Passes Away — Dug His Own Grave Years Ago




Like a child dropping to sleep Father Agapius Honcharenko passed to eternal rest last Friday at his hermit home in the hills back of Hayward. For nearly half a century this remarkable Russian exile lived with his wife in this secluded spot, and he was beloved by all who knew him for his gentleness, open hearted hospitality and charity.

He took a great pride in the raising of rare vegetables and flowers. The death of his wife about a year ago a great blow to him and he never recovered from the shock.




Father Honcharenko was a native of Ukraine and aged about 84 years. He was driven from Ukraine nearly sixty years ago, following the publication of writings urging greater freedom for the peasants. He reached Greece in 1857. A short time after his arrival he was invited to dine on a Russian warship. On boarding it he was served with a warrant of arrest and hurried back to Russia. He escaped, disguised, on arriving there and fled to San Francisco, where he was attacked by emissaries of the Czar, narrowly escaping. At that time, the Russian government put a price of 5,000 roubles on his head. In 1865 he arrived in Hayward, seeking refuge from his enemies in the hills.

About a month ago Father Honcharenko sent word to his devoted friend and benefactor, R. Reed that he was ill. A doctor and a nurse were at once procured and everything was done to make his last days as comfortable as possible.




Above the sighing of pine trees and the plaintive calls of wild bird in the solitude of Hayward’s hills, Monday sounded a strange dirge for the dead. As the solemn incantation in Russian droned forth one could imagine the Russian dead heroes.

Out in the open air under the pine tree he planted fifty years ago lay the body of Father Honcharenko, Russian exile, former confessor of Count Leo Tolstoy and inveterate enemy all his life of the Russian bureaucracy. The priest was dressed in the robes of the Orthodox Greek church.

Around the open casket were grouped a band of ranchers fresh from the toils of the fields, Russian friends, among them former Nihilist associates of the aged priest from San Francisco and Hayward beneficiaries of Honcharenko.

They brought with them many beautiful wreaths and soon the coffin and bier were almost hidden by these floral tributes.

The services were held in front of the little ranch house, which Honcharenko had known as home for more that fifty years. Rev. W. H. Johnstone, pastor of Hayward Methodist Church, and Rev. J. Glazko, of the Russian Presbyterian Mission, San Francisco, were officiating ministers.




From there the little cortege wended its way over the steep hillside to a point on Honcharenko’s ranch overlooking the bay. Here the remains of the famous exile were laid at rest in a hillside grave side by side with those of his faithful spouse who died one year ago. Two simple crosses on which are inscribed the names of the priest and his wife mark the spot.

Rev. Johnstone reviewed briefly Honcharenko’s life work and his struggles on behalf of the freedom of the Russian serf. The influence of the priest’s writings in the cause of liberty would, he said, be felt for hundreds of years to come. "Not only did Honcharenko strive to aid his own countrymen," continued Rev. Johnstone. "His labors were for the betterment of the conditions of the lower class in all Europe.

"Although it is not generally known Honcharenko proved an important factor in the development of this country. Largely through his advice and encouragement it is said did the United States come into possession of Alaska. Honcharenko’s principles for the uplift of humanity have gone out into the world and they will never die."

The heroism of Honcharenko in battling against the government of the Czar was the theme of Rev. Glazko’s eulogy. "I would like to see every man in Russia possess such courage as Honcharenko," said Rev. Glazko. "Very few have the courage to stand against the Russian government as did this heroic priest. Men there believe in social and even religious affairs as their government bids them. Honcharenko was one of the rare exceptions Russia will yet live to benefit from his example.




Honcharenko passed away in his ranch home Friday. He had been in failing health ever since the death of his wife. With the passing of the famous Russian exile, his heavily mortgaged ranch will revert to the holder of the mortgage. Honcharenko was saved from ejection from the ranch several years ago when a number of Hayward citizens headed by R. Reid prevented the foreclosing of the mortgage.

The mourners included R. Reid, F. J. Russell, Mrs. C. McCord, Mrs. L. C. Lombard, Mrs. H. D. Williams, Mr. And Mrs. A. W. Morris, Mrs. A. R. Gomes, C. C. Johnson, E. A. Dobbel, Samuel Hamilton, Charles Hauschildt, Mr. And Mrs. J. D. Heinke, L. Milton, Antone Silva and Manuel Rogers, all of Hayward and Mr. and Mrs. R. Johnson of Berkeley, and many others.


The Hayward Journal, Friday, May 12, 1916.

Published every Friday morning. Mrs. Geo. A. Oakes, Proprietor, Geo. H. Oakes, Business Manager.