Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coaldale History

I got feedback from several people interested in coal mining history in Pennsylvania based on my previous blog entry, none of whom I know: it's amazing how many random connections you get from Web searches. In any case, I wanted to link to a really interesting set of articles that traces the history of the region around Coaldale in its early stage, including the tensions that existed in the mining communities. I remember hearing stories as a kid about the "Black Marias" that would drop off the bodies of miners after an accident.

The source site is an interesting assembly of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant histories, which is part of the background on my grandmother's side. By her generation, everyone seemed to think of themselves generically as Russian, but the background of many was more diverse and our family has a variety of Eastern Slavic traditions. For example, most of the Pascha activities I remember best were heavily influenced by the traditions of Ukraine.

The Carpatho-Rusyn ethnic group is not well known. As a matter of interest, here's a link to an overview of their history. Many were probably Uniate or so-called Greek Catholics, though in the US they were poorly received by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church and I believe many moved back after centuries to the Eastern Orthodox church, specifically under the autocephalous church in Moscow. Other Eastern European ethnic groups in the region included, according the the New York Times, Poles, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews and Hungarians. The derogatory term "Hunky" was a generic reference to Eastern European immigrants in this region, derived from the fact that many of the immigrants were believed to have migrated from the Austro-Hungarian empire.

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