Croatian Symbol/Hrvatski Greb: courtesy of

Tomislav Mikulic

Croatian Genealogy Newsletter

Issue No. 23, 2014                                                    

In this the seventeenth year publishing this newsletter, the focus is on Croats in California, with two new books and a bio of Adam Eterovich. In that time we have sought to bring a variety of topics on Croatian genealogy from regions within and outside of Croatia.

To make the multiple issues of the newsletter more accessible a new index has been added for personal names, places and other topics. The index can be accesses by clicking on this link.

Current issue:


    Past Issues     Books: within Croatia     in diaspora     Croatian Genealogy: Primer  



Croatian Seminar at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference

One of the first conference seminars on Croatian genealogy in Canada took place on June 2, 2013 at the combined facilities of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario as part of the Ontario Genealogical Society's annual conference. The Society's conference usually features a large number of sessions of interest to genealogists of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Ireland. The Croatian session is one of the first official genealogical presentations to have taken place in Canada.

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is a new university that has only been in existence ten years. The conference took place in a variety of classroom setting some seating up to a hundred or more participants. A gymnasium-sized display area was available for various genealogical groups and retailers to display their products, while a computer facility allowed participants to research online at the conference. The conference was well attended.

Library at UOIT

In the presentation at UOIT, the importance of the Glagolitic script in Croatian genealogical records was demonstrated. In addition examples of Croatian birth, marriage, death records were illustrated. The recent 2001 census and the 1948 census were examined for their use in genealogy. As well as, the use of Canadian records to find Croatian immigrants using the Federal Censuses of 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, along with various Canadian city directories and the Croatian Fraternal Societies of Canada. Also famous Croatian-Canadians were referenced.

The OGS Croatian Genealogy presentation was part of dual presentation entitle "Ukrainian and Croatian Genealogical Records" by William Vetzel and Grant Karcich. While the Croatian community in Oshawa is very small, the Ukrainian community is substantial and therefore the presentation was focused to combine the two into one genealogical presentation. Vetzel outlined the history of the Ukraine in detail, and also described with illustrations a sample of Ukrainian genealogical records. Over the past decades, Vetzel has researched his ancestral family community in western Ukraine, and contains that research with contacts around the world. In previous years, he has presented genealogical work in the Oshawa area, including the Oshawa Public Library.

The presentation documented the literary and historical links within the Croatia and the Ukraine and how each country is shaped by its diverse and unique past. The area between the two countries forms a division between the cultures and religions of eastern and western Europe. This division is apparent today in the recent street protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, but in modern times the division stretches back at least to the 17th Century. Today this split between cultures is being played out in Kiev with western leaning advocates supporting a link with the European Union and eastern adherents who want to link with Russia, but the origins of this dispute can be found in the religious split that developed in the medieval past.

This division traces its roots back to the first Christian missionaries to the Slavic peoples of the 9th Century. Back then, there was a struggle in the Christian church between the Greek and Latin liturgy for influence in the newly Christianized lands among the then recently converted Slav tribes of central and eastern Europe. The first to convert the Slavs were the Glagolitic missionaries with a newly developed alphabet, the Glagolitic, which was specially devised for the Slavic language. The Glagolitic missionaries dominated the new Moravian (later Czech) state and the Croats to the south. But the Glagolitic missionaries had to compete with the Latin oriented church of Germany and Austria and the Greek dominated churches of eastern and southern Europe. Eventually, the Latin church won out in the Czech and Moravian regions, while the Greek church, which used the Cyrillic alphabet, became the defacto script of the Slavic regions of eastern Europe and is used as the standard alphabet in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Bulgaria.

European Languages
Language map of Europe with a yellow line demarcating
the boundary between Roman and Cyrillic scripts.

Only in Croatia has the Glagolitic language and script been maintained in the modern era. Unfortunately, with the last few centuries the Glagolitic has been replaced in Croatia by the Latin alphabet. Today the Glagolitic is occasionally used on state monuments, though in the recent past it was also the script used in western Croatian parishes to write church records for baptisms, marriages, and deaths.

