By the early 20th century, Stark County was one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation. The home of martyred president William McKinley had become a major industrial center, with alloy steel as the engine of growth for the booming local economy. To fill the ever-increasing demand for labor, waves of immigrants from Greece and Asia Minor settled in Canton and Massillon. Some sought economic opportunity; others were fleeing the Pontian Black Sea coast, where ethnic cleansing of Greeks accompanied the creation of the Turkish state. For the immigrant earning less than $3 a day, building a church meant making a commitment to a new life. In Canton, St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church was founded in 1913 and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in 1917. In Massillon, St. George Greek Orthodox Church was established in 1931. Churches and mutual aid organizations provided cohesiveness to the dynamic, often fractious, Greek community, which survived world wars, economic depression, and social discrimination and continues to flourish today.
Author Bio: William H. Samonides, a descendant of Greek immigrants, was born in Canton. He and his wife, Regine Johnson Samonides, are recording oral histories and documenting the development of the Greek community at private collections, museums, and archives across the country.
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