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Immigrant Stories: Grandparents’ passage paid by Glenwood Springs rancher

Stephen Bershenyi
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Bershenyi: My grandparents, Joseph Victor Bershenyi and my grandmother Maria Terazia Arth Bershenyi came to this country in 1903, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in steerage on a passenger ship. They landed at Ellis Island and were processed through, and during the processing, they encountered their first challenge in the new world, which was a pretty significant one in terms of their personal lives because they met with a customs agent who couldn’t come to grips with the fact that name was spelled B-E-R-S-Z-E-N-Y-I, so he changed it to B-E-R-S-C-H-E-N-Y.

When they were processed through, they boarded a train in New York City and headed west, their final destination being Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where they had a job awaiting them on a ranch owned by a man named George Hamrick, who had paid their passage across the ocean.

As they were traveling across country on the train, they had a significant layover, almost a day’s layover in St. Louis. There were people at the train depot recruiting bricklayers and stonemasons because St. Louis was in the midst of building all of the buildings for the World’s Fair. And my grandfather, being a classically trained stone mason from his time in Budapest, almost stayed in St. Louis to go to work laying stone. But he and my grandmother decided that they really had no choice but to come to Glenwood since they were indentured to Mr. Hamrick for the amount of their passage and had that debt to repay.



They came ahead to Glenwood Springs, on the train, and when they got off the train with all their worldly belongings they were met by a buckboard and were taken from the train depot in Glenwood to the Hamrick Ranch where they began their life in this country in earnest.

In the intervening years they owned and or worked and rented several ranches in the valley. And by 1947, they were able to purchase the very ranch owned by George Hamrick, for whom they had first come to this country to work.


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