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138 Middlesex Street – Evpak
Early name(s):
United Shoe Repair
Current name:
United Shoe Repair
Ethnic Entrepreneurs, Radical Politics, and
Lowell’s Red Scare:
The building
David A. Evpak, Shoe Repairer
Written by Gray Fitzsimons
Historian, Lowell NHP
May 2002 1
Often overlooked in the dynamics of socialist politics in
American industrial cities of the late 19th and early 20th
century is the role of immigrant business men and
women who provided not only their ideas, passion, and
energy to left-wing movements, but also their financial
support. While the majority of socialists were either
skilled artisans or industrial workers, a small percentage
hailed from the small business classes. In cities such as
Lowell, Massachusetts, which contained only small
socialist and radical left-wing communities, the actions
Figure 1. 138 Middlesex Street
of leaders and rank-and-file were frequently met with
This is a one-story wood-frame, brick-faced building
fierce resistance from industrialists, political elites, and
with a flat roof that was built in the 1890s with the
the clergy. The experiences of David Evpak, a Ukranian
sole purpose of a retail store. Its address was 134
émigré who settled in Lowell around 1910, opened a
until about 1962 when it was changed to 138.
cobbler shop, and engaged but briefly in leftist politics,
shed light on the relationship between “penny capitalists”
and socialist movement, as well as the challenges they
faced when the state attacked suspected radical immigrants during the Red Scare of 1919-1920.
In 1910, at the age of 18, David A. Evpak, a Ukranian immigrant, arrived in the United States. 2 Although it is not
known if Evpak came directly from Russia to Lowell, by 1916 he was listed in the city directory. His occupation
was noted as shoemaker at the Goodyear Shoe repair company. A Swedish-American, Ernest Lundgren, owned
Goodyear Shoe in Lowell and operated two shops in the city, the main store on 122 Central Street, and a branch
shop on Appleton Street, where David Evpak worked. Evpak rented a room in a tenement on Cushing Street, which
extended through a poor and working-class area adjacent to an industrial district. After a year at Goodyear Shoe,
Evpak opened his own cobbler shop at 11 Post Office Square. 3 He named it “United Shoe Repairing Shop.” 4
Apparently the business prospered, for Evpak’s shop soon “doubled its force to take care of its rapidly increasing
shoe repairing business.” A local newspaper noted, “Here a customer is assured of prompt work neatly done by
modern machinery with best selected stock at reasonable prices and a guarantee of satisfaction.” 5
Minor updates concerning his employees in 2007.
Federal Census, Lowell 1920, Microfilm Roll T625_711, ED189, p11B
Lowell City Directory, 1916, 1917. The directory called the street either Post Office Avenue or Post Office Square in different sections of the
book. Later, it settled on “Avenue.” Today, the post office has relocated and taken the name Post Office Avenue with it. The street these days is
an unnamed alley behind shops on Middlesex and Appleton Streets between Elliot and Gorham Streets. It doesn’t appear on modern mapping
systems and even the Lowell online GIS ( has no name assigned.
It did not appear in the City Directories under that name until he moved it to 138 Middlesex Street. It was noted only as a shoe repair store run
by David Evpak.
Lowell Sunday Telegram, January 13, 1918.
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Evpak operated his business in a small one-story shop. From city maps of this period, United Shoe Repairing was
located in a block that extended along an alleyway, across from the city’s central post office. This was likely a very
favorable location as it received a large volume of pedestrian traffic and was almost on the corner of Central Street,
one of the city’s busiest commercial thoroughfares. Given the size of the shop, however, Evpak was probably able
to employ at most two or three workers, two of whom were Onufrio Kulbach and Stephen Agnatovech, fellow
Russian émigrés. 6
About three years after Evpak settled in the United States, he
married a Ukranian émigré Daisy Blaken, who came to
America as a young woman in 1913. 7 After their marriage,
the Evpaks lived in the “Acre” neighborhood at 62 LaGrange
Street. This was largely a working-class community that was
home to Greeks, Irish, French Canadians, and a smattering of
other European immigrants. Many wage earners rented
rooms in the numerous two and three-story, wood-frame
tenements that lined the neighborhood’s streets. The Evpaks
rented their residence on LaGrange Street, but by late 1919
they had saved enough money to buy land on Gibson Street
in the more suburban Highlands neighborhood and were
planning to build a house. 8
Evpak’s arrival in Lowell coincided with the growth of
leftwing politics in Lowell. The influx of Russians,
Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and Poles boosted the vitality of the
city’s small, but vigorous socialist movement. As a result of the 1912 textile strike, which brought the Industrial
Workers of the World (IWW) to Lowell, the Socialist Party gained additional support among other immigrant
groups and Socialist Hall on Middle Street in the downtown became the center of left-wing political activity.
