Funeral Photograph Mystery Solved?

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When Mary Maloney donated this amazing photograph of a funeral within the Hungarian Community in Coatesville – my first thought was – who is the deceased?  His funeral was recorded with two photographs, one taken probably in his neighborhood and the other at a church.  All the donor knew was that it was a protestant church in the west end of Coatesville in about 1927.

By researching the churches in Coatesville and comparing the photo to newspaper photographs of the church, we were able to identify it as Magyar Presbyterian Church also known as Hungarian Reformed Church in Coatesville. Checking on the internet I discovered that it is today the Hope Fellowship Church on the corner of Hope and Madison Streets.

 I doubted that we could determine the name of the deceased without having the date of the funeral. If I knew the date I could check the Coatesville Record on microfilm for that period.

But then I met Pastor Dennis Arasin, who opened the Hope Fellowship Church’s archives to CCHS. When I checked the original parish register listing funerals performed in the 1920s I had hope again.

There were only 2 or 3 funerals performed per year. The records are written in Hungarian, but the information appearing in the column style record book is discernable. The first column was obviously the date of death, and next the date of the funeral, name of deceased, parents, place of birth and death, age, cause of death, name of Pastor officiating. Female names could be eliminated and that left only a few possibilities. One 18 year old man in 1925, and three men in their 50s in 1927 and 1928.  The man looked young in the photograph. Other figures in the photographs included distraught looking parents dressed in black, and young people who could be siblings.

I believe the identity of the deceased is Louis Nagy, Jr. who died of tuberculosis May 16, 1925. I was hoping for a description of the funeral in the Coatesville Record, but found only a very brief obituary. Nagy’s death certificate supplied more details revealing that he was the son of Louis and Eva Nagy who lived at 100 Lukens St.  All were born in Hungary. The young man had worked at Lukens Steel and was interred at Fairview Cemetery. Are there any Nagy relatives that can confirm my thesis?

CCHS is delighted to receive into the collection the records of the Hungarian Reformed Church from 1925 to 1975. It includes baptism, marriage and funeral records that follow the lives of families in the Hungarian Community. The records are written in Hungarian until the 1950s when they appear in English. They will be featured in our forthcoming exhibit exploring immigrant groups in Chester County . Thanks to Pastor Arasin and the congregation of the Hope Fellowship Church, the Hungarian community will be well represented.

Pamela Powell, Photo Archivist