Honcharenko, Ahapii

Image - Ahapii Honcharenko

Honcharenko, Ahapii [Гончаренко, Агапій; Hončarenko, Ahapij; real name: Гумницький, Андрій; Humnytsky, Andrii], b 31 August 1832 in Kryvyn, Skvyra county, Kyiv gubernia, d 5 May 1916 in Hayward, Alameda county, California, USA. Orthodox priest, publicist, and first Ukrainian political émigré to the United States of America. A descendant of a Cossack family, he graduated from the Kyiv Theological Academy and entered the Kyivan Cave Monastery. Sent to Athens, Greece, in 1857 to serve as deacon at the embassy’s church, he began to contribute articles to Aleksandr Herzen’s Kolokol. He was discovered and arrested in 1860, but escaped and traveled extensively before immigrating to the United States in 1865. A subsidy from the federal government enabled Honcharenko to establish in San Francisco a semimonthly (eventually a semiweekly) newspaper—the Alaska Herald, with a Russian- and Ukrainian-language supplement Svoboda—aimed at the inhabitants of recently purchased Alaska. He published the paper single-handedly from 1868 to 1872, glorifying the Ukrainian Cossacks, popularizing Taras Shevchenko’s poems, defending democracy, individual freedom, and private initiative, and attacking Russian autocracy and imperialism, the conservatism and corruption of the Russian Orthodox church, and capitalist monopolies. He also prepared the Russo-English Phrase Book (1868) for American soldiers serving in Alaska. He retired to a farm in Hayward that he named ‘Ukraina ranch.’ There in the early 1900s a group of Ukrainian immigrants from Canada and Galicia organized a short-lived commune called the Ukrainian Brotherhood. Mykhailo Pavlyk corresponded with Honcharenko and published his Spomynky (Recollections, 1894) in Kolomyia.

Luciw, W.; Luciw, T. Ahapius Honcharenko and the Alaska Herald (Toronto 1963)
Luciw, T. Father Agapius Honcharenko: First Ukrainian Priest in America (New York 1970)

Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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