Hungarian Americans of Cleveland

History of Hungarian-Americans in Cleveland

A timeline outlining the history of Hungarian-Americans in Cleveland
Date Event

Louis Kossuth, exiled Governor of Hungary, arrived in Cleveland on February 2nd. He went to Columbus on the 6th, and addressed the state legislature and met with Governor Wood. Afterwards, on his way to Cincinnati, he stopped at various locations such as Xenia, Springfield, Dayton, and Hamilton. He stayed in Cincinnati for 16 days and on the 26th of February left for Indiana.


A health benefit and funeral association, The Count Batthyany Association, was founded in Cleveland, Ohio. It was named after the martyred Hungarian Premier of 1848.


The Hungarian language newspaper Szabadsag (Liberty) was founded in Cleveland by Tihamer Kohanyi. It started out as a weekly, but as circulation increased, it developed into the first daily Hungarian American newspaper.


The first Hungarian Catholic parish, St Elizabeth's, was started by Charles Bohm in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1894, he also founded the weekly newspaper Catholic Hungarians' Sunday (Magyar Katolikus Vasarnapja).


Hungary celebrated her millennium as a nation. Hungarian millennium festivities were held all over America to commemorate the 1000 years of the existence of Hungary as a state. The most important ones were at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; Buda, Georgia; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Cleveland, Ohio.


The United Hungarian Societies was formed in 1902 with the mission to erect the statue of Louis Kossuth in Cleveland as an expression of the high esteem in which Hungarians in America held Kossuth. On September 27th, the bronze statue was erected in University Circle among great fanfare and parades with participation by other nationalities, especially the Italian community of Cleveland, in recognition of the support that Hungarians and Kossuth gave Garibaldi and Mazzini in the Italian drive for national unification. The governor of Ohio, Mr. Nash, spoke at the unveiling ceremonies. The United Hungarian Societies continues to function today as an umbrella organization composed of most of the Hungarian oriented churches, clubs and organizations in the Greater Cleveland area.


The first history of Hungarian-Americans was published in Hungarian by the Szabadsag newspaper in Cleveland. Written by Geza Kende, it was entitled Magyarok Amerikaban, Az amerikai magyarsag tortenete 1583-1927 (Hungarians in America: The History of Hungarians in America, 1583-1927). Kende’s two-volume, 874-page book deserves much credit for his painstaking original research.


During the Second World War, records indicate that over 50,000 Hungarians were serving in the United States Armed Forces. Mrs. John Hegedus of Cleveland received a banner from the mayor of Cleveland honoring her seven sons serving in the military.


The Cleveland Magyar Szabadegyetem (Free Hungarian University of Cleveland) was organized by Dr. Ferenc Somogyi.


With the support of the American Hungarian Federation, more than 35,000 refugees arrived in the United States, many settling in Cleveland, Ohio, bringing new life to many of the organizations, especially the Hungarian Scouting movement.

In the late 1950's, four of the major symphony orchestras in America had Hungarian music directors: Eugene Ormandy (Philadelphia Orchestra), George Szell (Cleveland Symphony Orchestra), Fritz Reiner (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Antal Dorati (Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra).


The first Annual Hungarian Congress was organized by Janos Nadas. The Arpad Academy Award was established to encourage Hungarian related artistic and scientific projects. Since then, the proceedings of the Congress have been published every year. Hungarians from all over the world come to this annual event held over a three day period during the Thanksgiving weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.


The Hungarian communities in America celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Saint Stephen (969-1038), the first King of Hungary. Rev. Alex Demetzky, of St. Ladislaus Parish in Lorain, organized festivities in Cleveland, which included an exhibition at the Higbee Department Store, parade in Cleveland and a commemorative mass at St. John’s Cathedral.


The City of Cleveland, dedicated The Cardinal Mindszenty Plaza, located at East 12th and Lakeside Avenue, in Commemoration of the Cardinal's visit and his ties with Cleveland's Hungarian Community.


The Mindszenty Plaza in Cleveland at E. 12th St. and Lakeside Ave. was re-dedicated on May 30, 1997. The Plaza was refurbished along with the bronze bust of Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty. The dedication ceremonies was conducted by the Mayor of Cleveland Michael R. White, along with other dignitaries and representatives of the Hungarian community such as Kathy Kapossy Palasics, the President of the United Hungarian Societies, Laszlo Bojtos, the Consul of Hungary.


On May 15th 2001, NASA and the Hungarian Space Agency signed the "Space Cooperative Agreement" between the United States and Hungary. The agreement provides a legal framework for further professional cooperation in outer space research for peaceful goals, exchange of scientific data and exchange of researchers. Laszlo Zala, the former Chief of the Facilities Electrical Systems Management Branch of NASA Glenn, has been a proponent and supporter for this agreement to occur. The signers of this agreement were John Schumacher, NASA Office of External Relations, and Jeno Manninger, Political State Secretary for the Ministry of Transportation.