The Beekeepers at Larchwood

That is how the Terleckyj brothers, Serhij and Cymtry, were known to the people of Larchwood and the surrounding area.  If anyone was to inquire about them, they would probably be told that they hardly knew them, and they produced and sold excellent honey from their beekeeping enterprise, but they were very, very private persons and “different.”  Some folks referred to the two brothers as “recluses.”  Everyone seemed to agree that the two beekeepers were certainly eccentric.

Serhij, the older of the brothers, died in a hospital in 1983.  Dmytro later entered a nursing home and died in 1994.  Dmytro made arrangements for the sale of their property while at the nursing home.  After Dmytro’s death a box was discovered in the house that related much of their life story, and that, along with the bee-keeping equipment, was turned over to the Lyon County Historical Society.  As Paul Harvey would say on one of his programs, “and this is the rest of the story.”

Serhij and Dmytro Terleckyj were sons of a wealthy Ukranian farmer in the Soviet Union .  Their father and older brother were taken from their home by the Russian government and forced to work in a labor camp where they both died.  At the time the father and brother were taken away, Serhij and Dymtro escaped.  Where they went or how they managed to stay out of the clutches of the Russian authorities may never be known.  However, in 1929, all of their property was confiscated by the authorities.   In 1943, the brothers must have been in Germany and were forced into labor camps.  They were liberated in 1945 by the American armed forces.

In 1951, they were granted permission to emigrate to the United States and landed in New York .  From there they apparently worked at a variety of jobs located in the eastern United States and eventually ended up in Minnesota where they worked for some beekeepers.  From there they came to Sioux Falls where they owned and operated a small grocery store on the east side.  In 1972, they came to Larchwood where they purchased a home on a small acreage outside of the town of Larchwood .  It was here they established their own beekeeping business.  They kept to themselves, minded their own business, and confided in no one.  Soon people respected their way of life and respected their wish for privacy.  After their life story became known, people realized that in all probability, their life-style was a result of the terrifying days in the Soviet Union .  They lived in a very frugal manner, did not seem to trust anyone, and actually always seemed suspicious of everyone.  They had come to the land of freedom, but it always seemed, in the back of their minds, that someone was going to locate them and take them back to the labor camps in Russia .

They apparently had no living relatives in the Ukraine as there was no correspondence available to indicate any.  Dolly Zangger arranged an interesting display for the 2003 fair on the story of the Terleckyj brothers.  On display were also the beehives and honey-gathering equipment used by the pair for so many years.  The museum in Rock Rapids plans on continuing the display and the story of the Beekeepers of Larchwood.

Written by Evelyn Halverson
Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner

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