by Pavel Ivanovich Biryukov
Following the Burning of Arms in 1895, the Doukhobors in Russia were severely persecuted by Tsarist authorities. Thousands were exiled to remote, unhealthy regions where many perished from famine, disease and exhaustion. Their situation became untenable. In March 1898, after several years of letter-writing campaigns, the Doukhobors gained permission to leave their homeland. In choosing a suitable place for settlement, they were guided and assisted by Leo Tolstoy, Russian and English Tolstoyans and the Society of Friends (Quakers) in England who gathered funds for their departure. After considering Texas, Turkistan and Manchuria, the Doukhobors finally selected the island of Cyprus, which was part of the British Empire at the time. Despite reports brought by Doukhobor scouts of poor soil and a hot climate, once the decision was made, resettlement of the Doukhobors on the island proceeded quickly. The first group of 1,126 arrived there in August 1898. Tolstoyan writer Pavel I. Biryukov (1860-1931) joined them to help coordinate their settlement. His observations were published in the journal article “Dukhobory na Kiprie” [The Doukhobors on Cyprus] in ‘Svobodnoe slovo’ (Purleigh, England), No. 2, 1899: 22-55 and republished in his book “Dukhobortsy: sbornik statei, vospominanii, pisem i drugikh documentov” [The Doukhobors: collected articles, reminiscences, letters and other documents] (St. Petersburg: I.N. Kushnerev, 1908). Over a century later, this rare historic manuscript is made available for the first time in English in this Doukhobor Genealogy Website exclusive. Translated from the original Russian by Jack McIntosh. Afterword by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff.
On the 19th of August, 1898 (n.s.), an event of great importance in the history of the Russian people took place: 1,126 Russian Doukhobor peasants left Russia irrevocably.
Readers know from the preceding chapter how difficult it was for them to live in Russia.
Apart from separate cases of exile that began as far back as 1886, more than 4,000 Doukhobors were brought to ruin and evicted from their homes in July 1895 and scattered among Georgian villages, where after three years they had lost approximately 1,000 persons who died from various illnesses and had run through the remainder of whatever belongings they had managed to hold onto at the time of their exile.
Pavel Ivanovich Biryukov (1860-1931).
Throughout those three years the authorities in the Caucasus had tried to crush the persistence of the Doukhobors in their religious requirements and, finally acceding to their petition, the government decided upon a most extreme measure – it permitted the separately resettled Doukhobors to emigrate from Russia without the right to return to their motherland.
Up to that time this measure, this concession, had seemed so unlikely that neither the Doukhobors themselves nor especially their neighbours in the Caucasus, right up to the last minute when the steamship sailed, did not believe it would happen. The distrust of the natives of the Caucasus in such a comparatively humane solution of the Doukhobor problem spread to such an extent that, as Doukhobors have told me, their Caucasian acquaintances who were seeing them off were urging them to the very last minute not to go, not to fall for this trap. They were assured that this solution of having them set sail was nothing but a death sentence by sinking. “As soon as you are off shore and still within cannon range,” said the far-seeing Caucasians, “the steamer crew will stay in the boat, throw you onto the steamship, and from the shore they’ll fire a cannonball and sink all of you.”
However, the ship was not sunk, and all 1,126 Doukhobors safely disembarked on the island of Cyprus on the 26th of August.
Many may find it strange that the Doukhobors moved to Cyprus. I am unable to provide a good explanation of the main reason for this project. Although I was not even sympathetic to it, I was not in a position to criticize it severely, as for various reasons I was far from the resettlement arrangements until events themselves drew me into the affair.
As I observe life in Cyprus now, I can say that the thought of permanent settlement of the Doukhobors in Cyprus, if such an idea was actually entertained, could only have occurred to a person entirely unfamiliar with Cyprus or someone understanding nothing about the living conditions of the Russian peasant.
Similar thoughts had been expressed previously, but the resettlement proceeded so quickly that Cyprus was a sad necessity. The two Doukhobors [Ivan Ivin and Petr Makhortov] who had been sent to Cyprus to meet the first party found it unsuitable for settlement, but neither their telegram nor their letter could halt the onrushing current, and the out-migration of the first party went on as if of its own accord.
I feel guilty that I, among others, yielding to the influence of the Doukhobor representatives who had related to us the dire predicament of their brethren, insisted on their immediate departure, which possibly brought about this mass movement, whereas in the beginning it had been proposed to move them out gradually in small parties; then, probably, the consequences of the out-migration would not have been so deadly.
People who are locked into a room, knowing that they are unable to open the door, in spite of the calamitousness of their situation, will inevitably strive for a better arrangement within the walls of that room; and conversely, people who have been locked in a room and have arranged for themselves a tolerable life there, will undoubtedly at the first opening of the doors rush into the free space, abandoning the relative comfort of the room and preferring the unknown of future freedom. Similarly also the Doukhobors, exhausted under the yoke of their three-year administrative supervision and having received permission to leave Russia, could scarcely contain their burst of enthusiasm and at the first sign of encouragement on our part they began to collect their passports and head for Batum.
When they were still in Batum, a new complication arose, one not foreseen by the leaders of the resettlement – the guarantee demanded by the English government of the island of Cyprus of 250 rubles a head ensuring a two-year sojourn here in addition to return travel to the homeland. The sum required was not readily available; moreover, more than 1,000 Doukhobors were assembled in Batum and were put up there in an encampment awaiting resolution of their fate.
For those of us taking part in the resettlement arrangements who were living in England, this was a very difficult and worrisome time. We felt an enormous responsibility for these 1,000 lives and the almost palpable impossibility of helping them get out of this virtually unbearable situation.
After fresh negotiations with the government of Cyprus, a guarantee of up to 150 rubles a person was added, and at last an opportunity emerged to make up the lacking portion of the monetary guarantee through the auspices of persons enjoying the confidence of the English government. Due credit should go to the energy with which the Quaker Committee to Aid the Suffering and its subsection – the Doukhobor Committee – acted. In three days part of the money was collected (50,000 rubles), part of the guarantee amounting to 165,000 rubles and permission was obtained for the Doukhobors to land on Cyprus.
Now, after 51 burials already performed on Cyprus and another unknown number about to occur, one would like to think that perhaps it would have been better if that guarantee had not been collected and permission to land on Cyprus had not been obtained. However, at the time there was real rejoicing, and as soon as the telegram was received announcing that the Doukhobors had set off for Cyprus, I got ready to travel there to meet them and offer assistance in getting them settled.
