In Attire

My great-great-grandfather, Johann Pelkowski, came to America from Poland and settled in Commack, New York in 1887. His immediate family became farmers, mainly producing potatoes, but also farming vegetables for themselves. After Johann died in the early 1900s, his sons changed their last name to Pelkofsky. According to family lore, they changed the name because they thought it would help with business. As they successfully became potato farmers, his son Alois, nicknamed Alex, and his family bought their own farm and built a large house on it. Generations lived and worked on this farm, including my grandmother and my great-aunt, who is still alive today. This land has since been developed, but the house still stands. I’ve never visited it, but I still feel a personal connection to this farm. It’s because of their success as farmers that my family was able to support themselves and survive in America. My dad’s entire family line in the United States stemmed from Johann Pelkowski’s decision to move here, so to me the farm is the symbol of my family’s fresh beginnings and the hard work they put into it. The design on this shirt was taken from the burlap sacks my family used to pack their potatoes in. It carries Alex’s name, complete with the spelling change. My cousin created these shirts to commemorate Alex and the farm. Every time I see this shirt, it reminds me of the dedication my ancestors put into giving their children and their children’s children a future in America.

Year: 1887

– Clare Babski

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more