The socialist movement in Lowell in the 1910s built upon the work of an earlier generation of political organizers.
While the city’s first socialist meeting occurred in the 1880s, it was not until the late 1890s that a formal party
emerged in Lowell. Unlike Haverhill’s socialist organization, which boasted several hundred party members and
worked to elect a Socialist mayor, Lowell’s Socialist Party remained quite small. Party leaders included skilled
workers and trolleymen, as well as shopkeepers, property holders, and even an inventor. Their social and economic
standing in the community reflected the middle-class status of party leaders and activists in Massachusetts. 9
Although most of the city’s trade union leaders eschewed socialist politics, a few actively participated in the
Socialist party and some, like street railway worker William E. Sproul, ran for alderman and state representative. 10
Though never very large, the city’s Socialist Party grew to such an extent that by 1902, for the first time in Lowell’s
history, it fielded a slate of candidates for mayor and aldermen. 11 The mayoral candidate received just over 600 of
the nearly 13,500 total votes cast. 12 Again in 1903 and 1904, Lowell’s socialists put up a slate of candidates, but
Like Evpak, Agnatovetch worked for Ernest Lundgren at the Goodyear Shoe Repair from 1911 to 1919 and came to work for Evpak in 1920.
Kulbach worked for the Arthur Dubois shoe repair shop in 1917 and joined Evpak when he opened his store in 1918. See city directories 1911
through 1920.
Federal Census, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1920, Lowell T625_711 ED189 p11B.
“Evpak is Cleared of Radical Leanings,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 12, 1920.
Prior to 1902 the Socialist Party in Massachusetts was called the Social Democratic Party. Formed nationally in 1897, the Social Democracy of
America was led by Eugene Debs and was a rival of Daniel DeLeon’s Socialist Labor Party. In Massachusetts, Jeremiah O’Fihelly directed the
activities of the SLP. Of those Bay State trade unionists who ventured into socialist politics, most supported the Social Democratic Party. In
1902 the party changed its name to the Socialist Party. See Henry F. Bedford, Socialism and the Workers in Massachusetts, 1886-1912
(Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1966), 111-18. The name change occurred in early 1902. See “Socialists Predict Increased
Vote,” Lowell Daily News, October 15, 1902.
Sproul ran on the Socialist ticket a number of times. In 1902 he was a candidate for state representative and, after losing this race, he was one
of several Socialist candidates for alderman in the municipal election.
The mayoral candidate was Henri E. Richardson, a retired businessman who had been an ice dealer in Lowell. Among the Socialist candidates
for alderman was John P. MacDonald, a woolen weaver who gained local renown through his leadership in a textile workers’ strike threat earlier
in 1902.
Lowell Daily Mail, December 10, 1902.
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again few voters cast ballots for these men. Eugene Debs’ visit to Lowell and his appeal to working men on the eve
of the elections in 1909 boosted the prestige of the city’s Socialist Party. Most of the working-class districts,
however, continued to support Democrats. 13 Despite the steady stream of meetings, local campaigns, and the
occasional presence of nationally known Socialist politicians and lecturers, Lowell’s Socialist candidates never
received more than four percent of the total vote.
It was the Eastern European and Russian immigrants who infused the city with a more radical Socialist program. As
the decade of the 1910s came to a close, some of Lowell’s socialists joined with the nascent Communist party.
Meetings at Socialist Hall were attended largely by Poles, Lithuanians, Russians, and a handful of French
Canadians, Greeks, and Ukrainians. Few of these men and women were naturalized citizens. While a number of
radical socialists and communists worked in the textile industry, the most were employed in Lowell’s leather
tanneries or were involved like Evpak in the shoe business or other small enterprises. 14
As historian Dexter Arnold has pointed out, opposition to foreign-born “reds” arose in the Merrimack Valley’s
textile cities in the late 1910s, reflecting a growing fear nationwide of a “red revolution” in America. 15 These fears
intensified in the fall of 1919 in the wake of May Day riots, a series of bombings targeted at government officials by
unknown “anarchists,” massive labor unrest and IWW actions on the West Coast, the nationally conducted steel
strike, and the Boston police strike. 16 In Lowell, state officials, newspaper editors, textile mill officials, and clergy
campaigned fervently against bolshevism, labor strikes, and anarchism. “Hoodlums and radicals!” thundered
Reverend Chauncey J. Hawkins at the city’s First Congregational Church. “Shall they rule America? No! But they
are challenging and the life of America and they must be suppressed.” 17 In an address before members of the First
Baptist Church, Massachusetts Labor Commissioner Edwin T. Mulready waved copies of the Communist party
platform and the declaration of rights of Massachusetts and proclaimed, “As oil and water cannot mix, so
bolshevism and good Americanism cannot mix, nor even continue in the same country, for the one lives only
through the destruction of the other.” 18 As a means for promoting “Americanism” the state increased funding for
Americanization classes, a series of which were held in public schools around Lowell, as well as in the city’s
Massachusetts Mills. Large posters commanding workers to “Learn English” were placed in the Massachusetts,
Merrimack, and Lawrence mills. 19
As state elections approached in November 1919, many native-born Lowellians, along with a number of the city’s
prominent naturalized citizens, joined the campaign against the left. In the minds of many, bolshevists, anarchists,
trade unionists, and alien immigrants were indistinguishable and all posed a grave threat to American society.
