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

From the Carpathians to the Alleghenies: Carpatho-Rusyn Immigrants in the Greater Johnstown Area (3)

The presentation continues with a look at the Rusyn communities in central Cambria County and Somerset County.

[Arrived here first? Jump back to the beginning of the presentation]

the main Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant settlements in southern Cambria and Somerset Counties
The town of Windber, just within the Somerset County line adjacent to Cambria County and metropolitan Johnstown, was founded in 1897 by the Berwind-White Coal Company as a company town and it became a thriving commercial center as well as a mining and industrial center.

Coal mines were already in operation around Windber, or were to open in the years that followed, at Seanor/Faustwell, Eureka Mines 37, 39, 40, and others, Scalp Level, Hagevo, Ashtola, as well as more-distant Hooversville and Hollsopple.

The first of numerous Rusyn fraternal lodges in this area were founded around this time: St. Stephen Brotherhood of Windber (GCU Lodge 151, ca. 1899), and St. George Brotherhood of Scalp Level (GCU Lodge 139, ca. 1899).

The Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants' spiritual needs were originally provided by St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church in Johnstown, but the distance and the large number of Rusyns living in the immediate area of Windber prompted a new parish to serve them directly. In 1900, the Rusyn Greek Catholic Church of St. Stephen was established in Windber.

With Windber proper and the surrounding area being a major destination for Rusyn immigrants, many villages and regions were represented there. Among the most-represented villages were: Jakubjanŷ, Spiš County; Šambron, Snakiv, Čirč, and Šaryšske Jastrabje, Šaryš County; Hrabova Rostoka, Paryzivci, Rakovec nad Ondavou, Juskova Volja, Nacina Ves, Topoljany, and Moravany, Zemplyn County; Vetlyna, Lisko County; Čertež, Rus'ki Komarovci, Dravci, Gajdoš, and Chudl'ovo, Už County; Bobovyšči, Bukovec', and Strabyčovo, Bereg County; and Mšana and Hŷrova, Krosno County.
At the time of its legal incorporation in 1902, the parish changed its name to St. Mary (Dormition). In 1926 it built a much larger church adjacent to the old one on Somerset Avenue.
Ornately inscribed over the entrance to the church, "Rusyn Greek Catholic Temple of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God."
Cornerstone of the second church, in Church Slavonic/Russian ("Greek Catholic Church of the Most Holy Mother of God") and English.
The Windber Rusyn Greek Catholic parish for its first several years also served Hungarian-, Romanian-, and Arabic-speaking Greek Catholics; the Romanians eventually established their own church in nearby Scalp Level. Some of the Hungarian-speakers would join the Hungarian Roman Catholic parish in town, while most of the Arab-speakers eventually left the Windber area.

As the Rusyn population grew in number and diversity, more fraternal lodges were established: St. John the Baptist Brotherhood of Seanor (GCU Lodge 281, ca. 1904), the Windber Sisterhood of the  Entrance of the Mother of God Into the Temple (GCU Lodge 354), St. George Brotherhood of Windber (RBO Lodge 50, ca. 1907), lodges of the United Societies of the Greek Catholic Religion, youth lodges of the GCU and United Societies, and Sokol (athletic) branches of both.

The Carpatho-Rusyn community of Windber enjoyed great stability for many years, its priests also imbued with a missionary spirit that essentially made all of Somerset County their parish, and from which several other Rusyn churches were founded directly or indirectly. The Rusyn community's life would be marred not by internal conflicts, but by labor problems such as major coal miner strikes in 1906 and 1922-23.
Second national convention of the Uhro-Rusyn National Defense organization, held in Windber in 1917.
The Windber Uhro-Rusyn Sokols (of the GCU), 1919. Cantor-teacher: John Petranich; pastor: Fr. Stefan Polyansky.
St. Mary's Church choir, 1926. Cantor/choir director: Theodore Stinich; pastor: Fr. Aurelius Petrick.
GCU ladies' lodge, Branch 164, 1930. Organizer: John Petranich, former cantor-teacher. Pictured pastor, Fr. Aurelius Petrick; cantor-teacher: Michael Volkay.
Russkij Dom/Russin Home of the American Russian Educational Club, 401 10th St., built in 1928.
Although the building has passed to other use (a karate studio), the cornerstone remains.
There was also a significant community of Galician Ukrainians in the Windber area; here is their Brotherhood of St. Demetrius, Lodge 143 of the Ukrainian National Association, in 1914. With no separate Ukrainian parishes nearby, they attended and supported St. Mary's Church.
Interior of St. Mary's Church as it appeared in the 1970s.
When the national uproar began from the Rusyn Greek Catholics in the U.S. against the 1929 Vatican decree Cum data fuerit, Windber's community mounted a considerable challenge of its own, with a many-member branch of KOVO--the Committee for the Defense of the Eastern Rite. Unfortunately with this effort the long-standing unity within the community began to crumble. In 1935 those opposed to the pastor's support of the Vatican decree and Bishop Basil Takach's authority in his support of the same took the pastor to court in an attempt to assert ownership of the parish properties. Ultimately they were not successful, and the court decision of 1937 ruled St. Mary's to be a Catholic parish in union with Rome. Those who lost the case and their supporters established a new parish that would be part of the newly-established Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese that would have nearby Johnstown as its seat.

