Jill Brantley

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Dedicated to Antosia Kvaraceus

My panel is about the journey of my paternal grandmother, Antosia Kvaraceus, from her homeland of Lithuania to the United States . She was born in Vilnius on July 8,1884. She entered the US through Ellis Island at the end of the 1800's like so many other immigrants. Somehow she ended up in Boston Massachusetts where while working at the Parker House restaurant she met my grandfather Clement Kvaraceus. They married and moved to Brockton, Mass. They lived in the part of Brockton known as “ The Village " referencing the Lithuanian immigrants who had clustered there. Brockton was a shoe factory town. They both worked in the factories. They had four children, three boys and one girl. My father was their youngest child. They were poor. The Catholic Church, hard work, schooling, and a vegetable garden dominated their lives. My grandparents and aunt worked in the shoe factories so the boys could stay in school. In my grandparent’s view, education was the ticket out of poverty. It appears that they were correct. Of their three boys, one became a surgeon, one became a lawyer and my father became a Phd from Harvard. My aunt never had the chance to attend college. That was the way it was in those days. It was thought that girls didn't need higher education because it was assumed that they would get married and be taken care of. What a shame, because I remember my father once told me that he believed his sister was the brightest of all of them. My aunt did marry a successful man but who knows what she herself could have become. We visited my grandparent’s apartment ( they were never able to afford a house) almost weekly for my grandmother's potato pancakes ( Blinis) or her cabbage soup ( Kapusta). My grandmother had the opportunity to return home to Lithuania only once. My grandfather never had the chance. He died of ill health in his fifties. My grandmother passed away in her sleep December 11,1974 at the age of 90. It was the end of an era for all of us.

Map of Lithuania c www.lithuania-vilnius.com2007