Last week I was given an amazing gift! My uncle and aunt, who are downsizing, gave me over a dozen old books. But not just any ordinary books. These were filled with my great grandfather’s poetry, musings and stories in his very own handwriting. They date from 1893 to 1937. I have secretly wanted them for years!!!! Oh what a treasure! The books were very ordinary and tattered on the outside… but they are magical within! I just know they are… even though they are all written in Hungarian!
I love this page… it has my great grandfather’s signature on it!
Sandor Pinter, 1905 October 20
What I find so interesting was that by the 1930’s rolled around Sandor (pronounced “Shandor”) became Alex. My great grandfather’s name was Alexander. It shows me that he was becoming “Americanized”.
From what I can piece together my great grandfather came to Ellis Island in 1892. He was born in Nagi De’m Hungry in 1873.
According to the records in the box he could read and write but spoke no English. From his books I can tell that he was an educated man.
The Ellis Island records also said that he immigrated to be a coal miner. My grandmother told me stories about her Father when I was growing up. She said that he was studying to be a pharmacist but came to the United States to be a coal miner. She said he loved his family and wrote lots of poetry about family life.
I found this very interesting… My great great grandfather (Alexander’s father) Jonos (John) Pinter was killed by the Hungarian Bolsheviks along with Alexander’s brother Pauli because they would not fight in the revolution! They were farmers. This fact makes me think that my great grandfather’s aspirations to be a pharmacist might be suspect. However, he was a learned man… being able to read and write. I found a note in one of the books saying that it was a list of the books my great grandfather read in one year… 147.
This is one of the most interesting pages I found… probably because I could actually understand it!
In one of the “little books” I found the story of how my great grandfather Alexander met and married my great grandmother Theresa Fanny Crouse (originally from Austria). My grandmother told me this story several times as I was growing up. I love it!!! And now I’ll share it with you…
I found a note written in English attached to the pages of my great grandfather’s book which I assume is this story. I think the note was written by my grandmother Helen Pinter Jackwood. I recognize her handwriting. It’s like her telling me all over again! My grandmother would have been one hundred and five.
“Aunt Mary (my great great Aunt and sister of my great grandmother) (mom’s sister and 16 years older than mom) told me mom came to America to be in her care at the age of 12 1/2. Mom was 8 years younger than pop. Pop born 1873, Oct 15- Mom 1881, Oct 15 Pop first saw mom at 12 1/2 as he boarded at Aunt Mary. He always told us he told Aunt Mary … can’t make out the rest.
wait till she (Mom) is 18 years old and will marry her (can’t make out the next word) i love at first sight! Pop now then about 19-20. Saw mom very little as Aunt Mary placed her as childs nurse in Phila but he wrote to her-(unknown to Aunt Mary)”
I know this story well from my grandmother. My great grandfather was madly in love with my great grandmother from the moment he met her. And good to his word waited for Theresa Fanny Crouse and married her when she was 18.
They went on to live in Sugar Loaf, Pennsylvania and had 13 children. And finally settled in a big house in Phoenixville Pa. I remember this home very well. It’s big coal stove and big rooms and yard. We would have family reunions there when I was little.
My mother remembers, as a little girl, sitting on the steps inside her grandparents home as her grandfather wrote poetry! She says that he spoke very little English. I don’t remember my great grandfather as he was already dead before I was born. I do remember my great grandmother and her crystal blue eyes and white hair braided atop her head like a crown.
There are so many more things that I can’t wait to discover from these precious book! I am starting to look for someone to translate them!
Okay, thanks for being so patient as I recored this little bit of my family history!
I decided, for the time being, that I would bind the large books together with a linen strip and keep them all together in the hutch in the living room.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about displaying and living with family treasures as I research ways to keep my books safe…
- When framing anything that has stood the test of time use the best archival quality, acid free products.
- If you use glass to frame something make sure the heirloom does not touch the glass, it could stick.
- Do not repair rips, tears or any damage yourself. Have your treasures professionally restored.
- Do not keep or display old things near direct heat or sun
- Handle with clean hands
- Consider making a high quality copy of your treasure and displaying that, keeping the originals safe
- clean any treasure you are going to store as long as you don’t damage it
- heirloom quality clothing can be saved in preservation boxes with moth balls or cedar blocks.
- photograph all heirlooms so you have a record of them
Do you have a family treasure? Please share!!!
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