My husband shares 20 cM across 2 segments with one of his DNA matches. I wanted to figure out their relationship because the surname Ungi from the match’s pedigree chart was familiar to me. I had seen it on family records originating in Gyoma, Hungary where my husband’s paternal grandparents were born.
I was also curious because this 20 cM-match was a shared match with someone else, a 143 cM-match that I found several years ago – without using DNA.
I started with the 20cM-match’s pedigree chart. There was a great-grandmother (Ungi Juliánna) who died 7 March 1950 in Hahót, Hungary and had been born 29 years earlier (about 1921) in Gyoma. Eventually, I was able to make this diagram showing the relationship between my husband’s two matches.
I didn’t make a separate chart, but my husband and his 143 cM match are 2nd cousins once removed.
Here are the supporting documents I used to make the chart. (You will need to be signed into a free FamilySearch account to see these records) Names on the chart are in bold:
23 October 1839 The Reformed Church marriage record states that Szűts György’s son Mihaly, age 37, a widower, weds Juhász Janos’s daughter Ersébet, age 21. He was born about 1802; she was born about 1818 02 Aug 1841 son Szűcs Mihály
About the middle of August, Ancestry.com contacted my husband informing him that he had a new DNA match who was his second or third cousin. I was very excited to look into it. This new match is my husband’s second-best match. The two of them share 204 centimorgans (cM) across 3 DNA segments. There were several shared matches between them, and based on them, I was confident that the DNA they shared was from his mother’s side of the family. The surname on the match was Kovacs (Equivalent to Smith in English), and I was hopeful that there would be a connection to one of the known or probable siblings of my husband’s grandfather, Frank Kovach.
Samuel or Sandor. I was hoping to see John, Stephen, or Julia. I was feeling a little disappointed that I wasn’t seeing the connection I had hoped for. I looked at this DNA match’s ethnicity tab on Ancestry.com. My husband is 98% Eastern Europe and 2% Baltic States. This match was only 4% Eastern Europe, 0% Baltic States, and 96% other places. Doubt crept in. How could these two possibly be 2nd or 3rd cousins? That just seemed too close with so little shared ethnicity.
Ferencz Kovach is the fourth name from the bottom of the manifest. (Ferencz is the Hungarian equivalent of Frank.)
The ship, Vaderland, set sail from Antwerp, Belgium on 7 June 1902. It was nine days later when Ferencz got to Ellis Island. (The ship probably arrived at New York sooner than nine days, but each ship had to wait its turn in the harbor for its passengers to be processed.)
When he arrived at Ellis Island, Ferencz was a 19-year-old single male in good health, yet he had only one dollar in his pocket. He told officials that his occupation was a laborer. He came here to work!
There were a few other Hungarians listed on this same page of the manifest, but Ferencz was the only one from Szürte. Still, he had at least a few people he could speak to in Hungarian on the voyage.
It was his first trip to the United States. His brother, Alexander Kovacs, paid for his passage. Ferencz was going to McKeesport, Pennsylvania where his brother lived at 817 Jerome Street. Alexander is the English equivalent of the Hungarian given name Sándor! That meant that Sandor Kovacs was Ferencz’s big brother, AND he was the one who helped him get to America! It also means that the third great grandfather of my husband’s DNA match was indeed named Sandor and not Samuel.
Here is a descendant chart showing how my husband is connected to this DNA match. I would have expected the DNA match to have 12.5% Eastern European ethnicity, so 4% is remarkably low. Ancestry.com says there is only a 2% chance that two people sharing their amount of DNA would only be 2nd cousins, twice removed. We each get 50% of our DNA from both parents, but the 50% we get isn’t necessarily evenly distributed from every previous generation!
The 1910 census record stated that AlexanderJr was born in Hungary in 1905. What was that all about? I found 1905 civil registration records from Gönc, Hungary for this family!
In the margin of the right side is the civil registration of their marriage, we learn that Kovács Sándor and Jenei Erzsébet were married in the Reformed Hungarian Church in Pittsburgh on 6 November 1900 and that Jenei Erzsébet had been born 11 July 1878 in Gönc. I wondered if I could get a copy of the marriage record from the church in Pittsburgh. Then it occurred to me that it might be in the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City. It was! I went to the library the first day I could after work and found it! Click on it to see it better.
Indeed, in Pittsburgh on 6 November 1900, 28-year-old Kovács Sándor, the son of the late Kovács Péter and Péntek Mária wed 22-year-old Jeney Erzsébet, the daughter of Jeney János and Laczkó Mária. He was born in Szürte and she was born in Göncz. I did not know before I saw this record that Sandor and Ferencz’s father, Péter, had died before Ferencz left Szürte to go to America.
I would have preferred to have the entire page from the anyakönyv, but the projector at the library didn’t focus very well when I tried to get the entire page, and I could only get a blurred copy of the full page below.
Thus, DNA led me to Ellis Island where I found my husband’s wonderful great uncle. I am beyond thrilled! I can tell that he was a very kind man because he paid for his little brother’s passage to America and he allowed his grown children to live with him in 1940 as the country was getting over the Great Depression.
Here are the family records that I found for this family:
When my husband was a little baby, his dad filled out the genealogy section in his baby book in his beautiful, distinct handwriting:
Even though most of the pages are blank, my husband has always cherished that book, and it has been extremely helpful in finding many other of his ancestors.
From additional research, we have learned that my husband’s grandfather, Frank Kovach, was born Kovács Ferenc in Szürte, Ung County, Hungary. That little town has had several border changes and is now part of Ukraine, but still only about eight miles from the Hungarian border. You can see a map showing the location of Szürte in a post I wrote a couple of years ago. Ferenc (Frank) was born 13 June 1883 to Kovács Péter and Péntek Mária – that’s their names in Hungarian name order. The baby book gives their names in English name order. My husband remembers his grandfather, Frank, vividly. He died 10 June 1968 in Ontario, San Bernardino, California.