The members of the new parish, named for Saints Peter and Paul, bought property and began work on a church at the corner of Ninth Street and Somerset Avenue in 1938. The church was completed and consecrated in 1945 by Bishop Orestes (Chornock). The parish prospered, but their progress was interrupted in 1967 as the church was destroyed by fire.
After losing their church in a fire, the parishioners of Ss. Peter & Paul Church purchased land just outside of town and in 1972 the new church was completed and consecrated.
Interior of the present Ss. Peter & Paul Church.
The small town of Jerome, about 11 miles southwest of Windber, gained a substantial number of Rusyn residents in 1906. Many of them came from villages such as Paryzivci, Zvala, Smulnyk, Rus’ka Volova, and Hrabova Rostoka, Zemplyn County; Terepča, Sanok County; Ustjanova and Lodyna, Lisko County; and Dzvinjač Dolišni & Hirni, Turka County. The local Rusyn community included those in nearby towns and coal patches: Baker-Whitely, Hiyasota, Blough, Maple Ridge, and Hollsopple. These immigrants joined with the much larger group in Jerome to establish Saints Peter & Paul Greek Catholic Church there in 1913.

While mining was the occupation of choice for most of the local Rusyn men, a few families, perhaps weary of coal mining, turned to farming, as this part of the county had ample farmland in a somewhat flatter terrain than most other areas in the region.
Procession around the (original) church on its patronal feastday of Ss. Peter & Paul, 1925. Pastor was Fr. Hilarion Dzubay (resident in Jenners); cantor-teacher was P. Maco.
The community met misfortune in 1935, when the church was destroyed by fire. This is the second Ss. Peter & Paul Church, built in 1936.
Today the parish still exists, but services are held only occasionally.
Interior of Ss. Peter & Paul Church, which was redone with Byzantine iconography and an icon screen in 1985.
Service Roll of members of the parish.
The parish cemetery is clustered with several other Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox cemeteries.
(Jerome color photos courtesy of Steve Kutchman)
One of the few extant photographs of St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church in Jerome, founded 1916 and closed in 1952. Most of its members were Slavs from the Russian Empire, with a handful of Carpatho-Rusyn and Galician Ukrainian members.
Jenners / Boswell
South of Jerome, near Jennerstown and Somerset, is a cluster of coal-mining villages that developed as Rusyn settlements initially in conjunction with Windber and the Somerset County Rusyn immigrants living to their north but then developed as organized communities in their own right.

These settlements include Jenners, Boswell, Ralphton, Listie, Acosta, Stoughton, Harrison, Belltown, Gray, and Shaft, some of which were settled by Rusyns as early as 1900. Many of them came from the Rusyn villages of Telgart, Gemer County; Kamjunka and Toryskŷ, Spiš County; Gerlachiv, Šaryš County; Macyna Velyka, Gorlyci County; Poljanŷ, Krosno County; Volja Nyžnja, Poljanŷ Surovickŷ, Posada Jaslyska, and Dal'ova, Sanok County; Vovkovoje, Už County; and Torun, Zolotar’ovo, Pryslop, Vul’chovci, Luh, Bereznykŷ, Čumal’ovo, and Danylovo, Maramoroš County.

The first settlements to organize, with Rusyn fraternal lodges rather than churches, were Listie (St. Michael Brotherhood, GCU Lodge 155, ca. 1899; St. Andrew Brotherhood, RBO Lodge 8, ca. 1902) and Boswell (Holy Ghost Brotherhood, GCU Lodge 299, ca. 1904).

