Authors of the map (Mid-West, 2018)

The “Destination – America” interactive map of Lithuanian heritage in the USA has been created to commemorate the centenary of the Republic of Lithuania by the team of the “Global True Lithuania” website, with a tremendous help from Lithuanian Americans, Lithuanian institutions, and others.

Hereunder is the list of the participants of the 2018 expedition to the Mid-West (who then created the map) and the volunteers/sponsors who helped them. 2017 East Coast list is here.

The team

Augustinas Žemaitis
Augustinas is the owner of “Global True Lithuania” website about the Lithuanian heritage and sites beyond Lithuania. His research on the Lithuanian heritage abroad has been published in “Vytis” and “Draugas Lithuanian-American newspapers as well as the top Lithuanian media. He also has the True Lithuania website which is a massive introduction to Lithuania in the English language. He is an avid traveler who visited over 100 countries. He is interested in cultures and has authored a Lithuanian book on the Writing systems of the world, also owns a Lithuanian website on national anthems and many other websites.

He is the leader in “Destination America” project. He contacted the local Lithuanians, took pictures, wrote the site descriptions, filmed, controlled the social media of the project and created this interactive map.

E-mail: augustinas.zemaitis@gmail.com .

Aistė Žemaitienė
Aistė is an attorney who works with the cases of Lithuanian citizenship restoration.

“Destination – America” volunteer, she drove the car for more than 6000 km and interviewed the locals as well as filmed them. She did the legal support for the project and kept contact with the media.

E-mail: aiste.zemaitiene@gmail.com .

Sponsors

Primary sponsors


According to the program of Lithuanian centenery celebrations, the Government Chancery of Lithuania funded “Destination – America 2017” by giving money for some of the expenses in the USA (accomodation, car rental, etc.).

Donatas Januta (born in 1941, in Vilnius, Lithuania) – a lawyer and an engineer, who helped in designing the rocket “Saturn”. He was only three when his parents had to flee Lithuania. Finally they ene up in the USA. Although he was raised there, he has never ever forgotten he is a Lithuanian, hired a Lithuanian nanny for his 5 daughters so they could speak Lithuanian fluent. He is also very interested in diaspora of Lithuania, Lithuania Minor, national revival, war of independence. His articles are published in Lithuanian newspaper “Draugas”, he is also an author of the book “Lietuviški takai”.

Algirdas Avižienis. Ph.D., D.H.C., a professor of computer sciences. Former rector of Vytautas Magnus University.
Darius Vaškelis. Chicago businessman of Lithuanian descent.

Major sponsors

Arvydas Tamulis Dalia and Jurgis Anysas Anne Tubinis Audette Cicero St. Anthony Parishioners

Other sponsors

“Destination Lithuanian America 2018” was also financially supported by Joe and Judy Barlow, Jim Zavist, Regina Englade, Vaiva Vitkutė, Vaidotas Baipšys, Sandra Bakšys, Andrew Mikaila, Robertas Petrauskas, Edmundas Dargevičius, Aldona Kavoliūnienė, Teressa Balčiūnas Dicello, Teresa Renik, Šauliai House.

Media partners

These media outlets have published 10+ articles or TV shows on the project: Lithuanian-American newspaper “Draugas”, Lithuanian internet portal “15 min”, Lithuanian diaspora-oriented TV show “Pasaulio lietuvių žinios” (Global Lithuanian news).
Tens of additional newspapers, radio, and TV stations in both Lithuania and USA have published 1-9 articles or shows.
Thank you for all the coverage!

Local helpers in the USA

“Destination Lithuanian America 2018” volunteers have met some 300 people who helped in one way or another. Below is the list of people who helped us organize the visits to various “Lithuanian” US cities, who led us or helped us to find the Lithuanian sites there, opened particular closed sites, told us the stories of such sites. In addition to them, we have met many other people, some of whom are also mentioned. We are sorry if someone is left unmentioned. We also apologize for the quality of some pictures, as we concentrated on imaging the Lithuanian sites.

If you are one of these people and you would like to get your picture changed or additional Lithuania-related details to be mentioned, please contact us at augustinas.zemaitis@gmail.com .

