Connections in Komló (or “Coalminer’s Great-Great Grand Daughter”)

Margaret sitting at the desk of her great-great grandfather, Adolph Engel de Jánosi, which is on display at the City Museum in Komló, Hungary. That's Adolph looking down from the wall over her shoulder.

Sometimes when we’re simply LIVING here in Pécs taking the bus to school, teaching a class, going for a run, eating a meal, watching Gaelic rugby on the German sports station, or enjoying a festival performance (which is fairly non-stop around here), I sometimes forget WHY we’re here, why we’ve come all the way to this little eastern Central European country.  I was reminded of the reason, again, when we took the bus to a nearby mining town called Komló about 20 miles north of Pécs in the Mecsek Mountain region.  Wikipedia calls Komló a “planned mining city” during the socialist era.   Unfortunately, the last coal mine was closed in 2000 and now the town has a terrible unemployment problem — there’s essentially no work to be had.

Before the Soviets took over the mines, Komló was called Jánosi.  Margaret’s mother’s maiden name is Engel de Jánosi (and it’s our son James’ second middle name — James Raymond Engel de Jánosi O’Connor), which should give you a clue to the significance of the place.

Here are some archival photos of Komlo:

A mine opening in Komlo, which was likely still called Jánosi at the time.

Komló in 1953 during the Socialist Era - "The Miner's Suburb."

Margaret (and others) are (and have been for some time) sorting through the details and putting together pieces of family history, but I think the gist of the story as it relates to Komlo is that Adolf Engel (1820-1903) essentially opened the mines in Jánosi in the late 1800’s and is at some level responsible for the development of the mining industry in this area.   That’s why there’s a bust of Adolf in front of the museum:

Margaret and James with the bust of Adolf Engel de Jánosi (her great-great grandfather and his great-great-great grandfather) in front of the city museum in Komlo.

And it’s why a section of the Komlo city museum is dedicated to Adolf and his family:

This is part of the Engel de Janosi section of the museum, which features Adolf's office furniture - his desk, sofa and chairs, and the armoire, which was made in his parquet wood factory in Vienna.

And the next two photos help explain why Adolf Engel became Adolf Engel de Jánosi:

This is the first page of the six page document in which Franz Joseph (the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) makes Adolf Engel (and his "legitimate offsprings") members of the Hungarian nobility. He would now be known as Adolf Engel de Janosi (of Janosi).

This is another page from the documents declaring Adolf's nobility. They're beautifully designed documents.

Adolf Engel de Janosi - a wonderful portrait. Do you see a little of Margaret in that face??? Around the eyes, maybe??

There is a genealogical chart on the wall in the museum – it was an amazing feeling to see our little branch of the family included in the display.

Here we are. Click on the photo to see a larger image.

Margaret and James looking into a display case full of family documents- that's the genealogical chart on the wall below the photos.

This is our new, dear friend, Renata, with Margaret. Renata took us to the museum - she's been incredibly helpful and she's become a wonderful friend. She's a school teacher and her husband, Zoltan, is on the History faculty at the University of Pecs.

Adolf's comput-- I mean, typewriter.

Szent Borbala is the patron saint of people who use explosives. This was on Adolf's side table.

Here are a few shots from around Komlo.  It’s really a beautiful town, tucked into a small valley.  Just looking around you wouldn’t think that the town was struggling.  It was clean and there were flowers planted along the road in front of the museum.  A student of Renata’s told us that it wasn’t safe in the evenings, so we headed out before sundown.

An apartment building that was at one time the pride of Komlo. Still looks pretty nice to me.

Cement powerline poles. Very interesting - perhaps a matter of using materials that are easiest to come by. Adolf also established the first cement factory in the area in 1880.

The hamburger stand inside the bus station in Komlo.

And finally, to show that not everything is serious in Hungary — here’s a shot from the “Sports” section of the museum, which was full of photos, statues and trophies from the town’s rich sports history:

2008 Komlo Team Handball Trophy.

The crazy part of all this is that the Komlo/mining element is only a small part of Adolf’s business/industrial/cultural/philanthropic impact on the region.  He owned, built or invested in real estate, schools, railroads, public swimming pools, and lumber yards.  He build some of the most beautiful buildings in Pecs.  As a leading member of the Jewish community in Pecs, he was instrumental in building the synagogue, but also he contributed to the restoration of the Catholic Church, and he paid for the restoration of a church organ in one of the smaller towns where he had a business interest.

Later this fall, the Mayor of Pecs is going to participate (hopefully) in a ceremony to place a plaque commemorating Adolf’s contribution to the city.  We hope to be there.


About patster66

I'm visiting Pécs, Hungary with my wife and son for the Fall 2010 semester. My wife, Margaret McMullan, received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and do research at the University of Pécs. My 13 year old son is attending a semi-bilingual school here called the ANK where I am teaching English Language and Drama to 4th - 8th graders 2 days a week.
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3 Responses to Connections in Komló (or “Coalminer’s Great-Great Grand Daughter”)

  1. Kathy M says:

    What an amazing experience! I can’t imagine what it must feel like to see your names on that chart. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jamesy says:

    This is a tremendous post, Pat. What an amazing experience.

  3. Pingback: Honoring Adolph Engel-Janosi « A Magyar Blog

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