Commenting on the upcoming election in Massachusetts, the Reverend C. E. Fisher of Lowell’s First Universalist
Church declared, “God save America if Calvin Coolidge is defeated next Tuesday.” His sermon titled, “The Red
Flag or the Stars and Stripes—Which?” called for patriotic Americans to rally around Coolidge and “be true to law,
order, righteousness, and justice.” As for those people “who do not like America,” Fisher suggested, “why don’t
they go to Russia, where beautiful conditions prevail.” He added, “I should not invite them [to go], I should compel
them. Until we can do that we are going to have trouble.”20
“Debs, Socialist Leader, Addresses Lowell Audience,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 1, 1909. The leaders of the Socialist party in Lowell
were primarily first or second generation Irish-Americans and were either skilled workers—ranging from printers or trolley car operators—or
were employed in non-manual occupations such as sales. For the names and occupations of the city’s Socialist party candidates see the Lowell
Courier-Citizen, October 27, 1909 and the Lowell city directory for 1909.
A large number of Lithuanians were employed at American Hide and Leather Company, the biggest tannery in Lowell. Of the thirty suspected
communists arrested as part of the “Red Raids” in early 1920, most of them were worked at this tannery. See “Five Lowell Reds Taken to
Boston,” in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 5, 1920.
Dexter Philip Arnold, “A Row of Bricks: Worker Activism in the Merrimack Valley Textile Industry, 1912-1922,” (unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation), University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1985, p. 739 and fn. 19, pp. 824-26.
The best account of the fear of “red revolution” in America at this time remains Robert K. Murray, Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria,
1919-1920, (New York: McGraw Hill, 1965???)
Hawkins sermon was published in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, September 22, 1919.
“Bolshevism and Labor Difficulties,” in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, October 2, 1919.
For information on the “Learn English” posters see “Winter Classes in Americanization,” in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, October 3, 1919. For
more on Americanization classes in Lowell see also “Americanization Workers in Session,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, October 4, 1919.
“The Red Flag or the Stars and Stripes,” in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 3, 1919.
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The Reverend Fisher’s call for deporting those “men coming here who come simply to cause unrest” 21 was a
strategy that the United States Justice Department and state law enforcement officials were beginning to implement
in late 1919. In New York City, federal and local law enforcement officials carried out a sweep of suspected
radicals and arrested 37 men, including “Big Jim” Larkin head of the Irish Transport Workers. 22 In Massachusetts,
investigations into the activities of suspected “Reds” netted the Socialist Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor,
Marion E. Sproul of Lowell, wife of William Sproul. 23 Two weeks after the election state police arrived in Lowell
looking for more “Reds.” Working with Lowell’s police superintendent and local officers, the state arrested two
Polish brothers, Constanty and Felix Dobrowolski, who owned a grocery on Lakeview Avenue in the Centreville
neighborhood, and charged them with violating the anti-anarchy law for displaying in their store window a poster of
a murdered female labor organizer with the words “Rise and avenge her.” 24
In December, as part of the continuing statewide “anti-Red” campaign, Lowell police sought those responsible for
distributing communist leaflets throughout the city. 25 Sergeant Samuel J. Bigelow, along with patrolmen Michael
Winn and Patrick B. Clark posed as “radical characters” and infiltrated meetings at Socialist Hall. Their
investigation culminated in the arrest of a young Lithuanian immigrant, Fabian Piekarski, who worked as a weaver
at the Merrimack Mills. Like the Dobrowolski brothers, Piekarski was charged with violating the anti-anarchy law.
