Alex Leeb, Board of Directors and Regional Coordinator of Banat of the Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands (DVHH) interviewed Eva-Maria Capdebo de baraczhaza who is a descendent of the noble family
Eva Maria Capdebo de Baraczhaza
Eva, I admire persons who spent hours researching on the Internet. What evoked you to research the net?
When I was two years old, my father carried me on his arm and showed me the paintings of our ancestors every evening. The walls were decorated with paintings and pictures in the living room in our apartment back home in Hungary, Budapest. My father allowed me to touch and stroke these paintings. He told me fabulous stories from the past. Maybe that’s why I like history and family history very much. My father was a great teacher, and he told me that a life of a family can be a story, only if it is part of the world history. I also believe if we become immersed in the past, it can give us strength from the roots to build the present and the future.
My Father and I in front of my Grandfather’s painting
My father wrote a book about the family “The History of the Capdebo de Barachaza family”, and gave copies to his cousins and to me in 1991 for Christmas. He searched mostly in libraries, and from history books without the Internet. He also prepared the family tree, which was updated lately by one of his cousin’s wife Mrs. Tibor Capdebo (Maria-Magdolna). Currently I am working on the most detailed family tree we have ever had. After my father’s death in 1995 I brought over three suitcases of postcards, photos, paintings, letters, certificates, memory books, poems, drawings and newspaper articles, and this winter started to organize them. I searched on the Internet because I wanted to find more information from the people who lived in Banat, Hungary. Also I am looking for the distant relations of our family as now they live all over the world.
you find the DVHH-List (Donauschwaben Village Helping Hands-List)?
I checked the DVHH –List and found out, that you are the Regional Coordinator of Banat of the organization, and you live in Calgary 300 km south from Edmonton, where I live! When I saw this on the Internet, I knew I have to write you. I was very excited and contacted my Capdebo relatives in Budapest. We mutually decided that on behalf of our family I would be in touch with you.
I wrote you a letter, and to my great surprise you wrote back, that you were born in Knees (Satchinez) which is only 5 Km from Baraczhaza. In your school day years, in 1946-1949 you used to go to Baraczhaza with the priest and served Mass with him at our family chapel.
It is so true that the world is small, and family history searching with the help of the Internet brings people together!
The name Capdebo became very popular; can you give us the origin of the Capdebo family before they settled in Baratzhausen?
The Capdebo family came from Armenia. The Hungarian Armenians came from one of the largest medieval metropolis: ANI (name of the city). They escaped from the Mongols, they settled in the Kaspi Dale land (1239-1280) and they moved to the Krim (1280-~1350). From the Krim they moved to Poland (1350-1418), than to Moldavia (1418-1670). The oldest data what we have from our family is, that Kristof (Christopher) Kabdebo was born in 1674 in Botosani, Moldavia.
From 1676-1802 our family lived in Erzsebetvaros/Elisabethstadt, now it is called Dumbraveni. The city became an Armenian free sovereign city in 1733. My ancestor parents were Jonas (Jonah) Capdebo (1741-1787), son of Unan Kabdebo (?) and his wife Anna Patrubany (1742-?).
They were born and lived in Erzsebetvaros, and they had four sons Jonas (Jonah) (1759-1826), Marton (Martin) (~1766-1816), Ferenc (Francis) (?-1824), and Gergely (Gregory) (1776-1840).
They were merchants and weighted heavily in Transylvanian commerce. By the 1740s, they had become dominant in their main specialty, the cattle trade. We are certain that they delivered livestock to the Habsburg Treasury.
When and how did the family Capdebo, settled in the village of Baraczhaza and what changes were made in the first 10 years?
The four Capdebo brothers –Jonas (Jonah), Marton (Martin), Ferenc (Francis), and Gergely (Gregory) - and their late father Jonas provided outstanding services to Christian Europe. Therefore on 23rd of July 1802 Francis II, the Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia, King of Italy raised the four brothers and their late father to the Hungarian nobility.
On May 20th, 1803 Francis II Emperor gave the treasury property of Baraczhaza/Baratzhausen an adequate exchange-value to the family. The name of the village is now Barateaz (Romanian). On September 3rd 1803, 52 official individuals have successfully registered the reinstatement of property. The family left Erzsebetvaros to an almost depopulated Baraczhaza after the Turkish Empire was overtaken by the Austrian.