Some in this cluster of settlements spearheaded the founding of St. Mary Greek Catholic Church in Jenners in 1913. From its founding, the parish usually had a resident pastor, who at different times was also responsible for serving Ss. Peter & Paul Greek Catholic Church in Jerome, the community of Pine Hill (Goodtown) near Berlin -- which eventually established a Russian Orthodox parish of their own, the settlements of MacDonaldton and Meyersdale, and the St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church at Wilpen near Ligonier in Westmoreland County.
St. Mary Greek Catholic Church of Jenners, founded and built in 1913.
Interior of the Jenners church. (Photo:
GCU Sokol Lodge of Ss. Peter & Paul in Jenners, 1919. Priest pictured: Fr. Pirozhok.
In the turmoil of the 1930s in the Rusyn Greek Catholic Church in the U.S. over the Vatican decree forbidding the ordination of married men to the priesthood, the parish joined the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese in 1938.

As the Jenners parish was first being organized, other plans were being made in the adjacent town of Boswell, which had had a Rusyn population since about 1902.

The single largest group of Carpatho-Rusyns in Boswell were those from Poljanŷ, Krosno County. Their co-villagers, or perhaps some of these same families, living in Conemaugh near Johnstown had already established a Russian Orthodox parish in 1908, providing what was likely the inclination toward having a similar Orthodox parish in Boswell a few years later. A Boswell lodge of the Russian Orthodox Catholic Mutual Aid Society was already formed by 1912. Sure enough, that Boswell Orthodox church had its beginnings in 1913; by 1915 the building was finished, in the "Lemko style" of homeland tripartite churches with three domed towers of descending height.
Saints Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Boswell after its completion. Its members were drawn primarily from Boswell and Acosta, with others in Gray and Belltown. (Photo: Dept. of History and Archives, Orthodox Church in America)
In 1998, a fire destroyed the interior of the church. Despite the congregation's very small size, they were able to restore it, with new iconography pictured here, and the church still functions as a chapel served from St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church in Central City. (Photo:
During the immigrant era, these parishes lived mostly separate existences, though some of the Rusyn immigrants would switch their allegiance from one to the other, even several times.

Central City
The neighboring towns of Central City and Cairnbrook were surrounded by mines. This of course attracted numerous Rusyn immigrants, primarily from the villages Jakubjanŷ, Spiš County; Šambron, Snakiv, Gerlachiv, Kuriv, Legnava, and Mal’cov, Šaryš County; Nyžnja Olšava, Kolonica, Rafajivci, Cabov, and Torhovisce, Zemplyn County; Paškovci, Bereg County; and Zatvarnycja, Bereska, Protisne, Žuraven, Rus'ke, Kryva, Pryslup, Skorodne, and Zabrodja, Lisko County.

These Rusyn settlements were among the last in Somerset County to develop, however, Cairnbrook having been founded only in 1912, and most of the Reitz mines around Central City first opening between 1916-1919.

The religious life of this community was strongly tied to St. Mary's Church in Windber, mainly by occasional visits by its pastor. Organizational work for a local Greek Catholic parish began in 1915, but it was only in 1917 that such a parish, Ss. Peter and Paul, was officially established in Central City. That same year, the Russian Orthodox priest who arrived as the first pastor of Ss. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Pine Hill (Goodtown) near Berlin began to visit Central City. Under his leadership organizational work for an Orthodox parish began among local Rusyns at around the same time.

Both groups built their churches in 1918. While the makeup of these parishes were not substantially different from each other, St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church had more members from Galicia (Lisko County) than Ss. Peter & Paul's did. The Rusyns from Spiš, Šaryš, and Zemplyn Counties were concentrated in Ss. Peter & Paul's.
St. Mary Russian Orthodox Church, built 1918. (Photo:
Interior of St. Mary's Church. (Photo:
Ss. Peter & Paul (Orthodox) Greek Catholic Church, built 1918. In 1921 the parish received its own pastor, in the person of Fr. Orestes Koman.
Father Koman published memoirs in the 1980s telling of his arrival in Central City as a newly-ordained priest:
In 1921, I was ordained to the priesthood and got my first parish in Central City, PA. I spent there two and a half years, from Sept. 1921 - May, 1923, and the short time I was there I have to be grateful to those good people who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home. They had a well-built wooden church with a hall and purchased a temporary rectory farther on the hill to accommodate me. Cantor John Berezny was very helpful to assist me and butcher Mike Volchko, the church secretary, with his wife and sister were feeding me. 