The doubts that are arising now that the result obtained by such strenuous efforts was not the best are also confirmed by the fact that, judging from the accounts of the Doukhobors themselves, at the time of our intense activity in England, they were not idle either in Batum.
Long accustomed to independent living, as soon as they arrived in Batum, having found out from the English consul the size of the required guarantee, they prudently decided to look for another solution; some of them discussed the possibility of crossing the Turkish frontier, others, more energetically aspiring to the West, engaged in talks with an agent of Messageries Maritimes [a French steamship line] and had already chartered two steamships which undertook to deliver them to Marseilles, with the right to live there three months, at a cost of fourteen rubles a head. On the eve of the day when on of these steamers was due to sail to Marseilles, the telegram arrived from England saying that the guarantee had been collected and permission granted to travel to Cyprus. That telegram decided matters. “If it had not been for that telegram,” several Doukhobors told me, “we would already be in Canada.” And in fact, who knows what turn events would have taken? Some of the Doukhobors might have found work on the docks of Marseilles, while some might have moved on farther, and the 50,000 ruble sum collected, so unproductively wasted here, might have been used by that party for the crossing to Canada.
However, what is done already cannot be undone, and as the fates decree, we are living, falling ill and dying on Cyprus.
As a consequence of the inconvenient schedule of the steamship, I was unsuccessful in meeting the Doukhobors during their disembarkation. I arrived in Cyprus three days after their arrival, that is, on the 29th of August.
When it arrives at the city of Larnaca, the ship stops rather far from shore. As soon as the ship dropped anchor and I surveyed the distant shore and pier, I noticed right away to the right of the pier a cluster of tents and people standing around and walking among them. I aimed a telescope their way and recognized Doukhobors standing in groups on the shore, in white shirts and blue trousers and in their special cut of Cossack peaked caps.
I began to press the boatman, who was bringing my things, and soon, along with my associates in this affair, the [Quaker] Englishman [Wilson] Sturge, we drove up to the pier. In a few minutes I was running to find my Doukhobor friends. They turned out to be in quarantine.
The “Quarantine Office” is a rather large courtyard enclosed within a high fence on the side facing the sea and is located at the outskirts of the city. One side consists of sheds adapted for living space. The Doukhobors were housed partly in these sheds, where they soon set up bunks, and partly in 60 tents pitched quite close together in the courtyard.
When I walked up to the gates of the quarantine, I found them locked. Fortunately, there was a small window with enough space for me to stick my head through and even exchange kisses with my friend, the Doukhobor Vasily Andreyevich Potapov. We had not seen one another for three years. I found him much changed; he had lost weight and aged in that time. Three years of exile had taken its toll. But in his spirit, of course, he had grown still stronger, more clear thinking and more serene.
The Doukhobor Vasily Andreyevich Potapov. BC Archives, Koozma J. Tarasoff Collection, C-01491.
We exchanged greetings and bows, and the very latest information on our mutual wellbeing. Soon after my arrival they began to bring provisions and bread and began to pass it in through the quarantine guard; Potapov was diverted to attend to these matters, and I, after having a word with others, also turned away and set out for the hotel to figure out with my associates how to proceed further. I acknowledge that penetrating through the joy of meeting there was something bitter and unexpected – that lock on the gates, that violence with which the Doukhobors were met during their first step in a free land.
To be completely candid, I admit to yet another feeling I experienced when I caught sight of the Doukhobor encampment on the shore. That feeling may be roughly expressed in the words: “Oh oh, so this is how it is for them here!” Although I had been aware that the Doukhobors would have to land in Cyprus, I was still vaguely hoping that perhaps something would prevent that and they would not end up here. Often I suppressed that feeling and said to myself: “well, Cyprus – why not? I really don’t know the island. Maybe things will be fine here: a warm climate, humane English governance, the proximity of Russia,” and so on. But that feeling of foreboding mixed with hope again broke through and was upsetting my plans.
Now that I had seen the Doukhobors who were already here, I had renewed energy and confidence in Cyprus and a desire to use all my powers to find everything good here, and perhaps under the influence of this urge, or perhaps simply under the spell of the achieved goal and imminent rest after the long journey, I spent that evening somehow especially happy, I feasted my eyes on the moon and the sea and enjoyed the mediocre orchestra playing in the café on the quay; I had an excellent sleep and awoke with great hopes.
The next day the senior doctor once again called in at the quarantine courtyard, for some reason counted the men, women and children again and then allowed me to enter the quarantine so that I could see and exchange greetings with all who were there. Toward evening the governor granted permission to open the quarantine, and the Doukhobors themselves walked into the city for provisions. Their knowledge of the Tatar language proved very useful, as the local Turkish tongue is similar to Tatar, and many of the Doukhobors began to make themselves understood by the local inhabitants.
The governor gave permission for the Doukhobors to remain in quarantine for no more than three weeks. But it would have been impossible for them to remain there any longer than that. The station courtyard and the buildings around it faced directly southward, and by midday the heat grew so intense that even the healthiest could hardly stand it.
One of my associates in this enterprise, [Arthur] St. John [an English Tolstoyan], who had already been living on the island and been actively engaged in studying it, found outside the city a place for the temporary stationing of the Doukhobors – a government-owned orchard with a nearby spring supplying enough water. The government, upon request, provided enough sanitary necessities along with restrictions that prevented the Doukhobors from making use of the orchard.
Fortunately, on the first day of our presence in Larnaca, news came that the farm we were renting, the Athalassa chiflik [farm], in the local parlance, could be occupied the very next day.
Sturge and St. John set out early in the morning the next day to take possession of the farm, while I remained with the Doukhobors to accompany the first party to their place of residence.
Over those two days I spent most of my time with the Doukhobors in the quarantine. In my conversations with them I tried to explain to them the reason for their landing on Cyprus; although they knew this in general terms, I was trying to make their situation better understood and freely accepted, suggesting to them that although Cyprus indeed was an unavoidable way out of their predicament, it would be up to them to choose whether it would be a permanent place of residence or a temporary location. From the very outset, I found in them a reasonable attitude toward this question. Nobody prejudged the issue, because sitting within the four walls of the quarantine and strolling only around the bazaar, it was impossible to decide on a final resolution. Many were attracted by the low prices of the fruit, especially grapes, a pound of which could be bought for less than a kopeck, tomatoes, eggplant and other green vegetables. This showed them that green vegetables and fruit grow here in abundance. Others were frightened by the locals telling them about the absence of water and lumber; all this for the time being merely gave them material for discussion of the issue, but they were far from a decision. In the first few days the decision leaned more on the positive side, so that the liberated Doukhobors already began to consider the possibility of freeing others of their brethren who remained in the Caucasus, and their opinion is reflected in my correspondence those first few days.
