Am I related to the "famous" John and Mary Hruska that came to the US?

+3 votes
103 views

Hello folks,

My grandmother, Martha Johanna Kurkosky (born Hruska), recently passed away.  Here is the page I created for her: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hruska-199

Martha was born on February 20, 1927 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.  

  • Martha's father was John Joseph Hruska b. 1895 in Czechoslovakia.  He passed away in 1959 in Apache, Arizona.  His death certificate states his mother's name was Apollonia; I'm assuming this is a first name.
  • Martha's mother was Mary Marton (1893 - 1941) who was born in Hungary (Bohemia).  
    • Mary's father's was Paul (Pal) Marton according to her death certificate. No mother's name is listed.

I have poured through census records, immigration records, and church/baptismal records to the best of my abilities however the language barriers are making this search difficult.  Hruska is not a common surname and I've never been able to figure out how, or if, I am connected to the "famous" John and Mary Hruska who came to the US from Domazlice.  There are also *so many* Johns and Marys that I'm having a hard time finding out which line I may be a descendant from or if I'm some rogue Hruska out here :)

This is my first post out to the community so I hope I've included enough information in this post.  If I have not I am more than happy to answer any questions if I'm able.

Thank you all so much for your help, guidance, or tips on breaking through this brick wall on my family tree.

- Kate

WikiTree profile: Martha Kurkosky
asked in Genealogy Help by Kate Daniel G2G Rookie (220 points)

3 Answers

+3 votes
There are 130 Hruska profiles on wikitree.  Maybe some of them will
help you find family connections.
answered by Beulah Cramer G2G6 Pilot (160k points)
+2 votes
First: In 1895 Czechoslovakia doesn't exist, so John Joseph Hruska's birth place should be corrected to Bohemia (german "Böhmen"), which was part of the Austro-hungarian empire at that time.

You should locate Martha's marriage certificate or better the birth certificate of her father to get the correct birth place of him. Yes, it is possible that "Jan Joseph" became "John Joseph" at immigration. But important is the place of his living prior to emigration -- or his birth place (in Bohemia).

Second: Bohemia was never Hungary. Hungary was a neighbor of Bohemia. So, were Mary Marton born in Bohemia or in Hungary? Incidental remark: the surname "Marton" sounds americanized.
answered by Jochen Oberreiter G2G6 (6.6k points)
Márton is a common Hungarian name (both surname and given name; it's Hungarian for Martin).
Thank you so much for your response and feedback, Jochen.  

I am still very new here and wasn't sure what to enter for these particular birthplaces because the borders and names have changed so many times.  My apologies for entering it incorrectly -- I will correct the error shortly.

I found handwritten notes from my grandmother that include some names, dates, and locations, some include what they would have been called in Hungarian and Slovak with some other Polish notes thrown in for good measure.  There's also different information that I believe rules out the John Joseph Hruska noted in my original post as my great-grandfather.

According to these notes, John Joseph Hruska was born 17 January 1893 in Gemerska county which would have been in the Kingdom of Hungary/Austria-Hungarian Empire when he was born -- so I believe his birthplace should be changed to Austria-Hungary, correct? It was part of Czechoslovakia for ~ 5 years so my guess is that is the country referenced in my grandma's notes, thus the confusion.  All of the documents I've been able to find after he came to the US show his name as John Joseph, which I'm 99% sure is anglicized.  He died on 8 August 1973 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.  I would love to locate his birth certificate but without knowing the true spelling of his first and middle names I'll have to head back down the rabbit hole to find it.  I suppose it could have been Jan, Janos, or Yanos (my grandmother's notes show a great-great uncle who spelled John as Yanos).

I hope this all makes sense.  It makes more sense to me after taking a bit of a break and coming back to clarify things with this response.

Thank you again for your help!
Hi J Szent-Györgyi,

Thank you so much for your reply.  My grandmother's notes show her mother's name was Mariska Marton.  She also went by Maria. After she came to the United States she went by Mary.  Her name shows up as Mary Martin on the Social Security Death Index.  Everything else I can find that I know is hers, including her grave, says Mary Marton. She was born in Nógrád / Novohradska zupa which also would have been in the Kingdom of Hungary/Austria-Hungary when she was born.  Her father's name appears as Paul Marton on her death certificate but I'm fairly certain it was originally spelled Pál Márton.
In genealogy, names are groups, not individual items. Mary, Maria, Mária, Marika, Mariska etc. are all the same name. Which one gets recorded depends on the language of the record and its purpose. (For example, diminutives like Mariska very seldom show up in "official" contexts like birth registers.)

