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The Slavs in America

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The Slavic races have sent large numbers of their people to the United States and Canada, and this immigration is coming every year in increasing numbers. The earliest immigration began before the war of the States, but within the past thirty years it has become so great as quite to overshadow the Irish and German immigration of the earlier decades. For two-thirds of that period no accurate figures of tongues or nationalities were kept, the immigrants being merely credited to the political governments or countries from which they came, but within the past twelve years more accurate data have been preserved. During these years (1899-1910) the total immigration into the United States has been about 10,000,000 in round numbers, and of these the Slavs have formed about 22 percent (actually 2,117,240), to say nothing of the increase of native-born Slavs in this country during that period, as well as the numbers of the earlier arrivals. Reliable estimated compiled from the various racial sources show that there are from five and a half to six millions of Slavs in the United States including the native-born of Slavic parents. We are generally unaware of these facts, because the Slavs are less conspicuous among us than the Italians, Germans, or Jews; their languages and their history are unfamiliar and remote, besides they are not so massed in the great cities of this country.


(Cech; adjective, cesky, Bohemian)

These people — also called the Czechs — are named Bohemians after the original tribe of the Boii, who dwelt in Bohemia in Roman times. By a curious perversion of language, on account of various gypsies who about two centuries ago travelled westward across Bohemia and thereby came to be known in France as "Bohemians," the word Bohemian came into use to designate one who lived an easy, careless life, unhampered by serious responsibilities. Such a meaning is, however, the very antithesis of the serious conservative Czech character. The names of a few Bohemians are found in the early history of the United States. Augustyn Herman (1692) of Bohemia Manor, Maryland, and Bedrich Filip (Frederick Philipse, 1702) of Philipse Manor, Yonkers, New York, are the earliest. In 1848 the revolutionary uprisings in Austria sent many Bohemians to this country. In the eighteenth century the Moravian Brethren (Bohemian Brethren) had come in large numbers. The finding of gold in California in 1849-50 attracted many more, especially as serfdom and labour dues were abolished in Bohemia at the end of 1848, which left the peasant and the workman free to travel. In 1869 and the succeeding years immigration was stimulated by the labour strikes in Bohemia, and one occasion all the women workers of several cigar factories came over and settled in New York. About 60 percent of the Bohemians and Moravians who have settled here are Catholics, and their churches have been fairly maintained. Their immigration during the past ten years has been 98,100, and in 1910 the number of Bohemians in the United States immigrants and native born, was reckoned at 55,000. They have some 140 Bohemian Catholic churches and about 250 Bohemian priests; their societies, schools, and general institutions are active and flourishing.


(Bulgar; adjective bulgarski, Bulgarian)

This part of the Slavic race inhabits the present Kingdom of Bulgaria, and the Turkish provinces of Eastern Rumelia, representing ancient Macedonia. Thus it happens that the Bulgarians are almost equally divided between Turkey and Bulgaria. Their ancestors were the Bolgars or Bulgars, a Finnish tribe, which conquered, intermarried, and coalesced with the Slav inhabitants, and eventually gave their name to them. The Bulgarian tongue is in many respects the nearest to the Church Slavonic, and it was the ancient Bulgarian which Sts. Cyril and Methodius are said to have learned in order to evangelize the pagan Slavs. The modern Bulgarian language, written with Russian characters and a few additions, differs from the other Slavic languages in that it, like English, has lost nearly every inflection, and, like Rumanian, has the peculiarity of attaching the article to the end of the word, while the other Slavic tongues have no article at all. The Bulgarians who have gained their freedom from Turkish supremacy in the present Kingdom of Bulgaria are fairly contented; but those in Macedonia chafe bitterly against Turkish rule and form a large portion of those who emigrate to America. The Bulgarians are nearly all of the Greek Orthodox Church; there are some twenty thousand Byzantine Catholics, mostly in Macedonia, and about 50,000 Latin-Rite Catholics. The Greek Patriach of Constantinople has always claimed jurisdiction over the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and he enforced his jurisdiction until 1872, when the Bulgarian exarch was appointed to exercise supreme jurisdiction. Since that time the Bulgarians have been in a state of schism to the patriarch. They are ruled in Bulgaria by a Holy Synod of their own, whilst the Bulgarian exarch, resident in Constantinople, is the head of the entire Bulgarian Church. He is recognized by the Russian Church, but is considered excommunicate by the Greek Patriarch, who however retained his authority over the Greek-speaking churches of Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Bulgarians came to the United States as early as 1890; but there were then only a few of them as students, mostly from Macedonia, brought hither by mission bodies to study for the Protestant ministry. The real immigration began in 1905, when it seems that the Bulgarians discovered America as a land of opportunity, stimulated probably by the Turkish and Greek persecutions then raging in Macdeonia against them. The railroads and steel works in the West needed men, and several enterprising steamship agents brought over Macedonians and Bulgarians in large numbers. Before 1906 there were scarcely 500 to 600 Bulgarians in the country, and these chiefly in St. Louis, Missouri. Since then they have been coming at the rate of from 8000 to 10,000 a year, until now (1911) there are from 80,000 to 90,000 Bulgarians scattered throughout the United States and Canada. The majority of them are employed in factories, railroads, mines, and sugar works. Granite City, Madison, and Chicago, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Steelton, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon, and New York City all have a considerable Bulgarian population. They also take to farming and are scattered throughout the northwest. They now (1911) have three Greek Orthodox churches in the United States at Granite City and Madison, Illinois, and at Steelton, Pennsyvania, as well as several mission stations. Their clergy consist of one monk and two secular priests; and they also have a church in Toronto, Canada. There are not Bulgarian Catholics, either of the Greek or Roman Rite sufficient to form a church here. The Bulgarians, unlike the other Slavs, have no church or benefit societies or brotherhood in America. They publish five Bulgarian papers, of which the "Naroden Glas" of Granite City in the most important.


