Reverend J.M. Trunk - Wyoming 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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Dietz. Mr. Strazisar reported from New Castle and mentioned that there are some Slovene immigrants here working in the coal mines. Some are also farmers. They are members of St. Barbara's Lodge #36.
Hudson. Around this community there are mines where some Slovenes have found work. Some have also tried their luck with farming.
Kemerer. It is an independent town and the seat of the coal mining industry. The mines are owned by the Kemerer Coal Company. In the city there are some Slovenes. Tow of them own taverns, one is a storekeeper. Most of them, however work in the mines. Years ago Cumberland, some 17 miles to the Southeast, was the largest Slovene community in this region, but it is a ghost town now. Because of fire, the mine was closed.
The workers moved to Oakley Elkow, Sublet, which got the nickname St. Visarje (a famous pilgrimage in Slovenia) because of the high elevation. There are about 20 families who are homeowners, and 100 single men in the community of Diamondville. I received a report form the above-mentioned community that J. Penca, A. Arko, J. Borovicar, T. Pegan and some others came here about ten years ago. Some of them are farmers, some became storekeepers and tavernkeepers. Most of them are pretty well-off. About 15 of them own farms.
The reporter mentioned that the Slovene immigrants do not go to church. They spend most of their time in the saloons and the Socialist spirit prevails. He stated that the church conditions are the best in the world. The JSKJ Lodge #27 of St. Michael has 65 members. Glencoe. The village of Glencoe is incorporated into Kemerer. G. J. Benc mentioned that F. and J. Celigoj and himself came here in 1904. Now there are four families, plus about single men who work in the mines. They attend services in the church of Kemerer where an Englishman is the parish priest. Those who are faithful to their religion are taken care of by Rev. A. Schiffrer.
Rock Springs. Rev. A. Schiffrer submitted a report and mentioned that Rock Springs is one community where one does not have to be afraid that he or she will be smashed wheels of the streetcar. But what can one expect in this dessert? A pile of stones, a pile of sand, and more stones and sand. However, anybody who is somewhat familiar with the living conditions in the West will agree with me that Rock Springs is the best business town along the Union Pacific railroad. The Union Pacific Coal Company made it possible for the town to be erected some 40 years ago with Company money.
There are many coal mines where coal of excellent quality is extracted, and the mines have lured thousands of young people. However, since the Company employed mostly Chinese workers and neglected the natives there was a revolt in 1886, and the Chinese lost the battle. Some were killed, but most of them escaped to the mountains where they perished because of lack of water. Among the first whites to work in the mines were some Slovenes and Slovaks. The population of the town is 5,778. Half of them are of Slavic descent, but the Slovenes prevail. There are about 900 here.
The Slovenes have two stores; one Slovene immigrant is a butcher. There is one Slovene baker, one Slovene barber and one Slovene candy store owner. There are five Slovene taverns and there is a Slovene undertaker. There is a Slovene educational club "The Leader". The Slovenes are proud of their Slovene Home and nearly every fraternal organization has a Lodge here. Years ago there was a movement to merge all the fraternal organizations and build a hall for social affairs. However, since they were not united, the idea was dropped at the very beginning. The organization "Slovene Home" is trying hard to reach that goal even though it was nearly impossible to do so in the past. I was told that the work would start by Spring.
At the very beginning the population was Catholic, at least in name. The English priests would take care of the Slovene parishioners. At Easter Rev. Ciril Zupan, OSB, J. Perse, A. Mlinar and the Slovak Al. Blahnik from Pueblo, Colorado, would visit the Slovenes. In 1909 Rev. Jacob Cerne came here as the parish priest. The following year Rev. Anton Schiffrer became the permanent resident of the community. He succeeded in unifying all immigrants of Slavic descent. He founded the parish of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. The building of the church is under way and when finished will be appraised at $35,000. All the Slovenes in the "wild West" will be proud of the church.
Another report was submitted by John Puc who mentioned that the first Slovenes came here about 20 years ago. Among the first ones were F. and J. Krzisnik, F. Subic and J. Potocnik. Most of them came from the Valley of Poljane. Some have progressed nicely. Frank Krzisnik became a councilman. J. Kosir has been a member of the Legislature for the past two years and A. Tavcar is a policeman. There are several fraternal organizations here. JSKJ Lodge of St. Alloysius, founded by F. Krzisnik in 1895 has 218 male members and 85 female members. JSKJ Lodge of St. Joseph, founded in 1908 by J. Kosir has 65 members.
The KSKJ Lodge of the Heart of the Virgin Mary, founded by Ivanka Ferlic in 1905 by A. Prosek and has 120 members. "The Worker" SDPZ, founded by M. Slebic has 50 members. Lodge #50 SSPZ, founded in 1910 by M. Batic has 15 members. In 1910 Rev. A. Schiffrer founded the educational club "The Leader" with 30 members. The religious situation can be described as mediocre. There are many immigrants who are of the opinion that in a foreign country religious life is not necessary and they have no religious obligation on a foreign soil.
Rev. A. Schiffrer added to his report that when the town was incorporated the coal company started opening new pits closer to the city. That is the way new communities are built. However, they are more or less dependent on the larger community for their religious and social life. There are some Slovenes in the community of Sweetwater, which is situated four miles to the South. There are seven families and some single men.
Gunn, nine miles to the North has five families and 20 single men. Not far away there is the new pit called "Reliance". In one year the population grew too 500. The prospects are good; there are 11 families and 20 single men now. Slovene immigrants Juri Subic and Jernej Stalec are farmers. They raise cattle and chickens. Twenty-eight miles to the North is the community of Superior with a population of 2,000, mostly Italians, although there are nine Slovene families and 30 single men. Slovenes can be found in Hanna and Black Buttes. There is hardly a mine in the State of Wyoming where no Slovenes can be found.