NYÍRÁDY FAMILY HOMEPAGE
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The Kecskemét Nyírády Family,
1695-2001

About the Descendants of the Nyírády Family,
Based on Parish Registers Government Archives

Compiled by
Imre Ferenc Nyírády
Chief of the County Financial Department, Retired



PREFACE

Kecskemét and its environs have been settled since early times. The ruins of an Avar cemetery, found when building the foundations of the Piarist Secondary Grammar School, attest this.

Queen Erzsébet pawned Kecskemét sometime after the year 1368, which has been declared as its date of founding. The town became the property of the pasha in Buda, and later it belonged to the Sultan's Treasury, all during Turkish rule from 1526 to 1686. After the Rákóczi War of Independence in 1710 it belonged to the Habsburgs. Feudal obligations were lifted in 1832.

After the Reformation stabilized in Kecskemét the two churches used the so-called "Friars' Temple" together until 1564. The two denominations lived in harmony until the Franciscan friars arrived in town.

After 1526 the country was divided into three parts: under Austrian rule, under Turkish rule, and the semi-independent principality of Transylvania.

During the reign of Leopold I the heart of the nation was filled with grief. The tragic end of the Wesselényi conspiracy, the preachers sent to the galleys, the massacre in Eperjes, the martial-law court in Pozsony, the suffering of the Protestants, and the recurrent country-wide epidemics all contributed to it.

Concerning religion the Turks were tolerant. They sympathized with the Calvinists, whose churches without paintings and statues were closer in appearance to mosques. They permitted the Calvinists to practice their religion openly.

In the regions under Habsburg rule persecution and confiscation of property forced the Hungarians, especially soldiers, to leave their homes and flee.

For these reasons about 70 families, mainly Calvinists and soldiers, moved to Kecskemét at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries.

A part of the resettled families became related to our family through marriage. King Ferdinand III ennobled an ancestor of the Dékány family. His son moved to Kecskemét and Zsófia Dékány, a descendant of his, married István Nyírády on February 21, 1797.

Mihály Apaffy I, Prince of Transylvania, ennobled Mihály Brassai Szappanos, whose grandson Mihály moved to Kecskemét in 1690. His descendant, Erzsébet Szappanos, married László Szappanos on March 30, 1889.

Noble Teréz Prikkel, a descendant of the Réthy Prikkel family, marriedIstván Nyírády in 1827.

Despite the ruinous effect of the Turkish ravages (37 settlements were destroyed around Kecskemét) the number of inhabitants doubled during that time.

During the more than two centuries following the end of the 150-year Turkish rule, this former market town, the 600 year-old Kecskemét, rose to the forefront of Hungarian towns in economic and cultural development.

Wind-blown sand covered the major part of the 34 km2 surrounding Kecskemét. The population--demonstrating its will live to live, love of work, and hope in a better future--began conquering the sand. Thousands and thousands of acres awaited working hands in order to establish grape- and other fruit-growing, and, as a consequence, a smaller amount of irrigation farming. In the beginning, agricultural pursuits well supplemented the activity of the craftsmen and traders, and this formed the base of the industrialization that occurred later.

Recurrent epidemics, fires, earthquakes, wars of independence against absolutism, world wars, and foreign occupation influenced the development of the town in many ways. These events resulted in a considerable number of victims in addition to economic losses.

Leaders of the town at all times made efforts to promote its financial well-being and intellectual interests.

Kecskemét, a municipal borough since 1876, indeed made progress that could be called speedy.

Despite the victims and losses of the Second World War and the plunder of the country, the creativity and working capacity of the Hungarian people performed a miracle because, after repairing the damage, economic and cultural developmment again picked up and the number of inhabitants reached 110,000 by the end of the 20th century.

From among the city's famous children I would mention two. József Katona was a prominent drama writer in Hungarian literature. His main work is Bánk Bán. The works and music education methods of Zoltán Kodály, are well-known not only in Hungary but all over the world.


THE NYÍRÁDY FAMILY


My cousin, Sándor Nyírády, who emigrated to and is still living in Australia, asked me to compile the family tree when he sent me a few remembrances and a little data.

I started to collect the necessary documents, based partly on the family documents and the gravestone inscriptions found in the old Reformed Church Cemetery and the new public cemetery. I visited the oldest members of the family as well.

