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Árpádhon, a Hungarian Settlement in Rural Louisiana

Fanni Kaszás 2018.04.12.

In 1896, exactly 1,000 years after the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin, a Hungarian settlement was established is Louisiana. It soon became the largest rural Hungarian settlement in the United States, with around 350 Hungarian families in residence by 1935. The first settlers – the Bruskay, Mocsáry and Zboray families – called it Árpádhon, named after Árpád, the first leader of Europe’s Hungarian tribes.

The first Hungarians arrived to Louisiana to work in a sawmill. When the mill was closed in 1906, the land was divided into family-sized plots, which were advertised in the Midwest in Hungarian-language newspapers. The new arrivals began farming strawberries, and by the 1920s, strawberry farming was Árpádhon’s main source of income.

photo: Lucie Monk Carter

Árpádhon was the only Hungarian settlement in America where a full-time bilingual education was available, as the size of the Hungarian community allowed Hungarian education besides the English. However, after World War II, Hungarians began to marry outsiders, and children learned to speak English rather than Hungarian. In 1976, the bicentennial sparked a renewed interest in heritage, and the Hungarian language was taught in area schools again, but in 1986, the program ended due to lack of funding.

You can watch a video of the settlement here:

Heart of Louisiana: Hungarian Settlement

Nowadays, the original residents of the settlement are still able to visit the original Hungarian churches: the Presbyterian Church, built in 1908, and the St. Margaret’s Catholic Church, built in 1910, while the settlement’s history is on display in a Hungarian Heritage Museum, opened last September, that occupies the century-old schoolhouse. There are historic pictures, traditional clothing, Hungarian porcelain, and newspaper clippings, including a 1957 Time magazine cover with “Hungarian Freedom Fighter” honored as Man of the Year.

photo: Lucie Monk Carter

The settlement was devastated by several natural disasters during the years: in 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the settlement and ten years later, in 2016, massive flood swamped parts of southern and eastern Louisiana, causing great damage to the properties in Árpádhon as well. Various charity evenings were organized, a unique local history book was produced and the income was used to renovate the schoolhouse and equip the museum.

photo: Lucie Monk Carter

There were other Hungarian settlements in America before Árpádhon, such as Új Buda in Iowa, established after the 1848-49 Revolution and War for Independence; Nyitra, Budapest and Tokaj in Georgia; Harasztytown in Wisconsin and Kossuthville in Florida. Some Hungarian settlement names can still be find on the maps – Tolna in North Dakota or Balaton in Minnesota – but Hungarians no longer live there.

via fox8live.com, mno.hu, countryroadsmagazine.com, hungarianmuseum.com