Ukrainians and Croats each have their own scripts or alphabets. The Glagolitic script was developed first and was used in both Croatia and the Ukraine in the early medieval era. The Glagolitic predates the Cyrillic script used today in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Bulgaria. However, the Cyrillic script soon replaced the Glagolitic in the Ukraine. In the presentation at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology attention was given to the use of Glagolitic script in genealogical records. Into the 19th Century the Glagolitic alphabet was used in some parishes of western Croatia. On the map above the Glagolitic region is featured by the red diagonal lines.



Croatian immigrants to the Pajaro Valley and Watsonville, California (Book Reviews)

Two books that were released in the last few years focus on the Croatians that came to the Pajaro Valley and Watsonville, California, an area near the Pacific coast south of San Francisco. Watsonville with a 2010 census population of 51,199 inhabitants is a city in Santa Cruz County, California. This was an area populated by Croatians from the region around Dubrovnik, and the island of Brač. Today many of the desendants of this part of California maintain their links to the old country.

Thomas Ninkovich's book, The Slav community of Watsonville, California : as reported in old newspapers (1881-1920) was published in 2011 by Reunion Research Press in Watsonville, California. Covering 835 pages, Ninkovich's book is an exhaustive compilation of newspaper articles of Slav immigrants, who were primarily Croats. The book provides a journalist history of the Slavs including short biographies of specific families. An appendix provides details on the surnames of the immigrants and their villages of origin in Europe, while additional appendices provide maps and language details.

Croatians started coming to California when Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In the Watsonville area they came to work in the mines at Jackson in 1870 and later they began to settle in Watsonville itself. There they bought apple orchards. They built up the area's economy by their entrepreneurial enterprises in apple growing and cold storage industries.

Most of the Croatians who immigrated to Watsonville were from Dalmatia, not Croatia. At that time Dalmatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The first Croatians in California came during, and right after, the Gold Rush. They settled primarily in Jackson, California. Later, starting in the late 1880s, some of them settled in the Watsonville area where they became fruit brokers at first and later expanded into owning fruit farms, primarily apple farms. By 1920 they constituted around 12% of the town's inhabitants.

They built up the area's economy by their entrepreneurial enterprises in apple growing and cold storage industries.

Main Street around 1888 about the time
the first Croats settled in Watsonville

Ninkovich is an archivist and historian, originally from Fresno, California, and now retired in Watsonville, who spearheads a project to collect information and photos of the Slav immigrants to Watsonville. In his own words Ninkovich describes what lead him to undertake his research. "I first came to Watsonville in 2002 after having spent three years researching the history of my mother’s Croatian family. In my retirement I was looking for a project that would involve a Slavic community. I didn’t want to write the history of a community; I just wanted to collect the information. I knew that someone would come along some day and use such information to write a proper history or genealogy, or perhaps produce a documentary film."

He outlines the difficulty of take on such a project. "It is truly tedious to read newspapers on microfilm machines. Often they are too dark or too light. Many are scratched. But after about two years I made it up to 1905 (I could only do it for about 3 hours a day, every other day or so, without burning out). But I finally did burn out. At that point (to 1905) I had collected over 1200 excerpts from the microfilmed newspapers. It was a good, basic collection. It covered the very early years of the Slavs in Watsonville.... At that point I approached the directors of the Borina Foundation and they provided the funds to hire professional researchers and transcribers to continue to 1920. Having once been in the publishing profession, I provided the editing, book design and indexing. And that’s how this book came to be."

