Hurray Family Photos

Emericus Martinus Zahuranyecz

Emericus Martinus Zahuranyecz was born in "Szepes Varalja" on October 31, 1867.  His birth father was Michael Zahuranyecz and his birth mother's name was Anna Klapacs.  Szepes Varalja is a town that sits below an ancient castle.  This is a sketch of what the town looked like in 1864:
and earlier in 1857:,_Szepesv%C3%A1ralja,_1857,_East_Slovak_Museum,_2018-05-24.jpg

Emericus led an interesting life.  At the age of 12 he was ordered to go get a job in the wine fields near Italy.  He was eventually drafted into the Prussian (Austrian) Navy.   Trieste, Italy at the time was under the control of (Austria) Austria-Hungary (Venice was not at that time).  Trieste was a major port for the Hapsburg empire for over 500 years (since 1382), and the the fourth largest City in that empire behind  Vienna, Budapest and Prague.  Much of the architecture remains, but for an actual picture of Trieste's harbour of how it looked in 1888, showing ships in the harbour (See the "pictures" section of this website).  There is also a close-up of the Trieste Harbor of "Molo San Carlo" in 1900 to give you an idea of how the harbor and people looked then (Emil had already been in the U.S. for over 10 years by then).

Some of the wine fields around Italy are in the upper portions of Venice.  Many of the languages there are referred to by other italian's as "high italian".   (The shop keepers and such located in the Pittsburgh area where Emil emigrated to, were always impressed by the dialect that Emil spoke, being impressed by how he spoke that type of what they considered rare "high italian").  Emil knew at least a total of seven languages.

Emil Hurray would have been "drafted" into the Royal Navy between approximately 1880 and 1890 (perhaps one of those ships in the picture could have been one he had sailed).

After coming to the United States, Emil utilized his skills he learned in the Navy to become a master "cooper" and "tank builder" for the Heinz Corporation in the Pittsburgh/Allegheny County area of Pennsylvania.  Cooper's made barrel's, something that Emil probably learned in the wine country, and a "tank builder" at Heinz may have been related to the pickle industry in some way.

Emil Zahuranyecz

Early Years 1867-1879

Emil Zahuranyecz was born to Anna Klapacs and Michael Zahuranyecz in the year 1867 in the Town of Spisske Podhradie, Slovakia. The first 11 or 12 years of his life were spent in the town. His older sister Maria was born of the same two parents a couple years before him. When he was 5 years old another sister named Anna was born in 1872, and his youngest sister, Susan was born a couple years after that, in 1874. His father Michael most likely passed away in the few years following Susan’s birth (approximately 1875+-); exact date is unknown), because his mother Anna got re-married to Joseph Hurray on Feb. 8, 1875. Joseph (or “Josephus”) was a Mason and a Soldier at the time. Emil was 8 years old at the time she got re-married to Joseph, and as you will learn, he only got to know his father for around 4 years of his childhood, and he only got to know his younger sister, Susan, a short period of time, because when Emil was around 12 y.o., (and Susan 5 y.o.), he was sent to the wine fields of upper N.E. Italy to work.

Sent to the Adriatic Sea

Emil at a young age was sent to work in the wine fields of upper Italy. It was there that he most likely learned the “high Italian” that many were impressed by when he emigrated to the Allegheny/Pittsburgh area around 1890-1892. 1.

In the Navy

There was a naval seaport in Trieste, which was close to the area of Venice at the time. He was most likely drafted in the Royal German Navy.2 A story told by George Hurray was that he jumped ship once at a port in the U.S., probably New York, and they had to get him and bring him back to the ship.


Built his own house

Emil built his own house on McCook St., present address 2348, around the year 1900.

Traveled around the world

In the 1890’s, Heinz corporation, a German corporation had already had a factory in Pittsburgh for a few years. They would advertise in the newspapers for Coopers and “Tank Builders” in the classified ads. Emil was both a master cooper and tank builder for the Heinz Corporation for many years and he traveled around the world for them, including Canada. He was also a master carpenter. If he was doing any sort of shipbuilding in the Navy, that would have helped him with that skill.

Change of Name

Emil’s mother married a “Hurray” after father Michael Zahuranyecz died around 1875 ish. Emil decided to change his last name in the year 1915, to the last name of Hurray. It is not known why he did this.


1. Later in Emil’s life, it was noted by Don Hurray and other relatives that the local shops and bakeries in the Pittsburgh/Allegheny area were quite impressed with Emil’s knowledge of knowing how to speak “high Italian”. He did know several languages, and in that part of Venice there were many languages spoken. “High italian” probably referred to the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which was also heavily influenced by the Austro-Hungarian empire for many years. It is likely that Emil learned to speak “Friulano” and probably absorbed or learned the Cooper trade as well while there.

2. The records of the German Navy from that time period were destroyed by bombing later in the war (WWII). His grandson George Hurray and great grandson Don Hurray, have both re-iterated that it was the Navy, either Prussian or German, but there was also the “Royal Austrian Navy” as well. There were many ships and shipbuilding going on at the time in this port, The port of Trieste. It was used by many people at the time.