Piekarski’s crime was selling “radical literature and books written in the Russian language during a meeting of Poles
at Socialist Hall” on Middle Street. Police also found on Piekarski a card showing he was a member of the Socialist
Party. 26 At his hearing before Judge Thomas J. Enright in Lowell’s Police Court, Piekarski through his counsel
Dennis J. Murphy pled not guilty. Judge Enright set bail at $5,000, an amount that Piekarski, who made about $20
per week at the textile mill, was unable to secure. He was then committed to the city jail. 27
The rounding up of Piekarski and another factory worker, Mike Belida, who lived in North Chelmsford and who
was also charged with distributing revolutionary “propaganda,” 28 preceded a much larger federally led raid. That
raid was directed by Attorney General Mitchell Palmer and encompassed 33 cities nationwide, including several in
New England. Launched in early January 1920, the “Palmer” raids were carried out by federal agents, as well as
Quote is from the sermon noted above.
“Anarchistic Leaders Held in New York,” in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 10, 1919.
“Mrs. Sproule [sic] Held in Bonds of $2,500,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 1, 1919. Despite being indicted under the anti-anarchy law,
Sproul continued to speak out. In mid-November she joined with Dr. Antoinette Konikow, a birth-control advocate, and addressed a communist
forum in Roxbury. Soon after, she was arrested again for distributing radical literature in Boston. “No Celebration by Boston Bolshevki,”
Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 10, 1919; “Mrs Sproule [sic] Arrested Again,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 14, 1919.
The “poster” was a cutout from a labor newspaper and was probably a depiction of Fannie Sellens, who was killed while organizing workers in
western Pennsylvania. See “Two Brothers Arrested here are Charged with Promoting Anarchy,” Lowell Sun, November 17, 1919. Constanty
Dobrowolski was eventually tried in Superior Court in Cambridge and found guilty of “promoting anarchy.” “Dobrowolski Under Sentence,”
Lowell Courier-Citizen, November 26, 1919.
“Local Police are After the ‘Reds,’” Lowell Sun, December 2, 1919.
“Arrested for Selling Radical Literature: Fabian Piekarski Acted as Salesman in Socialist Hall,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, December 30, 1919.
At the time of his arrest Piekarski lived with his wife, Jydocza, and infant daughter in a wood-frame tenement on Bertha Avenue, a short alleylike street off Lakeview Avenue, in a predominately Polish section of the Centreville neighborhood. Fabian Pikarski had immigrated to the
United States in 1914, four years after his wife. Like her husband, Jydocza (listed as Alvina in the city directory) was a 24-year-old Lithuanian
émigré. Both were able to read and write in English, but neither were naturalized citizens. Living with them in their rented flat was a 33-year-old
Polish-speaking Lithuanian woman who worked as a weaver. Next door to the Piekarskis was a Ukranian family headed by Simon Kinal, who
also had a job as a weaver in a textile mill. See Federal Census, 1920, Lowell, Massachusetts, Microfilm Roll 712, ED220, p. 109B.
Among the pamphlets found in Piekarski’s possession were “The Voice of the Worker,” “All Order in Europe and a New Order in Russia,”
“Factory Talks on Economics,” “Women of the Past and Present,” “How the Russian Peasant Divided the Soil of Russia,” and a work by Leonid
Andrejew titled “The Governor.” For more on the hearing see “Piekarski is Held for Selling Radical Papers,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, December
31, 1919. For information on Judge Enright see “Judge Enright Dies Following Long Sickness,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, July 25, 1927. For
more on his view of “radicals” see “Anti-Anarchy Violation” Lowell Sun, December 23, 1919.
Mike Belida, a Russian émigré who worked at the Stony Brook Carbonating Company in North Chelmsford, was defended by William N.
Osgood, the same attorney who represented Marion Sproul. See “Belida is Held in Bonds of $5,000,” in the Lowell Courier-Citizen, December
17, 1919. Through an interpreter, Belida told authorities that he had immigrated from Russia in about 1912 and lived in North Chelmsford with
his wife and two children. At a hearing before Judge Enright, Belida spoke through an interpreter and claimed his arrest stemmed from a dispute
he had with his foreman and that he had no interest in joining the “Reds.” Attorney Osgood pointed out that the leaflets found at the Belida home
were “no more radical in their language than the platform of the Socialist Party in America which has for years urged the municipal ownership of
shops by the workers.” The judge dissented, calling the literature “insidious propaganda aimed at uprooting American institutions” and declaring
that the “public must be protected from this evil.” For information on Belida’s arrest and hearing see “Anti-Anarchy Violation” Lowell Sun,
December 23, 1919.
