The Band Plays On

blog_Hungarian Baptist Church Funeral

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.

bl_8005 Holton Church Cleveland Ohio

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
Google maps

13 thoughts on “The Band Plays On

  1. Absolutely fantastic research!! I agree, spot on!! What an amazing, and I’m sure rewarding, project on this one.
    Thanks for sharing your amazing work!! Being from Cleveland as well, you rock!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Since I have a little connection to Cleveland, this was intriguing. I don’t have an answer for your question about the men in the band (and I think you’ve done a marvelous job of matching these two photos and finding the church building). I did notice that there are two Facebook groups for the Cleveland Hungarian Baptists. Perhaps they could help you find the right people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Generally I find photos with post-mortem content too disturbing to look at. I saw both my parents after they passed, and it just brings back memories I’d rather not think about, but this is such a fascinating photo for the then-living people in it (isn’t it weird to think that even they are now gone?) I feel such sympathy for the widow, look at her face. She’s not much more than a girl, still.

    And yes, as far as I can judge faces (which, despite what I do, I’m not good at!) the ones you picked out of the funeral photo do seem to relate to the ones in the band photo.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t get enough of these pictures, as my mother and her family were raised in this church! My grandfather was the janitor for the church and they actually lived behind it. I do believe my grandfather is in this photo as one of the band members. Thank you so very much! It is very hard locating period pictures of this church and neighborhood. Now, to see what the inside looked like from long ago would be the icing on the cake!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy that you happened across this post! I’d love to know which man you believe is your grandfather. I’ve been in contact with another person who has a family member in the funeral photo. I plan to do an update on this post in the future. My email is therescuedphoto @ gmail . com (no spaces)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s