The Croatians who came to Watsonville were primarily from the region around Dubrovnik -- Konavle, Župa, Primorje, Pelješac, and the islands of Mljet and Lopud. And around 15-20% came from the island of Brač. Very few (less than 2%) came from other areas. The Strazicich, Belin, Dabelich, Cumbelich, and Sersen families came from Mljet, while from Primorje, Ombla nd Župa (the regions surrounding Dubrovnik) came the Puhiera, Milanovich, Ivanovich, Biskup, Banovac, Zadielovich, Pulisevich, Borina, Knego, Colendich, Simunovich and Gera families. But a good 70% of the immigrants came from Konavle, where the primary immigrant surnames were Scurich, Lettunich, Stolich, Pista, Secondo, Kalich, Ruso, Alaga, Jano, Resetar, Marinovich, Cikuth, Kralj, Skocko, Capitanich, Pekoch, Sambrailo, Caput, Miladin, Gluhan, Butier, Copriviza and Glage (all spellings shown are as they became in this country).

The book contains a wealth of photographs of these pioneer Slavs from Watsonville, collected by Ninkovich from early newspapers and from local families. A superb index provides links to these photographs and individuals and a large appendix gives biographical details on the early settlers. A sequel to The Slav community of Watsonville, California is scheduled for release in 2014 covering the period from 1920 to 1929. It will contain about 1400 pages and combined in two volumes.

The book was originally printed in Canada at Art Bookbindery near Winnipeg, Manitoba, a printer of family histories. There are no more printed copies available and the book will not be reprinted. Copies of the book are available in DPF format from Tom Ninkovich at Any questions can be directed to Tom Ninkovich at

The other book review is by Donna F. Mekis & Kathryn Mekis Miller entitled, Blossoms Into Gold: The Croatians in the Pajaro Valley. The Pajaro Valley is in the Watsonville region. Donna and Kathryn are granddaughters of Croatian immigrants who came from Konavle to Watsonville, California, in 1901. Their father, Andrew Mekis, was born in Watsonville’s Croatian colony in 1920.

Blossoms into Gold was published in the Spring of 2009 by Capitola Book Company of Aptos, California. Its length of 309 pages has details of those Croatian immigrants in the Pajaro.


Kathryn describes the “the first Croatians who came to the Pajaro Valley... as businessmen, not farmers.” They included men such as, Marko Rabasa, Luke Sresovich, Luke Scurich, M.N. Lettunich, and F.P. Marinovich. Their work revolutionized the apple industry by creating contracts with growers for apples while blossoms were still on the trees, and forming packing and distributing cooperatives, as well as, merchandising their products with their own distinctive apple-box labels. By 1910, there were 53 packing companies in the Pajaro Valley consisting of 80 Croatian families. The book also describes the lives of John and Martin Franich were two young brothers when they arrived in the Watsonville area. Rocky Franich, owner of Franich Ford Mercury dealership in Watsonville today, described his great-grandfather, Martin as one like so many who immigrated to the Pajaro Valley when they were teenagers.

In the autumn of 2013 Blossoms into Gold was reported to be translated into Croatian by the University of Zagreb and published by Matica Hrvatska in the Dubrovnik area. The English version can be purchased online for $29.95 US at





Adam Slav Eterovich (November 27, 1930 - February 16, 2013)

Twenty-thirteen marked the passing of Adam Eterovich, a pioneer of Croatian-American historian and genealogist. Born in San Francisco of Croatian parents, Adam grew up in the United States influenced by the traditions of the old world, but in a new world setting. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Danica nee Kralj, his daughter Karen Ann Eterovich Palladino, sisters Winnie Biocini, Katie Eterovich, Francis Bulanti, and his brother John Eterovich. The youngest of five, Adam and his siblings were all born in California.

