Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

LITHUANIANS IN ALBION

Morning Star, June 16, 1996

In the Spring 1996 issue of Genealogija (just issued), there is a large 5-page article by yours truly entitled, “Lithuanians in Albion, Michigan.” This high-quality national magazine is published by the Lithuanian-American Genealogical Society at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago, Illinois. The article focuses on eastern European immigrants who came to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company during the first two decades of the 20th century, and then moves to specific Lithuanian families who came to live in Albion.

This article has provided national exposure to our community, and is highly illustrated on glossy-paper. I encourage our readers to obtain a copy of this work, which will be a standard Albion ethnic reference in the future. It is available for $5.00 from the gift shop at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, 6500 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60629. E-mail: giftshop@lithuanian-museum.org.

The article is written from a genealogical viewpoint, and relates how several hundred Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and White Russian workers came to work at the Albion Malleable, and were placed in company housing on N. Albion Street and Austin Avenue in the vicinity of the plant. The area became known as the “foreign settlement,” and two Russian ethnic churches were established on Austin Avenue at the time.

It was on account of the Albion Malleable that many of our ancestor’s surnames (that’s last names in genealogical lingo) got changed from their original foreign spelling. Often our ancestors could not read or write, and officials wrote down how a surname sounded. But there were other cases where Malleable foreman actually “simplified” (for them) the spelling of a surname. One foreman, after hearing the long surname of one Russian worker, pointed to the man and exclaimed, “Your name is Smith!” Hence the man went by Smith from that point on and it was recorded as such on his records, Society Security, etc. A genealogist’s nightmare. Ask your parents or grandparents how their surname spelling got changed from the original, and I bet  you’ll hear some interesting stories.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of my maternal grandfather, Nikodimas Kulikauskas (1890-1975), whose name was changed at the Malleable to Michael Kulikowski. Like many Lithuanians, he came to this country and ended up in Chicago. After living there several years, he came to Albion with his family in 1918 to work at the Malleable. Mike is shown proudly holding a fish he caught during a Malleable fishing contest in 1955. This picture was originally published in the company magazine, the “Circle-A-Tor.”

We conclude this week with the surnames of some Lithuanian families in Albion’s history. I encourage you to contact the Balzekas Museum for a copy of the Spring, 1996 issue of Genealogija to find out more. Names in parentheses are what the spellings were changed to here in Albion. Some families are still here, others are now gone. Simaskevicius (Simaske), Kulikauskas (Kulikowski), Jasenas, Kazlauckas, Michnevicius (Michniewicz), Shimkus, Kniburys, Jasiulevicius, Skridulis, Tautkus, Kantauskas, Baskevich, Raulinaitis, Miklovich, and Greiza.


Nikodimas Kulikauskas (Mike) with Fish in 1955

Next: LYNN BOGUE HUNT PART 1


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