Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reclaiming Story

I received this photograph from my Father and Mother just before Melanie and I went on the Croatian Heritage Tour for descendants of Croatian immigrants of the Kirksville area organized by Gaylene Mihalevich Billington in 2002. The picture is of Croatian immigrant women in Kirksville, Missouri. My Grandmother (Dragica Budiselic Blaskovic or Dora Caroline Bloskovich, as she came to be known here) is the 1st woman standing on the left.

The story of the photo which was told to me by my parents was that Eva Rudosevich Bowen shared this photo with her sister Johanna Rudosevich. They wrote names 2 years before that. Somewhere in that time, the photo was shared with my parents.

While on the Croatian tour, Johnnie Mihalevich (whose Mother is standing 3rd from left) said that the photo was taken about 1926 in Mr. and Mrs. Philip Mihalevich’s yard. Johnnie Mihalevich remembered when this picture was taken. He was standing to the left. His younger brother Gregory is the small boy at the top.

My Father said that he remembered the Croatian ladies got together fairly regularly and wore white. I understood that he was talking about the time period of his memory of childhood and youth which would have been the 1920s and 30s.

While on the tour, Johnnie read the names penned by the Rudosevich sisters. He added more detail. Plus, others on the tour recognized their relatives (Grandmothers) and filled in names too. While we had variable to no connection before the tour, this humble little photo (these Grandmothers) connected us all.

My notes are rough and they are incomplete. I have listed the names below. In many cases, the women are identified only by their husbands’ names. I would like to know the women’s (and their husbands’) names.


1: Agatha Rudosevich (husband: ________________)
2: Katrina (Katy) Frkovich (Mrs. Paul)
3: Polly Tomich (husband: _______________; Joe Tomich’s mother)
4: Mrs. John Tomich (her 1st name was ______________; she lived north of Kirksville; she was Steve’s Mother)


1: Mrs. Dora Bloskovich (husband: Kazimir)
2: Mrs. ______________ Yauk (husband: __________________)
3: Mrs. Philip Mihalevich (Katarina Rupe)

This part was in my notes but I do not know who it refers to: Dolly Tomich (sister to John Tomich; from north of Kirksville; Dolly’s maiden name was Tomich; she was Joe Tomich’s Mother)

4: Mrs. ______________ Tangy (husband: _______________)
5: Johanna Popich (husband: _________________)
6: Mrs. Tony Buban (her name was: __________________)
7: Mrs. Philip Bubany (her name was: ____________________)
8: Mrs. _______________ Startovich (husband: __________________)
9: Mrs. Joe Crnic (Angelina)
10: Mrs. Jack Eskra (Barbara Bessie)

I wonder if anyone has done a profile of the Croatian immigrants to this community. We do know that many of them were from the same villages in Croatia which was the Austro-Hungarian empire at that time (villages: Fuzine, Mrkopalj, Sunger). Often the stories of immigrants and their significant contributions to our society get overlooked. These Croatian immigrant ladies were contemporaries in a world far removed from their ancestral lands. The triumphs and struggles of their settling here will never be completely known.

As I think of them (and their husbands and families), I would like to know other pieces of information: their address in Kirksville (I am assuming that it was the "north end"), the village they left in their homeland, the variability of their names (including original spelling in Croatian), the dates of immigration, their occupations, their children's names (including dates of birth and locations), death dates, significant known stories.

We live in a world that is so seemingly artificial with its "now orientation", that we forget the ancestors who have gone before. To truly know who we are and to learn and grow in ways that we were intended, we must seek to know our roots of the Family Tree. I consider that we have an obligation to those who came before. It is summed up in a promise to tell their stories and to simply state: "I shall not forget."

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