Our Grandfather, Béla Antal János Török, was born in Szeged on the 19th of April 1881. He was only 7 years old when he lost his father, aged 42 years, who died with pneumonia. Béla came from a middle-class family who had lost their assets as a result of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. His childhood memories were captured in his memoirs, penned in his old age, while living with his daughter Kata and her husband Dr. Béla Csabai in Székesfehérvár. (See below in the document to download) In the decades following the Second World War, until his death in 1969 he lived in retirement without a pension under very difficult circumstances. His son our father Béla Antal Sándor Mária Török asked him to record his memories, which he then addressed to his two children Béla and Kata. With regard to the political situation in Hungary, at that time (Communism), it is understandable that these writings focused on just personal histories with the political situation of the time being omitted. Yet these records were very valuable to his son because it reinforced his memories of Szeged and formed an image of life during the period 1920 to 1960’s. Our Grandfather also wrote about his father, Sándor (Alexander) Török, also a lawyer in Szeged, who was a much sought-after lawyer and who had built a house in Szeged, purchased a vineyard in Szatymaz and invested in government securities. Sándor married péterfalvi Etelka Koór.
Our Grandfather, Béla’s mother’s first husband was Lajos (Louis) Czettler a teacher. From this marriage, Béla had a half-brother Gyula Czettler who became a pharmacist. Béla had two other brothers, Sándor and László and two sisters Etelka and Margit.
Our Grandmother, Katalin Mária Emilia Ilona Kiss was born in Királyhegyes on 11 Aug 1894. at the ancestral mansion of ittebei Elemér Kiss. Her father, our maternal great grandfather, Elemér Kiss was a wealthy landowner who owned 20,000 acres in the County of Torontál in Begaszentgyörgy (now Žitište Serbia).
The Kiss family’s roots can be traced to those Transylvanian Armenian Hungarians who took part in the reconstruction of Hungary after the liberation from the Turks.
General Ernő Kiss, a martyr of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, was a cousin to my great-grandfather on my mother’s side.
Elemér Kiss married ebeczki Gizella Blaskovich. She was, from childhood, accustomed to privileged lifestyle. Elemér’s brother Miklós (Nicholas) lived in Vienna. He married Katalin (Catherine) Schratt, the famous Viennese dramatic actress. It was well known that Katalin later became Emperor Franz Joseph’s girlfriend. The Miklós Kiss marriage produced a son named Antal, who was later elevated to the rank of baron by the emperor. This Antal Kiss died in 1970.
Elemér died young in 1896. They had five children, Ernő, Miklós and three daughters Clementina, Katalin our grandmother and Ilona who died aged 3. The still young, educated widow Gizella soon married again. Her second husband was Baron Béla Podmaniczky, the Mezőhegyes State Stud commander. From this marriage was born our half aunt Judit (Judy).
Our grandmother spent most of her childhood and young adult age in the Béla Podmaniczky household. She was a very beautiful girl, but my great grandmother kept a strict watch over her to try to ensure she did not marry below her rank. In 1912 our adventurous, young grandmother Kata accepted a joy flight with the famous pilot Uzelác in his fragile flying machine.
The family moved to Szeged and this is where our grandparents Kata and Béla met and, despite opposition from “Grossmama”, the couple married. Their marriage only lasted nine years. At that time our father was 7 years old and his sister was 5. They never knew the reason for their parents’ divorce. Some factors that may have contributed to the separation was a 12-year age gap and grandfather’s painful joint disease.
It was decided that the children would stay with their father Béla and during holidays stay over with their mother. In the summer vacations, they were with her many times in the river Tisza swimming and splashing amongst other bathers. Our Grandmother married again to Béla Hensch, who became a good friend to our grandfather enabling the family to enjoy these summer vacations together. Many years after the death of her second husband, she had another life partner called Dr Károly Moricz. In the difficult post 2nd World War communist years our grandmother looked after our grandfather’s needs.