Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ABRAHAM, ISAK and ISRAEL … Found! Our founding fathers

I’m probably going off half-cocked. But never mind. If I post this, some wonderful Hungarian from the province of Fejér might come to my aid with tombstones and documents.

As habitual readers of this blog will already know, in my late 60s, I suddenly launched into the fashionable but fun occupation of family finding. My family. I’d done a thousand others in the course of writing my newest book.

I didn’t really imagine I’d have much luck. But I didn’t know, then, that so much which my father must have known of and about had been carefully hidden from his New Zealand sons. Most specifically the fact that his father’s family was Jewish. And that they weren’t ‘all dead’, far from it.

So, having inherited grandmother’s papers (in Sütterlin!), I had a scout around, blogged the considerable amount that I found about the Viennese great-grandparents, and shrugged my shoulders over the Hungarian Gansl/Gansel/Ganzl strain which came to a dead end in a Viennese grave in 1889. And got back to work on the newest book of nineteenth century singers.

Enter Petra. She, too, is descended from a Gansl (by whichever spelling) from Fejér and has actually been there. My Gansls, so greatgrandfather Adolf’s grave tells us hailed from Mór, she knows that hers came from Lovasberény, another of villages satellite to the local capital of Székesfehérvár, in which city Jews were not permitted to live before 1870. So, since there was a certain amount of intermarriage between the Jewish folk of the Fejér villages … well, we could be related!

We looked desultorily for a bit, a while back. Picked up a few fellows. But didn’t make a major breakthrough. Until yesterday. I’d been slogging away for a few days at the Real Story of Lydia Thompson’s Burlesque Blondes, when Petra came on line. Did I know Family Search had the birth, death and marriages, for Mór, unindexed, on line. No, I didn’t. I was in the middle of busty antique ladies in tights. From whom a wee break seemed indicated. So I followed Petra’s lead, brushed up my Hungarian and my Sütterlin, and started from page one of the registers. Disappointment! Only the marriages start before 1850. But I persisted. And soon the Gansels of Mór started to flow. 

The first important one appeared to be Abraham otherwise Hermann (b Mór, ?1801; d Buda 12 June 1863) who seemed to be a notable local ‘pate’ (godfather) and circumciser (korulmetelö) of other people’s babies. Notably those of three other Gansels. Josef (b 1807), Izak known as Ignáz (b 1813) and Fulop known as Phillip (b 1817). I don’t think that it is an unfair jump to assume that the four men were brothers. And Izak-Ignáz got wed in Mór within the available registers’ time span, so we know that his parents were Isra(e)l Gansel and Judith Móor … We also know that he worked as a tailor. But his brothers each seemed to be nebulously ‘kaufmann’ or ‘handelsmann’.

 All four brothers wed. Hermann married Eva, then Karoline Kuh (d 9 November 1882) .. oh please don’t let my ancestor be Caroline Cow! .. Joseph wed Leni Lip(p)man (b Temesvár 1812; d 17 July 1883), Ignáz wed Hany Bader, and Phillip, Juliana Schönberger. And they all bred. Freely. Jakab otherwise Károly, Israel otherwise ?, Lazar otherwise Lájos, Heinrich otherwise Henrik … all these otherwises! Half the world seems to be equipped with an alternative Hungarian or German or Jewish name. But there is no Adolf. Why? Why? Why?

And then, yestereve, after the first brain-liberating cocktail, a thunderbolt struck. Maybe Adolf was an otherwise too. So who is left? Who is four years old in the 1848 census. There’s only one and its … Abraham. A decidedly frequent otherwise for Adolf. Yay! Gotcha great-grandad!

So brother John otherwise Gallas and I, otherwise Kurt Gänzl, have finally found the last quarter of our missing family.
We are descended from Joseph Gansel of Mór (Joseph! Our grandfather’s name!), son of Israel and Judith of that place, and from Leni née Lip(p)man of Temesvár.

And that ‘all dead’ bit? Well, putting aside the myriad descendants of the putative brothers and sister Erszébet otherwise Lisi (Fr Napthali Lewy, 1808-1888), greatgrandad himself had siblings Regina (Fr Sandor SCHOLZ or SCHLOZ), Israel, Theresia (Fr Simon WALLNER of Imota), Jakob-Karoly (m Betti NOBEL), Mari (Fr Karoly FLEISCHMANN) and Lazar …

A few more days work in there, I feel.

Oh, two other discoveries. I complained about finding no trace of Adolf before his arrival in Vienna? I think he may have visited quite a lot. From 1858, when he was but 14, several Gansls from Mór can be seen making twice yearly commercial trips to the Austrian capital. They always stay at the once grand, now second-level, Weisser Wolf Hotel at 20 Fleischmarkt. Jakob (I suspect this may be an otherwise for Joseph), Ignaz, M(ihaly? oritz?), Heinrich, and finally ‘A Ganzl kaufmann aus Pest’. So that’s where he hived off to?

And the other. Totally unexpected. I recorded that before their three sons Adolf and Juli had given birth to three daughters ‘who did not survive’. I now see that one did. For a while. Great aunt Ida was born in Vienna in 1876. And the Fejer registers record that Ida Gansl, merchant’s daughter, from Vienna died in the Uri utca, Mór 13 January 1893.
We were told of Adolf and Juli’s untimely deaths, and of the three little boys split up between an orphanage in Vienna and the care of Tante Rosenbaum … but never, never was their older sister mentioned. It seems 13 year-old Ida was sent home to Hungary to be cared for. Or was she already there? For her death record reveals that she was 16 years of age, and the cause of death was … dementia.

Well, that’s enough of our family for today. I’ll play with the sisters and the cousins and the aunts another day. For now, it’s … cheerio Abraham! Rock my soul …

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