(Hrvat; adjective, hrvatski, Croatian)

These are the inhabitants of the autonomous or home-rule province of Croatia-Slavonia, in the southwestern part of the Kingdom of Hungary where it reaches down to the Adriatic Sea. It included not only them but also the Slavic inhabitants of Istria and Dalmatia, in Austria, and those of Bosnia and Herzegovina who are Catholic and use the Roman alphabet. In blood and speech the Croatians and Serbians are practically one; but religion and politics divide them. The former are Catholics and use the Roman letters; the latter are Greek Orthodox and use modified Russian letters. In many of the places on the borderline school-children have to learn both alphabets. The English word "cravat" is derived from their name, it being the Croatian neckpiece which the south Austrian troops wore. Croatia-Slavonia itself has a population of nearly 2,500,000 and is about one-third the size of the state of New York. Croatia in the west is mountainous and somewhat poor, while Slavonia in the east is level, fertile, and productive. Many Dalmatian Croats from seaport town came here from 1850 to 1870. The original emigration from Croatia-Slavonia began in 1873, upon the completion of the new railway connections to the seaport of Fiume, when some of the more adventurous Croatians came to the United States. From the early eighties the Lipa-Krbava district furnished much of the emigration. The first Croatian settlements were made in Calumet, Michigan, while many of them became lumbermen in Michigan and stave-cutters along the Mississippi. Around Agram (Zagreb, the Croatian capital) the grape disease caused large destruction of vineyards and the consequent emigration of thousands. Later on emigration began from Varasdin and from Slavonia also, and now immigrants arrive from every county in Croatia-Slavonia. In 1899 the figures for Croatia-Slavonia were 2923, and by 1907 the annual immigration had risen to 22,828, the largest number coming from Agram and Varasdin Counties. Since then it has fallen off, and at the present time (1911) it is not quite 20,000. Unfortunately the governmental statistics do not separate the Slovenians from the Croatians in giving the arrivals of Austro-Hungarian immigrants, but the Hungarian figures of departures serve as checks.

The number of Croatians in the United States at present, including the native-born, is about 280,000, divided according to their origin as follows: from Croatia-Slavonia, 160,000; Dalmatia, 80,000; Bosnia, 20,000; Herzegovina, 15,000; and the remainder from various parts of Hungary and Serbia. The largest group of them is in Pennsylvania, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Pittsburg, and they number probably from 80,000 to 100,000. Illinois has about 45,000, chiefly in Chicago. Ohio has about 35,000, principally in Cleveland and the vicinity. Other considerable colonies are in New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Kansas City, and New Orleans. They are also in Montana, Colorado, and Michigan. The Dalmatians are chiefly engaged in business and grape culture; the other Croatians are mostly labourers employed in mining, railroad work, steel mills, stockyards, and stone quarries. Nearly all of these are Catholics, and they now have one Greek Catholic and 16 Latin-Rite Catholic churches in the United States. The Greek Catholics are almost wholly from the Diocese of Krizevac (Crisium), and are chiefly settled at Chicago and Cleveland. They have some 250 societies devoted to church and patriotic purposes, and in some cases to Socialism, but as yet they have no very large central organization, the National Croatian Union with 29,247 members being the largest. They publish ten newspapers, among them two dailies, of which "Zajednicar" the organ of Narodne Hrvatske Zajednice (National Croatian Union) is the best known.