Coat of Arms- Capdebo de Baraczhaza
Lucian Geier, the famous Banat historian wrote an article about our family in the 1975 “Banater Deutsche Zeitung “(translated from German):
“The population of Baratzhausen that time was Romanian. The enlightened and popular landowner removed the village from the swampy valley to the pasture named after Capdebo on the hillside. This settlement was very important for the village, and took six years to achieve that.”
Gregory Capdebo the youngest from the four brothers studied medicine in Vienna, and became the physician in Baraczhaza in 1803. He took the initiative and accomplished moving the village from the swampy valley to the hillside.
Can you provide us information how the Capdebo family in Baraczhaza built the buildings and the church?
The Capdebo family originally built the Baraczhaza village. We do not know how and where they lived in their early years. They had to wait until 1821 when Gregory, the physician built the Capdebo neoclassic castle and the large family could move in. It was a two story building with Doric pillars, had twelve huge rooms on the second floor, and hospital rooms on the main floor.
The Capdebo Castle
They had a large park with flowers, benches and with classic stone statues. Later they had a tennis court, and a small lake. In 1860 the castle sold to the Koronghy family, who are related to us, and my great-grandfather Lewis Capdebo bought it back in 1890. In 1918 the castle suffered from fire, and after WWI, when the economical and political situation got worse, the family demolished it in 1923. They planted a vegetable garden in the space of the castle and in the park.
Around 1860 our family built two mansions in Baraczhaza, the “Janos” (John) house and the “Sandor” (Alexander) house. My father told me that in the Sandor house the family spent the summer vacations, and he gladly remembered of those old good days. They also built a seed stalk, which is close to 170 years old, and now it is an agriculture historic museum. These three buildings are still standing in Baraczhaza.
The Janos (John) house in 1901
The Janos (John) house in 1989
The Sandor (Alexander) house in 1901
The seed stalk and the Sandor (Alexander) house with the tower in 1989
The Roman Catholic chapel “Schmerzhafte Mutter Gottes” (Our Lady of Sorrows) which belongs to our family built in 1837 and has room for 100 people. In the crypt there are 45 deceased family members resting in peace.
The Capdebo chapel ~1920
The Capdebo chapel-family reunion in 2007
Lajos Capdebo de Baraczhaza serving mass in the Capdebo family chapel
Can you elaborate to us, regarding the Capdebo family and the Donauschwaben in Baraczhaza?
When the Capdebo family settled down in Baraczhaza, the agriculture was underdeveloped and primitive. They needed people to help them for the reconstruction of agriculture in their village. To achieve this they settled Donauschwaben families from the near villages to Baraczhaza and these families cultivated their lands. The first families arrived in 1832 from Billed/Billed, Perjamos/Perjamosch, Varjas/Warjasch and Detta/Detta. In the 1839 census they counted in the village 175, and in 1892 494 German inhabitant. The Dronauschwaben families worked very hard, and the agriculture developed from the middle of the 19th century.
The Capdebo family helped many Donauschwaben people in Baraczhaza. With the permission of our family350 Catholic Donauschwaben could enjoy the Sunday and other holiday masses in our Roman Catholic chapel.
After WWI and the Trianon Peace Treaty in 1920 Hungary lost two third of its territory. Banat annexed to Romania. According to the new agrarian reform the government dispossessed lands, and our middle class family suffered from financial losses. We were able to keep up the chapel even during the 1930 world crisis, but unfortunately, most of our family left Banat, just some of them stayed behind. By 1939 our family completely dispersed.
The family chapel renovated in 2005 and it is in a very good shape. We would like to express our gratitude to the Donauschwaben families who immigrated to Germany and donated funds during so many years to save our chapel.
It was also surprising, that a friend of yours - Peter Maurer - who was born in Knees, just published a book from the history of Baratzhausen, “Heimatbuch Baratzhausen 1832-2005 Aus der Ortsgeschichte von Baratzhausen” with the book cover of our family chapel.
There are people, who do not forget. This is surprising and touching.
There is a cross statue built in front of the Roman Catholic Church. Can you tell us about the Mebes family?
A schwabische family, the Mebes family lived in Baraczhaza and they built the cross statue in front of the Capdebo family chapel. It is written on it:
Michael & Margaretha Mebesz
I heard an interesting anecdote about the Mebes family from my fathers’ cousin Tibor Capdebo from Budapest.
Tibor’s grandfather, my great-grandfather Lewis Capdebo walked in front of the church, and saw the son of the Mebes family, who was very sad. He asked him why he is so sad. He said that he would like to immigrate to America, but he has no money for the journey. Our good-hearted great-grandfather gave him money, and he went to America. After a few years he came back to Baraczhaza as a rich man.
