{Treasure Chest} Elizabeth Nagy Death Certificate

It is twisted but digitizing the documents I have is so fun.  I have items I to be excited about a second time.  In late 2014 I ordered a round of documents to try to identify where in Hungary my Mother-in-law’s family immigrated from.

One of the documents I received is the Death Certificate for Elizabeth Nagy.  Unfortunately, there was no specific town in Hungary listed but the certificate does include some previously unknown information.  The biggest being Elizabeth’s non-Americanized name (Erzi) is listed on the certificate.  The certificate also lists a cause of death.  And another variation of the maiden name show up too.  I now have three variations: Viro, Varro, and Verro.  My last observation is that my younger daughter shares the same birthday as her great-great-great-grandmother.

Since this Death Certificate, I have used other records including marriage and baptism records from Hungary to identify Teresztyne, Abauj-Torna, Hungary as the birthplace of Erzsébet Varró.


View from above of Teresztyne, Abauj-Torna, Hungary. Image uploaded to Google Maps by David Toth – 2017.

Indiana State Board of Health

Bureau of Vital Statistics

Certificate of Death

Local No. 23
Registered No. 24051
  1. Place of Death: County: Lake, City: Whiting, Street Address: 1535 Steiber Street, Stay in community: 54 years
  2. Usual Residence of Deceased: State: Indiana, County: Lake, City: Whiting, Street No. 1535 Steiber Street
  3. Full Name: Erzi (Elizabeth) Nagy
  4. Sex: Female
  5. Color: White
  6. Single, Married, Widowed: Widowed, Name of husband or wife: John Nagy
  7. Birth Date of deceased: May, 15, 1870
  8. Age: 75 years, 3 months, 2 days
  9. Birthplace: Austria-Hungary
  10. Usual occupation: Housework
  11. Industry: Own Home
  12. Father’s name: Joseph Varro
  13. Father’s birthplace: Austria-Hungary
  14. Mother’s name: Unknown
  15. Mother’s birthplace: Austria-Hungary
  16. Informant: Mrs. Brice Voight – daughter, address: 1535 Steiber St., Whiting, Ind.
  17. Burial on 8/20/45 at ElmwoodCemetery, Hammond, Indiana
  18. Funeral Director: Irene Baran, 1231 119th St., Whiting, Ind.
  19. Filed 8-20, 1945 JA McDarthy
  20. Date of Death: August 17, 1945 at 10:30am
  21. I certify that death occurred on the date above stated; that I attended deceased from Feb 10, 1945 to Aug 17, 1945 and that I last saw her alive on Aug 16, 1945.  Immediate cause of death: carcinoma of liver, duration 2 years, no operation, no autopsy
  22. Violence: no accident, homicide, or suicide
  23. Signature: Michael E Rafatz MD, address: Whiting Ind, date signed: Aug 20/45

The Digital Age of Genealogy Rocks!

If you read this blog regularly, you know that this past summer my family went on a trip that included Budapest.  I was hoping to visit the small town of Jablonca, Slovakia. This town is where my husband’s maternal gateway ancestors came from.  Unfortunately, the town is located three hours to the northeast and we were traveling west.

Finding the town where my husband’s maternal Hungarian ancestors immigrated from has been a difficult ride.  They were not one for leaving a lot of records in the United States that included juicy details.

This week I noticed a blog post about new indexed records on Familysearch that included some from Hungary. After seeing what was posted, I decided to search the catalog for Jablonca, Hungary.  I know that there is a microfilm of the church records for the town and was thinking about ordering it.  You will understand why I am ordering the microfilm now after my latest find.

To my surprise there is now red lettering on the description page for the microfilm that says: “Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books are available online, click here.”

familysearch slovakia


Of course, I immediately clicked through and searched for my husband’s great-grandmother, Mary Nagy.  And I found her!!  Not only did I find her baptism record, I found her father’s and his father’s.  In a matter of an hour, I traced the Nagy family back another 2 generations!  I have been doing the happy dance for days.

Nagy, Mary baptism record
Maria Nagy, born March 7 to Janos Nagy and Ersebeth Varro in Jablonca, Hungary.


I feel so blessed to a genealogist during the digital age.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to libraries and the smell of a courthouse makes me smile.  This discovery might be one that I would not have made anytime soon if it was not available in a digital form.  It also has my mother-in-law interested in her family history.

