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