The health situation in the quarantine, in spite of the confined quarters, seemed satisfactory; at least, there were no complaints and the doctor’s medical inspection was reassuring.
The death of Timofey Makeyev, one of the brethren, on the day of arrival, did not spoil this mood among either the Doukhobors or the doctors, and everyone unanimously took this to be the outcome of a long illness, apparently consumption, which had been afflicting him for several years.
At the Quarantine Office, those who had not been exposed to smallpox were vaccinated. To me, the senior doctor expressed amazement at the civilized nature and modesty of the Doukhobors, who were not resisting all these manipulations.
Finally the day was set for the dispatch of the first party to Athalassa, around 280 persons, and after midday we began to load the hired oxcarts with baggage, tents, and the elderly, weak, and small children. At about four o’clock everything was ready, and a wagon train consisting of forty-two oxcarts set off on the road toward Nicosia, the main administrative centre of the island.
I remained in Larnaca for another two hours and around six o’clock left on a mule to catch up with the wagon train accompanied by the Turkish policeman placed at my disposal by the obliging governor of Larnaca in the event of possible misunderstandings.
I caught up with the last oxcart after approximately 9 or 10 versts [an Imperial Russian unit of measure equal to 1.0668 km] and passed ahead along the wagon train, overtaking carts and men and women moving along on foot. The sun had already set, but it had not gotten dark. The clear southern moon was shining almost as brightly as the sun. The wagon train stretched for several versts, and it took me a long time to overtake the first oxcart.
Bullock wagons on the road from Larnaca to Nicosia, Cyprus along which Doukhobors travelled en route to Athalassa in late 1898. BC Archives, Koozma J. Tarasoff Collection.
From Larnaca to Nicosia along the main road was 26 English miles, that is, 39 versts. Athalassa is situated not far from the main road, on the left side, three miles short of Nicosia.
I caught up to the first oxcarts half way along the road where they had already stopped for a rest by a coach house yard or “dukhan” in Tatar, or simply “khana” in the local language. The rest of the carts caught up and were arranged to allow the oxen to feed. After a three-hour stop, the first oxcarts again headed out and at around four o’clock in the morning arrived safely in Athalassa.
One by one the carts began to draw up, unload, and were set up in an encampment down below beyond the garden near the stream flowing there. With extraordinary eagerness, the children and old women hurried to the stream. The children began to play and splash around in it, and the grandmothers began to scoop up water, boil it, and do washing. In Larnaca the lack of fresh water had made itself felt, and there had not always been enough for washing. Now they were glad to have plenty of it.
Around 8 o’clock the last oxcart drew up. The move had been completed with complete success. Tents were pitched, fires lit, and life began in full swing in the new location.
Athalassa chiflik is regarded as one of the favorable locations on Cyprus in terms of agriculture. Sufficient water supply, well-managed fruit orchards, with date-palms, fig, orange, lemon, olive and mulberry trees, gardens with various young green vegetables, several tracts with young plantings of olive and mulberry trees and around 500 dessiatines [an Imperial Russian unit of measure equal to 1.0925 hectares] of good arable land. Farm buildings in good shape, house with 5-6 rooms, a barn and granaries. All this was rented from the Eastern and Colonial Association for 200 pounds a year, i.e. 2000 rubles.
Mention of the Eastern and Colonial Association leaves me with an unpleasant sensation. I am little acquainted with the activities of this company and its members, but I know one thing, that for everything they were selling to us, for all the services they were rendering, we paid very dearly, yet at the same time, with every sale made or service rendered, they were making out that they were very sympathetic to us and were doing good deeds.
Toward evening, as soon as the newly-arrived party had to some extent come to grips with their situation in the new location, I headed back to Larnaca on my mule, this time without the police escort, whom I had already let go that morning.
The party that had arrived in Athalassa were all from the one village, Efremovka. For three years they had lived in disorder and now they were reunited in their new location. Right away they came up with the idea, with my support, of building a village right here and calling it Efremovka. That is how it was both in Tavria Province and also in the Caucasus; so also it should be here. Everybody was emboldened in spirit and full of hope. There were several who had fallen ill, and they were sympathetic to them, but they said that this was inevitable and that it was a good thing that up to now they had managed despite the difficulties of the journey. I left for Larnaca, traveled all night, got a little lost when I arrived in the city and only at 3 a.m. reached the hotel, very tired from the long, unaccustomed trip, but content with what had been accomplished.
Although the move to Athalassa had generally been comparatively successful, one circumstance threw a dark shadow that left a bad impression on me and my friends. The Athalassa area was rented by Armenians and the land had been worked half and half by some neighbouring inhabitants. Our arrival had upset all this, and the renters living on the farm, the foreman and the workers were obliged to leave before we arrived. Some of them had left previously, but others were still just starting to get ready in our presence, and we saw how they loaded up their little donkeys with various goods and chattels and left for somewhere else. This situation struck the Doukhobors unpleasantly as well. At the first expression of dissatisfaction with their position, they told me: “Why take land away from others? We were not seeking that. We heard that there is plenty of land not belonging to anybody, government land – that is the kind we need. But to drive away a man who worked and fed himself here – that is not Christian.” Unfortunately, regardless of their wishes, we repeated that un-Christian act many times over.
The next day I got up early and hurried to the quarantine, where more than 800 Doukhobors remained.
After the first party left there was a little more room; there was now an opportunity to walk between the tents and distinguish faces, and I endeavored to become acquainted with them and remember those I had already seen back in the Caucasus.
I related to them how settlement had gone in Athalassa and what I had found there, approximately how much land and other benefits, and right there we decided at a general council that it would be possible to send another party of about 250 to Athalassa, as there is enough land there, it was constricted standing around in the quarantine, and in the near future the purchase of new land was not to be counted on. But since to carry out this measure it was still necessary to have the agreement of my associates Sturge and St. John, it was decided to wait for their return from Nicosia, where they had remained to inspect farms offered for purchase.
As soon as our arrival became known, offers of farms for sale poured in. However, the price for them nevertheless rose, as everybody wanted to take advantage of this good opportunity to sell assets that had lain idle for a long time. We knew this and were not rushing to make purchases. The Doukhobors understood this well themselves and were in no hurry, but on the contrary, urged one another to take their time. But when they discovered what was being paid in Athalassa for cattle and associated goods, they were aghast and began to say that it would be better for them to spend the winter in Athalassa if only not to have to make such unprofitable deals.