Adam went to San Francisco State University where he graduated with a degree in History and Business. Later during the Korean War he served four years in the US Army finishing with the rank of Sergeant First Class. It was during his stay in the army in 1950 that he first visited the Croatian home of his father on the Dalmatian island of Brac. This trip brought Adam into contact of the Croatia of the past with its isolated island dialects and different non-Anglo-Saxon family names. On Brac, Adam was looking for the Andreas Eterovich family, but being a common name it designated about fifteen families on the island. He was able to find his ancestral family by using the clan or subfamily name of Faraun. In Croatian family names, additional hereditary names, or nadimak in Croatian, are given to families to distinguish those families from others which share the same surname. After his four years in university, Adam received a scholarship to study in Zagreb for a year and a half. There he met and married Danica a native of Zagreb in the historic Sveti Marko Church.

Adam was a long-time member Slavonic Mutual and Benevolent Society (SMBS). At its founding in San Francisco in 1857 by Croatians from Dalmatian, it was known as the Slavonic Illyric Mutual Benevolent Society. The Society reached a membership of 650 in the 1870s. It provided insurance and social contact for its members. But by 1965, membership fell to 180. However, with the admittance of women into the Society in 1975 and the opening of the Croatian American Cultural Center in 1979 membership rose to 400. Today the Society continues to operate at Alemany and Onondaga Avenues in San Francisco. The Cultural Committee formed by Adam Eterovich and John Daley in 1985 has made the Center a focal point for Slavic music, dance and culture in the San Francisco Bay area.

Adam’s father, Ivan was born in 1888 and came to the United States in 1910, while his mother Ana Cvitanich was born in 1900 and came to the U.S. in 1920. Ivan was born in Pučišća on the north coast of the island of Brac, when it was part of the Austrian Empire. Adam’s father and grandfather both worked in Australia. At the age of sixteen, around 1904, Ivan went to work in the gold mines of western Australia. He only managed to work cutting and selling wood, so in 1910 when an old Dalmatian told them “Don’t go home, go to California”, they did.

Adam describes his father as a bootlegger from 1919 to 1931 who made liquor to supply the Croatian owned saloons and restaurants. The 1940 U.S. federal census lists Ivan as a gardener living at 4843 Mission Street, San Francisco. Two years later, the World War II Draft Registration describes him as working for the quarantine service on Angel Island, San Francisco. Ivan died in October 1977. Ivan and Ana lived in San Francisco since at least 1930 and Ana was naturalization in 1936, five years after Adam was born.

At that time Croatia only existed as first as a province of Austria and then became part of Yugoslavia, while the nation state of Croatia existed only in the medieval past. So growing up in California, Adam found his parent’s old world identity described by many terms such as Slavonian, Dalmatian, Austrian, Yugoslav, and Croatian. “My father took my brother and me… to the Croatian church. Montenegrin picnics. Serbian picnics. Slovene picnics. Croatian picnics…. At home we spoke an island dialect…. explaining ourselves was an impossible task…. I didn’t know I was Croatian until I was about 22 years old. We called ourselves Slavonian. Papa went to the Slavonian Society. All the people of San Francisco said, “you’re Slavonian Americans.” ”

Adam’s initial research work let him to his lifelong study of Croatian-American history. He first believed, “our people all rolled off the boat about 1900. Then I started to dig into it, and discovered, Oh, my God, we’ve been here a long time. And I collected data for that paper; that’s how it started and I never stopped.”

Adam went on to put together one of the most extensive genealogical and historical research collections on Croatian Americans. He established a publishing house, the Croatian Genealogical and Heraldic Society, based in San Carlos, California and has produced a multitude of publications. More recently, Adam disseminated genealogical information on his website

Adam researched the history of Croats in the United States back to the earliest arrivals in the 19th Century. Of special interest where the immigrants to California at the start of the 1848 Gold Rush. He paid special attention in his writings to the Croatian settlers of California, Nevada, and other western states. But Adam also examined possible earlier Croat explores on the eastern coast of the Americas from the time of Verrazano, Cabot and the Roanoke Lost Colony of North Carolina. Adam advanced Croatian-American genealogy with his in-depth works such as Croatians in California, 1849-1949, with its 800 biographies, his General Index to Croatian Pioneers in California, 1849-1999 link with its comprehensive listing of 45,000 individuals, and with A Guide to Croatian Genealogy, one of the earliest publications to focus on Croatian genealogy for families in the United States. Some of Adam Eterovich’s other publications are listed below:

