New Buda

New Buda Township
Decatur County, Iowa
3/6/1955  Hungarian Colony had Big Dream  by George Shane

Davis City, Ia. - Inspired by dreams of European culture and good living a group of Hungarian revolutionists more than a century ago established one of Iowa's most unusial (sic) settlements - the community of New Buda. This settlement - planned as "the new Budapest in America" probably is one of the least known of Iowa's early-day colonies. It was founded even before the Society of True Inspiration established the Amanas, or the French founded their Icarian society in Adams county, or the English gentry settled near La Mars.

At New Buda, 2 1/2 miles south of here, a new life was to center around the town's market place - Kossuth Square, originally laid out in 1850. But the outlines of the square today are hardly discernible. The center of the square now is the hog lot on the farm of Stephen D. Dobozy, son of one of New Buda's founders.

Gone are all of New Buda's original buildings, even the big stove distillery warehouse which for more than half a century loomed as a southern Iowa landmark.

It was the dream of the Hungraians (sic) that great vineyards would grow on the bluffs above the broad valley of the Grand River. A few arbors live today, where New Buda stood, but only one of these is known to be of the original plantings, brought more than a century ago by these spirited followers of Kossuth, on the journey from Hungary.

RECOD OF DREAM. In the old yellowed plats of New Buda, there is a record of a dream of continental grandeur, transplanted to America. The faded drawings show the magnificent plan of Kossuth square (where swine now feed) and the broad streets which were to extend many blocks from the hills through the river valley - Washington and Jefferson Avenues, and other boulevards, named after American and Hungarian patriots. There was to be a university, concert halls and art galleries, all in the best cultural traditions of the centinent (sic).

All descendants of the original New Buda settlers now have left the New Buda community except three children of Emery Dobozy, one of the original 14 revolutionists who came to Decatur County in 1850. These are Frank and Stephen Dobozy and their sister, Mrs. J.L. Priest, who live on farms on the land which was to have been re-creation of a Hungarian city.

FLED NATIVE LAND Leader of the Hungarians who came to New Buda was Count Ujhazy, a friend of follower of Lajos Kossuth, the Hungarian Patriot. It was after the revolution for independence in Hungary in 1848 that Count Ujhazy and his followers fled their native land as political refugees. In 1850 the group reached Iowa, and probably by following the old Mormon trail, reached the Decatur county site which was to become New Buda.

"I was told this country, in the river valley, reminded the settlers of their homeland in Hungary and thst is why they settled here," Frank Dobozy, who is 84, said. "They planned a great city and laid out the streets and they tried to create what they remembered at home."

No group coming into Iowa ever received a more hearty welcome. The Hungarians were educated men who had demonstrated qualities of leadership in their homeland. They had come here, not as peasants, but as patriots and political refugees.

President Zachary Taylor recommended that the Hungarians be well received and the Iowa legislature memorialized congress to provide this group with land through special concessions.

STAGE WAGON. Count Ujhazy, although not accredited, was Kossuth's personal representative to the United States.

Coming to Iowa, the Hungarians reached Burlington by steamboat from St. Louis, Mo. and several remained in that city. But the 14 pushed on by stage wagon, to the beautiful Grand River valley which was to become New Buda.

Transcribed by Conni McDaniel Hall, July 2023; source by Decatur County Museum.

New Buda was named after Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Here, in this new land the Hungarian emigrants hoped to build a beautiful city.

New York Daily Times
New York, New York
November 09, 1851

The Hungarian Settlement in the West

We find in the Springfield (Ill.) Journal a "summer view of New-Buda," the Hungarian settlement, under Gov. Ujhazy. It is situated in the southwestern part of Iowa, in the county of Decatur, at a distance of about 150 miles from the Mississippi river, 100 miles from the Missouri, and about 10 miles north of the boundary line of the State of Iowa and Missouri. The aspect of the country presents ridges of elevation, narrow ravines, and occasionally wide spread vallies (sic), all covered with a rich soil varying from one to three feet deep which displays its fruitfulness in the abundant production of grass, of fruits and flowers. The Thompson river [a.k.a. Grand River] about 150 yards in width, but too shallow for navigable purposes, winds slowly through Decatur county in a south-eastern direction, on its way to the Missouri. Its course is lined by a heavy body of timber, from one to three miles wide, consisting chiefly of sugar-maple, black walnut, white oak and elm.