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state officials and local police. 29 In Lowell, city police organized into special units and on Friday evening, January
2, they raided Socialist Hall and numerous homes of suspected reds throughout the city. 30 About 30 men and
women, all of foreign birth, were hauled into the police station and questioned for nearly three hours. According to
one report, the detainees were asked about their political affiliations and their involvement with radical groups, but
“little could be learned from the majority of the men and they denied [any] revolutionary intentions.” 31 Of the 30
“radicals” rounded up in the raid, five were transferred to a federal facility at Deer Island in Boston Harbor, while
the rest were released.
Among the five alleged radicals arrested and
sent to Deer Island was David Evpak, whose
shoe repair shop was located around the corner
from Socialist Hall. Evpak’s case, similar to
the other Lowell suspects held at Deer Island,
remains a mystery. On the afternoon of the
raid, an FBI agent named Henderson met with
Police Superintendent Welch, presented him
with about 30 warrants, and outlined the plan
for arresting the suspects. Apparently an
informant or a federal infiltrator had fingered
Evpak during a meeting at Socialist Hall for
his name appeared on a list of “radicals” who
were “either directly or indirectly identified
with the Communist party.” That evening police officers surrounded the building and several quietly entered the
hall. Inside they found 25 people in attendance. An officer ordered everyone to stay put. The police then
rummaged through the hall and collected scores of documents. Officers searched each person, after which they
escorted them to the police station. Other suspects were arrested in their homes and brought to the station for
questioning. One exchange between an officer and detainee, as reported in a local newspaper, captured the
murkiness of the state’s accusations, as well as the confused responses of the accused “radicals.” “You belong to the
Communist party and you previously was [sic] a radical Socialist,” proclaimed one policeman. “No, no not me,” the
accused retorted. “Oh yes you are and we know it. You are not fooling us any [sic].” 32
Among the other four Lowell men who were similarly accused of being “reds” and were taken to Deer Island was
Stephen Agnatovech, whom Evpak employed in his cobbler shop. Agnatovech had come to this country from
Moscow in 1908 and settled in Lowell by 1909, working as a shoemaker from the first. He married Bronislawa (later
Blanch) Apolia in 1909 and lived on Lakeview Avenue and nearby, an area changing from Irish to Polish at the
time. By 1911 he was working at Lundgren’s Goodyear Shoe Repairing Company, where he met Evpak. Unlike
Evpak who was living in a working-class area, however, in 1912 Agnatovech was living in an affluent
neighborhood, Christian Hill, which overlooked the city’s downtown on the opposite side of the Merrimack River. 33
Murray, Red Scare, chapter 13; “Greatest Round-up of Reds in Nation’s History: Over 1500 are Arrested in Raids in Thirty-three Cities,”
Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 3, 1920.
In addition to the 30 men arrested in Lowell, the number arrested in other Massachusetts cities outside of Boston was: Lawrence, four;
Springfield, 65; Worcester, 50; and Holyoke, 9. Police and federal agents in Nashua, New Hampshire, made 150 arrests, the largest per capita of
any New England city. See “Over 300 Alleged Reds are Arrested in New England,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 3, 1920.
“Lowell Police make Round-up of Radicals in Socialist Hall,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 3, 1920.
“Five Reds Taken to Boston,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 5, 1920.
His original name was most likely Syen Ignatowicz. It’s a little difficult to be sure since he used several anglicizations, in later years mostly
Stanley Agnatovech. The first time he appears in the Lowell City Directory is as Stefan Ignatof in 1909. He is listed as Syen Agnatovech in the
city directory of 1911 and Steven Agnatovech in 1912. The Ignatof name continued in the City Directory for several years, alongside
Agnatovech at the same address. It’s likely he reported one name to the Directory canvasser at home and his boss reported the original name that
he had used to the canvasser who called at work. Syen/Steven/Stefan/Stephen/Stanley/Staniswof in 1912 is listed working for Ernest Lundgren
and living with with Daer (later David) Agnatovech, his brother, who was also a shoemaker. For the marriage of Steven Agnatowich to
Bronislawa Apolia on Feb. 20, 1909, see Mass. Vital Records 1840-1910 (online at Lowell, Vol587 p488. Blanch is in
the Lowell City Directory for 1909 as Bronislawa Apola, living at 57 Lakeview Avenue, working as an operative. Her maiden name is reported as
Ajolo in the record of the birth of their first child, David in 1909; Mass. Vital Records 1840-1910 Lowell, Vol. 583 p499. Steven and Blanch
Ignatowicz appear in the Census for 1910 on Lakeview Avenue, Lowell Microfilm Roll T624_600 ED863 sheet11A, which notes he was born in
Great Russia in 1890 and immigrated in1908. They moved to 72 Beacon Street in 1912, where they lived until the arrests.