I can’t wait to see what I find in the Slovakia 1869 Census records!  Time for some record browsing online!  I also cannot wait to tie it all together with a pretty bow when I get to scroll the marriage and death records on the microfilm I have ordered!

Double Whammy! Another Genealogy Jackpot!

As a genealogist you can find small tidbits about family almost anytime of the year.  If you are lucky there will be a huge break through every year or two.  I have hit the big time twice in the last two months.  The genealogy gods have been showering me with kindness this year!  My first great find about finding the signature for my 6th great-grandfather can be found here.

I have been trying to identify a hometown in Hungary for over a year now for my mother-in-laws paternal line.  We are planning a family trip to Hungary this summer so there has been a lot of work done to identify the family and where they came from.  So far my mother-in-law’s paternal grandfather is a concrete wall reinforced with rebar.

I have been working her maternal great-grandparents line as my last hope for finding a place to visit in the homeland.  They are John Nagy and Elizabeth Varro from Hungary.  On Ancestry.com, I found an entry in the Naturalization Indexes for several men named John Nagy.  I was pretty sure I found “my” John since he lived at the same address as my John Nagy did in Whiting, Indiana.

Back in early December 2012 I sent a request to the Indiana State Archives for the naturalization paperwork.  Thankfully, when I sent the request I noted it in my research log.

Fast forward to April 2013.  As I am getting ready to visit my parents in Virginia and do some research at the Daughters of the American Revolution library, I notice on my research log that I still have not received a reply from Indiana regarding John Nagy.  I sent them a follow-up email to check where in the queue I was since our trip to Hungary in August is fast approaching.  I received a reply that they had misplaced my original request and would look at mine quickly.  I then received another email a week later informing me that the only courthouse in Lake County, Indiana they do not have in the Indiana State Archives is the one I need.(Of Course!!)  I was so grateful because the email included information about who I needed to contact to get the records I was looking for.

My next step was to contact the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society with my request for John Nagy’s naturalization paperwork.  Sure enough within 2 weeks a self-addressed envelope was delivered to my mailbox.  Genealogy Jackpot #2!

The Declaration of Intention lists his town of birth and his signature!!

Nagy, John signature

Even better, his Petition of Naturalization is a goldmine of information.  John Nagy was born in Jablonca, Hungary 15 February 1862.  He met a woman named Elizabeth who came from the town of Tenestene, Hungary. They were settled in Jablonca when they had their first child, Mary (my husband’s great-grandmother) in March 1890.  In late July 1890, just four months after Mary’s birth, the family boarded the Red Star Line in Antwerp, Germany.  They arrived in New York City, New York the 8th of August.  The family continued their travels to outside Chicago and settled in Whiting, Indiana.  They had five more children between 1896-1905.

Nagy, John Naturalization Petition

Holy Moly!  We have a town to visit on our trip this summer.  Jablonca now resides on the Slovakia side of the Hungary/Slovakia border.  It is about a three-hour drive outside of Budapest to the northeast.  I am so excited!!  My kids, my husband, and my mother-in-law will all get to visit a town of their direct line in Hungary/Slovakia.

Jablonca satellite view
View of Jablonca, Slovakia from Google Maps

Sunday’s Obituary – Elizabeth Nagy

Elizabeth Nagy is my husband’s great-great-grandmother.  She moved to the United States with her husband John Nagy from Hungary about 1889.  John and Elizabeth raised their family in and around Whiting, Indiana.


Death and Funeral Notices

NAGY – Elizabeth, age 75, of 1235 Steiber St, Whiting, passed away Friday, August 17th at 10:20 a.m. at her house.   Funeral services Monday, August 20th at 2p.m. from Baron Chapel, 1221 119th St, Whiting. Rev George E Francis of the First Methodist church of Whiting officiating.  Burial Elmwood cemetery, Hammond.  Survivors are 2 sons, Andrew of Hammond and John of East Chicago; 2 daughters, Mrs. Louis Radvany and Mrs. Brice Voight, both of Whiting; 13 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild; 1 sister, Mrs. John Kollarick of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana, August 19, 1945, Page 24, column 1

This obituary is stock full of clues for me to follow-up on.  First I want to see if the First Methodist Church is still in existence.  If so, I am going to contact them to see if they have any information about my husband’s family.  I knew of all of the children’s names but the sister is a surprise.  I need to see if I can find John Kollarick to identify the first name of his wife.  I wonder how many other of Elizabeth’s siblings/family made the trip from Hungary to the United States.  If I am unable to identify where in Hungary Elizabeth immigrated from, maybe another one of her family members will have left a clue!

