In photo: Anna Brenner Kapp, Nickolaus Kapp, Katherine Kapp and Mary Kapp.
This site is dedicated to the memory of my great-grandmother, Magdalena Lerner Kapp. She lived in a small town called Szilberek, Hungary.
The people of Szilberek were mostly farmers, with some businessmen, who originally came from Germany in the late 1700's at the invitation of the Hapsburgs of Hungary to cultivate and develop the land in Southern Hungary.
After WWI (1918), with the break up of Austria-Hungary, Szilberek was known as Backi Brestovac (Brestowatz), Vojvodina, Serbia, Yugoslavia. After 200 years of building the town and farming the lands, all was taken from our ancestors in October 1944. Russian soldiers and Tito's partisans invaded the towns and began the ethnic cleansing of all Germans. The German people either escaped, were killed or put into concentration camps--never to return to the homeland they loved.
Magdalena Lerner was born on November 27, 1863 in Szilberek, Hungary. She was the 6th of 12 children born to Franz Lerner and Magdalena Gottler. She lived all of her life in Brestowatz, Serbia, Yugoslavia.
Just before her 23rd birthday. Magdalena married Adam Kapp on November 8, 1886. They had 4 children in 6 years: Nickolaus (1887), Eva (1888), Johann (1890), and Adam (1892). Her youngest son Adam died at 1 1/2 in February 1894 and 5 months later, her husband Adam died. Magdalena was now 30 with small children to raise. Her oldest child, my grandfather Nickolaus, was now 7.
When Magdalena was 41, her sister Marianna Lerner Steffan then 26 came to New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1905 with her son Josef. We know her as Marianbaesl. Marianbaesl's husband, Josef, had come to America 3 years earlier to become established and prepare for his family.
Three years later, in 1908, Magdalena's first grandchild, Katharina was born.
The following year in February 1909, Nickolaus at age 21 left for America, leaving behind his daughter, Katharina and her mother, Anna. That was the last time Nickolaus and Magdalena (45) would see each other. In America, Nickolaus stayed with Marianbaesl and her family.
Three months later in May 1909, Eva, Magdalena's second child, married Josef Thiel. They had 3 children. Elisabetha "Lizie" (1910), Matthias born & died in 1912, and Eva "Effie" (1913).
In 1910, Anna Brenner Kapp, who had just lost her mother the month before, came to America to be with Nickolaus, leaving their almost 2 year old daughter, Katharina with her grandmother Magdalena Kapp.
In 1912, another daughter, Mary, my mother, was born to Nickolaus and Anna in America. They all lived with Marianbaesl and her family.
Two years later, in 1914 World War I began. After the start of the war in 1915, when Johann was 25, he married Katharina Neubauer and one month later he was sent to Siberia never to return.
The following year, 1916, Eva's husband dies and in 1918 Eva dies at age 30.
At 55, Magdalena is now raising not only Katharina, age 10, but also Eva's 2 daughters Lizie age 8 & Effie age 5.
During the war years, no one was allowed to leave their homeland as no travel was allowed across the Atlantic ocean. In 1921, three years after World War I ended, granddaughter Katharina now almost 13 is able to travel to America with her mother's niece, Lena Vogl and Lena's son George, to be with her parents and sister. At this time Nickolaus, after living with Marianbaesl all these years, was able to buy a house in Highland Park.
In 1929 when Lizie Thiel was 19, she married Franz Muller. They had 2 children.
1932 Effie Thiel marries Anton Alexander and continues to live with Magdalena who is now 68. They had 2 children, Josef (1935) and Magdalena (1940).
1939 World War II begins
1945 when Magdalena was 81, the partisans were invading her town. Many people like Anton Alexander and his family managed to escape. But Magdalena, who was too old to travel wanted to hide in the cellar. She thought no one would bother an old lady. She left her cellar one day to get water from the well. The local gorillas captured her and put her into the Gakowa Concentration Camp. They beat her and gave her food laced with ground glass and thus she died.
Backi Brestovac - Official name
PS: Looking for family of Effie Thiel Alexander (3/14/1913-2/24/1994). She lived in Eight Mile, Mobile Co., Alabama