The Zsedeny(i) Family
Stephen Zsedeny (Zsedenyi) was born in Hungary in 1900 and immigrated with his mother Maria Nagy Zsedenyi to this country in 1905. Maria left the Port of Hamburg on October 13, 1905 and arrived at Ellis Island two weeks later with $5.00 in her purse, still facing a trip to Toledo, Ohio to join her husband, Grandfather Stephen. Maria bore Joseph Zedeny (Zsedenyi) in Sep 1908. She died Mar 1909 of Tuberculous with exhaustion as a contributing cause. Sometime prior to Joseph's birth she gave birth to Emma who died later.
To describe Maria's and Stephen's life as hard is to use an understatement. Eastern European immigrants manned the American portion of the industrial revolution following the Civil War just as Irish, English, German, norwegian and other immigrants manned much of the newly settled Great Plains farms. Wages were low and city slums with bad air their homes. Doctors were a luxury seen as a last resort and limited in their effectiveness by a lack of knowledge and medications which we take for granted today. Tuberculous and Pneumonia were big killers. The latter took Stephen senior's life in 1925.
Grandfather Stephen married Anna Matejko May 9, 1910. She was a kind and loving mother to Stephen and Joseph and a Grandmother that I recall with great fondness. After Grandfather Stephen's death She lived at the small, modest family home in the hills above Flemington NJ. I recall visiting her with my father Stephen and later with my wife Dora. She made her own grape wine and cooked some of the best fried chicken I have ever eaten, prepared, of course, Hungarian style. She spoke thick broken English but was such a delightful person it only added to her aura of gentleness. She passed to her adopted sons this same kindness and consideration towards others for which we all owe her a debt of graditude.
My father Stephen Zsedeny was a quiet man, not well educated in a formal sense but intelligent and a very capable, self taught construction tradesman. The card theme for this page is a reminder of the many hours of solitaire he played at the kitchen table. He loved children and in particular his Grandchildren Stephan, Frances and Karen Zedney and my own son Garnett Branch. Steve and Frances remember him when they were very young. He never raised his hand to his children, but was held in such respect that he had only to speak and he got instant obedience. He loved puzzles of any type and always had a few tricks to show off to the kids. During the winter months I used to play checkers with him until I gave up in frustration. He had a talent for mechanics and could fix anything. I recall seeing him grinding the valves of his old car by hand on Sunday so as to have it for work on monday. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1955 at age 55.
Frances Moon (Newell) Zsedeny was born in 1895 on a farm near Bowesmont, Pembina County, ND. As a girl she loved to ride her horse in summer and to ride a horse drawn sleigh in winter. She told of hunting ducks in a nearby slough with a .22 single shot rifle. Her mother Margaret died at or shortly after Frances' birth. Little is known of her father Thomas Moon except that he filed a homestead claim in 1884. She was raised in her early years by Joseph and Margaret Ellis Newell in ND and Saskatchewan, Canada. Joseph died in 1906 and the family followed Margaret's Father William Ellis to Delaware about 1908 or nine.
Frances was an excellent cook and an accomplished pianist in her youth, testament to the fine upbringing provided by her adopted mother Margaret Ellis Newell. In spite of her mastery of cooking, I can recall a few instances of burnt offerings. Any complaints were met with " it will sweeten your breath". Her reply to choosey eaters was "hunger is good sauce". Frances lived some 6 years following Stephen's death, dying in 1961 at age 67.