This roundtable discussion took place on November 17, and the context for it was the following.
When Marshall McLuhan popularized the concept of the global village in the 1960s, he anticipated that the rise of new media would allow for the instantaneous communication among individuals on all sides of the globe and bring about village-like networks in a virtual space. Similarly, Benedict Anderson has emphasized the role of the proliferation and circulation of print media, in particular, the newspaper, in constructing the concept of the nation. While the Carpatho-Rusyns have never had a nation-state of their own, they have maintained strong global networks among individual villages spread out in several countries through the production of newspapers, magazines, almanacs, books, and – most recently – websites and social media pages. As such, this roundtable will investigate how Carpatho-Rusyns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries used print media to create international networks between home and abroad, explore the influence of religion on their maintenance of a transnational community, and examine the virtual village-like mentalities and behaviors present on the Carpatho-Rusyn internet today.I gave one of five presentations that made up the roundtable. The slides and my commentary follow here.
Over the past two decades, in my research of the Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant settlements of the U.S. -- primarily Pennsylvania, but also New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, etc. -- in which I especially focused on chain migration from homeland villages to American towns, I have discovered many examples of "village consciousness" as expressed by Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants, and I would like to share them, and my interpretation of them, in the hopes that other scholars may find aspects of this topic that warrant and inspire further study.
|A typical Carpatho-Rusyn village.|
This phenomenon is hardly unique to Carpatho-Rusyns; other peoples in their pre-national or in their nation-building processes, especially among the Slavic peoples, referred to themselves similarly, for example Belarusians, Polishuks, and Polissians.
|"We are from here."|
|The Carpatho-Rusyn village. (Photo: Ivan Čižmar, Svidník, Slovakia)|
|(Photo: Ivan Čižmar, Svidník, Slovakia)|
While my maternal grandmother’s native village (Prykra, Svidnyk district, Slovakia) never had more than 100 residents, I documented more than 35 natives of the village who lived in or around their primary U.S. settlement of Passaic, New Jersey for at least a time, before World War II.
A list of passengers from an immigrant ship from Bremen arriving at Ellis Island in 1902. On board were 5 people from Prykra and several others from nearby villages like Medvedže, Krajnja Poljana, Hinkivci, and Pysana.
A list of passengers from an immigrant ship arriving from Bremen at Ellis Island in 1910. On board were 7 people from Prykra. With them were several countrymen from nearby villages Nyžnij Komarnyk and Krajnja Bŷstra.
Study of the metrical records of the churches established and attended by Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants can also enable us to trace the migration within the United States of not only individual families but also people from the same village. In many cases this can be accounted for by migration to places inhabited by relatives or other natives of the same village, or by other places with employment opportunities by the same firm or in the same industry. For example, there were clear migrations between Simpson, Berwick, Lyndora, and McKees Rocks, Pa., especially by people from Habura, Zemplyn County, as they transferred between factories of the Pressed Steel Car Company and related sites making railroad cars.
We can also learn where certain church communities fractured along village lines: for example, the Russian Orthodox parish in Patton, Pa., which broke from the original Greek Catholic parish in 1904, was founded almost entirely by Carpatho-Rusyns from Zvala, Zemplyn County.
|These two examples are not village consciousness per se, but are a strongly related kind of regional/group consciousness.|
|A typical Carpatho-Rusyn parish cemetery.|
(St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Cemetery, Barnesboro / Northern Cambria, PA)
|Grave of Mychal Kyca, born in Konjuš, Už County, Hungary.|
(St. Mary Russian Orthodox Cemetery)
|Grave of Pavel Matjaš, born in Čertižne, Zemplyn County.|
(St. Michael GC Cemetery, the oldest Rusyn cemetery in the U.S.)
|St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Mayfield, Pa., is one of the largest Rusyn immigrant parish cemeteries in the U.S., and also the one having the most tombstones with the deceased's village of birth included on it.|
The Mayfield parish cemetery has 55 extant stones with the person's birthplace indicated. Of these, 10 are from Peregrymka, Jaslo County, or 18% of all those with the birthplace noted.
