Posts tagged 1891
In the comments section of an old article I wrote on the first Orthodox parishes in each US state, Isa Almisry and I have recently had an interesting exchange about an Old Catholic parish in Wisconsin which discussed joining (and possibly did briefly join) the Russian Orthodox Church in 1891-92. This story involves Joseph Rene Vilatte, a former Roman Catholic priest who went on to become a prolific vagante bishop and who would reappear in American Orthodox history over the coming decades.
I don’t really have the expertise to outline the history of the Old Catholic movement, but suffice it to say that, in the latter half of the 19th century (and especially after the first Vatican Council in 1870, which promulgated the dogma of papal infallibility), a number of Roman Catholics broke away from their church.
Joseph Rene Vilatte was born in Paris in 1854. Originally, he was a Roman Catholic, but he became the quintessential religious chameleon as an adult. In the 1880s he came to the United States, where he served as a Presbyterian missionary in a Belgian Old Catholic community in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While there, he made contact with local Episcopal Bishop John Brown of Fond du Lac, who in turn recommended to the Old Catholic Bishop Edward Herzog of Bern, Switzerland that Vilatte be ordained a priest. This took place in 1886.
Soon, Bishop Brown died, and the new Episcopal bishop of Fond du Lac, Charles Grafton (the future friend of St. Tikhon), did not see eye to eye with Vilatte. Forced to make a choice between Episcopalianism and Old Catholicism, Vilatte chose the latter, and he tried to have himself consecrated a bishop in the Old Catholic Church. The church authorities in Europe declined. This is where our story begins. [Incidentally, this preliminary information on Vilatte comes from Theodore Natsoulas, "Patriarch McGuire and the Spread of the African Orthodox Church to Africa, Journal of Religion in Africa 12:2 (1981), 81-104. This is one of the only scholarly sources which discusses Vilatte at any length.]
Vilatte wanted to be consecrated a bishop, and he wanted as much autonomy as possible. That is the first thing to understand. In the paper cited above, Theodore Natsoulas says that the Old Catholics turned down Vilatte because he was “unpredictable,” and they did not want him to be their sole representative in America. Here is how Natsoulas describes what happened next:
[Vilatte's] attempts to be raised to the episcopate included approaches to the Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in America and to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Green Bay. Both turned him down, although Vladimir, the Russian Bishop, in order to incorporate the Old Catholics within his fold, did extend some form of recognition and protection to Vilatte and the Old Catholic Church. Vladimir and Vilatte, however, could not arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement.
It all began when Vilatte traveled to San Francisco to meet with Bishop Vladimir, sometime in 1890 or early 1891. Interestingly, this coincided almost precisely with the visit of a delegation of Uniates from St. Alexis Toth’s parish in Minneapolis. It must have been amazing for Bishop Vladimir, sitting there in San Francisco, to receive near-simultaneous unsolicited visits from two Upper Midwest groups connected to Roman Catholicism and seeking reception into the Orthodox Church.
Bishop Vladimir traveled to Minneapolis in March of 1891 and formally received the Minneapolis parish into Orthodoxy. After that historic visit, Vladimir passed through Chicago, which had a sizeable Orthodox community which was determined to remain independent of the controversial Bishop Vladimir. He left Chicago on April 10, and by April 11 he was in Green Bay. The Milwaukee Sentinel reported the next day that Vladimir came for the purpose of visiting Vilatte and his Old Catholic parish in nearby Dyckesville. The Russian bishop “expressed great sympathy with [Vilatte's] work, and it is stated that he was agreeably surprised to find that the doctrinal basis of the Old Catholics at this place, and that of his own large church of 100,000,000 souls were precisely identical.”
But what, exactly, was the relationship between the Russian Diocese and the Old Catholics in Wisconsin? According to a web-published biography of Vilatte by Bertil Persson (the reliability of which is unclear), Vilatte had originally visited Bishop Vladimir in San Francisco in January 1891, at which time Vladimir “approached The Holy Synod of The Russian Orthodox Church suggesting that Vilatte should be consecrated.” I don’t doubt that Bishop Vladimir notified the Holy Synod of Vilatte’s visit, but I cannot believe that he actually suggested that the Russian Church consecrate the man.
