Members of the Edward Livingston Historical Association took a field trip for their most recent monthly meeting.
The Aug. 17 meeting of ELHA was held at the Hungarian Settlement Historical Museum, which will be open to the public Sept. 27.
Alex and Royanne Kropog were the hosts for the meeting, which was attended by approximately 45 interested citizens. The hosts shared information related on the history of the 111-year-old building and how it evolved into the present museum located off Louisiana Highway 43 in Albany.
By 1889, Brackenridge Lumber Co. and agents for other lumber companies bought some 700,000 acres of forests in Louisiana and surrounding areas. One of the mills, located three miles south of Albany, cleared the land and sawed the logs into lumber. One tree provided 5,000 board feet of lumber.
Three Hungarians, Julius Bruskay, Adam Mocsar and Theodore Zboray, worked with this group until the forest was clear. They, then invited others to come and purchase the cut-over land for farming. Better land sold for $10 an acre, selling in 20- and 40-acre plots. The early settlers named their new home after Arpad, a Hungarian hero who, in 896, conquered land known today as the country of Hungary.
They moved to this area and the main cash crop was strawberries. The entire family was involved in the work, with men in the field, children picking the berries and the ladies packing them. Carload of 100-200 boxes were shipped every day during the season from Hammond. Labels were designed for each farm and were displayed on the ends of the crates.
The Hungarian museum, which was originally built by local carpenters in 1906, was formerly the Springfield School and the Hungarian Settlement School until it was moved from Springfield to its present location in 1927. In order to be moved, the building had to be cut into three sections before being rolled on logs.
In 1945, Rev. Alexander Bartus directed its conversion into the “Our Home” nursing home which closed in 1976. In 2000, the Hungarian Settlement Historical Society gained access to the building, and at that time they began fundraising to renovate the building that had fallen into a state of disrepair.
They received funding from grants from the state of Louisiana, Livingston Parish Tourism and many individuals, both in-kind and direct donations.
Over 100 folks from the community have donated items to supply the museum with its artifacts and information. The museum is divided into four main areas: The Arpadhon Gallery, the Brakenridge Gallery, the Kossuth Gallery and a Research Room.
The Arpadhon Gallery consists of 24 display cases of costumes, music, dolls, herdsmen art, Rev. Bartus and family, local stores, cookery, flag, St. Margaret Church, Presbyterian Church, 1956 Revolution, embroidery cases, among others.
The Brakenridge Gallery exhibits the Harvest Dance, early living, Charles Brakenridge, strawberry labels and history of the building, among others.
The Kossuth Gallery included a photo of Lajos Kossuth, while the Research Room includes family histories, photos, Hungarian and English books, brochures and maps. More information and photos related to the museum can be found on their website, and more will soon be at the Old City Hall in Denham Springs.
The museum is dedicated to the historical preservation of the Hungarian community located in Albany. The grand opening of the museum is Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., with the ribbon cutting taking place at 10 a.m.