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The other men arrested and shipped to Deer Island lived in working-class neighborhoods. This included Benjamin
Chaluda, a 36-year-old Lithuanian immigrant who worked as a comber in a woolen mill, Joseph Lescarbeau, a 79year-old French Canadian who had immigrated to the United States in 1900 and worked as a textile operative and
laborer, and William Matchas, who was apparently a Swedish immigrant and had no fixed address at the time of his
arrest. 34
Two days after the “Red” raid, Lowell police arrested another suspect, Onufrio Kulbach, another of Evpak’s
cobblers. A Lithuanian who came from Russia to the United States in 1912, Kulbach and his wife Helen, a Polish
émigré, boarded with a large Polish family on Abbott Street, which was located in a working-class neighborhood of
Irish, Polish, and Portuguese residents. 35 Officers searched Kulbach’s home and found a large amount of radical
literature. Like Evpak, Kulbach was sent to prison on Deer Island for further questioning. 36 Another man, John
Zarowski, also a Lithuanian immigrant, was arrested in a bowling alley, allegedly drunk and loudly proclaiming he
was a bolshevist and that the Communist Party was “justified” in its actions. Police brought Zarowski before Judge
Enright who ordered him held in the city jail. At a second hearing, the following morning, Zarowski professed his
allegiance to the United States, stating, “I like this country and I want to live here all the time.” After Zarowski
promised to demonstrate his “liking for the country in his actions and speech,” the judge put him on probation for
six months. 37
The arrests of suspected communists in the city continued into mid-January. Two more men were picked up on
federal warrants and sent to Deer Island. One was Joseph Nadworny, secretary of the Polish Communists of Lowell.
The investigation into his background and his subsequent apprehension reveals the tragic and farcical dimensions of
the Palmer raids of 1920. Nadworny, a Russian Pole, had immigrated to the United States in 1909 and was living in
Lowell by 1919. Initially employed at the U.S. Cartridge Company, a large munitions manufacturer, Nadworny then
obtained a job as an edge trimmer at a shoe factory in Lawrence. He lived with his wife Amelia, five-year-old son
John, and a 12-year old lodger, Olga Mazik, on High Street in a lower middle-class and working class
neighborhood. At the time of the raids police officers visited Nadworny’s home expecting to uncover radical
literature, but instead found “a generous display of American flags, and red, white, and blue displayed on all sides.”
Believing that authorities were mistaken they left Nadworny undisturbed. Police superintendent Welch, however,
was convinced that Nadworny was a “red” and when he received word that a “radical,” who had been arrested in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, was carrying a Nadworny-signed letter concerning financial support for leftist activities,
he ordered police to pick him up. Nadworny was then sent to Deer Island. 38
A number of prominent Lowellians, fraternal organizations, and opinion shapers voiced their approval of the Palmer
raids and suppression of socialist dissent. Editors of the city’s two major English-language newspapers applauded
the arrests of radical “aliens.” The Democratic paper, the Lowell Sun, called the actions of the Justice Department
“commendable” and warned that aliens who “preach overthrow of government and violence, or who indulge in
inflammatory utterances against American laws and institutions, will come immediately under the surveillance of
“Five Reds Taken to Boston,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 5, 1920. Benjamin (Radal) Chaluda immigrated to the United States in 1905.
He lived with his wife Antonia, also a Lithuanian émigré who arrived in American in 1908 and worked in Lowell as a spinner in the U.S. Bunting
Company’s mill, and two children both of whom were born in Massachusetts. See Federal Census, 1920, Lowell, Massachusetts, Microfilm Roll
710, ED207, p. 273B. Joseph Lescarbeau was by far the oldest man arrested as a radical in Lowell. He lived on Moody Street with his wife
Marie, his son George, and daughter-in-law Marie who were both textile workers. See Federal Census, 1920, Lowell, Massachusetts, Microfilm
Roll 711, ED185, p. 25B. Lowell’s French language newspaper covered the “Red” raids and highlighted below its headline “La Guerre aux
Radicaux a Lowell” the apprehending of Joseph Lescarbeau. See L’Etoile, January 5, 1920.
Census Lowell Ward 5 ED212 p11B.
“Another Suspect Arrested,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 6, 1920. For information on Kulbach see Federal Census, 1920, Lowell,
Massachusetts, Microfilm Roll 711A, ED212, p. 11B, and city directories.