Chicago, Illinois

Kornelija Pumputienė
Kornelija was among the first ones who lent a helping hand to “Destination Lithuanian America” in 2018 by inviting team members to stay at her and her husband’s Saulius home as much time in Chicago as needed.
Vida Kuprys
Vida Kuprys is the chief editor of “Draugas News”, the most prominent English-language newspaper of Lithuanian-Americans. Born and raised in Cicero, Vida was among the first Lithuanians “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers met having arrived in Chicago on the early Sunday morning. Vida helped us explore Cicero and explained the popularity of “Draugas news” among Lithuanian descendants who do not speak Lithuanian.
Jonas Kuprys
Jonas Kuprys is the layout artist of “Draugas” newspaper. “Destination Lithuanian America” team met him twice. Jonas gave a tour around “Draugas” building in Chicago as well as around Cicero suburb.
Saulius Kuprys
Saulius is the lawyer as well as the board president of the Lithuanian-American council. Saulius explained about Lithuanians who worked and had their own businesses in Cicero suburb.
Ramunė Lapas
Ramunė is the current chief editor of the newspaper “Draugas” – the oldest continuously published Lithuanian language newspaper anywhere in the world. Ramunė gave “Destination Lithuanian America” team members a tour around the “Draugas” offices in Chicago, Illinois. She also was a great source for contacts of people willing to help for the project.
Virginija Petrauskienė
Virginija came to the US only five years ago, after working for Lithuanian media for a long time. She is now a journalist in “Draugas” newspaper and is happy about the fact she now has to deal more with good news, in comparison with the mainstream media of Lithuania that puts a heavier emphasis on crime and accidents. Virginija interviewed “Destination Lithuanian America” team leader Augustinas Žemaitis for “Draugas” during the expedition.
Viktoras Kelmelis
Viktoras Kelmelis is a proud and dedicated Lithuanian, a chair of Brighton Park district Lithuanian American community. Viktoras gave “Destination Lithuanian America” team members a tour around Brighton Park church and parish buildings and showed Lithuanian sites there. He also collected and gave numerous materials about the church and the parish.
Salomėja Daulienė
Salomėja Daulienė is the secretary of Lithuanian-American council. She told “Destination Lithuanian America” team members stories about how Brighton Park used to be at the height of its Lithuanity and how it is now.
Gediminas Indreika
Gediminas is very knowledgeable about Lithuanian heritage in Chicago area and Lithuanian churches all over the USA; he was a great source of information for mapping. “Destination Lithuanian America” team members met Gediminas three times on three different days as Gediminas gave three different tours in southside Chicago, Bridgeport and Marquette Park. Gediminas was born in Bridgeport at the time the Lithuanian community still thrived there and then move to Marquette Park, then the largest-ever Lithuanian district outside Lithuania. He is one of the last Lithuanians still living in Marquette Park, now a Black-majority district. He is especially interested in Lithuanian-American churches and he volunteers at the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center.
Kristina Lapienytė
Kristina Lapienytė is the executive vice president for Lithuanian Research and Studies Center in Chicago. She helped to find the old photos of destroyed churches “Destination Lithuanian America” team as looking for in the center’s archives. She also gave them a tour around, explaining, what documents are held in the archives of LRSC and what exhibits are held in its museums.
Indrė Antanaitytė
Indrė Antanaitytė is a volunteer for Lithuanian research and studies center in Chicago. She walked “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers around.
Valdas Aušra
Valdas Aušra was born in Klaipėda, now he is the Doctor of Divinity and serves as Lutheran pastor for Zion Evangelical Lutheran church since 2001. Valdas Aušra told “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers his family history and showed around the church and kindergarten. Valdas’s grandparents fled Lithuania Minor from the Soviet Genocide; however, their escape was stopped by Soviets bombing the ice on which refugees were escaping. Hurt, they had to turn back to Lithuania, where they avoided murder or expulsion by explaining they were also persecuted by the Nazis. As such, Valdas immigrated to the USA only after the independence of Lithuania, when invited by the Zion parish community.
Kunigas Gediminas Keršys
Priest Gediminas Keršys serves in the USA since 2012, where he was sent from the diocese of Vilkaviškis, Lithuania, when the Chicago-Americans asked there for a Lithuanian-speaking priest. He celebrated Masses in the church of Immaculate Conception in Brighton Park, Nativity BVM in Marquette Park and St. Ann of the Dunes in Beverly shores as “Destination Lithuanian America” team visited them. He also joked during the Mass on the last day that it looks like he had previously asked “Destination Lithuanian America” where they head next and go to celebrate Masses there so that he could be seen in the photos and map – the reality is, however, that there are simply few Lithuanian priests in the America’s Lithuanian chruches.
Laima Apanavičienė
Laima Apanavičienė came to the US as her husband was issued a working visa. She served as the head of Čiurlionis art gallery in Chicago for 14 years, also as a teacher and the principal of the Lithuanian cultural school of Chicago and is now a team member of the Lithuanian Foundation. She explained to the “Destination Lithuanian America” team about the role of these organizations as the team met her in Lithuanian World Center in Lemont.
Daina Čyvas
Although Daina Čyvas has 5 children, one can easily find her at Sisters’ of St. Casimir. She helps the sisters with all kind of works and showed “Destination Lithuanian America” team the conventm urs suroundings as well as one of her recent projects – a beautiful museum dedicated to Marija Kaupas, the Sisters and their Lithuanian heritage, as well as other places in the convent around it.
Linas Marganavičius
Linas Marganavičius is the head of riflemen (Šauliai) regiment of Vytautas the Great in Chicago. Linas, as well as other riflemen who met “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers in Chicago, were extremely helpful and explained more about the riflemen in the USA. He is also one of the few people who personally owns and takes care for a major Lithuanian heritage site. He bought the Chicago’s Šauliai house from the local Šauliai chapter as this patriotic organization was declining in numbers in the USA. He undertook to still allow Šauliai to use the building but also able to recoup the investment through renting it to non-Lithuanians. The Lithuanian facade of the building survived and Linas has joined the Šauliai organisation himself later, becoming the head of the regiment.
Karilė Vaitkutė
Karilė Vaitkutė is the genealogist and editor in Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture. She showed “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers around the museum and explained its history. Having immigrated to the USA in the 1990s as part of the “third wave” (post-1990s Lithuanian immigrants), she nevertheless ended up working for the Lithuanian institutions founded by the earlier generations of Lithuanian migrants.
Stanley Balzekas
Stanley Balzekas is a living legend, just turned 94. He was the one who 50 years ago decided to establish a museum dedicated to Lithuania and its culture in Chicago, to let the others know “Lithuania” is not the name of a disease, as he explained. Stanley Balzekas invited “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers to his apartments in a Chicago skyscraper for his interview and told them his family history. He also shared his ideas about the importance that non-Lithuanian Americans would learn about Lithuania, that the English-speaking descendents of Lithuanians would retain or rediscover their relation to Lithuania, that the Lithuanian institutions would broadly cooperate among themselves and with Lithuania, thus improving Lithuania’s economy through investment. Balzekas himself, even in his mid-90s, still goes to work at the museum every day, driving by himself, and regularly visits Lithuania. His organizations help others visit Lithuania and rediscover their roots by keeping an archive of obituaries.
Darius Kučinskas
Darius Kučinskas is the professor in Kaunas University of Technology. While he explores Lithuanian music in Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, he resides at the Lithuanian Marian monastery of Chicago – a place where he met “Destination Lithuanian America” team and showed them around. He is currently arranging the monastery library after a period of neglect since the Lithuanian monks moved away.
Arvydas Reneckis
Arvydas Reneckis was first met by “Destination Lithuanian America” team members in 2017 at the conference about Lithuanian diaspora heritage, where “Destination Lithuanian America” project was introduced. We met Arvydas Reneckis for a second time in Chicago, Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture where he was filming the lecture of Darius Kučinskas. There, he explained more about Lithuanians in Chicago and also told his family story.
Julius Rūtenis Butkus, Regina Butkus, Vida Sakevičiūtė, Zita Bagdžius

