A Most Unusual Surname

by Philip John Erdelsky


2004 Erdelsky Family Reunion in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA
2008 Erdelsky Family Reunion in Slovakia

Erdelsky is a most unusual surname, borne by at most a few dozen living people, including married women whose maiden name was Erdelsky, and those who acquired the name by marriage. Telephone books from around the world contain perhaps a dozen entries. An Internet search for "Erdelsky" turns up more than a hundred web pages, but together they refer to just a handful of people.

To protect the privacy of individuals involved, this website gives complete descriptions of only dead persons and living persons who have supplied information to be posted. Published obituaries, where available, have been posted in their entirety.

This website is a work in progress, and will probably remain so for years to come. Many of the biographical details are sketchy, although some will undoubtedly be filled in as family archives are searched.

All persons named Erdelsky can trace their ancestry to Slovakia, or in some cases to Slovak-speaking parts of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. The name itself has at least three variant spellings -- Erdelszky, Erdelyszky and Erdélyszky. The feminine forms Erdelska, Erdelszka, and Erdelyszka are used in Slovakia (and perhaps also some other Slavic countries).

The usual pronunciation of "Erdelsky" in the United States is er-DELL-skee, with the accent on the second syllable. However, an apparent clash between Slovak and English phonologies can make it rather difficult to pronounce. Common mispronunciations are er-DESK-ee, er-DER-skee and el-DELL-skee. Misspellings are also very common. When spelling the name, I have often had to begin with "E as in Echo". ("Echo" is the Navy standard communication word for the letter "E".)

The Slovak pronunciation is er-dell-SKEE, with a softer "r" and the accent on the last syllable. The spelling Erdelský, with an acute accent mark on the accented syllable, is generally used in Slovak.

The coat of arms which appears at the top of this page was supplied by Ivan Michal Erdelsky. It was drawn from a description given in the book Kempelen Bela, Magyar Aristocratic Families, volume 3, page 449, at the Statesman Archives at Bratislava, Slovakia. The family name was Erdelszky-Torday at that time, but it was later shortened to Erdelszky. The spelling was changed to Erdelsky when Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918.

The name itself can be analyzed as "Erdély", the Hungarian name for the province of Transylvania, and the common Slovak ending "sky". Hence it means a person from Transylvania. The name "Torday" in the coat of arms comes from a part of Transylvania called Torda.

A larger image of the coat of arms is available. Just click on the small image above.

Marta Karkalikova (born as Marta Erdelyszka) of Brataslava, Slovakia has researched the Erdelsky family in Slovakia and has compiled a fairly complete family tree. Part of this tree has been posted; click here for the root page. The rest will be posted as soon as possible.

A clickable graphical family tree, with a separate web page for every known Erdelsky, is under construction.

All persons named Erdelsky in the United States, and some in Slovakia, are descended from Konstantine Joseph Mihaly Erdelsky (1837-1914).

There are ten persons named Erdelsky currently living in Canada: Otto Erdelsky, who migrated from Czechoslovakia during the "Prague Spring" uprising in the sixties, his wife and his descendents and their wives. The family tree shown below is accurate for Otto and his descendents. Other entries are based on second- or third-hand information, and may be inaccurate.

Until Marta Karkalikova did her research, it was not known whether the Canadian and American branches are related, but it is now known that they are.

Zsuzsanna Varga and Ferenc Torday scanned some old letters of Mihály Erdélyszky and some marriage records. They are archived here:

erdm1.gif | erdm2.gif | erdm3.gif | erdm2b.gif | erdm1b.gif | erdm3b.gif | erdm4.gif | erdm4b.gif | erdm5ak.gif | erdm7.gif | erdm6.gif | erdm8.gif | erdm10.gif | erdm11.jpg

The Erdelsky Family Trees

CLICK Click on these icons for details on individuals.

DEAD Deceased

    Colors indicate current residence, or residence at time of death:

  • Slovakia
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany

The American Branch, and Their Relatives in Other Countries

The Canadian Branch, and Their Relatives in Other Countries

Corrections? Additions? Compliments? Complaints? Please e-mail the webmaster at pje@efgh.com.