(Polak, a Pole; adjective polski, Polish)

The Poles came to the United States quite early in its history. Aside from some few early settlers, the American Revolution attracted such noted men as Kosciuszko and Pulaski, together with many of their fellow countrymen. The Polish Revolution of 1830 brought numbers of Poles to the United States. In 1851 a Polish colony settled in Texas, and called their settlement Panna Marya (Our Lady Mary). In 1860 they settled at Parisville, Michigan, and Polonia, Wisconsin. Many distinguished Poles served in the Civil War (1861-65) upon both sides. After 1873 the Polish immigration began to grow apace, chiefly from Prussian Poland. Then the tide turned and came from Austria, and later from Russian Poland. In 1890 they began to come in the greatest numbers from Austrian and Russian Poland, until the flow from German Poland has largely diminished. The immigration within the past ten years has been as follows: from Russia, 53 percent; from Austria about 43 percent; and only a fraction over 4 percent from the Prussian or German portion. It is estimated that there are at present about 3,000,000 Poles in the United States counting the native-born. It may be said that they are almost solidly Catholic; the dissident and disturbing elements among them being but comparatively small, while there is no purely Protestant element at all. They have one Polish bishop, about 750 priests, and some 520 churches and chapels, besides 355 school. There are large numbers, both men and women, who are members of the various religious communities. The Poles publish some 70 newspapers, amongst them nine dailies, 20 of which are purely Catholic publications. Their religious and national societies are large and flourishing; and altogether the Polish element is active and progressive.


(Rossiyanin; adjective rossiiski, Russian)

Russia is the largest nation in Europe, and its Slavic inhabitants (exclusive of Poles) are composed of Great Russians or Northern Russians, White Russians or Western Russians, and the Little Russians (Ruthenians) or Southern Russians. The area around Moscow and St. Petersburg is called Great Russia, in allusion to its stature and great predominance in number, government, and language. The White Russians are so called from the prevailing colour of the clothing of the peasantry, and inhabit the provinces lying on the borders of Poland — Vitebsk, Mohilev, Minsk, Vilna, and Grodno. Their language differs but slightly from Great Russian, inclining towards Polish and Old Slavonic. The Little Russians (so called from their low stature) differ considerably from the Great Russians in language and customs, and they inhabit the Provinces of Kiev, Kharkov, Tchernigov, Poltava, Podolia, and Volhynia, and they are also found outside the Empire of Russia, in Galicia, Bukovina, and Hungary (see below, section VI). The Great Russians may be regarded as the norm of the Russian people. Their language became the language of the court and of literature, just as High German and Tuscan Italian did, and they form the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the Russian Empire. They are practically all Eastern Orthodox, the Catholics in Russia being Poles or Germans where they are of the Roman Rite, and Little Russians (Ruthenians) where they are of the Greek Rite.

The Russians have long been settled in America, for Alaska was Russian territory before it was purchased by the United States in 1867. The Russian Orthodox church has been on American soil since the early nineteenth century. The immigration from Russia is however composed of very few Russians. It is principally made up of Jews (Russian and Polish), Poles, and Lithuanians. Out of an average emigration of from 250,000 to 260,000 annually from the Russian Empire to the United States, 65 percent have been Jews and only from three to five percent actual Russians. Nevertheless the Russian peasant and working class are active emigrants, and the exodus from European Russia is relatively large. But it is directed eastward instead of to the west, for Russia is intent upon settling up her vast prairie lands in Siberia. Hinderances are placed in the way of those Russians (except the Hews) who would leave for America or the west of Europe, while inducements and advantages are offered for settlers in Siberia. For the past five years about 500,000 Russians have annually migrated to Siberia, a number equal to one-half the immigrants yearly received by the United States from all sources. They go in great colonies and are aided by the Russian Government by grants of land, loans of money, and low transportation. New towns and cities have sprung up all over Siberia, which are not even on our maps, thus rivalling the American settlement of the Dakotas and the North West. Many Russians religious colonists, other than the Jews, have come to America; but often they are not wholly of Slavic blood or are Little Russians (Ruthenians). It therefore happens that there are very few Russians in the United States as compared with other nationalities. There are, according to the latest estimates, about 75,000, chiefly in Pennsylvania and the Middle West. There has been a Russian colony in San Francisco for sixty years, and they are numerous in and around New York City.

The Russian Orthodox Church is well established here. About a third of the Russians in the United States are opposed to it, being of the anti-government, semi-revolutionary type of immigrant. But the others are enthusiastic in support of their Church and their national customs, yet their Church included not only them but the Little Russians of Bukovina and a very large number of Greek Catholics of Galicia and Hungary whom they have induced to leave the Catholic and enter the Orthodox Church. The Russian Church in the United States is endowed by the tsar and the Holy Governing Synod, besides having the support of Russian missionary societies at home, and is upon a flourishing financial basis in the United States. It now (1911) has 83 churches and chapels in the United States 15 in Alaska, and 18 in Canada, making a total of 126 places of worship, besides a theological seminary at Minneapolis and a monastery at South Canaan, Pennsylvannia. Their present clergy is composed of one archbishop, one bishop, 6 proto-priests, 89 secular priests, 2 archimandrites, 2 hegumens, and 18 monastic priests, making a total of 119, while they also exercise jurisdiction over the Serbian and Syrian Orthodox clergy besides. Lately they took over a Greek Catholic sisterhood, and now have four Basilian nuns. The United States is now divided up into the following six districts of the Russian Church, intended to be the territory for future dioceses: New York and the New England States, Pennsylvania and the Atlantic States; Pittsburg and the Middle West; Western Pacific States; Canada; and Alaska. Their statistics of church population have not been published lately in their year-books, and much of their growth has been of late years by additions gained from the Greek Catholic Ruthenians of Galicia and Hungary, and is due largely to the active and energetic work and financial support of the Russian church authorities at St. Petersburg and Moscow.

