Blogger's Note: After hearing stories from farming families who had tended the land for generations, Albany Woodworks CEO Richard Woods learned that our Antique Heart Pine and Cypress flooring and millwork, built in the traditional way, has deep roots. Fantastic, adventure-filled stories about the area's lumber-rich past piqued his interest. It wasn't until finding photographs and first-hand accounts of the time that stories of the larger-than-life cypress barons who carved the lumber industry from their native forests; became, no longer legend, but fact. Richard has gotten a sense of the area, after living and running a sawmill on the same rich 40 acre plot of land for over 37 years, near the Town of Albany, Louisiana. And of the story; Hungarian farmers who traveled from their homeland at the height of the Ellis Island immigration of the 1890s to have better opportunity in America, and more specifically, Árpádhon, the cultural home, and Hungarian settlement from which sprang the town of Albany, Louisiana - our namesake.
(Above) Hungarian Settlement Historical Marker near Albany, Louisiana.
(Above) Photo from November 1, 1948 near Albany, Louisiana. Railroad flat cars piled with fence posts cut at a nearby sawmill. Many
cities got their small-town start in 1800s Louisiana the same way, with
a sawmill and the acres of untouched virgin Cypress and Long Leaf Pine
that covered the swamps and bayous of the rural south.
(Above) Brackenridge Lumber Co. - early 1900s. Sawmills, like the Brackenridge
Lumber Company, sprung up near the fledgling railroad and river transit
lines. Established in 1889, the Sawmill played a large part in the
local lumber industry and the Árpádhon Hungarian Settlement that built
up around it.
(Above) B&W photo, 1899. The original founders of Árpádhon. A founding member of the settlement, now known as the largest rural
Hungarian settlement in the United States, also worked for the
Brackenridge Lumber Co.
for purchasing nearly 700,000 acres of surrounding Long leaf pine
forests, the owners of the mill also donated land and heart pine
materials for the construction of the major structures of the community
including the immigration house; a kind of boarding house for Hungarian
immigrants new to Árpádhon, and the Hungarian Presbyterian Church, pictured below.
The benefits to an early Árpádhon settler
included plentiful jobs provided by the sawmill, and the opportunity to
purchase at a discounted rate "cut-over" timberland from the lumber
process to settle and begin farming. An early crop was strawberries,
which liked the warm climate, and proved to be an economic boon to the
area. Photos courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana.