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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Generosity of Fejervary pays for college scholarships today

Fejervary mansion
The count and his mansion overlooking the Mississippi (Danube clone).
His grave in Davenport.


Generosity of Fejervary pays for college scholarships today:


April 05, 2011 5:04 pm  •  Alma Gaul(0) Comments

The mansion of Count Nicholas Fejervary (inset) was converted to an inn when the estate became a city park, and it was torn down in the mid-1930s. It stood about where the parking lot for the Fejervary Park aquatic center is now. (Contributed photos)
(5) More Photos
Q&A ABOUT NICHOLAS FEJERVARY

Q: Why did Nicholas Fejervary settle specifically in Davenport?

A: It's said that he wanted to avoid the commercial Eastern United States and the South's use of slavery, so came to "the West" and to Davenport, which reminded him of Hungary on the Danube River. He moved here when he was 41 years old with a wife and two children.

Q: What was his estate like?

A: He built a mansion of red brick; clay for the brick came from the site. The 21-acre estate had vineyards, an orchard, arbors and a running brook.

The estate was donated to the city in 1902 by Fejervary's daughter for use as a park. It is now about 75 acres, according to the city's website.

Initially, Fejervary's home was converted to an inn, but it was torn down in late 1933 or 1934, according to a brochure published by the now-defunct Fejervary Zoological Society, a support group. The home stood where the parking lot for the swimming pool is now.

The park has been a revolving door of attractions through the years - Monkey Island, Mother Goose Land and a zoo containing various types of animals.

Q: What was Fejervary like?

A: He was described as courtly and dignified, a gentlemen of the old school. He could read and speak English, Latin, Greek, German, Hungarian, French, Spanish, Italian and Sanskrit.

In Hungary, he had been a lawyer and a member of the legislature. It's said that when he came to Davenport, he carried "a gripsack full of gold."

Q: What happened to him and his family?

A: Fejervary died in 1895 at the age of 84 of Bright's disease, an old name for a kidney disease. He was preceded in death by his wife and teenage son. All are buried in Davenport's Oakdale Memorial Gardens. His daughter, Celestine, returned to Hungary. She did not have any descendants, according to Ferenc Beiwal, of Davenport, who researched the family history.

Q: In addition to the charitable trust that established a nursing home and now funds college scholarships, as well as the donation of his estate for a park, what other lasting impacts did Fejervary have on Davenport?

A: He was the driving force behind the raising of money for the Civil War monument on Main Street in Davenport and was described as "one of the makers of Davenport."



In the late 1840s, Count Nicholas Fejervary of Pest, Hungary, could see that the future was dicey for people like him.

A revolution seeking to overthrow his country's Austrian oppressors had failed, and in the aftermath, the property of noblemen such as himself was being confiscated. Worse, friends were being executed.

Fejervary decided to flee Hungary for a new life in America.

In 1853, he landed in Davenport, where he built an estate on land that is now Fejervary Park. He chose the location because the steep bluffs and river overlook reminded him of his home on the Danube River. One of the original buildings remains there today, a three-story carriage barn with fancy windows and trim that needs some repair.

The park is one of several legacies left by Fejervary, who grew his wealth by purchasing more than 3,000 acres of government land in Scott, Cedar and Muscatine counties and selling it at considerable profit.

When he died at age 84, he also established a charitable trust that in recent years has paid thousands of dollars in college scholarships for Scott County students and to various organizations such as Scott County 4-H, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Meal Service of Scott County and the former John Lewis Community Services.

This past fall, the Fejervary trustees filed papers to divest the trust and transfer $1.35 million to the Iowa State University Foundation to create a scholarship program that will provide, in perpetuity, substantial scholarships for students from Scott County majoring in agriculture.

After more than 100 years of administering the trust, the trustees - whose membership rolled over through the years through death and new appointments - decided to end the trust because taxes and administrative costs were draining too much from the principal and interest, and that was not in keeping with Fejervary's intent, according to documents filed in the Scott County Clerk of Court office.

Also, turning funds over to the nonprofit foundation for scholarships would be in keeping with Fejervary's goal of helping those in need and with an affiliation to agriculture. And it would avoid some tax liability for the trust, according to court documents.

By investing the money, Iowa State expects to have about $50,000-$60,0000 available annually for scholarships, and it plans to award almost 20 gifts of $3,000 each, said Paul Caspersen, the executive director of development in the office of gift planning.