They decided to wait for Sturge, and for the time being it was thought better to spend time in the quarantine. But the cramped conditions in quarantine soon made themselves felt. The number of sick people rose and two more children died, a boy of six and a little girl four years old.
I remember how the death of that boy hit me. Previously I had not seen dead bodies among the Doukhobors and had not heard their funereal singing. In the morning I walked to the quarantine and heard singing in one corner of the courtyard. I was interested to find out who they were and what they were singing, and I went over in that direction. There a small shed stood, put together with boards, in which two or three Doukhobor families were housed. The closer I came, the more clearly I could make out the singing and my heart grew ever heavier. I knew that generally speaking, the tunes of Doukhobor psalms are doleful, and I was not paying enough attention to this melancholy feeling when I carelessly went into the shed and stopped at the threshold. There sitting in a circle were several men and women with sad faces and slowly, with long drawn out words and slight bobbing of their heads, they were singing a psalm. On a bench in their midst lay on his back with his little legs stretched out, a fine-looking young boy, his face white with a waxy transparency, in a clean new Doukhobor costume. Tears came to my eyes, but I held back, bowed to the people seated there and withdrew.
This was the first death I had seen in Cyprus, and it made a very strong impression on me. When I saw that dead boy, some inner voice told me: “Well, now, see here, it’s only the beginning!”
A day later, the little girl also died. These two deaths alarmed the doctors too. After the girl’s death, the local governor called me in and said with a stern and serious expression that according to the report of the sanitation inspector, sanitary conditions among the Doukhobors were very bad, he was afraid of an epidemic, and he asked me to take immediate action to improve the situation.
At the same time he added that after consulting with the sanitation inspector, he decided to suggest to me either to rent houses in the city and house the Doukhobors in them, or to rent one building and set it up as a hospital in which to keep the sick ones who could not be treated in the camp. I heard him out, and as I could not and would not make all these arrangements on my own, I summoned Sturge by telegram and went to inform the Doukhobors of this. They silently heard what I had to say, without protest, but in fact the news of a hospital being set up seemed to bother them more than the news of expected deaths.
View of the island of Cyprus, c. 1898.
During these days in quarantine, there was another occurrence that somewhat darkened our then still very optimistic mood and at the same time served to bring me still closer to these people.
When I returned from Athalassa and walked into the quarantine, two elderly Doukhobor men approached me and said that they wanted to ask me what to do. “One of our lads has been indulging in wine, we’re very much ashamed, we are not thinking of him or ourselves, but what are we to do with him?” Of course I was surprised by this, and could not find anything to say, and we decided that we needed to collect our thoughts and talk about this. Soon thereafter, the next morning, it seems, the governor invited me to his quarters and told me that one of the Doukhobors had got drunk, began a brawl, and had been taken in to the police station, where he had spent the night. “If you would like to see him, I can give you a pass.” I took it and went to the police station. Admittedly, I was much grieved by this unexpected scandal. An occurrence that is so common among ordinary people was looked upon by the Doukhobors of this party as a crime. It was precisely the commonplace nature of this situation that more than anything else both weighed heavily on me and angered me, because it provided a pretext for any shortsighted person who did not know them well to say: “you see, this shows there is nothing special about them,” which of course my associate Sturge, who always kept himself rather aloof from the Doukhobors, did not miss the opportunity to say. As soon as he found out about it, he immediately said: “Alors ils ne sont pas meilleurs que les autres!” [“So, they are no better than others!”]
However, because I knew that they are beaucoup meilleurs que les autres [much better than others], I was not put off and went to rescue the wretch. I found him sitting under a tree in the courtyard of the police station. The “brawling lad” turned out to be an old fellow about 50 years old; his swollen red face, teary eyes and uncertain, trembling movement betrayed him to be a man suffering from the effects of hard drinking. The police obligingly released him upon my initial request, on my recognizance, and I led him back to the quarantine. This unfortunate fellow already was expressing great repentance for what he had done, and regret for bringing shame on the community, but it was clear that although he acknowledged all this, he could not guarantee that it would not happen again. I took him back to quarantine and delivered him into the hands of several elders who had come to meet me. They surrounded him and began to tell him off for his misdemeanor. He bowed, begged forgiveness, and did not know what to do. That evening a council gathered.
From conversations with several persons with whom I was more closely acquainted, I found out that Nikolai Borisov – that was the name of the ailing old fellow – had already been suffering for a long time, about ten years, from heavy drinking and had even taken treatment for it. From time to time, sometimes for months at a stretch he had remained sober, but then fell back into the old habit. Such behaviour on his part once forced the Doukhobors during their exile at one of their councils to expel him from the community. As was the custom, he was given his portion and some money and asked to live on his own; in his grief he began to carouse even more, drank up everything in sight and showed up to implore the community in the name of Christ for refuge; from that time on they have not driven him out. Several times they advised him to return to his former associates, that is, to move back with the Small Party, but he did not want to hear of it. They advised him not to leave the Caucasus, and did not even obtain a ticket for him, but he sneaked onto the steamship, and they did not spot him until the ship was en route.
“What are we to do with him?” the elders said to me, “a lost soul, not one of us, but what are we to do about it? Just one person, but he is shaming a thousand, and not just a thousand, but all three thousand plus – just one person, but nonetheless it is painful.” Some advised him to head back to the Caucasus; at times he himself even agreed to this, but nobody could bring himself to act on this.
I did not want to venture advice, worried about my influence on one side or the other, and especially on the side of repressive measures, as I had heard from some of the Doukhobors that they felt ashamed, in particular, to face us friends who were assisting them. “With you,” the Doukhobors told me, “it is not so embarrassing, we regard you as one of our own, but with the Quaker it is very shameful: he is writing to his own people – what are they going to think!” I was very worried that they would repeat the previous expulsion, and thus nevertheless decided to go to the council, there to express not my own opinion, but that of Christ as to the guilty party. I came and read out to them two passages from the Gospels: one about the judgment of the sinful woman, and the other, the words of Caiaphas to the effect that it is better for one man to die rather than the whole nation perish; after reading that and explaining why I had read it out, I withdrew. The council decided to be patient for a while, but if he himself asks for it, to give him the fare for his return to the Caucasus.
It was touching to see the concern with which they discussed this problem and their struggle between community pride and compassion, and how the latter won out in the end.
