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Reverend J.M. Trunk - Michigan 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.


Akron. There are 11 Slovene families and some single men, who are coal miners, but the work is not steady. They are enrolled in Lodge #17 SDPJ.

Calumet. Together with the communities of Red Jacket and Larium, it is considered the oldest Slovene community in America, although the city itself is not very old. Around 1840 it was a huge forest. From Houghton and Hancock to Copper Falls one could travel only on a narrow path through the woods. Copper was found in Copper Falls and in Cliff. Surveyor E. J. Hulbert traced copper and built the first hut in 1856, which was situated along the present Main Street of Calumet. When the mines were operated by Calumet & Hecla Company the population grew rapidly, especially in Red Jacket, as the land did not belong to the Company.

The first Slovene settlers were Jozef Vertin from Doblice and Peter Rupe from Poljane on the river Kolpa. At the very beginning they travelled from community to community selling necessities to the miners. Later on they opened a store in Hancock, and a little later another store was opened in Red Jacket. The stores are still in existence. Balch mentioned: "Vertin Brothers department store, one square block, is the largest department store north of Chicago in the United States." Bishop John Vertin is the son of Joseph Vertin.

In 1875 Red Jacket was incorporated as a village and in the municipal election of 10 April 1875, Peter Rupe was elected the first Mayor and George Vertin became an alderman. Rupe also became the first fire chief.

The Catholics built the first church in 1869. Slovene emigrant from both sides of the mountain chain of Gorjanci started to emigrate in large numbers and the district was soon known as Little Lower Carniola (Mala Dolenjska). Missionaries Mozina, Cebulj, and Andoljsek were affiliated with the English-German church. However, it was not large enough to accommodate the large number of Slovenes. Together with the Croatians, a parish was founded and in 1889 the Slovenes got their first priest, the Rev. J. Zalokar. The Church of St. Joseph was built at a cost of $30,000. The church was 116 feet long and 50 feet wide. On 8 December 1892, Rev. Zalokar left Calumet and was succeeded by the Rev. Mako Pakiz.

One 8 December 1902, the church burned down. In 1900 the Croatians seceded and the Slovenes decided to build an even more beautiful church. Plans were made by G. D. Eastman and the contractor was P. P. Roehm. They started to build on 8 June and by Christmas the building was under the roof. The church was built in Michigan red line in Roman style with two towers, which were 165 feet high. The walls alone were built at the cost of $46,600 and an equal amount of money was used for the interior. It is said to be the most beautiful Slovene church in America.

Due to sickness Rev. M. Pakiz had to leave Calumet in 1904. In East week Bishop Eis nominated the Rev. Luka Klopcic as his successor. He celebrated his first Mass on the Sunday after Easter with a large attendance and he has been taking care of the parish ever since. Of the Slovenes in Calumet Balch wrote: " In Calumet is the second generation of Slovenians who are very prosperous and Americanized. They have large stores."

In 1903 there were about 2,000 Slovenes here, but I could not find out what the exact number is now. Some of them have become highly respected and quite wealthy, among them are Jakob Rabic, Paul Schneller, the present President of the KSKJ, Dr. Josip Plavc, veterinarian and Notary Public, who took part with the unlucky Kaiser Maximilian who went to Mexico to fight and occupy the country; Michael Klobucar, president of a print company which publishes "Announcement" (Glasnik), a weekly publication; Matija Kobe, manager of "Glasnik"; Michael sunic, Janez (John) Kobe, Josip Stefanec, Anton Sterk, John Spehar and many others.

On 17 September 1882, the Lodge #1 of St. Joseph SHZ was founded. It has 588 members. Besides the above-mentioned lodge there are the Lodges of St. Peter and of Sts. Cyril and Methodius with 234 male members and 130 female members. I could not get any more details about life in Calumet.

Detroit. The Slovenes came to this big city seven years ago. Among the first ones was J. Faletich, who is the tavern owner on Jefferson Avenue. Most of the Slovene emigrants work in factories. Some are craftsmen. There are seven families and about 60 single men. There is very little worship in the city. Some of the emigrants attend a Polish or a German church.

