Adding A Face To A Name – Louis Radvanyi

Last week I was preparing a presentation I was giving at my local genealogy society. I was trying to locate a photo I wanted to include in the presentation. The photo was from 2004 so I was pretty sure it had been printed and placed into a photo album. The big question? Where was the safe place I put the photo album?!

I started tearing my office apart and flipping through all of the photo albums on the bookshelf. One album caught my eye. It is a photo album my husband’s grandmother had created for him. What made me stop and look was a photo of Grandma June and one of hubby’s best friends from college. The caption had me laughing out loud. I called my husband over and we began to flip through the album together. Most people know I am easily distracted by fun things!

Let me pause here to give you history about hubby’s family. Hubby’s great grandfather, Louis Radvanyi immigrated to the United States from Hungary. He lived in Whiting, Indiana where he worked as a painter at Standard Oil. He married Maria Nagy and had six children. Unfortunately, Louis passed away in his forties when he was hit by a car. Louis left very little documentation during his life in the United States.

My mother in law has told me a photo of Louis hung in her home as a young girl. Her memory is her Aunt Angie (One of Louis and Mary’s children) had taken the photo in order to duplicate it for all the siblings. The photo did not make it back to her childhood home. My mother in law did not know where the photo was located. Only that it was the only representation of her grandfather that existed. Over the years, I have reached out to a couple of my mother-in-law’s cousins to try to locate the photo.

Back to my crazed search for a photo. The funny caption from Hubby’s grandmother made me pause to flip through the rest of the photo album. I wanted to see what she had included. There were photos of my husband spanning his entire life. Most photos were a either of Hubby or Hubby and Grandma June.

Then there was the photo of a picture! It is a picture of the painting of Louis Radvanyi!!! We have finally added a face to the name. Apparently at some point before giving the photo to Angie, Grandma June had taken a photo of the picture of Louis.

Grandma June passed away in November 2017. She had moved out of her house about eight years before her death in order to received more care. I believe we came into possession of the photo album about that time as her house was cleaned out. I cannot believe we had a copy of this photo for so long and did not even know it!!

Good news about my presentation! I eventually found the photo I was looking for. The photo album was with my genealogy books and notebooks on the bookshelf. Right where it was supposed to be.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Radvany Family in Whiting, Indiana

My first set of records I have given sweet genealogy love to from my shoebox all pertain to the Radvany family.  They confirm the makeup of the family and where they resided from 1937-1943.  This information has been previously documented through other sources such as the federal census, obituaries and death records.

The family appears in the 1937, 1939, 1941, and 1943 Polk City Directories for Whiting, Indiana.

Polk's City Directory 1937 Whiting, Indiana
Polk’s City Directory 1937 Whiting, Indiana

The 1937 and 1939 directory list both Mary and her oldest son, William.  The 1941 directory lists Mary, William, and the second oldest daughter, Violet.  The oldest daughter Julia was already married and living with her husband.  The last directory in 1943 adds Walter to the family listing.  Walter was my husband’s grandfather.

Polk's City Directory 1943 Whiting, Indiana
Polk’s City Directory 1943 Whiting, Indiana


We also find evidence of the family in the 1940 federal census.  The family is headed by the widowed Mary.  (Louis Radvany died suddenly after being hit by a car in a neighboring town in 1930.  I have written about his passing here.)  The household lists the remaining children at home: William, 23; Violet, 17; Walter, 15; Gloria, 13; Angeline, 11.  William, the oldest son was the only person in the home to receive any income.  Sadly, the family was living through some very tough times.

1940 Federal Census, Whiting, Indiana
1940 Federal Census, Whiting, Indiana


All of the above records place the family at 2416 Schrage Avenue, Whiting, Indiana.  Below is a google map of the area today.  You will notice that the Radvany’s lived within a mile of Lake Michigan and immediately across the street from the Standard Oil plant (today it is a Chevron plant). All of the men in this family worked for Standard Oil.

2416 Schrage Avenue, Whiting, Indiana
2416 Schrage Avenue, Whiting, Indiana


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  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.

Census Sunday – The 1940 Indexes Are Here

Most people know that the 1940 U.S. Census was released on April 2nd.  At the time of its release, there was no index for the census.  You had to search by enumeration district to find your family members.  I was able to find most of the family on my ‘most wanted’ list.  There were a couple of families on my husband’s side that had to wait for an index because they had no known address for 1940.

After the census was released, I helped with transcribing efforts by participating at  This was the crowd-sourcing effort to index the census for free.  There was also a simultaneous effort taking place at  The indexing at was outsourced to several companies located outside of the United States.

This week and both announced that the transcribing has been completed.  FamilySearch has most states up and ready to search.  The remaining states are completed and will finish a quality check before they are posted to the Internet in the next couple of weeks. has all states ready to search on their website.  Both sites offer free access to the 1940 census.

I took a spin yesterday on the index in an effort to find my husband’s Chicago area relatives.  Up first was the Radvany family living in Whiting, Indiana.  I searched using the last name and the location.  They were the first family listed in the search results.  I will post their individual census record on another Sunday.

The second family I wanted to locate includes my husband’s grandmother.  I knew this search would be a little tricky.  Gwendolyn (June) Fuller and her mother, Loretta, moved to Chicago after Loretta divorced June’s father.  Sometime between 1930 and 1940, Loretta was married a second time to Alexander Fraser.  I knew that there could be a lot of last name variables when looking for this family.  I was unable to locate the family by searching for a mix of first names and last names.  I then tried using variations of Fraser but still no luck.  My next plan of attack was to search using the first names for mother/daughter or spouse/spouse.  Bingo!  Using the location and first names only for Loretta and Alex*, I found them transcribed with the last name Troger.  I have already added name variations to this family.  I cannot fault the transcriber for this entry.  The census enumerator did not have very clear handwriting.  In fact, if I had transcribed this page I would have gotten it wrong also.

I will be interested to see how Grandma June is indexed in  Illinois is one of the states that still needs to be posted on that website so I will have to wait a couple of weeks.