Sunday, August 21, 2011


The people who arrived in Globeville during the 1880s were a diverse lot - Poles, Slovenes, Croats, Czechs, Slovaks, Bohemians, Ruthenians,  Montenegrans and German Russians - yet census data would likely have recorded them as citizens of Germany, Austria-Hungary or Russia. These three powerful empires had annexed, or subdued those regions in a rush to increase their territory, suppressing native languages, cultures, and religion and making people second-class citizens in their own land. These occupying powers created the greatest resentment, however, with the conscription of young men to serve in their armies. 
Poles could be forced into either the German or the Russian military depending on whether they lived in the western or eastern part of their partitioned homeland, while German-speaking colonists in Russia were required to serve a six-year term in the Russian army regardless of whether or not they spoke the Russian language. Likewise, citizens of the area absorbed by Austria-Hungary could be conscripted and possibly forced to fight fellow countrymen or family members. The situation motivated many to emigrate.
Andrew Boytz, a blacksmith, was conscripted into the Austrian army to teach soldiers the art of blacksmithing, but he rebelled against the idea. In the days before photos were used for identification, he was able to borrow a passport, desert the army and come to America, eventually settling in Globeville. Fred Gerhardt, however, served his six-year term in the Russian army before settling in Colorado.
Although their new life in Globeville could be difficult, these immigrants appreciated the freedoms we often take for granted.

top photo, Andrew Boytz lived a long life in Globeville
bottom photo, Fred Gerhardt in his Russian army uniform