"I have another question related to my grandfather John Nagrocki who
came to the US in 1913 >from Vilkija at the age of 15. His parents never
visited him in the US. Was this common in Lithuania at this time,
that the children immigrated to the US while the parents stayed behind?"
In addition to Herbert Lazerow's reply, here's another with a few
In my research experience, this often happened. I think there were
several factors that affected whether parents also made a decision to
settle in another country:
1. Age must be a factor. If the parents were elderly that would probably
mean they woudn't want to face a long journey to settle in a strange
2. Money must also be a factor. The cost of the journey might have meant
that not all members of the family could travel at the same time.
3. Language would be a problem as would literacy. While most men (and
some women) would be able to read and write in Yiddish, they would not
have come across the English Language (I'm talking about pre WWI). While
a young person might relish the challenge to learn another language and
script, my guess is that the older people would not. Education at those
times, and for people confined to the Pale of Settlement, would have
been basic, to enable people to get some kind of job and to be able to
read and write. Some would have learned Russian - useful in trade, but
not learned English or much about other countries.
4. The parents might have owned land in Lithuania and may not have
wanted to sell it, or been able to sell it.
5. What would a person >from the countryside in Lithuania do in a city
such as New York? Everything would be unfamiliar and somewhat
frightening. Whereas they might be able to carry on working in their
home village, would they be able to do so in the USA/UK?
In my family research there's a mixture of young people coming over here
(UK) on their own, never to be joined or visited by their parents; whole
families travelling together; and one young person travelling alone, to
be joined in a few years by the rest of his family. There certainly were
people who travelled back to Lithuania after emigrating to visit their
family - this happened in my family - and there were Rabbis who
travelled here (UK) to collect money for their congregations in
Lithuania, so there was a certain amount of travel, but for ordinary,
not wealthy families, when your son or daughter, or both, emigrated,
that might well have meant that you'd never see them again.