The people were enthusiastic and hurriedly made great and efficient preparation for the Sunday of my first Mass. The dean [Fr. Stephen Polyansky from Windber] was my “conductor” at my first Liturgy assisted by Fr. D. Zubritsky from Portage, my father and brother-in-law and the congregation, conducted by the local cantor, Ivan Bereznak, was singing the Mass with full heart and soul. I was very touched and very happy and my only wish remaining was that my wife also could be present or at least cognizant of that happy occasion. I had some remorse that I had left her behind but her attachment to her family was so great that I didn’t want to be insistent.

After the Mass the congregation staged a surprise banquet for me in the church hall at which children greeted me with flowers and greetings “po našomu” in the old native language. So it was then in the early emigration when the children spoke the language of the parents and the church services were in Slavonic. After the banquet the church trustees handed me over two envelopes, one contained my first monthly salary, the other special gifts from the parish on my first Holy Liturgy. The people’s overwhelming kindness made me humble and feeling undeserved.

I can hardly forget those good men who organized and built the church and so faithfully rendered their services. The president was John Fecko originally from Zemplin, the secretary Mike Volchko whose roots were from the county of Spiš and the treasurer was Mike Zsukovich who came from Ungvar and spoke Hungarian well. Besides the parishioners living in Central City proper, from the neighboring Cairnbrook and Mine #4 people identified themselves with our church and came to the services regularly. We had a great number of school children who everyday after school came to the hall for instructions not only in religion but in “AZBUKA” as well, learning to read and write in their parents’ language. It was exactly as I saw in Clairton and so it was then in every one of our parishes.
The conflicts of the 1930s in the American Rusyn Greek Catholic community did not spare Central City; the parish ended up joining the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese in 1938.
Ss. Peter & Paul parish cemetery.
Bethlehem carolers (jasličkari) from Ss. Peter & Paul Church, 1940s. (Courtesy of Charlotte Conjelko)
St. Mary's Russian Orthodox parish cemetery.
Dramatic ensemble of St. Mary's Church, 1931; priest: Fr. Andrew Kuharsky. The actors are dressed in typical Galician Rusyn/Ukrainian folk costumes, only somewhat reflective of the region of origin of most of the parish families.
The villages of Dunlo and Llanfair, between Windber and Portage, represent one of the earlier Rusyn immigrant settlements in the region. Rusyns were living in Dunlo in 1896, if not earlier. They came primarily from the Prešov Region, with a few families from the Lemko Region and Subcarpathian Rus': from Mal’cov, Snakiv, Hrabske, and Lukiv, Šaryš County; Leljuchiv, Novyj Sanč County; and Klokočov, Kaluša, and Podhorb, Už County. The largest number by far were from Mal’cov, a predominantly Greek Catholic village where the people identified themselves as Rusyns by nationality but spoke a dialect closer to the Šaryš dialect of eastern Slovak than to Rusyn. Some Roman Catholic families from Mal’cov also settled in Dunlo and attended the town's Roman Catholic parish.

The Rusyn community came together for mutual financial and social support in 1896 with the founding of the St. Michael Brotherhood, Lodge 91 of the GCU. Having some recourse to Greek Catholic parishes in Johnstown and Windber, it would not be until 1909 that a parish was established in Dunlo. The church was built the same year.
Ss. Peter & Paul Church, built 1909.
The cornerstone, in Church Slavonic/Russian, shows that the original name of the church was St. George the Great-Martyr.
First Holy Communion children, 1923. Pastor was Fr. Cornelius Gribovsky; cantor-teacher was Viktor Toth.
Church officers, 1923, with Fr. Gribovsky and cantor Viktor Toth.
Founders and members of the Dunlo Slovak American Citizens Club; many of the men on this list were Carpatho-Rusyns, especially evident by those named "Vasko," a name almost never used by Slovaks. (Photo: Maria Silvestri)
Dunlo's Greek Catholic cemetery has an especially large number of well-preserved old Rusyn graves.
Beaverdale, Lloydell, and Onnalinda represented a separate cluster of settlements not far from Dunlo but that developed separately. Rusyns arrived to work in the local mines around 1898. Their numbers overall were not large, so for spiritual needs they looked first to Johnstown and then especially to Windber, and also South Fork.

