Croatian Genealogy Newsletter
Issue No. 16, July 2008
This issue marks the 10th year of this newsletter. The current issue pays tribute to Radovan Matanić and announces the launch of a new genealogy book for the island of Unije, Croatia and of Croatians in New Zealand. Click on a heading to view:
The History and Families of Unije by Grant Karcich
The History and families of Unije: a compiled history and family genealogies for the Island of Unije, Croatia began as the author's quest to study his own genealogical past, and evolved into an examination of the origins of the people of this island community on Croatia's west coast. Based on documentary evidence and local oral knowledge, this volume recounts events and family origins from the 16th through to the 20th Centuries. Included are genealogies of the families who came to the island, those families who moved to the nearby towns of Cunski and Mali Losinj, and those who immigrated to the United States.
In order to make the text available to a wider audience, the history is rendered into Croatian as Unije povijest i obitelji: sabrana povijest i obiteljske genealogije otoka Unije, Hrvatska by Mirna Solić, and translated into Italian as La Storia di Unie: compedio e genealogia di famiglie dell'isola di Unie, Croazia by Enzo Valencich and Fiorella Rivera.
Though the history includes a mention of the archaeological data on the island during the Roman and immediate post-Roman era, the bulk of the history recounts the early families that first settled on the island in modern times from the 16th to the 20th Centuries. Migration to the island occurred by individual families moving from the neighbouring region to Unije. The early history up to 1617 was dramatic, since pirates frequented the island up to that year and influenced the history of the island. Life during the subsequent 18th and 19th centuries is told. Also the roll of the Roman Catholic Church and immigration to the United States and Canada is described in separate chapters.
The section on family and clan genealogies offers a bird's eye view of each clan over the centuries and includes genealogy charts from six to ten generations in depth. The family origins and histories recounted include: Bellanich (Belanić), Carcich (Karcich, Karčić), Cecco (Ceko), Cosulich (Kozulić), Gallosich (Galošić), Giurich (Jurić), Haglich (Halić, Haljić), Martinolich (Martinolić), Nadalin, Nicolich (Nikolić), Pillepich (Pilepić), Radoslovich (Radoslović),Rerecich (Rerečić), Segotta (Segota), and Vallich (Valić). Photographs of various individuals and family homes are shown.
Several of these surnames have their originate in Mali Losinj. Other surnames have their origins to the north of Losinj but have developed several family lineages on all the islands. For instance, the surname Radoslovich is found in Unije by 1624, and in the following century it is also found in Mali Losinj, and by the turn of the last century a family with this surname also appears in Susak. The longevity of these surnames helps explain why there are a number of different lineage names for the same surnames, since they had several centuries to develop and thrive.
In addition, an appendix includes a listing of inhabitants from 1588 to 1867, the names and location of the households on the island in the 19th and 20th Centuries, and a listing of immigration records for those who immigrated to the United States prior to 1901.
The following book Review is by Jim Eagles and appeared in the New Zealand Herald on May 28th, 2008
The collective story of New Zealand's Croatian settlers, and the important part they played in the development of the country, has remained largely untold until now.
Stephen A. Jelicich, who was born in the part of Croatia known as Dalmatia and came to New Zealand with his family in 1923 when he was 4, has devoted much of his life to collecting the stories of all the others who made the same journey in search of freedom and prosperity.
But despite that, few of the immigrants returned to Dalmatia and their determination and hard work eventually did create prosperity as they stayed to farm, produce wine, develop orchards, build commercial fishing fleets, run boarding houses and otherwise make new lives for their families.
Turning its pages produces a parade of wonderful anecdotes, of life in the gumfields, breaking in land, planting trees and vines, arguing over the politics of the homeland, building churches, struggling against wartime xenophobia, starting sports clubs and creating communities, often told through the letters or memoirs of the pioneers and illustrated with marvellous snaps from their family albums.
Taken together, these stories do effectively create a picture of the forces which drove so many Dallies to leave home, the struggles which faced them on arrival and the efforts which brought success to most.
Jelicich tells the story of Mijo Brajkovich, who arrived in New Zealand in 1907 to work in the gumfields and in 1944 acquired a rundown block of land in Kumeu where he planted grapes, creating the winery where my father bought his sherry, today the widely respected Kumeu River Wines.
The book has the story, too, of the Jurlinas, a family whose members arrived in the Far North from 1896 to go gumdigging, opened a general store and gumtrading operation, and gradually acquired the land where we used to go on holiday.