Yanos for John is probably an attempt at representing the Hungarian pronunciation in English.

Don't get attached to this notion of a person's "one true and proper name" -- it's a myth. If the priest or clerk that year was showing off his Latin, your John Joseph would be recorded as Johannes Josephus; if the clerk was writing in Hungarian, it'd be János József; and if he was writing in Slovak, it'd be Ján Jozef. They're all the same name.

(Paul Marton's "original spelling" should be Márton Pál. :-)

Thank you so much, J Szent-Györgyi.

I've just started learning Hungarian and have been attempting to search records in Hungarian....translating word by word basically.  It's tedious but is helping me learn.   I have tried to search every iteration of the names that I can think of.  I did figure out that, in Hungarian, the family name/surname is said before the given first name as you noted with the example of my great-great-grandfather, Paul Marton.  I do know his name with the accents was spelled as you typed it, Márton Pál/Pál Márton (I sometimes forget how to type the accents on my laptop, much easier on my phone/tablet), but I'm still having a difficult time tracking down records that I know are his.  

I do agree with you about the spelling of "Yanos" -- her notes were written 10-15 years ago so at least 60 years after her mother died; she was the youngest and was not close with her older siblings or father, unfortunately.  Over the years she lamented not being able to remember much of the Hungarian, Slovak/Czech, and Polish that her parents spoke.  Her parents were strict about speaking English at home; Pennsylvania Dutch was also acceptable. I remember her saying she loved Hungarian because it has a rhythm to it; the entire language sounds a bit like a song.  I agree and really hope I can become at least conversational someday :)  


Last night I was searching through Catholic church records and, in addition to her writing things down how they would sound in English, that beautiful, old handwriting can be tough to read.  Many of the J's and Y's look similar.

Thank you for sharing the Latin, Hungarian, and Slovak versions of John Joseph for me, by the way.
  I feel much less stuck now that I have other options to search for.  In many cases throughout my tree my ancestors have a surname that is also a common first name (kind of like my own name) which has gotten me confused more than once already :)  

Thank you again for your kind and helpful response.  

0 votes

For your locations: "Gemerska county" seems to refer to Gemer (Slovakian) or Gömör vármegye (Hungarian), a region in South Slovakia.

Slovakia was part of Hungary until after WWI when it became part of Czechoslovakia. Location would be Gemer, Uhorské kráľovstvo, Rakúske cisárstvo (1804 - 1867) and Rakúsko-Uhorsko (1867 - 1918) in Slovakian and Gömör, Magyar Királyság, Habsburg Birodalom (1804 - 1867) and Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia (1867 - 1918) in Hungarian.

Novohradská župa is the region to the West of Gemer, northern half in Slovakia, Southern in Hungary. Novohradská župa, Uhorské kráľovstvo, Rakúske cisárstvo (1804 - 1867) and Rakúsko-Uhorsko (1867 - 1918) in Slovakian and Nógrád vármegye, Magyar Királyság, Habsburg Birodalom (1804 - 1867) and Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia (1867 - 1918) in Hungarian.

answered by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (445k points)
Hi Helmut,

Thank you so much for this information.  I was just on the phone with my partner over lunch telling him how I wish I had a map with everything noted in Hungarian and Slovak, etc.  Somehow you read my mind and posted exactly what I was talking about -- amazing!

I recently figured some of this out but the information you've shared above is leading me to believe that both of my maternal great-grandparents were Hungarian, not just my great-grandmother.  

Based on all of the information I have now I'm starting to think I'm not related to the well known John and Mary Hruska.  Maybe I am, but it is likely much more distant than I would have thought.

Here is an older map of Nógrád vármegye:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The population of this area was about 76% Hungarian, 22% Slovak, and 1% German.

Gömör és Kishont had about 58% Hungarians, 38% Slovaks, 2% Germans and 2% Gypsies.

Chances are your hunch is right about your Hungarian background.

I sound like a broken record but I can't thank you enough for sharing this with me.  Ich spreche eine bisschen Deutsch ... Danke schön :)
You are most welcome.

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