On behalf of “Destination Lithuanian America” team we want to thank the riflemen of Vytautas the Great who met team members at Šauliai house and made them feel there like at home. That day, “Destiantion Lithuanian America” volunteers had nothing to eat since breakfast due to an especially tight schedule, so a nice pizza dinner was especially welcome.
Giedrius ir Roma Bikulčiai

Giedrius Bikulčius is the head of Klaipėdos jūrų šaulių kupa (Lithuanian Riflemen regiment) and Roma is the secretary for the Riflemen. “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers met the couple twice – attending Mass in St. Anthony’s Lithuanian church in Cicero and visiting the Šauliai House in Chicago, where they were extremely welcoming for “Destination Lithuanian America” team.
Saulius Balsys
Although Saulius Balsys has never been to Lithuania and was born in Canada, he speaks Lithuanian fluently and his children have learned the language as well. He is now an administrator for Lithuanian National Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, for many years. A good care of the cemetery is among the reasons why the president of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus called Lithuanian National cemetery as the most beautiful cemetery around the world.
Ramūnas Bundinas
Ramūnas Bundinas is the head of Lithuanian National cemetery in Justice, Illinois. He showed the “Destination Lithuanian America” team around the cemetery, telling the stories behind various graves and memorials.
Audra Adomėnas
Audra Adomėnas was born in Chicago, Illinois, but spent her teenage years in Kaunas, Lithuania. Now she has 3 children and is very active in digitizing the Lithuanian historical documents (especially video- and audio- documents) so they would be available to everyone; she is the President of “Lithuanian Archives project”. She explained “Destination Lithuanian America” team about her job, her volunteers as well as future plans. She became interested in the digitization of Lithuanian archives after noticing that some Lithuanian documents in Chicago are not kept well and may be lost over time. She also thinks that, with the advent of modern technology, there needs to be a change in attitudes in how the Lithuanian archives are collected, kept, and presented. In her 30s, she is among the youngest leaders of Lithuanian organizations in the USA that “Destination Lithuanian America” has met.

Rockford, Illinois

James Gryder
Although not a Lithuanian, James Gryder is the president for Lithuanian club in Rockford, Illinois, and is even planning to run for the next term, as his term ends in December of 2018. His parents have joined the club through their Lithuanian friends at the time when Lithuanians invited non-Lithuanians to join as well; currently, nearly all the members of Rockford club are non-Lithuanian, yet James Gryder still tries to keep the Lithuanian spirit alive, by masting a Lithuanian flag (by the time “Destiantion Lithuanian America” visited, he recently ordered a replacement for it). He gave “Destination Lithuanian America” team tour around the club, showed the Lithuanian details and the Lithuanian practices that exist there, and also invited them to visit Lithuanian Park of Rockford, Illinois, unlocking it in the evening so they could visit 7 AM in the morning before their tight schedule of the day.
Sandra Colbert
Sandra Colbert was born in the US as her great-grandparents came to the US for a better life and all the family worked in the stockyards in Chicago, including even her 12 years old grandmother. Sandra was born and raised in Chicago, but later on in life she left Chicago and now ended up living in Rockford, where she became the caretaker of a Lithuanian room at the local Ethnic Heritage Museum – a caretaker local volunteers especially sought for, as Rockford itself had no Lithuanians interested in their roots and wishing to volunteer at the time. Sandra still remembers her childhood at the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago as well, having written a book of short stories based in the stockyards-era Back of the Yards.