I read in my father’s family book, that:
In the 1930th this rich man bought some lands and the “Sandor” (Alexander) house from our family. He renovated and built the towers on the building. His name was Michael Mebes.
According to my relatives in Budapest, Rezi Machata is the descendant of the Mebes family. Her maternal grandmother’s name was Mebes. She and my father’s cousin Tibor Capdebo were playmates in their childhood in Baraczhaza. Rezi and her husband lived in Baraczhaza in the Sandor (Alexander) house, and they immigrated 30 years ago to Landshut, Germany.
What do you know about the schwabischen culture and traditions, (cooking and their life style)?
We lived together in Budapest with my father’s mother, so I heard often around our dinner table about the Donauschwaben families from Banat. My grandmother and father talked about them with high respect. They were great farmers, and they kept the villages clean. In Temesvar many of them were craftsmen, and held government positions. They were helpful and very catholic people.
They kept their tradition, and they were great apple strudel, schwabian spätzle, and schwabian pockets makers.
Their linzer, cherry and nut torte are famous, we had some recipes from my great-grandmother’s recipe book.
Let me tell you a joke, it is from my father’s cousin, Tibor Capdebo.
A wealthy schwabische woman from Baratzhausen or from another village went to an instrument store in Temesvar to buy a piano. The salesman asked what kind of piano she wanted. The best, the most expensive, said the woman. When she received the piano, she ordered a second piano. The salesman was curious why the second piano was ordered. Because I have two grandchildren, what will be happening if both of them at the same time want to play on the piano? –She said. After a few weeks later she ordered the third piano. She explained: what if I have a guest coming and wants to play on the piano?
Postcard Baraczhaza from 1901
Top left: the Community Hall with the Greek Orthodox Romanian church, Greek Orthodox Romanian School the Hellberg-store and restaurant.
Left bottom: The Capdebo castle, right bottom: Roman Catholic school with church
Can you name important Capdebo from Baraczhaza/Baratzhausen family individuals and show their role in Banat?
Gergely (Gregory) Capdebo (1776-1840) was an experienced district head-physician of twenty-nine years in the county of Temes, when he started to practice homoeopathy. He treated many patients in ten years; included a number of foreigners who had come from a great distance. According to the Hungarian medical history he was one of the famous physicians of the nineteenth century in Southland.
Erno Kiss (1799-1849), the nephew of Gergely (Gregory) Capdebo’s wife Jozefa Kiss was a Lieutenant General and he was a martyr of the 1848-1849 Hungarian Revolution.
My great-grandfather’s cousin, Geza Ignaz (Ignatius) Capdebo (1830-1916) was born in Baraczhaza in the “Sandor” house. After the famous victory in Custozza, Italy (1866) where he served as Captain of the Husarenregiment No.1, he received from Franz Joseph Austrian Emperor, Apostolic King of Hungary the Third Order of the Iron Crown. He served in 1878 as a First-Lieutenant in Austrian Husarenregiment, No 11. Later he became an Imperial and Royal General.
Geza Ignacz Capdebo de Baraczhaza
His other cousin, Istvan (Steven) Capdebo (1813-1885) was one of the famous chess players of the 19th century Europe.
Istvan Capdebo de Baraczhaza
In the second half of the 19th century the public life of our family has grown. Thirteen family members and relatives participated in the county administrative authority. Here I just mention a few of them.
My great-grandfather Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo (1845-1916) was a judge of the Court of Justice in Temesvar. His brother Sandor (Alexander) Capdebo (1839-1911) was a member of the Municipal local board. In their wills both left money to the poor in Temesvar, and to the disabled poor in Baraczhaza. Ferenc (Francis) Capdebo (1851-?), nephew of Janos (John) Capdebo (1803-1879) was a representative Member of the Parliament. My grandfather, Dr. Dezso (1880-1965) Capdebo was the second Head-Notary of the county of Temes. His brother, Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo (1891-1956) was a Taxation Counselor. My father’s cousin Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo (1913-1974) was a Roman Catholic priest, canon.
I also want to remember the ladies of our family because they had important social roles during WWI. They visited hospitals, and organized charity performances, exhibitions for the orphans and for the widows of the war. According to the Temeswaren Zeitung (Temesvar Newspaper) dated November 1917, there was a charity night and a Doll exhibition in the Temeswar Casino. The article mentions Katalin Zeiller (later married to Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo, and the mother of my father’s cousin Tibor), who was one of the performer, and my grandmother Mrs. Dezso Capdebo, who was one of the organizers of the event.
interesting stories did you find during your research?
