Carpatho-Rusyns are one of the major ethnic groups of Pennsylvania. From the time they settled the state’s small towns and cities in the late 1870s until the present time, Carpatho-Rusyns have left an indelible mark on the state, and their story should be told. This blog is about a project that will do just that. Read more

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Genealogy Conference Presentation: “Northeastern Pennsylvania: The Keystone of Carpatho-Rusyn American History”

The Carpatho-Rusyn Society Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter's first Rusyn Genealogy Conference was held Saturday, June 22, 2013 at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Speakers were the following:
  • John Righetti (Sewickley, PA), “Who are the Rusyns? Early History to the Last Tumultuous 150 Years”
  • Tom Peters (Somerville, NJ), “From No Man’s Land to the Promised Land: The Carpatho-Rusyn Experience”
  • Rich Custer (Washington, DC), “Northeastern Pennsylvania: The Keystone of Carpatho-Rusyn American History”
  • Michele Parvensky (Nazareth, PA) “Research Your Rusyn Ancestry in Eastern and Western PA, Slovakia and Transcarpathia”
  • George Napuda (Pennsville, NJ) “One Man’s Personal Research Journey”

My presentation was primarily visual, numbering over 180 slides used to tell the story of the early development of Carpatho-Rusyn community institutions in northeastern Pennsylvania. Here I present a synopsis of the presentation, and of necessity only a selection of the slides, briefly annotated for the online viewer's aid in following the presentation without my original verbal explanation.

Northeastern Pennsylvania: The Keystone of Carpatho-Rusyn American History

Northeastern Pennsylvania was the site of most of the oldest Rusyn immigrant settlements in the U.S., and as such, it was also the site of most of the Rusyn “firsts:” the first churches, choirs, bands, schools, cemeteries, newspapers, fraternal organizations, and some of the first Rusyn immigrant-owned businesses. The presentation traced the geographic expansion of the number of organized immigrant Rusyn communities in the first 20 years. It included a slideshow of dozens of rarely-seen photographs and advertisements giving a glimpse at early Rusyn immigrant life and community leaders in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Beginnings of Carpatho-Rusyn Immigration
Development of Organized Rusyn Communities in NEPA
Carpatho-Rusyn “Firsts”
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Choirs
  • Bands
  • Monastery
  • Cemeteries
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Newspapers
  • Businesses

The Coal Fields of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Carpatho-Rusyn Homeland

What they left behind...

The Beginnings of Carpatho-Rusyn Immigration

What greeted them in the new world of northeastern Pennsylvania...

Development of Organized Rusyn Communities in NEPA

Continue to Part 2: Churches, Cemeteries, Schools, Choirs, Bands, Monastery, Cemeteries

Europe archival photos courtesy of Ivan Čižmar and Teodor Gocz.

Original material is © by the author, Richard D. Custer; all rights reserved.


  1. Fantastic presentation. I have relatives from that area who emigrated to the city of Chicago, IL around 1900. What major event happened in Hazelton to cause that migration?

  2. Excellent historical presentation. I have relatives who migrated from Hazelton in the early 1900's to the city of Chicago, IL. What events happened in Pennsylvania that would have caused this relocation?


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