They have the "Russkoye Pravoslavnoye Obshestvo Vzaimopomoshchi" (Russian Orthodox Mutual Aid Society) for men, founded in 1895, now (1911) having 199 councils and 7072 members, and the women's division of the same, founded in 1907, with 32 councils and 690 members. They publish two church papers, "America Orthodox Messenger", and "Svit"; although there are some nine other Russian papers published by Jews and Socialists.


(Rusin; adjective russky, Ruthenian)

These are the southern branch of the Russian family, extending from the middle of Austria-Hungary across the southern part of Russia. The use of the adjective russky by both the Ruthenians and the Russians permits it to be translated into English by the work "Ruthenian" or "Russian". They are also called Little Russians (Malorossiani) in Russia itself, and sometimes Russniaki in Hungary. The appellations "Little Russians" and "Ruthenians" have come to have almost a technical meaning, the former indicating subjects of the Russian Empire who are of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the latter those who are in Austria-Hungary and are Catholics of the Greek Rite. Those who are active in the Panslavic movement and are Russo-philes are very anxious to have then called "Russians", no matter whence they come. The Ruthenians are of the original Russo-Slavic race, and gave their name to the peoples making up the present Russian Empire. They are spread all over the southern part of Russia, in the provinces of Kiev, Kharkov, Tchernigogg, Poltava, and Podolia, and Volhynia (see above, V. RUSSIANS), but by force of governmental pressure and restrictive laws are being slowly made into Great Russians. Only within the past five years has the use of their own form of language and their own newspapers and press been allowed by law in Russia. Nearly every Ruthenian author in the empire has written his chief works in Great Russian, because denied the use of his own language. They are also spread throughout the Provinces of Lublin, in Poland; Galicia and Bukovina, in Austria; and the Counties of Szepes, Saros, Abauj, Zamplim, Ung, Marmos, and Bereg, in Hungary. They have had an opportunity to develop in Austria and also in Hungary. In the latter country they are closely allied with the Slovaks, and many of them speak the Slovak language. They are all of the Greek Rite, and with the exception of those in Russia and Bukovina are Catholics. They use the Russian alphabet for their language, and in Bukovina and a portion of Galicia have a phonetic spelling, thus differing largely from Great Russian, even in words that are common to both.

Their immigration to America commenced in 1880 as labourers in the coal mines of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and has steadily increased ever since. Although they were the poorest of peasants and labourers, illiterate for the most part and unable to grasp the English language or American customs when they arrived, they have rapidly risen in the scale of prosperity and are now rivalling the other nationalities in progress. Greek Ruthenian churches and institutions are being established upon a substantial basis, and their clergy and schools are steadily advancing. They are scattered all over the United States, and there are now (1911) between 489,000 and 500,000 of them, counting immigrants and native born. Their immigration for the past five years has been as follows: 1907, 24,081; 1908, 12,361; 1909, 15,808; 1910, 27,970; 1911, 17,724; being an average of 20,000 a year. They have chiefly settled in the State of Pennsylvania, over half of them being there; but Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois have large numbers of them. The Greek Rite in the Slavonic language is firmly established through them in the United States but they suffer greatly from Russian Orthodox endeavours to lead them from the Catholic Church, as well as from frequent internal dissensions (chiefly of an old-world political nature) among themselves. They have 152 Greek Catholic churches, with a Greek clergy consisting of a Greek Catholic bishop who has his seat at Philadelphia, but without diocesan powers as yet, and 127 priests, of whom 9 are Basilian monks. During 1911 Ruthenian Greek Catholic nuns of the Order of St. Basil were introduced. The Ruthenians have flourishing religious mutual benefit societies, which also assist in the building of Greek churches. The "Soyedineniya Greko-Katolicheskikh Bratstv" (Greek Catholic Union) in its senior division has 509 members, brotherhoods or councils and 30,255 members, while the junior division has 226 brotherhoods and 15,200 members; the "Russky Narodny Soyus" (Ruthenian National Union) has 301 brotherhoods and 15,200 members; while the "Obshchestvo Russkikh Bratstv" (Society of Russian Brotherhood) has 129 brotherhoods and 7359 members. There are also many Ruthenians who belong to Slovak organizations. The Ruthenians publish some ten papers, of which the "Amerikansky Russky Vietnik", "Svododa", and "Dushpastyr" are the principal ones.