The governor displayed a rather benevolent attitude to all this. He told me that it was a great pity that this had happened, and that it could affect the general impression. But when I pointed out that, surely, this was one man in a thousand, he agreed that this occurrence was extremely exceptional. I asked him what would happen if 1000 workers in the city of of Larnaca were to find themselves in the same predicament as the Doukhobors, i.e. without work but given a secure existence. Without hesitation, he replied: “They would all be getting drunk!” Then he asked me what I would do with this man. Sensing indecisiveness in my answer, he decided to answer for me, pointing to a tree near where we were standing, and made a gesture with his hand at his throat, adding “hang him!” and at that he burst out laughing. This was his little joke just for my benefit, as he knew what my firm beliefs were.
When he found out about this episode, Sturge, as I mentioned already, remained most upset and the next morning, after heading for the quarantine and gathering a small circle of elders around him, he spoke to them in Russian, saying that if the Doukhobors continue to engage in drunkenness, the Quakers will terminate their assistance. At that the Doukhobors kept silent.
Meanwhile, with the arrival of Sturge the question of sending a second party to Athalassa was definitely resolved. It was decided to do this as soon as possible, and already the next day was designated for sending the first half of the second party, and the remainder the day after that. I divided the party in two, having experienced the inconvenience of moving a very large oxcart train.
This time I could not accompany the party, as I had been drawn away by another matter.
On the day of departure of the second part of the second group, we went with Sturge and the Doukhobor Vasily Potapov to Kouklia, one of the farms belonging to the Eastern Association to discuss working on a half and half basis.
When we returned to Larnaca from Kouklia, I learned that the second part of the second group had already set off. There was now more room in the quarantine, and both we and the Doukhobors were glad at the hope that we would get by without a hospital.
In principle, the Doukhobors themselves were not against a hospital, but they did not want to incur major expenses. Having endured many different illnesses, they were already accustomed to doctors in the Caucasus and were not afraid of them. But they had already become aware back there that doctors are “expensive”; “they would even like to charge less,” one Doukhobor told me, “but they cannot, because they are not supposed to in accordance with their science.” It is that “expensive” science that the Doukhobors much fear, knowing the monetary cost, as they know both how to earn it and how to renounce it.
Our journey to Kouklia had a significant result. We were successful in concluding an agreement with the director of the Eastern Association according to which he took on 10 Doukhobor families as workers going halves on conditions that, although they were not even profitable, were not excessively onerous. The company provided cattle, implements, partial housing and materials for construction of the housing shortfall. The Doukhobors were obliged with these materials to build enough dwellings, to cultivate as much as they were able the fields and at harvest time, to return to the owner the seed and after paying the government tax, they would receive half of the remaining harvest. Hay would be left for the owner for feeding the oxen.
One advantage of settling the Doukhobors there was that there was flowing water and land suitable for gardening, which the director agreed to make available to the Doukhobors for 10 shillings a donum [Cypriot field measure equal to approximately 1/12 of a Russian dessiatine], that is, approximately 60 rubles per dessiatine annually. For Cyprus this price was very moderate, as water there is very expensive.
This settlement, although temporary, as the Doukhobors had no intention of living permanently as sharecroppers, would have been one of the most successful, as here the Doukhobors without great expense could have begun at once to work productively, had it not been for the fever spreading in that place. When the company was inviting the Doukhobors to go there, we were warned that this place is not as healthy as Pergamos. Everyone was saying that Pergamos was healthy (comparatively). At this they added that, of course, if certain precautions were taken, to live and work in Kouklia would be very good. All this the Doukhobors also were aware of, and the desire to begin work as soon as possible overcame their apprehension about disease, and the agreement was concluded. When the Doukhobors arrived and started work, the administrator who sympathized with the Doukhobors, an Armenian who speaks Turkish and French, expressed to me his satisfaction, as he had noticed that the Doukhobor women work alongside the men. “This augurs well for success,” he told me, “Armenians here have not been successful, because their women do not work and so when the men got sick, the work was suspended. With you, I can see, that will not happen: when the men get sick, the women will work.”
From these words I could see that disease was already assumed to be an inevitable fact of life. But the Doukhobors by this time did not want to retreat, and were hoping they could cope with the fever. But in fact within those two months they all came down with it. Although only the two children died, they all had a sickly, exhausted appearance and were already thinking that by spring they would have to leave for Pergamos, and if they would have to stay in Cyprus in the spring, they expected to get to Kouklia only long enough to get some work, and the residents of Pergamos promised to help them with this.
On the same trip we looked over the chiflik of Pergamos and in a few days it was decided to purchase it.
Some of the Doukhobors headed there right away and also to Kouklia.
About one hundred persons still remained in the quarantine. Those who remained were the ones who did not have tents and were living in barns, as there was no accommodation prepared in Pergamos and it would take several days to make the rundown Turkish houses there suitable for habitation.
Pergamos indeed turned out to be a most healthy place, by virtue of its elevation, and the fresh water available from several wells there. Its shortcomings were that there was no flowing water there and it would be necessary to make substantial expenditures on irrigation of the land. In addition, the relative lightness of the soil, i.e. its low fertility and finally and most important, there were only about 40 dessiatines in all, an area of land far from sufficient to feed the 460 persons living there. Having confirmed the healthfulness of this place, I pressed for the settlement there of all the rest, especially because it was possible to find more land to rent in the vicinity.
The last shortcoming, the small amount of land, turned to their advantage after it was decided that the Doukhobors would not remain in Cyprus. As I already mentioned, that part of the group, about 200 persons, was still in the quarantine. They were the most patient ones, but even they, barely able to stand sitting around , agreed to go to Pergamos and spend the nights there under the open sky, “covering themselves a little with something” – anything to get away from the quarantine with which they were so fed up. Taking advantage of a free evening, I went to visit them in the quarantine to read and chat with them. That evening was one of the best I spent in Cyprus.
I read out for them the article “Doukhobory v nachale XIX stoletiia” [“Doukhobors at the beginning of the 19th century” – a late 19th century reprint of the 1805 article “Nekotorye cherty ob obshchestve Dukhobortsev” [“Several Characteristics of Doukhobor Society”]]. It turned out to be unknown to them and they were amazed at the faithfulness of its rendering of the essence of their doctrine, social structure and history.
