Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I know

Researching my ancestry leaves me at an impasse trying to determine who the man I always thought was my great-grandfather really was, and who my great-grandfather really was.  It appears that the two are not necessarily the same.  As I was searching family records in my quest, I found my great-grandfather's Last Will and Testament, in which he referred to my great-grandmother as "my loyal friend and housekeeper."  Up until I read that statement, I had always believed that John Mery was my real great-grandfather, but now it appeared to me that he and my great-grandmother were not married.  It also may have explained the story that my grandmother told me, that my grandfather didn't like the way John Mery treated my great-grandmother, because, as he put it "He treats her like a servant."  That didn't discount the possiblity that he could still be my biological great-grandfather, but further digging into history led me to discover that sometime between 1902 and 1910 my grandfather had been adopted by John Mery (for reasons which are still unclear), and in the adoption process my grandfather's name had been changed from Stefon Hajdu to Stephen Felix Mery. (He hated that middle name, because it reminded him of Felix the Cat.)

It is difficult to find some of the necessary records that might be helpful, because in 1955 there was severe flooding caused by two back-to-back hurricanes off the east coast that affected my home county and town in Pennsylvania.  Many documents were stored in the basement of the Monroe County Courthouse and consequently were destroyed by flooding.  Although the 1900 census was not totally destroyed, the township in which I was interested was damaged enough to be illegible. The 1890 census might also have provided me with some valuable information; however, I have come to understand that all of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire in Chicago, and there is nothing.  So, to continue, I am going to write about what I DO know and I will hope that someone will know something helpful that I DON'T know.

The first documentation that I have that is the earliest record of John Mery being in the United States is the deed to a piece of property he bought in Appenzelle, Jackson Township, Monroe County, PA in 1884.  This is also the same year in which his daughter, Theresa Blanche Mery, was born.   Theresa's mother's name was Blanche Seaurat, and Theresa was born in New York; however, other than her marriage certificate, I have not been able to find any other documentation about Theresa.  I was hoping a birth record might indicate where her mother was born, as according to John Mery, they were living in France at some point in time.  However; when they came to America on the USS Pennsylvania from Hamburg, Germany in 1902 they were living in Hungary.  So, there seems to be some question as to why they went from New York to Hungary?  In the 1910 Census Record, John Mery lists his birthplace as Hungary, as also is listed my great-grandmother, Clara Hajdu.


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