Archive for category Bichrest

The Bichrest Family

Posted by on Friday, 11 November, 2011

A brick wall has been shattered!

My maternal grandfather’s line is a part of my family history that I didn’t really have a lot of information on. My maternal great-grandfather, Janos BICHREST, came to the United States around the turn of the century. His Ellis Island records pinpoint his place of origin as Parno, Austria-Hungary. Parno is modern day Parchovany, Slovakia. During my research into my great-grandfather, I had observed that there are a large concentration of BICHRESTS in Maine, near the Lisbon Falls area. From my research, I know that it was a popular destination for Slovaks from Austria-Hungary. In particular, it was a destination for those from the area near Parno. Many of the BICHREST records I had come across, but could not connect into my line, listed Lisbon Falls. I have long suspected my family was connected to the many BICHRESTS of Maine, given the rarity of the name in the grand scheme of genealogy.


In 2009 I was able to enlist the help of a very gracious genealogist in Maine. He had written about some BICHRESTS on his website.  He was able to share with me some research he had done through the Family History Library (FHL) of the 1869 Hungarian Census.  The 1869 Hungarian Census was conducted by the Hungarian government to enumerate all individuals living in the empire, regardless of religion or property ownership. The census includes the town of Parno and it listed a family of BICHRESTS on page 68 of the microfilm copy. The head of the household is an Andrej Bichrest, born 1818. Among their family is listed a Pal (a Slovak variant of Paul), born 1859. As I mentioned before, the SS-5 for my great-grandfather Janos listed his father as a Paul BICHREST. Since Janos was born in 1891, it would put this Paul at the correct age range to be his father. However, I had very little to back up this assertion.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I usually Google surnames every so often to see if anything new has popped up. In this case, I came across some old posts (circa 2001) to a genealogy forum about some BICHRESTS. I had not seen these posts before. One mentioned a Roman Catholic priest. I remembered my mother telling me of a Roman Catholic priest, a BICHREST, that used to visit my grandmother. My mother said his name was John,  but could not offer much information beyond that. Among my grandmothers documents was a photo of who I believe is the priest.


I took a shot and emailed the author of the post, a BICHREST.  I fully expected the email to bounce considering the age of the post. To my elation it did not bounce! A few days later I had a reply from the author of the post. He mentioned that his great-grandfather Paul Michael BICHREST (b 1884) also came from Parno, Austria-Hungary. This great-grandfather Paul Michael had three siblings. Two sisters, Maria and Anna, and a brother, Jan. He mentioned that Maria had a married name of PAPIN, and that Anna had a married name of TOPOLOVSKY. He also mentioned his great-grandfather’s parents names were Pavel BICHREST and Zuzanna CIZMAR. Look closely at the names. Pavel is also a Slovak variant of Paul, and Zuzanna is a Slovak variant of Susan. These names matched very closely to the parents listed on my great-grandfather’s SS-5.  If you had previously read any of my posts about the Bichrest family, you might recognize the name PAPIN. I have seen the name associated with my family before. My great-grandfather listed a Pal Papin as his contact in the United States on his immigration records.

Connecting all the dots, I believe that Paul Michael BICHREST and my great-grandfather Janos BICHREST (a.k.a John Joseph BICHREST) were brothers.  I believe the final piece of the puzzle lies in the 1910 Federal Census. Previously, I could never find my great-grandfather in that census. Armed with all of the above information I discovered two BECHRISTS, John and Paul, boarding in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They are listed as rooming with a Michael PAPIN.  The reason I could not previously locate him was what appears to be a transcription error (Bichrest to Bechrest).

I believe all of this is sufficient proof that our line of BICHRESTs is indeed connected to the BICHRESTs of Maine, and that we are descendants of the family of BICHRESTs listed in the 1869 Hungarian Census.  A whole new line of research has been opened up for me, pushing my tree back 2 more generations. and I’m in the process of adding many more BICHRESTs to my tree. I hope to share the complete tree soon.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Unidentified Soldier

Posted by on Wednesday, 2 June, 2010

This is a photo I received from my uncle. It was among the possessions of my grandmother, Margaret Laverne (Mackin) Bickerest.