In confirmation of the truth of what was written, they recited for me several psalms on which the instructional part of that article was based. Those psalms are beautiful and aroused in all of us a good and serious frame of mind, and for a long time we conversed amicably, recalling previous times of persecution and comparing them with those of the present. Little by little the conversation moved to the present state of affairs in Cyprus, and here in candid conversation for the first time I heard and clearly understood the already firmly formed opinion of the Doukhobors that it was impossible for them to live in Cyprus for long. This opinion had hardened, influenced by their gradually growing familiarity with Cyprus. To be sure, as far as I could gather from general conversations with them, the thought of living in Cyprus had never been to their taste. However, as prudent people, they had not been able to reject Cyprus sight unseen and, trusting people who had rendered them brotherly assistance, they had decided to try even Cyprus, especially in the absence of any other more definite proposal.
Cypriots gathering straw for animal feed, c. 1898.
But the resettlement of the Doukhobors had been conceived by them in terms of a particular plan and with conditions they had clearly expressed in their petition to the Empress and in Petr Verigin’s letter to her. They petitioned for the opportunity to settle all together in one place where they could engage in their characteristic toil. Their striving to find a place to settle is similar to that of the people of the Bible to find the promised land and to establish there the Kingdom of God in accordance with the teachings of Christ. I often noticed them expressing this idea in my conversations with them. As they spoke of their firm resolve to die for the truth, they not infrequently confessed to me this human weakness: “Of course,” they said, “we would go that far, to the death if need be, we have decided to withstand everything, even unto eternal life, but we all want to see how we can all live together, we all want to fulfill everything and live as a Christian community should.”
It is hard to condemn these people for this their “great” weakness, and few there are, I believe, who, knowing this, would not wish to help them in this.
The more they got to know Cyprus, the more clearly they could see that this dream was not destined to be realized here.
From information gathered from various sources, it turned out that although it was possible to find in Cyprus the quantity of land needed to settle the whole community, in the first place it would have to be purchased for a very high price (100 rubles a dessiatine or more), and in the second place, it would be scattered all over the island in small pieces, which of course would be extremely inconvenient for communal farming. Moreover, from questioning of local residents they found out that the living and working conditions on the island were to such an extent the opposite of what they were used to, that their main strength – their farming knowledge gained over the ages – would count for nothing. It would mean working in the winter and hiding from the heat in the summertime. Housing, clothing, food, labour, i.e. the sum total of their farming existence would have to be different; everything would have to be learned anew. It was obvious that they would not have enough to eat for long; the prospect was that they would have to depend for their sustenance on kind people – this would be all right, but is this really necessary and is there really nowhere that their toil is needed and where they can receive a decent return so that they can be proud of their labour? Added to this: the unbearable heat for seven or eight months, accompanied by fever, dysentery, and often, death.
From the local inhabitants they discovered that there had already been several attempts to settle foreigners on the island. The English had brought in Hindus; other nationalities, Circassians, Maltese, Armenians and Jews, had come, and all this had ended in disease, death, and the departure of the survivors.
All of this led them to conclude that Cyprus was no good for them, and I could not help but agree with them.
Soon, in about two days, the remaining party headed for Pergamos and at last the quarantine, to the general relief of both the Doukhobors and the local authorities, was vacant, after which, in accordance with all the regulations of “the expensive science,” they covered it over with lime.
Having finished with Pergamos and Kouklia, I set off to call on the folk at Athalassa. I had not seen them for about ten days. The 560 people who were settled in Athalassa were stretched out in an encampment extending about one verst. About 100 of them had been placed in a house belonging to the estate, while the ones living in tents had decided to build themselves huts. In the first days of the settlement of the first party in Athalassa, plans for construction were very ambitious; they decided to recreate the whole village of Efremovka, for which they selected a good location on a hill. But by the time of my second arrival the mood had changed here as well. In Athalassa, all the time the heat was especially palpable. The farm itself was located in a hollow that acted like a convex mirror collecting the sun’s rays in an area shielded from the wind.
Several Doukhobors told me the same thing I had already heard in quarantine; I assembled some of the elders to hear out their opinion more thoroughly, suggesting to them that they write of this to England, which they did. After making some arrangements for provisions, I returned again to Larnaca, and from there set out for Pergamos and Kouklia.
By that time the Doukhobors had received a letter from the Quakers in England. Here is the full text:
We are glad to know that after many obstacles and difficulties, you have safely arrived in Cyprus.
Our heartfelt wish is that with the Lord’s blessing you will be able on the island to build a habitation for yourselves and your children; and we have no doubt on that score, as by virtue of your patient staying-power and industriousness with which you excelled in your previous life you will be able to establish yourselves well, and here you will be free from government compulsion that would force you to do what is contrary to your conscience.
May it be possible for you in your new habitation to preserve your conscience pure of sin before God and man.
We were very glad and grateful for the opportunity to take part in the cause of your liberation and to extend to you the hand of brotherly assistance.
Although we are foreign to you in language and nationality, we are nevertheless united with you in the doctrine which forbids both us and you from any war, as that is against the teaching and example of the One who preached peace.
We have heard from those who are acquainted with your past history that your life was imbued with fear of God, honest love of toil and a brotherly disposition to one another, and we felt we could be so bold as to offer the government of Cyprus the large monetary guarantee that they, not without reason, had demanded of us before granting permission for you to settle on the island so that you would not be a burden, either to the government or to the other residents.
We feel that we can rely on you to make the best of the conditions under which you, by the will of God, are now settled.
We have wanted every step of our participation in your destiny to be guided by the Spirit of Truth, and we are confident that you also are basing all your actions on that spirit.
Therefore both you and we can trust that your resettlement in Cyprus is in accord with God’s will and will be a blessing for you.
We strongly desire that your brothers in Russia will also be able to depart from there. Together with your other friends, we shall pursue that goal.
Your example and the boldness with which you will be able to demonstrate in your striving to improve your new living conditions will also very much assist our efforts in this matter.
We are sending this letter by the hand of our friend and brother Wilson Sturge, who is now among you, and to whom we ask you to give brotherly attention and cooperation. With a greeting of Christian love we remain, your brothers.
For the Committee appointed by the English Society of Friends for Assistance to the Doukhobors, signed
John Bellows (secretary). Friends Community House London
2nd day of the 9th month, 1898.”
This letter was read out by me in all three colonies, of course.
In Pergamos I met with the same generally held opinion. I read to them the Quakers’ letter and suggested that they send a reply, which I wrote myself at their request, virtually at their dictation, only editing their thoughts; their letter appears below.
