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STATE PARK UKRAINA in HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA

On Saturday, May 15, 1999 a very important event, which was eagerly awaited by the Ukrainian Community since 1966, finally took place in Hayward, California. This was the official dedication of State Park Ukraina on the homestead of father Agapius Honcharenko and his wife Albina. It was not easy for Ukrainian activists and organizations to have this beautiful land on the Pacific coast recognized as CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK No. 1025. Opening the Plaque A stone monument at the entrance bears a bronze plague which reads: "Ukraina" is the site of the farm and burial place of the Ukrainian patriot and exile Orthodox priest Agapius Honcharenko (1832-1916) and his wife Albina. Honcharenko was the first nationally conscious Ukrainian to arrive in the United States. He published the first American newspaper in Russian and Ukrainian languages The Alaska Herald from 1868 to 1872. He wrote the first book for the educational use of native Alaskans. After moving here from San Francisco in 1873, he continued to publish political literature, which was smuggled into czarist Russia. Honcharenko was a prominent scholar, humanitarian, and early champion for human rights.

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Agapius Honcharenko, fighter for the purchase of Alaska, publisher, editor, writer for the cause of freedom. Yes, he was all of these... and more. Born in the province of Kyiv, Ukraine in 1832, Rev. Honcharenko, descendant of the famous Cossack leader, Ivan Bohun, had a turbulent career not only as a clergyman, but more particularly as a writer, exposing the in justice suffered by his persecuted Ukrainian countrymen. A world traveler, friend of leading political figures, it is factually documented that his efforts influenced the eventual purchase of Alaska by the U.S. Government on March 31 st, 1867, for the price of $7,200,000 from Russia. His ranch in the hills of Hayward, some 26 miles from San Francisco, was called Ukraina - a haven for the Cossack spirit Rev. Honcharenko brought to North America. A determined, motivated man of vision, he believed strongly in the ideas of freedom, and dignity of man, so inherent in the very concept upon which the American nation was built. The Plaque He was editor and publisher of the first newspaper for Alaska, making public the fact, that at the time of the Alaska purchase the population consisted of thousands of ancestors of Zaporozhian Cossacks whom Caterine II exiled to Siberia in 1775. He reported the presence of gold in the land of icebergs some 30 years before the great Klondike Rush. An American Liberty Ship bore the name, Honcharenko with pride. Even today in the field of agriculture, we read of the Honcharenko grape. The name of Agapius Honcharenko is noted on the pages of American history as that man of Ukraine, who played a vital role in the growth of the American nation.

Efforts to have this project realized began in 1966 at the meeting of the Ukrainian Coordinating Committee in San Francisco. Edward Tscherepenko, P. Mysko (now deceased), Michael Car, representing the UCC, and Yuriy Oliynyk, representing the Ukrainian Heritage Club of Northern California, continued to petition the Board of Directors of the East Bay Regional Park District to approve the Honcharenko site as a historic landmark. Certain individuals of Russian descent managed to block these efforts for many years. The Grave of Honcharenko and his wife Albina

At the last meeting, the commission heard depositions by Danylo Horodysky and Michael Car and finally approved the petition. The American Post Office had previously registered the address of father Agapius Honcharenko as Hayward, Ukraina, CA. The Ukrainian Honcharenko Committee consisted of Michael Car, Yuriy Oliynyk, Tamara Horodysky, Oksana Di Ricco and Maria Iskiw.

Over 400 guests arrived for the dedication on this beautiful morning May 15, 1999. Carol Severin, director of the East Bay Park District, was the master of ceremonies. Among the guests were the priests of Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic parishes from Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Red Wood Valley Monastery, and bishop Constantine from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Public

The program consisted of the Ukrainian Brass Band from the Pentecostal Church in Sacramento, CA, Alexander Zhuravel, director, The Ukrainian Bandura Ensemble of Northern California, Ola Herasymenko-Oliynyk, director, and the Ukrainian Dance Ensemble Mriya from Sacramento, Halyna Lorchak, director. Bandurist Alina Ilchuk and mezzo soprano Maria Tcherepenko offered solo numbers. The main speaker was Dr. Yaroslaw Balan from the University of Edmonton, Canada. After the program the guests walked over to the grave site of Father Agapius and Albina Honcharenko, where the clergy held a joint religious service. The public was enchanted by the Ukrainian national costumes, the bandura, the music, and the breathtaking beauty of the mountain site with a view of the Pacific Coast.

We hope that the Ukrainian organizations will use the park for various outdoor festivities. Efforts are being made to have one of the access roads named after Agapius Honcharenko. The US Post Office is also urged to issue a commemorative stamp honoring Father Agapius Honcharenko.

Bandura Ensemble of Northern California
Bandura Ensemble of Northern California,
from left to right: Ola Herasymenko (director), Alina Ilchuk, Yarema Hryciw, Olya Drofyak and Anna Kukharets.

Dance Ensemble
Dance Ensemle "Mriya" from Ukrainian Heritage Club of Northern California,
director Halyna Lorchak

Maria Tcherenenko - mezzo soprano
Maria Tcherepenko sings excerpts from the Ukrainian opera "Kozaks Beyond The Danube."


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