Kewanee, Illinois

Steven Morrison
Steven Morrison is not a Lithuanian, rather a real American – his ancestors came to the US like about 400 years ago (perhaps the only American person “Destination Lithuanian America” has talked to who did not know any immigrant roots). However, Steven was a parishioner of St. Anthony Lithuanian church, having joined it for practical reasons. Now it is an abandoned church (there have been unsuccessful attempts to sell it). Steven Morrisson helped “Destination Lithuanian America” team get inside the church and take invaluable pictures.
Barbara Morrison
Barbara Morrison is the wife of Steven Morrison, also not a Lithuanian herself. Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises are always very happy to get to know that there are non-Lithuanians who agrees to help the project “Destination Lithuanian America”. Barbara Morrison helped “Destination Lithuanian America” team get inside the now abandoned St. Anthony Lithuanian church in Kewanee.
Remigijus Satkauskas
Remigijus Satkauskas is a family medicine specialist in Kewanee, Illinois. He graduated from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences in 1986, married a Lithuanian-Canadian and then the family moved to the USA. Remigijus Satkauskas met Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises during their attempt to get into the abandoned St. Anthony Lithuanian church in Kewanee and told them more about the life here, as well as how people brought him various Lithuanians items as he is the only Lithuania-born person now living in town, with most local Lithuanians just having had Lithuanian forefathers.

Spring Valley, Illinois

Jurgita Nauyalis
Born-and-rasied in Lithuania, Jurgita met her future husband Joseph Nauyalis (a Spring Valley resident) online about 10 years ago. Once she came to meet him at Spring Valley, Illinois, she felt like at home, a small town with Lithuanian names (including on the tombstones) and history made her feel like she was in Lithuania. Jurgita found out about “Destination Lithuanian America” coming to Sping Valley, Illinois, herself, and invited the team members as well as showed them around.
Joseph Nauyalis
All 4 grandparents of Joseph were from Lithuania and he considers himself a true Lithuanian, proudly showing a Lithuanian coat of arms tattoo and having called his dog “Lita”. As he married Jurgita who came from Lithuania, keeping Lithuanian traditions became even easier. Joseph showed the Lithuanian sites of Spring Valley and told the stories and legends behind the local Lithuanian cemetery that had bee included by journalists into various lists of Illinois’s most haunted sites.
John Bogatitus Sr.
John Bogatitus Sr. is a third generation Lithuanian. All his grandparents came from Lithuania – from Vilnius and from Pilviškiai. They worked as coal miners. Although John Bogatitus Sr. has never been to Lithuania and does not speak the language, he considers himself a Lithuanian and even his artificial leg is of Lithuanian tricolor colours.
John Bogatitus Jr.
He is a fourth generation Lithuanian. John Bogatitus Jr. is very proud of his heritage and tries to keep the traditions with his kids, for instance, brings them for mushroom picking, which is a Lithuanian tradition.

Springfield, Illinois

Sandy Bakšys
Sandy Bakšys was one of the biggest helpers for the project “Destination Lithuanian America” to happen and be successful. She did a part of PR for the project within Illinois, as well as toured “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers around Springfield, Illinois. She also found Lithuanian contacts in several other cities of Illinois. Sadly, her father (who was a Lithuanian DP and who was deeply loved by Sandy) passed away just during “Destination Lithuanian America” expedition. However, Sandy did absolutely the best for the project to be as it was. Sandy is also an author of the book “A Century of Lithuanians in Springfield, Illinois”, an instigator for the plaque for Lithuanians of Springfield and does everything she can for this ethnicity to be remembered. Sandy also writes a blog about the stories of Springfield Lithuanians.
Maureen Mack Mueller
Maureen met “Destination Lithuanian America” team to tell the story of her family, how she used to also work for the one McDonald’s owned by a Lithuanian Jonas Makarauskas, who in the USA became John Mack and was the first McDonald’s franchisee in Springfield, Illinois. “Destination Lithuanian America” team met her in one of the McDonald’s that were once owned by the family.
Sheila Mack
Sheila met “Destination Lithuanian America” team to tell the story of her family which were the first franchisees of McDonald’s in Springfield. We met in McDonald’s once owned by Jonas Makarauskas, who in the USA became John Mack and was the first one franchizee in Springfield, Illinois.

St. Louis, Missouri/Illinois

Danutė Lasky
Danutė is the President of the Greater St. Louis Chapter of LAC. Back in the 1990, she once came to the US to meet her relatives living here, and out of the sudden, in the church, she met her future husband, who was a descendant of the pre-WW1 Lithuanian immigrants. She met “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers in St. Louis and told about the East St. Louis church and the efforts to keep Lithuanity alive.
Frank Dorris
Frank Dorris is a descendent of Lithuanian family Dorša who came to the US 100 years ago. They became “Dorris” in the USA and bought a land lot. Frank Dorris is the fourth generation Dorša to be working in the same field and keeps his family traditions alive, even being a member of the same Immaculate Conception parish his great-grandparents donated money to and thus helped build. Frank met Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises twice, he also walked them around Immaculate Conception church which he takes now is among the primary caretakers of.
Joe Symanski
Joe Symanski met “Destination Lithuanian America” team in the Immaculate Conception church at East St. Louis. He explained how the church operates today. Although Joe himself does not speak much Lithuanian, he explained his son does and he even went to Vilnius University.
Douglas Nicely
Douglas Nicely is the pastor for Jerusalem Lutheran church, built by Lithuanian Lutherans in 1903. Even though in the 2000s only some third-to-half of the congregation is of Lithuanian heritage, the parish sponsored a construction of a Lutheran church in Palanga, Lithuania then. Although Douglas Nicely is not a Lithuanian descendant himself, his wife is, and they also have visited Lithuania. Douglas Nicely showed “Destination Lithuanian America” team around the church and explained its history.
Vicki Nicely
Vicki Nicely is the wife of the pastor to Jerusalem Lutheran church. Her roots are from Tauragė, Lithuania, and she has visited the place. She showed us her family albums and photos taken during that visit aand told more about the Collinsville church.
Loretta Grybinas (Grybinaitė)
Loretta Grybinaitė is the parishioner of Jerusalem Lutheran church as well as the daughter of famous Lithuanian Zigmas Grybinas, who was the President of the Greater St. Louis Chapter of LAC for 50 years. Loretta showed around the church and told “Destination Lithuanian America” her family story.
Virginia Grybinas (Grybinienė)
Virginia Grybienė is the parishioner of Jerusalem Lutheran church as well as the wife of famous Lithuanian Zigmas Grybinas. She was interviewed on camera by “Destination Lithuanian America” and told the stories.