There isn't an account of the Posa family, whose cafe was at one time the only eatery on the North Shore which opened at night (hard to believe these days), but the book does tell of many others who used the ancient skills developed over centuries of living on the shores of the Adriatic to earn a living catching, selling and serving fish.
Jelicich says, in his conclusion, that his aim in telling such stories was to make "a personal journey into the history of Croatians in New Zealand ... [to] capture the spirit of those men and women who made the long journey here and plant their families safely and securely within the wider New Zealand community." In that he has certainly succeeded.
It was with sadness that I recently learned that a friend of mine, Radovan Matanić passed away suddenly. I had know Radovan for a number of years and he was always rushing off to play tennis or attending to his book selling business. He was a picture of health and so all the more disturbing that he left us so soon. Many of the books featured on this web site came from Radovan. He had a tremenous catalogue of Croatian published books which he spent hours updating and then distributing to clients mainly in North America. Some of the Slavic books on the shelves of the main New York Public Library and of the Reference Library of the Toronto Public Library came from Radovan's stock of material. He also sold to many university libraries.
Radovan leaves behind his wife Barbara, brother, Dubravko and his wife Gea of Croatia, and nieces Renata and Melita. Radovan and Barbara enjoyed annual vacations to Krk, where Radovan persued his forays into Croatian book stores and relished in contacts with Croatian publishers.
Below are some of the tributes to Radovan Matanić.
The following is from Spring 2008 issue (No. 50) of the Bulletin of the Association for Croatian Studies (ACS)
Radovan Matanić died suddenly and peacefully at his home in Toronto on Friday, February 8, 2008 with his loving wife Barbara at his side.
Radovan was a retired chemical engineer. He graduated from the University of Zagreb in 1963 where he obtained a degree in Engineering. In 1972 he received a Masters in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto. After retiring from his engineering career, he started to supply universities and public libraries in both Canada and the U.S. with books printed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania. He became a member of ACS in 2004.
Radovan enjoyed his membership in the ACS and his participation in supplying literature and materials on behalf of Croatia. He was active in doing so in his business for 10 years. He started as a vendor but expanded his activity to include consulting. He loved his work and his clients. Because of his honesty as a businessman, his intelligence, his creativity, and exemplary human values, he was able to build relationships within the community which enabled him to distribute the best of Croatian culture. This activity gave him tremendous gratification and actually made him a happy man.
The testimonies from his clients attest to this: "I appreciated all the efforts that Radovan made for our library over the years. We frequently talked on the phone about new offers and publications, and it was always a great pleasure to talk with him. He had wonderful energy and spirit, and his calls would enliven the day. Radovan will be greatly missed among his colleagues in Illinois and around the world. We will never forget his kindness, his hard work and his sense of humour." -- Head of Slavic and East European Library.
And from another: "Radovan had made a personal connection with me as a vendor and as a senior advisor on Croatian materials. I owe him a lot. His smiling face, serious business ethics and sincerity to help will be missed by me and others like me in the Slavic field."
"We shall all be grateful to Radovan for distributing Croatian books in Canada and the U.S., thus spreading information on Croatian culture and history," writes Dr. Branko Franulić.
From Daniel M. Pennell of the University of Pittsburgh:
For Croatian materials, I have used several vendors since 2001. The one North American-based seller is Mr. Radovan Matanić of Toronto. Although a reasonably affable person, Mr. Matanić must spend more money on long distance phone calls than he could possibly recover in book sales. He is content to phone nearly all of his American customers on a regular basis to enquire whether or not this or that fax, advertising a single obscure title, has been received. (Source: http://www.openbook.ba/icsl/papers/dmpennell.htm)
From Bobo i Marija Markić of the Association of Alumni and Friends of Croatian Universities Toronto, Canada
Dragi prijatelj Radovan Matanić, nas je napustio!
Moja Baština (translated "My Heritage" in English) announced on January 31st, 2008 that the Croatian heritage web portal and organization is closing its site because of lack of commerical success. The web portal started up more than a year ago.
Started by a young group of individuals, the web portal was known mainly for allowing users to preserve their family history through the use of services such as the printing of family trees and books. The portal also offered users around the world the ability to hire professional researchers in Croatia with a solid history of tracing family histories.
As of April 4, 2008 the web site continues to offer non-commerical service, states "Our practice has shown that there is not enough interest in Croatia to do commercially viable services related to genealogy. Therefore, we've withdrew provision of our commercial services. You can still freely use all our free tools on this web site."