They greeted the Quakers’ letter with touching gratitude, in spite of the total discord between its content and the actual state of affairs. The letter described the Doukhobor settlement in Cyprus as a blessing from God, whereas they were merely enduring it as yet another painful trial. Here is their reply:
Larnaca, Cyprus. 20.9.98
To the Friends – Quakers from the Doukhobors living in Pergamos and Kouklia.
“Firstly, brothers, we bring you profound gratitude, such as we do not know how to express, for your brotherly concern for us and your assistance.
Secondly, we wish to explain to you our predicament and request that you not discontinue your help.
As our brethren Ivin and Makhortov previously explained to you, life for us here is very difficult, and it is most unlikely that we will be able to stay here long.
Our chief concern is for us to be all together as a whole community, but this is impossible here because there is little suitable cheap land here, and if we were to buy expensive land, for the same amount of money we could travel over to America and Canada, which attracts us with its wide open spaces and a climate that is similar to that in which we lived in the Caucasus for 50 years.
Even if it were possible for all our brethren to settle here, we dread the hot climate, which is similar to that which we suffered from in exile and where, out of 4,000 persons, about 1,000 of us already died.
Here eight persons have already died, and many are ill with the same diseases we had in exile: fever, dysentery, eye diseases and blindness.
In one location where it is healthier, the soil is worse – stony and with little water; where the soil is fertile, that is where the diseases are. Ten of our families have taken up sharecropping in the Kouklia estate, which belongs to the Eastern Company.
It might even turn out all right for us here, but our predecessors, Armenians who lived here, all came down sick to the last man, and we expect the same thing.
Moreover, even at the more elevated places the heat can be unbearable, and we came here while it was not yet the hottest time of year.
Taking everything into consideration, we can see that there is no life for us here; we will not flourish here, but wither.
So therefore, we fervently implore you not to enter into large expenditures on establishing us here, but if at all possible to move us from here to a place more suitable for living. As we have heard, Canada is such a place. And with patience and in submission to God’s will we shall await our turn, until with the aid of our friends we shall succeed in joining our brethren.
We are aware that many of our brethren yet remain in the Caucasus under severe repression and without means of subsistence, and our first request is for them. And we hope that our friends will not forget about us here either and will relieve our situation.
We very much are afraid of distressing you with this letter, but we want to tell you the whole truth and frankly express our opinion so as not to be later held to account before you and before God. —
We also thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your letter that we received and read. May the Lord save you.
On behalf of the whole commune, [signed]:
Vasily Potapov, Grigory Glebov, Fyodor Zhmaev, Vasily Popov, Vasily Razinkin, Pavel Popov, Petro Lobyntsev.”
This decision, firmly supported by all the Doukhobors and reinforced more and more with each passing day by the course of events, significantly changed their attitude toward the tasks facing them in Cyprus.
It was decided to get settled temporarily, while striving to do everything as cheaply as possible in order to save as much money as they could for the journey to Canada, from which they had already begun to receive favourable reports about the large amount of free land, about concessions offered by the Canadian government to settlers, about wage levels, and so on. The main barrier to an immediate move was, as was reported from England, that there is no money for the voyage, and that which is now being collected has to go toward the resettlement of the remaining 2000 persons presently in exile in the Caucasus; thus the turn of the Cyprus Doukhobors will not come soon.
Athalassa farm in Cyprus occupied by Doukhobors in 1899. BC Archives, Koozma J. Tarasoff Collection.
All these considerations led to the decision, come what may, to spend the winter in Cyprus, and so it was necessary to build houses. In Pergamos, just as in Athalassa, at first they were planning for a large village, but when they realized the impossibility of a durable settlement, they decided to build at minimal expense, as much as possible making use of what remained intact in the ruins of an old Turkish settlement. Getting to work, they began to plaster walls, reinforce collapsed ceilings, dig out debris, and within two or three days several families were already living in the houses, while others continued the work.
That is how life began in all three settlements.
This is how I organized my time: my main lodging was in Larnaca. I myself spent a good deal of time traveling back and forth. I would head for one end of the island, for example, to Pergamos and Kouklia for two or three days, hen return to Larnaca and have a good rest – timing these rest periods to coincide with days when mail arrived or was dispatched. Then I would set out for the other end to Athalassa, and after three days or so return again to Larnaca, and after taking care of whatever matters were necessary in that city, head once more for Pergamos and Kouklia. My visits to the colonies I also tried to coordinate with visits there by the doctors, after which it fell to me to dispense prescribed medicine and carry out some instructions from the doctor. In addition to matters concerning provisions and concerns about buildings, one of my main activities, appreciated most of all by the Doukhobors, was reading letters received by post, and sometimes articles from periodicals and booklets. This took up a lot of time, because one letter or article would have to be read out about ten times, as it was impossible to read it to many at once, yet everyone wanted to know what they said.
Often, after reading and conversation about the topic of what had been read, one of the older Doukhobors would begin to tell about the olden days. I had no time to write them down, but I heard a lot of interesting things; something of what I heard I shall try to bring forth in another place.
Little by little they began to set about their agricultural work. They began first in Athalassa, as the farm there was in full operation. Then in Kouklia, where everything was also almost ready for work. Last of all in Pergamos, as there it was necessary to start all over with cattle, feed, and equipment.
Little by little life was being put in order, and all would have been fine, but they all had decided to wait for spring and their turn to leave; they were especially energized by news that the “Gorskie”, that is, the ones who had remained scattered in Gori Uezd were preparing to depart, that enough money had been collected for their migration, a steamer hired, and their departure was immanent. As the remaining parties of Elisavetpol and Kars Doukhobors could travel on their own account, it would appear that it was now the Cyprus Doukhobors’ turn; they breathed sighs of relief when they heard this news and said: “Perchance the Lord is not lacking in mercy, and they are going to shift us out of here.”
All would have been well, say I, had it not been for the illness and death that had begun to afflict the Doukhobors when they were still in the quarantine and had intensified after their resettlement in the different locations in the colonies.
The cause of all the illness, as was clearly understood by the Doukhobors themselves, from the old to the young, and was clearly recognized also by me and everyone else who saw the ailing and dying, was the unbearably hot climate of Cyprus.
That the reason for all the illness was the local conditions can be easily seen from the fact that they all came down with them, to an even greater extent those who had not been ill in the Caucasus. But those who had already been sick previously – the weak, children, old men and women – were dying. The nature of these diseases is local and the time of their occurrence, the period of intensified infection, corresponds to the time and period of intensified infection of the local diseases.
Of course, these illnesses and deaths, in spite of the steadfast and steady patience of the Doukhobors, could not but affect their attitude toward Cyprus and their general morale.
