<< My grandfather John Nagrocki 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? >>
It was not uncommon.
Typically, young people came first to a place in the U.S. where
they knew someone. They worked hard and saved their money to bring
their relatives over. It was apparently easier to accumulate a
surplus in the U.S. than in Lithuania.
However, older people tended to be less adventurous and to have
more ties at home. Older people may have had illnesses that prevented
For instance, my grandfather's much older brother >from Kelme
Lithuania immigrated in the 1880s. My gf came in 1896. His brother
followed. Their parents never immigrated. Their sister, who was
married and had (at least) three children, did not immigrate. Then
the sister's teenaged children immigrated.
It was also common for the children to bring their parents and
their younger siblings to the U.S.
There is a special problem in your case. Soon after your gf
immigrated, World War I broke out. Immigration >from Europe plummets.
There were more than a million European immigrants in both 1913 and
1914. That drops to 200,000 in 1915, 150,000 in 1916 and 1917, 30,000
in 1918, and 25,000 in 1919, before rising to 250,000 in 1920 and
650,000 in 1921. Then comes the Immigration Act of 1922, and
immigration severely declines again.
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
Author: Mastering Art Law (Carolina Academic Press 2015)