The Greeks of Carbon County
Utah Historical Quarterly
Vol. 22, 1954, Nos. 1-4
THE GREEKS OF CARBON COUNTY
BY HELEN ZEESE PAPANIKOLAS
THE GREEK IMMIGRANT was the last of the Europeans to come to America. Fewer than two thousand Greeks were in the entire country before the 1880's. The first arrivals were young boys bought by American naval officers and philanthropists on the Turkish slave block. They were sent to the United States for education and freedom and many distinguished themselves as teachers or naval officers.
It was not until the turn of the century that the yearly Greek immigrants numbered a thousand or more. They were mostly young men and boys escaping poverty by sailing towards the bright light of America. Some came to avoid the compulsory three-year military service in the Greek army where a peasant youth could seldom rise above a menial. A great many came from those parts of Greece still under Ottoman domination which conscripted Greek youths into the dreaded Turkish infantry.
From Ellis Island they made their way about the streets of New York, searching for someone with the same ethnic characteristics as their own who could help them find work. Sometimes they wandered about, lost in the city's maze, until a labor agent, through signs, offered them work in mills, factories, or road gangs elsewhere. The more fortunate ones, who knew countrymen already working in the textile cities, went directly to them.
But some of these men could not adapt to the noise and confusions of the factories and their spirit of adventure led them to climb freights and travel over the plains and mountains to the west.
Some of the men eventually reached Denver where the Greek colony was well established and Greek labor agents regularly made visits to the coffeehouses in search of new recruits for the steel mills of Pueblo, the mines of Leadville, and the many silver mines on the wayside of what is now the "Million Dollar Highway." Others came through Wyoming, some branching off to the coal mines in Rock Springs or north to the copper pit of Butte, but most of the men came to Salt Lake City to find Andrew Skliris, a legitimate Greek labor agent known to Greek immigrants all over the United States. From Salt Lake City the newer men were sent out to lay rails for the Oregon Short Line, the Union Pacific, and the Denver and Rio Grande railroads. The other residents had more permanent work with the copper mine at Bingham, the mill and smelter of Magna and Garfield, and the railroad yards at Salt Lake. A few men had graduated to ownership of small confectioneries, restaurants, and shoeshine stands. A few others were street vendors. In all there were two thousand Greek men in Salt Lake County by 1905.
These Greeks, with their history of five hundred years subjection to the Turks that had made them more nationalistic than any ethnic group in the world, and intensely distrustful of all who were not Greek, formed a closely-knit colony around Second and Fourth West near the railroad yards. They had their own stores featuring imported olive oil, octopi, goat cheese, wines, liqueurs, Greek and Turkish tobacco, figs and dates. There were also several coffeehouses where unscrupulous labor agents often preyed on their fellow countrymen. A newspaper in the Greek language was printed regularly with reports of church and community happenings and florid descriptions of weddings and baptisms.
But Salt Lake City had a great influx of its own immigrants, converts to the L.D.S. Church, and work was not plentiful despite the general air of prosperity in the hammer and clang of new buildings being constructed. At the coffeehouses 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.
Once there they found themselves spinning in the hectic, boisterous life of Carbon County at the beginning of the century. The very terrain of mining towns that could not grow outwards but must grow up the slopes of the mountains made for a crowded, intimate confusion. The boardwalk streets vibrated with labor agents, gamblers, labor "agitators," all waiting for night when the miners on day shift would emerge from the underground tunnels of coal, each with a good day's wages. The miners were of every nationality: Germans, Poles, Yugoslavs, Austrians, Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, Japanese, and native Americans. Besides these there were several Jewish merchants, and the railroad men, who were mostly of Irish descent. In the rest of Utah the Mormon people were far in the majority, but in the mining camps of Carbon County, it was the immigrant peoples who predominated.
In this tempestuous atmosphere that mingled with the fresh smell of coal and the acrid scent of cedars growing on the slopes of the dun colored mountains, the Greeks began their history in Carbon County. In coal camps that were sometimes precariously put together on no more than a draw of the mountainside, they lived in a clannishness that was the despair of sociologists, just as did the Greeks all over the United States. Their nature, conditioned by their centuries of slavery into distrust of the stranger and into living close together for protection, was further turned inward by the bitter discrimination that overwhelmed them in America.
