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       doctors and dentists. The number of machine shops owned by Hungarians were also substantial. Hungarian contributions to the machine manufacturing industry are frequently hidden by the anonymity of the company names, such as: Western Aluminum Match Plate Company, Clybourne Pattern Works, Proof Machine & Brass Foundry Company, Palfy-Bock Die & Mold, etc.

C. A COMMUNITY COMES INTO BEING

       The development of the Buckeye Road Hungarian community on the east side was largely responsible for the influx of Hungarians to the City of Cleveland in the early 1900s. Generally, Hungarians were more than willing to immigrate to a city or town where their fellow countrymen had already settled. The ethnic enclave eased the initial shock of immigration by providing assistance in finding employment and companionship with others of the same background. This effect compounded itself-the more the neighborhood grew, the more immigrants came and vice-versa. Cleveland's Hungarian immigrant population rose sharply from 9,558 in 1900 to 43,134 by 1920. Hungarians constituted 8 percent of the city's foreign-born population in 1900, which increased to 18 percent by 1920.13

       Effective organizations and institutions were made possible by the concentration of Hungarians in one neighborhood. In 1911, one newspaper describes the Buckeye Road community as a large Hungarian city, with many thousands of inhabitants, several churches, schools, six newspapers, and even the business district's official language being Hungarian. According to one author's estimate, 81 Hungarian organizations were active in Cleveland by 1911.14

 


 

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       Large-scale projects, involving the support of all Hungarians living in Cleveland, stimulated a sense of community awareness and pride. The statue of Louis Kossuth was erected in 1902 when 10,000 Hungarians lived in Cleveland. The project received much applause and praise from local dignitaries and the general public, which further heightened the community's sense of accomplishment. Another project, the founding of the United Hungarian Societies, also promoted unity and a sense of common purpose. The Societies was founded when only 12 organizations existed in the Hungarian community. It is today as it was at its founding, unique among all Hungarian-American organizations in the United States.

       This sense of community awareness and unity was further enhanced as Cleveland became the leader and pace-setter for all Hungarian communities throughout the United States. Major movements of general interest to all Hungarian-Americans originated in Cleveland. The American Hungarian Federation was founded in Cleveland in 1906 to represent Hungarians living in the United States and to safeguard their rights as American citizens. The movement to erect the statue of George Washington in Budapest was initiated and carried to fruition by Tihamér Kohányi, editor of the Szabadság, a Cleveland-based newspaper. These are but two of several examples.

       The order in which the community organizations were established is noteworthy. First of all, the self-help/sick benefit societies were organized. These societies were formed in response to a need for security at a time when social security, unemployment compensation and disability were unheard of in the United States. In a country which was foreign and many times hostile to these immigrants, they formed their own sick

 


 

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benefit and insurance organizations to provide this desperately needed security.

       Interestingly, soon after these initial needs were met, numerous cultural, civic and community service organizations were initiated. The cultural foundations were laid nearly simultaneously with the establishment of the Hungarian community.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *

 

       In 1886, the first Hungarian organization in Cleveland was formed as the result of a frightening incident in the neighborhood. An immigrant man died without friends or relatives and during the night he was carted away to an unknown destination. No one knew whether he had been properly buried. This disturbed the Hungarian community to such extent that soon an organization was formed-the Gróf Batthány Lajos Society, for the purpose of providing sick benefits and funeral expenses. It was named after Count Louis Batthány, Prime Minister of Hungary in 1848. The Society's secondary aims included protecting the rights of Hungarian immigrants and informing Clevelanders about the Hungarian people, their customs and traditions.

       The first Hungarian sick benefit societies in Cleveland were founded as independent organizations. The establishment of the Grof Batthány Lajos Society was followed by the Nicholas Zrinyi Sick Benefit Society and the Kossuth Society. Countless other mutual benefit societies, representing a vast variety of occupational, denominational, political and social circles, came into existence. One example of many, the Cleveland Hungarian Young Men's and Ladies' Society (1891), had assets exceeding $54,000, and

 


 

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The Cleveland Hungarian Young Men's and Ladies Society Clubhouse on Buckeye Road. Built: 1929.

