It was no different in the Ujlaki family with firstborn son Ferencz (later called Frankie). His parents first learned of his coming when they were thinking of immigrating to the United States from their native Hungary (they lived in an area that is now part of Croatia). Concerned that he would have difficulty pulling himself away once the baby was born, 27-year-old father Ferencz (later called Frank) sailed on ahead to establish himself in America and waited for news of the baby's birth.
Young Ferencz came into the world on May 9, 1906, a month after his father's departure. He and his 22-year-old mother Ilona spent some time living with her mother-in-law Teresija Globlek, but according to family legend, left because Teresija had the habit of keeping the money sent by her son for his young family. While Ilona waited for baby Ferencz to grow, they stayed the rest of the time at the home of her parents, Stjepan and Magdalena Bence, in Legrad.
|Baby Ferencz with his mother Ilona, 1906|
1909 arrived. Little Ferencz was now 2 1/2 years old and it was time to make the voyage to America. They sailed on the S.S. Carmania from Fiume on February 13, 1909 and arrived in New York seventeen days later on March 2, 1909. The trip must have been a true trial, and their suffering did not end once they stepped on land.
|According to this passenger list for the S.S. Carmania|
which departed Hungary for New York on Feb. 13, 1909,
Ilona Ujlaki had only $10 to her name. Her husband had only $5.70
when he had set out for America three years before.
After embarking at Ellis Island, Ilona's young son was diagnosed with measles, separated from her and quarantined at the Ellis Island hospital. Several days later, the reunion of the little family - father, mother and toddler son - must have been a moment a joy and relief.
|Young Ferencz with his father: new immigrants to America|
The Ujlaki family settled within Manhattan's Lower East Side along with many other immigrant families. In 1910, they lived at 415 Fifth Street and welcomed a new baby girl into the family.
|The wedding of Peter and Maria Gres.|
Ilona and Ferencz Ujlaki are seated with
their young namesakes at their sides.
|The Ujlaki family in 1915|
|Frankie Ujlaki on the day of his confirmation into the Catholic Church|
|Two class photos from Immaculate Conception Catholic School. |
Teacher Brother Aloysius is the central figure in each of them.
Frankie Ujlaki is the boy circled in each photo.
Despite his family's difficult start after their emigration from Hungary to America, the Ujlakis had succeeded in providing for their family and giving their children an opportunity to receive a Catholic education.
Frankie's young life was off to a good start, but tragedy would strike in his teen years that would alter the path of his life in a dramatic and devastating way.
I'll tell the rest of Frankie's story in my upcoming article: F is for Frankie Ujlaky and a Forgotten Epidemic.
This article was written as part of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge. Follow me here at 100 Years in America as I try to keep up with the challenge to work through the alphabet while writing my family history. I'm way behind getting started, but here goes!