Also according to the Persson biography, after visiting Vilatte’s parish in April, Bishop Vladimir issued the following certificate:
CERTIFICATE. The Russian Ecclesiastical Consistory of Alaska, San Francisco, Cal: May 9, 1891. By the Grace of God and the Authority bestowed on me by the Apostolic Succession, I, VLADIMIR, Bishop of the Orthodox Catholic Church, announce to all clergymen of the different Christian denominations and to all Old Catholics that The Reverend Joseph René Vilatte, Superior of the Old Catholic Parish in Dyckesville, Wisc:, is now a true Old Catholic Orthodox Christian, under the patronage of our Church, and no Bishop or Priest of any denomination has the right to interdict him or to suspend his religious duties, except the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, and myself. Any action contrary to this declaration, is null and void on the basis of liberty of conscience and the law of this country. ‡VLADIMIR, Bishop of the Greco-Russian Orthodox Ch.
I have no idea whether this document is authentic or not, and unfortunately, Persson only reprinted the text, so we can’t examine the letterhead or Bishop Vladimir’s signature.
Anyway, Bishop Vladimir was recalled to Russia soon after all this, in the wake of a series of scandals in his San Francisco cathedral. His replacement, Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, visited the Wisconsin Old Catholics in May 1892. According to Dom Augustine de Angelis in the Fond Du Lac Reporter (quoted in the Milwaukee Sentinel, 5/16/1892), “Bishop Nicholas, head of the Greek church in America, visited the Old Catholic mission at Dyckesville, last Monday. He has been in America only a month and a half, but has already made his episcopal visitation of the Orthodox and Old Catholic churches, preparatory to his annual visitation of the vast region of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. [...] His first impressions of America and Americans are very favorable, and he sympathizes with us in our hopes of seeing an Orthodox American church, in which mass shall be said in English, French, German, etc., until all have become so American that English shall be the common tongue of all…”
But the parish priest, Vilatte, wasn’t there. He was in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), awaiting his long-sought consecration to the episcopate. He had found a taker in the ancient Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the non-Chalcedonian church in India. Vilatte never seems to have considered himself to be a Malankara Syrian Orthodox; he was interested in their apostolic succession, not their actual Church. (As Theodore Natsoulas puts it, “Vilatte’s commitment to the [Malankara] Church of Antioch, or, in fact, to any other religious organization, never was very deep.”) He returned to Dyckesville in August, and on September 11, the New York Times reported that Vilatte had created the American Catholic Church. Needless to say, any connection he might have had with the Russian Diocese of the Aleutian Islands was dead by this point.
Vilatte went on to an exceedingly colorful career as a vagante bishop, and many little Old Catholic and pseudo-Orthodox groups have websites claiming “apostolic succession” through him. More importantly for our purposes, Vilatte remained in occasional contact with Orthodoxy. Robert Josias Morgan — soon to become Fr. Raphael, the first black Orthodox priest in America — was briefly a deacon in Vilatte’s church in the early 1900s. And many years later, in 1921, Vilatte consecrated George Alexander McGuire, who immediately formed the “African Orthodox Church.”
Was Vilatte’s Old Catholic parish once a part of the Russian Orthodox Church? Even if we assume that the purported certificate from Bishop Vladimir is authentic, I’m really not sure. Bishop Vladimir may have viewed St. Alexis Toth and Joseph Rene Vilatte as parallel church leaders, and he may have imagined that, just as Toth began a flood of Uniate conversions to Orthodoxy, so too Vilatte would be the first of thousands of Old Catholics to join the Russian Mission. But from Vilatte’s perspective, this whole idea would have been laughable. He was, it seems, utterly committed to becoming a vagante bishop. He wanted a mechanical, legalistic “apostolic succession,” and then he wanted to be left to his own devices. There is simply no way that he, or his Wisconsin parish, could have been effectively incorporated into the Russian Mission.
Much of this story remains a mystery, but at this juncture, I am most struck by the contrast between Toth and Vilatte, both of whom, in their own very different ways, made substantial impacts on the religious life of the United States in the decades that followed.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Back in September, I discussed the incredible story of Rev. A.N. Experidon, better known as “The Bulgarian Monk.” (Click here for the podcast, and here for the OH.org articles.) To briefly recap, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story: “The Bulgarian Monk” was the stage name of Fr. Experidon, who claimed to be a Bulgarian monk from Jerusalem. He was in America from the 1870s until his apparent death in the early 1890s. He was an amazing character, traveling all over the United States and giving lectures on street corners and in small-town opera houses. He befriended many politicians of his day, tried to convert Brigham Young to Orthodoxy, and probably drowned in Idaho around 1891 or so.