From the very start of their life in Carbon County, the Greeks were incensed at being differentiated from the native Americans by the latter's calling themselves "white." They were unable and unwilling to drop their own customs and become standardized as newspaper editorials constantly demanded. They were continuously on guard for slights against their nationality in which they had great and excessive pride, and court calendars of the time carry a preponderously large number of Greek men brought to court for assault. The coffeehouse especially was the object of contention. It symbolized to the American everything he did not like about the Greeks. Contrary to the low opinion held of it then, and in contrast to its deteriorated form of today, the coffeehouse was of inestimable comfort to the early immigrants. The men far outnumbered the women and the coffeehouse was their true home. It was also their only social life, and it kept a great many young men from straying. It frowned on the irresponsible who came into the city after long, lonely summers spent on railroad gangs laying tracks across the desert, and those who had brought the sheep to desert winter grounds and were unemployed for the winter. They were young, exuberant, gregarious youth not accustomed to the bitter loneliness of western deserts, and when they reached the towns and camps where they must spend idle winters, they often disturbed the peace of the communities. The older, more settled men of the coffeehouse attempted to restrain the men by finding work for them and, sometimes, their wives.
In the next few years hundreds of young Greeks, most of them from the Isle of Crete, came to America and directly to Carbon County. Many of the other Greeks were Roumelioti, meaning inhabitants of the province of Roumel, a rocky, mountainous country north of Athens, yet isolated and inaccessible. These men immediately left the mines as soon as they had enough money to buy a herd of sheep or could find work with one of the native sheepmen who, at the end of a designated period, paid a sheepherder's wages in sheep. Ironically, these men went back to the very type of work and life they had left in the hills of Greece.
The men lived in boardinghouses or groups of them resided in mine company houses where they shared the work. But all immigrants were coming to the mining camps in such waves that the mine companies could not build houses fast enough. As a result, the immigrants set up tents and makeshift shacks on bare dirt with neither water close by nor adequate sewage disposal. In Helper and most of the camps the immigrant section of town was designated by its inhabitants as Greek Town, Wop Town, Bohunk Town. In Sunnyside it was called Ragtown. These parts of town threatened to overrun the established townsites and, to the dismay of the native, the immigrants still came.
One tenth of Greece's population emigrated to the United States in the first twenty-five years of this century. The greatest exodus occurred in 1907, for three reasons: first, was the complete failure of the currant crop which was the main industry of the Peloponnesian Valley; the second was the selfish activities of steamship agents who traveled from the valleys to the mountains of Greece and held their coffeehouse audiences spellbound with exaggerated tales of the ease with which money was acquired in America; the third reason, and perhaps the most important, was the stream of letters sent back by the first arrivals. Often photographs accompanied the letters, and the recipients gazed with envy at the nattily attired young relatives in high-buttoned shoes, tight-fitting suits, celluloid-collared silk shirts, and cocked straw hats. With flamboyant pride the writers added that they had saved a hundred dollars or so, a fortune to those left behind. As a result every able-bodied man scraped together the price of a steerage ticket and some villages were left without a single man. This great wave of immigration arrived at Ellis Island and was met by the Panic of 1907.
All Greeks, as must all other immigrant groups who arrived at that time, remember the hungry, cold, dark days when they would not have survived had it not been for their countrymen who had come before them, who, though still in dismal straits, had some semblance of security. They existed during the panic in dreary, crowded, and unsanitary camaraderie until the mines and smelters opened again.
A few of the men, after helping to provide dowries for their sisters back in Greece, and saving enough for their own marriages, sent for brides. In backyards worn smooth as clay Sunday wedding celebrations were held with lambs turning over red coals, bread baking in the outdoor, domed mud ovens, undulating mideastern music plucked from a lyre and blown through a clarinet and, above it all, the sad, fatalistic singing of weather-browned sheepmen and coal-etched miners. A lone woman, or perhaps two, went about setting tables and preparing salads and pilaf. The "Americans" took a great interest in the engagements, weddings, and baptisms of the Greeks, the newspapers often carrying news of the festivities.