John Zarowski (also spelled Zarofski) does not appear in Lowell’s city directories. Unlike the other suspected “reds” who were picked up on
federal warrants, Lowell police arrested Zarowski on a charge of public drunkenness and disturbing the peace. In his appearance before Judge
Enright at the Lowell Police Court, Zarowski explained that he was a Lithuanian and had come to the United States in 1911. The judge set
Zarowski’s bail at $500, considerably less than the bail he had ordered for Belida and Piekarski. “Another Radical Suspect Arrested.” Lowell
Courier-Citizen, January 6, 1920, and “Changes His Tune,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 7, 1920.
For information on Nadworny see Federal Census, 1920, Lowell, Massachusetts, Microfilm Roll 711A, ED214, p. 82A, and city directories,
1919 and 1920. For accounts of his arrest see “Two More Radical Suspects Arrested,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 14, 1920, and the Lowell
Sun, January 13, 1920. The other man arrested, Paul Kazura, allegedly admitted to being a member of the Russian Communists of Lowell.
Kazura lived on Hale Street in a predominately Russian Jewish neighborhood and police found “a large amount of radical literature,” including “a
group picture of Trotzky [sic], Lenine [sic], and Eugene V. Debs” hanging on a wall. For descriptions of the “subversive” material police found
at his home see the same newspaper article cited above.
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Ethnicity and Enterprise
agents of the government and will be arrested whenever their activities reach a point where they are regarded as
inimical to the public welfare.” 39 “Several hundred malcontents of the more vehement kind,” the Courier-Citizen
observed, “were seized without warning and have been brought to the question. By no means all will be held we
suppose—but the drag-net must have got some very needful fish.”
Among the charges hurled at Evpak and other unnaturalized “aliens” who were arrested during the raids was that
they were anti-American bent on the “overthrow of law and order.” An Americanization campaign, which included
state-sponsored English-language classes and civics courses aimed at immigrants, had been underway in Lowell and
in other Massachusetts cities before the Palmer raids, but intensified in the aftermath. Among the statewide leaders
in the Americanization effort was Lowell resident and probate judge John E. Leggat. As members of the
Massachusetts branch of the American Legion, Leggat and a group of Legion delegates announced that they were
going to “help Americanize the alien and actively combat any Bolshevist or other radical movement … in the state.”
Much of this Americanization effort, they believed, needed to be aimed at that state’s public schools, especially the
teaching of history. Delegates recommended a substantial revision of the history curriculum that would give far
greater attention to American history. One delegate went so far as to urge that European history be stricken entirely
from the public school curriculum. 40
For the families of suspected “radicals” arrested during the “Red” raid in Lowell, the Americanization speeches and
anti-alien rhetoric likely added to confusion and anxiety they were experiencing. Officials at Deer Island released
little information concerning the condition of those held in the prison. Only later was it learned that prisoners had
been taken to the immigration office in Boston where, after questioning, they were forced to march in chains the to
dock, from which they were taken to the Deer Island prison. As historian Robert Murray observed, the conditions at
Deer Island were “deplorable; heat was lacking, sanitation was poor, and restrictions holding [the prisoners]
incommunicado were rigidly enforced.” One man committed suicide, while another went insane. Two prisoners
subsequently died of pneumonia. 41
David Evpak’s incarceration at Deer Island was one of the briefest of any prisoner. Despite an early report that
“New England’s radical crew” had met as a group and decided to “accept deportation without legal battle,”42 Evpak
and many others obtained legal counsel to contest the accusations brought against them. Evpak hired Lowell
attorney Edward J. Tierny, who represented him at a hearing before the federal deputy commissioner of
immigration, James Sullivan. According to one report, Evpak testified that “America was a mighty good country to
live in” and that he wanted to live here and “bring up his family as good American citizens.” Further, Evpak
“denied any connection with radical societies.” Sullivan declared that Evpak was “in no way connected with radical
activities” in Lowell and ordered his release. 43
After spending nearly a week on Deer Island, Evpak returned to Lowell, accompanied by his attorney. As he got off
the train, he was overheard stating emphatically to Tierney, “It’s certainly nice to be back in Lowell.” In public he
made no comment critical of the actions that had been taken against him, his employees, or his fellow prisoners. In
fact, Evpak said he had no complaints about his confinement at Deer Island. He stated that the men were “well
treated” and, “while they didn’t, of course, have the comforts of home, they were comfortably sheltered and always
got ‘three-squares” a day. Evpak also told a reporter that he was going to apply “immediately” for citizenship. 44
His public statements aside, Evpak’s arrest was undoubtedly a harrowing experience for him, his wife, and his
fellow prisoners. His employee Onufrio Kulbach was released a week after him, and within a few weeks almost all
of the captives were let go. Like Evpak, none of the ex-prisoners spoke out publicly against the government, the
police actions, or violations of their civil liberties. Many of those who were arrested from Lowell did not remain
city residents for long never returned to Lowell. Kulbach stayed a few months, in time for the Federal Census
“Anti-Radical Campaign,” Lowell Sun, January 10, 1920.
