Surname BALLA

from Hungary / Magyarország

DNA testing

Is your surname Balla from Hungary and do you want to get free DNA testing?
if you find this interesting, please read on!

A project is underway to discover the origins of my ancestor BALLA János (János Balla) who was born about 1828 somewhere in Hungary. His wife was named KOHUT Anna (Anna Kohut) and the earliest evidence I have found is that their daughter Erzsébet was born on 24 May 1858 in the little village of Mezo-Keresztes in the county called Bihar. This village is now called Bihar Keresztes and is on the border of Romania. A search in that village for their marriage turned up empty.

They also had a child named Etelka (diminutive form of Etel) in 1860 before they moved to the town of Békéscsaba in Békés county and that's where Balla János died in 1865 at the age of only 37 years. I found many named Kohut in the Békéscsaba Evangelical church records, so maybe Kohut Anna is from Békéscsaba, but the records of baptism don't say where either parent came from.

I have the suspicion they married in the city of Nagyvarad which is now called Oradea in Romania. It is the largest city around there and as such would be a magnet for people to live. But the last I heard, the Romanian government has never allowed their church records to be copied in any way. So it is not yet possible for me to search on my own through those church records.

Balla János was the postman in Békéscsaba and I think that might be a clue as to his status, because a job like that probably comes from connections. It is tradition in this family that he fought in the 1848 Hungarian revolution at Komarom which is across the river from modern Slovakia on Hungary's modern northern border. But I never found any evidence of this. There was a seige of Komarom and it's well known in Hungarian history, but the reason I didn't find him listed could be because of the nature of the revolution - they enlisted willing Hungarians but records were lacking.

Another tradition is that somewhere in his ancestry is one "Princess Julianna Lichtenstein" and that is actually mentioned when my parents married in New York City after World War 2. So far, I can't find any evidence of this princess, so I think it was more a fairy tale for the little kids that was never corrected as they became adults. They seriously believed it. The daughter of Balla János and Kohut Anna named Balla Erzsébet married to Liska János in 1881 a the Evangelical Lutheran church in the city of Békéscsaba. She had a half brother born after her father died. His name was Kohut Lajos and since his father was unknown, or at least not identified in church records, his name Kohut was later changed to Kosuth which is almost the same as Kossuth. This Lajos Kosuth and his sisiter Balla Erzsébet perpetuated the story that his father was Kossuth Lajos, the leader of the 1848 Hungarian revolution. So I think maybe they are the source of this other family fairy tale about this princess. At least, that's what I think currently. If I can ever make any progress with this ancestral line, I might be pleasantly surprised.

So this leads me to this project I have to discover more about these ancestors with the modern help of DNA testing.

I have taken the Family Finder DNA test available through the company called Family Tree DNA (website: ) and so have done what I can do on my own. One of my 2nd cousins whose common ancestors are only these same Balla and Liska lines has also taken this DNA test. Together, we have found one single person who is a match to us, but as yet this person has not responded to emails and I have no idea if he knows anything about his ancestors. Three more of my cousins, two who are 1st cousins and one 1st cousin, once removed, are getting tested and their DNA results will hopefully identify more people whom we match. There is at least one candidate whose ancestors on their mother's side come from this same Balla and Liska line in Hungary and we will hopefully some day learn more from DNA testing.

But this project is an effort to discover more about my Balla ancestors by another method. My idea is to seek others named Balla, especially males, but not limited to just males, and get two tests done. The first will be this same Family Finder test. The results will allow us to see if we are related back about 200 years ago from the date of birth of the person testing. I was born in 1959, so theoretically my test results show DNA back to about the 1750s. The two candidates who are my cousins were born in about 1920, so their tests would show DNA back to about 1720 and that's about the earliest the Hungarian records from the churches exist. If we can find any match and prove it, it will have to fall within that time frame. It's about 100 years or 4 generations beyond what I currently know about my ancestor named Balla János.

Testing from the next older generation than me and my 2nd cousin will reveal more possible matches to other people and is therefore the best possible help to us in this search.