All during this time when marriages were being sanctified and babies baptized, priests were sent from Salt Lake City and sometimes from Denver. By 1912, plans were drawn in a downtown Price building by Stylian Staes, Gust Pappas, and Emmanuel Salevurakis for a church, long desired and now feasible with the rise in Greek population. The city of Price donated a corner lot two blocks west of the court house and construction began, the architecture being the traditional Byzantine that requires Greek churches to form a cross. The church was built with one large center dome and later two smaller domes were added. The sanctuary was ornamented with icons and lamps that burned oil blessed at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. There were no pews at first, following Greek custom that decreed it disrespectful to sit during the three-hour service. Later, pews were installed for intermittent use.
On the Day of the Assumption of the Virgin, August 15, 1916, the priest, Markos Petrakis, led the services of consecration. Special trains ran from all the coal camps bringing the men to Price for the celebration. The church gave the men a new security and they began in greater numbers to send for wives. In later years the native populace remembered the priest for his "steadying" influence on the "boys." To the delight of the "Americans," Father Petrakis wore his long black robes, a silver crucifix, and his tall rimless black hat on the dusty streets and roads of Price. His brown beard came to his chest and his hair hung to his shoulders. He has been reproduced by Lynn Fausett on murals painted for the Price Civic Auditorium. Father Petrakis is seated between Bishop Scanlan, first Catholic Bishop of Utah, and the Reverend R. P. Nichols, first Methodist minister of Carbon County.
Father Petrakis stayed but one year and a long line of priests followed. The rapid change of priests was due to church politics and to the independence of the priests who would not subject themselves to the Board of Trustees, knowing there were many cities and towns avidly desiring their services. Often, as many observers of ethnic groups agree, the Greek is an individualist to the point of harm. Then again, the Greeks share with other Mediterranean groups a forming into coalitions over the merest problem or controversy. Usually this is composed of groups according to the geography of Greece, and in Carbon County it took the form of those from the Isle of Crete joining against the people from the Roumel's province. On church issues the people formed groups headed by two "leaders" and they voted en bloc as the leaders desired. The life of the priests was rocky in Carbon County. From the very start the two major factions were opposed to each other in every detail of church politics. The priest often found himself being upheld by the Cretans and being negated by the Roumelioti or vice versa.
The priests however were helpless in their efforts to alleviate the continued discrimination directed towards the Greeks. They could not speak the English language, except for a few of their number, and they had no insight into the conditions that gave the Greeks an inferior status. The Greeks continued to live in "Greek Towns" and "Ragtowns." They often were brought to court for carrying weapons and for assault. The majority remained unmarried believing they would return to their native land with a small fortune in wages and there was no sense of permanence for them in America. The coffeehouse was still the center of their lives, which was as Greek as if they had not left the mainland and islands of Greece.
Although the populace regarded the aliens, and particularly the more numerous and newer ones, the Greeks, as far inferior to them, they nevertheless showed a curious interest in them. The newspapers always made note of Greek Christmas and Easter celebrations, referring to the men as "the Greek boys" and not often made a point in criminal cases of bringing in their nationality. But with America's entering World War I, the pattern broke and deteriorated into an unremediable state that took many years to mend. The draft call in Carbon County was sent to 801 men, of whom 221 were Greeks. Only forty of the Greeks were naturalized or had taken out first papers. At their Independence Day celebration in March, the Greeks had expressed willingness to fight for the United States.
The draft call was issued in late July, and the first hint of trouble came in the August 9 issue of the News Advocate which stated, "First indications were that a large number of Greeks were willing to enlist even if they could not be forced to do so. Later indications are that most will claim exemptions." Succeeding issues of the two newspapers carried lists of five to ten Greeks who were going into the army, but a far larger one of those who had asked exemptions because of their alien status.