Rusyn immigrants in the Beaverdale area came mainly from Hostovici, Stružnica, Pŷchni, and Zvala, Zemplyn County; Kryvka, Lisko County; and Dubne, Novyj Sanč County. A few families from Mal’cov, Šaryš County lived here as well, a few miles from the center of their village community in Dunlo.

Their first attempt to organize their community was in 1904 with the founding of the Nativity of the Mother of God Brotherhood of Lloydell as GCU Lodge 247. The will to have their own church came to fruition in 1906: the cornerstone was laid in a lot near the top of an especially hilly part of town.

While being served for many years from Windber or South Fork, in the 1920s the parish was paired with Dunlo and since then the parishes have shared a priest. (Today both are served from Portage.)

St. Mary's parish school children, 1920; cantor-teacher: Ivan Komanyckij.
One of the earliest extant photos of the interior of St. Mary's Church, 1936.
Ad from the United Societies 1925 almanac for Andrejkovich Brothers "First and largest Rusyn butcher shop and grocery. Here everyone, whether Rusyn, or Slovak, can get freshly home-cut meat, as well as old-country-style kolbasa... The brothers are United Societies sokols. Patronize your own."
South Fork
The towns of South Fork, Ehrenfeld, Creslo, St. Michael and their surrounding mines attracted Rusyn immigrants around 1897. Among the early Rusyn settlers was an extended family from Porač, Spiš County, the Fifik (Fiffick) family, including Jan Fifik and his wife Marija Dolobač who had settled in the Johnstown area in the mid-1880s, and Matej Fifik and his wife Marija Hanuščak; they and the other Fifik clan members established homes in an area between South Fork and Ehrenfeld in the early 1900s. The Fifiks were among the founders of the St. Michael Greek Catholic Church of South Fork in 1905, built in that section, which had come to be known as "Fifficktown." Jan Fifik, president of the local Greek Catholic Union lodge (St. Michael Brotherhood, Lodge 275) and the owner of the village grocery store, donated the land for St. Michael's Church and cemetery.

In addition to Porač, the local Rusyn immigrants came in significant numbers from Orjabyna and Ol’šavica, Spiš County; Kuriv, Šaryš County; and Velykŷ Poljanŷ, Zemplyn County.

In 1907 St. Michael's Church was for a short time the first residence of the first Greek Catholic bishop in the U.S., Soter Ortynsky, and thus unofficially served as the cathedral.

At various times in its first two decades, the parish served Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants living across a wide area, from Altoona, Gallitzin, and Cresson fairly distant to the east, to Nanty Glo and Vintondale to the northwest, and around Lilly, Portage, Beaverdale, and Dunlo until churches were founded in or closer to those places. Thus even though the local Rusyn population was not huge, those included in the surrounding and distant areas made the parish at first one of the largest in the region.
St. Michael's Church stood on a Fifficktown hillside since 1907. (Photo taken in May 2014 as the church was being dismantled--see below.)
In the manner of most Rusyn villages in Europe, the cemetery was established behind the church, in this case on a steep hillside. The parish members early on in some cases came from quite a distance (e.g., Beaverdale, Dunlo, Portage, Nanty Glo, and Altoona) and some of those living far away would be buried here among the locals.
A magnificent ikonostas (icon screen) was installed in the church in 1929. Pastor at the time was Father Stefan Zacharijaš.
School children of St. Michael's Church, 1924.
First Holy Communion class of St. Michael's Church, 1925.
Ad for South Fork's First National Bank, which handled sending money to the "old country," sold tickets for trans-Atlantic ship passage, assisted with bringing relatives to America, and prepared contracts and offered all sorts of notary services. Rusyn immigrant John/Ivan Ladžun, from Velyki Lučkŷ, Bereg County, was manager of the Foreign Language Division and was a notary public. From the 1923 almanac of the United Societies fraternal organization. Ladžun was also the cantor at St. Michael's Church.
Due to dwindling attendance, and the existence of other parishes in the area, St. Michael's Church was closed in 2011, and the church was dismantled in mid-2014. The icon screen was moved to Ss. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Tarentum, Allegheny County.

The section of eastern Cambria County roughly midway between Johnstown and Altoona includes numerous coal mines, in and around the towns and villages Portage, Benscreek, Jamestown, Martindale, Puritan, Sonman, Wilmore, Cassandra, Lilly, Cresson, Gallitzin, Munster, and Myra (near Lilly). We find evidence in Benscreek, Myra, Cassandra, and Puritan of some of the earliest Rusyn settlers in the region, in the mid-1890s.