 

The fifteenth aniversary of the first Hungarian Reformed Women's Sick Benefit Society (1895-1910)

 


 

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membership reportedly at 1,020 in 1935.15 The Society's clubhouse at 8637 Buckeye Road was one of the social and civic centres of the Hungarian neighbourhood.

       Other sick benefit and insurance organizations were founded for a dual purpose: to provide insurance and to bring together Hungarians of one denomination for the purpose of establishing a church. Through the efforts of the King Saint Ladislaus Roman Catholic Men's and Women's Sick Benefit Society (1888), the first Hungarian Roman Catholic priest came to the United States and the first Hungarian-American church of the Roman Catholic faith (St. Elizabeth of Hungary) was established. St. Michael's Sick Benefit Society, founded by eighteen Greek Catholic families in 1891, requested a Greek Catholic priest from Hungary and established St. John's Greek Catholic church in 1894.

       Soon after the churches were established, sick benefit and insurance organizations sprang up under the auspices of the churches. By 1919, there were nine sick benefit societies active at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, four at St. John's Greek Catholic Church and four at the First Hungarian Reformed Church in Cleveland. One of these organizations, the King St. Stephen Catholic Hungarian Insurance Society organized twenty-five chapters throughout Ohio and neighboring states with assets exceeding $300,000 by 1941.16 Later, many of the local Catholic sick benefit societies became chapters of the American Hungarian Catholic Federation.

       In addition to the numerous local societies, national Hungarian insurance organizations established various chapters in Cleveland. The oldest and largest of these organizations was the Verhovay Insurance

 


 

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Association, founded in 1886. The Verhovay operated forty-two branches in the State of Ohio and seven in the City of Cleveland.17 Cleveland membership exceeded 2,500 by 1919. The American Hungarian Reformed Federation, founded in Cleveland in 1896, maintained 140 branches throughout the United States by 1919. The establishment of the first national Hungarian Catholic insurance organization, Virgin Mary Hungarian Patron Roman and Greek Catholic Association, took place in Cleveland.

       Mutual benefit societies constituted a major segment of the organizational structure of the community. In the 35th Anniversary Booklet of the United Hungarian Societies, printed in 1935, twenty-eight of the sixty-one member organizations were listed as sick benefit insurance associations.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *

 

       Tihamér Kohányi was an outstanding figure in the establishment of several major Hungarian-American institutions, among them the Szabadság, which became the largest Hungarian daily in the United States and the American Hungarian Federation, an umbrella organization representing Hungarian-Americans. As an unsuccessful candidate for the legal profession, Kohányi departed for the United States at the age of twenty-seven. At the time of his departure, he wrote:

 

I left [for America with light heart and baggage, with the strong conviction--on the basis of what I had heard from many-that no one has ever died of hunger in America.18

 

       Kohányi's first job was shoveling coal in the mining town of Eckley, Pennsylvania, earning 81 cents a day. After the first day on the job, the woman who managed the boarding house where he lived had to "squeeze

 


 

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the cramps out of his fingers." Later, he worked at various odd jobs, as a travelling book salesman, a store clerk and a janitor.

       During his travels, Kohányi made stop-overs in Cleveland and befriended the local Hungarian community. The only organization which was established at the time was the Gróf Batthány Lajos Society. He soon helped organize the Cleveland Hungarian Young Men's and Ladies' Society (1891) and wrote the first play presented by the group. The play was entitled "Greenhorns" and the presentation took place at Cincinnati Hall on Holton Avenue. According to Kohányi, this was the first Hungarian dramatic presentation in Cleveland.

       Although the Hungarians in Cleveland had barely started building their community churches, organizations and businesses, already a strong need was felt for a Hungarian-language newspaper. Tihamer Kohányi met that challenge and founded the Szabadság (Liberty), which was first printed on November 12, 1891. This date marks the establishment of the oldest Hungarian-language newspaper in the United States which is still published today.

