To many people, the sight of a sky aglow with flame, clouds of smoke, and the smell of sulfur in the air would bring thoughts of sermons about brimstone, fire, and punishment for a life of sin. But Slovak immigrants fleeing poverty in Europe saw a picture of hope and prosperity as they came to the Mahoning Valley of northeastern Ohio in response to the promise of jobs and good pay in the steel mills. These mills stretched in an almost unbroken chain from Warren, Ohio, through Youngstown and Campbell and on into Sharon and Farrell, Pennsylvania. From the 1870s, when the first Slovaks came to this area, to the present, there is no part of American life in which these Slovak Americans have not thrived while living the American Dream.
About the Author
Loretta Ekoniak, a grandchild of Slovak immigrants, grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. She is president of the American Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley and is deeply involved in keeping the Slovak heritage alive. Susan Summers grew up in Campbell, Ohio. Her work at the Youngstown Arms Museum and the Campbell Historic Society fueled interest in her Slovak heritage and influenced her decision to help maintain these Slovak memories.