Sunday, July 15, 2007

From the old country to a new world

Ferencz Ujlaki (senior) had grown up in the little village of Alsódomboru (now called Donja Dubrava). As the story goes, his parents, Josip & Teresija (Globlek) Ujlaki were both aged and his father was blind. Supposedly Ferencz had a sister who died from diptheria at the age of six. (I intend to try to confirm these stories with birth and death records from the village courtesy of LDS microfilm.) Because of his father's blindness and age, Ferencz was expected to perform many of the household duties. He only attended school up to first grade because he was needed at home.

Ferencz had left for America before the birth of he and his wife Ilona's first child. Supposedly he did not think he would be able to make himself leave after the birth of their baby, so he left ahead of his family in order to make a start for them in the new country.

I have found what could possibly be Ferencz' Ellis Island ship manifest. If this is him, his name is spelled wrong (Ujhazi) and his town of origin is also incorrect (Veprod). The name Ujhazi is an actual surname and Veprod is an actual town in Serbia/Montenegro, so this could be another person's record. However, both the surname and the village name could easily have been miswritten by a quick-writing customs agent. Because I cannot find another record that comes close to appearing to be his, and because this date makes sense, I assume this is correct. If you learn otherwise, please let me know. (The best way to search the Ellis Island website is using Steve Morse's search engines, if you'd like to give it a try yourself. I would appreciate any additional research assistance!)

Baby Ferencz (later known as Frankie) was born on May 9, 1906 in Legrad. With her husband gone, Ilona and her new baby settled in to live with her mother-in-law, Teresija (Globlek) Ujlaki, in her home in Legrad. I guess it was not a happy arrangement. Ilona eventually left her mother-in-law's home and moved back in with her parents, Stjepan and Magdalena Bence. Supposedly Teresija, Ferencz's mother, was keeping all the money that Ferencz was sending through the mail for Ilona. When I imagine this happening, I think about this old poor widowed woman, whose only child had left for America. I am not sure how many other close relatives she had. She might have felt abandoned.

Once the baby had turned age 2, he and his mother made the long trip to meet his father in America. It is too difficult to read the writing on the Carmania's ship list that indicates the address in New York to which Ilona was heading once she and her son left the ship and Ellis Island. Somewhere in Manhattan, that is sure. The little family settled into their new life in the new country, but all around them were fellow countryman from the old country. They were learning to speak English, I'm sure, but had plenty of opportunity to speak Hungarian and possibly also Croatian and/or their Kajkavian dialect.

Here is the first photo that we have of Ferencz and his first-born son together. He was born a world away while his father was in the new country. Little Ferencz, his father's namesake, looks to be about 3 or 4 years old in the picture, a new immigrant to the United States.


  1. Lisa,

    I think I have found a more convincing record for Ferencz's passage into Ellis Island. This comes from "New York Passenger Lists, 1857-1920" on It is from the S.S. Kroonland that departed from Antwerp, Belgium. It departed Belgium 2 Apr 1906 and arrived in New York on 12 Apr 1906.
    Ferenz Ujlasi, age 26, male, married, labourer, able to read and write, nationality is Hungary (Austria is written first and Hungary is written over it), race is Magyar, last residence is Legrod, final destination is NY, passage paid by self, in possession of $13, never been to the United States, joining friend Stefan Strafar at 5419 4th Street in New York.
    I will email this to you also.


  2. Lisa,

    I finally found that passenger record mentioned earlier on the Ellis Island website. Here is the link just in case you want to view it there as well:\\\\\\IMAGES\\T715-0690\\T715-06900492.TIF%26S%3D.5&pID=103485080152&name=Ferenz+Ujladi%26nbsp%3Bnull&doa=Apr+12%2C+1906&port=Antwerp&line=0002

  3. You know, the more I look at that ship passenger record that I found, it appears that Ferenz is actually being crossed off the list, and it even says "Not on board" in answer to the last four questions or so about anarchy, polygamy, and such. In the database at Ellis Island, he is listed as "Ferenz Ujladi null." I am thinking "null" means he was listed as not being on board. Hmmm...another mystery to ponder.

  4. This is truly a perplexing discovery. That has to be the right Ferencz Ujlaki: it is the right date, he is the right age and nationality, and he was definitely from the little village of Legrad.

    You are correct that it appears that he was "not on board". The whole line recording his information appears to have been crossed out (I'm so glad we can still read it).

    What can this mean? I have never heard any stories passed down in the family about him missing his ship. Could he have changed his plan at the last minute thinking he would go back to his wife and wait for his expected child to be born, then changed his mind again and taken another ship?

    Like other intriguing genealogical discoveries, this one certainly leaves many questions unanswered.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to look for this passenger list. You've left me yet another family history mystery to solve!



For more from Lisa, visit

Related Posts with Thumbnails