Then I came across the old parish registers in the Calvinist District Library and made notes from the data on birth, marriage, and mortality, naturally with the permission of Dr. Gábor Szabó, the Dean.

I faced considerable difficulties during data collection, partly because the registers were written with an old style of writing and rather small letters, and partly because the ink had faded and become almost illegible.

Parish registers have been kept by the District since 1712. I started to find notes about our ancestors based on the data in front of me, but only since 1797. The parents are István Nyírády and Zsófia Dékány. In the span of twenty five years fifteen children followed the first son. Unfortunately, there was a high rate of infant mortality at that time because of epidemics and insufficient health care.

According to expert opinion, expecting and giving birth to a baby regenerates the mother. It surely contributed to the fact that our great-great-grandmother reached a fairly old age after having sixteen children. When she was 93 and felt that death was approachhing she said to her relatives "Can you see, my children, I have to die prematurely." She probably wanted to live to be 100.

It is true that her parents and grandparents also lived to see old age. But she was the only one in the family to pass 90. Her mother had 14 children.

I found the date February 21, 1797, when István Nyírády, a tailor aged 25, married Zsófia Dékány (19). Unfortunately the cell in the register that should have contained the ancestry and place of the husband's residence was blank. According to his written age and the date of the marriage he must have been born in 1772. Despite searching diligently, I could not find any information, so I assume that he was not born in Kecskemét.

Further inquiry was not in vain as I found a register in the County Archives that helped me through the difficulty although the original document had burned up. According to the entryIstván Nyírády, tailor from Földvár, moved to Kecskemét on February 20, 1796. At time the town let anyone move in for a certain amount of money.

The documents in these archives mentioned Földvár, so it was evident that I had to find his date of birth in Dunaföldvár. After a lot of work I personally visited the Calvinist and Catholic churches and looked through the parish registers. Unfortunately, I did not succeed anywhere.

But I got some information that the Franciscan Holy Order in Dunaföldvár also kept a register at that time for those who lived at the lower end of the village. But these registers were lost and mislaid after the holy order had gone out of existence. I have continued searching for this information because there are several settlements in the country named "földvár." I have lately obtained the microfilms of the parish registers from Balatonföldvár.

My sister, Mrs. Mihály Mécs (born Erzsébet Nyírády) and her husband found the Nyírády nameplate on a villa at 13 József Attila Street while walking around in Héviz in 1943. After introducing themselves, the new relative said that, according to the narrations of his ancestors, they also came from Nyirád. Their line of the family is fair-haired, while the brown-haired line--as far as he knew--settled on the Great Plains (Alföld).

So I wrote a letter to the notary of Nyirád, told him our story, and asked for information. He answered that at the moment no Nyírády family lived in the village, and since the time (1895) official state registers were kept only one person with the name--József Nyírády--was mentioned in the death register. He was buried in the village in 1898 at the age of 53. He was not a local inhabitant and, as there is no information about his parents or relatives, he probably lived a nomadic life.

Despite the information provided, I made a request to the National Archives for the microfilms of the parish registers kept in the village of Nyirád from 1738. I looked through them but found no entry for Nyírády.

Meanwhile--as I had to wait for the next site of research several times--I tried to find the ancestors of my great-great grandmother Zsófia Dékány (descendant of the noble Dékány family, which had settled in Kecskemét, as I had mentioned in the preface). I managed to find her parents and siblings, grandparents and their families, and the note about her great-grandmother, who died in 1771 at the age of 76, in the death register. I am also attaching their family tree to the manuscript.

Exploring the data in the local library was among the easiest tasks. But some facts came to light only after further and more complicated research.

That the registers from 1850 onward were kept in alphabetical order considerably lessened the above-mentioned difficulties. But they contained only the name and reference number. If we want to know data other than names (e.g. name of the parents, age, or marital status) we still need the complete parish register. But it is still simpler to find the data this way than to look over each item.

The youngest son of István Nyírády was named Sámuel. His red marble tombstone has been placed in the new cemetery after exhumation. It only states his name, date of birth (1814) and death (1869). I tried in vain to find his data in the register for the indicated year of birth. The right date is 1822, according to the register. I had supposed he was a bachelor as only one name was written on the tombstone. He was a teacher in the grammar school and an Calvinist clergyman.

