Monday, June 27, 2016

Many of our ethnic or national Hungarian ancestors immigrated to America in seek of the freedoms and liberties that our country offered. Hungarians have been finding their way to America for centuries and one of the earliest, if not the earliest, was a Hungarian cavalryman named Mihály Kováts de Fabriczy. He provided faithful military service during the American Revolution, which ultimately took his life, along with Casimir Pulaski and are known for being the founding fathers of the United States Cavalry. Mihály came from a noble family, their name in Hungarian being 'fabriczi Kováts', and rose through the ranks during his military career to gain the title of Captain of the Huszárs. Mihály had offered his military service to the American ambassador in France, Benjamin Franklin, and one particular portion of his letter written on January 13, 1777 to the ambassador proclaimed his desire for independence and his knowledge of war:
"Golden freedom cannot be purchased with yellow gold."
"I, who have the honor to present this letter to your Excellency, am also following the call of the Fathers of the Land, as the pioneers of freedom always did. I am a free man and a Hungarian. As to my military status I was trained in the Royal Prussian Army and raised from the lowest rank to the dignity of a Captain of the Hussars, not so much by luck and the mercy of chance than by most diligent self discipline and the virtue of my arms. The dangers and the bloodshed of a great many campaigns taught me how to mold a soldier, and, when made, how to arm him and let him defend the dearest of the lands with his best ability under any conditions and developments of the war."
Mihály Kováts perished during the American Revolution at the battle of Charleston, South Carolina, and the British had buried his body where he was found. It is claimed that Joseph Johnson, a doctor in Charleston, knew the exact location of where Mihály Kováts' remains lay and that it was at the corner of Margaret John's estate, which later became Huger Street.

Hungary Exchange is offering a holiday weekend sale of 20% 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 Monday, July 4th, 2016, so make sure to get in contact before it expires to take advantage of the sale.

*Cannot be used towards Romanian photography or existing projects.

Friday, June 24, 2016

An often overlooked Hungarian collection on FamilySearch holds a treasure trove of genealogical information. Hungary Funeral Notices, 1840-1990 are printed funeral or death notices, similar to obituaries in other counties, and the originals are currently held at the National Széchényi Library (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, or OSZK) in Budapest, Hungary. Over a quarter of the collection covers Budapest and the remainder for the rest of Hungary, although I have seen notices for individuals in Austria, Germany and what is now Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. The funeral notices were preserved on microfilm by the LDS between 2003-2006 and consists of 582 microfilm and can be reviewed in the microfilm catalog. These were later digitized (accessible through both links above), but 9 microfilm still remain to be digitized. It's unclear why Syatmárz, Syecsez, Syeibert, and Syékely are spelled with SY, when it should be SZ.
Ebeczki-Blaskovich, Ernő-Edelényi Szabó, József 2362003
Füzi, András-Füzi, Szaniszló 2455816, item 1
Gaál, Ádám-Gabler, Anna 2455816, item 2
Kovács, Gabika-Kovács, József 2455817
Kováts, Sándor-Koymári, Imre 2455818
Szász, J. József-Syatmárz, Ede 2455810
Syatmárz, Ede-Syecsez, Ernő 2455811
Syecsez, Ernő-Syeibert, Imre 2455812
Syeibert, Imre-Syékely, Lujza 2455813
Syékely, Lujza-Szél, Juditnak 2455814

  FamilySearch has already provided a great example of what could be found on these funeral notices (above), and detailed explanations of the content can be found on the collection's Wiki page. Apart from the deceased's age, date and place of death and burial, and sometimes how many years they were married, the most beneficial part of the funeral notices are the names of the surviving family members. I have put together a list of terms that are most often found on the funeral notices, which should help with understanding the family relationships being described.

anya mother
anyós mother-in-law
anyósa his/her mother-in-law
apa father
após father-in-law
apósa his/her father-in-law
asszony wife
atya father
dédnagyanya great-grandmother
dédnagyapa great-grandfather
dédunoka great-grandchild
dédunokája great-grandchildren
feleség wife
felesége his wife
férj husband
férje her husband
fia son
gyerek child
gyermeke his/her child
gyermek child
gyermekei his/her children
gyermekeik their children
gyermekek children
gyermekük their child
hitves spouse
hitvese his/her spouse
leánya daughter
meny daughter-in-law
menye his/her daughter-in-law
mostohaanya step-mother
mostohaapa step-father
mostohagyerek step-child
nagyanya grandmother
nagyapa grandfather
nagybácsi uncle
nagynéni aunt
nagyszül grandparent
nagyszülők grandparents
neje his wife
nővér sister
nővére his/her sister
nővérek sisters
özvegy widow, widower
özvegye his/her widow/widower
szül parent
szülei his/her parents
szülok parents
szülött children
született born
sógor brother-in-law
sógora his/her brother-in-law
sógorai his/her brothers-in-law
sógornő sister-in-law
sógornői his/her sisters-in-law
sógornők sisters-in-law
testvér sibling, brother, sister
testvére his/her sibling
testvérei his/her siblings
testvérek siblings
unoka grandchild
unokahúg niece
unokái his/her grandchildren
unokája grandchildren
unokaöccs nephew
unokatestvér cousin
unokaveje his/her grandson-in-law
unokavejei his/her grandsons-in-law
vej son-in-law
veje his/her son-in-law

