Presentation on theme: "My Roots in America: the Brandt & Roig Families by Robert Hartshorn."— Presentation transcript:
My Roots in America: the Brandt & Roig Families by Robert Hartshorn
Nina Brandt: my maternal grandmother Born February 15, 1908 in a small village near the city of Sombor, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now a part of Serbia). Photo of my grandmother with her two aunts, c. 1920
Life in Austria-Hungary Nina’s parents left her and her two older brothers in the care of her father’s parents and went to the United States when Nina was three (1911). She was raised by her grandparents and learned to speak Hungarian and “High” German. WW1 erupted in her village in 1914 when she was only 6 years old.
Life in Austria-Hungary (cont’d) Life was hard – electricity had not yet come to their village, she went to school but had farm chores when she got home. Her grandfather’s death hurt the family spiritually & economically. Food shortages due to the war made survival a day-to-day struggle.
Push - Pull Factors Grandmother’s death in 1920 left Nina and her brothers without a guardian to care for them. Local authorities contacted their parents who reluctantly sent money for them to come to America. She came in steerage class on the Pannonia, arriving at Ellis Island on 1/10/1921.
Nina’s Ellis Island Experience Upon arriving at Ellis Island, Nina’s brother Josef was almost sent back as inspectors were suspicious that his limp was due to polio and not the true explanation offered by Nina – a childhood injury to his hip. Also, Nina and her two brothers were left stranded on the island for four days as their father would not have time to get them until the following weekend. She admitted that it was “a very scary ordeal” to wait those 4 days.
A New Home: the Bronx Nina’s parents had started a new life in New York and forgot about their three children back in Hungary (Serbia). In America they started a new family and a new business, a laundry (seen in the photo at right).
Life in the Bronx c. 1921 Nina, in addition to her 2 brothers, now had 4 new siblings. She went to school (8 th grade) for 6 months, after which her father had her quit and take a full-time job scrubbing floors in the apartment building they managed. Life was very, very tough. She often cried herself to sleep thinking of better times back in Europe with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Life Gets Better Nina began to bond with her new brothers and sisters as did her 2 older brothers. They quickly took to her and her amiable, low key disposition. The girls – Nina, Liz, Rose & Katie - were inseparable as seen in this photo from 1928 (Katie is missing from photo. Nina is on the left.)
Life in the U.S. c. 1921 Warren G. Harding is sworn in as President. The Emergency Quota Act is enacted, setting limits on immigration. The US formally ends WW1. The first radio broadcast of a baseball game. Babe Ruth and the Yankees win the AL Pennant in the Bronx.
Later Life Nina married my grandfather Casimiro Roig in 1929. My mother, Anna, was born late the following year (1930). Nina worked in a pocketbook factory (1920’s), as a maid (1930’s), and as an assembler in a radio tube factory (WW2). She was also a housewife for the rest of her life. She died in 1997 at age 89. Grandma (Nina) holding me, Christmas 1956.
Memories of Grandma Grandma was an excellent seamstress, gardener, home repairer, and above all, a great cook. My two favorites were her Spanish paella and her Cruschiki -- confectioner sugar-coated fried Polish angel wing cookies made at Christmas. Mmm, mmm.