On August 16, an article written by Tom Avgikos, a young well-educated Greek businessman in Helper, who later served in France, appeared in the News Advocate. It was entitled, "Why The Greeks Don't Volunteer." Mr. Avgikos began by saying the Greeks weren't cowards and had proved through history that they were not, but before they committed themselves they wanted to know what would become of the Greek provinces after the war "now under the yoke of the Turks, English and Italians. Will the Greeks take part in war to help big nations steal Greek lands? The allies must make themselves clear first. Greeks hate Kaiser but can't fight him for national reasons."
By winter, public feeling against the Greeks was high and now the newspapers took an active part in the bitter denunciations.
Fathers and mothers who are sending their American boys to fight in Italy if need be and for the safety of both Greeks and Italians and all other races are getting more and more incensed at the whelps who think nothing but getting American dollars under the American flag but who would not turn a hand over to save that flag from being dragged in the dirt by the Kaiser's bloody cutthroats. Some of the worst specimens of this sort are going to get some early day western treatment if they do not wake up to their duty soon.
Another article in the same issue reported the Greeks were evading service because of their alien status and refusing to return to their own country to fight. "Feeling against such dirty low-down grafters is running high in many towns in Utah."
Greeks continued to report to the army, in all a total of forty-eight, but still a great many asked exemption. Letters were printed in the newspapers from Greek soldiers to former employers. One from T. H. Jouflas was captioned, "He Shows the Greeks in U. S. What They Ought to be Doing." Another told of army life to a mine superintendent. A young Greek boy submitted a poem in tribute to the United States. The Greek miners in Winter Quarters bought nine thousand dollars worth of war bonds; four of them subscribed to a thousand dollars each. Greek miners held "Get out the Coal" rallies. But the fact remained that the Greek aliens did not participate in the war as they were expected to and it was a black mark that worked against them during several crucial times.
Another factor in their war record was illiteracy. The majority of the men lived in Greek boardinghouses, worked the mines with Greek gangs, relaxed at night in the Greek coffeehouses. They could neither read nor write English and could hardly understand it. They were appalled at the thought of entering the American army, and when informed by their adviser, Stylian Staes, that their alienship did not require service they readily asked exemption. The men heard that they must pay a five-dollar fee to the lawyers who processed the draftees, which of course was illegal. The men, in their ignorance, paid the fee, and were led to believe that that was the end of their association with the United States government.
The inconsistent attitude of the Greeks was incomprehensible to the native Americans. They could not understand the Greek mind. Foremost, the Greeks did not consider themselves permanent inhabitants of America. They were sojourners who had come to America for a short time to man its industries and return to their poverty-stricken country with a comparative fortune. For centuries Greek boys and men had left their lands for other nations where their labor was needed and sent money back for dowries, land, and even food.
The extreme nationalism, then, of the Greeks, their illiteracy, and the impatience of the "Americans" who believed that everyone who set foot in this country must renounce forever his native language, customs, and former ways and become an American overnight, led to an ugly, dangerous confusion.
The tone of newspaper reports now always mentioned a Greek's or Italian's nationality when reporting a crime. Greek men suspected of showing interest in native girls were threatened and watched. The most dramatic of these was the near lynching of John Michelog before the Armistice.
John Michelog was a partner in a stage line that ran between Price, Hiawatha, and Black Hawk. He came from a large, wellestablished Cretan family of Helper and was considered a leventi, an endearing term among the Greeks for a young man in his prime, gay, brave, with the capacity to enjoy all that life offers.
On a September night a posse was formed and all towns and coal camps were notified to watch for John Michelog and a girl not quite of age. The girl was missing from home and neighbors recalled seeing John Michelog "flirting" with her. The posse halted the stage outside Price and the girl ran away while Michelog was being taken to the courthouse. A crowd gathered outside and talk of lynching spread while the sheriff and two deputies kept their guns in readiness to protect their prisoner.
Quickly the Greeks of Price sent word to their countrymen all over the county that John Michelog was in danger. P. O. Silvagni rallied the Italians knowing "if it would happen to a Greek it could be an Italian next." In an hour's time the streets of Price swarmed with armed Greeks, Italians, and a whole contingent of determined, wild-eyed Cretan miners from Castle Gate. The cries of lynching faded away.
