Reverend J.M. Trunk - New York 1912
Copyright © 1996, 1997, Slovenian Genealogy Society International, all rights reseved
These Rev. J. M. Trunk texts were published originally in 1912. Part 8, History of Slovene Communities, contains significant genealogical information about Slovenian immigrants, the places they lived, the organizations they formed, and the churches they attended.
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Gowanda. In 1897 M. Gazbodi, V. Sever and A. Straus came here from Dolenjska. They were followed by others, so that now 10 Slovene families and up to 30 individuals are here. The families have their own homes. All are employed in factories. They go to an Irish church. At Easter time, some Slovene priest comes to hear confessions. On 31 January 1909, they established St. Joseph Society #89, JSKJ, which has 24 male and nine female members. (Joe Simnovec).
Greater New York. Mr. A. Burgar sent me information on the Slovenes in the Greater New York area. Mr. F. Tassotti and other gentlemen also explained a few things to me.
The oldest settlers came here over 35 years ago. 20 years ago, they began to immigrate here in large numbers from the Kamnik and Crnomelj regions, as well as from other regions of Slovenia. The men are employed in stores, banks, print shops and various factories. The women are employed in straw hat factories or as cooks, servants, etc. Only Mr. F. Sakser has his own house on the Manhattan peninsula with a well-furnished print shop, bookshop, bank and travel office. In Brooklyn several Slovenes have their own houses (Cesark, Starin, Burgar, Vavpotic, Rems, Spehar, and Pirnat).
All together, in the city of a million or so inhabitants, there are currently about 300 families and 1,500 single persons. The Slovenes go to the Redemptorist Fathers Church on 3rd Street in Brooklyn. Those living in Brooklyn go to a German church at Montrose and Throop Avenue, and their children go mainly to parochial schools.
On 17 June 1906, the Rev. A. L. Blaznik, from a well-known Ljubljana family, celebrated Mass and serve the Slovenes in the Czech church on 72 Street. On 4 August 1907, he was transferred to Haverstraw. From then until 1 March 1909, he travelled to New York and assembled the Slovenes each month in St. Brigit's Church on 8th Street and Avenue B. After him, the Rev. Kazimir Zakrajseks, OFM, took over the Slovenes, as well as the Slovene Franciscans, who assembled them in St. Nicholas Church on 2nd Street. Several times the Slovenes tried to establish their own parish, but were not successful, since they were too widely scattered.
Mr. A. Burgar sent me highly interesting information about family and social life. He writes:
The first attempt to unite the Slovenes was a meeting on 7 May 1893 in the Hotel Germania, 116 Greenwich Street, where agent J. Pavlin usually sent the Slovenes. They became cognizant of the need for mutual support and the importance of signing, and they founded the "Lira" Society.
The times were critical, the conditions were poor and the individual members were so self-sacrificing that they walked 2 and 3 hours distance on foot to singing rehearsals, since they did not have money for transportation fares. Some members centered themselves around the families of Jos. Rems in New York and F. Tassotti in Brooklyn. Otherwise, most of the times, they did not know anything about one another.
From a religious standpoint, a considerable indifference prevailed. A special committee of conscious fellow countrymen met and made effort for the first Holy Mission, which was conducted in the Slovak Church of St. Elizabeth on 4th Street by Rev. Kosmerlj, who came from far away Duluth, Minnesota, especially for this Mission.
The Mission began on 4 July 1897. For the first time the Slovenes were gathered in greater number and a new ear began for the Slovenes. At the banquet in honor of Rev. Kosmerlj, they formed a closer organization and already on 5 July, they established a Benefit Society of St. Francis at the home of fellow countryman F. Gulet and incorporated it as Lodge #46 KSKJ in Joliet.
"The community began to grow markedly. On 14 July 1901, fellow countrymen Burgar, Starin, Cesark, Vavpotic, Kobe, Bremic, Marincik, Kosec, Ribic, Nachtigal, Pengov, P. Starin, F. Tassotti, Cvetkovic (senior) and Pavli established the Society of St. Joseph #57 KSKJ, which today is one of the strongest with about 180 male and female members. Other societies followed rapidly. On 1 June 1904, Messrs. F. G. Tassotti, J. Plese, etc. established the Society of St. Peter #50 JSKJ. On 30 November 1906, the Society of St. Anne #105 KSKJ, the Orel Society KSKJ, the Slovenia Society and the Fraternal Union of the SNPJ were formed.
They did not forget the choral societies either and founded the "Slavec", "Ilrija", and "Domovina" societies; the later also provides church choir music.
The tenth anniversary of the St. Francis Society on 4 July 1907 was significant. At that time, Rev. A. L. Blaznik gave an impressive sermon and blessed the flags of the St. Francis and St. Peter societies in the church on 87th Street. Under the leadership of Mr. F. Tassotti, all of the Slovene societies marched with the Slovene tricolors around the World City. The St. Joseph Society celebrated its anniversary just as festively on 16 July 1911.
Of great importance to the Slovene community in New York and in America as a whole, is the Frank Sakser Firm, which not only publishes the slovene daily "Glas Naroda", with 9,000 subscribers, but also sells steamship tickets and acts as an agent in sending money.
On 28 January 1912, the Slovenes established another individual benefit society, that was to be the center of the entire Slovene community in Greater New York. The Society is progressing well and has over 150 members.
Since there are many young Slovene girls in New York, the Rev. K. Zakrajsek founded the "Marion Society" on 15 August 1909, which has more than 100 members. The Society has a library, arranges games and entertainment, and prepares the Slovene girls for a Christian life.
In providing for Missions, as well as caring for settlements not having a Slovene priest, the monastic clergy were of great importance. The secular priests, as pastors are tied more or less to their own parishes and rarely ever get a Sunday off without causing a hardship on somebody. Since the most good can be done by the missions on Sundays when people are not working, provisions have now been made in this regard for the Slovenes in America.
The Slovene Franciscan Province of the Holy Cross has taken charge of the American Missions. Moreover, it already agreed in 1910 that a special provincial commissariat would be established for America, which was to take care of the entire matter. However, various difficulties and impediments caused the matter to drag out, and it was not until 13 July 1912, when the Holy Family parish in Brooklyn was appointed as the permanent seat of the Commissariat, and the first provincial commissary was appointed.
Currently, the commissariat has 3 priests and 2 laymen. It cares for the Holy Family Parish in Brooklyn, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hoboken, New Jersey, St. Michael's Parish in Rockland Lake, and the Slovenes of the Church of St. Nicholas on 2nd Street in New York. In addition to the Slovenes, the commissariat has plans for the Croatians and Slovaks as well, since all of these three nationalities still do not have their own monastic missionaries. The Rev. Kazimir Zakraajsek was named at the first Commissary.
Little Falls. Slovenes came to this city in 1890 from Cirknica, Vrhnika and Stajerska. They are employed in factories and tanneries. In 1903 there were over 150 of them, including 12 families. Now their number has probably increased. Some of them go to a local English church, others to a Polish church 20 miles distant. Previously, Rev. Zalokar came to heir their confessions, but now the Franciscans from New York come
The KSKJ has two societies: St. Paul #118 and the women's society of Marija Paamaagaj #421. The KSKJ has the St. Joseph Society #53, and St. Barbara Society #21, in Forest City, Pennsylvania.
On 8 January 1912, F. Maslej, M. Kramar, F. Borstnar and Mrs. F. Susman founded the drama society "Zavecni Slovenec" which has 30 members. There are probably a few Slovenes in the neighboring locality of Johnsville as well.
Slovenes are scattered also about other localities of this State. Most of them in the localities of Buffalo, Lymbrock and Silver Springs.