Category Archives: Genealogy

Crime-Fighting Trio Uncovered on Ancestry

Kopp sisters with guns
Illustration borrowed from (

Most people go to looking for their own families.Or like me, you might be distracted by others with your surname and get sucked into  doing a One-Name  Study. And then there’s the situation  that author Amy Stewart found herself  in, researching and writing a novel about Constance Kopp just because the story was so intriguing. Kopp, who became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs, lived with her sisters in the country outside Patterson, New Jersey. The sisters learned  to shoot guns to protect themselves from a local bad guy.

This has nothing to do with my family, my  surname, or even Hungarian  genealogy, my usual passion. But I read the book, and the next book, and if you love a good story so should you.

But first, check out the back story of how Amy researched these  fascinating crime-fighting sisters.

Just goes to show, you never know where genealogy research will lead you.


One Name – All the Way!

ons-tng-home-pageHere’s my 1st anniversary update from my One Name society experience.
Last year I joined the Guild of One Name Studies and then spent some months lurking around to get a feel for what it was all about. Turns out there are plenty of genealogists asking similar questions to mine. Where did my surname come from and when and why? Are the people with my surname related to me? Where have they lived and where are they now?
I tried to deny my one-name fascination for a while and tried to focus on the projects that I said I would be working on. But to no avail. A couple of months ago I bit the bullet and committed to a one name study of the Édes surname. Doing a one-name study implies the commitment to study your selected surname anywhere in the world that it exists. And that of course is where one of the big challenges come in. I have the documentation to support the contention that my Édes family line started in what was then Royal Hungary, today south-western Slovakia. My ancestors escaped from a sticky situation in Transylvania to their new home in the 1680s. To protect their innocence they changed their name from Ede to Édes, which in Hungarian are not as similar as they look. They were granted nobility by Hapsburg emperor Ferdinand III and thenceforth were known as the Noble Édes family from Madar, their new hometown.
When anglicized the surname Édes looks just like the English surname Edes which is of totally different origin. The Guild was started, without diacritics, in England and most of the members projects are for surnames from the British Isles.
Since I have no study partners I am acknowledging that problem in my project profile and welcome any research on English Edes families.

I am now starting up a new website for housing my various Édes family lines. There are about a dozen identified so far, although the trees wont be ready to post for a while longer. I have started a blog for stories of interest about Édes or Edes notables. And I am working to coordinate the various websites to create some consistency in presentation.

In the process I continue to learn more about Hungarian geography and history. And I’m finding more friends that might prove to be related.

I expect to continue to be busy in the new year.

Not so new – New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks 2016 bIn typical fashion, it’s almost February and I am finally getting around to my New Year’s resolutions. Well, I bet some of you out there who made your resolutions in a more timely fashion have already fallen off the proverbial wagons. So perhaps I’m ahead of the game.

Here are my New and Improved resolutions for 2016;

  • Develop an organizational strategy that works for me
  • Focus my search for DNA matches
  • Get back to writing about my family history
  • Write about the process of genealogy research in Eastern Europe


Of course, I did not accomplish everything I planned to do last year. But I have made some progress and revisions in my approach to research. My resolutions for 2015 were;

  • Organize my research by following the Genealogy Do-Over plan
  • See what I could learn from DNA
  • Continue writing about my family historyFireworks 2015 b

I planned to follow Thomas McEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over plan to redo my genealogy research the right way. Well that lasted a couple of weeks. I may have learned something from the experience however. I am not sufficiently disciplined to stick to my to-do list. I am not going to stop chasing BSOs. But I am doing better at documenting what I learned from the BSO detours.

I am still trying to find a format for a genealogy research log that will work for me. McEntee recommends a formatted Excel spreadsheet. Geoff Rasmussen from Legacy Family Tree webinars uses an MS Word document and then copies his research notes to the general notes section in the Legacy periodically. I have always written notes in a spiral notebook so I have a record of what I have done but it isn’t very accessible. I review the notebooks periodically and sometimes find things that I didn’t see the first time through.

