Appalachia, Beauty, Charleston, Cinder Bottom, coal, crime, dancing, Elizabeth Nagy, Ellis Park, Emmett Scaggs, Himlerville, history, Hungarian Benevolent Association, Hungarian Miners' Journal, Hungarian-Americans, Hungarians, Huntington, Joe Hatfield, Kentucky, Keystone, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Martin County, McDowell County, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Rose Mustapha, Warfield, Welch, West Virginia, Williamson, Williamson Daily News
Between 1900 and 1920, a large number of Hungarians settled in West Virginia. Most were employed as coal miners. As of 1920, 6,260 Hungarians lived in West Virginia, primarily in Logan and McDowell counties. The Logan Banner, seated in Logan, WV, offered coverage of Hungarian news. It also commented on items published by Martin Himler in the Hungarian Miners’ Journal.
New Marathon Dance Record Is Made Here
Rose Mustapha, Pretty Hungarian Starts the Step Believed to Be the record.
At nigh noon Sunday, Rose Mustapha, a beautiful Hungarian girl, tripped the starting step in a terpsichorean debauch, that is believed to have established a record for sustained dancing in groups. Rose led a cotillion of thirty of her countrymen over a stretch of nineteen hours of continual dancing.
The dance started at twelve o’clock Sunday noon and continued without intermission till seven o’clock Monday morning. The jolly spirit of old Budapest struck color with jazz hilarity as the dancers spun in a vortez over the polished floor.
Hundreds of the dancers’ admirers rimmed the floor, hailing the participants in a half dozen different languages and dialects. Three wheezy but quite animated violins provided the music, which ran in wild Magyar strains and jazzy syncopation.
For the most part the dancers adhered to their native folk dances, but occasionally a couple would break into a fox trot, or a one step. At six o’clock Sunday evening, the dancers were given liquid nourishment as they whirled, and at midnight the same was repeated.
Most of the dancers finished strong, but several of the weaker sex had to be helped from the floor by their friends. Long distance dancing is quite common in their native land, and had the participants been in trim the task would have been comparatively easy, they say. As it was all of the men, who are miners, reported for work Monday morning and so far no ill results have been reported of the affair.
Logan (WV) Banner, 3 August 1923
Several hundred persons enjoyed the dance given by the Hungarian Benevolent Association at Ellis Park skating rink last Saturday night. The program included many attractive features and novelties. Miss Elizabeth Nagy of Mud Fork was the winner of the beauty prize. She received a fine watch and $5 in gold.
Logan (WV) Banner, 29 November 1927
Hungarian Paper Tells of Resorts Hereabouts
Sensational Charges Prompt Williamson News to Demand Investigation and “Clean-Up”–Logan and Neighboring Cities Are Mentioned In This Alleged Expose
A Hungarian paper published at Himlerville, Ky., not far from Williamson, is running a series of sensational articles on vice conditions in Logan, Williamson, Huntington and Charleston. These articles are printed both in English and Hungarian and are attracting much attention, many copies of the paper having been sent to the cities named.
Two articles about Logan have mentioned various resorts in which it is charged that vice is rampant, that protection is obtained by bribery of officials, and that conditions are getting worse. Local officers brand these so-called disclosures as either baseless or greatly exaggerated.
In Williamson the expose has attracted much attention, particularly since the Williamson Daily News carried the following editorial, under the heading, “A Clean City.”
It’s a sad commentary on our city, county, and state police officials when the leaders of the foreign element in our midst are forced to take the lead in cleaning up moral conditions.
Through the Hungarian paper published at Himlerville, Ky., a campaign is being waged to clean up Williamson, Logan, Huntington and Charleston.
We are primarily concerned in Williamson and this paper charges that Williamson is harboring not less than eleven Hungarian brothels and some fifteen speak-easies. The editor of the paper has furnished the Williamson Daily News with the names of eight hotels and rooming houses where he says “light o’ love ladies” may be found.
It is common knowledge in Williamson that what he charges is true. Furthermore it is also common knowledge that there is hardly a hotel from the best to the worst in the city that does not harbor women of prostitution.
These women are debauching our manhood and spreading disease and there are attendant demoralizing evils which add to the indictment against them.
Not only are there Hungarian brothels in Williamson, but there are brothels that cater to every race and condition. The fact that they exist is known to practically every person in Williamson.
In this same Himlerville paper in an article published in this week’s issue it is stated that “Protection fees vary between twenty-five and seventy-five dollars weekly” suggesting a reason why no action is taken to remedy conditions.
We have had every reason to believe that Williamson was infested with brothels of every degree of degradation, but until the bold statement is made in the Hungarian paper, we had no reason to suspect that some persons were receiving protection fees.
However, such a state of things is a natural noncomitant, in view of the laws of the land. It would be very easy for city, state or county officers to take action, and if they do not the question immediately arises: Why?
It cannot be argued that it is impossible to clean up the city in this respect. We all know better. The chief of police and four good policemen, with proper backing of the mayor and the citizens of Williamson could do the job, and do it thoroughly in ten days. In doing it they could be so impressively earnest that there would be no recurrence of the evil for months to come. If instances of violations of the law of this character did occur in the future they could enforce the law with such vigor as to deter others. Williamson would soon be classed as a “clean city.”