We do not have an official data what was the original Armenian name of our family. I have found on a late 19th century Capdebo family tree the following interesting note:
“The Armenian name of the Capdebo family was Krikor, and from the same line originated the Gergelyffy and the baron Kapri family.”
I don’t know who prepared the family tree, and who wrote the note with the same handwriting, perhaps somebody from our family. It is interesting to know, that the name Krikor means Gregory, and Gregory= Gregorian=Gergelyffy.
Our ancestors moved from place to place, and they changed their names with difficult pronunciation to their profession for better understanding. The family main specialty was the cattle trade, for this reason, they changed their name to this profession. The Capdebo name means in Latin caput bovis, and in Romanian cap de bou (ox head).
Our family is also related to the Kabdebo von Kapri family. They lived in Bukovina and on their coat of arms (1682) there is an ox head with a ring in its nose. The Kapri family was Austrian barons. According to our family legend, our family was already a noble family before 1802, and in the old coat of arms there was an ox head with a ring in its nose. We do not know what happened to the old coat of arms.
The oldest Capdebo son -from the four brothers-, Jonas made several business trips to Graz, Austria, which was a large trade centre in his time. I have his 26 x 30 cm portrait in my Edmonton house. The portrait – according to the family legend – we got in an interesting way. One of our corn broker was in Graz and in an antiquarian he recognized the” Mr. Jonah”, and he bought the painting and returned to our family. We do not know why the portrait idled in so many years in Graz. On the back of the painting, the following written in Gothic German:
“Jonas Capdebo, Edler und Grundherr von und zu Baratzhaz in Banat ist Anno 1791 den 26 März in Gratz in Steirer Markt von einer der beruhmten Mahlers…….. in 33-ten Jahr seines Alters apportriert worden.”
"Jonas Capdebo, a noble and landlord from Baratzhausen, in Banat, in the year 1791, on 26 March, in Graz in the Steirmark from one of the famous painters...At the age of 33rd years, was retrieved.”
Steirmark - a province in Austria -Graz is the capital of the province Steirmark. Unfortunately the name of the painter is illegible.
Jonas Capdebo de Baraczhaza
Who are your ancestors in the Capdebo family? Can you give us a brief story of your life and family?
My ancestor was Ferenc (Francis) Capdebo (? -1824), the third from the four brothers; he married Maria (Monika) Verzar (1783-1827). They had six children, and one of their sons was my great-great grandfather Janos (John) Capdebo (1803 Baratzhausen-1879). He married Ida Termasits from Birda (1820-1879), and they had eight children.
Janos Capdebo de Baraczhaza
My great-grandfather, Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo (1845-1916) married Matild Czeypek (1857-1936). He retired as a judge of the Court of Justice at age of 45, and the family moved with their eight children to Baraczhaza in 1890 to lead the agriculture of the family lands.
Lajos Capdebo de Baraczhaza
My grandfather, Dr. Dezso Capdebo (1880-1965) was a jurist, and second Head-Notary of the county of Temes. He married my grandmother Roza Steingassner (1893-1982), who was born and raised in Zsombolya/Hatzfeld, now Jimbolia.
My grandparents in 1911
Her paternal grandfather Joseph Steingassner (1825-?) immigrated from Horersdorf, Austria. She was the only daughter of Emil Steingassner (1858-1913), and Roza Bezuk (1867-1924). Her uncle Steven Steingassner changed his name to Steven Tomorkeny (1866-1917). He was a famous Hungarian writer, lived in Szeged. Her maternal grandfather Lewis Bezuk (1834-1915) was the inspector in the estate of count Andrew Csekonics, (wealthy landowner in Hungary) and a landowner in Zsombolya. Lewis Bezuk`s grandfather was Anton Rochel from Neunkirchen (1770-1847), he was a physician, and a famous botanic. He wrote a book: Botanische Reise in das Banat, nämlich die südliche und östliche Grenze Ungarns. (Botanical journey into the Banat, namely the southern and eastern borders of Hungary).
My father Dezso Capdebo (1913-1995) was an architect. He was born in Temesvar and moved to Budapest in 1929, when he was 16 years old. He married my mother Eva Kvaszinger (1924-1991), who was born in Olaszliszka, Hungary. My mother later changed her name to Tormasi.
My paternal grandparents built in 1939 a ten units apartment house in Budapest, at Batthyany Street 29. During WWII the building had nine bombing attacks. After my grandmother and father renovated the whole house, in 1951 the communist government brought under government management. We lost the house, but we could stay as tenants in one of the apartment. I was born, raised and lived for 29 years in the second floor apartment.