       The task of establishing the Szabadság was formidable. A corporation was set up with two Hungarian industrialists, Joseph Black and Theodore Kundtz, each contributing $600. Pledges of $15 were made by 117 Hungarians, but barely 50 were paid.19 These Hungarians doubted the project would materialize and were afraid of losing their money. They wanted some reassurance that the newspaper wouldn't cease after a few editions.

       It was the perseverance and enthusiasm of Kohanyi which finally made the Szabadság a success. In the first years, he did everything,

 


 

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Caricature of Kohanyi as book salesman

 

20th anniversary banquet of Szabadsag. President Howard Taft and Kohanyi are emphasized by the arrow

 


 

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from writing articles, typesetting, correcting and proofreading to selling advertisements. He acted as editor, manager, editorial staff and business manager; many times without knowing where his next meal was coming from. But Kohányi's painstaking efforts finally paid off, the paper gradually increased in power and prestige. In 1909, it became the largest and most powerful Hungarian daily in the United States. Szabadság celebrated the 20th year of its founding in 1911; President Howard Taft was present at the anniversary banquet honoring Tihamér Kohányi.

       Through the Szabadság, Tihamér Kohányi exerted considerable influence upon the opinions and lives of Hungarian immigrants in the United States. For most, this Hungarian-language daily represented their only contact with news from the outside world and in particular, news from the homeland. Kohányi rallied Hungarian-Americans through his enthusiastic writings. Several historically significant projects were carried to fruition largely through his support: such as the Kossuth statue in Cleveland (erected in 1902) and the Washington Monument erected by Hungarian-Americans in Budapest in 1906. Kohányi served as President of the Budapest Washington Monument Association. Kohányi was also instrumental in founding the first Catholic Hungarian Insurance Association in 1897, and the American Hungarian Federation in 1906. In addition to all of these projects, during the first twenty years of its' existence, the Szabadság collected more than $50,000 for Hungarian immigrants in distress: widows, orphans, striking workers and those made homeless by disaster in all parts of the United States.

       Tihamér Kohányi died in 1913 and Hungarians all over the United States mourned their loss. His work and influence was far-reaching. His

 


 

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beliefs were best demonstrated by the platform of the Szabadság, which was printed on the front page of the 20th Anniversary Issue:

 

The Szabadság during all its years of existence was not merely a business concern, that attended only to the supplying of reading matter for its readers. It was a leader of all movements among Hungarians towards betterment and development; it has always strived for higher ideals; it has always taught the Hungarians to be good, law-abiding citizens of this country; it has always strived to protect the Hungarians from the dangers that menace the immigrants amongst their new surroundings and has performed many other services to this country and its countrymen.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *

 

       The Honvéd Veteran Club, whose members included veterans of the 1848 Hungarian War of Independence, held a meeting in July 1901 to determine how the Cleveland community was going to commemorate the combined events of the 50th Anniversary of Kossuth's visit to the United States and the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Louis Kossuth. Hungarian immigrants in Cleveland had vivid recollections of Kossuth and the War of Independence. Many of the immigrants' fathers or grandfathers fought in the war and countless died. In their opinion, Louis Kossuth was the greatest hero of Hungarian history. In order that the commemoration be made in a manner befitting the occasion, it was decided to erect a statue of Kossuth in Cleveland.

       The Kossuth Statue Committee was formed and considering the small size of the community, the project was brought to successful completion in a relatively short amount of time--one year. András Tóth was commissioned to sculpt an exact replica of the Kossuth statue he designed at Nagyszalonta, Hungary. Tóth donated his services to the Cleveland Committee and the Holland-American Steamship Line transported the statue across the ocean free of charge. Mayor Tom L. Johnson pledged his wholehearted support in

 


 

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finding a suitable location for the statue. Some Slavic groups, however, attempted to block the project completely and succeeded in preventing the statue from being erected on public square in the centre of the city. University Circle was finally chosen as the site of the statue, an area which in 1902 was considered to be an outskirt of Cleveland.