Even the notorious “Cinder Bottom” at Keystone has been cleaned up. Welch, the county seat of McDowell county, is known far and wide as a “clean city.” Chippies and their like give it a wide berth. Why? Because the mayor and the chief of police of Welch, with a determined citizenship back of them, will not tolerate the evil. Merchants and business men of Welch generally are unreservedly in favor of an absolute ban against women of evil character being allowed to remain in hotels and rooming houses, because they know it hurts business and is a thoroughly demoralizing factor.
Primarily the question is one for the mayor and the chief of police at Williamson to handle, but there are other law enforcement agencies that could function.
For instance, the prosecuting attorney has an effective weapon at hand if he wants to use it. We refer to the state padlock law, upheld by the supreme court. With this weapon he could close every hotel and rooming house in the city that harbored women of ill fame. And there would be no question of securing sufficient evidence to act. It is ready at hand.
There is another agency, the state police. This efficient body of men could take action and bring the matter to a hand.
The state health department is aware of the fact that Williamson is one of the vilest cities in the way of brothels in the state. It has investigated conditions here and has data that could be used by officials who wanted to take action. Furthermore the state health department, on request of the city or county officials, would send investigators here to ascertain true conditions. But, if we understand the situation rightly there is no need for further investigation. The brothels are conducted more or less openly, are well advertised and unfortunately are well patronized.
There would be no lack of information to proceed upon if city, county or state officials wanted to take action. And first of all, it is up to our city officials to act.
Logan (WV) Banner, 27 January 1928
NOTICE TO LOGAN
With newly sharpened sticks the Hungarian Miners Journal, published at Himlerville, Ky., continues to prod into vice conditions hereabouts. Its latest issue is devoted largely to a further exposure at Williamson’s intrenched vice, but Logan has not been forgotten. In fact, in a large type box on the first page notice is given that the spotlight will be turned again soon on the garden spot. It says:
“The brother-situation of Williamson is taking up all our space and our energies for a few days.
“This does not mean that we have nothing more to say about Logan brothels.
“A score of Hungarian criminals, keepers of brothels and white-slavers are harbored in and by Logan, to the great detriment of the decent Hungarians in the Logan field.
“We demand the expulsion of these criminals and we will turn to Logan in a very short time.
“Surely the decent citizens of Logan are not going to build a roof over their town to designate THE red-light district.”
Logan (WV) Banner, 3 February 1928
Hungarian Paper Reverts to Logan’s Need of Reformation
Editor Fisher Takes Crack at The Banner, Sheriff Hatfield and Chief Scaggs–Long Silence Broken By Familiar, Rasping Outcry
Remember the Magyar Banyaszlap, a newspaper formerly published at Warfield, Ky., not far from Williamson, W.Va. A year or more ago it probed conditions in Logan and carried some sensational strictures about county and city officials. Finally, an officious and offensively inquisitive soul, the editor hisself, came in person and before he left was given quite a thumping by Chief of Police Scaggs.
Some time later the coal company located at Warfield and Hungarian-owned, went into the hands of a receiver and whether the Banyaszlap then suspended publication or not it ceased to come to this office. The other day a copy came. It is published in Columbus now but its editor is evidently still interested in conditions here. After scanning its eight pages, the writer of these lines found but one article printed in English. That embraced a clipping from The Banner and the Banyaszlap’s comments thereupon. The article clipped appeared to the Banner on April 9 and had to do with reports that the sheriff’s forces were determined to suppress the liquor traffic in boarding and lodging houses that cater to foreign-born miners. Most Banner readers will recall that news item and for that reason it will not be reproduced here, but what the Columbus paper says may be of some interest.
“We are glad to note the sudden interest of Sheriff Hatfield, and the rather mild interest of the Logan Banner, in the speak-easyes.
“The officers do not have to ‘trail’ these boarding houses, for we have published a list of them.
“And we have also published a long-long list of speak-easyes and brothels in Logan, W.Va., with addresses, and names, with locations and any other needed informations.
“Why not start a housecleaning right here in Logan, W.Va., and spread it then to the coal field?
“We can promise Logan and its vicinity that others than the sheriff will also be interested in these affairs.
“When the gunman (called chief of police) of Logan so heroically objected to our articles, we have promised that we will have the matter attended to in good time.
“It will happen soon.
“Perhaps hence the sudden interest in the Logan vice.”
Logan (WV) Banner, 23 April 1929
For more information about Hungarians in West Virginia, go here: https://www.appalachianhistory.net/2017/03/magyars-in-morgantown.html
For more information about Martin Himler, Himlerville (Beauty), and the Magyar Banyaszlap: Hungarian Miners’ Journal, go here: https://www.appalachianhistory.net/2014/11/saving-himler-house.html
Briane Turley said:
This is an excellent little article and much appreciated by labor and cultural historians. Thank you.
The Hungarian mining community in Marion County was also quite large, but for several years, the largest coal mine in the US, at Gary in McDowell County, was dominated by Hungarian labor.
For more on the remarkable life of Marton Himler order a copy of his autobiography at https://www.amazon.com/Making-American-Autobiography-Appalachian-Entrepreneur/dp/1621904512
The Himlerville restoration project is ongoing and attracting funding from both Hungarian and US sources. Himler’s cooperative coal mine model struggled to survive but provided an important labor-relations model. For more on the Himler house, visit https://www.facebook.com/Save-the-Himler-House-1415754495316088/?ref=page_internal