by E. Schwimmer

     These inter-related families lived in Hódmezõvásárhely from the mid 19th to the early part of the 20th century.  The SCHWIMMER branch subsequently moved  to Budapest, and right before the war, to the United States.  Much of the information for this family history comes from a letter dated November 26, 1975, from Lajos Elekes, manager of the Hódmezõvásárhely branch of the Csongrad County Archives to E. Schwimmer's grandfather.  The letter quotes a book by Jozsef Fejervari entitled "Vásárhely törtónete családok tükróben" about the families of

     Moses/Moises SCHWIMMER (1798-1884) was born in O. Kanizsa.  He married
Erzsebet/Betti MÜLLER (1794-1889) of Szabadka (today Subotica, Serbia).  They lived in Szabadka and fled to Hódmezõvásárhely with their two sons, János aka Johann and Ignac aka Nathan around 1848 during an uprising of the Serbs.  They settled on Zrinyi Street on the banks of Lake Hód.  Moses and Betti also had a daughter, Maria, who was already living in Hódmezõvásárhely with her husband Jozsef FELSENBERG. 
     Ignac/Nathan (?-1916), married Emilia LEVI/LÖWY (?-1901) and they had 7 children: Aron (1864-?), A. Leopold (1866-?), Edelina (1870-?), Ignatz (1871-?), Jenö (1873-?), Johanna (1875-?) and Jenni (1879-?).
     János/Johann (1830-1898) married Katarina TAUB (1831, Wiener Neustadt-1895).  They later moved to Ujvaros, where their son Lajos was born in 1863.  Another son, Sandor, was born in 1871.  Sandor married Emma STERN and they had four children--János (named for his grandfather and not to be confused with his first cousin by the same name, below), Ferencz, Kamilla and Dezsoke.  Tragically, Sandor died in 1909 at the age of 39.  The elder János and Katarina also had two daughters: Hermina, who married Geza TAFFLER and Adel, who married Samuel SCHIFF.
     Lajos trained extensively as an apprentice in the Beregi Company, which operated the franchise for lighting in the town.  Later, returning to
Hódmezõvásárhely, his father taught him the trade of goose down merchandising and they went into business together.  Lajos also operated a storage building on János Square.  Lajos married Maria GRÜNWALD of Szentes.  They married in Pest in 1893.  In 1903, he purchased the house and lands at 25 Bercsenyi Street in Hódmezõvásárhely from a Mr. SINGER, also a feather merchant.  Lajos and Katarina had three sons--János, born 1900 and named for his grandfather, Joszef, born 1901 and died 1922, and Ferenc, born 1904, who, like his brother János, shared the same name as his first cousin.  Lajos, a man of few words, was respected by the peasants from whom he purchased feathers for driving a fair bargain and keeping his promises.  Maria, also a quiet person, was devoted to her sons.

Reformatus Gymnasium (parochial academic High School) of Hódmezõvásárhely
Form VIII (equivalent to 12th grade in American terms) graduation picture, 1917-1918
János SCHWIMMER (2nd row from top, 2nd from right) is the grandfather of E. SCHWIMMER

     János SCHWIMMER graduated school in 1918 (see above photo) and finished his education at the Academy in Pest.  He served as a volunteer in the National Army and achieved the rank of Sergeant Major.  He married Margit ROTH of Hódmezõvásárhely, daughter of locally prominent newspaper publisher Antal ROTH and his wife Iren MESSINGER.  János and his brother Ferenc (Feri) joined their father Lajos in the feather/wool business, which continued to grow into one of the largest and most respected businesses in all of Hungary, with clients in Czechoslovakia, the German Empire and the United States.  After the death of their father, János looked after the business side of things, while Feri handled the administrative duties and the buying from the country feather merchants.  Feri became an expert at assessing the quality and weight of feathers.
     Feri had been frail as a youth, suffering from tuberculosis and spending time in various sanitariums.  At the age of 34, when his mother had started to despair of his ever marrying, he met his future wife, Heddy Bleier.  They were married in the Dohány Street synagogue in Budapest in 1938 and honeymooned in Italy.  A daughter was born in 1941, and a second daughter was born in 1943.
     The brothers fared differently during the war.  János and Margit were on vacation when WWII broke out, and subsequently they went to the United States with their two children.  Feri entered the forced labor camp at Fertõrákos in 1944 and died there in 1945.  His wife and daughters survived in hiding.  Heddy remarried, and immigrated to Australia.  More about their story can befound in the book "Heddy and Me" by Susan Varga, published in 1994 by Penguin Books Australia.




 ROTH family portrait, Hódmezõvásárhely, ca. 1927/1928
Left to Right: Anni Roth (daughter), Janos Schwimmer (son-in-law), Kato Schwimmer (daughter of Janos and Margit), Iren Messinger (mother), Antal Roth (father), Margit Schwimmer (nee Roth, daughter, and wife of Janos Schwimmer), Livia Roth (daughter).
Standing in rear: Dr. László Roth (son)
Below: Margit Schwimmer, nee Roth
Left to right:  Iren Messinger, Kato Schwimmer, Margit Roth, Maria Felsenburg


     Today,  the descendants of the SCHWIMMER family include two surviving children of Janos SCHWIMMER and Margit  nee ROTH, two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.