I have described more about this Family Finder test on another page on my website, as applies also to my Portuguese ancestry. It is worth reading:

The other test will be beneficial to all named Balla in Hungary as it is the test for the Y-DNA available only to males. It shows the DNA on the direct paternal line back into the mists of time.

The theory is that by testing any male with the surname Balla from two distinct families, we can see if they are related, even if it's over 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, and more. So I want to test as many possible people named Balla that we can find and start to build a picture of the ancestry of all these Balla branches.

In order to help find willing subjects to get this test, I am asking all my cousins to consider helping by financing this testing. The first test will always be the Family Finder test to see if we are related closely enough to show up there. That test is $99 plus $10 postage. Once that test is submitted to this company above, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), it takes about 6-8 weeks to get the results.

Based on the Family Finder results, we will decide on whose results should be tested further with getting the Y-DNA test revealing the direct paternal line. If we find someone named Balla is showing as our relative, he will be a top candidate for the Y-DNA test because it could be that it is also our direct Balla line. Once we decide where to go with further testing, we will order a second test which currently costs $169 for their 37 marker Y-DNA test. The great thing is that once you get one test, you don't need to send in another saliva sample. They keep your test kit for at least 25 years and at any time you can upgrade to another test or level. My father got his Y-DNA test first at the 37 marker level, then two years later upgraded to the highest which is the 111 marker level.


This leads me to now ask for anyone reading this to first consider whether you would be willing to help finance these test kits.

And secondly, are you a candidate for this test? The candidates must be named Balla with origins from Hungary. There are some named Balla I have found with Italian origins and it might be that our Balla ancestors do have Italian origins. But right now we will not consider that because that would be way too remote to connect to our own Balla ancestors. We can accept males or females for this Family Finder test. And it is not necessary to have the surname Balla yourself. But at the start, I would like to have people whose parents or grandparents were named Balla. We might eventually expand to allow someone whose great-grandparents were named Balla qualify for testing, but for now it will be only parents and/or grandparents.

If you do qualify using the above criteria, you can either pay for this testing yourself or if you can't afford it and if we can gather up the finances through my cousins who are the descendants of these above named Balla ancestors, you can get this Family Finder test done at no charge, free to you. Of course, anyone else interesting in helping finance this research is also quite welcome.

The way it will work is that I will keep a list of anyone willing to contribute money for this testing. And when I find some candidate who needs help to pay for the test, I will alert my cousin or other volunteer and place an order for the test kit to be sent to the candidate from Family Tree DNA. The candidate will have instructions for how to take the sample. It's a simple process of using a tiny brush to scrape the inside of the cheek and then putting it into a sealed vial and into the mail. When results are back, we will see where that leads us. Any candidate for whom we pay for the test will have me as the administrator so I can do the analysis and work to see how it helps us in this search. Of course, all these results will also be revealed to the testee and I will personally help them by answering questions and in learning more about their ancestors.

Tests results will be compiled and made available to others named Balla and to my cousins so we can see how it's all progressing. Any break throughs will be quickly broadcast to all interested parties.

Part of the process will be to send me your own family tree as best you currently know. I don't expect you to know a lot, but if you do, please send all relevant information about your Balla ancestry. Especially important are their names, dates of birth, marriage and death and don't forget locations both in the USA, in Hungary or any other countries where they lived.

I will be creating a giant Balla family tree. At first, there might be many distinct branches with no known connections. But as we progress, I hope to begin joining up these different Balla families and see what we've got.

Connecting them all is unlikely, but I hope we can at least connect them by DNA. We just have to wait and see what turns up. We don't already know the answers and that's the exciting part. Let's see what we can discover.

So are you interested? I can't wait to start getting some feedback from people after reading about this project.

Please send email to me here:

Thank you,
Doug Holmes
Sacramento, California

Update: Since writing the above in 2014, in April 2015 I started the BALLA from Hungary project at FamilyTreeDNA, where you can both donate for testing and also join in the project and see the others involved in this group. The project website is located here:

To see where my other genealogical interests lie, please visit my home page and click your way through my website:

We also have a similar project going for the surname Liska, which you can read about here: