Our immigrant ancestors are the foundation of our roots in the United States. If they did not endure the challenges of emigration, our lives would be much different. We should not underestimate their contributions. Their roles in the factories of Maine were an essential part of U.S. history. Our reasons to celebrate are many. They did not leave us material wealth, but their most important contribution was their descendants and work ethic.
John, Sr. and John, Jr. each married and had 7 children. And we know that the Elcik’s worked hard because the Census provides insight into their earnings and, most specifically, their success in obtaining homeownership. My grandfather was one of the 44% minority of Americans who owned a home in 1940. He did this while working as a Helper in a Beater Room, making $1,100 a year. The average annual income for a man was $956, or about $17,500 today. His home was located at North Main Street in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and valued at $2,000. Not even the Great Depression took away the pride of homeownership. John, Sr. and John Ilcik also owned their homes.
Today, there are over 2.5 million Americans of Czech or Slovak descent in the United States. America needed their efforts for the economic and industrial growth of the early 1900s. The names of our ancestors are not in history books, but they should be.
To better understand the courage it took our ancestors to immigrate, I recommend reading: “Czech and Slovak Immigration to America: When, Why, How, and Where” by Stephen Szabados. It is available on Amazon.com in Kindle format.