He calls that a "tremendous" award, noting that it nearly covers a semester of tuition.

How it began

Scholarship money isn't what Fejervary originally had in mind, though.

His trust was for the building of a Home for Old Farmers of Scott County on 4 1/2 acres of land north of Davenport's Rusholme Street between Grand and Arlington avenues.

The home would provide a place to live for Scott County farmers who had been in agriculture for more than 20 years, were born in the United States, at least 60 years old and indigent, according to his will.

But even in the early years, trustees had trouble finding people who met those requirements.

In documents dated from 1902 to 1904, the trustees reported that the home had just one resident and that staffing by a matron and superintendent was "imprudent" and "extravagant."

By the 1960s, the property had been opened to other people as a nursing home, and it operated as such until 1977, when it was shut down by the Iowa Department of Health for structural noncompliance.

The original building was torn down and a new one was constructed, opening in 1979 and known most recently as Fejervary Healthcare Center.

Meanwhile, year after year, trustees filed documents stating that they had tried unsuccessfully to find - largely through the publication of notices in the Quad-City Times - people who would meet the admission standards laid out by Fejervary.

In 1996, they determined that the original purpose of the trust was "essentially impractical or impossible," so they applied to amend the purpose and beneficiary provision of the trust, and that is when payments to nonprofit groups and scholarships began.

Carriage barn.


Decision to divest

At the same time, taxes were causing trustees to question the future of the trust.

In a 16-year period from January 1979 through December 1994, for example, the trust paid $235,558 in federal and state income taxes, according to documents.

"It is clearly not the settler's intention to set aside money to pay federal and state income tax," the documents state.

Administrative costs related to the trust's investments, as well as accounting and legal services, also were taking their toll, and trustees noted in documents that those costs "may well utilize annually a substantial portion of the income and principal of the trust, thereby defeating the donor's intent."

At the end of 2009, the trust showed total assets of $1,412,871. That included $563,065 received for the sale of land that the former Fejervary Healthcare Center sits on to Skilled Healthcare Inc. of Foothill Ranch, Calif. At the same time, Skilled Healthcare also purchased the 118-unit building, which was held by a different owner, and renamed it St. Mary Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

Most of the Fejevary Trust money was invested in bonds, certificates of deposit, and income, money market and mutual funds.

In October 2010, the trustees filed for termination of the trust and the transfer of money to ISU. Additional monies would go toward annual gifts of $6,000 for 10 years to both Scott and Muscatine Community colleges, documents state.

Benefits yesterday, tomorrow

In this way, the generosity of a man who died more than 100 years ago will benefit the lives of people living today.

Among those who already have benefited are Andrea Engler of rural Wheatland, Iowa, and Dan Klindt, of rural Eldridge, Iowa. Both received $3,000 scholarships from the trust in 1999 to study agricultural business at Iowa State.

Engler, 31, works from her home for the Minneapolis-based Land O Lakes Finance Company, loaning money to people across the country for livestock production enterprises. She and her husband Curt also farm, growing corn, soybeans and hay while raising about 100 stock cows.

Klindt, 32, sells turf products for River City Turf in Silvis, Ill., and farms near Eldridge, raising corn and soybeans.

"I really appreciated the scholarship," he said.

Previous scholarships went to students attending other colleges and universities as well, including Kirkwood Community, Central, Black Hawk, Muscatine Community, Augustana, Wartburg, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the University of Iowa and St. Ambrose University.

Nonprofit groups receiving money since 1996 included the North Scott High School Vocational Agriculture Department for the benefit of FFA, Valley Shelter Homes, the Salvation Army and Friendly House.

Editor's note: Biographical information on Nicholas Fejervary in this article and the accompanying question-and-answer story is from documents in the Special Collections Room of the Davenport Public Library, including an article in the 1928 Palimpsest magazine, a tribute written by Octave Thanet, and the books, "History of Scott County Iowa" and "Biographical History and Portrait Gallery of Scott County Iowa."

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Q&A ABOUT NICHOLAS FEJERVARY

Q: Why did Nicholas Fejervary settle specifically in Davenport?

A: It's said that he wanted to avoid the commercial Eastern United States and the South's use of slavery, so came to "the West" and to Davenport, which reminded him of Hungary on the Danube River. He moved here when he was 41 years old with a wife and two children.

Q: What was his estate like?

A: He built a mansion of red brick; clay for the brick came from the site. The 21-acre estate had vineyards, an orchard, arbors and a running brook.

The estate was donated to the city in 1902 by Fejervary's daughter for use as a park. It is now about 75 acres, according to the city's website.

Initially, Fejervary's home was converted to an inn, but it was torn down in late 1933 or 1934, according to a brochure published by the now-defunct Fejervary Zoological Society, a support group. The home stood where the parking lot for the swimming pool is now.

The park has been a revolving door of attractions through the years - Monkey Island, Mother Goose Land and a zoo containing various types of animals.

Q: What was Fejervary like?

A: He was described as courtly and dignified, a gentlemen of the old school. He could read and speak English, Latin, Greek, German, Hungarian, French, Spanish, Italian and Sanskrit.

In Hungary, he had been a lawyer and a member of the legislature. It's said that when he came to Davenport, he carried "a gripsack full of gold."

Q: What happened to him and his family?

A: Fejervary died in 1895 at the age of 84 of Bright's disease, an old name for a kidney disease. He was preceded in death by his wife and teenage son. All are buried in Davenport's Oakdale Memorial Gardens. His daughter, Celestine, returned to Hungary. She did not have any descendants, according to Ferenc Beiwal, of Davenport, who researched the family history.

Q: In addition to the charitable trust that established a nursing home and now funds college scholarships, as well as the donation of his estate for a park, what other lasting impacts did Fejervary have on Davenport?

A: He was the driving force behind the raising of money for the Civil War monument on Main Street in Davenport and was described as "one of the makers of Davenport."



'via Blog this'

The Count.

The mansion.


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Celestine Fejérváry

THE HISTORY OF CELESTINE FEJÉRVÁRY AND THE KÁRÁSZ (HER MOTHER'S) FAMILY

Mrs Fejérváry, Karolina Kárász, came from an ancient, prominent and prosperous family in Hungary. The family lived in Horgos, then in Hungary, in Yugoslavia after World War 1. Of the 14 children her parents had, only she and brother Imre survived into adulthood. Her father, intent on alleviating the devastation of the pestilence, was planning to found an orphanage, but early death prevented his plans. Karolina was going to carry out the plans, but her marriage to Nicholas Fejervary and their emigration to the US put her plans on hold. She left her daughter, Celestine Fejervary, with a legacy to carry out the plans. Karolina died in 1890 and is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Davenport, Ia.

Celestine was born in 1848 in Budapest, Hungary. She was named after Celestine Dvornikovich, who was her father's aunt. (This aunt was like a mother to Nicholas Fejervary since his real mother died four weeks after his birth.) Celestine was the second child of the family, following the birth of Nicholas Jr. in 1847. In 1863 she became the surviving child, since Nicholas Jr. passed away that year. He fought in the Civil War on the Union side, but the circumstances of his death are unclear. He is buried with his parents in Davenport.

In her formative years Celestine attended church with her mother at St Mary's Catholic Church in West Davenport. At times she walked there with a friend, Susan Glaspell (later a Pulitzer prize winning author). In 1883 the church acquired a new organ, built by the Moline Pipe Organ Co. At the opening concert Miss Celestine Fejervary was one of the organists, probably instrumental in selecting two scores for the program by Franz Liszt, her compatriot. Celestine then became the main organist of the church.

In 1888, using her assets in Hungary, Karolina set up a foundation in her will to build an orphanage in Horgos. Following Karolina's death in 1890, Celestine carried out her mother's wishes, and deposited 91,600 florins in the foundation. The orphanage, run by an order of teaching nuns, was opened in 1898 for 20 girls.

In 1893 she visited Europe and in Belgium acquired a painting for St Mary's, still the altar piece at the church. The painting is a copy of Raphael's "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin", painted by Guido Rene, an 18th century court artist for the King of Belgium.

In 1895 Count Fejervary died, leaving a large estate for his daughter. The following year Celestine returned to Hungary, presumably to Horgos. She retained the Fejervary family's holdings in Davenport, and only in 1902 offered the family mansion and the surrounding 23 acres to the City of Davenport. We know of only one trip back to Davenport: in 1906 she returned, bringing her niece on a tour of America. That was probably the occasion when Celestine brought the Cezanne painting, Boy with the Red Vest, as a gift for Alice French, her friend. (Alice French was another accomplished local writer. She was known to have visited the White House, was a good friend of Andrew Carnegie, and others. Many details of Celestine's life come from a biography of Alice, where their correspondence is referenced.)

