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Slovenian Genealogy Society Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 2 1989

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We have heard from another member, Joanne Fix, that she purchased a very nice English to Slovene, Slovene to English dictionary from The Free Press, 216 West Lake Street, Chisholm, MN 55719. The book is small and easily carried. She noted that when she visited Slovenia, her relatives there were using the same dictionary.

In 1985, the cost was $12.00 plus $1.50 for postage and handling. Prices have probably gone up. It would pay to write and inquire before sending an order. If any member does write, please ask for a listing of all other publications that might be of interest and send a copy to us to share with all our members.

Since our last newsletter, I have heard from Tivoli Enterprises, 6419 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland, OH 44103. They list several English/Slovene dictionaries ranging in price from $11.50 to $35.00. They also have a book called The Slovenians offering insights into Slovenian history, tradition, and roots.

Treasure Chest of Slovenia (in English) is another excellent book with beautiful illustrations. There are too many other books to list, as well as maps of Slovenia, and cassettes for language study. They also offer VHS tapes on Slovenian life, some drama, and Folklore. Let us know your opinion if you order anything.

I personally purchase just one genealogy book each year, so I try to make each purchase worth my while. This year, I purchased a book called The Library, a Guide to the LDS Family History Library, edited by John Cerny & Wendy Elliott. The book is excellent. It describes in magnificent detail the holdings of the LDS Library for almost every country under the sun. Sadly, the holdings for Yugoslavia, indeed for almost all of Eastern Europe, are limited.

The only census listed is the 1828 Hungarian census that included portions of present day Yugoslavia, but none of Slovenia. While the LDS Library has completed extensive microfilming of many Roman Catholic Church records in Europe, they have to date filmed only 12 churches in Slovenia, all parishes in the area formerly known as Banat. This book is a must for serious genealogists. However, we Slovenian genealogists will have no other option than to continue collecting more of our own material until the LDS Library can turn its attention to Eastern Europe.

You probably already know that the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is preparing for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus. In June, 1991, The Family History Center at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum will have a computer data base on line that will allow visitors to search through the records of the 17 million people who were processed into this country from 1892 to 1954.

Original ship manifests are included so visitors should be able to determine where their ancestors came from, their ages, even what they carried with them. A special program is being developed to track immigrants whose names were spelled phonetically or changed by immigration officials. This could become a major resource for our membership.

by Doris V. Commins

When I began researching my family a year and a half ago, I never expected to spend a month in Yugoslavia either on research or a vacation, but that's exactly what happened. Genealogy has become an exciting interest for both my husband and me. We have written to relatives not contacted in decades here in the U.S., visited our hometown's, attended an Elderhostel on genealogy in Provo, Utah, last March, joined several genealogy societies in our home states and attended conferences and classes in Milwaukee, written to church and civil archives in foreign countries, and finally turned up in person in Metlika and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Both my Irish as well as my Slovenian ancestors settled in Joliet, Illinois. In the beginning, I did most of my research by mail. I asked archive sources in Slovenia fro specific data. Information sent by the Yugoslavian archives included the names of my grandfather, Mathew Sodez's parents and grandparents who lived in Rosalnice, and finally, a baptismal record of my grandmother, Agnes Znidarsic, from BojanjaVas. Further inquiries referred me to the Metlika records. Letters to the civil records office and the local priest in Slovenia went unanswered. Rather than lose any more time, we decided to travel to Slovenia on our own.

On June 20th, we arrived in Zagreb. The next morning we drove to Metlika, about a three-hour trip. Slovenia was more beautiful than could be imagined, especially the mountainous countryside. Our hearts sank when we arrived at the only hotel in a town of perhaps 8,000 and found no one speaking English. We parked in the town square, wandered into an official- looking building, and there found a "guardian angel", Franc Zist, the district engineer who had a career in the Yugoslavian merchant Marine and had spent time in America. He looked at my correspondence, said, "We are from different countries, and we must help each other."

After a telephone call, he took us across the street to the civil archives office, spoke to the clerk, and she spent the rest of the afternoon, looking up birth records from my mother's sisters and brothers who were born in Rosalnice, as well as my grandparents marriage record, and birth records of other family members. Franc took the records to his own office and photocopied them until he ran our of large paper.

The next morning he took us to Fr. Albin Znidarsic, (my family name,) the priest at St. Nicholas Church next door, and again, we spent several hours copying my Sodez family group records as far back as 1740. It was an incredible experience.

That evening Franc and his friend, Josef, who knew all the area priests, went with us to Sunor, another village in search of BojanjaVas records. The young priest, Fr. Franc Sifrar, was just coming in from his fields where he farms a huge number of acres of vegetables and grape vines, as well as caring for ten cows--all to support his parish of 700 souls. He was most gracious but his records did not go back far enough. He suggested Radowica, but the priest was not home there. Franc took us to his own home for wine, cheese, sausage, and bread, and lovely folk music.

The next morning, while Fr. Znidarsic was out of town, Franc took us sightseeing in Metlika, then back to the rectory for more records. Fr. Znidarsic mentioned there were still descendants living at the family farm in Rosalnice if we would like to meet them!!! We would and did. The priest and Franc accompanied us to Rosalnice 31 in a torrential downpour and there we met a grandson of my grandmother's oldest sister (whom I had not known existed until this trip.) Martin Jurejevic and his wife, Kristin live there. They welcomed us with smiles and hospitality. We met one of their married daughters and her small son as well.

Naturally we took pictures. We were all so excited that I am sure we did not ask half the right questions as Franc translated for us. After almost a two-hour visit, Fr. Znidarsic took us to the church close by and the cemetery. We had driven up there alone previously and looked for family grave markers, but the church had been closed. This time he unlocked it and we stood where so many of my ancestors had worshipped. It was an unbelievable moving experience.

The next day we left for Bucan near the Adriatic coast to visit distant cousins we had never met. Then on to Ljubljana. From our hotel, I telephoned the church Ordinariat and finally, I was connected to someone who spoke English. I was told Fr. Doinar was in another job, but I could come the next morning when the archives would be open until noon.

Sr. Fani Znidarsic arrived and got out earlier marriage and death record books for us. It was slow going with hand copying German fractur script and some Slovenian.

We found the church archives were only open Monday to Wednesday mornings, so on Thursday we tackled the civil archives. On the third floor we found a large room with about ten tables. Gene Rak of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was also researching families who had settled in Joliet. I gave him the Slovenian Genealogy Society's address as well as Michael Vidmar's.

Again we worked most of the day, without lunch, copying marriage and death records. Their archives were open Monday to Thursday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and Friday started at 11:00 am. You have to ask for books for specific villages or areas and years, but the clerks do not have time for assistance.

The next morning we left to join a bus tour. After returning home and charting all my notes, I realized I had an enormous amount of material. Untangling the multiple marriages and children and tracing families for 20 Rosalnice and two BojanjaVas households has been a priceless experience.

Albert Peterlin

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