The photo depicts a young man wearing what appears to be a soldier uniform. My mother believes it may be of my great-grandfather John Joseph Bichrest (a.k.a. Janos Bichrest), who immigrated to the United States from Parno, Austria/Hungary (modern day Parchovany, Slovakia) in 1907.

The photo has a few interesting features. First, the man is wearing a medal on his jacket. The top has appears to have a white outline with black stripe, and bars going across the top. The medal itself appears to have a humanoid form on it holding a spear. I believe it may be the World War I Victory Medal.  I’ve blown it up and sharpened it:

Second, the man has a rank on his sleeve. It appears to have four chevrons. I have blown up and sharpened that as well:

Last, the man has interesting looking boots and helmet, as seen below.

I wonder if from these features can his country of origin be identified? Is he American? Any help would be appreciated.

Sentimental Sunday: What Happened To Anna Bichrest?

Posted by on Sunday, 30 May, 2010

Pictured from left to right is my grandaunt Anna Bichrest, my maternal grandfather John Joseph Bichrest, Jr., and my grandaunt Mary Bichrest. Obviously, I have extensive information on my grandfather. I have a pretty good handle on my grandaunt Mary Bichrest. I have virtually no information at all on Anna Bichrest. She only appears in the 1930 Census as living with my great-grandparents, and from that I can date her birth to about 1917 in New Jersey.

She is listed in her mothers obituary in 1931 as a surviving daughter. After that, nothing. The real sad part is, she is not listed in her fathers obituary in 1979. I found out from family stories that she became estranged from the family and moved west, possibly to California. Many attempts to contact her were made, but it was clear she never wanted anything to do with the rest of the Bichrests/Bickerests. Did she die prior to 1979? Or had she been disowned and long forgotten? I may never know.

I hope I can one day find some trace of her.

Susanna (Varga) Bichrest

Posted by on Sunday, 18 October, 2009

It took a while, but I was able to locate the Ellis Island record of my great-grandmother, Susanna (VARGA) BICHREST. Again, I used the excellent search engine provided at A lot of things were hampering my search. For one, Susanna and VARGA are seemingly very common names in Eastern Slovakia at the time of my great-grandmother’s birth. In the end, my main roadblock ended up being the translation of her name. The record I located spells her name Zsuzsanna VARGA. Zsuzsanna is a Hungarian variant of Susanna.

Here is a break down of the record:

  • She left out of Fiume, Austria on December 18th, 1909 aboard the S.S. Caronia. She arrived at Ellis Island January 2, 1910.
  • She was 17 years old at the time of entry.
  • She was single at the time of entry, as was my great-grandfather. It is possible they did not meet until coming to the United States. I have not located marriage records for them as of yet.
  • Her job at the time of emigration from Hungary was “laborer”.
  • She was able to read and write.
  • It is indicated that she is a Slovak from Gataly, Hungary.
  • Her nearest relative is listed as her father, an “Andres Varga” of Gataly. This is the first piece of tangible data I have located identifying a parent of hers. Hopefully there are census records covering Gataly.
  • It lists her final destination as Bridgeport, Connecticut. I have learned from other research that Bridgeport was a common location for Slovak immigrants. She did not have a ticket to this destination upon her arrival.
  • She had about $30 in her possession.
  • She had never been inside the United States before.
  • It indicates she is en route to meet her brother-in-law, George MITRO in Bridgeport. She was possibly also reuniting with her sister. I have learned from Susanna’s obituary that her sister, Anna, married a George MITRO.
  • She is listed as in good health, with dark complexion, brown hair and grey eyes.
  • Her place of birth is listed as Gataly, Hungary.

Gataly is modern day Hatalov. It is interesting to note that Gataly is very close to Parno (my great-grandfathers village), only a 14 mile difference. However, I have no information that they knew each other prior to coming to the United States.

The Papins of Parno

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 October, 2009

In my previous post, I was curious about the contact listed in my great-grandfather’s Ellis Island record:


I posted a request for interpretation help to a wonderful Yahoo! group, SLOVAK-ROOTS. Very shortly after, a few of the members of the group suggested that the name may actually be “Papin” instead of “Papiss”. They also pointed out that some members of a Papin family had previously entered the country with their last residence listed as Parno, Hungary. Armed with this information, I was able to locate a Pal Papin that entered the country on Feb 28. 1906 from Parno. Interestingly, the Ellis Island database actually lists the record incorrectly as Pal Papoass. This is likely a transcription error. Close inspection of the ship manifest leads me to believe this is the same Pal Papin that my great grandfather was seeking.

