Family history research gives us an opportunity to learn more about our ancestors’ experiences in their communities. The histories of buildings and institutions can help provide context for the lives of those who built and used them. When it comes to understanding the stories of Greek immigrants to United States, it can be helpful to turn to the histories of Greek Orthodox churches in America. Tracing the history of a Greek Orthodox church can help paint a picture of the activities of its individual parishioners and the community as whole.
Let’s look at the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Price, Carbon County, Utah as an example. Jobs in the coal mines attracted Greek men to Carbon County at the turn of the twentieth century. Helen Zeese Papanikolas, a Greek American historian and native of Carbon County, writes:
“The newest Greek arrivals heard of the coal mines in Carbon County and, by 1905, there were Greeks in Castle Gate, Spring Canyon, Hiawatha, Sunnyside, Black Hawk, Helper, Winter Quarters, Scofield, and Price. New coal veins were constantly being opened and the young Greeks wrote back to their villages that there was work for all in the mines.”1
Hundreds more soon followed, including some of my ancestors. Continue reading Understanding Greek Immigrants Through Church Records