Ohio History Journal

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The immigrant's church has been the strongest single force

in preserving his racial solidarity. Like the Pilgrim fathers, the

immigrants brought with them their Bibles, hymn books, clergy,

and churches. These churches were strongly attached to the

homeland, depending upon it for literature and clergy. Political

and social antagonisms have been aroused among native Ameri-

cans, and the immigrant's religious life has been complicated by

church disputes arising over property and the clergy. In 1914 it

was estimated that one-third of Cleveland was Roman Catholic,

and that most of the members of this church were immigrants.1

The readjustment necessary with the introduction of this ele-

ment into a city of Puritan origin was considerable. The problem

of the Roman Catholic Church in trying to supply clergy for the

various groups was difficult for a time, and this caused trouble in

the church itself. An Italian priest in a Polish parish was often

a source of dissatisfaction to the parish. Another aspect of this

problem was that the peasant immigrant did not understand the

American separation of church and state. When the priest so-

licited funds for the church, the immigrant thought it wrong.

In the fatherland the government had paid the priests, and they

seemed unable to understand that a different system prevailed in

America.2   In 1896 there were twenty-two non-English speaking

Roman Catholic churches in Cleveland representing nine different

immigrant groups.3 In 1915 there were thirty-five Roman Catho-

lic non-English speaking congregations in Cleveland and seventy


* This is the third of a series of articles by Mr. Fordyce on the nationality groups

of Cleveland. The former were published in the Quarterly for October, 1936, and

April, 1937.--Editor.

1 E. A. Ross, The Old World in the New (New York, 1914), 252.

2 Peter Roberts, The New Immigration (New York, 1920), 207.

3 E. A. Roberts, ed., Official Report of the Centennial Celebration of the City of

Cleveland and the Settlement of the Western Reserve (Cleveland, 1896), 197.