Well, That Was Unexpected

The information that poured in yesterday from my father’s “distant cousin” has me just… floored. There was a point where I was dumb-founded and I stopped breathing while I read it and looked at the scanned documents and photos. There was a point where I almost cried and then, after doing some of my own non-genealogical research to put things in perspective later, that my chest and everything went tight and I found it difficult to breathe.

I’m not sure what to do with this information, honestly. I probably will have to see if I can go back a few more generations, but that is going to require some international research. However, right now I feel knocked on my ass with confusion. I’m sparing names on here because of my own security and google indexing, but you’ll get the idea.

I already had the part where my biological grandfather was born in Maine and was older than I had been told. Okay. I knew that from the death certificate I had received on… Friday. I have more now.

His father’s first name is the same on the death certificate as it is on the arrival papers into the US in 1901, with his wife (whose name is NOT the same as the one on the death certificate). Both my great-grandfather and great-grandmother were born… in Hungary. That is where I immediately get lost. In Hungary? Hungarian heritage of any sort was NEVER mentioned to me. And did my great-grandmother change her first name at some point after coming to the US. Furthermore, since the spelling I have of the first incarnation of my maiden surname is what it looked like phonetically at Ellis Island, how the hell am I going to figure out what it actually looked like in Hungary to do international search. Ugh! They have a Uric language. It’s not Indo-European. I can’t fake my way through that phonetically like with German. I speak enough German to sound it out.

Given my great-grandmother’s date of death, I doubt she died and my great-grandfather remarried prior to my grandfather being born.

What I am finding utterly fascinating, however, is how the last name on the passenger papers in 1901 changed to what the current batch of children adopted as accepted spelling around the 40s. You can see the transformation, even on photos of my great-grandfather and through other documents. The first change after the passenger report is the Susan B Certificate (what is that?) in 1913. Then again in 1920 on the census. Then in 1928 the town index misspelled it. The 1930 census has it changed again. At least all the children adopted a uniform spelling which… looks pretty much nothing like the original which is why I never questioned the delegation of Russian Heritage. My maiden name sounds Russian. My great-grandfather’s last name (if I pronounce it phonetically) does not. Fascinating but… kind of mind-blowing at the same time.

Furthermore, a little more into these papers reveals a bit more into why my grandfather was older than I thought when he died, and presumably… married my grandmother. She was not his 1st wife. This is news to me, of course. He was married before, over in Maine, and had at least one child by her. The scan cuts off so I can’t view the rest of the page. But that means my dad has half-siblings floating around somewhere. Which means I might have cousins I don’t know about. That might not seem like a big deal to most people. But I’ve lived my whole life only thinking I’ve had two cousins. Only two. I didn’t see a date of death listed for that 1st wife, but… the page cut off. So I can’t be sure.

Why do I feel so damn lied to now? I get that this was my ignorance, mostly, and hardly my fault but I feel like so much of my life has been a lie as to what my heritage might have been and I’m not really sure how to manage that. There’s this whole apparently HUGE branch of the family that was kept secret for who the hell knows why, and now I really want to know why. Why are there so many goddamn secrets in my family? This is really bothering me. My father only ever talked about his mother’s family. Never his father’s. Why? What the hell happened? Considering my grandfather died when my father was twelve… and my grandmother is also dead… I may never know.

My family is so small and I don’t know anything about them because everything is kept quiet, questions are never answered and those that would have answered them… are gone.

That’s a quote from my post-Samhain post. I’m getting answers now and… they are fascinating and amazing and just opening up a world of more questions. Thank the blessed gods I have a friend who has gone through these things and can help me.

So, then I started researching through what was going on in Hungary at the time my great-grandparents would have come through. Well, that’s the Austo-Hungarian Empire time. Getting clarity out of even Wikipedia was a bit much for me on that, honestly, because organizing any of that chronologically is too much like work for whoever put those pages together, I swear. But, regardless, that started a link-clicking things. Because I realized… I don’t know shit about Hungary. I didn’t even really know what their language sounded like. Seeing it written looked more… Scandinavian based on the Finnish spectrum than anything else but, I’d never heard it. Anyway, so I ended up on their Ancient mythology… which almost looks like Slavic, Hun and Norse Mythology had a three-way and that is the product of it. I see bits of all three in there.

But one word caught my eye under their legendary creatures: griff. Which was the only time I found it listed that way, btw. The description said: a mythological bird of prey, considered to have the noble and fierce qualities of a griffin without the special features.

What?

I clicked the link. Of course I did. The actual name of the beast? The Turul. The photo of some classic artwork make my chest seize because, that was a FAR more accurate representation of what I actually saw in that leaf litter on Samhain (see here for more info) than an actual griffin because there was no lion tail and there were talons not paws. And… if it as honestly skeletal as I had surmised originally, why would feathers have still been there? I found zero search results online for anything remotely resembling what I had seen… but I think I had been searching wrong. Completely.

The Turul from Hungarian Mythology. Said to be a divine messenger among other things...

The Turul from Hungarian Mythology. Said to be a divine messenger among other things…

The Turul, from what I have found, is represented by a falcon or a hawk… not an eagle like a griffin. Hawks have been… very prevalent with me this entire summer. We had a mated pair of red-tails that nested in the cemetery across the street but liked to hang out on top of my garage, on the railing of my deck, on the stump by the garden when I worked. Five to ten feet away and just… watch me. It was weird, but… I’m not prey for a hawk, I wasn’t worried. Now…I’m a little unnerved.

Then, take this into consideration, also from Samhain:

Now, given that I am prone to all sorts of hallucinations on their own because of brain issues, I tend to take a lot of stuff with a grain of salt, but I know there was no one behind me and in this rather convenient timing, it felt like there was a bit of pressure on my shoulder and I heard a male voice say to me, “even though you feel alone, abandoned and forgotten. You are never alone.” It was unusual because it was male. The reassuring voice usually sounds like my grandmother to me….

My friend seems to think this might be some sort of… ancestral confirmation to look into where I come from. I want to believe it is all coincidence. I really do. Because it’s freaking me out, just a touch. And maybe if I dig back a few more generations (if I even can, I dunno) I’ll find out more because of border changes and Empires and crap. Depending on where in Hungary this would be Slov or Czech or Transylvania or… parts of Romania… and years make a big difference too. Still. Very different from what I had been lead to believe.

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2 Comments to “Well, That Was Unexpected”

  1. See, I told you so ;-)! You didn’t tell me about the hawks — that is such a clear omen. I know I’ll never know my maternal grandfather’s real last name (no other family came with him); but I do know a lot about my maternal grandmother’s line, though only earlier into the 19th century (her grandmother — early 1800’s). My father’s lines I can trace to the 18th century. Good luck with finding more information!

    • I didn’t mention the hawks, well not here -I talked about it throughout the summer on Facebook because they were always around, because it never occurred to me that it might be some sort of omen. I’m so terrible at keeping an eye out for those things. I have a definite struggle between what is logical, what is my mental illness obsessing and digging for meaning where there isn’t, and so forth. But, there we go.

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