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Croatian Mystery – Solved! by Carole Allen

When my paternal grandfather, George Klincic (Juray Klincic) died in his late eighties, this 2″x3″ photo was found in his wallet. He emigrated alone from Croatia in the early 1900s as a young man, had always refused to speak about his family or his journey to America and had never shown any family members this photo. My genealogical research led to the discovery of some deceased cousins in Pennsylvania, which led me to information about his possible village in Croatia. I was able to find his birth record in Catholic parish registers, along with those of his two sisters and the marriage record of his parents (and many extended family lines back to the mid-1800s), through microfilms. In 2001 my sister were able to visit distant cousins in Croatia; we had planned to meet one of my grandfather’s cousins but she died in her sleep at age 93 just days before we arrived. We were exploring a cemetery in the village when we found her grave, still piled high with flowers from her funeral; that was quite a shock! We did meet with other relatives and they confirmed what I had suspected: this photo is of my grandfather’s mother and one of his sisters – Anna. It would likely have been taken by a traveling photographer about 1900-1905, as the 2″x3″ photos were common and sold at a modest price. My paternal grandfather’s ancestors were serfs; I tell people that when serfdom was abolished in 1848 they moved up the social ladder to peasantry.

My great-grandmother and great aunt were peasant farm women; their large, deeply tanned hands reflect the strength they needed to carry out their daily chores. The scarf and plain apron on my great-grandmother demonstrate that she is a married woman. My great aunt’s uncovered head and embroidered apron demonstrate that she is a single woman. The pattern decorating the apron is specific to the Prigorge region of Croatia. My grandfather never saw his family in Croatia after leaving for America – this must have been an incredibly valuable possession to him – his only tangible connection to his family, that he carried to the day he died. I had the photo professionally enlarged to 5″x7″and restored and it now hangs proudly in my home.

5 thoughts to “Croatian Mystery – Solved! by Carole Allen”

  1. How can some of us ever know how it felt to leave country and loved ones far behind in the journey they took to America. This must have been a very special family and a man inspired to make his way to America. I loved to see the beautiful women in their native clothing and think of the man who carried this picture with him throughout his long life. And now they are together again.

  2. What a wonderful story! All the effort you and your family went to, to discover the mystery story is remarkable. What an adventure, and what worthwhile results. So happy for you!

  3. Your picture illustrates the fact that primary source photographs can be a documentable resource in researching family history.

  4. Incredible story. Better than, “Who Do You Think You Are?” The disappointing death of family member, but the joy of getting to know more family is JOY!

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