17 April 2010

The Lemko-Rusyns of Lublin, Wisconsin

Carpatho-Rusyn immigration to the the Great Lakes region wasn't limited to large urban areas, like Chicago. A series of North Wisconsin towns attracted sizable enough communities to form churches.

One example is the North-Central Wisconsin town of Lublin, a community which attracted a settlement of Lemko-Rusyns from what today is Southeast Poland, along with ethnic Poles.

That these people had a Lemko identity is demonstrated by the fact that four of them -- Andrew Klisch, Anna and Frank Kucynda, and John Wasylko -- were listed as "boosters" in the 20th anniversary program for Lemko Hall in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1958.

In 1976, Lublin's 4-H compiled a history that included a look at the foundation of Holy Assumption Orthodox Church, the spiritual home of the community's Lemkos, who also considered themselves "Carpatho-Russians."

Here's an excerpt from that history (complete with some of the original spelling quirks):

"In the early 1900's, land developer Marion Durski advertised land for sale in Lublin and its vicinity. The first of the Carpatho-Russian to heed this call was Daniel Majkowicz, who arrived here from Mississippi while the village was still in its infancy.

"He in turn served as an assistant to the land developer Marion Durski to persuade his fellow countrymen who temporarily settled in the East, mainly Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and also Mississippi to come to this area to buy farms and to supplement their income by working in the forest in the winter.

"Most of the original parishioners in Lublin were under the influence of the
Unia (Greek Catholics), coming from the area of Galicia, southeast of (the Polish city of) Sanok; which was known as Carpatho-Russia.

"Their first concern after settling in the vicinity of Lublin was to provide a place where they might worship and baptize and educate their children. This is shown by the fact that in 1908, shortly after Daniel Majkowicz's advertisement was fulfilled, youthful emigrants arrived. Immediately they met to discuss and to organize an Orthodox community in their new homeland.

"Among the early pioneer-founders and organizers were: Daniel Majkowicz, Theodore and Simeon Dubiak, Stefan Lencz, Harry Kucynda, Elias Koruc, Wasyl Kawalkiewicz, (Timko) Hnat, Stefen Kahan, (Timko) Kon, Sylvester Pogar, Ambrose Peleschak, Andrew Bahur, Osafat Sweda, and Theodore Polonczak.

"A very small chapel, only large enough to accommodate this small group, was built on two acres of land donated by Marion Durski. This chapel was dedicated to St. Demetrios, and was built in 1908 under the skilled carpentership of two brothers Simeon (Sam) and Theodore (Frank) Dubiak.

"Within a five year period, with the arrival of new emigrants, this building became to small for the community which necessitated the enlargement of the chapel to double it size. Being without a belfry, a bell was purchased, mounted on a concrete slab and was manually rung.

"For the period 1908-1917, St. Demetrios Orthodox Church was served by a missionary priest from Minneapolis. However, in 1918, a resident priest was assigned to serve
St. John's Orthodox Church, Huron and St. Demetrios. The priest and his family resided with parishioners for two weeks and then traveled by horse and buggy to Huron where he would reside and serve for the next two weeks.

"During the time the community was in a missionary status as well as when the priest was at his other parish, laymen services were conducted on feast days as well as on Sundays, under the talented and musically-inclined psalmist, Averky Kosheluk, whose melodies are still being used at the present time.

"Once again the community outgrew their chapel. In 1927, the present church was built. Most of the lumber was donated by Daniel Majkowicz, and Simeon and Theodore Dubiak were once again the main carpenters. Each member had to contribute at least twenty hours of labor.

"The shape of the new church was like a ship facing East with one large cupola, topped with a three-bar cross, built by the Dubiak brothers. The bell was removed from the slab and was mounted permanently in the fifty-foot belfry.

"The Slavonic Holy Gospel, Service books, chalice, candelabra and brass enameled banners were imported from Russia in 1913, while the shroud (Plaschenitza) was imported from Jerusalem and is used at Good Friday services to the present time. In 1961, the crystal prism or chandelier was imported from Czechoslovakia, and was installed.

"On the parish level, the parish council is headed by a starosta ("elder"), Daniel Majkowicz served as the first starosta, Joseph Pawlik Sr. is the present starosta. However, Simeon Dubiak and his son Frank Dubiak have served as starosta numerous times.

"Special recognition must be given to the pioneer,
a cappella, choir director, and psalmist, Averky Kosheluk, who loved his work and put into it his entire soul, effort and knowledge from about 1913-1950's, commuting either on foot or horse and buggy, seldom absent for a feast day and Sunday service and serving without pay, and to our present choir director, Mrs. Irene (Peleschak) Jasinski, who continues with the work that her predecessor established.

"The church had operated a Russian school in the 1920's and 1930's. The classes were taught by the pastor to read, write, and sing in Russian,
Church Slavonic, the language in which the church services were served. Gradually and unfortunately, this class disappeared as a church function. Since the services are served in the vernacular of the people, which is English, the church school replaced the Russian school.

"In 1931, the chapel was converted into living quarters for the priest. It was moved to its present location, and was double in size, and placed on a foundation. The downstairs of the rectory serves as the church hall and all purpose room.

"Holy Assumption (Dormition) Cemetery with its triple-barred Cross Monument and tombstones facing east, is north of the church. The first infant and first adult had been buried in 1908.

"It is also a final resting place for S/Sgt. Harry Shewczuk, who lost his life in Italy during World War II, and several of the pioneer founders, including: Daniel Majkowicz, Simeon and Theodore Dubiak, Ambrose Peleschak, Stefan Lencz, Stefan Kahan, Theodore Panlonczk, and Elias Koruc."


  1. Cool, I know Mrs. Jasinski -- thanks for posting.

  2. "The first of the Carpatho-Russian to heed this call was Daniel Majkowicz, who arrived here from Mississippi while the village was still in its infancy." WOW -- 1st I've heard of our people settling anywhere in Mississippi! Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, sure -- but Mississippi... joj.

  3. Awesome posting! This obscure but fascinating insight into the Rusyn immigration experience is so important in helping us understand what our ancestors went through. More please!

  4. Nice! I had actually read this before but I'm glad that you posted it so that others can read it. A couple of other towns in northern Wisconsin with Carpatho-Rusyn settlements were Clayton and Cornucopia up on Lake Superior where they homesteaded. I think some of our people tried it for a while and moved on but estalished a church up there.

  5. As Daniel Majkowicz's great grandson, I find this interesting. Didn't know much about my Great Grandfather.

  6. I grew up in Lublin and was raised in Holy Assumption Orthodox Church. Thank you for making this information available online!