West Frankfort, Illinois

Teresa Renik
Teresa Renik is one of the members of the board of Lithuanian Cemetery of West Frankfort. She was happy “Destination Lithuanian America” came to visit and arranged their meeting with lots of locals. Teresa expressed her wish to install Lithuanian flag in the Lithuanian Cemetery of West Frankfort and also to visit Lithuania one day.
Bruce Swinkunas
“Destination Lithuanian America” accidentally met Bruce Swinkunas where he stopped in Lithuanian Cemetery of West Frankfort to visit his family grave. He did not expect to see Lithuanians from Lithuania there and was overwhelmed by their appearance, making all the meeting very emotional. Later on he led Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises to the other Lithuanian sites in the area, including the former Lithuanian Hall.
George Kerosky
George’s ancestors came to the US to work in the coal mines, now he is also the one who works there. When asked to compare what is the difference between what his grandfather did and he does in the mines now, he told “Destination Lithuanian America” team more about the technological changes.
Stephen W. Narusis
Stephen W. Narusis was born in 1923. His mother came to West Frankfort in 1914 and his father (from Marijampolė, Lithuania) even earlier. His mother came to help her uncle Viltrakis (“Wiltrakis” in the USA). Stephen W. Narusis, although born and raised in the USA, speaks – and sings! – in Lithuanian. “Destination Lithuanian America” team interviewed him on camera and also recorded the songs he sang, a real treasure as some of them were just never heard by “Destination Lithuanian America” team at home, in Lithuania.

Westville, Illinois

Karyn Delanois
Karyn Delanois met Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises in the Westville twice. She was back to her hometown as her mother passed away and she had to sell her house. She also organised a meeting with about 40 local Lithuanians in the Depot museum of Westville and toured team members around the town. Karyn wants to save the story of Westville Lithuanians as many sites have been disappearing during her lifetime.
Kathy Pintar
Kathy Pintar was born and raised in Westville, Illinois. She was one of the initiators for the project to also map her home town, as well as she met the team and showed them around.
John Flattery
Although not a Lithuanian himself, father John Flattery has written a book “Great Lithuanian Row in Westville” about an infamous mysterious murder/suicide of a Lithuanian priest in Westville. He met “Destination Lithuanian America” team while in Westville, and told them more about the stories he gathered into the book.
Carl Miglin
It was Carl Miglin’s father who came to the US in 1906, Scranton, Pennsylvania, at first, and then moved to Westville, Illinois, for a coal mining job. He met Carl’s mother in 1916 and married her, later on, he bought a tavern without telling her about this as she was not much into drinking. Once she found that out, he bought her an ice cream parlor and the couple operated businesses ever since. The tavern was called George Miglin’s tavern, later on, taken by Carl’s brother George Jr. Miglin. Carl also remembers his real surname in Lithuanian was “Miglinas” and got shortened only in the US. Carl and his daughter Beth met “Destination Lithuanian American” team and told them all these stories about Westville, which supposedly had the most taverns-per-capita in the USA once, the role of Lithuanians in those stories, as well as much more.

Dayton, Ohio

MaryAgnes Mikalauskas
MaryAgnes father came to the US and even forged his age to be able to go and fight in WWII. Later on, he became a very famous woodcarver, following the UNESCO-inscribed Lithuanian folk craft of cross-making. Therefore, the home of MaryAgnes reminds of a museum, with lots of Lithuanian crosses and sculptures made by him. MaryAgnes worked in the county jail for years and says this is just the best job she had. She also says she has just always been Lithuanian and never doubter her identity, treasuring Lithuanian traditions and keeping them alive, she also prepares church bulletins and plays the guitar on Sunday Masses in Dayton Lithuanian church.
Roverto Pantelones
Roverto invited “Destination Lithuanian America” to Holly Cross Lithuanian Roman Catholic church in Dayton, Ohio, and met the team there. He also walked them around and told more about the local history.
Michael Petkus
Michael Petkus met “Destination Lithuanian America” team at Holly Cross Lithuanian Roman Catholic church in Dayton, Ohio. He also led them around and told more about the local traditions, like to gather for all Lithuanians for the Christmas Eve and about the “Lithuanian dish” popular just among the local Lithuanians and actually unknown in Lithuania (so seemingly invented by Midwest Lithuanians) – the turtle soup.

