6 names, 4 countries, 2 empires, and they never left their home village - welcome
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to the wonderful world of austro-hungarian geography!
besztercze is the hungarian name of a town in transylvania. (there are places with
that name in slovakia and slovenia as well.) it was definitely part of the
austro-hungarian monarchy, but in 1902, many of the immigrants seemed to feel that
"austria" sounded better than "hungary". (even though it was only ever indirectly
austrian.) and there were some historical "saxons" (ethnic germans) in the area,
who called it sieben bergen ("seven hills"), which also happens to be the name of
a region in saxony. (in this case, besztercze was one of those seven "hills".)
again, the same place, but perhaps a fancier sounding name.
as of december, 1917, the united states was at war with the austro-hungarian empire
, so it's interesting that your ancestor registered for the draft that way, as
there could have been some negative connotations to being born "on the other side".
and just to make things more interesting, standard hungarian spelling changed around
the same time, dropping the "cz" in favour of just "c" . this didn't affect the
pronunciation, but you might find one spelling or the other in databases.
....... tom klein, toronto
ps. KLEIN is something like the second or third most common hungarian jewish surname,
with seemingly one or two in every single town or village with a jewish population. and
there are 65 researchers listed in the jewishgen family finder under bistrita.
I have long hit a snag in researching my great great grandfather and great great grandmother >from Besztercze/Budapest Austria Hungary, and I'm hoping someone can lend some guidance.
Although I have records >from the U.S., over the years, I have tried searches on JewishGen and come up empty as far as tracing my lineage backwards. There are a small handful of BIRKENFELDS on JewishGen, but none with whom I can make a family connection.
My great great grandfather was Moses (Morris) BIRKENFELD, son of Herman and Bella (nee AMEN), born 1861 in Besztercze Austria. In 1888, Moses married Rivka (Rebecca) KLEIN, daughter of Harry and Pearl, born 1866 in Besztercze. Moses came to the U.S. in 1902 and settled in the Pittsburgh area (Uniontown & Brownsville, Pennsylvania). Rivka joined him in 1903 with their ten children.
Moses/Morris' headstone, written in Hebrew, cites him as "the honorable Moshe son of the honorable reb Tzvi Birkenfeld."
Two pieces of evidence have clues. On the 1948 death certificate of one of their sons, Max Joseph, (1893-1948), reported by the youngest son Ben, the mother's maiden name is listed as FIERSTEIN. This is the first I've heard of this surname and wonder if it could have been his grandmother's maiden name. I suppose it's possible that Rivka's marriage at the age of 22 could have been her second marriage, but this has never been hinted at. This is why I'm baffled as to the introduction of the surname FIERSTEIN, since family lore has her maiden name as KLEIN. Further, one of her daughters married a KLEIN in the U.S.
The second eye-opening piece of evidence is on Max's WWI draft certificate, on which he lists his birth town as SIEBEN BERGEN Austria (Austro
Hungary). I've looked up this town name and it seems to link to somewhere in Transylvania. However I have no other mention or documentation of this town prior or since.
Can someone please suggest where I might go >from here? And if anyone knows of the BIRKENFELD clan >from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, please contact me privately. Many thanks for any guidance you can provide.