(Srbin; adjective srpski, Serbian, or Servian)

This designation applies not only to the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Serbia, but includes the people of the following countries forming a geographical although not a political whole: southern Hungary, the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, the Turkish Provinces of Kossovo, Western Macedonia, and Novi-Bazar, and the annexed Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The last two provinces may be said to furnish the shadowy boundary line between the Croatians and the Serbians. The two peoples are ethnologically the same, and the Serbian and Croatian languages are merely two dialects of the same Slavonic tongue. Serbians are sometimes called the Shtokavski, because the Serbian word for "what" is shto, while the Croats use the word cha for "what", and Croatians are called Chakavski. The Croatians are Catholics and use the Roman alphabet (latinica), whilst the Serbians are Eastern Orthodox and use the Cyrillic alphabet (cirilica), with additional signs to express special sounds not found in the Russian. Serbians who happen to be Catholic are called Bunjevaci (disturbers, dissenters).

Serbian immigration to the United States did not commence until about 1892, when several hundred Montenegrins and Serbians came with the Dalmatians and settled in California. It began to increase largely in 1903 and was at its highest in 1907. They are largely settled in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. There are no governmental statistics showing how many Serbians come from Serbia and how many from the surrounding provinces. The Serbian Government has established a special consular office in New York City to look after Serbian immigration. There are now (1911) about 150,000 Serbians in the United States. They are located as follows: New England States, 25,000; Middle Atlantic States, 50,000; Middle Western States, 25,000; Western and Pacific States, 25,000; and the remainder throughout the Southern States and Alaska. They have brought with them their Orthodox clergy, and are at present affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church here although they expect shortly to have their own national bishop. They now (1911) have in the United States 20 churches (of which five are in Pennsylvania) and 14 clergy, of whom 8 are monks and 6 seculars. They publish eight newspapers in Serbian, of which "Amerikanski Srbobran" of Pittsburg, "Srbobran" of New York, and "Srpski Glasnik" of San Francisco are the most important. They have a large number of church and patriotic societies, of which the Serb Federation "Sloga" (Concord) with 131 drustva or council and over 10,000 members and "Prosvjeta" (Progress), composed of Serbians from Bosnia and Herzegovina, are the most prominent.


(Slovak; adjective slovensky, Slovak)

These occupy the northwestern portion of the Kingdom of Hungary upon the southern slopes of the Carpathian mountains, ranging over a territory comprising the Counties of Poszony, Nyitra, Bars, Hont, Zólyom, Trencsén, Turocz, Arva, Liptö, Szepes, Sáros, Zemplin, Ung, Abauj, Gömör, and Nógrad. A well-defined ethnical line is all that divides the Slovaks from the Ruthenians and the Magyars. Their language is almost the same as the Bohemian, for they received their literature and their mode of writing it from the Bohemians, and even now nearly all the Protestant Slovak literature is from Bohemian sources. It must be remembered however that the Bohemians and Moravians dwell on the northern side of the Carpathian mountains in Austria, whilst the Slovaks are on the south of the Carpathians and are wholly in Hungary. Between the Moravians and the Slovaks, dwelling so near to one another, the relationship was especially close. The Slovak and Moravian people were among those who first heard the story of Christ from the Slavonic apostles Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and at one time their tribes must have extended down to the Danube and the southern Slavs. The Magyars (Hungarians) came in from Asia and the East, and like a wedge divided this group of northern Slavs from those on the south.

The Slovaks have had no independent history and have endured successively Polish rule, Magyar conquest, Tatar invasions, German invading colonization, Hussite raids from Bohemia, and the dynastic wars of Hungary. In 1848-49, when revolution and rebellion were in the air, the Hungarians began their war against Austria; the Slovaks in turn rose against the Hungarians for the language and national customs, but on the conclusion of peace, they were again incorporated as part of Hungary without any of their rights recognized. Later they were ruthlessly put down when they refused to carry out the Hungarian decrees, particularly as they had rallied to the support of the Austrian throne. In 1861 the Slovaks presented their famous Memorandum to the Imperial Throne of Austria, praying for a bill of rights and for their autonomous nationality. Stephen Moyses, the distinguished Slovak Catholic Bishop, besought the emperor to grant national and language rights to them. The whole movement awoke popular enthusiasm, Catholics and Protestants working together for the common good. In 1862 high schools were opened for Slovaks; the famous "Slovenska Matica", to publish Slovak books and works of art and to foster the study of the Slovak history and language, was founded; and in 1870 the Catholics also founded the "Society of St. Voytech", which became a powerful helper. Slovak newspapers sprang into existence and 150 reading clubs and libraries were established. After the defeat of the Austrian arms at Sadowa in 1866, pressure was resumed to split the empire into two parts, Austrian and Hungarian, each of which was practically independent. The Slovaks thenceforth came wholly under Hungarian rule. Then the Law of Nationalities was passed which recognized the predominant position of the Magyars, but gave some small recognition to the other minor nationalities, such as the Slovaks, by allowing them to have churches and schools conducted in their own language.