Youngstown, Ohio

Ruth Bundza Reedy
Ruth calls herself the last Lithuanian of Youngstown, Ohio. She met “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers and guided them to where the Lithuanian church used to be, as well as told them her father was one of those who helped to build it, and much more.

Cleveland, Ohio

Andris Jonas Dunduras
Andris Jonas Dunduras at first told “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers it is such a pity they can stay at Cleveland only for a couple of days, however, later on, he helped very much to fully fulfill those days. He helped the team members to go to the places where even the opportunity to get into seemed quite difficult at first, such as Telshe Yeshiva. Andris was born and raised in the US, but said he will not die in there and plans to go to Lithuania. He speaks Lithuanian very fluent and spends all of his free time for the Lithuanian Archives in Cleveland to be well kept. “I am married to Lithuania”, admitted he.
Viktoras Stankus
Viktoras Stankus is a PhD as well as Trustee of the Lithuanian Archives center. As “Destination Lithuanian America” took place in Cleveland, Ohio, he spent all of his days with the team of teh project, telling local stories and showing the places of interest and remembering how did they look in his childhood. He was very happy to be admitted to “Telshe Yeshiva”, a place only a few Lithuanians have been able to visit before, telling a joke as he once asked a local Jewish “How could I get in to “Telshe yeashiva”? And the guy answered “Once You get to know it, please tell me as well”.
Rūta Degutienė (Degutis)
Rūta Degutienė is the heart and soul of Cleveland Lithuanian club, and the club is very different from many others “Destination Lithuanian America” visited during the expedition – open every day and very welcoming, where Lithuanian language and culture are still the norm and heart of the community. Rūta was born into the DP family that left Lithuania due to the Soviet occupation and she told the team members about the obstacles she suffered being a child of the Lithuanians as well as walked the team around the club and went together to the Telshe Yeshiva. “Lithuanian had to learn 5 days in normal school, one day in Lithuanian Saturday school, and one day in Catholic school” – she said. While she claimed she wasn’t a good student in the Lithuanian school, she nevertheless ended up doing more to safeguard the Lithuanian cultre than many of the better students.
Aleksandra Kudukis
Aleksandra Kudukis is a freelance writer and journalist. She met “Destination Lithuanian America” team in Cleveland Lithuanian club and also interviewed them.
Russ Maurer
Russ Maurer is a board member of the “Litvak Sig”. While technically he is not a Lithuanian Jew himself (his ancestors came from the place which is modern Belarus), he is very interested into the Litvak history, helping to run the site that digitizes the genealogical data of Litvaks. He was very kind to lead “Destination Lithuanian America” team to the Telshe Yeshiva, although first of all he said “I will be there a guest just as all of You”
Nochum Orazin
Nochum Orazin is the student of “Telshe yeshiva”. He was the first person to be met by “Destination Lithuanian America” team on the campus and was the one appointed to be as a guide in the territory, as he walked the team to his elder.
Eugenijus Dicevičius
Eugenijus Dicevičius is from Utena, Lithuania and he migrated to the US with his family in the beginning of the 21st century. He is the host for the radio programme called “Šiaurinis krantas”, as well as he is the guitar player and the reason Lithuanians gather together when they want to dance. “Destiation Lithuanian America” team met him as he came to Cleveland Lithuanian club to interview the team for “Šiaurinis krantas”.
Dainius Zalensas
Dainius Zalensas is known for his tradiotional Lithuanian šakotis which he bakes in the Cleveland Lithuanian club. He was the one who introduced “Destination Lithuanian America” team to the other helpers in Cleveland, like Andris Jonas Dunduras, and he also met the volunteers in the club.
Ona Pučkoriūtė Zalensienė
Ona used to be an actress in Lithuania, but left the country at the end of the 20th century. Now she is a member of Cleveland Lithuanian club and also helps keep the Lithuanian traditions alive. “Destination Lithuanian America” team met her in Cleveland Lithuanian club.