       Letters were sent to the Commissioner of each county in Hungary requesting that earth from famous landmarks be sent to Cleveland for the base of the statue.20 All the counties responded, with the exception of two. The statue of Kossuth in Cleveland was erected on soil from such historic places as: Arad (where thirteen Hungarian Generals were executed in 1849), the pass at Verecke, and the plain of Majthényi. Soil from the famous battlefields of Mohács, Nagy Salló, Debrecen, Kápolna, Szolnok, Fehéregyház and Kaponya were sent; in addition, from the fortresses of Gyulavár, Fogaras, Drégely, Komárom, Dévény, Szigetvár, Trencsén, Eger, Abaujvár and Alsóújvár. Earth collected from the graves of Lajos Kossuth and Áron Gábor was sent as well as from the castle of King Béla (Esztergom), the Hunyadi castle (Transylvania) and from the fortresses of King Matthias. Soil from the most famous landmarks in Hungary laid the foundation for the statue of Kossuth in Cleveland.

       The unveiling ceremony was set for September 28, 1902. Hungarians from all parts of the United States journeyed to Cleveland to be part of the historical event. Thousands of people participated in the parade preceding the ceremonies which led from Public Square to University Circle. According to one source, the first groups were just arriving at the site of the statue when the last marchers were leaving public square, the

 


 

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A Commemoration held at the Kossuth Statue at University Circle 1910

 

Production of "Janos Vitez" sponsored by United Hungarian Societies-1950's

 


 

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distance between the two points being nearly eight miles. From the Italian community alone, 600 marchers paraded, all reportedly decked in Kossuth hats.

       Dignitaries attending were: Mayor Tom L. Johnson, Honourable George Nash, Governor of Ohio, Senator M.A. Hanna, and Congressman T. Burton. Lajos Perczel presented the statue to the City of Cleveland in the name of all Hungarian residents. Mayor Tom Johnson accepted the generous gift and promised in his name as well as in those of his successors to act as faithful guardian of the statue.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *

 

       The Kossuth Statue Committee was the forerunner of the United Hungarian Societies, founded in 1902 with twelve organizations. Its purpose was to "coordinate the cultural, charitable and welfare activities of the member societies, to represent the Hungarian Americans of Cleveland and to serve both the Hungarians and the City of Cleveland to the best of the ability of the organization." The organization was unique at its founding, and it remains unique to this day.

       The United Hungarian Societies organized and coordinated major projects which would have been impossible to achieve through individual organizations. The Kossuth statue in Cleveland was the first such accomplishment. Since the erection of the statue, the organization has sponsored the annual commemoration of the 1848 War of Independence, held on March 15, in addition to the "Magyar Day" Festival, sponsored each summer in July.

       The United Hungarian Societies has been instrumental in promoting Hungarian culture in Cleveland. In 1924, the organization established the Baracs Library in the Cleveland Museum of Art as a tribute to the many

 


 

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Hungarian Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park. (Cleveland Public Library)

 


 

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contributions of the late Dr. Henrik Baracs. In 1930, a bust of Alexander Petofi, world-renowned Hungarian poet, was presented to the Cleveland Public Library. In 1933, the Societies took charge of the Hungarian Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park. Through the years, the busts of Ferenc Liszt, Endre Ady, and Imre Madách have been placed in the garden, as well as a magnificant wrought iron gate or "Székely Kapu".

       The records of the United Hungarian Societies demonstrate that in unity there is strength; the financial assistance provided by the organization through the years aided many in the United States as well as in Hungary. Some of the projects supported in Hungary were: the famine victims of 1923, aid for Hungarians expelled from their homes in Yugoslavia (1935), flood relief (1936), in addition to providing assistance to some seventeen hospitals, twenty-three veteran homes and seven war orphanages. In 1920, more than $18,000 was sent to Russia to free Hungarian prisoners of the First World War.21

       The welfare of Hungarians living in the United States has always been a prime concern of the United Hungarian Societies. In 1928, food and clothing was sent to striking miners in Pennsylvania. During the depression, the Societies set up a job placement centre in Cleveland. In 1936, donations were made to the American Red Cross for disaster work. Following the Revolution of 1956 in Hungary, the U.H.S. coordinated the relief efforts and resettlement programs for the influx of refugees. The United Hungarian Societies celebrated its 75th year in 1977 with over 50 member organizations.

 


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