In 1878 the active Magyarization of Hungary was undertaken. The doctrine was mooted that a native of the Kingdom of Hungary could not be a patriot unless he spoke, thought, and felt as a Magyar. A Slovak of education who remained true to his ancestry (and it must be remembered that the Slovaks were there long before the Hungarians came) was considered deficient in patriotism. The most advanced political view was that a compromise with the Slovaks was impossible; that there was but one expedient, to wipe them out as far as possible by assimilation with the Magyars. Slovak schools and institutions were ordered to be closed, the charter of the "Matica" was annulled, and its library and rich historical and artistic collections, as well as its funds, were confiscated. Inequalities of every kind before the law were devised for the undoing of the Slovaks and turning them into Hungarians; so much so that one of their authors likened them to the Irish in their troubles. The Hungarian authorities in their endeavour to suppress the Slovak nationality went even to the extent of taking away Slovak children to be brought up as Magyars, and forbade them to use their language in school and church. The 2,000,000 Catholic Slovaks clung to their language and Slavic customs, but the clergy were educated in their seminaries through the medium of the Magyar tongue and required in their parishes to conform to the state idea. Among the 750,000 Protestant Slovaks the Government went even further by taking control of their synods and bishops. Even Slovak family names were changed to Hungarian ones, and preference was only through Hungarians channels. Naturally, religion decayed under the stress and strain of repressed nationality. Slovak priests did not perform their duties with ardour or diligence, but confined themselves to the mere routine of canonical obligation. There are no monks or religious orders among the Slovaks and no provision is made for any kind of community life. Catechetical instruction is at a minimum and is required to be given whenever possible through the medium of the Hungarian language. There is no lack of priests in the Slovak country, yet the practice of solemnizing the reception of the first communion by the children is unknown and many other forms of Catholic devotion are omitted. Even the Holy Rosary Society was dissolved, because its devotions and proceedings and devotions were conducted in Slovak. The result of governmental restriction of any national expression has been a complete lack of initiative on the part of the Slovak priesthood, and it is needless to speak of the result upon their flocks. In the eastern part of the Slovak territory where there were Slovak-speaking Greek Catholics, they fared slightly better in regard to the attempts to make them Hungarians. There the liturgy was Slavonic and the clergy who used the Magyar tongue still were in close touch with their people through the offices of the Church. All this pressure on the part of the authorities tended to produce an active Slovak emigration to America, while bad harvests and taxation also contributed.

A few immigrants came to America in 1864 and their success brought others. In the late seventies the Slovak exodus was well marked, and by 1882 it was sufficiently important to be investigated by the Hungarian Minister of the Interior and directions given to repress it. The American immigration figures indicated the first important Slovak influx in 1873 when 1300 immigrants came from Hungary, which rose to 4000 in 1880 and to nearly 15,000 in 1884, most of them settling in the mining and industrial regions of Pennsylvania. At first they came from the Counties of Zemplin, Saros, Szepes, and Ung, where there were also many Ruthenians. They were called "Huns" or "Hankies", and were used at first to fill the places left vacant by strikers. They were very poor and willing to work for little when they arrived, and were accordingly hated by the members of the various unions. The Slovak girls, like the Irish, mostly went into service, and because they had almost no expense for living managed to earn more than the men. Today the Slovaks of America are beginning to possess a national culture and organization, which presents a striking contrast to the cramped development of their kinsmen in Hungary. Their immigration of late years has ranged annually from 52,368 in 1905 to 33,416 in 1910. Altogether it is estimated that there are now some 560,000 Slovaks in the United States including the native born. They are spread throughout the country, chiefly in the following states: Pennsylvania, 270,000; Ohio, 75,000; Illinois, 50,000; New Jersey, 50,000; New York, 35,000; Connecticut, 20,000; Indiana, 15,000; Missouri, 10,000; whilst they range from 5000 to a few hundreds in the other states. About 450,000 of them are Latin-Rite Catholics, 10,000 Byzantine-Rite Catholics and 95,000 Protestants.