Detroit and Manchester, Michigan

Anne Tubinis Audette
Anne was one of the primary supporters and sponsors of “Destination Lithuanian America” in Detroit. She spent lots of her time in preparation for this project, organized meetings with the ones who now own St. Anthony church, Lithuanian Hall and many more. “Destination Lithuanian America” team members were amazed having found out Anne only quite recently got interested in her Lithuanian ancestry and has done so much since. She also helped to solve the mystery of who and when installed the Jurgis Mačiūnas plaque of Detroit that lingered on since 2012.
Janina Ūdrienė
Janina Ūdrienė left Lithuania with her parents when she was only 3 years old, in 1944. The family finally ended up in the US. Janina spent long years helping Lithuanian culture in the US thrive, helped the Lithuanian Foundation and still is a district chair for Michigan Lithuanian community. Janina toured “Destination Lithuanian America” around Lithuanian camp “Dainava”, where she herself spent lots of time in her life and even actually met her future husband. She also met “Destination Lithuanian America” at the current Lithuanian church of Detroit.
Linas Orentas
A true Lithuanian patriot, very proud of his Lithuanian heritage. “My first word was Lithuanian and my last one will be Lithuanian as well”, said he. Linas is a rifleman and toured “Destination Lithuanian America” around “Pilėnai” camp that is dedicated to the Lithuanian riflemen activities in the US.
Gintaras Jonikas
Gintaras Jonikas became a priest 29 years ago. 13 years of them he serves as a Lithuanian priest in the US. Having sacrificed his recent years for mainly Detroit area, he is still willing to go back to Lithuania. Gintaras Jonikas gave a tour around the Divine Providence Lithuanian Catholic Church.
Almantas Galvanauskas
Almantas Galvanauskas left Lithuania just after the restoration of Independence. Almantas Galvanauskas is a professor at the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, University of Michigan. He invited “Destination Lithuanian America” team members to stay at his house while visiting the area – and they did.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Jonas Treška (John Treska)
Jonas Treška (John Treska) is an offspring of the displaced persons. He speaks very good Lithuanian and was very happy to meet “Destination Lithuanian America” team, “We will not be forgotten in this way”, said he. Jonas Treška helped a lot in making the day plans for visiting Lithuanian areas in Grand Rapids and finding out information about the Lithuanian sites there. He also toured the team members around.
Broderick Dana Norkus
Broderick Dana Norkus found out about his Lithuanian ancestry lately in the life, after his grandfather passed away – his co-worker one day told him that his surname is Lithuanian. Broderick got interested in it much – he not only started to learn Lithuanian, joined Lithuanian activities, but also adopted a daughter from Šiauliai area, Lithuania. Broderick spent almost the whole day with “Destination Lithuanian America” team in Grand Rapids and showed them around.
Father Denis W. Morrow
He is a pastor of St. Peter and Paul church in Grand Rapids. Being of Lithuanian descnt himself (his mother’s family came to the US in 1899 to Pennsylvania to work in coal mines and moved to Grand Rapids in 1919), he is especially interested into the history of local Lithuanians, systemizing the Lithuanian church archives. He told us a lot of stories about the church and how at the rues at the side of his church are direct descendents of the rueshis grandmother brought in from Lithuania. Everywhere where his family settles, they take the rues with them.

Muskegon, Michigan

Laura Merten
Laura Marten came to the US at the age of 20 in the 1990s. Laura is fully aware of the fact one must know where he/she is from, therefore she enlisted her son to the Grand Rapids Lithuanian school “Baltijos krantas” and also follows the Lithuanian traditions herself. Laura arranged the “Destination Lithuanian America” trip to Muskegon Lithuanian club.
Irene Gierzak
Although Irene Gierzak is not a Lithuanian herself, she is a member of the Lithuanian club of Muskegon for quite a long time. She also wrote a recipe book and included Lithuanian dishes there. During the “Destination Lithuanian America” team visit to Muskegon Lithuanian club, she shared the recipes as well as her knowledge about the Lithuanian club with the team.

Custer, Michigan

Shannon Andrulis
Lithuanian cheese is manufactured in Andrulis cheese factory in Custer by the 4th generation of Lithuanians! In early 1940s, the factory was established by Andrulis, while the cheese recipe was suggested by his wife. Both of them had been born in the USA but Lithuanity was always important to them. Now it is a granddaughter of them who still continues this family business – Shannon Andrulis. She also introduced her son to this work. Shannon was kind enough to meet “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers on an idle Sunday afternoonn in the factory and give them a tour around.
Audra Aleknaitė Lintakienė
Born in Chicago, Audra is an offspring of the displaced-by-the-Soviets persons from Lithuania. Audra is very much involved into Lithuanian culture, teaches Lithuanian folk dancing and is one of the Chicago’s Lithuanian scouts who takes care of “Rakas” Lithuanian scout camp. She showed “Destination Lithuanian America” team around the camp and explained more about scouts in the US. In order to meet the “Destination Lithuanian America” team, she came with her husband from as far as Union Pier that day.
Aras Lintakas
Aras Lintakas – a true Lithuanian scout in the US. He takes care of Lithuanian camp “Rakas” in the Custer area, Michigan, and helped us explore it. In order to meet the “Detsination Lithuanian America” team, he drove from as far as Union Pier that day.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Wanda Visser
Wanda’s great grandfather Adomas Buivydas used to have Lithuanian tavern in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and this still brings her back lots of memories. Wanda is very interested not only in Lithuanian culture, but also in current life in Lithuania, having visited the country dozen of times (before and after restoration of Independence) and even married a man from Lithuania. She always wants to go there again and again; despite being of both Lithuanian and Dutch origins, she is mostly interested in the Lithuanian side of her as “Lithuania was for long a mystery behind the Iron Curtain”. Wanda Visser helped “Destination Lithuanian America” team find the grave of famous pilot Feliksas Vaitkus as well as gave a tour of the around area.

Kenosha, Wisconsin

Teresė Balčiūnas Dicello
Born before World War 2 in a Lithuanian family living in Latvia, Teresė never actually visited Lithuania as her family fled the Soviet occupation of the Baltics directly to the USA. Despite that, she speaks good Lithuanian and she teaches the people of Kenosha Lithuanian crafts. She participated in “Knights of Lithuania”, married to doctor Balčiūnas and so came to Kenosha. Both with her husband they were very active during the occupation of Lithuania fighting for the freedom. She believes Lithuania is the most fantastic country in the world! Teresė shared the secrets how to keep Lithuanian traditions alive with “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers as well as shown them around the Kenosha Lithuanian church.

