Someone to look up to: Gedeon Rohonczy

Articles - 2017-11-23 10:38:31

Christian's paternal great-grandfather Gedeon Rohonczy, the politician, Parliament representative, landowner, winemaker, horse breeder, inventor, and charmer was born on January 15, 1852 in Budapest.

His father, Lipót Rohonczy was one of Count Károlyi`s colonels during the 1848 War of Independence. At the end of the revolution, he was wounded, captured and sentenced to death. With the help of his friends, the sentence was changed to life in prison. He was imprisoned in Olmütz in 1851 and received pardon a few months before the birth of his son. He died in 1861.

Gedeon`s mother Klára Sissányi, daughter of Pavle Hadžimihajlo, wealthy landowner of Törökbecse. Her marriage portion of  1150 hectares of land became the foundation of the Rohonczy estate. After finishing his studies, Gedeon immediately moved back home and started to develop the estate.  He married Flóra Lónyai in 1875.

In the 1879 tragic Szeged flood, he was deputy government commissioner heavily involved in the rescue work for which he had received a Declaration of Honor from Emperor Franz Joseph.

The vintner

In the late 1900`s he successfully domesticated a South African grape varietal named Krokan on his estate in Törökbecse (today Serbia) and began to produce wine under the name. He also gained success in cross-breeding of varietals of honeydew melons. His favorite “Pearl of Tisza,”  became a gourmet delicacy, individually wrapped and shipped to customers in Budapest, Prague, and Vienna.

Gedeon Rohonczy was founding member of  the " Association of Hungarian Vintners" established in 1902. His estate was spread over 370 hectares, where he cultivated 120 different varieties of grapes on nearly 60 hectares.

His products –fruits, vegetables and wine - were also sold in his shop downtown Budapest  (today a pharmacy on Kecskeméti Street across  ELTE University Faculty of Law). His apartment was a comfortable walk away, at Szervita square above the now supermarket across St. Anna Church.   

The Politician

He was a founding member of the Liberal Party led by Kálmán Tisza (statesman and longtime premier who led the coalition that ruled Hungary for 30 years). Between 1878 and 1901, he represented his line of the country Törökbecse in the parliament. He was well-liked for his garrulous and amusing speeches, which famous Hungarian writer Kálmán Mikszáth also wrote in his pamphlets about. He was also known for his sense of justice and frequent participation in duels. According to the newspapers of the time, he has been injured several times.

The horse breeder

Gedeon Rohonczy owned and operated stables in Alag (famous racecourse near the capital that time) as well as at home in Törökbecse. By 1901 he owned 22 successful racehorses and convinced  American trainer star  Fred Foster to move to Hungary and work for him. From 1910 he focused exclusively on horse breeding.

 The inventor, sportsman, and charmer

Gedeon Rohonczy was the inventor of Columbus skate. He sold the pattern of the flexible ankle-support, easy on-off skates in 11 states of the United States. A skilled ice skater, he also modeled his skates with his partner Matild Jungfer at many competitions. As Count Carnival, he enjoyed the ladies attention at winter parties and balls on the ice of the elegant City Park Lake given by the prominent members of the turn of the century Hungarian high society.

His long, productive and passionate life ended in Budapest in 1929. Uncle Gida`s rich spiritual heritage is a subject of ongoing studies by our immediate and extended family. 

More to read:

Gedeon Rohonczyőpulya/6000000009755326615

Krokan vineyards  Pearl Island, Serbia

Rohonczy Ankle Supporter Skate Patent filed February, 1890