The first Slovak Catholic church in the United States was founded by Rev. Joseph Kossalko at Streator, Illinois, and was dedicated 8 Dec., 1883. Following this he also built St. Joseph's Church at Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in 1884. In 1889 Rev. Stephen Furdek founded the Church of St. Ladislas at Cleveland, Ohio, together with a fine parochial school, both of which were dedicated by Bishop Gilmour. The American bishops were anxious to get Slovak priests for the increasing immigration, and Bishop Gilmour sent Father Furdek to Hungary for that purpose. The Hungarian bishops were unwilling to send Slovak priests at first, but as immigration increased they acceded to the request. At present (1911) the Catholic Slovaks have a clergy consisting of one bishop (Rt. Rev. J.M. Koudelka) and 104 priests, and have '34 churches situated as follows: in Pennsylvania, 81 (Dioceses of Altoona, 10; Erie, 4; Harrisburg, 3; Philadelphia, 15; Pittsburg, 35; and Scranton, 14); in Ohio, 14 (in the Diocese of Cleveland, 12; and Columbus, 2); in Illinois, 10 (in the Arch-diocese of Chicago, 7; and Peoria, 3); in New Jersey 11 (in the Diocese of Newark, 7; and Trenton, 4); in New York, 6; and in the States of Connecticut, 3; Indiana, 2; Wisconsin, 2; and Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Alabama, and West Virginia, one each. Some of the Slovak church buildings are very fine specimens of church architecture. There are also 36 Slovak parochial schools, that of Our Lady Mary in Cleveland having 750 pupils. They have also introduced and American order of Slovak nuns, the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius, who are established under the direction of Bishop Hoban in the Diocese of Scranton, where they have four schools.

The Protestant Slovaks followed the example of the Catholics and established their first church at Streator, Illinois, in 1885, and later founded a church at Minneapolis in 1888, and from 1890 to 1894 three churches in Pennsylvania. They now have in the United States 60 Slovak churches and congregations (of which 28 are in Pennsylvania), with 34 ministers (not including some 5 Presbyterian clergymen), who are organized under the name of "The Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Synod of America". The Slovaks have a large number of organizations. The principal Catholic ones are: Prva Katokícka Slovenská Jednota (First Slovak Catholic Union), for men, 33,000 members; Pennsylvánska Slovenská Rimsko a Grécko Katolícka Jednota (Pennsylvania Slovak Roman and Greek Catholic Union), 7500 members; Prva Katolícka Slovenská Zenská Jednota (First Catholic Slovak Women's Union), 12,000 members; Pennsylvánska Slovenská Zenská Jednota (Pennsylvania Slovak Women's Union), 3500 members; Zivena (Women's League), 6000 members. There are also: Národny Slovensky Spolok (National Slovak Society), which takes in all Slovaks except Jews, 28,000 members; Evanjelícka Slovenská Jednota (Evangelical Lutheran Slovak Union), 8000 members; Kalvinská Slovenská Jednota (Presbyterian Slovak Union), 1000 members; Neodvisly Národny Slovensky Spolok (Independent National Slovak Society), 2000 members. They also have a large and enterprising Press, publishing some fourteen papers. The chief ones are: "Slovensky Denník" (Slovak Journal), a daily, of Pittsburg; "Slovak v Amerike" (Slovak in America), of New York; "Narodne Noviny" (National News), a weekly, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, with 38,000 circulation; "Jednota" (The Union), also a weekly, of Middleton, Pennsylvania, with 35,000 circulation; and "Bratstvo" (Brotherhood) of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. There are also Protestant and Socialistic journals, whose circulation is small. Among the distinguished Slovaks in the United States may be mentioned Rev. Joseph Murgas of Wilkes-Barre, who, in addition to his work among his people, has perfected several inventions in wireless telegraphy and is favourably known in other scientific matters.


(Slovenec; adjective slovenski, Slovenian)

These come chiefly from southwestern Austria, from the Provinces of Carniola (Kranjsko; Ger., Krain), Carinthia (Kransjsko; Ger., Kärnten), and Styria (Krain; Ger., Steiermark); as well as from Resia (Resja) and Udine (Videm) in northeastern Italy, and the Coast Lands (Primorsko) of Austria-Hungary. Their neighbours on the southwest are Italians; on the west and north, Germans; on the east, Germans and Magyars; and towards the south, Italians and Croatians. Most of them are bilingual, speaking not only the Slovenian but also the German language. For this reason they are not so readily distinguishable in America as the other Slavs, and have less trouble in assimilating themselves. At home the main centres of their language and literature have been Laibach (Ljubljana), Klagenfurt (Celovec), Graz (Gradec), and Görz (Gorica), the latter city being also largely Italian. In America they are more often known as "Krainer", that being the German adjective of Krain (Carniola), from whence the larger number of them come to the United States; sometimes the word has even been mispronounced and set down as "Griner". The Slovenes became known somewhat early in the history of the United States. Father Frederic Baraga was among the first of them to come here in 1830, and began his missionary work as a priest among the Indians of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and finally became the first Bishop of Marquette, Michigan. He studied the Indian languages and wrote their grammars and history in his various English, German, and Slovenian works. He also published several catechisms and religious works in Slovenian, and brought over several other Slovenian priests.