Shortly before his death, Experidon met Ethelbert Talbot, who was, at the time, the Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming and Idaho. (By sheer coincidence, many years later, Talbot was the bishop who deposed Rev. Ingram Irvine, leading to Irvine’s conversion to Orthodoxy.) Anyway, in his memoirs (My People of the Plains, published in 1906), Talbot wrote about his encounter with the wild Bulgarian Monk:
It was at this latter place [the mining camp of Bay Horse, Idaho] that I met for the first and only time a strange, wild man of the mountains, who was spoken of as the “Bulgarian monk.” He carried a gun, and was followed by a dog. Occasionally he would descend from the hills, where he led a solitary life in the woods, to a mining-camp, and preach the Gospel to those who were attracted by his weird appearance and mysterious personality. He affected the conventional dress and bearing of the apostles, and seemed to consider himself a sort of modern John the Baptist. By the more superstitious and impressionable he was regarded with much awe and wonder; by others, and especially the young, he was greatly feared, and mothers would conjure with his name in keeping their children in the path of obedience. Whence he came and whither he went, no one knew. His movements were enshrouded in mystery. I tried to engage him in conversation and elicit from him some information as to his life and purpose. But my efforts were unavailing. As the weather grew cold in the autumn he would disappear, not to be seen again until the winter had passed and the snow had melted in the mountains. Then with his rifle and faithful dog he would once more be seen in the woods. Whenever he condescended to come to a settlement, it was only for a brief hour, to deliver his message or warning, and then disappear. He repelled all attempts to draw him into conversation, nor would he accept hospitality or kindness from any one. He suddenly ceased to make annual visits, and no one seemed to be able to solve the enigma of his life. On the occasion of my seeing him at Bay Horse he was just leaving that place, and I can vividly recall his curiously clad retreating figure, as he climbed the mountain and disappeared among the pines.
Note in particular this sentence: “By the more superstitious and impressionable he was regarded with much awe and wonder; by others, and especially the young, he was greatly feared, and mothers would conjure with his name in keeping their children in the path of obedience.”
In the 1990s, various ghost story books began to include legends of “the Bulgarian Monk” ghost. The first reference I’ve seen is from Deborah L. Downer’s 1990 book, Great American Ghost Stories. In 1995, the fullest story appeared, in Historic Haunted America, by Michael Norman and Beth Scott. Here is what they have to say about the Bulgarian Monk:
Every community has its own eccentric character – an oddly dressed or reclusive man or woman, seeking no meaningful friendships, yet amiable enough when spoken to.
In Bayhorse, Idaho, the recluse was known by all as the “Bulgarian Monk of the Church of Jerusalem.” Some said the monk had no ecclesiastical credentials because he never saved anyone from sin. But that scarcely mattered. He did look somewhat churchly, a young man, tall and lean with a long, black cloak flapping about his ankles and a red fez perched atop his head. He claimed to speak thirty-two languages and said he’d been a guide for Mark Twain in the Holy Land. All quite credible in nineteenth-century Idaho.
Two weary horses and a scrawny dog accompanied the monk as he wandered from one mining camp to another along the Salmon River. He never caused any trouble and if his strange appearance brought a comment from a newcomer to the area, the old-timers would say, “Oh, he’s a harmless coot. Just part of the scenery.” And they always said it with respect, for they both admired and sometimes feared this “missionary man” who lived among them. What proselytizing he did came in tolerable doses.
Rumor had it that the monk had a tiny cabin somewhere in the woods and that he was hospitable enough to the few lost travelers who stumbled to his door. He always left provisions for the taking.
The monk fished and hunted, his scarlet cap warning other hunters of his presence in the wilderness. Although generally he was uneasy with adults, children loved him. They came running from all directions when he stopped by the village store for supplies. It was as if they knew he was coming before they ever saw him. The smaller children thought he was so tall because he probably walked on stilts. At other times he would sprint down the road chasing after the children, the sides of his cloak flapping like giant wings, gales of laughter greeting the startled passersby. Of course, he never caught them, for that would spoil the game. He would always fall flat on his face and cry and beat the ground, as if in great suffering.
In the harsh winter of 1890, shortly before Idaho became a state, the Bulgarian Monk vanished. A blizzard blew for endless days, the temperature dropped, and ice-crusted snow made it dangerous for search parties looking for stranded prospectors and families. Avalanches killed many miners, and trains between Shoshone and Ketchum were snowbound for days. Livestock and wild game starved.