Although they did believe those who told them that with the onset of winter, these illnesses would cease or at least subside, they also knew that the hot weather would return, along with renewed illness and that terrible debilitating heat, mosquitoes and the slack time of summer unemployment; all this loomed before them and compelled them to implore people they regarded as brothers to help them extricate themselves from this predicament.
Nevertheless, work continued at its own pace. Building work went on simultaneously in all three colonies. Building projects were completed earliest in Kouklia; there were few there and it was only necessary to buy boards for doors, windows and tables, and beams for the lintels. The rest of the materials belonged to the Company and was on site.
In Athalassa, house construction was somewhat delayed because, owing to its remoteness, I could not get there often, and lumber was delivered there later.
However, toward the end of October, construction was completed in all three colonies, the matter of provisions had been dealt with, and to the great satisfaction of everyone, diseases had even begun to abate as the heat diminished.
My personal affairs were calling me to other tasks, and seeing that my presence in Cyprus was no longer necessary, I decided to leave, especially in view of the arrival of one more Russian [Evangelical Christian] friend of the Doukhobors, Ivan Stepanovich Prokhanov, who had energetically gone into action.
By the time I left, we counted 51 dead and around a hundred sick.
As they bid me farewell, the Doukhobors begged me to use all of my powers to find ways for them to leave Cyprus (“certainly try, as you yourself know best,” they said.)
And I left them with this hope.
I gained very much from those three months with the Doukhobors. Aside from personal satisfaction from associating with such people, I was glad to have been able to examine this community up close and see it in all its variety of types and characters. I saw true heroes who have endured torture, such as Ivan Baev, who had received over a hundred lashes at the time of the Cossack execution, who with a good-natured smile related how he had been entirely unable to stand after that punishment.
“My head was in a fog, and I couldn’t feel anything. It’s as if I had neither spine nor legs; I couldn’t control one arm, but only had feeling in my chest and one arm,” he said. Then there is Egor Khodykin, who suffered for a long time from similar torture and yet has maintained up to this time a clear, firm Christian consciousness. Among them I also saw weak persons, suffering, at times even grumbling, but who have kept holding on with all their might to others and who have not lost one of the principal Doukhobor virtues – their sense of human dignity.
I saw the serious, stern faces of mothers burying their children, who answered words of condolence and sympathy in this way: “There is nothing for it, we have gone this far, we will put up with it for God, for the truth.”
Squalid conditions in a typical Cypriot peasant home, c. 1898.
I also observed simple, bustling, superstitious peasant women uttering a spell “against fire” while at the same time instructing their children in the very highest of Christian truths.
As I became acquainted with them, I saw that this whole – at first glance ignorant – mass has its own history, its own martyrs for the truth and freedom, its own heroes and prophets whose stories are passed on from generation to generation for edification. All this together leaves an impression of a kind of unconquerable strength that is so precious that any unproductive waste of it summons a painful response in the heart of any person who knows them.
If the Doukhobors obtain little of worth from Cyprus, it is true that Cyprus will receive a lot from them. In my presence religious debates have already begun, and, as might have been expected, Greek Orthodox Christians regard Doukhobors as heretics and often break off these discussions, fearing enticement. The Moslem Turks, on the other hand, openly sympathize with them, mentioning only the difficulty of fulfilling their religious ideals. But both the former and the latter look upon them kindly and respectfully, and the presence of the Doukhobors in Cyprus cannot vanish without a trace.
November 10, 1898
As noted in Biryukov’s account, when the Doukhobors landed on Cyprus on August 26, 1898 aboard the French steamship Le Douro, everything seemed quite promising. The Mediterranean island was beautiful, and the fertile land, lush vegetation and seaside climate reminded the Doukhobors of their ancient home at Molochnye Vody (Milky Waters). At first sight, the only disadvantage was the lack of buildings.
Following a sojourn of several weeks in quarantine at Larnaca, parties of Doukhobors were settled at Athalassa, Kouklia and Pergamos. In each of these places, the Doukhobors proceeded to build small agricultural villages, constructing homes of Caucasus-style mud bricks and preparing the soil for planting vegetables.
By fall, however, it became clear that the Doukhobor resettlement was not working out by any means as well as the Tolstoyans and Quakers had hoped. Various disagreements had developed among the Doukhobors about the value and extent of communal versus individual farming. They indulged in endless debates about social and economic issues. Lack of leadership and adjustment to the new, unfamiliar physical environment also took its toll on any potential Doukhobor success.
According to some writers, the Russian Tolstoyans such as Biryukov who joined the Doukhobors on Cyprus, despite their best intentions, seem to have to have done very little more than spread discontent among the settlers by complaining about the conditions on the island, and lose their heads in the disorganization all around them.
As a consequence, neither housing nor farming went ahead as quickly as they should have done. Many Doukhobors continued to live in damp tents pitched in marshy spots infested with mosquitoes; those who did live in houses were forced to exist in extremely crowded and unsanitary conditions. These poor living conditions and a limited diet (vegetables were not ready for consumption for months after planting, milk was available only in condensed form, and eating meat was against religious requirements) combined with the impure water and unendurable climate of the locality caused outbreaks of serious illness among the weakest of the Doukhobor settlers. Two months after the arrival in Cyprus, the first two deaths occurred. Many others lingered in a sick and weakened state. In the months that followed, 108 Doukhobors perished from famine, disease and exhaustion. This was an even higher mortality rate than the Doukhobors had experienced while in exile in the Caucasus following the Burning of Arms.
The hopes with which the Doukhobors had come were slowly dissipated, and their discontent with Cyprus was increased by the urgings of Biryukov and other Russian sympathizers who, having in the first place hastened their settlement on the island, now pressed on them the need to leave Cyprus as the only hope of evading extinction. Finally, the news reached them that the Doukhobors remaining in Russia had decided on a new destination, a place where the climate was more like that of their homeland. Any will that the Doukhobors ever felt to succeed on Cyprus was now finally dissipated, and they had no other thought than to join the emigration to Canada.
Finally, on April 27, 1899, the Doukhobors boarded the steamship Lake Superior to cross the Atlantic to Canada where their brethren awaited them, thus ending their unsuccessful settlement experiment on Cyprus.
For More Information
For more information about the short-lived Doukhobor settlement experiment on Cyprus in 1898-1899, the factors leading to its establishment and the reasons for its ultimate failure, see: A Courteous and Well-Conducted Community by Carla King and With the Doukhobors on Cyprus by Ivan Stepanovich Prokhanov.