Burial monument
Mr. Antal ROTH and Mrs. Antal ROTH (Iren MESSINGER)
maternal great-grandparents of E. SCHWIMMER

Obituary for Antal ROTH
maternal great-grandfather of E. SCHWIMMER

English translation of Antal ROTH obituary:
     b. 24 Jun 1875 in Nagyvárad (Oradea, Romania)
     d. 08 Sep 1935 in Hódmezõvásárhely
         Printer, owner of a printing plant, newspaper publisher, editor, newswriter.  Probably obtained his knowledge of the trade in his place of  birth.  At any rate, when he came to Vasarhely around 1897, the Share Printing Press and Publish Corporation of
Hódmezõvásárhely employed him as a machinist.  Here, at the town's most advanced printers, he became technical foreman from 1901 and in 1906, when the company was dissolved, he bought the plant, becoming its owner.  He also took over the newspaper entitled "Hódmezõvásárhely", which was first published in 1871 by the company and became its editor and publisher.  The plant, which had operated since the last years of the 19th century with the Worner fast printing press, saw its heyday until the early 1920's.  From then on, even though as the town's oldest established plant (as far back as Philip Wodianer), it enjoyed a certain rank--it became just one of the larger printing establishments of the town.  Roth edited and published 16 different press organs, and we know of 16 different books printed in his plant; among others, as high-ranking publications as the
3-volume town history by Szeremlei and a volume of short stories by Joseph Gonda.  Roth himself wrote, too.  In addition to lead articles, sketches and theatre reviews, he also wrote a volume of essays that he published in 1904, entitled "Messiah" under the name R. Antal Vasarhelyi.  Indicative of his liberal political views, is the fact that his newspaper "
Hódmezõvásárhely" (from 1919 called "Hungarian National Guard") was banned in 1922 by the counter revolutionary government, because its contents "constituted a danger to the inner order and social peace of the country".  From then on, until his death, he worked exclusively as a commercial printer.

MESSINGER family tree:

1) Lipot/Laszlo MESSINGER (1851-1926), Cantor, married Maria FELSENBURG (1852-?)
    2) Iren MESSINGER (1878-?) married Antal ROTH (1875-1935)
        3) Anni ROTH (1901-1945), a photographer in Miskolc.  Unmarried.  She died in a concentration camp.
        3) László ROTH (1903-1949, Buenos Aires, Argentina), a physician of internal medicine at the Sanatorium of Hódmezõvásárhely, married Klara LICHIG (1912-1995).  Somehow, he managed to avoid being confined to a concentration camp during the Holocaust, and after the war he and his family left for Argentina.
            4) son
        3) Margit ROTH (1905-1988) married János SCHWIMMER (1900-1985).  Both Margit and János died in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
            4) daughter
            4) son
        3) Livia ROTH (1910-1962, England), a student in the teacher training institute in Miskolc.  She was married twice, and had no children with her first husband.  Her second husband was John RICHARDSON.  She went into hiding during WWII and immigrated to England after the war.
            4) daughter
    2) Matild MESSINGER (1880-1922) married Armin SCHWARZ (1872-?), a merchant transporting geese (1904).
        3) Erno SCHWARZ (1898-?) married Ella LOVY (1900-?)
            4) daughter
        3) Laszlo SCHWARZ (1900-?) married Ilona HERRMANN (1903-?)
        3) Ibolyka SCHWARZ (1905-?) married Ferenc FLEISZIG (1904-?)
            4) son
            4) son
    2) Mano MESSINGER (1880?-?), an attorney at Godollo, married Julia ENGEL (1888-?).  This family later changed their surname to MEZEI.
        3) daughter
        3) daughter
        3) son
        3) son
        3) son
    2) Roza MESSINGER (1883-?) married Samuel PURJESZ (1878-1917).  He died heroically on the front during WWI.
        3) Klara PURJESZ (1912-?), a music teacher with a degree from the Academy of Music; ran a music school in Hódmezövásárhely.
    2) Ilona MESSINGER (1889-?) married Armin KLEIN (1884-?), who later changed his name to Arpad KALLOS.  He was an artist (painter).  They resided in Budapest until 1923, where his work was shown in visual art exhibitions.  They later moved to America.
        3) Aladar KLEIN/KALLOS (1908-?), married; spouse's name unknown.
        3) Olga KLEIN/KALLOS (1910-?), graduated with distinction from the teacher training division of the university, and a "champion" tennis player.
    2) Sandor MESSINGER (1893-?), surname later changed to MEZEI, married Ilonka KLEIN.  He was an attorney in Szeged.
         3) daughter


Left: Iboly (Ibolyka) Schwarz, daughter of Armin Schwarz and Matild Messinger, the sister of Iren Messinger
Center: Panni (Anni) Roth, daughter of Iren Messinger
Right: Margit Roth, daughter of Iren Messinger
Photo probably dates to the late 1910s

Anyone with information about these families is welcome to contact E. Schwimmer at <>

 © Judy Petersen 2010