Friday, February 25, 2011

25 February 1900: One Immigrant's Story

On this day in Athens, and throughout the week, Albin Hajos Gallery ran this advertisement in the Daily Banner:

Albin Hajos spent only a few years in Athens, but made quite an impression while he was here. He was born in Austria on 4 November 1867, and arrived in the United States on Christmas Day, 1886, on the S. S. Aller, just two months after the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. On his passenger list, his age entered as 23, and his occupation as "Merchant."

After three years in Ohio, Hajos moved to Tennessee. The same week he became a naturalized citizen in 1892, he applied for a United States passport for himself and his 20-year-old wife, Jennie. In the application, he is described as being approximately 5'5" tall with a high forehead, small nose and mouth on a round face with a fair complexion with dark brown hair and gray eyes. He listed his occupation as "Book keeper."

In April, 1896, Hajos moved his family, which by then included a daughter, Emily, and a son, Charley, to Athens, where he set up his photography studio and gallery above the grocery store of George Williamson at 31 East Clayton Street. According to the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Athens from 1898, his office appears to be in the same location as Cillie's Clothing is today.

Hajos advertised regularly in the Athens newspaper, typically simple one or two sentence ads about sales or feature products, such as "photo buttons." He made many photographs of the buildings in Athens, and in 1901 published a book, Souvenir of Athens, featuring homes and businesses from around the city. The interior photos of the Lucy Cobb Institute may have been made for submission to the Ladies Home Journal in 1897, when they requested images for their series of the "different interiors" of 100 American homes. The book was reissued in 2001, noting that half of the structures Hajos had included had since been torn down.

In 1902, Hajos moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri, and by 1910, was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee again. For several years after he left Athens, the dentist who leased his old space on Clayton Street would list "Hajos Gallery" has his location rather than the street address. In the 1920 and 1930 United States censuses, he and Jennie are living in Atlanta, where he works for Kodak as an "xray man;" there are occasional mentions in the society section of the Athens newspapers after 1910s of his wife coming back to Athens to visit friends, or Athens friends staying with the Hajos family in Atlanta. By the 1935 Florida state census, he is living in Miami, and lists his occupation as retired. He died there in 1939.

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