  • Gold Rush Pioneers from Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the Boka Kotor
  • Croatian and Dalmatian Coats of Arms
  • A Guide And Index To Croatian Coats Of Arms
  • Croatian Directory of Institutions in America & Canada
  • Croatian Contributions to San Francisco from 1849-1949 to Restaurants, Coffee Saloons, Oyster Saloons, Saloons, Liquor, Importers-Exporters, Fruits-Produce, Fishermen-Oystermen and Mariners
  • Croatian Popes and Saints and the Croatian Checkered Arms
  • Croatian Pioneers in America, 1685-1900
  • Marco Polo Croatian Adventurer
  • Croatia in the New World: Columbus, The Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Saint Vlaho (Saint Blaise) Patron Saint of Dubrovnik


  • "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 04 Jan 2014), Adam Eterovich in household of Ivan Eterovich, Assembly District 21, San Francisco, San Francisco City, San Francisco, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 38-114, sheet 8A, family 266, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 302.
  • "United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 04 Jan 2014), Ivan Eterovich, 1942.


Croatian Genealogical Society (Hrvatsko Rodoslovno Drustvo) Meetings for 2013

Hrvatsko rodoslovno društvo "Pavao Ritter Vitezović" or the Croatian Genealogical Society is a national Croatian genealogical organization headquartered in Zagreb. Named after a seventeenth century historian, the Society was founded in June of 2005 with Peter Strčić as president. The Society was formed to encourage and support genealogical research and to educate researchers by the exchange of information on genealogical issue, archival administration, and information technology.

Meetings are usually held at the Croatian State Archives, Marulićev Square 21 (near the Botanical Gardens) in Zagreb.

  • On Tuesday March 12, 2013 at 18:00 hours Hrvoje Grzina presents a lecture on historical photographic processes and the examination old photos that are approximately 100 to 150 years old. Hrvoje Grzina is the senior archivist at Fototeci HDA.

  • On April 4, 2013 at 18:00 hours,Hrvoje Grzina will lecture on photographs at the Croatian State Archives.

  • INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM DAY AND EUROPEAN MUSEUM NIGHT 2013 Archival talker : Laforest camera 18th svibnja 2013th

    On Saturday May 18, 2013 from 10:00 - 14:00 hours the Croatian State Archives will celebrate International Museum Day and European Night of Museums. The event provides an opportunity to showcase museums and the museum profession in Croat and in the European Union.

    Igor Kozjak, from the Central Department of Conservation and Restoration at the Croatian State Archives will describe how cameras were restore. The atrium of the Archives will exhibit restored camera and protective boxes particularly those of Franz Thiard de Laforest. Laforest (1838-1911) was a photographer and writer in the late 19th century especially in Dalmatia. His photographs cover the period from 1866 to 1898.

  • The 25th of May, 2013 there is a scheduled genealogist's trip to the island of Krk, including the town of Krk, Punat, Košljun, Jurandvor and Vrbnik.

  • On June 6, 2013 at 18:00 hours Alisa Martek, the chief librarian at the Croatian State Archives will give a talk on the collection of newspapers and other special collections in the Archival library.

    The library was founded in 1853 by Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski. Today the library has approximately 160,000 volumes including 90,000 books and 70,000 magazines. Approximately 770 linear meters house the unbound newspapers and books .

  • Presentation of a new genealogy book - pjesnikinje Zlate Bujan Kovačević u povodu 100-te obljetnice rođenja Ivana Gorana Kovačića - "GORANI - dvanaestero pjesnika" (Exuberant poet Zlata Kovacevic on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ivan Goran Kovacic - " Goran - twelve poets) in Fužinama on Friday 14 June 2013. in 18 hours and in Zagreb on Tuesday 18th June 2013. in 18 hours .