Today I started with Notebook 1 reviewing my notes and adding To-Do items into Legacy. This way I can actually find the To-Do items by ancestor or location.

The really big thing for me in 2015 was getting deep into DNA. I confirmed a family story from the 17th century and found some very distant relatives in the process. I will write more about that later.

I was surprised to find that I actually had some DNA matches. However they are all pretty distant and I have yet to find a common ancestor for any of my matches. Instead, I have refocused on traditional genealogy research to fill out more of my family tree so that someday I may hit the ancestor jackpot.

I have my work cut out for me, so I had better get back to it.

Here’s wishing you a Happy 2016, and may all your genealogy dreams come true!

Say What? Is this MY DNA?

say what cat picIt has been a very exciting week in my genealogy life. I finally got the results of my Family Finder autosomal DNA test! YEAH!

When I wrote my first DNA post in December,  I said

“ I don’t really expect to find any relatives, although that could be fun. But I am interested to see if the background results match the family stories.”

Well, my family tree is all Hungarian, and Székely (ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania, Romania). Except great-grandmother Anna from Moravia who was Czech or Austrian or maybe Polish. So I expected the MyOrigins maps to show mostly Eastern European and a maybe little Western Europe for Grandma Anna.

What I got was not at all what I expected.

My Ethnic Makeup_no name

Turkish I could understand. I thought that traced back to the Ottoman occupation in the 16th-18th centuries. But my new FTDNA buddy tells me no. That goes way back to the original migration from Asia in the 900s, or perhaps earlier.

The southern Europe piece might be from the Romans. Or who-knows-who was migrating back and forth around Europe centuries ago.

But the British Isles piece blew me away. I pondered that for a couple of days. Then just as I was about to fall asleep one night it hit me like a ton of bricks! Is it the Celts? So of course I got up and googled ‘Celts in Hungary’ until 2am. Apparently they occupied the area from The British Isles to Northern Hungary in the 3rd century.

Here’s a map. What do you think?


This is a lot of conjecture on my part, so if you know more about ethnic distribution of DNA in Europe, please let me know what you think.

Back to the finding relatives thing.  I have  56 matches!  54 of them are considered distant or ‘speculative’ matches. But there are 2 ranked as ‘3rd to 5th cousins’.

shared origin


Székely Guy, my closest match, lives in a village 15km from where great-grandmother Barbara was born.  We didn’t find our common ancestor, but he has a great-grandmother with the same surname so we have a good idea where our connection comes from.

I haven’t connected with British Woman yet, but I browsed her extensive family tree. Looks like her many generations of documented ancestors never came anywhere near Hungary. But she’s got lots of Irish, and I am guessing that some of her unnamed ancestors wandered pretty far south some 18 centuries ago.

DNA is mind-boggling. Think about every little cell in your body containing not only the complex blueprints and the instruction manual for building you.  It is also carrying around your family history from hundreds and thousands of years ago. Our ancestors are with us.

My brain is very busy planning which cousins I need to cajole into taking the Family Finder test so that I can sort out the family lines into Turks and Celts and Romans. Like every new discovery in genealogy research, it adds a dozen more questions to the to-do list!

Does Anybody Really Care about a Fifth Cousin?  Are Collateral Lines Relevant?

Had to share this wonderful post from the BrotmanBlog!

Do I care about 5th cousins? Absolutely! In my father’s paternal line the only living relatives I know are Emil, my 5th cousin once removed, and his daughter and granddaughter, my 5th cousins twice and thrice removed. I stumbled upon his Hungarian genealogy website accidentally. We began corresponding with help from Google translate and my Hungarian tutor.

Last summer we travelled to Hungary and met him and his wife. Emil and I were delighted to find little things we had in common. We had both studied mathematics and worked in IT. And we both love our cats!
His daughter and I are now friends on Facebook. I can see little sparks of family resemblance in her pictures.
Someday I hope to find closer relatives on that line who might have known my father or his parents in Hungary. But I treasure these few that I know.