I am starting to work on the story of my Grandpa and Grandma George's neighbour and friend, Mrs. Lehotzky. I knew Mrs. Lehotzky when I was a little girl. Often, she would come to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at our house. As a child, there were only a few things I knew about Mrs. Lehotzky. Her first name was Gizella and she grew up in Hungary. All the years that I knew her, she lived by herself. Her husband had died a long time ago. Her only son, Gerald, died when he was thirteen. The story I had been told was that Gerald was on his way to the library on his bicycle when he was struck by a car. He had been good friends with my Uncle Dave as they were in the same grade at school. And, the last thing I remembered about Mrs. Lehotzy was what Grandma George told me. She said that you could always remember how old Mrs. Lehotzy was by the last two digits of the current year because Mrs. Lehotzky had been born at the turn of the (20th) century.
Well, my grandparents passed away, I grew up and we lost touch with Mrs. Lehotzky. For many years, I wondered whatever happened to her.
This past spring my brother and I were chatting about our grandparents, and I asked him if he remembered Mrs. Lehotszky. He replied yes, he did remember her, and he knew what had happened to her. My brother had gone camping with some friends in the fall of 2008. While camping, he met a man from Windsor. It turned out that he knew Mrs. Lehotzky. In fact, this man used to be Mrs. Lehotzky's mailman, and his mother's backyard backed onto Mrs. Lehotzky's backyard. This mailman told my brother that Mrs. Lehotzky hadn't lived in her house on Highland Street for a long time. She had been moved to a nursing home and that she had died in 2004. Mrs. Lehotzky had lived to be 104 years of age!
Finally, I knew what happened. The wheels started turning in my brain. I thought it was a shame that Mrs. Lehotzky had no one that I knew of, other than my brother and me, to remember her. I decided I wanted to know more about her. Where did she come from? What really happened to Gerald? What happened to her husband? I wanted to blog about her so that she would not be forgotten.
This past autumn I started to do some digging into the Lehotzky family. I have not been able to find an obituary for Mrs. Lehotzky. I'm guessing an announcement was not put into the newspaper because she had no descendants. A bit more research with the local newspaper did confirm the story about Gerald. In fact his accident and death made the front page of the newspaper that day in 1954. I found a surprise in Gerald's obituary. It which mentioned that he had had a sister named Clara who predeceased him! This was news to me, as I never knew that Mrs. Lehotzky had had a daughter.
Scrolling through another roll of microfilm, I found the obituary for Mrs. Lehotzky's husband, Rudolph. He passed away in 1959. That means that Mrs. Lehotzky had been a widow for 55 years!
Just before Christmas, Library and Archives Canada released the Canadian Naturalization database, 1915-1932. This is an every name indexed database for people who applied for and received status as naturalized Canadians. This is an excellent database for searching ancestors who were not part of the British empire. I decided to check it out and ran a search on Rudolph Lehotzky. I hit the jackpot! Not only did I find him listed, I found Mrs. Lehotzky too. She was listed as Gizella Schindler. I now had her maiden name!
My research into Gizella Schindler and Rudolph Lehotzky continues. This has involved some Eastern and Central European research, which is something I thought I would never do. I have had some exciting discoveries this past week and am starting to piece together their lives and where they came from.
Copyright 2010 by Kathryn Lake.
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