Many years ago when I tried to figure out Frank’s place of birth, I found three other people whose parents had the same names as his parents. Could they be Frank’s siblings? Could the two boys be his big brothers? (You will need to be logged into FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com to see most of the links I’ve included in this post.)
Steven Kovach (Kovács István) was born about 1874 in Hungary. He married Julia Csengeri on 22 Sept 1901 in New York.
He MAY have died seventeen years later on 11 Dec 1918 in Union, Washington, Pennsylvania, but buried in Cleveland, Ohio. The father on that death certificate was Pete Kovacs and the mother was Mary Pantik. The certificate says he is married, but there was no place to write the wife’s name on it. The informant was Steve Kovach, which just happens to be Julia Kovach’s husband’s name, so her husband might have actually been the informant. Julia and Steve lived in Cleveland, and the deceased, Steve, was buried in Cleveland even though he died in Pennsylvania.
John Kovacs (Kovács János) was born 23 Jan 1870 in Hungary. He died 29 Oct 1943 in Cleveland. To fully appreciate the information for John, we need to look at his and his wife’s death certificates side by side.
Ancestry.com explains “Our analysis of your DNA predicts that this person you match with is probably your third cousin. The exact relationship however could vary. It could be a second cousin once removed, or perhaps a fourth cousin. While there may be some statistical variation in our prediction, it’s likely to be a third cousin type of relationship—which are separated by eight degrees or eight people. However, the relationship could range from six to ten degrees of separation.” (bold print added)
My husband, Steven, and this DNA match are separated by seven degrees.
Was big brother John also born in Szürte? It seems likely, but he may have also been born about 3 miles away in Kholmetz where a 4th-6th cousin DNA shared match traces her ancestry. If only I could get into the Szürte Reformed Church records and Kholmetz records to look for a Kovács János (John Kovacs) born on 23 Jan 1870 as well as the records for the others and certainly a few more siblings as well!
All four of my husband’s grandparents were born in Hungary.
Recently my husband ordered a DNA kit from ancestry.com. When the kit arrived, he spit into the kit’s tube until his spit reached the indicated line and mailed it back to Ancestry. This week he received his results, and I was thrilled!
I made the map below based on Ancestry’s map of his genetic communities as well as other maps showing what Hungary looked like in the 1800’s. Near the center of the map, we see a rough outline of what Hungary looks like today. When his grandparents were born, Hungary was three times bigger than it is today so I’ve made an outline to show the size of the country that they knew and loved.
Places, where there is DNA similar to that of my husband, are shown in pink. The three red dots indicate the known locations of my husband’s grandparents’ births. The town names are in big bold red letters even though they were all little villages or small towns. Gyoma used to be in the center of Hungary. Now it is very close to the Romanian border. Zádorfalva is barely in the country while Szürte is barely outside. I didn’t indicate it on the map but my husband’s father was born in a little village southeast of Gyoma. It was part of Hungary when he was born but part of Romania now.
This map is not necessarily about where my husband’s grandparents were born, however. This map also shows where some of THEIR ancestors lived hundreds of years ago. Even though TWO of his grandparents were born in Gyoma, the map seems to indicate that their ancestors moved to Gyoma from someplace else. Also, if my husband’s brother took a DNA test, his map would look a little different because a child receives only half of each parent’s DNA, and the half received can vary from child to child.
My husband’s paternal grandfather, István Sallai, was born in Gyoma, as were his parents and grandparents for several generations. Our research goes back to the 1770’s where all of his ancestors were either born in Gyoma or else they moved to Gyoma from Túrkeve, a town 34.8 km to the north. Sallai means “from Salla”, but we are not certain where Salla might have been. Maps give many possibilities. Also, Frank Kery is one of my husband’s second cousins through this line, and he made the list of potential 2nd and 3rd cousins that the DNA test gave. That helps confirm our faith in the accuracy of the test.
István’s wife, Mária Finta, was also born in Gyoma, as were many generations of her family on her father’s side. Her 2nd great-grandfather, Mihály Finta moved to Gyoma from Túrkéve where MANY people with the surname Finta have lived over the years. On the other hand, Mária’s mother was of Slovak ancestry and was born in Szarvas which is 24.4 km to the west of Gyoma. The Lutheran Church in Szarvas kept wonderful records so I was able to find most of her ancestors back to the mid 1700’s. Sometime around or soon after 1720, her Slovak ancestors moved to Szarvas from whatever Slovak town in which they used to reside.
My husband’s maternal grandfather was born in Szürte, Ung county, Hungary which is now part of Ukraine. We do not have access to any records in the area so other than the names of his parents and possibly some siblings, we know very little about his family. This map and ancestry.com’s DNA database will likely match and introduce us to cousins my husband never knew he had.
Zádorfalva is located where most of the pink is concentrated on the map. My husband’s maternal grandmother, Erzsébet Lenkey was born in Zádorfalva. Both of her parents were born to noble families so we have the names of many of her ancestors back as far as the 1200’s for some lines who also lived there. Zádorfalva is still in Hungary near the Slovakian border. The other towns of her ancestry are close-by in what used to be Gömör county, Hungary. Now those towns are on one side or the other of the Hungary-Slovakian border. The Hungarian names for these towns include Alsószuha, Mihályfalva, Horka, and Kövecses. The noble families of these small towns tended to stay in town generation after generation, leaving only if they married into another noble family and relocated to that family’s town. It makes perfect sense to us that this part of the map has the greatest concentration of pink.