I've created an example family tree from the information provided in the funeral notice of Borbála Dienes, who is stated as the wife of Lajos Dobay, the Reformed pastor of Nagy-Sármás. Her funeral notice provides the name of her husband, children, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Austria, Vienna Population Cards, 1850-1896

The FamilySearch database entitled Austria, Vienna Population Cards, 1850-1896 documented local residents and travelers living in Vienna for the time period of 1850 through 1896, with the original documents being housed in the Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Vienna City and Provincial Archives). These records have been preserved on microfilm through the LDS and consists of 3,173 microfilm, which can be reviewed here in the microfilm catalog. Although there lacks to be a complete index for this collection, a great deal has already been indexed and provided online. I personally found the search form for this database to be rather limiting, with it not providing an option to search for an individual's place of birth, so I figured out a work-around.

Running a basic search for Hungary in the "Any Place" section on FamilySearch pulls back over 31 million results. We can restrict these results to specific Collections through the filter options on the bottom left of the search tools, which is shown in the red square to the left. Clicking on Collections brings up many categories of records, including 'Birth, Marriage, & Death', 'Census & Lists', 'Migration & Naturalization', 'Military', 'Other', and 'Probate & Court'. Scroll down to the second from last category entitled 'Other' and chose Austria, Vienna Population Cards, 1850-1896, with over 10,000 results. From here you can narrow the search down even further to your specific surnames and localities of interest, but be forewarned that Hungarian localities may likely be spelled in their German equivalent. One such example is Raab, or Rab, which is Győr in Hungarian. Unfortunately, digitized images of the content is not viewable through the index, so ordering of the microfilm is still necessary.

I have retrieved a copy of one of the documents to highlight important information that is contained in these records. This specific example is for an "Elek v. Eördögh", whose surname was likely Eördöghi/Eördöghy in Hungarian, that was residing in Vienna's district XVIII at Währingerstrasse 113 number 2. It states that he was born in Miskolcz Ungarn (Hungary in German), was a citizen of Maglod Ungarn, was born on 03 August 1863, was of the Evangelical faith (Augsburg Confession Evangelical), and that his wife was Etelka in Ungarn.

Other countries apart from Hungary can also be found in these indexes, including Romania (Rumänien) and Slovakia (Slowakel or Tschechoslowakei).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hungarian Immigrants to São Paulo, Brazil's database, Brazil, São Paulo, Immigration Cards, 1902-1980, has been updated today and many Hungarian immigrants can be found arriving in São Paulo throughout this database. Searching 'Hungria' as the place of birth, which is Hungary in Portuguese, will bring back over 1,400 results for São Paulo immigrants who were born in Hungary. The content is entirely in Portuguese, so you will need to ready your dictionaries and Google Translate. The best part? Most have pictures of the individuals! I particularly like José Furst's fun tie in his picture.

There is the chance that you will run into spelling variations because of the language differences, such as with this example of the widowed Etelka Izsó's immigration card that was filed in 1920. Her name appears as Etelko Izso and her parent's names as Antol Izso and Lidia Tokoic. Anyone familiar with Hungarian genealogy would know that Antol is correctly spelled as Antal and that her mother's surname was likely originally spelled as Takács.

What I have garnered from the Hungarian results in this database, is that it appears a good deal of the immigrants had arrived during the 1940's-1970's and many as 'stateless'. It's clear that these immigrants were fleeing Hungary because of the communist and Soviet Union hold over Hungary and the Hungarian People's Republic.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Baptismal Record of Béla Lugosi

Béla Lugosi is well known for his portrayal of Count Dracula in the classic 1931 film Dracula, but many do not know that Lugosi wasn't his original surname. He was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on 20 Oct 1882 and baptized nine days later on 29 Oct 1882, in the Roman Catholic parish of Lugos, in the former county of Krassó-Szörény, Hungary. Lugos is today known as Lugoj in Timiș county, Romania. He was the legitimate son of István Blaskó, a bank director of Nyitra, and his wife Paulina Vojnits, who were residents of Lugos in house number 6. Béla's godparents appear to have been Ferenc Bayer, a municipal deputy judge, and Vilma Küszer. He was baptized by the assistant parish priest, Albin Teppé, and was delivered by the midwife Róza Perisutti.