So who is this mysterious man? The 1910 federal census does enumerate a Paul Papin living in Bayonne, with his job listed as working for the Oil Works. The proximity to my my great-grandfather in his hometown of Parno points to him possibly being a family friend. Perhaps he was influential in my great-grandfathers decision to leave his homeland for the new world.

More on John Joseph Bichrest

Posted by on Monday, 12 October, 2009

I thought I would post a little bit more on the Ellis Island record I located, that I believe is my great-grandfather. It contains quite a bit of interesting information.

  • He was 17 years old at the time of entry.
  • It indicates that he departed Europe out of Bremen, Germany on the S.S. Trave. I recently learned that the Family History Library may have emigration records from Bremen, as well. I plan to consult them as soon as I can get over to a Family History Center.
  • His job at the time of emigration from Hungary was “laborer.”
  • He was able to read and write.
  • It is indicated that he is a Slovak from Hungary.
  • It lists his last permanent residence as “Parno, Hungary” and his destination as “Bayonne City, NJ”.
  • He had no ticket to his final destination upon his entry.
  • He paid for passage himself, and had what looks like $15 in his possession.
  • He had never been to the United States before this point.
  • It indicates that he is en route specifically to 162 22nd Street in Bayonne, and that he is intending to visit an acquaintance (abbreviated “acqn” on the record). After some research I believe this may have been the location of the Standard Oil refinery in Bayonne. My great-grandfather worked a great part of his life for Standard Oil. I cannot make out the acquintances name, but it appears to be something like “Pal Papiss”.
  • He was in good health. It shows his height as 5’2″, with fair complexion, black hair, brown eyes, and no identifying marks.
  • His place of birth is listed as Parno, Hungary.

I would love to know who the acquaintance was John was seeking when he came to the United States. A sponsor working for Standard Oil, perhaps? Here is a clip from the Ellis Island record, blown up and softened for readability.


John Joseph Bichrest

Posted by on Friday, 9 October, 2009

My general focus in the past few weeks has been researching the BICHREST family. BICHREST is a variant spelling of my mother’s paternal line, BICKEREST. Currently I am researching my great-grandfather, John Joseph BICHREST, born April 20, 1890 in PARNO, Austria-Hungary. PARNO is in modern day Slovakia, and is now known as PARCHOVANY.

I believe I have located John Joseph’s Ellis Island records. It is often difficult to find records for Slovakian immigrants because of the many variations in spelling of the name. Luckily, a very talented genealogist by the name of Stephen Morse has written a highly extensible interface to the Ellis Island records, which are provided by the The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. Utilizing Stephen Morse’s site, I was able to locate the records of a Janos BIHREST.According to the records, Janos was born in 1890, and arrived in the United States 1907.  After some research, I was able to find out that Janos is a Hungarian translation of John. I do not know why the name is spelled BIHREST. It could be a legitimate historical spelling, or simply a misspelling at the time he entered the country through Ellis Island. The 1907 arrival date is corroborated in the 1930 federal census, which enumerates John Joseph. The Ellis Island record shows his destination as Bayonne, New Jersey, where John Joseph lived most of his life.

John Joseph was married to a Susanna VARGA, my great-grandmother. I do not yet know her origin or their date of marriage. Susanna died at a very young age in Bayonne, New Jersey. Susanna had two sisters, Anna VARGA and Berta VARGA.

IMG_0037_zoomedJohn and Susanna BICHREST

I recently received a copy of John Joseph’s Social Security application (SS-5). The SS-5 identifies his parents as Paul BICHREST and Susan CISMAR. There are no records that I’ve been able to locate on Paul and his wife stateside, so I will probably have to start researching Hungarian census records to find more information on them.  A cousin in Maine did do a quick lookup for me in the The 1869 Hungarian census. The census for Parno lists a family of BICHRESTS, including a Pal BICHREST. Pal is a Hungarian variant of Paul. Is it my Paul? Time will tell.