  • On Thursday September 12 2013 at 18:00 hours there will be a lecture by Darius Hofgräff and Stella Fatović-Ferenčić, entitled: Who was the woman in the background of Stampar?

    The life and work of Andrija Stampar, physician, founder of the World Health Organization there is an extensive historiography, but on his second wife , Desanka Ristović-Typo (1882-1968th) there is no information. Her role in the Croatian medical history has been neglected. This lecture for the first time, based on archival sources and details from Mrs. Dawn Typo, Stampar's daughter. provides more detail on Stampar's wife.

  • On Thursday September 19, 2013 at 18:00 hours there will be a screening of films from the National Film Collection The films include:

    Premiere directed by Nicholas Kostelac in 1957.
    Don Quixote by R. Vlado Kristl in 1961.
    Fifth by Paul R. Štalter , Zlatko Grgic, 1963.
    And Videl sem distance Meglena and cal ; R. Zlatko Bourek , 1964.
    Wall by R. Anthony Zaninović, 1964.
    Muha by R. Alexander Marx and Vladimir Jutriša, 1966.
    Between lip and cup by R. Dragutin Vunak, 1968.
    The days by R. Nedjeljko Dragic, 1969.

  • Rodoslovlje drustvo crest
    Crest of the Rodsolvlje Drustvo

  • For lifelong learning 2013 the following workshops will be held at the Croatian National Archives.

    September 30 palaeographic workshop at 10 a.m. and "Archives on-line" at 12 p.m.
    October 1 Lubynski Palace workshop at 10 a.m. and a Heraldic workshop at 11 a.m.
    October 2 Heraldic workshop at 11 a.m. and at 1 p.m. a workshop on the "Historic Photographic Processes"
    October 3 Archives online at 11 a.m. and Lubynski Palace workshop at 1 p.m.

  • On October 10, 2013 the Croatian National Archives has a welcome by the Director, Vlatke Lemić on the sigining of a new archival cooperation agreement and the opening of the restored works from the Lubynski Palace. Various activities are slated for:

    October 9, 2013 from 12 to 2 p.m. a workshop on European archival portals.
    October 10, 2013 from 1 to 6 p.m. a symposium on the "100 years of the palace Lubynski.
    October 11, 2013 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Meet Zagreb"
    October 12, 2013 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. an Open House with workshops on archives, genealogy, Glagolitic, heraldry, palaeography, and history. with tours of the building, storage facilities, and restoration and photo laboratories.

  • From the 17th to 19th of October, 2013 in the lobby of the National and University Library in Zagreb there will be an exhibit On Croatian Books 2013.

  • From the 28th to the 31th of October at Tuškanac in Zagreb the Croatian Cinematheque, the Croatian State Archives, Croatian Film Clubs' Association and the Slovenian Film Archive at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia featuring the completion of the restoration project of digital feature film 'black birds'.

  • On Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 18:00 hours Dr. Stjepan Cosić will lecture on the "Genealogy of Korjenić Neorić". The Korjenić-Neorić coats of arms date from 1595.The Korjenić-Neorić originated in Hum and later had branches in Dalmatia. Other Croatian coats of arms are available from Slavonia, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Bosnia, Primorje, and Raska.

  • On Friday November 29, 2013 features the present the third edition of Stephen Obad's - Serđo Dokuz - by Suzana Martinović published by the State Archives in Zadar.

  • On Thursday, Decmeber 5, 2013 at 18:00 hours o'clock at the Croatian State Archives Dean Kovačec will lecture on the history and culture of the snowflakes.

  • On Tuesday December 10, 2013 at 18:00 hours in the Croatian State Archive's Hall "Catalogs" our president Dr. Stjepan Cosić will hold a lecture on "Genealogy Korjenić Neorić".

Previous Croatian Genealogical Society meetings are available for 2012 and for the years from 2009 to 2011.:


Back to Home Page