And when the storm abated, people started reappearing, searching for family and friends. The old mining town of Galena had been hardest hit, but many had escaped in time.
And where was the monk? Some said he was in Bellevue, Idaho. He wasn’t. Another said he’d seen him in Shoshone. He wasn’t there either. Children sobbed, fearing their friend had died in an avalanche.
In fact, the Monk had been at Galena when the storm struck and he stayed on, camping on Titus Creek. But when the storm grew, he knew he’d have to get over Galena Summit to the safety of the mining camps on the Salmon River. He made snowshoes for his horses and for himself and, carrying the little dog through waist-high drifts, reached safety. He said in all the thirty-two languages he knew that he had “never traveled faster than 100 miles per hour.”
In February 1891, the rains came. Roofs weakened by the weight of snow now collapsed under tons of water. Legend has it that in one section of Hailey Hot Springs people burned a whole block of shanties just trying to keep warm.
Meanwhile, a few miles outside Bayhorse, the Bulgarian Monk set about repairing his remarkably undamaged cabin. Some slabs of siding were gone and the roof had sprung a few leaks. He left for Bayhorse and the supplies he would need. At the village limits, he heard the running and the laughing of youngsters, and his heart quickened. He’d give them a good race this time. But, as he leaped over a boulder, he lost his balance and fell into the rain-swollen river. Pieces of his robe were found later tangled in some brush near the riverbank. The children wept and their parents mourned their lost apostle.
Yet two weeks later a visitor arrived in Bayhorse and was shocked by reporters of the Monk’s death. On the day of the supposed drowning, the stranger said, the monk was twenty-five miles away, playing with the children at Yankee Fork, Idaho.
Could the monk have been in two places at once? Not likely. But soon riders traveling the areas of Bayhorse, Bonanza, and Yankee Fork told of seeing a black-robed figure pacing the riverbanks. He held a lantern high in his hand, but always vanished at the approach of a rider.
Was it the Bulgarian Monk searching for his mortal remains? The questions still provide plenty of speculation around campfires in the Sawtooth National Forest.
In the 2005 book Weird U.S., the authors say that the Bulgarian Monk was “a strange young man” who “was actually no monk at all, but locals took to calling him that because of his odd choice in garb. He wore hooded burlap robes that he tied off at the waist.” They tell the same basic story — the Bulgarian Monk drowned, and then turned into a ghost.
None of the ghost story writers are aware of Fr. Experidon, as an historical figure. From those stories, you get the sense that this Bulgarian Monk was a crazy young man from Idaho, not a well-traveled lecturer and raconteur in his sixties. Of course, it’s not like these ghost story writers are historians, concerned with factual details. I actually emailed Michael Norman (coauthor of Historic Haunted America) awhile back, and he couldn’t provide me with any sources for the above story.
It’s pretty easy to see how these ghost stories would develop, though. Bishop Ethelbert Talbot said that “mothers would conjure with his name in keeping their children in the path of obedience” — Don’t make me call the Bulgarian Monk! The children who grew up in the 1880s and early 1890s would have known him personally, as a strange and frightening figure. Given this hold he apparently had on the imaginations of the locals, it’s not surprising that kids would tell campfire stories about him after his death. This would be especially likely if, as the stories say, his body was never found.
The Bulgarian Monk is not a ghost, haunting a remote region in Idaho. That said, his last known residence — Bayhorse, Idaho — is now a ghost town. Just last year, it became part of a state park, and it’s now open to the public.
According to some sources, Archimandrite Kallinikos Kanellas was the first ethnic Greek priest to serve in America. And those sources may be right, depending on your definition of “Greek.” The only other candidates would be from the Greek church in New Orleans. Fr. Stephen Andreades was the priest in the late 1860s, and Fr. Gregory Yayas served there from 1872-74; considering their names, both were almost certainly Greeks of one sort or another. Archimandrite Misael Karydis (or Kalitski) was the priest from 1881-1901, but he was reportedly from Bulgaria. In any event, Kanellas was one of the very first Greek priests in America.
