Esterhazy, Paul (1831–1912)

Paul Oscar Esterhazy, an immigration agent, was also founder of the Esterhaz Colony, the first Hungarian settlement in Saskatchewan. Esterhazy was born Johannes Packh in Esztergom, Hungary in 1831. He left Hungary after the failed war for independence of 1848–49, in which he served as a rebel soldier; during the following decade, Packh served in the British army. He adopted the Esterhazy name about 1867 when obtaining an Austrian passport in Munich. His reasons for adopting the name are unknown, and while he never concealed or changed any details of his past he steadfastly maintained his claim of relationship to the Esterhazy family, one of the wealthiest and most prominent in Hungary. By 1868 he was residing in New York City under the name of Paul Oscar Esterhazy; his name often appears with the title “Count” before it.

Esterhazy took a keen interest in the fate of his fellow countrymen. In the late 19th century many immigrants from Hungary, ethnic Hungarians and Slovaks, migrated to the United States and found work in the coalmines of Pennsylvania. In 1885 and 1886 Esterhazy arranged the migration of a group from the United States, first to Manitoba and later to the Qu’Appelle valley near what is today the town of Esterhazy. In 1888 a second group of peasants came directly from Hungary to the same district. Esterhazy continued to aid immigration from his homeland to western Canada, and remained keenly interested in the success of his colony for the remainder of his life.

Mark Vajcner


Further Reading

Kovacs, M.L. 1974. Esterhazy and Early Hungarian Immigration to Canada. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center.