Saturday, November 28, 2009

Orthodox Slavs

Carpatho-Russians came to Globeville for the same reasons as the other Eastern European immigrants: religious freedom and economic opportunity. Living in territory ruled by Roman Catholic Austria or Protestant forces in Hungary, the Carpatho-Russian's Orthodox religion was suppressed and they were treated as second-class citizens. Hearing of jobs in Colorado's mines, smelters and railroads, and of a climate similar to the Carpathian or Tatra mountains of home, many flocked to Globeville in the 1880s. Helen Kohut Capron recalled, “My grandfather Peter got a job at the smelter and it must have been a difficult job because it made him sick. The children would come home from school and find him lying on the couch in pain."
Help for men and their families came from the ethnic fraternal lodges. In Globeville, the oldest of these Carpatho-Russian lodges was the Russian Orthodox Society Transfiguration of Christ, connected to the Russian Orthodox Catholic Mutual Aid Society founded in 1895 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In addition to providing insurance and moral support, the society’s goals included “the spread and preservation of the Orthodox Faith in America” and members of this lodge founded Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral in 1898. The church has survived and prospered for over 100 years and received state historic designation in 1998.
The church about 1902, photo courtesy of Steve Klimoski.
One of the Orthodox Fraternal Societies, Sjedinjenih about 1905, photo courtesy of Steve Machuga.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Poles

In the 18th century, Poland was carved up by its jealous and powerful neighbors when, in 1772, Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria Theresa of Austria annexed sections of Poland. By 1795, the once-great nation had almost disappeared from the map. The next century saw a relentless attack on Polish identity with restrictions to Polish language, culture and religion, as well as the conscription of their young men to serve in the armies of their oppressors. As conditions grew worse in the last three decades of the 19th century, legions of Poles fled to America.
Poles began arriving in Globeville during the 1880s to work in the nearby smelters. As people became established, they encouraged friends and relatives to join them and a small Polish community developed in the 4500—4800 blocks of Washington, Pearl, Pennsylvania, Logan and Grant Streets, and on Emerson Street near the Platte River.
Poles in Globeville formed organizations that would provide financial help in the event of sickness, injury and death and offered the comfort of old-country customs as they eased into American life. In 1889, Globeville's Poles organized Towarzystwo sw Marcina (St. Martin’s Society), Lodge #134, as part of the national Polish National Alliance.
Since they had been persecuted for their religion in the old country, lodge members then began to raise money for a Polish church and, in 1902, built St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church.
Poles moved up the economic ladder, assimilated and moved to better neighborhood in Arvada and Wheat Ridge. Yet the "Polishness" of St. Joseph's persists as immigrants have arrived after the fall of communism and a younger generation calls St. Joseph's their spiritual home. The Polish lodge survives as well and makes its home in Wheat Ridge.
Father Jarzynski, pastor from 1902 to 1922, and a class of first communicants in 1914. Photo from Andy Jackson.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Germans from Russia

German-speaking people who began arriving in Globeville in the 1880s came, not from Germany, but from villages along the Volga River in Russia. Their odyssey began some 120 years earlier when they emigrated to Russia to escape the poverty and devastation that followed the Seven Years War (1754—1763). Germans settled the along the Volga in Russia at the invitation of Empress Catherine the Great, who promised free land, and freedom from taxes and military service (privileges not given to Russian citizens). In return, the settlers secured Russia's western frontier and provided the country with grain. 100 years later, Czar Alexander II rescinded those special rights and Germans began to emigrate to America.
There was a substantial community of German Russians in the Globeville area by 1887, with many of them coming from three colonies along the Volga — Norka, Beideck and Doenhoff. Since Germans had been persecuted for their religion while in Russia, they were quick to form their own churches in Globeville, with congregations corresponding to those of their villages in Russia. First German Congregational Church was founded by settlers from Norka, St. Paul's Lutheran Church by people from Beideck and the Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church by immigrants from Doenhoff. As in the old country, life for German Russians centered around the family, church and work. Leaders in the community were those who were active in the churches, business owners and those who helped others to emigrate.
The Wolf family about 1914: first row, from left,grandfather Peter Wolf, David, father John Wolf Sr., Sarah, Ann Marie, nee Kilthau . Second row, from left, Christine, Katherine, Adam, John, Hulda.
Carl Gerhardt, owner of Gerhardt Mercantile, extended loans to citizens of Globeville and sponsored many events in the community.