Ukrainian Baptists in North Dakota
How did Ukrainian Baptist believers end up in North Dakota? They were being persecuted in the Russian tsarist empire for their religious beliefs.
"Then the leaders of the Evangelical-Baptist movement, Ivan Riaboshapka and Mykhailo Ratushny, turned to the authorities with the request that they resettle all the believers somewhere, even on the worst land, just so they be together and have the freedom to gather and pray to God as their conscience dictated. Unfortunately, the authorities paid no attention to this. ... Some Jews who lived among our villages, seeing how our people were tormented, felt pity for them and said, "But why do you stay here? Go to America! There is full freedom for every religion there ... The first of such daring ones was Kharyton Sabarovych. Overcoming every fear, in the spring of 1889 he and his family set forth for America alone."
Sabarovych settled in Louisville, Kentucky. Later, other immigrants settled in Tennessee and Norfolk, Virginia. Still later, some immigrants heard about free farmland in North Dakota and decided to go there.
"At the very beginning, Oleksa Mykolaiv came to us. He knew the English language; therefore, he helped our people with his good advice. He was always the interpreter during the purchase of land, and later he came to us and preached the Gospel. At that time, people still gathered in houses ..."
"We built our first house of prayer (we do not call them "churches") where our colony was first established. ... By 1910 we already had several."
"In the whole of our colony, there are now 16 houses of prayer. Some of them are rather large. In Kief, there are three Ukrainian churches: Baptist, Adventist and Mennonite. In Butte, there are as many as six Ukrainian houses of prayer: Baptist, Adventist, Pentecostal, Christan Evangelical and Independent Seventh-Day Adventist, in addition to one Adventist near Butte. In Greystone-Benedict, there are two houses of prayer: Baptist and Adventist. In Max and Killdeer the same."
(excerpts copied from "Pilgrims of the Prairie")
Andrew Dubovy (left), author of the book about Ukrainian Baptists living in North Dakota, meets Michael Podworniak, who edited the book, in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1957. At the time, Mr. Podworniak was president of Doroha Prawdy, which published Mr. Dubovy's book. (Photo copied from the Ukrainian-language book.)
У 1902-му році наша колонія нараховувала 3,000 душ, а в 1905-му році було вже біля 5,000 душ. У 1912-го року ми мали 10,000 душ. Пізніш дуже важко було встановити число, бо наші люди поробилися «американцями», а при переписі так себе й записували. Невелика частина записували себе «руськими», а через це правдива статистика загубилася.
Після 1912-го року почалася нова «еміграція» з нашої колонії. Чимало наших братів мали великі довги, а тому продавали решту своїх мізерних маєтків і переселювалися в інші місця, особливо до Канади, в провінцію Саскачеван. ... Після Першої Світової Війни пройшла також хвиля «еміграції» до більших міст Америки. Багато людей поїхали до Чікаго, Детройту, до різних міст у штаті Міннесота та в інші місцевості.
(уривок із книги «На Батьківщині і на Чужині» сторінки 68-69)
The Baptist movement in Ukraine began in 1852, so, obviously, no Ukrainian Baptists could have emigrated from Ukraine to America prior to that date. However, Ukrainian-born people lived in the United States before then. It would be interesting to determine whether any of them accepted the Baptist faith in America before 1852.
The first Ukrainian immigrant to America, Ivan Bohdan, sailed with John Smith to the Jamestown colony in 1608, according to Wikipedia.org. Bohdan met captain Smith during the time when the latter had fought the Turks, was captured, and escaped captivity by fleeing through Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and other countries.
The First Baptist Church in America was founded in 1638 by Roger Williams in Providence, Rhode Island. It is still a functioning church, although the current building was constructed in 1775.
Large-scale Ukrainian immigration to America did not begin until the 1880s.
Some Baptists emigrated from Ukraine to America in the late 1800s. A big colony settled in the state of North Dakota. Their story was published in a small book written by Andrew Dubovy and published in the Ukrainian language by Doroha Pravdy in 1957. The title in Ukrainian is "На Батьківщині і на Чужині" -- з історії українських піонерів у Норт Дакоті (автор Андрій Дубовий).
The book was translated into the English language by Marie Halun Bloch and published in 1983 under the title "Pilgrims of the Prairie" -- Pioneer Ukrainian Baptists in North Dakota. (The English-language book may be purchased from the Ukrainian Cultural Institute, P.O. Box 6, Dickinson, ND 58601.)
Oleksa Mykolaiv, the first Ukrainian Baptist preacher in North Dakota.
This photo of Ukrainian settlers was copied from the book "Pilgrims of the Prairie."
Колонія Українців у штаті Норт Дакота
Alex Harbuziuk (behind pulpit) visits the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island, in August 2010.
This photo of a sod house was copied from the book "Pilgrims of the Prairie."
Here are two pages from the Ukrainian-language book "На Батьківщині і на Чужині."
This photo was taken in front of the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Chester, Pennsylvania, in the 1930s. This probably was a conference that was held before the church became a part of the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention. (Photo copied from the book "Ukrainians of the Delaware Valley" by Alexander Lushnycky)
Rev. olexa Harbuziuk Legacy
Пастор олекса Романович Гарбузюк