Information was later recorded in the 'Observationes' column which mentioned his marriage to Ilona Szmik on 25 Jun 1919 in the Roman Catholic parish of Szent-Anna in Budapest. Their civil registration marriage record was entered on the same day in District II of Budapest, which also states that the couple were divorced a year later. The 'Observationes' column of Béla's baptismal record further states that he changed his surname to Lugosi in the same year of his marriage. It's clear from his civil registration marriage record that his surname change occurred prior to his marriage. He took on the surname of Lugosi because of his place of birth, with Lugosi literally meaning 'of Lugos' in Hungarian.

Béla later had to emigrate Hungary because of his involvement in the failed Hungarian Communist Revolution of 1919, due to his actions on 21 Mar 1919 which resulted in criminal lawsuits for his violations of personal freedom, charges against military affairs, and also prosecution for his actions taken against actors' union leaders. He moved around Europe for a year before finally leaving his last permanent residence in Trieste, Italy, arriving in New Orleans on December 4, 1920 aboard the ship Graf Tisza Istvan.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A recent request for guidance in the Hungary Exchange group on Facebook sparked my curiosity about the accuracy of the Hungarian baptismal indexes available at I helped verify the location of her ancestor's place of birth and while reviewing the document I noticed that quite a few of the baptisms on the page had been indexed incorrectly, including the specific entry we were looking for. I decided to copy & paste the index from FamilySearch spanning three pages from the Roman Catholic parish of Fehér-Gyarmat, Szatmár megye and then transcribed a correct version of what actually appears on the original documents. I have made my corrections in RED BOLD text below.

Child: Gyula Gyula
Baptism: 6 January 1880 6 January 1880
Father: János Pálvék János Pálvik
Mother: Zourzainna Kajas Zsuzsánna Vajas
Child: Janós  Janós 
Baptism: 10 January 1880 10 January 1880
Father: Jósef Dominyak József Dominyák
Mother: Julia Becsi Julia Bécsi
Child: Imre  Imre Géjza
Baptism: 14 January 1880 14 January 1880
Father: Sándor Balika Sándor Balika
Mother: Ilona Borbat Ilona Bernát
Child: Erzsébet  Erzsébet 
Baptism: 29 January 1880 29 January 1880
Father: József Fábián József Fábián
Mother: Erzsebet Bede Erzsébet Bede
Child: János  János 
Baptism: 2 February 1880 2 February 1880
Mother: Lidia Kricsa Lidia Kricsa
Child: József  József 
Baptism: 10 February 1880 10 February 1880
Mother: Maria Lajtás Maria Lajtár
Child: Sándor  Sándor 
Baptism: 19 February 1880 19 March 1880
Father: János Izáko János Szabó
Mother: Eszter Pörök Eszter Török
Child: Rozália  Rozália 
Baptism: 21 March 1880 21 March 1880
Father: Gyórgy Ráto György Rátz
Mother: Maria Ruvzka Mária Ruszka
Child: Gizelea  Gizella
Baptism: 17 April 1880 17 April 1880
Mother: Anna Lang Anna Lang
Child: Róza  Róza 
Baptism: 18 April 1880 18 April 1880
Father: Antal Leneveis Antal Lencsés
Mother: Zuzanna Német Zsuzsánna Német
Child: Gyula Gyula
Baptism: 29 April 1880 29 April 1880
Father: János Ormós János Ormós
Mother: Gisza Izabó Zsuzsánna Szabó
Child: Katalin Katalin
Baptism: 13 April 1880 13 May 1880
Mother: Veronka Talpos Veronka Talpos
Child: Erzebét Erzsébet
Baptism: 18 May 1880 18 May 1880
Mother: Zsuzsánna Erdélesi Zsuzsánna Erdélyi
Child: Terez Teréz
Baptism: 20 May 1880 20 May 1880
Father: László Magyar László Magyar
Mother: Katalin Kevitan Katalin Kuritán
Child: István István
Baptism: 30 May 1880 30 May 1880
Father: István Ratz István Rátz
Mother: Zsuszanna Guhást Zsuzsánna Juhász
Child: Lajos Lajos
Baptism: 7 July 1880 7 July 1880
Father: Ferencz Gapek Ferencz Csapek
Mother: Julia Lencvés Julia Lencsés
Child: Maria Magdalena Maria Magdolna
Baptism: 22 July 1880 22 July 1880
Father: Agoston Drusbáezdiz Ágoston Drusbáczky
Mother: Zsuszanna Riskó Zsuzsánna Riskó
Child: Szerra Szerena Ilona
Baptism: 22 July 1880 22 July 1880
Father: Pál Netes Pál Veres
Mother: Borbála Kocsas Borbála Kocsis
Child: István István
Baptism: 6 April 1860 6 April 1860
Father: Káraly Dombrádás Károly Dombrády
Mother: Erzibetah Govaja Erzsébet Gavoja
Child: Andreás András
Baptism: 29 July 1880 29 July 1880
Father: Pál Bures Pál Bures
Mother: Julia Gógyer Julia Tógyer
Child: Johanna Johanna
Baptism: 19 August 1880 19 August 1880
Mother: Julia Lakatso Julia Lakatos
Child: Lajos Lajos Ignácz Dezső
Baptism: 6 January 1871 6 January 1871
Father: Péter Filep Péter Filep
Mother: Laura Kocsa Laura Kocsis
Child: Gyula Gyula Jenő
Baptism: 30 October 1880 30 October 1880
Father: Gyula Bokor Gyula Bokor
Mother: Matild Picsis Matild Csiky
Child: Marton Peter Matyas Márton Péter Mátyás
Baptism: 17 October 1880 17 October 1880
Father: Péter Filet Péter Filep
Mother: Laura Kocsis Laura Kocsis
Child: Ilena Ilona
Baptism: 25 November 1880 25 November 1880
Father: Sándor Poszovics Sándor Popovics
Mother: Zsofia Miski Zsófia Miski
Child: Aranka Jolán Aranka Jolán
Baptism: 19 December 1880 19 December 1880
Father: Géza Kormos Géza Kormos
Mother: Emilia Szunyogi Emilia Szunyogi
Child: Julianna Julianna
Baptism: 27 December 1880 27 December 1880
Father: István Kozma István Kozma
Mother: Borbála Molnár Borbála Molnár
Child: Borbalas Borbála
Baptism: 27 December 1880 27 December 1880
Father: Ansal Kocsis Antal Kocsis
Mother: Maria Kerchet Maria Kerekes
Child: József József
Baptism: 8 January 1881 8 January 1881
Father: József Bányay József Bányay
Mother: Verona Péterssy Verona Péterffy
Child: Bertalan Bertalan
Baptism: 31 January 1881 31 January 1881
Father: József Szás József Sztahura (Szászhegyesy)
Mother: Erzsébet Tar Erzsébet Tar
Child: Sándor Sándor
Baptism: 11 March 1881 11 March 1881
Father: József Duchnooszky József Duchnovszky
Mother: Matild Dul Matild Dul
Child: István István
Baptism: 19 April 1881 19 April 1881
Father: Pál Kerekes Pál Kerekes
Mother: Kasalin Sinkovics Katalin Sinkovics
Child: Gyula Gyula
Baptism: 26 April 1881 26 April 1881
Father: Lajós Besenyödy Lajós Besenyödy
Mother: Karolin Szucs Karolin Szücs
Child: István István
Baptism: 5 May 1881 5 May 1881
Father: Mihály Nyizoniczki Mihály Nyizsviczki
Mother: Borbala Demeter Borbala Demeter
Child: György György
Baptism: 8 May 1881 8 May 1881
Father: György Deák György Deák
Mother: Erzébet Nagy Erzsébet Nagy

