A nation, like a tree, does not thrive well
till it is engraffed with a foreign stock.

Emerson, Journals (1823)

Carpatho-Russians or Rusyns

Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox Church

Orthodox Church

The Carpatho-Russians were part of the immigrant stream of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They came from the Galacian region of the eastern Czechoslovakian mountains to work in the mines and mills of Pennsylvania and Ohio. As they settled, churches and beneficial societies reflecting the homeland were established.

In Ambridge, the Bowan, Evans, Holovach, Blishak, and Towcimak families formed the founding core of the Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox Church. After meeting in homes, temporary quarters, and the basement of the present church, they completed this structure at Second and Maplewood in 1914.

The structural steel for the framing was donated by the American Bridge Company.


The Christmas carolers on the left are from 1921 and, except for 14 year old Mary Capp (Bowan) on the far left, the group is unidentified. The second Christmas caroler photo is from the 1928 season.

The Carpatho-Russian Band photo is from 1920.

Carolers 1921 Carolers 1928 Band

Bowan-Capp Wedding


The children of the immigrants did not stray far from home. William Bowan, the son of John Bowan, a church founder, married Mary Capp in 1929.

Bill and Mary are third from the right in the picture. My father was a high school friend of the groom and he appears as the best man on Bill's right.

John Guzan

John Guzan

John's funeral (1932) gives us some sense of the closeness of the group ties in early Ambridge. We know there are people in attendance from from the church and from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and surrounding towns who knew him or his family.

The suits and ties worn by the men and young boys were required by custom. We were fitted with "proper" clothing before first grade.

Photo Credits:
Church, Centennial Program
Others, William Bowan Archives

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