Schnur Brothers

Peter Schnur, 1845-1921, surrounded by his four sons some time around 1910.

Peter Schnur and sons

Peter Schnur and sons, circa 1910

Circling their father, clockwise from the left: Anton, born 1886; Ferdinand, born 1891; Peter the younger, born 1881; and Franz, born 1888. Three other sons died in infancy. Peter and his wife, Rozalia Kollet, 1850-1904, also had five daughters, four of whom lived into adulthood: Rosina, born 1870; Katalin, born 1877, my father’s mother; Eva, born 1883; and Erna, born 1885.

This family lived in what was known at the time as Nagyszentmiklós, Torontál County, Hungary, and is now known as Sânnicolau Mare, Timiș County, Romania. Borders move sometimes — this one moved after World War I. People also move sometimes. Four of Peter and Rozalia’s children emigrated to the United States between 1910 and 1930. Rosina (Rosa Klein), Katalin (Katalin Helfer), and Franz (Frank) settled in Chicago; Ferdinand settled first in St. Louis, then moved to Pittsburgh, and finally to St. Petersburg, Florida. At least one other, Peter, moved to Hungary in the 1920s.


2 thoughts on “Schnur Brothers

  1. Robert–great mustaches, great hats, a special moment stolen from history. I wonder what they were talking about, and what they had for dinner that day? Do you see yourself in any of their faces, any of their eyes?

    • Interesting questions. I don’t see any resemblance in my face to the Schnurs. I think I look more like a Helfer, and also a bit like a Kjølsrud (my mother’s father’s family). I do rather wish I had Peter’s eyebrows, though, and I always wanted black hair, olive complexion, and hazel eyes like my father’s.

      The picture was taken in a photographer’s studio, a formal portrait, possibly marking some occasion, but I don’t know what. The hats and coats could have been props provided by the photographer, but I prefer to think that they belonged to the people wearing them. They seem suitable attire for a prosperous peasant family in the late Habsburg era. I think their conversation probably included speculation about the future, possibly politics (or maybe not — the sons Peter and Franz were both socialists; the father probably was not). Some relatives had already migrated to the United States, and within a few years two of the sons and three of the daughters would follow (one of the daughters returned before 1920).

      As for what they had for dinner, it may have been gulyás or possibly something fancier; in any case with Tokáj and probably followed by strudel. My father often spoke of his mother’s strudel — she rolled the dough out so thin that you could see through it, he said.

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