MPO History - Vasil K. Eshcoff was the Second President of the MPO Central Committee
by Christo N. Nizamoff
In the first article of this special series, I described the apathy and skepticism which had disheartened our people in the USA and Canada. The cruel and unjust treaties after the First World War ceded the greater part of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece. The abrupt dissolution of the Macedono-Bulgarian Societies was another totally unexpected blow which added fuel to the already widespread discouragement.
In spite of these unfavorable conditions, it was pointed out that a group of our countrymen who remained unaffected by the prevailing apathy gathered in October, 1922, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and unconcerned by the criticism and despair of the majority of our immigrants, deliberated for three days and laid the foundation of the Macedonian Patriotic Organizations of the USA and Canada.
The first president of the newly elected Central Committee was Anastas Stephanoff, president of the Ft. Wayne Brotherhood. Tempered in the long struggle for freedom and independence, the group which had gathered in Ft. Wayne was a rare breed of patriots. They refused to be carried away by the wave of skepticism or to follow the false promises of Marxist opposition. And they stood their ground.
The barbs and criticism against the newly formed group continued unabated. These were joined by people with special interests and others who had their own axes to grind. And they failed.
Looking in retrospect one can easily conclude that the critics helped to pass the word among the immigrants that a group had been formed to seek freedom and independence for Macedonia. This anti-Macedonian propaganda helped in many cases to arouse the dormant spirit and love of homeland and freedom among many of our countrymen.
And although they did not rush immediately to join the MPO, slowly but surely, they were conditioned to take that step. In spite of all the obstacles the MPO survived, and its Central Committee called the second convention in Indianapolis, Ind.
The reports of the delegates were encouraging. They saw prospects of increased interest and membership. They insisted on patience and persistence.
With one exception the newly elected Central Committee was composed of members of the Fort Wayne Brotherhood, still the bastion of the MPO. The officers were Vasil K.Eshcoff, president; Atanas Lebamoff, vice-president; Mike Kozma, Treasurer; Michael Nicoloff, secretary, and Pavel Angeloff of Chicago, Adviser. Their mandate was primarily to hold the fort and await patiently for better times. They did.
The Eshcoff presidency, like the presidency of Anastas Stephanoff, can be credited with holding the mandate. They tried the best they could to keep in touch by corresponding with other groups and individuals. The treasurer on many occasions used his own money to meet current expenses. The Secretary, Mr. Nicoloff, was a sterling patriot who was well-acquainted with the history of the Macedonian problem.
Vasil K. Eshcoff was born in the village of Vishani, Kostursko. He came to the United States in 1910. He was a devoted and generous patriot and an active member of MPO "Kostur" Fort Wayne. In fact, all of his family members were involved in the activities of the MPO. His untimely death in 1961 was a great loss to his family and to all of us who knew him as a friend.
We shall remember him as a true and devoted son of Macedonia who, in the darkest period of her days, stood on her side and fought for her freedom and independence.
The writer had worked for the MPO for more than 40 years. After retirement he continued to write articles for this newspaper until his death in 1989.
Reprinted from the July 5, 1984, MACEDONIAN TRIBUNE.