In Calumet, Michigan, the Slovenes settled as early as 1856; they first appeared in Chicago and in Iowa about 1863, and in 1866 they founded their chief farming colony in Brockway, Minnesota. Here they still preserve their own language and all their minute local peculiarities. They came to Omaha in 1868, and in 1873 their present large colony in Joliet, Illinois, was founded. Their earliest settlement in New York was towards the end of 1878, and gradually their numbers have increased until they have churches in Haverstraw and Rockland Lake, where their language is used. They have also established farm settlements in Iowa, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, and in additional places in Minnesota. Their very active immigration began in 1892, and has been (1990-1910) at the rate of from 6000 to 9000 annually, but has lately fallen off. The official government statistics class them along with the Croatians. There are now (1911) in the United States a little over 120,000 Slovenes; practically all of them are Catholics, and with no great differences or factions among them. There is a leaning towards Socialism in the large mining and manufacturing centres. In Pennsylvania there are about 30,000; in Ohio, 15,000; in Illinois, 12,000; in Michigan, 8000; in Minnesota, 12,000; in Colorado, 10,000; in Washington, 10,000; in Montana, 5000; and in fact there are Slovenes reported in almost every state and territory except Georgia. Their immigration was caused by the poverty of the people at home, especially as Carniola is a rocky and mountainous district without much fertility, and neglected even from the times of the Turkish wars. Latterly the institution of Raffeisen banks, debt-paying and mutual aid associations introduced among the people by the Catholic party (Slovenska Ljudska Stranka), has diminished immigration and enabled them to live more comfortably at home.

The Slovenes are noted for their adaptability, and have given many prominent missionary leaders to the Church in the United States. Among them are Bishop Baraga, Mrak, and Vertin (of Marquette), Stariha (of Lead), and Trobec (of St. Cloud); Monsignori Stibil, Buh, and Plut; Abbot Bernard Locnika, O.S.B.; and many others. There are some 92 Slovenian priests in the United States and twenty-five Slovenian churches. Many of their churches are quite fine, especially st.Joseph's, Joliet, Illinois; St. Joseph's, Calumet, Michigan; and Sts.Cyril and Methodius, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. There are also mixed parishes where the Slovenes are united with other nationalities, usually with Bohemians, Slovaks, or Germans. There are no exclusively Slovenian religious communities. At St. John's, Minnesota, there are six Slovenian Benedictines, and at Rockland Lake, New York, three Slovenian Franciscans, who are undertaking to establish a Slovenian and Croatian community. From them much of the information herein has been obtained. The Franciscan nuns at Joliet, Illinois, have many Slovenian sisters; at Kansas City, Kansas, there are several Slovenian sisters engaged in school work; and there are some Slovenians among the Notre Dame Sisters of Cleveland, Ohio. Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul, Minnesota, sent to Austria for Slovenian seminarians to finish their education here, and also appointed three Slovenian priests are professors in his diocesan seminary, thus providing a Slovenian- American clergy for their parishes in his province.

There are several church and benevolent organizations among the Slovenians in America. The principal ones are: Kranjsko Slovenska Katoliska Jednota (Krainer Slovenian Catholic Union), organized in April, 1894, now having 100 councils and a membership of 12,000; Jugoslovenska Katoliska Jednota (South Slovenian Catholic Union), organized in Jan., 1901, having 90 councils and 8000 members; besides these there are also Slovenska Zapadna Zveza (Slovenian Western Union), with 30 councils and about 3000 members, Drustva Sv. Barbara (St. Barbara Society), with 80 councils, chiefly among miners, and the semi-socialistic Delvaska Podporna Zveza (Workingmen's Benevolent Union) with 25 councils and a considerable membership. There are also Sv. Rafaelova Druzba (St. Raphael's Society), to assist Slovenian immigrants founded by Father Kasimir, O.F.M., and the Society of Sts. Cyril and Methodius to assist Slovenian schools, as well as numerous singing and gymnastic organizations. The Slovenians publish ten newspapers in the United States. The oldest is the Catholic weekly "Amerikanski Slovenec" (American Slovene), established in 1891 at Joliet, and it is the organ of the Krainer Slovenian Catholic Union. "Glas Naroda" (Voice of the People), established in 1892 in New York City, is a daily paper somewhat Liberal in its views, but it is the official organ of the South Slavonic Catholic Union and the St. Barbara Society. "Ave Maria" is a religious monthly published by the Franciscans of Rockland Lake, New York. "Glasnik" (The Herald) is a weekly of Calumet, Michigan; as are "Edinost" (Unity), of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; "Clevelandska Amerika", of Cleveland, Ohio; "Narodni Vestnik" (People's Messenger), of Duluth , Minnesota; and "Slovenski Narod" (Slovenian People), of Pueblo, Colorado. There are also two purely Socialistic weeklies in Chicago: "Proletarec" (Proletarian) and "Glas Svobode" (Voice of Freedom).

About this page

APA citation. Shipman, A. (1912). The Slavs in America. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Shipman, Andrew. "The Slavs in America." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Angela Meady.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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