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Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy birthday, Mr. Kossuth!

My dad is in the market for a new dog. A Vizsla puppy, to be exact. Because Vizslas are a Hungarian dog breed, he's been brainstorming on traditional, Hungarian names for his pet. During a recent conversation about his pet name ideas I learned that the town where my dad grew up is named after a very famous Hungarian. That town is Kossuth, MS and today is their namesake's birthday!

Kossuth, Mississippi is a small town located in Alcorn County right outside of Corinth. The community was first established in 1847 and was called New Hope. In 1852 the name was officially changed to Kossuth in honor of Louis (or Lajos) Kossuth. Here's a little about Louis from The History of Alcorn County by the Alcorn County Historical Association: "Kossuth was a Hungarian patriot who was exiled for the stand he took in regard to Vienna's intervention in Hungary. Mr. Kossuth, a man of inestimateable [sic] character, visited Mississippi and was much admired by the community. Colonel Polk and Major Wallace, the postmaster, wrote to the United States Post Office Department requesting that the name be changed. The change was made April 23, 1853."

The town didn't forget about Kossuth even 100 years after the name change! According to The History of Alcorn County, a stamp was released in Kossuth's honor on his birthday in 1958 and the official release was held in Kossuth! "In 1958, a Mr. Dunch from Milltown, New Jersey, along with a Mr. Gayer, a Hungarian refugee, came to visit the town of Kossuth. Their visit was in connection with a new stamp commemorating the Hungarian patriot Louis Kossuth, for whom the town was named. This stamp was released in the town of Kossuth on September 19, 1958. To promote relations between the two countries, Mr. Gayer's sister, postmaster of a small town in Hungary behind the Iron Curtain, sent a miniature flag of Hungary and a book on the life Louis Kossuth. She also sent many pictures of the buildings and homes as well as street scenes of Hungary to Kossuth."

Kossuth, MS isn't the only place named for the great Hungarian. There's a Kossuth County in Iowa. There's also bust of Kossuth in the United States Capitol. According to the American Hungarian Foundation, Kossuth's bust is one of the only two busts in the Capitol honoring non-Americans! You can read more about the bust here

Happy Birthday, Louis!

Alcorn County Historical Association (1983). The History of Alcorn County Mississippi. p. 91-92
Original photo here. Birthday rendering by me, the blogger.

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