Early Ukrainian immigrants in the Syracuse area came from Ukrainian lands occupied by Austro-Hungary and were known by different names from their origin of nationality, depending on what section of the country they came from. Raised in the culture of the occupying nation and educated in their schools, they knew very little about their own true history and the background of their own country and people.
The first Ukrainian immigrants to settle in the Syracuse area arrived during the years of 1885 and 1888 from a section of Austro-Hungary dominated by Hungarians and were raised and educated under the Hungarian influences and known here as Hungarian Rusyns, or Rusyny or Rusnacky. Some of these early immigrants called themselves Austrians because their immigration passports showed the country of origin as Austro-Hungary and nationality as Austrian.
The second group followed in the years of 1890-95, a much larger group from the part of Ukrainian lands known as Lemkivschyna, and were known as Lemkos.
Around 1900, a third group of Ukrainians started to arrive from the region called Eastern Galicia, or Halychna, or later known as Western Ukraine (Zahidna Ukraina). In this region, the Ukrainians had a chance for a better education in their own language in Ukrainian schools and they had a better knowledge of Ukrainian history.
Regardless of what section of Austro-Hungary they came from, these first Ukrainian immigrants had been forced to leave their native lands—not because it was poor but because the soil belonged to the rich landowners and not enough was left for the people to make a decent living. In the United States there was hope for greater economic opportunities as well as a chance to make the most of their abilities.
These early immigrants worked hard from early morning to late evening for low pay and under very hard conditions in the steel and wire mills, foundries, factories and the railroad as common laborers. Despite the various hardships that confronted them, they gradually forged ahead. With the first savings from their small earnings, the Ukrainian men (who often came to America alone) sent for their families. As the families became established and increased in the Syracuse area, they directed their thoughts to building a place of worship. After working in the factories or on the railroad for a few years, many of the early immigrants, bought farmlands and became farmers—something they were familiar with in the old country. Most of the farmlands purchased were situated in East Syracuse, Minoa, Mattydale, Camillus, Split Rock, Jamesville, and as far as Constantia and Cazenovia.