From Dairy Farms to Gravel Mines

Book on Elk River area Hungarian community by Betty Bodnar-Belanger

A website address (see below) about the article in the Star News, Elk River, MN. was sent to the Fulops via e-mail by a friend, Nicolas Cseszneky-Milvanyi from London, England.  It was interesting to see, how news have been getting circulated everywhere and learn about the timing of the book signing event on an Internet-based communication. Betty Bodnár-Belanger had been encouraged by Dr.Juliánna Puskás†, a well known Hungarian historian years earlier to compile and publish a book about the history of the significant number of Hungarian inhabitants in Elk River and area community.

Betty a second generation Hungarian-American is not only a notable member of the Elk River community, but also a former Board Member of the Minnesota Hungarians organization. She has worked for many years researching public records on birth, marriage and decease of Hungarian immigrants; interviewing descendents of Hungarian settlers, collecting photographs, weaving together stories of immigrants with Elk River’s past.

Betty speaks Hungarian fluently and she is a talented artist making beautiful and authentic Hungarian embroideries. Over the years she participated as an embroidery & artifacts demonstrator numerous times at the Festival of Nations event in St. Paul, MN.

At the Elk River Activity Center about 40 people sat around listening to Betty. The Mayor of Elk River, Stephanie Klinzing greeted Betty and the audience. In her remarks she emphasized the importance of Hungarian settlers and dairy farmers in an area often referred to as Hungarian Hills. History Center’s program manager Bobby Scott encouraged the visitors to contribute stories of their own about this community. The conversation became lively, people had a great story-telling time with laughter of reminiscence and fun in setting right each other’s recollections. Betty and her friends treated the guests to Hungarian goodies (kifli and begli) and coffee. In her presentation Betty thanked everyone for their support and help in providing materials, sharing memories and family histories with her.

The books are available for purchase ($24.95) at the Sherburne History Center in Becker, MN. All proceeds go to support the Sherburne History Center. Please call Bobbie at the History Center to register 763-262-4433 or email her at

The members of the Minnesota Hungarians congratulate Betty for her idea, motivation and the completion of this book to preserve the rich Hungarian history of this area in Minnesota.

We wish her good health and energy to continue her valuable contributions to the life of Hungarian-Americans in Minnesota.
Reported by Agnes and Laszlo Fulop
May 27, 2010

Laszlo Fulop, Betty Bognar-Belanger, Agnes Fulop