Reverend J.M. Trunk - Colorado 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.
Translators for the Slovenian Genealogy Society have been working to translate many texts published early in the 1900s that contain significant genealogical information. Our translators are not professional linguists, and they do not complete a translation with rigorous academic oversight. The goal of our translation projects is to make information available to the American descendants of Slovenian immigrants.
If you believe we have made serious errors in translation, please contact us and volunteer your time to us in order to make the corrections. We strive to do good work; we are always willing to correct errors to the extent we can; and we ask others to join us in this worthwhile endeavor.
The Slovenian Genealogy Society collects church histories. Readers with information on Slovenes in the communities listed, the churches mentioned, or other information on Slovenes, can contact:
Slovenian Genealogy Society
52 Old Farm Road
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011-2604
The society accepts donations of Slovene books, texts, and publications for its genealogy library.
Aspen: The Rev. C. Zupan wrote that the first Slovene emigrants came here about 25 years ago. In 1891 there were already more than 150, and soon their number increased. Now their number has decreased since the silver mines have stopped production. In the Society of St. Barbara #47 JSKJ, there are about 80 members. Over 30 years ago a Catholic priest could be found here. For some time a parish school offered education to the youngsters.
Bowen: The jobs here are not permanent and workers come and go. Mr. F. Ravnikar mentioned that two families and eight single men live here and work in the mines. Bowen is the seat of Jesuit missionaries from Trinidad, but the Slovenes do not frequent the church since they do not understand the language. There are no benefit societies. The Slovenes are members of Lodges with seats in other communities.
Colorado City: In the smelts some 50 Slovene workers are employed. There are 12 Slovene families, most of whom came from Ribnica (Dolenjska) about eight years ago. In 1911, the Society was organized which is incorporated into the Western Slavonic Society. Some of the families belong to Societies which have Lodges in nearby communities. At first the Rev. Ciril Zupan visited the Slovenes. Later the Polish priest from Colorado Springs, who learned Slovene, would visit the Slovene farmer (ten of them) in Calahan. Not far away there is the community of Cortes where some Slovenes live.
Colorado Springs: A few miles away from the city about 100 Slovenes work in the Smelts. There are about 30 families some of whom already have their homes. Most of them came from Ribnica (Dolenjska). Some of them also came from Notranjska (inner Country) and Primorska (district along the Adriatic Coast and Gorica). Submitted by M. Pogorelc.
Crested Butte: The community is situated in the mountains and is often called Eagle's Nest. Over 100 Slovene workers are employed in the coal and silvered mines. There are some Slovene stores and taverns. Floresta is even higher, but work can be performed only in the Summer. Somerset can also be reached only in the Summer. It is 36 miles away, and the climate is very pleasant. It is like in California. It is said that some underground gases spring form the ground. In the coal mines around the place about 100 Slovenes have found work. In the Spring it is like in Paradise. In their spare time many Slovenes hunt bear. There are some benefit societies here, but the Slovenes enjoy working in the dramatic club. (M. Pogorelc).
Somerset Mr. A. J. Terbovec submitted a few words about Somerset:
From the railroad station along the tracks beautiful fruit trees can be admired. It is especially nice in the Spring when the trees are full of blossoms, and in the Fall one can admire trees loaded with ripe fruit. The Slovenes have small, nice farms. The Slovene emigrants are good-natured, united, industrious, and good savers, respected by other nationalities. Many good singers can be found among the Slovenes. On more than one occasion one can listen to the beautiful Slovene songs. It is like a baby's dream, but it can be majestic and can echo from rock to rock.
Delagua: About 200 Slovenes work in the mines. On 8 November 1910, there was a gas explosion in the mine and many Slovene and Slavic miners were killed. There is one Catholic church frequented by all parishioners.
Denver: Mr. J. A. Terbovec wrote, "Denver is the wonder of the West. It is situated at the foot of the wonderful Rock Mountains. The climate is one of the best in the United States. It is not too hot in the Summer, nor is it very old in the Winter. One cannot see fog here since all year round there is sunshine. Many modern buildings have been built in the city. It is the center of railroad traffic in the West. Some sixteen lines have been built and trains arrive and depart every 15 minutes. Nearby here are many mines: iron, copper, gold and silver can be found here. Not far away Slovenes work in the smelts, meat processing plants and factories. The soil is fertile and suitable for fruit growing."