It later turned up in the alphabetical birth register that he had married Terézia Kovács and had four children. But I could not find the date of marriage and the birthdate of his wife. In the end I made notes about all Terézia Kovács-es, more than 50 names, from the alphabetical death register. Then I tried to identify her according to the parish register data. As a result of my search I discovered that the widow of Sámuel Nyírády, Terézia Kovács no. 47, died in 1907 at the age of 81. So I learned that she was born in Komárom and they got married there as well. Despite my fact-finding some names and data are still veiled in mist.

Based on the data from the registers I can establish that our ancestors were mainly craftsmen. The occupation of their descendants ranges on a wider scale--we can find a trader, a farmer, a teacher, bank clerk, civil servant, priest, lawyer, or doctor among them. The living members of the family have even more diverse professions. They are civil servants, directors, teachers, engineers, lawyers, economists, doctors, or entrepreneurs.

We can see in the tables that two members of the older generation emigrated abroad. István Nyírády found his new home in the United States in the beginning of the 1900s. He married a Hungarian girl and settled down. Sándor Nyírády went to the West and then to Australia in 1945 because of the Second World War. His wife is Latvian. Today Sándor is in good health and lives with his family. Neither of them has come to the mother country again.

István Nyírády immigrated to the United States and corresponded with my parents until 1944. The contact broke off during the war. After 1945 all the letters written by my parents came back. Even the search service of the Hungarian Red Cross could not help. Later it turned out that during the mid-1960s before the death of his wife his house burned down and he got hurt as well. Then the family of his daughter made a home for him.

After his death his grandson found some notes about the relatives living in the mother country among his father's papers. He not only wrote to us but also found the address of Sándor Nyírády in the Sidney, Australia telephone book. So he could make contact with the old country. Kenneth--as an American scholar on the Uralic family of languages--was invited to a conference in the Soviet Union in 1985. He visited Kecskemét coming from there. He did not speak Hungarian at that time. Later he married a girl from near Mezökövesd and now can speak our language. He has visited us several times since then.

There are some notes about the events and life of the town in the parish registers next to the names of people close to the church, such as clergymen, elders, and teachers.
  • February 12, 1778, the opening of the new Calvinist cemetery on Budai Road;
  • April 2, 1819, the great fire, in which 419 houses, the parish church, the Franciscan temple, the pharmacy, two barracks, and seven mills burned down. The bells in Kecskemét ring from 7-8 P.M. on every April 2 to commerate this tragedy;
  • 1831, the cholera epidemic; and
  • 1855, the "oriental" epidemic, in which nearly 900 people died.

I would like to demonstrate the largeness of the task when putting the names and data of more than 300 persons in the enclosed tables that I found in the parish registers spanning almost three centuries.

I could also enclose some copies of old family photos, indicating the name and age of those who appear. Unfortunately, many photos disappeared during the war.

I tried to carry out this voluntarily undertaken task to the best of my ability. I would appreciate your help or any comments so that I could explore the missing data and complete the attached tables.


EPILOGUE


As I have mentioned above a Nyírády family settled down in Héviz and their descendants said that they originally came from the village of Nyirád.

Nyírádys live in Budapest too. I tried to contact them by mail but have not got any answer from these places.

During the last centuries, through work, devotion and insistence on religion and patriotism remained virtues of the family members. That is why they took part in the War of Independence in 1848 and in the World Wars. Each had heroes and victims as well. Clergymen and elders, records and notes of the worship in the 200 year-old family Bible show their devotion to rligion.

At the beginning the breadwinnners were usualy craftsmen (tailor, tanner, blacksmith, etc.). The prudent parents saw the prospects for the children in widening their knowledge. So they paid the costs of education. The major part of the descendants--as I outlined earlier--became clerks, teachers, clergyman, lawyers, or doctors after finishing their studies. Colleagues acknowledged their outstanding performance at work and they could provide a better living for their families as well.

God bless our family in the future.

The completed family tree will serve to unite the family. The example of the ancestors shall give us strength to face the challenges of the new millennium to have effective and succesful lives.

At last I would like to say thank you to the relatives who helped me to compile the family tree and to those who helped and supported my nearly a year-long research in the church library.

Imre Nyírády
Kecskemét, 2001


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January 31, 2008