1914 – 1919: Early Endeavors and Military Service
July 9, 1914
At the young age of 19, Eugene I. Bagonye married 33-year-old widow Emily M. Hodge from England in a ceremony held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City after a whirlwind romance lasting six days. However, the marriage soon faced troubles owing to their age difference, leading to their separation just three months later.
May 2, 1916
In a heartwarming display of friendship, Eugene Bagonye witnessed his friend Henry Stern convert to Christianity, abandoning his ancient Hebraic faith in a ceremony officiated by Rev. John Szabo of the Hungarian Catholic Church in South River. This change of faith was inspired by their close bond, emphasizing the depth of their friendship. Stern and Bagonye had plans to attend the American University in Chicago to study chiropractic, with aspirations to open a practice in Milltown.
Bagonye enlisted in the army, initially continuing his work as a faculty member at the Palmer School in Davenport, Iowa, before beginning regular army training in early 1918. Bagonye’s tenure in the army saw him rise to the rank of sergeant, with his service majorly stationed at Camp Dix.
January 21, 1919
Sergeant Bagonye was honorably discharged from the army. Shortly after, he re-enlisted, planning to return to his duties at the Palmer School before resuming his responsibilities in the army, taking charge of six other individuals for their trip to Iowa.
1921-1923: Legal Troubles and Divorce
April 25, 1921
Bagonye, who now bore the title “Professor” and dabbled in spiritualistic practices, found himself arrested under the “Section 71; Witchcraft” clause of the New Jersey Penal Code. Despite the arrest, Bagonye held services at Begonia Health House in Hungry Hill, Milltown, New Jersey. Dubbed the “necromancer of Hungry Hill,” he was accused of fraudulent activities, involving the sale of a “good luck powder” and alleged theft. Bagonye’s colorful career history came to light during this time, including his experience as an assistant pastor, employment agency owner, real estate dealer, and cook’s instructor in the army, among other roles.
January 23, 1923
The clergyman Bagonye, now serving at the Themomistic Church in Milltown, was advised to be granted a divorce from his estranged wife Emily M. Hodge on grounds of her infidelity and their irrevocable differences. Their tragic marital history surfaced, highlighting Hodge’s criminal background and subsequent deportation.
January 26, 1922
Desiring to commence his new role as a Theomentatie minister with a clear conscience, Bagonye initiated divorce proceedings against Hodge, invoking her unfaithfulness as the primary reason. The divorce proceedings revealed the rapid progression of their relationship, which moved from acquaintance to marriage within a span of six days. Bagonye emphasized his commitment to his ministerial duties and expressed a strong desire to start afresh, rid of the troubled marriage that haunted his past.
1925: The Supernatural Remedy Proposal
September 2, 1925
Amidst a water shortage crisis in Milltown, Bagonye penned a letter to Mayor Herbert, offering his supernatural assistance to solve the problem. He proposed a contractual agreement wherein, for $8,000, he would employ his purported divine abilities to increase the water supply in the borough’s wells to meet current and future demands for the next three to five years. The proposal, which promised a continual and increased supply of water through supernatural means, sought to provide a cheaper alternative to drilling a new well, estimated to cost $30,000.
September 15, 1925
Bagonye’s proposal was deliberated in a borough council session, during which the desperate circumstances of the water supply were discussed in detail. The critical situation involved the emergency sourcing of water from Lawrence Brook, and restrictions imposed on water usage for car washing and lawn sprinkling. Bagonye’s solution, which brought a glimmer of hope in a trying time, was referred to the Superintendent of Water, Samuel Spiers, for careful consideration, showcasing the council’s open-mindedness in exploring diverse solutions to address the pressing issue.
This detailed chronological recount encompasses the significant events in Eugene Bagonye’s life, bringing a rich context to his personal and professional journey, marked by both service and controversy. It covers his romantic endeavors, deep friendships, military service, brushes with the law involving an arrest for witchcraft, and his rather unconventional offer of employing supernatural means to solve a community crisis, depicting a life certainly full of ups and downs.
Here is a link to his Grave location in Long Island. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/310287/eugene-i-bagonye
Compiled and arranged by: Randy Ruth