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

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Independent" Rusyn Cemeteries

On a seasonal theme... (Happy Halloween!)
Rusyn cemeteries provide some of the most lasting and informative evidence of the characteristics and personalities of a given Rusyn immigrant settlement. In Pennsylvania, the large majority of Rusyn churches have their own cemeteries. In urban areas like Philadelphia, Erie, and Johnstown, large Catholic or nonsectarian cemeteries serve alongside or instead of parish cemeteries as the final resting place of many Rusyn immigrants. And parish histories typically describe the establishment of a cemetery, or at least the year the land was purchased.

However, there is a third category of Rusyn cemetery whose history can be difficult to document. These are "independent" cemeteries founded by Rusyn immigrants and/or their children, usually in rural areas not directly served by a Rusyn church, but not exclusively so.

(this section updated 10/20/15)
I'm aware of at least 7 independent Rusyn (/Russian/Ukrainian) cemeteries that exist apart from any church, in Pennsylvania:
  1. Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery in Duryea, Luzerne Co.
    (chartered as St. Peters Russian Greek Catholic Cemetery Association of Duryea in 1914)
  2. Ss. Peter & Paul Eastern Greek Catholic Cemetery in Freeland, Luzerne Co.
    (chartered as St. Peter & St. Paul Eastern Greek Catholic Cemetery of Freeland in 1935)
  3. St. Nicholas Russian Greek Catholic Cemetery in Nicholson (Starkville), Wyoming Co.
  4. St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Pittsfield, Warren Co. (mainly Ukrainians are buried there, though)
  5. Carpathian Russian Greek Orthodox Cemetery in Pleasant Mount, Susquehanna Co.
  6. St. Mary's Russian Cemetery in Thompson, Susquehanna Co.
  7. Saints Cyril & Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery of the Postupack Families Association in Weatherly, Carbon Co.
Also in Edwardsville (Luzerne Co.) and Catasauqua (Lehigh Co.), there were de facto Russian Orthodox parish cemeteries actually owned by fraternal lodges, not the parish, that were eventually sold to the local parish. When ownership was transferred, the name of the Edwardsville cemetery (located in Pringle) was actually changed -- from St. Nicholas (the name of the society that owned it) to St. John the Baptist (the name of the parish).

Through serendipity and the kindness of people affiliated with the Nicholson and Thompson cemeteries, I have very useful information on their founders and the date and circumstances of their founding.

Please get in touch if you have any useful information to contribute about any of the others, or let me know about any I may never have encountered.

Here's some views of most of the above-named cemeteries.

Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery, Duryea, Luzerne Co.

St. Michael Russian Greek Catholic Cemetery, Nicholson (Starkville), Wyoming Co.

Carpathian Russian Greek Orthodox Cemetery, Pleasant Mount, Susquehanna Co.

St. Mary's Russian Cemetery, Thompson, Susquehanna Co.

Saints Cyril & Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery of the Postupack Families Association, Weatherly, Carbon Co.

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


  1. It was brought to my attention (thanks, David D.!) that the Saints Peter & Paul Eastern Greek Catholic Cemetery in Freeland, Luzerne Co., may be independently chartered/owned. While it shares a name with the former Saints Peter & Paul Eastern Greek Catholic Church (aka Ss. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church) in Freeland, it has also served as the burial place for members of St. Michael Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Freeland, which was established after the aforementioned parish and cemetery. Saints Peter & Paul parish seems to now be officially closed (it's no longer listed in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA directory), but if the cemetery was completely independent, that shouldn't matter. David reports that a stained glass window in St. Michael's Church was donated by SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery Association in 1940. Perhaps the cemetery has by now been acquired by St. Michael's parish, though. Does anyone know?

    1. I dug a bit deeper into my library and found notes on the incorporations of various societies/corporations in Luzerne County; there I found more info on both the Duryea and Freeland cemetery associations -- indeed, both were independent. I've updated the blog post accordingly. HOWEVER, I still need the names of the incorporators and any other interesting info on both.


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