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History paper by Bartfay, Arthur A. (all papers)
The History of Hungarian Life in Columbus, Ohio
Columbus Ohio is America's 15th largest city with over 800,000 residents. The 2014 US census estimate says there are over 20,000 self-identified Hungarians in the Columbus metro area.
In the early 1900s, there were many factories on the South Side. It attracted many Hungarian immigrants. In 1906 a Hungarian Reformed church was established on Woodrow. Two streets away, a Hungarian Roman Catholic church was built on Reeb. It was named for St. Ladislas, an early Hungarian king and saint. In 1974, the City Council officially designated a part of the South Side as Hungarian Village.
By the mid-1980s, St. Ladislas ended its monthly Hungarian masses. Hungarian events were discontinued as Hungarian Catholics moved & chose to attend various other Catholic churches in the area. The Reformed church remained in Hungarian Village. The area has deteriorated & today only one 90 year old Hungarian is in Hungarian Village.
In 2008, the Columbus Reformed church, a member of th Calvin Synod, lost its full time minister. The Calvin Synod has 23 member churches in 11 states. Twenty two were founded around 1900. Most are struggling to survive. After seven years, the synod has been unable to find a suitable minister for member churches in Columbus, Dayton, & two other locations. The newly elected bishop presides over a church that has lost its building. There are 37 other Reformed churches in 17 states & DC that do not belong to the synod. Most are newer churches in major cities.
All Reformed churches are listed with contact information in the annual Bethlen Almanac published in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
A major force in Columbus Hungarian Life has been the non-denominational Hungarian Cultural Association. In 2010, the HCA began holding monthly programs at the Reformed church. Even today, HCA holds well-attended dinners, a July festival, plus Soup & Learn programs on Hungarian topics. One of our popular programs is "Life Stories of Local Hungarians"--with one presenter born in the US & one born overseas. Eighteen Magyars have already presented their stories to interested audiences. HCA has shown that we can bring Hungarians to the South Side church, though events held in nicer neighborhoods draw bigger numbers.
Brief Professional Bio:
Arthur Allan Bartfay graduated from Central High School in Flint, Michigan; earned a BA and MA from Michigan State University in East Lansing. He served on the faculties of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. Arthur earned ABD credits at The Ohio State University in Columbus and, after 25 years, retired from the staff of The Ohio State University.