor Koltay.
  • Authentic Hungarian paprika!
Enter The Contest Here!

The winners are:
Julie Kossnar: Map of Hungary
Judy Kilhefner: DVD of Trianon
Debbie Stone: Hungarian Paprika

Contest Rules:
  • One entry per person.
  • You must be a member of the Hungary Exchange Facebook group.
  • Contest ends on Sunday, December 21st, at 11:59pm, central time.
Three winners will be randomly generated and announced on Monday, December 22nd.

Friday, December 5, 2014

944 new marriage records spanning 1788-1833 have been indexed and added to the Hungarian Marriage Project at Hungary Exchange. These marriage records are for the Roman Catholic parish of Jánoshida in Jász-Nagy-Kun-Szolnok county, Hungary.

Thank you to Dániel Gerhát for taking the time to index and contribute these records to Hungary Exchange!

If Hungary Exchange and the Hungarian Marriage Project in particular have helped your research in any way, consider volunteering your time to index and make more marriage records available! I will provide you with everything you need from the indexing templates and marriage records to index. Feel free to contact me if you're interested!