The Svastits Family
The Svastits family hails from Dalmatia, where they owned the Fort of Tinin (now Knin) and were of the rank “knéz” (prince). According to family legend, the earliest known ancestor, Peter Svacic was Croatia’s king for a short time, and died in the Battle of Petrovagora in 1102. Subsequently, some of the family moved to Bocsár, in the District of Torontál (in Erdély/Transylvania) in the 1560s; that’s how the “bocsári” forename was acquired. Later there was a further split into two branches, the bocsári and the csécsenyi branches, which were recently reunited via the annual family gatherings organized since 1997. Though they held important posts for many generations ( captaincy of the forts of Körös and Körmend around 1510 and 1540 by György and János, respectively), the Svastits (also written by some as Svastics and Svastich) family’s nobility was seemingly not recognized formally until 1754 and 1837, in the Districts of Győr and Somogy, respectively. On the other hand, the family’s coat of arms clearly shows that it must have been granted back in the 16th Century in recognition of outstanding military valor shown in the struggles against the Turkish invaders.
George’s great-grandmothers, Ilona and Emilia were the daughters of János Svastits (1802-1873) and Krisztina Csertán (1806-1888). János was a friend of Ferenc Liszt, and a celebrated musician and well-recognized composer in his own right; his music was recently revived by George with the help of Jimmy (csécsenyi) Svastics of Los Angeles and his friend, the pianist John Boswell. Krisztina was the sister of Sándor Csertán, who served as the lieutenant governor of the District of Zala during the 1848-49 Revolution, and hence was imprisoned afterwards. The brothers of Ilona and Emilia (only Bénó and Károly, since Hugó was only 10 years old at the time) also fought in the Revolution, along with Ilona’s future husband, Imre Vargha and his two brothers.
Ilona Svastits died at the age of 58, before any of her 14 grandchildren were born; and , unfortunately, very little is known about her. Emilia lived till the age of 93, and a lot more is known about her. She was fluent in German and French and was an excellent pianist, giving concerts for various benefits even in her later years. As a young girl she also taught herself Latin, and her wish was to visit Rome and see the pope. When she was 16, her parents fulfilled her wish, and she was indeed given an audience and conversed in Latin with the pope. Recently, George acquired a sketch of his great-great-grandfather János Svastits, that appeared in a necrology (obituary) about him, along with some family photos from Nikla, which show Emilia Svastits along with George’s mother and her mother.
In addition to continued research into the Svastits family, George is also interested in learning more about the Csertán family, as well as about Krisztina’s maternal grandmother’s family, the Bessenyei family. Since the Csertáns were seemingly of Cumanian background, while the Bessenyeis of Petcheneg origin (both nomad tribes of Turkish background, which were settled in Hungary in the 10th and 11th Centuries), George is about 1/8th Turkish (and 1/8th Croatian, on account of the Svastits ancestors), as well as 1/16th Polish on account of the origin of the mother-in-law of Emilia Svastits. That leaves only 7/16th Hungarian blood since Ilona Svastits’ son, Jenő married Anna Jozefa Fritsch, whose mother was Czech (contributing 1/8th) and father was German (another 1/8th) of “one unit of blood”. So much for being a “full-blooded Hungarian”! One may argue, however, that hundreds of years of living among the Magyars must have “contaminated” the Csertán and Svastits families too --- hence contributing at least 1/16th of Hungarian blood and allowing George to be at least half-Hungarian.