Chips In The Concrete Wall

The phrase “two steps forward, one step back” has been in my thoughts the last couple of days.  Some forward progress was made in my quest to locate where in Hungary Louis Radvany and Mary Nagy were born.  I also hit my head against that concrete wall at the same time. The previous posts I have written about this research are My Wall Is Made Of Concrete and Mystery Monday – Unraveling the Radvany Secrets.

I wish more of my (or my husband’s) ancestors lived in Indiana.  The people and government offices I have contacted in the last several weeks have been amazing.  Great service and lightning speed on delivery of documents.

Two weeks ago our mailman delivered the death certificates for Louis, Mary, and their son, William.  The death certificates for Mary and William confirmed the information that I had already found in their obituaries but also added new information for each of them.  The cause of death for Mary was a heart attack.  The highlight was finding her mother’s maiden name – Elizabeth Viro.

William died in the garage of his home due to carbon monoxide poisoning.  His death was ruled a suicide.  The death certificate disputes the story of William’s younger sister that the ex-boyfriend of William’s girlfriend killed him and then made it look like a suicide.  I want to check to see if there are any coroner’s record to back up the death certificate.  William’s death certificate also indicates that he was a World War II veteran.  I need to add finding his military records to my research plan.

Receiving Louis Radvany’s death certificate in the mail was the biggest find.  I did not know his date of death prior to the death certificate. I only knew that my husband’s grandfather was young when he died.  I guessed the correct five-year range when applying for the death certificate.  Louis died November 16, 1930.   It listed his parents as Stephen Radvany and mother Unknown.  Unfortunately the cause of death section of the certificate is illegible.

There are a couple of family stories regarding his death.  The first is that he was a spy for Hungary and when he decided to quit being a spy, he was killed.  The second story was that he was hit by a bus.  I was skeptical about both stories.  It turns out that the second one comes close to the truth.

After receiving the death certificate, I immediately sent a request to the Lake County Library for an obituary for Louis’ death.  The obituary was actually a front page story, “Pedestrian Fatally Hurt By Autoist.”  Louis was hit by a door handle of a passing car.  The car was driven by a man accompanied by his family.  Louis died before the ambulance reached the hospital.  The man was held by local police pending an investigation.  Again, I need to check to see if there is any access available to the coroner’s records.

The genealogy question I am trying to answer is where were Louis Radvany and Mary Nagy born?  I have made some positive steps forward for Mary by identifying both of her parent’s names.  This is key since she immigrated with them as a baby.  While I have filled in stories about Louis’ life, I am still no where close to finding where he was born.  I still have some action items on my research plan to follow-up on.  I will keep you posted!



Mystery Monday – Unraveling The Radvany Secrets

I am currently on a quest to find out where my mother-in-law’s paternal grandparents were born.  I have written about my search so far in My Wall Is Made Of Concrete.

I was surprised to receive two obituaries and a marriage license in the mail this past week.  My genealogy juju must be on the good side these days to receive such a fast response.

The first item was the marriage license for Louis Radvanyi and Mary Nagy.  The first two pages were the written application by each person and the last page was the actual license.  I found out that Louis’ parents were Steve Radvanyi and Julia Unknown.  They are both listed as being born in Hungary and both are deceased.  I am not too sure how much to trust these names.  I believe they might be “americanized.”  The application does confirm the same date of birth I had for Louis.

The marriage application for Mary lists her parents as John Nagy and Lizzie Unknown.  This is good news.  I created a list of possible families in the 1900 and 1910 census that Mary could belong to.  I can confirm that I have found the correct family for her.  A new piece of information on the application is Mary’s exact date of birth.

The first obituary that I received was for William Radvany.  This is Louis and Mary’s first son.  The obituary states that he committed suicide on 12 August 1958.  I will tell you more of this story in another blogpost.  The best part of the obituary is the names of survivors.  I know have the married names of my mother-in-law’s aunts and their husbands first names.  The obituary also states that William was a WWII veteran.

The other obituary that came in the mail was for Mary (Nagy) Radvanyi.  Again it listed the names of all her children.  I was happy to also find the names of her surviving sister and two brothers.  The cemetery is listed and also the name of her church.

