Szikossy. Franz Sikossy ... Who was he? And why did he leave a Herzliche Glückswunsch 1879 card for my great-grandmother which she saved for long enough for it to be sitting here, on my desk, today 137 years later?
I didn't really think I'd find out. But I have. How? Well, for some reason, tucked in the pages of Nana Rudi's home-made baby book (re: my father), I found a concert programme. 1894.
Szt Margitsziget? Hungary. What were they doing there in 1894? Well, I guess it was a trainride or a boatride from Vienna. I've done it several times. Nana Rudi would have been seven, her younger sister, Minna about four. And they were there. Because Mutter Marie wrote on the back ...
Well, at least its not in Hungarian. But it's apparently in what my friend Geerd tells me is sütterlin, a state-imposed handwriting style, which is as bad as the old printed German text. So I can't read half of it. But I can read the half that says 'Onkel Szikossy und Tante .. and Sohn Jozsi. Mutter, Vater, Rudi und Minna.' A jolly party for a concert! Onkel, Tante. We all know that 'Uncle' and 'Aunt' can be honorary endearments ... But ...
Onkel Szikossy must be Franz the card leaver. He had a son called Jozsef, just about Rudi's age. I have no doubt of the identification. It's just the Onkel. In Nana's book, there are a few 'Onkels' mentioned, but I think more or less sorted them out and they seem kosher. So this one ..
So I dove a little more into the Szikossy family. Franz was an Inspector on the Royal Hungarian State Railways. His elder brother Aladar seems to have been a legal man, but he diversified in potatoes
and got into trouble before his death in 1917.
Franz and Aladar (and their siblings) kindly turned up on the IGI, so I was sure I was on the right track. It was a little confusing, though, because Franz's wife was given as ... Maria Baumgartner. But Mutter Marie Baumgartner was Madame Stojetz, Rudi's mother! The nice plump lady mountaineer. Anyway, 'Baumgartner' seemed to be the family connection with the Szikossys. Even though father's story of the motherless Marie being fostered by the Tesars didn't seem to fit. It seemed Franz was a real Onkel. So I plunged on.
Well, Franz Sikossy of the Royal Hungarian State Railways is the forefather of a remarkable family. So far, I have come upon Gizella (1906-1987) singer and musician and her daughter Melinda Szabó (1928-1999), a seriously remarkable musician and teacher, Dr Ferenc Szikossy (1937-2011) famous curator of the Magyar Nemzeti Museum and his equally notable anthropologist daughter, Idlikó Szikossy, with whom, last night, I excitedly became face book friends.
It just remains to confirm that Baumgartner link. I know now that Franz's wife was not named Maria Baumgartner, but Irma Baumgartner (someone clearly has as much trouble with transliterating Hungarian as I do) ... and, wait! ... that concert programme! Surely the last words are 'Tante Irma'?
If so, my mother led us up the garden path. John and I are not the last survivors of the Stojetz-Baumgartner Stammbaum ... little Eduard put his step-mother on the tree, but the paper wasn't wide enough for the Onkels and the Tantes ...
The stepmother. Another story. My next bit of exploration.