This same gentleman mentioned that the first Slovene emigrants came to Denver about 30 years ago. Now there are about 200 families with about 600 members. Although the community is not a large one, the Slovenes are highly respected here. Many Slovenes are storekeepers and hotel owners. Many perform clerical jobs in the factories. They are proud of the nice homes they own. Mr. R. B. Derganc works in Stock Yard Station and is the postmaster. Years ago in the suburb of Globeville a Slovene was elected to the post of Mayor. Slovene aldermen can also be found. Some Slovenes are proud of their nice farms close to the city.
The Slovenes attend the English Catholic church. I was told that they have tried to get a Slovene parish but thus far the endeavors have not been successful. Slovene emigrants are members of St. Rochus Lodge #113 KSKJ; St. Joseph's Society #21 JSKJ has 32 members (women), and there are some Lodges belonging to the Western Slavonic Society.
Durango: About ten years ago Slovene smelters from Pueblo settled here, but the jobs in the plant are not steady. There are about seven families and 20 single men who are members of the different benefit societies.
Erie: Mr. Major submitted: "There are families and a few single men here. In the winter they work in the mines. In the summer they work on farms. They came here eight years ago from the region of Dolenjska (Lower Carniola); four of them have their own farms. They attend services in an English church and the children get their education in the public schools. There are no benefit societies.
Glenwood Springs: Here many hot springs can be found. People from all over the world come to be cured. The rich lodge in Hotel Colorado. A Slovene is the owner of a hotel and many Slovene girls work as maids in the different hotels. Slovenes live in the surrounding communities and often come here since the place is a junction of crossways. Artificial lake Shashome was built at a cost of $12 million and water power is used for electricity. Mines are nearby. Many Slovenes work there. There are about 50 Slovenes in South Canon. There are a few coal mines in Sunshen. Some farmers raise cattle. Gold mines are in Read Cliff and Gilman. 40 Slovenes have settled down. The gold mines in Aspen are in decline. (M. Pororelc).
Golden: is near Denver. About ten families and some single men work in the mines.
Goldfield and Victor: with some smaller communities belong to the district of Cripple Creek famous for its gold mines situated at the elevation of 10,000 feet high. The yearly output is about $25 million dollars. There are many Slovenes who have been here for many years and are proficient in the English language. They work mostly in the mines. The community started to grow about eight years ago. About 25 Slovene families and 100 single men have found their homes here. Two small benefit societies are active here and some Slovenes are members of the societies in Pueblo. Everything is more or less transient. That is why the residents have built dug-out cabins, log cabins and cottages on the hills and in the valleys. There are three Catholic churches with enough opportunity to fulfill religious obligations. However, if the priest does not understand the language of the parishioners, then the people become estranged.
(P. Ciril Zupan, O.S.B.)
Independence: Louis Marolt submitted a lengthy report: "Close by are the communities of Goldfield and Victor. The first Slovenes came here 20 years ago, but they left for the valleys. More emigrants came here five years ago and now about 60 families and from 80 to 100 single men live here. They work in the gold mines and are proud of their homes. Most of the gold can be found in Cripple Creek. As soon as somebody saves some money he leaves the mountains and settles down in the valley. Some attend services in the Irish church. There are people who are not churchgoers. The children attend public schools and the religious situation is rather bad. There are two societies here: "Little Pigeon" (Golobcek) which is affiliated with the JSKJ and "Slovene Brothers" a lodge of WSU in Denver."
Leadville: The Rev. I. F. Sustersic noted the community is often called Cloud City, the city among the clouds, situated 10,200 feet above the sea. It is considered the largest mining camp in the world. Winters are long but mild and Summers are chilly. Snowcovered mountains are a big attraction for climbers and nature lovers. In 1876 gold was found and emigrants from all over the world flocked here. There were Slovenes among them. More Slovenes came after 1883. In 1903 there were about 1,000 Slovenes living here. About 150 families are proud of their nice homes.
The Rev. J. Perse, the first and only Slovene priest wrote there are about 220 families and 300 single men in his parish, totalling 1,000 persons. Among the first Slovene emigrants were A. J. and M. Golobic, J. Hrvat, J. Zapojec, S. Frankovic, J. Krsan, J. Krasovec, J. Tekavcic, M. Jeder, M. Bobnar, F. Turk, J. Tasic, M. Turje, A. F. and M. Krismas, P. Brinski, M. Damjanovic, A. Kocevar. Most came from the region of Bela Krajina. They work in the mines although some are store and tavern keepers. Many are considered rich. The owner of the largest general store is a Slovene.
In 1899 the Slovenes built their church at the cost of $15,000. The cornerstone for the Church of St. Joseph was laid on 17 November 1899, and the first mass was celebrated on 26 February 1900. On 15 October 1811, the twelfth anniversary of its existence was celebrated. It is considered to be the highest church in the world, being built about 10,200 feet above sea level. Since the very beginning Rev. John Perse has been the parish priest. Parish life and conditions are good. The basis is a solid one and the community is without debts. They will start building a new school very soon. The children attend public school as well as the English speaking parochial school.
The following societies are active: Mary's Altar Society, Fraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for young people and a society for the girls. A Slavic band of 18, founded by J. Perme, is very active here. A. Korosec is the founding father of the singing society. The largest society with 165 members is the Society of St. Joseph #56 KSKJ, founded by A. Kastelec. The Lodge Christ's Birth with 30 members was founded by A. Damjanovic. J. Krabcek was the founding father of the Society of St. Peter CFU with 150 members. The Brothers of the Mountains (Planinski Bratje) with 60 members was founded by F. Stare and St. Ann's Ladies Society KSKJ has 70 members.
Translators for the Slovenian Genealogy Society have been working to translate many texts published early in the 1900s that contain significant genealogical information. Our translators are not professional linguists, and they do not complete a translation with rigorous academic oversight. The goal of our translation projects is to make information available to the American descendants of Slovenian immigrants. If you believe we have made serious errors in translation, please contact us and volunteer your time to us in order to make the corrections. We strive to do good work; we are always willing to correct errors to the extent we can; and we ask others to join us in this worthwhile endeavor.
Trunk, Issue 5.
Ludlow: Some Slovene emigrants work in the coal mines.
Oackview: About five families and some single men work in the mines.
Palisades: 20 Slovenes work in the locl coal mine. They came about 20 years ago. J. Valek and P. Benedicic are proud of their homes. There is no church and every month Mass is celebrated in a private hall. P. and J. Benedicic and J. Valek founded the society Green Garden (Zeleni Vrt) #32 SDPZ which has 14 members.
Primero: M. Krivec submitted a comprehensive report: "I understand that there are ten families and over many single men. The family named Span and some single young men came here from Ely, Minnesota, in 1902. They have small farms, but they also work in the mines. The Slovene named I. Rafos, is a watchman. The Company built the church and a priest comes every third Sunday from Trinidad. There is no service in Slovene, but the Catholics are united and trying their best to preserve their religion. A. Langus and A. Lanisek founded the benefit society, St. Barbara, which has 30 members. The Lodge, "Mountain Paradise" (Planinski Raj), SDPZ founded by M. Krivec and Andrej Kocjes has 55 members.
There were two accidents in the mines. On 19 February 1905, the gas in the mine ignited and eight Slovene miners were killed. The second accident occurred on 31 January 1910 and 35 Slovenes and eight Croatians were killed. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. C. Zupan from Pueblo. The benefit societies were represented by their Lodge officers. Mr. Goricar, the Austrian-Hungarian Consul from Denver, spoke in Slovene and this noble gentleman took care of the widows and children of the miners killed. A monument honoring the deceased was erected on 31 January 1911. Built from white marble, it cost of about $500.
Pueblo: The Rev. C. Zupan mentioned in his letter: "In 1885 there were only five Slovenes here." Among the first emigrants were Matija Grahek from Crnomelj (Bela Karjina), Janez Rus from Struga, Elrik Papez from Ambrus, Juri Plut and Janez Stravs; the latter ones are still single. In 1891 when I was visiting from Minnesota, there were about 300 emigrants and one year later about 100 more arrived. On 19 March the Society of St. Joseph was founded.
In 1894 I was already a permanent resident of the community with 800 emigrants. At the beginning most of them worked in the smelts and steel plants. Soon some of them opened their own stores. Now the Slovenes can be found in all kinds of businesses. Many are employed by the railroad. About 100 of them work in the stock yards. About 20 emigrants bought some land close to the city. The farms prosper since the ground is irrigated and their output is larger than in other parts of the country. The muddy water from the hills brings new layers of soil and fertilizes the ground at the same time. Three Slovenes have been elected aldermen for the third term.
Since the city has only eight aldermen, the Slovenes are honored by their representation. The first one was Matija Jerman, a music expert, who is the band leader in the city. Josip and Janez Rus are considered the most honored men of the city, maybe even the State. Matija Grahek, J. H. Rojc, Josip Rus, Janez Snedec, Juri Thomas, Martin Gersic, Janez Gorsic, Daniel Predovic, Josip Semrekar and Jakob Vidmar are respected storekeepers. The are now around 2,200 Slovenes here, about 228 families and 150 single persons. Over 200 Slovenes own their farms.
Most of the Slovenes are churchgoers, take Holy Communion, and their children attend Catholic schools. About one-fifth are careless about church matters. The Slovenes have their own church of St. Mary's and a school. The church and school were built at the cost of $35,000. They built the parish house for $3,000 and a home for the Sisters for $2,000. There are two lots at $6,000. Classes are conducted in Slovene. There are 325 school children in eight grades. There are six teaching Sisters who belong to the Benedictine Order. Three of them are Slovene Sisters. The younger generation receives Communion every month, some of them even more frequently. However, among the grown-ups, some of them do not take it on a regular basis while others take Communion more often.
The following religious societies have been founded: St. Mary of Carmel (for everybody), the Society of St. Ann - Altar Society, St. Agnes' Society for young girls up to the age of 20. They are trained in singing and are encouraged to read good books, St. Alloysius's Society for the boys up to the age of 18; they are the Altar boys and are offered educational reading material. Occasionally the dramatic society produces plays for the stage of the church hall. I mention that this occurs just occasionally, since the young people frequently move from one place to another.
For about six years the Society of Franc Preseren has been in existence. Its members are younger men and boys. They organize different socials and attend singing rehearsals. There are about 40 members and their leader if Matija Jerman. Young ladies and girls up to the age of 14 are organized into a social and educational association Sun Rays (Soncni Zarki), founded in 1910 by Miss Angela Mencinger. They meet every week in the church hall, engaging themselves in different crafts.
The selfishness of big bosses and trusts is spoiling the attitude of Slovene emigrants. Trusts try to interfere with work, and when the working power surpasses their expectations, work stops. Workers do not earn anything and spend their savings. Careless and atheistic publications enhance the hatred in the hearts of the workers, who have started to hate all employers. Courage starts to fall and respect for the working class is declining. Drinking habits are on the decline. One can notice that the younger generation born here does not take as many alcoholic beverages. Everywhere one hears opposition to excessive drinking, and we are glad to notice that the young people do not drink.
Trunk, Issue 6.
Pueblo Colorado continued:
Benefit societies are very successful. St. Joseph's Society Lodge #7, founded in 1893, has over 300 members. In 1902 the members erected a hall, appraised value of over $10,000. Lodge meetings, conferences and socials are held here. The Lodge of The Holy Trinity of CFU (a Croatian benefit society) has a mostly Slovene membership with over 150 members. The Lodges of Sts. Peter and Paul as well as the Lodge of St. Mary Our Help and Eagle (Sokol) are affiliated with the Yugoslav Society. Each of them has about 60 members.