The news account of the quick trial, which resulted in a six-month sentence for Michelog on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, showed the prevailing hostility to the Greeks.
. . . and Sunday night after writing a note that she was going to commit suicide she left the house and came down town to find the Greek. She had a bottle of poison and declared that unless he took her away she would kill herself. She later gave as her reason for self-destruction remorse that she had gone so far with the foreigner.
They drove to Sunnyside to see Mark Traitos and wife, Mrs. Traitos, formerly Bata Johnson, having been a close friend of the Gailey girl in school last year. She married the Greek in spite of efforts of her mother and of the officers.
One of the three sheriffs who guarded John Michelog tells a different story of a lovesick young girl who insisted on riding the stage because she had the fare.
The fear and hostility towards the immigrants continued and became more intense with the end of the war. The status of the Greeks in the county was ambiguous. On the one extreme were the Greeks who had turned their wages into small businesses and were prospering. Each issue of the newspapers brought new evidence of this. The coveted pipeline into Carbon County was awarded to Staes, Zeese and Raikos, Greek businessmen. Buildings and property were being bought by Greeks and their entrance into the commercial life all over the county was secure. "Greek wool pools" were referred to often in the newspapers of the day.
On the other extreme were the group of Greeks, despised by the Greeks themselves for their illicit activities, the gamblers, panderers, and the labor agents, who often were no more than confidence men. These latter were mostly the better-educated Greeks with the schooled European's disdain for physical labor. They added nothing to the building of America. It was the immigrant peasant who formed the labor gangs that built the bridges, laid the rails, and made the roads of America. These undesirables often made up three-fourths of the court calendars and it was quite common to have an article relating to a recent purchase of property or livestock by a Greek in one section of the paper and in another section the fining of a Greek for breaking the law.
But the complete denial of the Greeks came not so much from the minority who were law offenders but the participation of the Greeks in the labor strikes that demoralized the Carbon County mines at the close of the war. In earlier days the Greeks had often become involved as scabs in labor strikes through their ignorance of existing conditions, through the activities of labor agents, and through their own mid-Eastern philosophy that the man who had could do what he wanted with it. But now he willingly entered the labor strife of his own accord.
This action of the Greeks and other immigrants, particularly the Italians, aroused the natives to open enmity. A striker in those days had the position of a contemptible, ungrateful servant and the immigrant who became one was even worse. He was considered a dangerous ingrate who came to reap America's benefits and destroy her institutions. The American Legion led the fight against the aliens, and for several years the newspapers kept the issue alive. The papers were guilty of not being objective and wherever moralizing against the foreigner could be done, it was indulged in self-righteously. A news heading, "No More Greeks Can Come Until July 1923," seemed almost joyful.
The attacks on the Greeks made them belligerant and, if possible, to become more Greek than they were. Stylian Staes, of Price, whom the Greek government had appointed consul in the four western states, made strong pleas to the Greeks gathered at Salt Lake City to hear the president of the University of Athens Alumni Association. The visitor exhorted the Greeks to remain close to their motherland, to remember her views and traditions. Mr. Staes reminded the gathering that they were living and thriving in America; that it was their country now and for their own good they should learn its laws, language, and ways. However, Mr. Staes spoke to an audience indoctrinated in mutual hostility with the "Americans."
A month later a crowd of strikers and company guards met the train coming into Scofield that was believed to be bringing strike breakers to work the mine. The workers were not on the train. The strikers and guards did not disperse but began a demonstration in which one of the guards, Sam Dorrity, was shot in the leg, one striker, a Greek, was shot in the arm and another in the chest. The news became general that a Greek, Manousos, would be charged with Dorrity's assault. Governor Mabey made a hurried trip through the county promising armed aid against the strikers. The general public, if the news reports are an indication of this, were entirely on the side of the mine companies, who said, "These men [the strikers] will never get back on the payroll of Carbon County."
