I know very little about Adam and Elisabeth’s life prior to the 1910 census. So for what it’s worth, the following is to the best of my knowledge!
Both Adam and Elisabeth were born in Lithuania (the censuses sometimes say Russia, which makes sense, considering the constant border changes). Adam was born on March 15, 1858 and Elisabeth (sometimes enumerated as “Eliza” or “Lizzie”) was born around 1862. The ages of their children indicate that they must have married when they were teenagers. All of their children, except for their last, were born in Lithuania, but I don’t know where. (My grandmother had photographs of relatives in rural Lithuania, but she had no idea where the pictures were taken.) Adam and Elisabeth’s children were:
- John, born in 1886; I have conflicting evidence whether he died before 1942 or not.
- Antone George, born circa 1887 (though that conflicts with Anna’s birth, unless they are twins); married Theodora Pulaski circa 1910.
- Anna M., who I wrote about here.
- Alice E., born June 11, 1890; married Martin Aksten circa 1910; died April 1974; buried at St. John the Evangelist Cemetery in Riverhead.
- Joseph, born circa 1893; married Margaret, circa 1919; died 1965; buried at St. John the Evangelist Cemetery in Riverhead.
- Mary, who married a Mr. Wesselau (I’m not even sure of the spelling, since the source for this had botched the spellings of her sisters’ married names).
- Frank, born 1901 in New York state; left home around 1919 and was never heard from again.
Thanks to Suffolk County’s naturalization records, I was able to find Adam’s declaration of intention paperwork! I know that he immigrated from the port of Bremen, Germany to New York, NY in May of 1893. Unfortunately, he did not remember the name of the ship! But that is enough information to narrow it down to about eight ships, so I will need to carefully comb each ship’s manifest for his name.
Based on immigration dates in census records, it looks to me that Adam immigrated first and the rest of the family later (it looks to be 1899), like so many immigrants did. The Valek family eventually settled on a thirty acre farm on Manor Lane in Riverhead, Suffolk County, NY. Most of the children soon married and settled nearby. It seems that Adam sold the farm in late 1921, according to a newspaper announcement. Perhaps with Frank’s disappearance and the other children married with their own property, it was just too much for Adam to maintain. I know that Adam later lived with his son Antone, so I assume that is where he and Elisabeth moved once they sold the farm.
Elisabeth died sometime between 1921 and 1925. I don’t think she ever became a U.S. citizen. Although Adam filed his declaration in November 1921, he is still marked as an “Alien” in the 1940 census, so I don’t know if his naturalization was ever completed.
Adam passed away on September 26, 1942 and his estate (which netted about $7,000) seemed to be settled in 1943, divided among his children. I do not know where he or Elisabeth were buried, but I assume it was in one of the nearby Catholic cemeteries.