|For example, the grave of Pavel Hadžinskij, from Peregrymka, who died in 1915:|
|The grave of John Čajkovskij, written in the Latin script, born in Halbiv (or "Habov"), Jaslo County, who died in 1900.|
- St. Mary Cemetery (Waterbury, CT) - Orthodox: 13 stones
- Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery (Ansonia, CT) - Greek Catholic (Ukrainian): 14 stones
- Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery (Punxsutawney, PA) - Greek Catholic: 14 stones
- St. Michael Cemetery (Saint Clair, PA) - Greek Catholic, later Orthodox: 17 stones
- St. Michael Cemetery (Jermyn, PA) - Orthodox: 18 stones
- St. Michael Cemetery (Shenandoah, PA) - Greek Catholic (Ukrainian): 39 stones
- In Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery, Punxsutawney, PA -- 5, or 36%, are from Čirč, Šarys County;
- In St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Mayfield, PA -- 10, or 18%, are from Peregrymka, Jaslo County;
- In St. Michael Cemetery, Shenandoah, PA -- 5, or 13% are from Hančova, Gorlice County, and 3, or 8%, are from Bodnarka, Gorlice County.
|In addition to tombstones, some other monuments mark the donors' birthplace. This cemetery altar cross at St. Michael's Greek Catholic Cemetery in Sharon, PA, was given by parishioners born in Zavadka, Spiš County.|
|This set of windows in St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church in Mt. Carmel were given by natives of four different villages in the western part of the Lemko Region (Grybow County).|
|Window in St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church in Trenton, N.J.|
|Window in St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church, Wilkes-Barre, given by parishioners from Velyki Kumnjatŷ, Ugoča County.|
|Window in the choir loft of St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church, given by parishioners from Vlachovo, Ugoča County.|
|Window given by natives of Zariča, Ugoča County.|
|This was actually one of two separate windows given by natives of Zariča.|
|Window given by natives of Hreblja, Ugoča County.|
|Window given by natives of Iršava, Bereg County.|
|Window given by natives of Mydjanycja, Bereg County.|
|Windows given by natives of Sil'ce, Bereg County.|
The large majority seem to have been for repair, renovation, or building of churches and parish homes, or purchase of church bells, but some were for national causes like cultural centers and reading rooms.
Unsurprisingly, these collections abruptly ceased with the onset of World War II, and despite widespread destruction in many villages of Carpathian Rus' in the war, very few were conducted afterwards. I have found information on 5 taken in 1947, 2 in 1948, and 1 in 1949, all for villages in then-Czechoslovakia.
Finally, with some thawing of government restrictions in the 1960s, a few collections were conducted. Some of the last were for the church in Peregrymka, Jaslo County, in the early 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, and a few for other Lemko villages in the 1960s.
These were primarily publicized through the Rusyn immigrant newspapers, but usually hewed to adherents of one national orientation, that is, notice of a collection might appear in the RBO's Pravda but not in the UNA's Svoboda, or vice versa.
|This collection was taken up in several U.S. towns where natives of Osturnja had settled -- but primarily in Kingston, Pa.|
|This collection report for a Zemplyn County village taken up in Pittsburgh indicated the native village of the donors, grouping them by village, almost all of which were neighboring villages of Roškivci.|
|Some memorials in the homeland commemorate these assistance campaigns from the U.S., naming donors and the amounts given.|
Similar clubs existed elsewhere, such as the Tylawa Club in Jersey City, N.J., and the Russian Brotherhood J.K.W. (Jastreb, Kyjov, Wislanka) of Bridgeport, Ct.
Social events for natives of certain villages, such as picnics (or kermeš) and reunions were organized by these clubs or by informal networks of village natives.
|The first "Losjanskij Kermeš" was held in Pricedale, Pa., in 1941 and continued for several years. In 1998 the event was revived and has been held annually in that area ever since.|
|This 1981 publication came from an early Rusyn immigrant to Minneapolis who managed to recall the names of several hundred Rusyn immigrants and where they originated.|
The availability of resources online for genealogy and networking, and personal cross-Atlantic ties between villages and their natives/descendants made possible a new collaboration: village history monographs published in the homeland that with the assistance of Rusyn Americans contained detailed information on the life of village natives past and present in the U.S., such as these two about Slovakia Rusyn villages Prykra (2006) and Orjabyna (2007).
Richard D. Custer; all rights reserved.