Global True Lithuania Lithuanian communities and heritage worldwide

Indiana

Northern Indiana was absorbed by suburban Chicago - "Lithuanian-American capital". Some Chicagoans moved in there.

The heart of Lithuanians in Indiana is the resort town of Beverly Shores near the famous Indiana Dunes of Lake Michigan. 12,5% of its ~700 inhabittants are Lithuanians. In 1968 a local park was renamed after Lituanica plane; a statue for Darius and Girėnas who piloted that aircraft in a doomed first air mail voyage accross Atlantic also stands here (1971, author Juozas Baltakis). Tennis and basketball courts, a pond are nearby. Beverly Shores also have a Lithuanian club.

Nearby city of Gary once had a Lithuanian St. Casimir church (closed ~2000). Old modest two-floored building survives (1368 West 15th Avenue) and is still crowned by corsses but today it operates as an independent Power and Light church.

Former St. Casimir church of Gary, Indiana of a design that incorporated religious and secular needs into one building and was typical to smaller Lithuanian communities. Google Street View.

East Chicago also had its Lithuanian church (demolished, formerly 3903 Main Street) and still has a street named after Lituanica.

In 1976 Lithuanian community has also been established in the state capital Indianapolis. Indianapolis is among the growing US cities, expanding its population fourfold since the first Lithuanian wave of immigration ~1910. That's why back then it had no Lithuanians but in 1990s it attracted new immigrants rejuvenating the community. There is a Lithuanian school and band.

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  1. This is a great collection of historic facts, an extensive fact sheet for young people interested in their heritage.
    Is there any consideration in compiling a similar collection of Canadian communities which are numerous throughout the provinces, during all three waves of immigration?

  2. Augustinas, Yours is one very thorough paper about Lithuanian-Americans. I was disappointed to not read more about Jewish emigration from Lithuania, mostly, I believe from the first wave. Your country lost over 95% of its Jewish community to the Nazis. Did you know that 2/3’s of American Jews are from Eastern Europe and many of those from Lithuania?

    • yes mate, we Lithuanians know that, but I do not know why, a lot of people forget to mention that..

    • Thanks. The goal of Global True Lithuania website is not to document migration from Lithuania as such, but rather Lithuanian heritage abroad (i.e. buildings, plaques, parks, etc.). For heritage to be documented here, it has to have some association to Lithuania, such as its name, Lithuania-related architectural details, plaques detailing history of Lithuania or migration from it, the usage of building (historical or current) exclusively by a Lithuania-originated community.

      While the number of Jewish migrants from Lithuania was indeed large, as my research has often pointed, it was common practice for Jewish emigrants from Lithuania to integrate into the Jewish communities at their place of destination without establishing a separate Lithuanian-Jewish community or leaving heritage anyhow related to Lithuania (the mere fact that emigrants from Lithuania participated in construction or development of the building is not enough for that building to be included in Global True Lithuania; if it would be otherwise, we would have to include also, for example, every building in USA designed by a Lithuanian architect, which would clearly be beyond our scope).

      Of course, there are exceptions where Jews who emigrated from Lithuania has created something that could also be considered Lithuania’s heritage abroad, and we try to document them. For instance, the article on Boston includes an image and history of Vilna Shul, a synagogue named after the capital of Lithuania. I know of also Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland and Ponevezh Yeshiva in Israel named after Lithuanian cities by Jews who once lived in Lithuania. These are on my plans to be added. If you know more similar locations, you are welcome to write in comments and they will be added to respective articles.

      As for massive Jewish emigration before World War 1, you are correct; the emigration was such that Jewish share in Lithuania more than halved in decades before 1918. However, the idea that 95% of the remaining population were lost in 1940s alone is an often-cited oversimplification. Such a decline actually happened over the period a century. While the Holocaust was the largest post-WW1 loss-triggering event, there was much Jewish emigration after World War 1 as well. We provide census data on how the Lithuania’s Jewish numbers declined in the article Jews of Lithuania at our sister site. The decline between censae of 1923 and 1959 was around 88%; however, even in this period there were many who succesfully emigrated before the WW2 (1920s-1930s) or were helped to flee the Nazi occupation by righteous-among-nations people (for example, Telshe Yeshiva students and faculty retreated from Lithuania to USA because of the latter). USA was a regular destination of Jewish emigrants throughout the two centuries. However, USA was joined by South Africa and Palestine as popular destinations after World War 1. After World War 2 Lithuania still had ~25 000 Jews, most of whom emigrated afterwards (especially to Israel). If you have any information on Lithuania-related heritage in other places Lithuania’s Jews emigrated after World War 1, you are also welcome to provide it.

  3. Very impressive compilation on Lithuanians in America. There is so much left to learn about Lithuanian culture, and I appreciate your careful efforts to educate those who have not yet become fully involved within the community.

  4. Impressive amount of information. Congratulations. A correction on the Cleveland entry. St. George parish and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish were both closed in 2009 and merged to form a new parish – St. Casimir. Although Bishop Lennon could have simply closed both existing Lithuanian parishes, he bent the rules of the diocesan reorganization and merged the geographically separated parishes into one, and appointed a Lithuanian (St. George parish pastor) priest to head the new parish. Tahnk you.

  5. Thanks for the almost thorough information. I picked up on the article reprinted in VYTIS (Knights of Lithuania magazine). With regards to Pennsylvania, I find it disappointing that you did not include St. Joseph Church in DuBois, PA, which is currently recognized as the oldest still-functioning Lithuanian church in the United States. The Erie Diocese is currently weighing what churches to close in Diocese and is anticipated to make an announcement in the Spring of 2016. Let’s hope St. Joseph’s doesn’t lose it’s current status among Lithuanian churches.

  6. Hallo. This is fantastic. Who knows if there is a hockeyrink close by. Lithuanian Boys would like to play there for a season. Please write back. Bernd Haake Nationalteam Coach


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