The Scofield incident calmed both sides outwardly although the miners were still on strike. For two weeks a wary tension pervaded the mining camps. Then the news burst through the county of the killing of John Tenas, a young Greek, in Spring Canyon. Deputy Sheriff R. T. Young, who fired the fatal shot, himself carried a flesh wound. Tenas' companion had run from the scene crying out that Tenas was unarmed and had been shot in the back. Italian farmers who had witnessed the scene testified that Tenas was running away from Young who fired at him and then was seen to have handled the gun in such a way that seemed he had turned the gun on himself.
The Greeks of the county rose en masse at the killing. Death to the Greeks is the terrible fate of man. There is no song about heaven among the Greek ballads, nor are there myths and stories that place a comfortable glow on the afterlife. The Greeks felt John Tenas had lost through fate's betrayal. At his funeral, seven hundred Greeks followed the casket to the graveyard in deep grief. As a misguided symbol of protest they carried Greek flags. The News Advocate reported that the Greek flag was held high and the American flag was dragged in the dust, but The Sun did not mention the incident, and Greeks who participated in the funeral deny this. The newspapers spoke of Tenas as "having attempted to murder R. T. Young" whose family was described as "oldtimers of Price."
On May 25, the News Advocate reported that a cousin of Tenas had filed a first degree murder charge against Young, and on June 9, reported that the gun Tenas was alleged to have had could not be found. The Greek followed the trial with desperate interest. To them, Tenas was a helpless youth killed wantonly.
At the camps throughout the county Greeks were being caught and fined for carrying guns and attempting to intimidate non-strikers from reaching the mines. On the same day that troops were sent in to occupy the coal fields, strikers trying to stop a train on its way to Spring Canyon killed Deputy Sheriff Arthur P. Webb of Standardville. The men arrested for the murder were fourteen Greeks and one Italian. The men were represented by Sam A. King who from the first began efforts to move the trial to another county because of the feeling against the Greeks. His change of venue request argued that the people of the county were already prejudiced against the men through the newspaper coverage of the killing. He quoted from The Sun, "Strikers kill Webb. Strikers fire into moving train," which left, he said, no question in the reader's mind as to the men's guilt. The Sun was aggressive in its reporting, containing statements such as ". . . feeling high in Spring Canyon with a bunch of red-blooded citizens out to clean up on disturbers." The Sun was replied that the residents of the county were not bloodthirsty, as Mr. King implied, only desirous of justice. County Attorney Dalton produced affidavits from seven hundred citizens, "all disinterested," to repudiate Mr. King's accusation of prejudice. The change of venue was denied and the trials began.
Manousos was tried first for the assault on Sam Dorrity and was sentenced to twenty years. After a long, angry trial, Pete Kukis, the first defendant in the Webb murder trial, who had a wife and child in Greece, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Mike Zulakis was sentenced next to ten years. Mr. King still sought to move the trials to another district and his request was finally granted.
The case was transfered to Castle Dale, an isolated Mormon community farther south in the eastern Utah desert. The trial was a sensation for the inhabitants to whom the Mediterranean prisoners were a novelty and the streams of cars bringing citizens from Carbon County into Castle Dale an unusual activity. Pagialakis was sentenced to ten years there.
Throughout the case, County Attorney Dalton's prosecutions were based on the men being undesirable immigrants who negated American institutions by joining strikes. He castigated them for not serving in the World War and these two facts made it certain that none of the men would escape imprisonment.
The trials were then taken to Salt Lake City where for over a year they went on with many delays and appeals. Two of the men were given indeterminate sentences, three were acquitted, and the trials no longer were given space in the newspapers.
That was the last of active Greek participation in strikes, but the entire affair only deepened the feeling of the Greeks that they were condemned, mostly for being Greek. They compared the long difficult trials with the ease in which Sheriff Young was exonerated in the killing of John Tenas. Another episode was added to the Greek memory that impressed them with being people forever alien and that they must isolate themselves and become even more closely knit to preserve themselves. In retaliation they refused to pay the ten-dollar registration fee and attend compulsory education classes for aliens.