One year ago the SNPJ founded the Lodge called The Slovenes from Detroit (Detroitski Slvenci) with 28 members (reported by M. Crne). In the Slovene publication The Voice of the People {Glas Naroda) dated 28 September 1912, one can read that there are some 300 Slovenes living here. They have established Lodge #76 of St. Barbara. In the suburb of Highland there is also a singing society and dramatic club.

Dollar Bay. M. Schneller wrote to me that he came here together with J. Filip two decades ago, followed by some more emigrants 18 years ago. Now there are 22 families and five single men. Twelve families are proud of their beautiful homes; three have nice farms. The children attend public school. They share the church with the other nationalities. There are some Catholic benefit societies, but none are Slovene.

Harreitte. In the Spring of 1812, five Slovene farmers settled down in the vicinity of this city.

Iron Mountain. The first Slovenes came here in 1885 and found work in the mines. In 1903 there were 15 Slovene families and about 50 single men. I could not find out the exact number of Slovenes living here at the present time. They have established Lodge #51 of St. Peter and Paul KSKJ. The Slovenes are members of a German parish whose priest is the Rev. J. Kraker.

Ironwood. Josip Kure mentioned that 18 years ago the following Slovenes came here: M. Kolenc, M. Guzovic, M. Ulasic, Ulcar, B. and F. Kocevar and P. Makovec. They came mostly from Zuzenberk and Crnomellj. Half of them are farmers and M. Ulasic has a store. Most of them work in the mines. Together with the Slovak and Croatian emigrants they built the church of The Holy Trinity in 1909 at a cost of $14,000. Their priests is the Rev. Peter Sprajcer. There is also a parish school and some of the children attend the public school. There are two KSKJ lodges: Lodge #20 of St. John's and the women's Lodge of the Holy Name of Mary #133.

Krain City, Oceania County. In the past three years many Slovenes settled in this area and have become proud farmers.

Mannistique. The first Slovenes came here in 1880. By 1903 there were 225 Slovenes with 20 families. I could not find out how many Slovene emigrants live here now and what the living conditions are. I was told they attend a Czech church. At East the Rev. J. Kraker and Rev. M. Pakiz visit. Together with the Croatians, many are members of the St. Francis Society.

Mohawk. Mr. J. Romesek reported that there are about 20 Slovene families and 60 single men who work in the copper mines. They came here in 1902. The first ones were M. Jaksa and J. Kocjan. Religious life is rather poor. All Catholics share one church and a Franciscan Father is in charge. The children listen to catechism twice a week in the church. The settlers often visit Calumen. In the village there is a KSKJ Lodge #88 of St. Alloysius.

Ralph. There are five Slovene families who work as loggers. Besides the families there are a few single men. There is enough work for the next five years. The company rents the lots.

South Range. The settlement was established in 1902. Close by there are copper mines such as Baltic, Trimountain and Penzdel. The first Slovenes to come here were Mike and Ivo (Johnny) Lasic from Calumet, as reported by M. Muhvic. The latter one was a "boss" for some time, but he gave it up. J. Barich came from Stari Trg. He is a storekeeper and his daughter, Margaret, is a teacher.

There are about 300 Slovenes, with about 60 families. Some of them own their homes. Some of them have become storekeepers. Religious life is satisfactory, but they regret they have no Slovene priests. Most of them do not understand English. In the basement of the church Miss Margaret Barich is teaching catechism to Slovene, Irish, German and French children.

The following Lodges are here: St. Florian's #64 JSKJ, with 35 members, founded on 26 August 1906 by M. Muhvic, J. Lovrin, J. Baric, A. Music and J. Lasic; St. Mattheus founded in 1903 by J. and M. Masic, M. Klobucar, K. Sterk and M. Vardjan. It is affiliated with CFU and has 93 members. Mary, Our __________ (Marija nase resenje) is a women's benefit society. It was founded by M. Babic, M. Llikovic, M. Osterman in 1910. The Lodge of Catholic Foresters has many Slovene members among its membership.

Wakefield. There are five Slovene families here who work in the iron mines. Rev. P. Sprajcer from Ironwood is a frequent visitor of the community. Some Slovenes live in Messemer.

Wexford County. In recent years many Slovenes settled down on farms. By the middle of May 1912 there were over 20 families.

Slovene emigrants can be found in Ahmek, which is the seat of Lodge #98 Heart of Jesus with 26 members; Birch, Jessenville, Limestone and Sagnizw.