Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Gombash Centennial

As of November 8th, our Gombash family will have been in America for 100 years. On that day 100 years ago, our ancestor Eszter (nee Tóth) Gombás arrived at Ellis Island with her three children: Sándor (Alex), Balázs (Robert) and Zsuzsánna (Susan). Alex was listed as 11 years old, Robert as 9 years old and Susan as 5 years old.

The manifest states that they arrived at Ellis Island abroad the S.S. Ultonia. They had emigrated through the port of Fiume, on October 16th. It also stated they were going to their husband and father, Sándor (Alex) Gombás, at Keisters, PA.

Coincidentally enough, Emma Hido, the first wife of Alex Gombash Jr., is listed on the same manifest as the Gombash's. Her Hungarian name was Irma Hajdú and her and her family were from the same village as the Gombash's... Büdszentmihály. Her father was András Hajdú and her mother was Zsófia Pethe, a relative of the Gombash's. The grandmother of Alex Gombash Sr. was also a Pethe.

As I stated earlier, the family was going to their husband and father, Sándor (Alex) Gombás, in Keisters, PA. Alex Sr. had immigrated to America via Ellis Island on July 9th, 1902. He immediately settled in Butler, PA with his brother-in-law Dániel Szuhay. Dániel Szuhay was married to Zsuzsánna Tóth, Eszter's sister.

A year after Alex immigrated, Eszter went to her husband in Butler, PA on 05 Mar 1903. She stayed there for a period of at least three years, during which time she had two children born here in America. They were Susan, on 19 Feb 1904 and Gyula (Julius), on 02 Feb 1906. Eszter returned to Hungary with her daughter, Susan, sometime between 1906 and 1909. I'm not sure exactly when Gyula died, but I can only assume he died as an infant in Butler, PA, before Eszter returned to Hungary.

Alex and Eszter also had a son named József, in Hungary on October 31st, 1900. As told to me from family, when Eszter and her 3 children immigrated, József was left behind with his grandmother, Zsuzsánna (nee Gulyás) Gombás. She had been widowed 23 years previously, and Alex was her only living child. So naturally, they didn't want to simply abandon her. The family was hoping to save up enough money to bring them both over to America. As the years went on, the family continued to keep in contact with József through letters. He was told about his father Alex passing in 1931, and then his mother in 1950. I can only assume that Zsuzsánna passed away before Alex did, or she would've been 81 years old.

WWII then hit and the Hungarian borders closed. I was told that József married and had a family. I can only imagine how hard it would have been to try to escape Hungary at the time, especially with a family. József never made it to America. I would love to track down József's family one day and make contact. Imagine traveling to Europe and reuniting with them after 100 years of seperation!