On a high timbered ridge, on the left bank of this river, stands New-Buda, the residence of Gov. Ujhazy, and the intended abode of Kossuth. At this point the timber extends only a short distance from the river, and diverging circuitously to the north and south-east embraces an extensive open meadow covered with luxuriant grass, and crowned with a multitude of flowers, whose brilliant colors increase the liveliness of the scene. Viewed from the residence of the Governor, it seems one of the highest pictures of nature - its glowing beauties chastened and heightened by the surrounding gloom of forest. From the same place, through the foliage of trees, the Thompson river may be seen gliding along, the home of flocks of wild fowls, and the resort of troops of deer, which visit it to slake their thirst or cool themselves in its waters.

The dwelling is a log cabin, about fifty feet in length, twenty in width, one story high, with a shingle roof. The interior is divided into three compartments, and has a floor formed out of logs, split - the flat side smoothed and placed uppermost. One of these apartments, as is common in the Western country, is used for a kitchen, a dining, and a bed room. A modern cooking stove stands near the fire place, and opposite, on shelves and wall, cooking utensils and table furniture are neatly arranged. At the other end of the room two single beds are placed, elegantly furnished; the snowy white of their linen contrasting with the vivid hues of their oriental covers. A table stands near a window, loaded with books, documents and newspapers. Maps are displayed on the walls, and overhead is placed a collection of guns, pistols, swords and scimitars of the best material, the most skillful construction and superbly ornamented. But, most conspicuous of all is a splendid portrait of Washington, gazing, as it were, with a calm melancholy expression on those who lost wealth, exalted rank, endeared society and a beloved country in a hapless struggle.

In front of the dwelling a field, containing about twenty acres, is cleared, fenced and under cultivation. A flock of sheep, selected for their superior wool-growing qualities, feed in the pasture-ground, while over a wider range a heard of cows and several horses are scattered; every appearance promising to these hard-fated exiles a yet happy home.

Transcribed by C.J.L., October 2005 for IAGenWeb's Iowa Old Press

Among the early and interesting settlements of the county was the Hungarian Colony or settlement at New Buda, begun about 1852 or 51, approximately two miles south of where Davis City now stands. A man by the name of LOUIS KOSSUTH was provisional precident (sic) of Hungary under the rule of Austria. He took part in the unsuccessful Hungarian Revolution against Austria in 1848. He and his followers escaped into Turkey and other countries. KOSSUTH lived most of his life then in England and Italy, and died at Turin, Italy, however, he made several speaking tours in behalf of his followers who were for the most part, professional and educated people. He spoke in England and in the United States, appearing before Congress at Washington D.C. about 1851. Congress passed a law permitting his refugees to settle anywhere on unappropriated lands, to be held free from sale for ten years without tax or cost.

A former Hungarian Governor by the name of UJHAZY and a COL. GEORGE POMUTZ, lead a group of them to settle in 1851-52, two miles south of what was later called Davis City. They made plans on paper for a great and spacious City which they called New Buda, in memory to the capital of Hungary, Buda-Pesth. Buda is on one side of the Danube, while Pesth is on the other side. One of the early families of the Hungarian settlement was the VARGA family, prominent at Decatur City and Leon in later years and even to this day. Another family who has remained in New Buda Township is MILES BOEGAR. UJHAZY and the POMUTZ family moved to San Antonio, Texas, where GOV. UJHAZY is reported to have died. COL. GEORGE POMUTZ returned to Decatur County, but left prior to the Civil War during which he made a great record for himself. Later he was appointed as U.S. Consul to Russia, where he died in 1894 at Petrograd. After his death, the consulate made inquiries at Washington about his maps showing his great amount of wealth, lands and his city of New Buda, but after investigation, most of the city as pictured on his map was waving in green corn fields and he had no wealth at New Buda. It is said that KOSSUTH visited New Buda at one time. The people, for the most part, were not suited for farming and the settlement came to an end.
~ Reverend E.J. Harkin speech to Leon Rotary, August 2, 1948

George POMUTZ (Gheorghe POMUT in Romanian, means "little tree") was born on May 31, 1818 in Gyula, Bekes County, Hungary. Upon receiving his secondary education he attended the Vienna Military Academy. He and 20 friends arrived in New York City on February 24, 1850. George didn't stay very long in the big city and went west with the group of immigrants settling in Keokuk, Iowa. George became a U.S. citizen on March 15, 1855.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, George enlisted as a first lieutenant in the 15th Iowa Infantry, which he commanded during the Battle of Atlanta. On March 13, 1865 he was appointed a brevet brigadier general. At the end of the Civil War, he was given the honor to open the Washington Grand Review astride a white horse.