Where to go from here?  It looks like I need to focus on Mary’s family for now.

My list of research items includes:

  • Find John and Elizabeth Nagy in as many census enumerations as possible
  • Get my husband’s cousin to visit Elmwood Cemetery for me.  The Radvanyi’s are not listed on www.Findagrave.com.  I did find a listing for Andrew Nagy (one of the brother’s listed in the obituary).  There is a good possiblity that both sides of the family are located in this cemetery.
  • Find as many census enumerations as possible for my mother-in-law’s aunts.  It would be good to find her cousins to ask what family information they have.
  • Do the same thing for Mary’s siblings – find them in the census and identify any decendants to contact.
  • Check to see if the church Mary belonged to has records about her.
  • Order military records for William.
  • Wait for the death certificates to arrive for Louis and Mary.  I doubt that they will have a specific place they were born but there might be other clues.

I have taken a couple of small pieces out of my concrete wall.  I still have a lot to demolish before it will fall.  I will let you know more when the death certificates arrive.

My Wall Is Made Of Concrete

My mother-in-law has told me that she wants to visit Hungary next year.  This is the land of her paternal line.  The only problem is that we do not know anything beyond her grandfather.  It is time to break down a wall!  I have to admit that I have not put much effort into this wall because it seems to be made of Eastern European concrete at first glance.

Her father, Walter, was born in Indiana in 1924 to Louis and Mary Radvanyi. Walter (Wally) was the 4th child and second son born to Mary and Louis.  His siblings were Julia, William, Violet, Gloria, and Angeline.

Family lore has Louis illegally immigrating to the United States around 1900 through Canada.  It also states that Louis came to the U.S. as a spy for Hungary and died when he quit being a spy in the 1930’s.  This story was told to my mother-in-law by her Aunt Julia (the oldest child).

What we do know is that Wally’s birth certificate confirms the names of his parents.  I have found Louis Radvanyi’s WWI Draft Registration Card.  It places Louis in Whiting, Indiana working for Standard Oil.  His birthdate is listed as December 28, 1883.  His nearest relative is his wife, Mary.  I have also found a marriage index that lists the marriage between Louis Radvanyi and Mary Nagy on November 21, 1914.

I have located the family in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 US Federal Census enumerations.  The 1920 census lists Louis and Mary along with their children, Julia and William.  There are three boarders living with the family.  This census also indicates that Louis came to the US in 1904.

The 1930 census again confirms known information about the family.  The family is listed as Louis, Mary, Julia, William, Violet, Walter, Gloria, and Angeline.  The family last name has lost its “i.”  This census puts Louis’ arrival in 1903 and Mary’s arrival in 1889.  The birthplace is listed as Hungary for Louis and Austria for Mary.

The 1940 census brings sad news.  Mary is now a widow and her son William, now 23, is the sole breadwinner for the family.  My mother-in-law remembers stories her father told of the poverty his family faced during this time period.

I have also found Mary in the 1910 census with her parents, John and Elizabeth Nagy.  Mary is the oldest of six children.  The year of birth (1888) matches known information.  Her parent’s birthplace is listed as Hungary/Maygar.  Mary is the only child in the family to be born in Hungary.  All of her siblings were born in Indiana.  This matches the information regarding arrival in the US found on the 1930 census.

I was unable to locate Louis Radvanyi in the 1910 census.  I am also unable to locate John and Elizabeth Nagy and their family in the 1900 census.

The 1920, 1930, and 1940 census enumerations indicate that both Louis and Mary became naturalized citizens at some point.  I have tried to get copies of their records through NARA.  They were unable to locate any paperwork.

Did I mention that I do not know when Louis Radvanyi died?  The best information I have been given is that Wally was young.  For now, I have a ten year range to work with.

My plan of attack is to start catching up on some vital records. I have sent requests to the State of Indiana for death records for Louis, Mary, and William (the older son).  I have also sent a letter to Lake County to get a copy of the marriage certificate for Louis and Mary.  Lastly, I have sent off to the Hammond Public Library in Lake County for copies of the obituaries of Mary and William.  I also need to follow-up with the State of Indiana to see if they have any naturalization records for Mary and Louis.

I am hoping that this first round of attack helps take large chunks out of my wall.  I will keep you updated how my search progresses.