BY SHERI TRUSTY
The Carpatho-Russian immigrants who constructed Holy Assumption Orthodox Church in the Village of Marblehead were mainly poor laborers who earned mere pennies a day working in local quarries. Although their daily life was hard, their faith was strong, and the legacy of their hard work and religious passion was honored with the dedication of an Ohio Historical Marker during a public ceremony on Saturday.
The “Holy Assumption Orthodox Church and County Immigrants” marker became Ottawa County’s 21st Ohio Historical Marker. Holy Assumption, which was constructed from 1905 to 1906, is the oldest Orthodox church building in Ohio.
The marker also honors the longstanding ecumenical faith community in Ottawa County, including St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the immigrants who built congregations, constructed churches and passed their faith from generation to generation.
“The two churches are representative of the great diversity of the county,” said Holy Assumption Orthodox Church Archpriest John Adamcio.
The dedication ceremony was led by Adamcio and Ottawa County Historical Society President Patrick Lawrence O’Keeffe. Garin Veris of the Ohio History Connection presented several commendations, including a commendation that honored Ottawa County Historical Society Secretary Linda Huber for spearheading the historical marker project. Marblehead Mayor Jacqueline Bird presented a proclamation from the village, church member Ron Royhab talked about the impact of the church’s long history, and Kristina Smith shared the history of St. John Lutheran Church.
After the unveiling of the marker, Adamcio gave a tour of the church and shared stories of the church’s deep historical connections to Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia who provided funds for the church’s construction and sent icons that still adorn the church walls today. He explained the doctrine of Russian Orthodoxy and the significance of icons within the church.
The marker now stands as a testament to the people who built the church and shaped the character of Ottawa County with their unique culture and customs.
“History reminds us that we are the sons and daughters of immigrants who came here to find a better life for their children and their children’s children.”