The Family of

By Helene Kenvin
Great-granddaughter of Farkas Schwartz

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Rebish Schwartz Gross

My great-grandfather Farkas Schwartz was born around 1821 and given the Hebrew name Zev. Both his Hungarian and Hebrew names mean "wolf" in their respective languages.

Farkas Schwartz was a common name in late 19th-century Miskolc. The city's vital records show men of that name who were married to women named Therez, Julie Grossman, Betti Weisz, Babette Klein, Betti Berger, Julia Valdman, Jeanette Grossman, Hani Grosz, Katti, etc. Unfortunately, there is no clue as to which of these women (if any of them) was married to "my" Farkas Schwartz.

The death certificate of the one confirmed child from the first marriage of Farkas Schwartz says that her mother's name was Dorothy. However, this is contradicted by other evidence. The Mandel Family Book records that Dorothy Mandel (Hebrew name Dena) was named after the sister of her mother Jennie Schwartz Mandel [daughter of Farkas by his second wife; see below]. Jennie had no full-blooded sisters. Although it is possible that Dorothy-Dena was her mother's child with her first husband, it always was assumed that Dorothy-Dena was the daughter of her father Farkas’ first wife; but if his first wife's name was Dorothy, it is unlikely that name would have been given to her child. Nor is it probable that a child of the second marriage would name her daughter after her father's first wife.

The name of the first wife of Farkas Schwartz remains unresolved, as is the question of the number of offspring they had together. Their only confirmed child is a daughter named Rebish (Hungarian name Rebus; Hebrew name Rebekka) Schwartz, who was born in Miskolc in October, 1859. Rebish married Mendel Gross and they had six surviving children, all of whom were born in Miskolc.


Siggy Gross emigrated to New York in 1896. His brother Max joined him a year later. Their father Mendel died in Miskolc prior to 1899, which was the year their mother Rebish and her four youngest children left Hungary for New York. Her nephew Melvin Schwartz [see below] recalled being taken on numerous occasions to visit his "Tanta Rebish" in the Bronx. American-born Melvin spoke no Hungarian, so understood nothing of the animated conversation swirling around him. He remembered Tanta Rebish and his Gross cousins as warm and amiable people, but they left him with the impression that, as he put it, "Hungarian was a language that was shouted rather than spoken." Rebish Schwartz Gross died in the Bronx on September 1, 1929.


Sigmund Gross

Celia Weiss Balajti Schwartz

Whether the first wife of Farkas died or they were divorced has not been determined. However, their marriage ended prior to 1879, the year of the birth of Farkas' first child from his second marriage, to Celia Weiss Balajti. Farkas and Celia lived in a house at 23 Szentpeteri Kapu (23 St. Peter’s Gate) in Miskolc, where their two children were born.

Jennie Schwartz, daughter of Farkas and Celia, was born on January 1, 1879 in Miskolc. She died in New York on November 14, 1940 and is buried in Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn. Jennie married Max Mandel in 1902 in New York. They had six children, all of whom were born in New York:


Jennie Schwartz Mandel

Farkas and Celia’s son Adolf (Hebrew name Avraham) was born on May 7, 1880 in Miskolc. He was a dancing teacher and a steel-worker before becoming a butcher. When he married American-born Pauline Cohen in 1902, she insisted that he change what she termed his "foreign-sounding name" to Edward and he thereafter was known as Eddie. He died in New York on May 21, 1948 and was buried in New Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Glendale (Queens), New York. He and Pauline had three children:


According to the Miskolc death records, "'retired tailor" Farkas Schwartz died in October, 1891 at the age of 70. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery on Avas Hill, but his impoverished widow Celia did not have enough money to buy a stone to mark his grave. She used her limited funds to take Jennie and Adolf to join Fanny and Samuel Balajti --- her children from her first marriage --- who were living in New York. They arrived on the SS Dania from Hamburg in March, 1892.

Adolf (Edward) Schwartz

Credits: Text, photographs, and page design copyrighted © 2008 by Helene Kenvin. Page created by Helene Kenvin. All rights reserved.