On the map at right, red circles represent deceased children from Eastern European families, primarily Slovenes, but also Croatians, Hungarians, and Polish immigrants. Blue squares represent children from German immigrant families. Green diamonds mark deaths in families who migrated from England. The map does not show all deaths in Collinwood, but even with many unmarked the intensity of the town’s loss stands out.
By 1908, German and English immigrants had spread throughout the area North of the railyard, but Eastern European immigrants to Collinwood clustered into dense housing near the tracks and the Browning Engineering factory. This land stood empty in 1900, but when the Railroad expanded operations in Collinwood, The Lake Shore Land Company filled it with cheap houses on small lots for laborers. “Real Estate Values Low But Advancing Rapidly,” said their advertising in The Railroad Traiman, a journal aimed at rail workers. “There is not a vacant house or store in the town. . . . The mammoth new [railroad] shops . . . and other industries . . . will furnish more than three thousand jobs.”
New immigrants to the United States often first settled in enclaves where their native language and cultural practices persisted, where friends or relatives from their homeland had already established themselves. Such settlement patterns indicated a desire to preserve a sense of ethnic identity but were not always a matter of choice. Landlords, real estate agents, banks, and employers often worked to segregate particular ethnic groups, steering them toward agreed-upon neighborhoods. We have no compelling sources that clarify the extent to which Eastern European immigrants in Collinwood chose the settlement pattern so visible on the map and the extent to which more financially powerful figures drove them toward it. We can, however, see with certainty that death overran their neighborhoods with particularly brutal intensity.