Pennsylvania Slovak Union (PSJ)

Heilwood PSJ lodge letterhead

Heilwood PSJ hat

Heilwood PSJ#135 hat

PSJ membership booklet

PSJ membership booklet

In June 1893, the Pennsylvania Slovak Roman and Greek Catholic Union was formed in Pittston, Pennsylvania. Better known as the PSJ (Pennsilvanska Slovenska Jednota / Slovak), it was formed from necessity.

The early mining industry had no protections for the employees in the event of either injury or death. Families were on their own, and in some cases were evicted from their homes if the head of the family was injured or killed in the mines.

PSJ Heilwood Lodge Seal

Heilwood PSJ Lodge 135 Seal

For a nominal fee, the PSJ offered the mining families some financial compensation for injuries and in extreme cases, a death benefit. In addition to the monetary benefits, the members would meet periodically in member homes to discuss problems and issues, both local and back in their home countries, in their native languages.

In Heilwood, the PSJ Lodge was the St. John the Baptist Lodge #135. Although information is very limited, records indicate that in 1939, the officers for the Heilwood Lodge were: George Salley-President; Ludvik Drahnak-Accountant; Michael Drapko-Treasurer; John Babyak Jr.-Secretary. Meetings were held every other Sunday at the Drahnak home.