My paternal great-grandfather, Bela Warady, was born in Matyfalva, Hungary (currently in Ukraine). I had heard the family story of how Bela’s father, my great-great-grandfather, gave each of his sons a different surname so they could avoid military service. It was said that first-born sons did not have to serve. This, of course, has made tracing the family history all the more difficult!
I had been researching my Warady family tree for a number of years. Very little information and few photographs about Bela Warady and his family had survived. While I had successfully traced the name back to 1903, I could go no further.
I then signed up for JewishGen’s Basic On-Line Genealogy Class. I had three objectives regarding Bela Warady: Find his passenger list, his marriage record, and census records. While I was able to gather some family information during the class, I did not fulfill my goals. But I was not disappointed because I had learned so much from this basic class.
The tools I acquired during this basic class opened up my entire world of genealogical research. One of the things the instructor had me do was to order the original Naturalization papers. These papers did not arrive during the course of the class, but I continued on by signing up for JewishGen’s Independent Study Class. I set similar goals for this class.
Warady Family - c. 1926 Chicago; Back Row - Rose, Edward and
Helen Warady; Front Row - Bela, Charlotte and Howard Warady
On their face, these details are not important, but knowledge of them plays a key role in this JewishGen success story.
The Nauralization papers for Bela Warady arrived. His arrival date and the name of the ship he sailed on were included on these papers, so I was getting closer to fulfilling one of my goals. Given names can change as well as surnames, so I located the passenger manifest on-line and looked through the list for Bela, Bill, William, Benjamin—but I found no Warady or Varadi listings. Disappointing!
In looking more closely at the passenger list, I noticed two Hungarians, both tailors (which fit with family history). One of them had the first name of Bela, and his age was about right, but the surname was Weinberger—a new surname. I had no knowledge of this name.
The researchers helping with the Independent Study Class ran with this information. They found a United States marriage record that made sense—maybe—for a Bela Weinberger and Sarolta Steinfeld. The given names of the parents listed on the marriage record were names used later for children born in my family. We gathered other information, as well.
I still had to find a way, however, to document a connection between the Weinberger and Warady names. At the suggestion of one of the instructors, I accessed JewishGen’s Family Finder database and sent emails to people who had listed the surnames I was researching near the towns mentioned on Bela Warady’s Naturalization papers.
Marriage Certificate - Sarlota Steinfeld and Bela Weinberger
At this point we had lots of information that we thought was correct, but no documentation or oral history to tie it together. The class ended. Was I disappointed? Maybe a little, because I wanted to know if all this work we did was right or wrong. I knew we had done everything we could and that there was a possibility we would never find the answers I was looking for.
Then I received an email in response to one of my inquiries from a woman in New York who was related to Bela’s wife, Charlotte Steinfeld Warady. If she knew of Warady relatives it would lock the new surname for me and all the research we had done in Hungary would be correct. She told me that Charlotte Warady (my great-grandmother) was her aunt. She sent me a photo of Charlotte and it was my great-grandmother! Then she sent me the birth certificate and marriage document for Charlotte’s mother, my great-great-grandmother. This tied all the research together. I could not believe it. VICTORY!
Soon thereafter I received even more confirmation—a second email response to my Family Finder emails. This one concerned Thomas Weinberger, the only sibling that kept the Weinberger name—and he had Warady siblings in Chicago. Another Family Finder Victory!
Through my research I also located a 90-year-old first cousin twice removed, related to me through Bela's half-sister. I visited her in Chicago and she gave me a photograph of Bela’s father—my great-great-grandfather—Shlomo Weinberger Solomon, a wedding photo of Bela’s half-sister that includes Bela and other members of his family, and more.
The other Hungarian on board ship with my great-grandfather was Isador Markbreiter . Oral history and newspaper articles I found indicated that the Markbreiter and Warady families were lifelong friends. This was further confirmation that our research was correct, that Bela Weinberger was my great-grandfather, Bela Warady.
Needless to say I have met and surpassed all the goals I set in my genealogy classes. There are no words to truly express the gratitude I have for JewishGen. Scoring a document is such a high for me, but scoring the history and family connections goes far beyond that. Thank you, JewishGen!
The Woodlands, Texas, USA
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