In 1912 Celestine added 63,00 krones and 132 acres of land to the orphanage foundation to double its size. There was space now for forty orphans and very poor girls to attend elementary school (6 to 12 years of age), and to learn home economics (12 to 16).

In 1914 the war broke out. In a letter Celestine asked Alice for help in disposing some Fejervary property. Alice agreed and also organized aid drives for Hungarian war wounded. She organized sewing and knitting groups and was instrumental in arranging the sending of supplies to Hungary by the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Still later Alice organized a Fejervary Committee to continue a program of aid. In 1915 Celestine turned the Karasz mansion in Horgos into a nursing home for wounded soldiers.

In 1917 the US entered the war, and Hungary was now an enemy. That year, the rest of the Fejervary estate was ceased by the Federal Government, as alien property. Alice opposed the seizure by organizing petitions to return the property to its rightful owner, who after all was an American citizen. With the war over, in 1921 Alice succeeded. In response to a petition with 6,000 signatures Celestine was granted $10,000 for the property seized by the Government.

The above episode is the last mention of Celestine in Alice's biography. The biography stretches to 1934, when Alice passed away. It would be reasonable to suppose that at the conclusion of the war, Celestine would move North, as Horgos and the district of Bánság (now Vojvodina) became part of Yugoslavia. She moved to Mezöberény, Hungary, and died there on Nov 4, 1937. Efforts are under way to find information about her life in that community.

Other members of the Karasz family stayed and are still living in Horgos, YA, and the surrounding area. On Oct 10, 1945 the advancing Russian troops marched into Horgos and "liberated" the village. The new communist regime confiscated the holdings of the Karasz family and the nuns were turned out of the orphanage. At first the buildings were used as soldiers' barracks. In 1949 the orphanage became a grade school. In 1966 the orphanage, still a school, was renovated and enlarged. In 1969 the Karasz mansion too was modified into classrooms. To honor the Russian liberators and the new order, the communist leadership named the school The Oktober 10 Elementary School. It was to remind the village forever of their benefactors. In 2002, the school's name remains, even though the communist influence subsided. Villagers are regaining their freedom, and are ready to part with the names and institutions imposed upon them. Some of them feel that the Fejervary-Karasz name for their elementary school would pay homage to the families who contributed so much to the history of their village and school. That is why in 2002 an email message arrived in the Davenport City Hall. It requested information about Fejervary descendents. Subsequent contact with Horgos indicated that they would like to establish contact with Davenport, perhaps on a formal or semiformal level. They intend to publish a pamphlet on the history of the Davenport – Horgos connection.

In July 2003 a package was received from Zoltan Nagygyorgy, the Horgos district historian. It contained the Karasz family tree; four beautiful postcards (color) of Horgos historic sites; three illustrated pamphlets on Horgos history, and of a colorful periodical published in Hungarian; a brochure about the local farmers COOP; articles reflecting the recent relations of the Hungarian minority with the Yugoslavian majority; and finally the book Beszelo Multunk* noted below. This book of 256 pages contains an abundance of information and illustration beside the three articles also noted below. Contents of the package will be offered to the Davenport Public Library.

Ferenc Beiwel, Davenport, 9/2/03.

SOURCES

Octave Thanet, Nicholas Fejervary in Memoria, A Tribute of Affection and Respect (Budapest, Hungary, 1898.)
George McMichael, A Journey to Obscurity, 1965 (a biography of Alice French, also known as Octave Thanet, her literary name.)
William L. Smith, ST. Mary's Church 1867 - 1967
Istvan Palatinus, A Karasz Csalad es Horgos Telepitesenek Tortenete, 1995. (About The Karasz Family and the Resettlement of Horgos)*
Ilona Karasz, A Horgosi Arvahaz es a Zarda Kronikaja, 1995.(The Story of the Horgos Orphanage and Convent)*
Imre Taborosi, Fejezetek Horgos Oktatasugyenek Tortenetebol, 1995. (Chapters from the History of Educational Institutions in Horgos)*
* All three of these works were published in Beszelo Multunk (Our Past Speaks), (Ujvidek, Yugoslavia, 1995)