Waukegan, Illinois

Ramutė Kemėžaitė Kazlauskienė
Ramutė Kemėžaitė Kazlauskienė was born into the family of DPs (Lithuanians who fled the Soviet occupation). She and her brother were not allowed to speak any other language but Lithuanian at home. She became a very active fighter for freedom of Lithuania during the occupation years. She said for many years her dream was to marry a Lithuanian man, and marriage was something she finally had time for after Lithuania became independent. During the Lithuanian activities, she met her husband Vidas Kazlauskas, who is her husband for 23 years now. Ramutė helped “Destination Lithuanian America” organise the sightseeing of Waukegan Lithuanian places and meeting local Lithuanians.
Vidas Kazlauskas
Vidas Kazlauskas was an especially active campaigner for freedom of Lithuania during the occupation years. The protests were also the place where he met his future wife Ramutė Kemėžaitė. Vidas drove “Destination Lithuanian America” team around the Lithuanian sites in the area.
Daniel Gustas
Daniel Gustas – one of the local Lithuanians – knows his Lithuanian heritage in details and shared his family photos and documents with “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers. He also told what was it like to study in a Lithuanian parish school and how his family started a Lithuanian cooperative bank that lasted almost a century.
Aldona Kavoliūnienė
Aldona Kavoliūnienė was born in 1930, in Kaunas (her family lived in Raudondvaris). She still remembers every bit of a story about family’s escape to the West during World War 2 and the Soviet occupation. She shared her story on camera for “Destination Lithuanian America” project. Her story is a living history with exact names of the refugee (DP) camps and other interesting details!
Patricia Jikaitis
Patricia was born into the family of two Lithuanians (her mother came to the US at the age of 15 an married Patricia’s father at the age of 16, when he was 27). Patricia told “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers about the Waukegan church.

Beverly Shores, Indiana

Danutė Bačiauskienė
Although Danutė came to the US as a post-1990 immigrant, she joined the “Knights of Lithuania” – an organisation mostly dominated by pre-WW1 immigrnat descendents. Danutė and her husband helped “Destination Lithuanian America” volunteers visit Lithuanian sites in Beverly Shores and Union Pier. She also participates in the Lithuanian activities in the area.
Rima Sidrys
Rima is a mother of 8 and grandmother of 15, she is married to Linas Sidrys and both are teaching others to lead happy family lifes. Rima met Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises visiting Lithuanian sites in Beverly Shores and told them how Lithuanians live here now.
Linas Sidrys
Linas Sidrys was born in New York, into the DP family. He is an ophtalmologist and also a father to 8 children and grandfather to 15 grandchildren. He met volunteers visiting Lithuanian sites in Beverly Shores and told them how Lithuanians live here now.

Union Pier, Michigan

Gintaras Karaitis
Gintaras Karaitis is the owner of “Gintaras Resort” in Union Pier that has been opened in 1960 by his parents on top of dunes that look similar to those in the Lithuania’s top resort of Palanga. Many Lithuanians used to gather here. Gintaras speaks fluent Lithuanian and walked “Destination Lithuanian America” team around the rental homes of the resort.

Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania

Pat Gromowski
Pat Gromowski is a bar attender in the Mt. Carmel Lithuanian club. Although not a Lithuanian herself, she is very interested in the club history. She asked “Destination Lithuanian America” team to translate the inscriptions in the club made in old Lithuanian language. Pat also toured the team members around the club.
Amy Shurock
Amy Shurock is not a Lithuanian, but is very interested in minority heritage and is a member of the Mount Carmel Lithuanian club. She met Aistė and Augustinas Žemaitises at Mt. Carmel Lithuanian club, and told them more about how the club operates now.

Easton, Pennsylvania

Scott L Reda
Scott L Reda is not a Lithuanian, however, the movie studio he is a producer at has acquired the old Lithuanian church in Easton. He was very helpful to meet “Destination Lithuanian America” team there and walk them around as well as answer their questions of all the kind. He also gave informational booklet that allowed us to learn about the Lithuanian cemetery of Easton.

Others

Philip and Aldona Shapiro

Philip Shapiro is of Litvak origins (his ancestors immigrated to the USA from Rokiškis, Kamajai, Celkiai, Pandėlys, Kupiškis, Panevėžys, and Raguva prior to WWI), while Aldona Shapiro is a recent Lithuanian immigrant who became his wife several years ago. Aldona was among the ones who suffered her family being deported from Lithuania under Soviet oppression, so together they give huge efforts to make the victims of the Soviets as well as Litvak Jews, especially of Rokiškis area, remembered.
They have helped „Destination America“ in ensuring the communications and internet, as well as being a great moral support.
Danius Glinskis
“Destination Lithuanian America” team want to say special thanks to Danius Glinskis, whom the team met during the expedition “Destination Lithuanian America 2017”. He was the one to organise the meeting with “Destination Lithuanian America” team in New York in September of 2018 at “Lithuanians Alliance in America”, attended by the officers of the Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania in New York, local Lithuanians as well as tourists from Lithuania itself. Danius Glinskis, by the way, as a restoration architect, had just completed the renovation of this historically Lithuanian building.
Mantvydas Bekešius
Mantvydas Bekešius is the Consular General of the Republic of Lithuania and serves in Chicago. “Destination Lithuanian America” team leader Augustinas Žematis met him on the last day of the expedition, just prior to the flight back home, and both shared their ideas about the Lithuanity and keeping its heritage alive in the US. The meeting lasted some 3 hours.

Map of US Lithuanian places