The apartment house
I graduated High School in 1971, worked at MASPED (Hungarian Forwarding Enterprise) and took evening courses in Business. In 1981 we left Hungary, and stayed in an immigration camp in Austria. In 1982 we came to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In the first few years I worked in the hospitality business, than I left my middle management hotel position, because I studied Business and Accounting. In 1992 I got a Finance Clerk job at the University of Alberta Financial Services, Special Funds and Research Accounting. Currently I work at the University of Alberta Research Services Office, as Research Finance Analyst. I married George Hajdu in 1973. My husband is a Pastry Chef, Chef, and Manager in the hospitality industry.
We have two children. Our daughter, Sophia was born in Budapest. She has two NAIT business diplomas, and she is working at the University of Alberta. She married Mark Sherman and they have two children, Alexander and Julianna. They live in Edmonton.
Sophia and Mark
Alexander and Julianna
Our son Szabolcs was born in Budapest, has a University degree in Business, and a Master degree in Finance. He is working at GMAC. He married Erynn Shannon and they live in Toronto.
Erynn and Szabolcs
Your great-grandfather was Lewis Capdebo de Baraczhaza. Do you have relatives from this lineage?
Janos (John) Capdebo (1878-1962) was the older brother of my grandfather, Dezso Capdebo. His daughter Magdolna Capdebo (1919-2002) married to Steven Moldovan. Their descendants are Istvan (Steven) Moldovan, Brigitta Moldovan, Antonia Moldovan and Ignac (Ignatius) Moldovan, and their children. Her brother Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo (1913-1992) was a priest and a canon.
Maria Capdebo (1886-1932) was the sister of my grandfather. Her daughter Maria Baar (1906-1997) married to Sandor (Alexander) Devich. Their children are Sandor (Alexander) Devich and Janos (John) Devich. Their descendants are Gabor Devich, Hanna Devich, Klara Devich, and Marton Devich, Denes Devich, Gaspar Devich, and their children.
Lajos (Lewis) Capdebo (1891-1956) was the younger brother of my grandfather.
Lajos Capdebo de Baraczhaza
His first son is Tibor Capdebo, a retired architect, lives in Budapest with his wife Maria-Magdolna Sajben. They have a son Akos Capdebo, and a grandson Domonkos. Tibor’s brother is Lorant Capdebo (1928-2008) who passed away on April 4th, 2008, in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The youngest brother is Gergely (Gregory) Capdebo, who is a lawyer in Budapest. He has a son Zoltan Capdebo.
What is your research plans in the future?
I would like to know more about my family and find relatives – just name a few – from the branch of Steven Capdebo (1812-1857), who was the brother of my great-great-grandfather, from the Kabdebo from Talpas, Patrubany, Verzar, Issekutz, Kiss, Koronghy, Jakabffy, Kapdebo von Kapri and Steingassner families. I was never in Banat, wish to travel this fall, visit my grandfather’s grave in Arad, and visit Baratzhausen, Knees, Hatzfeld, Temesvar and other places. I hope my children and my grandchildren will also go one day to see where our ancestors lived.
Alex, I thank you so much for all of your help you gave me in my family research and for giving me the opportunity to write on the DVHH web site. When the weather will be nicer, please come up with Rose-Marie and visit us in Edmonton. I also want to thank the Capdebo family from Budapest, Zoltan Koronghy from Budapest, Eva Verzar from Budapest, Janos Kiss from Philadelphia, and Gabor Jakabffy from Rotterdam for their help they provided me in my research.
Eva, I found your interview very interesting and educational. Just like the Donauschwaben, your ancestors traveled to various different countries. It must be an honour to be a member of a Noble Family, of Hungary. According to your story, your family did many good things for the Donauschwaben families in Baratzhausen. Families like, Mebes, Berger, Maurer, Dix, Marx, Ritter, Reiter, and Klingler, just to mention a few. On behalf of the HOG-Baratzhausen, in Germany, and the Donauschwaben in North America, who’s ancestors came from Baratzhausen, are thankful to the Capdebo family from Baratzhausen for opening the doors to them for a new life. For letting them use the Capdebo Roman Catholic Chapel, and continue to practice their faith.
It was a pleasure.
If you have any document, picture, comment, stories to the above, or if you are a relative to our family please send email to me.
My sources: The family history book of my father, certificates, family trees, letters, postcards, pictures, information from the Internet, from friends, and from families