On February 16, 1866, George was appointed United States Consul to Imperial Russia. He served as the American Consul General in Saint Petersburg from June 17, 1874 until his death on October 12, 1882. During this time George was involved in the Alaska Purchase negotiations. He was buried in Smolesk, Russia.

The Liberty ship SS George POMUTZ was named in his honor and launched on August 3, 1944.

Laszlo UJHAZY, known as the Count of Cormorn in Hungary, was born in Saros County, Upper Hungary, on January 20, 1795. Around the year 1818, he married Terz Vardy SZAKMARY and the couple became the parents of eight children. UJHAZY, his wife and five of their children were among the first of the Hungarian refugees who came to America in the 1850's during what is known as the "Kossuth Emigration." Most of the refugees had little choice but to leave their homeland due to their involvement during the Hungarian War of Independence. UJHAZY was the first of the émigrés to become a naturalized United States citizen.

Years later, Francis VARGA recalled his first meeting with UJHAZY:

"How could I describe that meeting? The elderly Újházy, in a red flannel shirt and an old hat was plastering the chimney. I was dumbfounded. I saw before me his castle near Buda and thought of the many times I had heard him speak at the Sáros County Hall. Could it be possible that in the space of one year this would be the fate of the well-renowned Patriot, the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Sáros?"

Grief-stricken upon the death of his wife, UJHAZY left New Buda, traveling to Texas. Later he was appointed as the United States Consul to Italy by President Abraham Lincoln. He died on March 12, 1879 at his San Antonio estate. His remains were returned to his homeland and interred in the crypt of the UJHAZY estate chapel at Budamer, Hungary in 1879.

~ PAPP, Susan M. "Hungarian Americans and Their Communities." Cleveland University. 1981.
~"Hand Book of Texas Online."

The New York Times
New York, New York
March 14, 1853

The Hungarians in Iowa.

From the Washington Union.

Some of the western and eastern papers contained not long ago the intelligence: "Governor UJHAZY having abandoned his former residence at New Buda, Iowa, himself and family and some of his countrymen set out for Texas, as the place of their future habitation."

This report is unfounded, as far as it concerns his countrymen living here; and since we particularly feel interested in correcting it, in order to prevent misunderstandings, we beg you to insert the following declaration in the columns of your highly estimated paper:

L. UJHAZY and family, as well as his countrymen, are still here. It is, however, a matter of fact that Governor UHAZY, after having sold his place to a German Emigrating Society, determined to leave with his family, at the first opening of the Spring, for Texas, where he has purchased some hundred acres of land in the neighborhood of San Antonio. But as to his countrymen settled here, not only did they not abandon their claims, but they even did not and do not think to move from here.

Surely UHAZY'S sudden conclusion to part with New Buda, which he was the founder of - to separate from his friends, who, following him to this place, honored him as their tacitly-acknowledged chief - and, finally, to leave the spot that covers the dearest remembrances of his life - could not but affect us deeply; since he at once discovered that this unexpected occurrence possibly might, if not entirely frustrate the main object of our coming here - namely, the foundation of a Hungarian town - involve it in a good deal of difficulties; and although we reconstituted ourselves by electing Mr. JOSEPH MAJTHENVI, formerly member and Secretary of the Upper House of Hungary, henceforth to be our Chairman, it certainly must take particular pains to keep our affairs in their old train.

It affected us deeply, and took us by surprise, that the honorable old veteran, notwithstanding all these considerations, determined to move far away.

But he chose to do so. So, then, we give our hands to this parting: may he peaceably arrive at his newly chosen home; may Heaven protect and aid him in all his undertakings; and when the hour of action for our old beloved home will again strike one day, we certainly again will unite - he and we, and each of us - to do all he possibly can for its welfare and sacred interest.

Accept, Mr. Editor, the assurances of our highest esteem with which we have the honor to remain your obedient servants,

Decatur County, Iowa.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013

New Buda was doomed almost from the start. Most of these men did not know how to farm. Some of them were nobles who had never worked with their hands. The city of New Buda was never built. The chief leader in Iowa was Count Ladislaus UJHAZY and some of the others went to Texas. Those who stayed in Iowa learned to work and soon had homes and farms.
~ "Colonists From Europe." "Stories of Iowa for Boys and Girls." Chapter XXXV. MacMillian Co. New York. 1931.
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