I came across this memorial image in Van Wert, Ohio at Years Ago Antique Mall. The deceased young man is not identified. Based on the fashion I would date this photo as being from the 1910s.
It was the widow who stole my heart and made me decide to add this large cabinet photo to my collection. I’ve never faced the death of a spouse but I’ve grieved the death of close loved ones and when I look at the widow’s face those emotions come flooding back to me, especially the numbness that great sorrow brings as you must watch the world go on.
Along with the image I purchased was this large cabinet photo of the First Hungarian Baptist Church Band of Cleveland, Ohio. If you look closely at the funeral photo you will notice there is a band uniform cap laying at the foot of the coffin and quite a few men holding instruments. The deceased young man must have been a member of the band.
According to the Cleveland Memory Project, the first Hungarian churches in North America were formed in Cleveland in the 1890s and with a surge of Hungarian immigration to the city, there were nine Hungarian churches operating by 1917. The area along Buckeye Road in Cleveland was nicknamed Little Hungary.
The Hungarian Baptist Church where this funeral image was captured no longer hosts a congregation it is still standing at 8005 Holton. The door topper design has been painted over the years but is still very recognizable.
I was hoping to find a trove of early 1900s Cleveland newspapers online and planned on scouring the editions for funerals of young men that were held at this Hungarian Baptist church. Unfortunately, I could find no such online resource.
I discovered the Cleveland Necrology File and News Index which indexes Cleveland area obituaries from the mid-1800s to 1975. I searched the terms ‘Hungarian baptist’ and ‘Hungarian’ but didn’t find any leads. Next, I searched the Cleveland Ohio Cemetery Interment records by pulling up the actual registers and scanning through them page by page. I hadn’t even finished with 1911 when I realized that due to the overwhelming number of young men’s deaths that I would not be able to identify the deceased young man.
Upon a close comparison of the two images, I discovered quite a few familiar faces. If you’re interested in viewing my finds as well as learning who in the band photo I believe is the deceased, click on the image below to view it full size. I’d love to hear if you see something different than I did.
Cleveland Memory Project