Throughout the trials a new organization took equal space in the newspapers. It was called the Ku Klux Klan and on the day Manousos' conviction was reported in the News Advocate, an article appeared, entitled "What Ku Klux Klan Stands For," that embraced many divergent principles from "protecting American womanhood" to preventing fires. Simultaneously a concentrated campaign aimed at the aliens began. "Scum of Europe A Menace to the U. S.," "Immigration Worse Menace," were typical news headings that continued on into 1923 and 1924.
The year 1923 was significant in the number of Greek businesses that were operating successfully. Many native girls were employed by the Greeks causing an uneasy tension in the county. In late summer a young girl was assaulted and Greeks were blamed for it. For the first time, however, some residents made known their concern at current attacks on immigrants. The News Advocate reported on the incident as follows:
A mistaken idea prevailed that the men in the case were Greeks and indignation was centered against the Greek business houses of the city. Handbills were printed and posted carrying a warning that American girls would not be allowed to work in Greek confectionaries and restaurants, that no foreigners would be allowed to employ American girls in any capacity and that foreigners should not speak to American girls on the street on penalty of severe treatment. The handbill also stated that only the American language should be spoken on the streets of Price.
The article continued with a report on a fight between Steve Denos, a Greek who was supervising the finishing of his building in downtown Price, and his workmen over one of the handbills tacked on his building. A disturbance grew that threatened to become violent. It was stopped by Sheriff Deming who informed the gathering of Denos' rights. Many Price citizens, the paper stated, denounced the feeling of mob action. The Sun took a personal stand against the men who invaded the Greek restaurant kitchens and ordered the "American" girls home. The report of the News Advocate continued:
It [the paper] maintains as strongly as ever that there is too large a percentage of undesirables among the Greek immigrants. There are however a large number of Greeks making an earnest effort to be good citizens, to help build up the communities in which they live and they deserve credit for their efforts. There are lots of people in Carbon County of various nationalities who are just as undesirable as the most undesirable Greeks.
The paper weakly concluded that as long as parents of American girls allowed them to work for Greeks, nothing could be done. A week later the Greek priest, Smyrnopoulos, made a public protest that was printed by the News Advocate, which also contained a reprint from a San Francisco paper entitled, "Alien Influx Is National Menace: Must Be Stopped." A week later an American Legion convention was given front page space with the caption, "America Must Combat all Radicalism; Immigrant an American Soon or Menace." The I.W.W. should be kept in prison, the speakers said, and as for immigrants there were too many who could not read or write English and their foreign-language newspaper should not be permitted circulation.
The complete failure of the compulsory education program, which required immigrants who could not read or write English at the fifth-grade level to pay a ten-dollar registration fee and begin classes, was acknowledged. Only thirty-five aliens registered and paid the fee. These were mostly Japanese. The other aliens were either belligerent or made sport of the program. The trouble between natives and aliens was heightening each day.
In the summer of 1924, the national pre-election campaigns recognized the existence of the Ku Klux Klan. In Utah the Democratic plank, fathered by James H. Waters, state chairman, took a stand against the Klan. But all over the United States the Klan candidates more often won, and in Idaho the Democrats adopted a Klan plank. The activities of the Klan with their burning, flogging, and intimidation was daily news.
At the end of August the Klan made its first public appearance in Helper,
FIERY CROSS BURNED
Ku Klux makes demonstration at Helper Saturday evening. Carbon County has a Ku Klux Klan and no mistake about it. Up at Helper last Saturday evening the first intimation of the hooded order in this portion of the state came about. Just after dark—or to be more exact about 8 o'clock—a fiery cross of red was burned on the hill at the south end of the D. and R. G. W. railroad yards. It was about 10 by 15 feet. A few minutes previously three to four automobiles came down the main street of that town from the direction of Castle Gate. One of these cars attracted some attention—it being far in the lead'—because of what appeared to be a torch of red carried by the occupant in the rear seat. This was noised about, crowds gathered along the sidewalks and inside a few minutes the red fire appeared. It burned for some 20 minutes. When the "fireworks" were over those who had stopped their cars at the crossing of the railroad that takes off onto the concrete highway climbed into their machines and went back in the direction from whence they came. "Quiet as mice," as it were. A representative from The Sun witnessed the episode from a car and passed on the paved road within two-hundred feet of those who gathered about the machines. However, his curiosity did not impel him to make an inquiry.