I don’t know anything about Kanellas’ early life. I do know that, before he came to the United States, Kanellas had spent some time in India. From 1880 to 1886, he was the rector of the Greek church in Calcutta (the origins of which dated to the 1700s; see this fascinating history for more information). He first shows up in the US in 1889, as one of the priests of the Russian cathedral in San Francisco. He seems to be the first of several non-Russian priests brought over to America to serve in the Russian Diocese — “client clergy,” as Fr. John Erickson has called them. Soon, he would be followed by people like Fr. Ambrose Vretta, Fr. Theoklytos Triantafilides, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich, Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny, and Fr. Michael Andreades. But Kanellas seems to have been the original.
I’m not sure what Kanellas was doing from 1886 to 1889, but I suspect he might have been in Russia. This would explain his connection to the Russian Diocese in America.
Kanellas appears to have been trusted by Bishop Vladimir Sokolovsky, who appointed him to serve on the Alaskan Spiritual Consistory, the group of clergy which ran many of the day-to-day affairs of the diocese. He was particularly useful in ministering to ethnic Greeks. In 1891, he made a cross-country missionary trip. He stopped in Savannah, Georgia, and baptized a Greek child. The Columbus Enquirer-Sun (6/24/1891) reported that the child’s father spent $650, which presumably included transportation and lodging costs. The paper said that the amount “includes a handsome fee.” $650 seems outrageous, though. I checked an online inflation calculator, and it estimated that $650 in 1891 is equivalent to over $15,000 in 2008.
From Savannah, Kanellas went to New York City, where he baptized the daughter of Anthony Ralli (who was possibly connected with the well-known Ralli Brothers merchant firm). The New York Sun (6/26/1891) said that Kanellas had a “patriarchal beard and jewelled gown.” According to one account, he actually had to bring his own baptismal font — can you imagine taking one of those on a train?
I’ve seen some references to Kanellas having served in Chicago. That’s a bit of a puzzler… In July 1891, the Chicago Inter Ocean (7/11/1891) reported that a certain Archimandrite Lininas, “who presides over a temple in San Francisco,” was visiting Chicago and holding services for the Orthodox there. I haven’t been able to find evidence of this Fr. Lininas being in San Francisco, and it’s very possible that this was actually Kanellas, on his way back from New York to California. However, the Inter Ocean says that Fr. Lininas “is a finely educated gentleman, speaking German, Russian, and French fluently, but his English is best understood through an interpreter.” So according to the paper, he didn’t speak Greek (which, if true, means he wasn’t Kanellas).
In 1892, amid much turmoil and scandal, Bp Vladimir was recalled to Russia and replaced with Bishop Nicholas Ziorov. On July 1 (June 19 Old Style), the members of the Spiritual Consistory (of which Kanellas was apparently no longer a member) wrote to the new bishop,
Today, the Archimandrite Kallinikos was informed that he has to leave the Mission as of July 1. He replied that he has nowhere to go. In accordance with Your Grace’s will, we deemed it was better to say nothing in reply: Your Grace has ordered not to drive him out.
Obviously, something was up, but I don’t know what. The 1893 San Francisco city directory doesn’t list Kanellas among the cathedral clergy, so he didn’t stick around much longer. And for the next 18 years, I can’t figure out he was. I’m pretty sure he stayed in America, and by at least 1911 (and probably earlier), he was pastor of the Greek church in Birmingham, Alabama. In the 1913 book Greeks in America, Thomas Burgess, writing about the Birmingham church, said,
Of its former pastor, says the “Greek-American Guide,” “The Rev. Arch. Kallinikos Kanellas is a very sympathetic and reverend old man of whom it is possible to say that of the Greek clergy in America he is the most—shall we say ‘disinterested’? The Greek word is a dandy, (literally, ‘not loving of riches’). Plutarch used to use that word.
In 1913, Kanellas moved to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. He spent the rest of his life there. This is from Annunciation’s parish history:
Father Kallinikos Kanellas was brought to Little Rock on a permanent basis in 1913, and services were held in an upstairs meeting hall near 9th and Main Streets for the next eight years. This hall included a small chapel for Liturgies and Sacraments such as weddings, baptisms, etc., as well as a place for social gatherings. Incidentally, research indicates that Father Kanellas probably was the first Orthodox priest of Greek ancestry to come to the United States. When Father Kanellas became seriously ill, young Theo Polychron visited him daily, bringing soup from his little café. Father died in 1921 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery where most of the early Greek immigrants were also interred.
