Where did they go?


Labor Day Dobra picnic, Chicago, Illinois on Sept. 03.1939



Burnside, Chicago Illinois


At the turn of the century America was in the middle of an industrial expansion which increased the demand for unskilled labor.The immigrants of Europe would satisfy this demand for workers.Chicago was the industrial center in Americaís Midwest and itís steel mills, railroads, meat processing and heavy industry were the backbone of that industry.The steel Industry required a vast network of railroads to haul coal to make steel and then transport the steel products through out America.In my opinion, the railroad was the reason that the immigrants from Dobra, Austria came to Chicago.


The Illinois Central RR had built a roundhouse and repair shops south of 95th St.

I am convinced that someone from Dobra was working in the I C employment office or was able to influence the hiring of his fellow immigrants from Dobra.It could have been that they were also hard working and dependable workers.Anyhow many of the people from Dobra who had immigrated to the coal fields of Pennsylvania came to Chicago after 1905 to work on the railroad.A few came directly from Ellis Island to Chicago.


Normally a man would work in the Pennsylvania coal mines for two years and earn enough money to bring his family to America.Around 1905 word was out that they were hiring railroad labors in Chicago.Itís not hard to trade a job in a coal mines for a good paying job on the railroad.†† The immigrants packed up and moved again to a new life in the Midwestern part of America.


The Community of Burnside located on the south side of Chicago was an ethnic community.It was convenient to the railroad works and became a home for many of the Dobra Immigrants.Burnside bounded by 89th Street on the north and 94th Street on the south, S Kimbark Ave. on the east and Drexel Ave on the west was home to many of the families from Dobra, Austria.These people were of the Ukrainian Orthodox faith and brought their religion to Burnside.Burnside is bounded entirely by railroads a triangle made up of the Illinois Central on the west, the Rock Island on the south and the New York Central on the east. Burnside has 400 homes and boarding houses spread sparsely over 30 blocks.


St Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church were located at 9211 Chauncey Ave, Burnside, and Chicago IL.The church was a center for religious activities and it was the thread that held the community together.The original wooden church was built in 1911 and burned down around 1913. A new Brick church was finished in the fall of 1913.


Chauncey Ave was renamed S Avalon Ave sometime after 1913.In the early 1960, the people of the ethnic neighborhoods was moving to the south of Chicago.In 1976 the Church moved to 8410 W 131st St, Palos Park IL, 60464.I talked to father Taras Naumenko at the Palos Park church on Feb 3, 2009 and he says most of the early church records were burnt, but not all.


As time passed their families grew and they prospered in the new country. They worked hard, bought homes and become citizens of the USA.Memories of the old country faded and they seldom talked about life in Dobra.Years later the descendents of these immigrants from Dobra have developed a keen interest in that life their ancestors left behind in Europe.



Some of the families (from Dobra) who lived in Burnside in those early years are listed below.


Jacob Gbur 1910 9026 Dobson Ave
Kowalsik (Kowalczyk) Andrew 1910 9026 Dobson Ave
Mike Stanko 1910 9026 Dobson Ave
Babick George 1920 9315 Greenwood Ave
John Gbur 1920 9314 University
Mike Gbur 1920 9224 Chauncey Ave
Joseph Demkowicz 1920 9202 University
Mike Dorocki 1920 9321 Greenwood
Annie Hankowski 1910 9318 Woodlawn Ave
Josepj Gbur 1930 9024 Ellis Ave
Joe Petroski 1910 9026 Dobson Ave
Peter Demkowicz 1920 1125 E 93rd St
Joseph Nisiewicz 1920 9149 University

Ron Blackburn, Melbourne, Fl



Below is a Baptismal record from the St Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church that was located at 9211 Chauncey Ave, Burnside, Chicago IL

School certificate for Miroslaw Nisiewicz from the Ukrainian National School at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois