Part III: the Lithuanian Community of Cleveland to World War II

Early Immigration to World War II

The growth of Cleveland during the nineteenth century was significant. In 1810 there were approximately 100 inhabitants in what was to become Cleveland.[1] This number increased to 92,829, in 1870, with two out of five of the dwellers being foreign-born.[2] With this growth there were, of course, additional difficulties for the city in regard to inadequate water, sewage, parks, playgrounds, and schools,[3] however the city pushed ahead. By 1920, the population was just under 800,000 with 30 percent being foreign-born, and if the second generation is included this number rises to 69 percent[4] among whom were Lithuanians. Although Lithuanian colonies were established in other industrial centers in Ohio, such as Akron, Dayton, Youngstown, and several more, nevertheless, Cleveland was the center for Lithuanians in Ohio.

The first Lithuanians known to have settled in Cleveland are R. Freimonas, M. Juodišius, and J. Kulikauskas, who arrived in 1870. By 1899 they had been followed by about 700 others in what was to become metropolitan Cleveland;[5] by 1920 there were over 12,000 and perhaps as many as 20,000 by 1929.[6] Many of these had left the coal mining areas of Pennsylvania and West Virginia to find better working conditions in growing industrial areas such as Cleveland.[7]

Although these new Americans were scattered throughout the city, the main concentration in 1915 was in the Rockwell (formerly Oregon) Avenue and 21st Street area, with the greatest numbers being located between Lakeside (formerly Lake) and Payne Avenues. There were others scattered from East 17th Street to 71st Street, and small settlements in Linndale and Collinwood.[8] In 1917 on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd blocks of St. Clair there were at least twelve businesses owned by Lithuanians, including a bank and printery;[9] a tavern owned by N. Olšinskas was located at 825 St. Clair.[10] By the early 1930’s the Lithuanians were largely concentrated on both sides of Superior with the center of their business district located between 60th Street and Addison Road. A second significant colony was growing in the Collinwood area, and some Lithuanians were settled in the Corlett district of Cleveland’s far south side.[11]

  1. J.W. Vanden Bosch, "Cleveland", Encylopedia Americana, (1958), VII, 99.
  2. Harlan Hatcher, The Western Reserve, (Cleveland, 1968), 203.
  3. Hatcher, The Western, 234, 235.
  4. William R. Collins, Ohio, The Buckeye State, (New York, 1968), 207.
  5. Jonas, Lietuviai, 138, 139.
  6. The Book of the All Nations Expositions (Cleveland, 1929), 41.
  7. Jane E. Robbins, "Cleveland Lithuanians", Cleveland Women, 25 August 1917.
  8. Coulter, The Lithuanians, 8.
  9. I.L. Sakalauskas, Juozas Salčius, and Antanas Zdanavičius (eds.), Clevelando Lietuviškų Draugysčių Istoriška Peržvalga (A Historical Review of Cleveland's Lithuanian Associations), (Cleveland, 1917), See advertisements in the book.
  10. See advertisements on the pages of Lietuva (Lithuania) for 1895.
  11. The Peoples of Cleveland (Cleveland, 1942), 181.


Lithuanian Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland Copyright © 2020 by Cleveland State University . All Rights Reserved.

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