Sonia Tsvetkoff

The Elioff Family

Sonia Tsvetkoff’s grandfather, Peter Elioff, came to Youngstown in 1907 and went to work at Youngstown Sheet and Tube. Like so many other immigrants, he was looking for a better life but also hoping to avoid being conscripted into the army.  Sonia’s father was born in Macedonia, and he and Sonia’s grandmother came to Youngstown a few years later, once Peter was settled in Campbell.  Sonia’s father about a young teenager at the time.   He went to school in Campbell and learned English there.  When he grew up, he opened an auto body shop in the neighborhood, and he lived on Robinson Road in Campbell for the rest of his life.

Dimko Moteff outside Chaney High Confectionery

Sonia’s mother also came from Macedonia, from an area called Macedonia Prilep. Her parents, Rampo and Spacia Alexoff, came to the US early in the 20th century.  Rampo died during the Spanish Flu epidemic in the 1920s, and Spacia remarried.  Her second husband, Dimko Moteff, owned a grocery store and confectionery on Mahoning Avenue, on the West Side.  Spacia had three children.

Sonia’s parents were both Macedonian, but they met and married in Youngstown.  They had five children.  While Sonia describes their Campbell neighborhood as a “little Europe,” with people from many different countries, her life was centered around the Macedonian community. Sonia grew up in the Eastern Orthodox religion, attending the Macedonian Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox church on Youngstown’s West Side.  When her family first arrived in Youngstown, they attended the Russian Orthodox church, because no Macedonian church had been started yet.

Jordan & Sonia, married May 27th 1962

Like her mother, Sonia married a Macedonian.  She described the Macedonian immigrant community as very close, in part because the church formed such a strong core.  They maintained ties not only within the Mahoning  Valley but with relatives and friends across the U.S. and Canada.  Macedonian immigrants and their descendants hold annual conventions, including one in Youngstown, at Stambaugh Auditorium, in 1939.  Sonia and her three children still attend these events.

Local Macedonian Dance Group 1937, Sonia's Mom & Dad

Sonia knows that people sometimes confuse Macedonians with Russians and Greeks.  The languages are similar, and all attend Eastern Orthodox churches, but there are also differences.  In her family, the language and culture have always been important.  They spoke the Macedonian language at home, and it was used in church, as well.

Sonia & Siblings

Sonia also speaks fondly of Macedonian foods, for holidays and everyday fare, as well.

She remembers both fasting and celebrations for major holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Read the complete transcript of Sonia’s interview with Mary Ellen Wilcox.

2 Responses to “Sonia Tsvetkoff”

  1. Hello Sonia,

    I am looking for information on my uncle Milan Stefanoff that lived in Youngstown around the early 1930’s to the best of my knowledge. He owned a store that was bombed by someone. He may have had another business on Short St. He was from Prilep. May have been related to the Peter Evanoff family. Any info kindly appreciated.
    Basil Stephanoff

  2. Hello, this is for the Sonia Tsvetkoff part on your site.
    My grandfather also came from Macedonia in the 1900s and he
    settled in Campbell, ohio…his name as I know it(it may have
    been changed after coming into America)is Nicholas Gorcheff.
    Seems Sonia Tsvetkoff lived (or the family had) at the same time.
    Please get back with me with any input on this you may be able to

    Thanks in adavance,
    Robert Gorcheff

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