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

Project Status

As of winter 2017, my fieldwork task list includes the following.
  • The parishes to whose metrical records I am still trying to arrange research access are:
    • Hazleton - St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic;
    • Saint Clair - St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic;
    • Philadelphia - St. Andrew Russian Orthodox;
    • Chester - St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox;
    • Bethlehem - St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox;
    • Central City - St. Mary Russian Orthodox;
    • Boswell - Ss. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox;
    • Pine Hill - Ss. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox;
    • Jerome - St. Mary Russian Orthodox;
    • McKeesport - St. Mary Russian Orthodox;
    • West Brownsville - Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox.
  • There are four more parish cemeteries, and a few other smaller cemeteries, I plan to photograph:
    • McKeesport - St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic;
    • Duquesne - St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox;
    • Duquesne - Ss. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic;
    • Swoyersville - St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic;
  • I anticipate a return trip to two archives in Pennsylvania (Danville) and New Jersey (Woodland Park) I’ve previously visited.
  • There are several county courthouses from which I hope to get copies of church and organization/lodge charters.
  • There are additional naturalization application documents I plan to obtain online.
  • There are a few extant photographs in various people’s possession I hope to scan.
  • There are a few individuals with whom I hope to conduct an oral history interview.
  • Now having full access to, I am gathering miscellaneous secular press coverage of Carpatho-Rusyn community activities and significant events.
  • The largest task will be reviewing additional Rusyn/Ukrainian/Russian immigrant newspapers on microfilm or in hard copy. It’s very fortunate that the complete run of Svoboda is now available online.
ALSO: I'm now building an archive of photographs from my digital scans so as to be able to edit/process them and catalog them for search and selection purposes. I am also continuing to build a database of fraternal benefit society (and similar organization) lodges.
How can you get involved?

Anticipating that the above tasks and the writing itself may take several more years, I need to accelerate the search for several individuals who will be key to producing the best book possible.
  • Cartographer: to prepare maps of Pennsylvania, especially very localized maps showing the main settlement and associated locales with important geographic and transportation features, as well as homeland maps showing the villages/village clusters represented in a given community.
  • Graphic designer / page layout & publishing specialist: to design the basic page format and then to lay out the text and images to create proofs; to prepare additional non-photo images where needed.
If you are one of the above and want to be a part of making this project into something real, please contact me at rusynsofpa (at) gmail (dot) com. (There is no funding available to begin working now, but there should be at some point in the future. Expressions of interest now are welcome!)

Several individuals have already graciously volunteered their time and talents to assist me when the time comes:
  • Two professional writers/editors have volunteered to read and review the manuscript.
  • Two individuals, one a subject matter expert and another an American of Pennsylvania Carpatho-Rusyn heritage, have volunteered to read and react to the manuscript.
  • A photographer/photo editing specialist has volunteered to prepare photographs for publication.
For these and others who have come forward with assistance, I am very thankful.

$, $$, and more $$$

And of course, how to pay for all this? I hope to write at least one set of grant applications to assist with the production and publication, but I also hope to find additional funding to assist me to complete the research and writing.

In September 2015 I received a Seton Shields Genealogy Grant, administered by renowned professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak. The grant funding supported a week-long research trip to several archives and libraries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to gather some additional materials for the book. Many thanks to Megan and her excellent grant program!

If you can assist with further funding in some way, please contact me at rusynsofpa (at) gmail (dot) com.

As things progress and the above-mentioned tasks are completed, this post will be updated.
(Last update: 12/15/17)

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


  1. in your research travels, did you get to Colver, PA, near Ebensburg?

    1. I've been to Colver quite a few times. In fact, my Rusyn grandparents lived there in the mid-1920s. Unfortunately I have very little history of that Rusyn community (except what's in the church sacramental registers, or earlier such records from Barnesboro) and no historical photographs. I wrote up some basic info here:
      Johnstown Slavic Festival Presentation
      Specifically, in Part 2 of that presentation.

      Do you have any historical materials from the Carpatho-Rusyns in Colver?

  2. My father was born in Ford City PA where is father worked at Pittsburg Glass. Will you be taking photos of St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church and the cemetery there? His father is buried there. My father will be 100 in November and talks about his childhood.

    1. I have been to Ford City many times and have photographed the church and almost the entire cemetery. Fortunately I have a pretty good amount of written history on our people there, plus a ton of info from the church records that I researched on-site or via the Oresicks who are avid genealogists from there.

      I plan to return at the end of the summer to try to find the earliest Rusyn immigrant graves in the Polish RC cemetery. I think there are a few in the Slovak RC too, but probably more in the Polish one since that's evidently where at least the Lemkos in FC attended church before St. Nicholas/St. Mary's was founded.


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