By the early 1900s, a large number of Carpatho-Rusyns were living in that area, from a variety of regions and villages: Čukalavci, Paryzivci, Rus’kŷj, Smulnyk, and Zvala, Zemplyn County; Telgart, Gemer County; Jakubjanŷ and Kojšov, Spiš County; Šambron, Blaživ, Štel'bach (now Tychŷj Potik), Bajerivci, Malŷj Lypnyk, Ladomyrova, Vŷšnja & Nyžnja Jadlova, and Vŷšnij & Nyžnij Verlych, Šaryš County; Zatvarnycja, Lisko County; and Mala Rostoka, Bereg County. A branch of the Greek Catholic Union was founded in Myra in 1895. Although the founding of St. Michael's Greek Catholic Church in South Fork provided a much more accessible spiritual center than Johnstown had been, the large Rusyn population around Portage in 1911 was still without a local church.

Not wanting to lose such a large portion of his congregation, the pastor of St. Michael's was not supportive of a church in the Portage area. But the Russian Orthodox priest in Conemaugh, and the ROCMAS brotherhood there, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the Portage people's frustration and encourage them to turn to Orthodoxy to fulfill their desires. This movement bore fruit with the 1911 organization of the Brotherhood of St. Michael the Archangel (ROCMAS branch #197) in Portage. This brotherhood was responsible for arranging the service of Conemaugh's Orthodox priest starting in 1912, when services were conducted in Portage's Dunda Building. This only increased the opposition from the South Fork Greek Catholic priest and parishioners, as several hundreds were attending the Orthodox services in Portage. In 1915, an Orthodox parish was chartered, and the building of church and rectory commenced.
St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, with towers/domes as it appeared in 1920.
An early interior photo of St. Michael's, 1920.
St. Michael's Church today.
Cornerstone of St. Michael's, in Church Slavonic/Russian and English.
As St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church attracted more and more of the local Rusyn immigrants, the attitude from South Fork toward having a Greek Catholic Church in Portage changed. In fact, the pastor of St. Michael's in South Fork led the effort. Finally in 1917, Saints Peter & Paul Greek Catholic Church was founded in Portage.
The Portage Greek Catholic Church was built in 1918. The first pastor was Father Deziderij Zubritzky.
School children of Ss. Peter & Paul Church, 1920.
With the arrival of cantor-teacher Mychal Halas (Michael Halasz), the parish became very active in staging dramatic plays, such as this one, "Trial of St. Nicholas" in 1920. Professor Halas would serve the parish for 45 years.
Another theatrical production, "On an Evil Road" in 1920.
Cast of the play "Il'ko the Godparent," directed by cantor-teacher Mychal Halas, 1921.
Children's theatrical ensemble performing a Christmas play under the direction of cantor-teacher Mychal Halas, 1924.
"First Rusyn Shopkeeper, Harry Neznajovsky, owner, controller of the United Societies Sokol branch 24, Has all sorts of groceries in his store, corner of Mountain Ave. & Sherman St. in Portage. He serves every brother Rusyn with brotherly love with his truck." An ad in the United Societies 1924 almanac.
"Stefan Ivaničko, first Rusyn shopkeeper and butcher... in Puritan, Cambria Co...." an ad in the United Societies 1923 almanac.
"Michael Staško, our Rusyn guy, owner of a first-class healthy inn," an ad in the United Societies 1925 almanac.
In 1976 a new church of modern Byzantine style was completed in the north end of town.
Interior of the current Ss. Peter & Paul Church.
The church interior combines period religious art of Byzantine Christian themes with modern Byzantine iconography.

This history and much more will be chronicled in my upcoming book.

I’m looking for some rare photographs: if they exist and you know of them, please get in touch with me at
  • Barnesboro: photographs (exterior & interior) of the original St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church which burned down in 1924.
  • Colver: photographs (exterior & interior) of the original Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church which burned down in the 1920s.
  • Any sort of pre-WWII photos from the Rusyn communities/churches in:
    Altoona; Arcadia; Barnesboro (Northern Cambria); Beaverdale; Colver; Dixonville; Heilwood; Jenners; Jerome; Macdonaldton; Meyersdale; Patton; Pine Hill/Goodtown; Portage; Revloc; Tyrone; Urey; Vintondale.
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Original material is © by the author, Richard D. Custer; all rights reserved.

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