“Legion to Help Americanize Alien,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 5, 1920; “War on Radicalism,” Lowell Sun, January 6, 1920.
Murray, Red Scare, p. 213.
“New England Reds no to Contest Deportation,” Lowell Citizen-Courier, January 7, 1920.
“Back From Deer Island,” Lowell Sun, January 10, 1920.
“Evpak is Cleared of Radical Leanings,” Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 12, 1920; the quotes are from “Back from Deer Island,” Lowell Sun,
January 10, 1920.
Lowell National Historical Park
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138 Middlesex Street – Evpak
Ethnicity and Enterprise
conducted in June, then moved to Wakefield, Mass., where he opened his own shop under the name Oscar’s Shoe
Repair. 45 Others like Joseph Nadworny, stayed for a year and then departed.
As seen through the experience of one individual, David Evpak, the Palmer raids were not only emotionally
wrenching to those swept up in it, but they also led to financial hardship. While Evpak was incarcerated on Deer
Island, his creditors in Lowell placed attachments on his real estate and personal property. It appears that he had to
sell the parcel of land he owned in the Highlands neighborhood and he, Daisy Evpak, and their infant daughter,
Anna, boarded in a two-family house on Broadway. Eventually they purchased the dwelling and they continued to
live there until the early 1970s.
Like Evpak, Stephan Agnatovech stayed in Lowell but suffered financially with the arrests. He moved from affluent
Christian Hill to 103 Tremont Street, a corner house with large mills on two sides. After the arrest in early 1920, he
obviously felt fearful of the federal government when the census was taken a few months later, reporting his name
as Stanley Steves. 46 He also reverted to using Ignatowicz with given name Staniswof for the city directory. By 1926,
when he opened his own shop, he was comfortable enough to again use the name Stephen Agnatovech. 47
Evpak and his wife became American citizens and continued to live and run their shoe repair business in the Spindle
City. He continued to operate United Shoe Repairing at the Post Office Square location until 1963, when he moved a
block away to the store on 138 Middlesex Street. His business remained small and for a few years his son, David
A., Jr., worked with him. In 1972 he retired from his cobbler shop. 48 He and Daisy then moved to the Sacramento,
California area. Their adult children, David and Anna, subsequently moved to the same part of California. 49 David,
Sr., died in November 1972 and his wife died September 1976. 50
The extent to which David Evpak was involved in radical politics in Lowell in the late 1910s likely never will be
known. It appears that after his release from Deer Island he remained aloof from politics altogether. The effect of
the “Red” raids on the Socialist Party and radical politics in Lowell is equally hard to determine. While Socialist
Hall closed down and never reopened, radical left-wing groups periodically attempted to organize in Lowell. In
1924, the IWW returned briefly to the Spindle City, but their effort to interest textile workers in radical unionism
proved a failure. Ten years later, during the general textile strike, the American Communist Party surfaced in
Lowell. The Communist textile organizer, Ann Burlak, known as the “Red Flame,” campaigned energetically in the
city. And yet she too found that, in the Spindle City, the seeds of radical politics fell on barren soil. The high-water
mark of Socialist politics in Lowell that had risen three decades earlier was never exceeded. Ironically, in the
predominately working-class city of Lowell, it was a small segment of the artisanal and entrepreneurial classes that
had led the way in radical politics.
Kulbach is missing from the Lowell City Directory for 1921. He shows up in the Wakefield City Directory 1936, 1938. According to the
Social Security Death Index, Onufria Kulbach died in 1967, with the last known address of Wakefield.
Census 1920 Lowell Ward2 Microfilm Roll T625_711 ED183 p2B.
Census 1930 Lowell Ward 1 Microfilm Roll 920 ED9-81 p4B. See city directories for 1909-1935.
David Evpak, Jr., married a French Canadian woman, Lorraine Bouthiette, in 1949. He worked in his father’s shop in the 1950s. Later he
became a driver for a lumber company. They lived next to his parents in the two-family house at 806 Broadway until they moved to California in
1974. See the city directories from 1949 to 1973. See the city directory for the 1960s for David Senior’s shop movements.
Phone interview with David Evpak, grandson of David A Evpak, conducted by Gray Fitzsimons, 21 Sep 2001.
Social Security Death Index online. Last checks went to Sacramento.
Lowell National Historical Park
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