Monday, 31 March 2008

The Varno family

As mentioned in an earlier blog, it is believed that the Varno family was the first Lithuanians to arrive in South Australia on the ship the Skjold in 1841. Their names do not appear on the shipping list, but as the list is not complete its not surprising.
Today i found an entry in the Lobethal Register of Baptisms for 1848 while in the Lutheran Archives.
The entry reads:
Maria Elisabeth WARNAS, born 15 March 1848 at Light Pass, parents of August Ernst Warnas and Johanne Luise Warnas nee Schilling.

Could this be the Varno family? In German a W is pronounced as a V in English and because the reference to the family from Vanagas was in Lithuanian the way the surname was written was in a singular genitive (Not sure if that is correct) case and so appeared with an O ending rather than the nominative 'AS'.
The names are very German sounding as well, but if they were Lutherans it is possible that this would be the norm.
Will keep looking.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Australian Lithuanian Engineers & Architects Assoc

In 1951 A .Pacevicius, J. Riauba and K. Tymukas decided to form a branch of the World Lithuanian Engineers & Architects Assoc (PLIAS). Members amongst this group included:

Jurgis Naujalis - Architect
Stasys Ceicys - Architect
Karolis Reisonas - Architect
Kostas Tymukas - Engineer
A. Pacevicius - Engineer
Eugenijus Pocius - Civil & Structural Engineer
V. Aleksandravicius - Technician
T. Zurauskas - Engineer
Martynas Pocius - Civil & Structural Engineer
Antanas Lapsys - Architect
Vaclovas Navakas - Architect
Juozas Riauba - Engineer
R. Arlauskas - technician
L. Kanas - Technician
V. Kmitas - Engineer
J. Meskauskas - Technician
A. Ruzgas - ?
Petras Kanas - Architect
Algis Zamoiskis - Engineer

The group would meet for social activities combined with technical talks. It was an opportunity for them to talk about projects and their work.
Are there more not recorded here?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Getting organised

The first formal gathering of Lithuanians in South Australia was held in the second half of 1948. The Catholic Immigration Officer held an afternoon tea for Lithuanians at Saint Francis Xavier's Hall in Wakefield Street. The hall was to become the first centre of Lithuanian community life in SA.

Shortly after this, Holy Mass in the Lithuanian language was celebrated by Father P Jatulis at Saint Joseph's church in Pirie Street. A Lithuanian language school began in Saint Joseph's Hall in November 1948.

In 1948 M Pareigis organised a small men's choir and V Ratkevicius organised a national dancing group.

On January 2nd, 1949 the first Adelaide Lithuanian meeting was held where over 60 Lithuanians gathered. They formed the Adelaide Lithuanian Cultural Society (Adelaides Lietuviu kulturos draugija ALKD). The President elect was Jonas Mockunas, vice-president, Vincas Cepliauskas, secretary Aleksandras Sliuzas, treasurer: Antanas Giniotis and cultural business Tadas Zurauskas. This group organised the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the declaration of Lithuanian independence in 1918. Over 400 people attended the event and a photograph appeared in the newspaper. Australians soon began inviting the Lithuanian dancing group and choir to different events as a result.

From many places Migration Museum
Blezdingeles orie Torenso

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Displaced Persons "God's Little Birds"

Boarding a train to Bremehaven 1947, then onto Australia.

World War Two for many in eastern and central Europe brought radical changes. For the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) their independence of 22 years was quashed by Soviet Russians, during the months of June and July 1940. As the war progressed, the German Army replaced the Russians in the Baltic States. By 1944, the reverse happened, the Germans were replaced once again by the Russians. It was at this time that many people left, with Lithuanians making their way west and many ending up in Germany.

The total number of Lithuanians who left, was in the vicinity of 60,000. The refugees became known as Displaced Person’s, or D.P’s. Lithuanians called themselves Dievo Pauksteliai or
God’s little birds.
The Displaced Persons camps which were usually old German Prisoner of War camps, became the refugees’ home for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. The camps generally came under the auspices of the International Relief Organisation (I.R.O).
Life in the camps was hard, housing was overcrowded, food and clothing was minimal. Narkeliunaite, a displaced writer wrote of the camps “We are condensed and pressed like herrings in a barrel, we have to live in our barracks as mice in the luggage having no opportunity to unpack”.
To some extent the camps became a world in itself, with churches and schools built and cultural groups being formed. The D.P’s worked in the camp’s administration, hospitals, kitchens and even in their own fire and police stations.
The displacement of Lithuanians was believed to be temporary, they believed that communism would be expelled from Lithuania and they would return home. When the D.P’s realised that their return would not be in the near future they considered immigration.

To learn more about the DP camps there is a great website "DP Camps"

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Lithuanians in Peterborough

John Mannion at the State History Conference 2007, presented a paper entitled "A largely forgotten story". It lookes at Peterborough and post WWII migrants to the town. In the paper he placed this exert from the Railway Institute magazine May/June 1973.
The image on the right is of J Donela and Kaminskas in front of the coal gentry at Peterborough 1948/49. (From the Adelaide Lithuanian Archives)

With Mr. and Mrs. Allen Ind at the migrant hostel established in Peterborough, where these lads were first encamped in tents and later in rooms of more solid construction, it is recalled the young Firemen sitting up late at nights drinking coffee to help keep them awake so that they could pursue their study of the language and the instruction papers necessary to qualify as Firemen and Porters. Some of the older Enginemen [Australian] found it hard to converse and understand the young migrants and some of the young migrants found it hard to understand just what the Enginemen were thinking, but mostly it was a happy association which extended for many years afterwards. Today we have a lot of those Baltic migrants listed among our senior staff members in the Loco and Traffic Running, and among the Station Masters' ranks. In the early days most migrants wore gloves on their hands when doing hard and dirty work and the reward for this was apparent when some of them left the Railways and went into other positions, and some into their own businesses. The talented boys were pleased that they had protected their hands and fingers to equip them for delicate work in future life.

The full paper can be accessed from the History Trust website

Monday, 3 March 2008

Adelaide Lithuanian News

The first edition of Adelaides Lietuviu Zinios (Adelaide Lithuanian News) was printed on 1 July 1960. This bi-monthly newspaper continues until today, although in a different format. The paper highlights news of the community, from sports, scouts, Lithuanian house news, deaths, special occassions and the list goes on. It was published by V Raginis on behalf of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association. The first issue details that Ignatavicius and Gumbys were selected for the SA basketball team. For family historians this information will be valuable, the only issue is that its all in Lithuanian.