Born Onufry Filipovich in the Russian Empire, Owen Phillips came to America alone, with nothing, at the age of 16. His story is the story of one man and millions of people. The 20 million immigrants who, like him, arrived in America a century ago fueled the astonishing economic growth that transformed the United States from an economic backwater into the world’s leading economy. But today, as the United States admits a million immigrants a year and debate over immigration rages, the immigrants of a century ago are no longer here to answer our questions. Did they, as one recent paper claims, have it easy compared with today’s newcomers? Or did they face similar challenges and set an example in how they met them? Through Owen’s experience, documented in oral history recordings of Owen and interviews with people who knew him, we find at least some answers. And we learn, from a visit to Owen’s home village in the Republic of Belarus, the surprising story of what happened to the brothers and sisters he left behind, revealing what it meant for him to have come to America.