The Lodge Slovan (A Slavic Man) of WSU has about 125 members; two of the lodges belong to larger benefit societies. Many Slovene women are members of St. Joseph's Society where their husbands are enrolled. The women's lodge of the KSKJ (Immaculate Conception) has 30 members. Recently the lodge of Catholic Women (Katoliske borstnarice) was founded with 30 members. The Lodge of St. Mary Our Help of CFU has many Slovenes among its membership. I think there are about 40 members.:
Rockvale (near Canon City): There are about 100 Slovenes who work in the coal mines. They are members of the Croatian Fraternal Union. The church has been built over 25 years ago and the priest comes from Canon City. Several times a year, Father Ciril Zupan pays a visit to the community. (M. Pogorelc).
Salida: It is rather large community which was founded about 100 years ago. There are about 200 Slovenes, among them 50 families. Their homes are about three miles out of the city, close to the smelt. Not far aware there are six Slovene farmers who are pretty well off. I. Miklic has many hatcheries for fish, and it is said that he is very prosperous. Alois Kastelic has a tavern in the town and some Slovene emigrants work for him. The main society is the Society of St. Alloysius #78 KSKJ, which has a nice hall. On some Sundays the priest from Salida celebrates Mass here. The city is often visited by the Rev. John Perse from Leadville, as well as by the priest from Pueblo. The Western Slavic Union founded its lodge here last year.
Tercio: The town is about 20 miles from Trinidad. It is situated at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Over 100 Slovenes work in the mines.
Trinidad: It is the trade center of Southeastern Colorado, with a population of 10,204, a mixture of Old Mexican and New American settlers. In the circle of about 20 miles coal mines can be found where many Slovenes work (about 2,000 of them). The Society of St. Andreas #384 KSKJ has 84 members (men) and 12 women. Many others have been enrolled into other benefit societies. The Jesuit Fathers take care of the parish needs. The church is pretty. Sisters take care of the school and the hospital. The Jesuit fathers have tried to get a Slovene Jesuit priest, but they have not succeeded. The tireless Father Ciril Zupan from Pueblo is a frequent visitor here.
In the cemetery about 300 markers with Slovene names can be found. Many among the deceased were victims of mine accidents. A nice monument was erected on 31 January 1910 in Primero, honoring 35 Slovenes who were killed in a mining accident. On 6 February 1910 the publication "Slovene Nation" (Slovenski Narod) published the following article: "There was a deadly silence felt everywhere. The first funeral took place on 3 February when 17 victims were buried. The rest were put to rest later.
The very same day a funeral mass was celebrated for all the victims. In the funeral procession representatives of several lodges were marching. One huge grave was dug and all the victims were buried. Rev. Ciril Zupan, OSB and Rev. P. DiPalma, S.J. celebrated mass. The Austro -Hungarian Consul, Mr. J. Goricar, as well as the Italian Consul, Mr. N. Rossi, took part in the funeral services. All stores were closed on the day of the funeral; all traffic stopped. Funeral arrangements were performed by Mr. M. Pogorelc, whose hometown was Planina in Notranjska, Slovenia. Most of the victims were members of different benefit societies."
The magnificent monument was erected on the first anniversary of the tragedy, 31 January 1911. Mr. M. Pogorelc worked very hard to have it done. It is a column of marble, ten feet high and the price was $500. It was blessed by Rev. Ciril Zupan who was the main speaker. There were also other speakers present. Form Pueblo, members of the Singing Society Preseren came. They sang in the church as well at the cemetery. The band rendered some Slovene and American compositions. The following societies sent their representatives: St. Barbara #24 from Primero, St. Andreas #82 KSKJ from Trinidad, Holy Mother from Trsat #102 SNPJ from Sopris. All arrangements were performed by Mihael Krivec and Edvard Mencinger. Slovene emigrants from all over the United States sent in donations for the monument.
Slovene emigrants can be found in camps like Cokefale, Starkville, Sopris, Engelville, Bonn, Secundo, Valdes, Forbes, Taler, Berwind, Tobaso, Hastings, Aguilar and Morley.
Walsenburg: The place is around 50 miles from Pueblo. As Mr. M. Pogorelc stated:
...there are about 500 Slovenes here and they work mostly in the mines. Larger communities are Simpson, McQuire and Oackville about 20 miles away. There are about 50 Slovens. In Walsenburg there is a pretty church and a school for Catholic children. Rev. Ciril Zupan hears confessions. The Society of St. Felix #101 KSKJ has about 25 members.