As you can see, Kanellas’ story has a lot of missing pieces. I suspect a lot of the gaps could be closed by a letter Kanellas wrote to Archbishop Meletios Metaxakis on March 16, 1918, in which he gave an account of his career in both the Russian Diocese and the Greek communities in America. That letter appears on page 333 of Paul Manolis’ History of the Greek Church in America in Acts and Documents… unfortunately, though, I can’t read Greek, so for now, I don’t know what the letter says. If any of you out there can read Greek and are interested in Kanellas, email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
Back in June, I did one of my first podcasts on an attempt, in 1888, to form a multiethnic parish in Chicago. Here are the basics:
By 1888, there were about a thousand Orthodox Christians living in Chicago, most of them Greeks and Serbs / Montenegrins. A few years earlier, they had organized themselves into an Orthodox society and petitioned the Church of Russia to send a priest and form a parish. There actually was no Russian bishop in America for much of the 1880s, so it wasn’t until Bishop Vladimir’s arrival in 1888 that the Chicago community got some attention from the hierarchy. In May, Vladimir wrote to the lay leaders in Chicago and asked them to call a meeting to determine just how many people were interested in starting a church, and just how much money they might be able to contribute. One of the highlights of the meeting was a speech by Greek leader George Brown, who said, “We will surprise the Americans. Let us stick like a brothers.” Bishop Vladimir himself came to Chicago in October, serving the first known Orthodox liturgy in the city, at No. 85 Fifth Avenue.
For some reason, despite the promise of the May 1888 meeting, no parish was formed. The reasons for this failure aren’t clear. A few years later, the Chicago Inter Ocean (7/11/1891) reported,
An effort was made some time ago to organize here to build a church or temple, as there are fully 2,000 of the faith residing here, but under the name of the Grecian Brotherhood Association it failed, as the Russians, Servians, and Slavonians would not come in under that title.
The Inter Ocean goes on to explain that, in June 1891 (so, three years after the initial meeting), a new organization was created, called the “Grecian, Slavonian, and Russian Orthodox Association.” This seems to have happened in conjunction with another visit by Bishop Vladimir to Chicago that spring. Hierarchical services were celebrated in Gazzolo’s Hall, at 82 West Madison Street. From the Chicago Tribune (6/1/1891):
Before the service a meeting had been held, at which it was decided to make application to the Holy Synod [...] for license to organize a church. The synod must consent to this before a church can organize. [...] There is little doubt that the license will be granted.
A nine-man committee was appointed to obtain the necessary signatures, and it wisely included three Russians, three Greeks, and three Serbs. Everyone hoped that the parish could be founded in time for the World’s Fair, which would be held in Chicago in 1893.
A couple months later, in July, an Archimandrite Lininas, from the Russian Cathedral in San Francisco, made a follow-up visit to Chicago. The aforementioned George Brown, one of the Greek leaders of the society, told a newspaper that the community had been promised a priest “as soon as they have erected a church.” I must say, it’s an odd approach, requiring the laity to construct a building before giving them a priest.
No building was erected, and no priest was sent. Throughout most of his episcopate in America, Bishop Vladimir was embroiled in a horrific scandal in San Francisco. Early on, his cathedral was burned to the ground (and some whispered that it was arson). Rumors swirled that funds had been embezzled. The accusations against Vladimir himself were the worst — he was charged by his detractors with sexually assaulting numerous young boys. To this day, it’s not clear whether these accusations were true or false.
More to the point of this story, the scandals in San Francisco had major ripple effects in Chicago. A Montenegrin named Gopchevich was one of the key players in the Chicago Orthodox community, and his brother happened to be one of Bishop Vladimir’s mortal enemies in San Francisco. In the fall of 1891, the Orthodox society met to discuss the crisis. From the Inter Ocean (11/2/1891):
Personal opinions vary. However, Bishop Vladimir had intended to establish the church here, but the local society has determined to remain entirely independent of Vladimir, and has sent a petition to the Russian Government and to the head of the Greek Church in Constantinople for a priest.
As it happened, Bishop Vladimir was on his way out, replaced by Bishop Nicholas Ziorov. In March of 1892, the new bishop and his entourage passed through Chicago on their way to San Francisco. Some of the leading Chicago Orthodox figures met with the group, and there was again talk of forming a multiethnic parish. But the very next month, Fr. Panagiotis Peter Phiambolis came to Chicago under the authority of Athens, and he founded a Greek church. The next month, Fr. Ambrose Vretta was sent by the Russian authorities to establish a Russian church.