91% of the indexed baptisms on these three pages have errors. Only three entries out of the 35 are entirely correct. Granted that this only covers three pages from one single parish, but it gives you an idea of the accuracy of the indexes we are provided with. It became very clear after transcribing these three pages that whoever indexed these for FamilySearch obviously isn't familiar with Hungary or its language. The fact that they misspelled the most common and simple Hungarian given-names, which are spelled correctly on the original document, is evident enough. Zourzainna? Gizelea? Erzibetah? I also have my suspicions that whoever indexed these records is familiar with the German Sütterlin alphabet, confusing many letters for the long S.

Where are these indexes coming from?

Thursday, March 3, 2016's Hungarian Civil Registration Records has added a new database today called Hungary, Civil Registration, 1799-1978. I'd like to discuss some errors and issues I have with this database.

First off, I'm not entirely sure why the content is listed as beginning in 1799, since civil registration didn't begin in Hungary until October 1, 1895. From what I can see there are no images available for browsing and minimal indexes are available. The source information states the following for the database:

Original data: Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1980. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

These indexes came from FamilySearch, where they are easily browsable and searchable (for the sliver of what has been indexed so far). For Free. I began to wonder if the indexes were indeed one and the same from FamilySearch, so I did some searching. I know for a fact that I indexed and arbitrated the civil registration records for the town of Szentmihály in Szabolcs county, where my great-grandfather was born. I not only indexed his birth record, but those of his siblings. I searched only by the parent's surnames (Gombás and Tóth) and they immediately popped up. It's the same content from FamilySearch.

(Click for larger view)

I'm not particularly fond of spending my time indexing for an effort that I believed would always be available for free and then having Ancestry benefit from it monetarily. Had I known that FamilySearch would provide this content to Ancestry and that they would charge for it, I never would have spent my time indexing these records. I understand that FamilySearch can do whatever they wish with their content, but this doesn't sit well with me. I am officially done indexing for FamilySearch and Ancestry.

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.