Helper, with its thirty-two different nationalities, was the center of the Klan activity. In Price and in the coal camps incidents were minor and were directed against business houses. But in Helper the entire populace was involved in the intensity of the Klan's demonstrations. The writer remembers, as a child in Helper, the burning of the Klan's cross on a mountainside at night and across the narrow valley on another mountain slope the Catholic's warning in the form of a flaming circle. Hooded men had been seen in the vicinity of the Mormon Church situated at the side of the railroad yards and the immigrants believed that the Mormons were their robed enemies. The Irish-Catholic railroad men set themselves apart from their fellow workmen and joined the "immigrants" against the unseen enemy. The immigrants armed themselves and warily attended to their work in the pretense that nothing was wrong, yet insiduous gossip had revealed many of the Klan's names to them.
The Klan filed papers of incorporation in Salt Lake City asking the right to establish branches throughout the counties of the state. But by this time the Klan was falling into disrepute through its fanaticism and its undemocratic secrecy. The resistance, too, of the aliens and the Catholics was strong and before the year was out the Klan was forced underground.
An entire generation of children of Greek parentage was growing up with these events indelibly stamped on them. They went to "American" school and afterwards to Greek school. They took in the mistrust and dislike of the "Americans" from their parents. They did not know where their loyalties lay. The writer recalls two school friends who were taken to the principal's office for a few strokes of the rubber hose because they would not salute the American flag. The teacher was exasperated at their explanation that they thought they should only salute their own flag, the Greek flag.
The mutual wariness remained, but did not again take overt expression. By 1925, the newspaper reports were objective towards all aliens; the word "Greek" in characterizing a man seldom appeared; wool pools run by Greek sheepmen were keeping stride with the fabulous prosperity of the twenties; few of the Greeks remained as laborers; the majority became businessmen with rapid naturalization. Symbolic of the entire period of change, reflecting, too, the irrationality of human nature, was the sadistic lynching of a negro in slow stages. One of his abductors was a Greek.
The rest of the twenties continued with the prosperity and abandon that has become part of the history and literature of America. The Greek element added to it with a breach of promise suit instituted by a Greek language teacher against the priest of the time. After a heated court trial in the Salt Lake City courts, the priest was found guilty and his ministerial duties were revoked for a time by the archbishop. However, the church in Price split into two factions over the verdict. One side believed that the priest was not guilty. As a result the church was closed for almost two years with the one faction adhering to the priest and the other holding services in rented buildings with priests brought on a temporary basis.
The church records were burned at this time and it was not until Artemios Stamatiades came that peace was restored. He left after a year's service for Salt Lake City and is now patriarchal deputy of the Church of Natividad in Bethlehem.
Towards the end of the decade two nationalistic organizations that had chapters in most cities of the United States were organized and became rivals for membership and leadership in Greek colony affairs. They were the American-Hellenic-Educational-Progressive-Association and the Greek-American-Progressive-Association. Later the Cretans formed the Minos Society and the Roumelioti the Athanasios Diakos Society.
Through the dreary depression that followed, in which the closing of the mines affected every resident of Carbon County, these Greek organizations defied the bleakness of the times with excursions to Scofield and Mud Springs; celebrations in the church basement with native dancing and singing; Greek plays, mostly depicting the treachery of the Turks during the revolution of the 1820's; and help for the sick and destitute.
Many Greeks, mostly Cretans, left for other parts of the country. This migration went on through World War II, in which 125 soldiers of Greek parentage served during the war and 7 were killed. The migration has continued until the present with the church serving approximately fourteen hundred persons of Greek extraction, the lowest number since the days when the mines drew them westward.
Fifty years of Greek history in Carbon County has made its cycle. It began with young men without families, nurtured on the toil of the pick and shovel, who called the coffeehouse their home. The black-robed priest was their symbol. It ends with a young, American-born priest, whose congregation numbers many third-generation Americans of Greek heritage.
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