Here are some interesting family footnotes:

I found a listing at the Ellis Island web site for a Piroska (Tiroska) Ratzenberger entering the US on August 29, 1909 on the S.S. George Washington. She was single and 21 years old. Her occupation was listed as a clerk. She entered the US from Budapest, Hungary and came to the US to visit her uncle, Joseph Ratzenberger who lived on Spruce Street in Bridgeport, Ct. She visited previously in 1902. She was 5″ with a fair complexion, blonde hair and green eyes. She was born in Jablonitz, Hungary (in the Sudetenland). I have my Joseph Ratzenberger living on Pine St in Bridgeport. Ellis Island also lists a Josef Ratzenberger coming to the US on June 24, 1895 on the Veendam. However, I have been unable to access the manifest image. His age is about right. These leads could tie the Sudetenland branch to the Hungarian branch.

Family legend has it that our family originally came from Saxony Germany and had a castle there on an island. We were Catholics and went to war with the Hussites in the 17th Century. They won so we fled to Austria under the protection of the Hapsburgs. While at the court Anna Ratzenberger had an affair with one of the Hapsburgs and had a child. (or it could have also have been that Anna was the offspring).

There appear to be three branches of the Ratzenberger family: a Hungarian branch, an Austrian branch and a “Sudetenland” branch. “Sudetenland” being a German speaking enclave of Czechoslovakia consisting mostly of well-to-do farmers.

John Deszo Ratzenberger is a respected comedic actor, most famous for his portrayal of Cliff on the popular and critically acclaimed television show, “Cheers”.

William Albert Ratzenberger Jr. was a Jazz musician who played with the likes of Xavier Cugart, Tommy Dorsey, etc. He invented the “Jet-tone” mouth piece for the trumpet. He was the owner of the Continental Restaurant (Jazz club).

Joseph Ratzenberger was witness to the flight of Gustave Whitehead’s airplane in Bridgeport, Ct. A flight that took place prior to first flight of the Wright Brothers.