It is well known that Hungary has benefited and suffered from diasporas throughout its storied, sometimes embattled history. One of the main destinations for Hungarians who have fled war, political persecution, or were looking for adventure or seeking fortune, has been America. Books have been written about Hungarians' influence in industries like film in Hollywood, California horticulture, and their role in developing the nuclear weapons that would shift the axis of world power and change the course of history.
But the influence they exerted need not always be painted in such broad strokes. Sometimes Hungarians leave their mark in more modest ways. You can see evidence of Hungarians in less glamorous locations in the States like the South, where there are two locales called 'Budapest', in America, one in Missouri and one in Georgia.
Back before world war one, when America was benefiting from a wave of immigration from Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary, workers who made their way across the States from New York to California sometimes laid down roots, which is how we may account for the 'Budapest' post office that serviced the settlement of Central Europeans who worked in the area's lumbar and mining industries. Its name was given to it by an Austrian immigrant, perhaps using Hungary's capital because there was already a Vienna, Missouri. Though the post office shuttered in 1922, it is still remembered in history books.
Farther south, in Georgia, we can find another Budapest. This community is older, and dates back to 1882, when an American real-estate developer invited 200 wine-making Hungarian families to relocate and settle on a 2000-acre site. The settlers decided to call their new community Budapest. Moreover, once the settlement got up and running, another nearby town was founded: this one called Tokaj, in homage to the Tokaj wine-producing region in eastern Hungary. A third wine-focused settlement was also founded, called Nyitra, named after an ancient Hungarian fort. It looked like the South was set to develop a thriving Hungarian-influenced wine-making industry. These plans crumbled, however, with the Georgia Prohibition Act of 1907.
The new law that banned the production of alcohol put an end to the primarily Hungarian settlements, though the towns remain under their original names. The settlers were forced to move on to find work, likely going back north to mine. According to Wikipedia, the last of the original Budapest settlers died in 1964. Many of those who remained and died in Budapest, Georgia are buried there, with their heads facing east in their graves, towards their homeland across the sea.
We can only speculate what would have happened without Prohibition. Would there be a Georgian Tokaj to rival the sought-after Hungarian wine? Would they have continued to expand, seeing an Eger, or perhaps Szeged, Georgia? And with all that cultural exchange, would an Atlanta, Hungary be not to far behind?
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