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.
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 stevemorse.org. 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.
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.