| Ivan Ljubic
form - John Lubic) was born 14 June 1854, in the village of Orisje,
to Ivan Ljubic and Barbara Cainar (Canjar). Ivan married Maria
Kralj on 31 January 1875, in the parish church of Sveti Mavar Opat, in
Bosiljevo. Children soon followed; Josip was born in
december of 1875, Ivan (John Jr.) in 1878, Amalia (Emma) in 1884,
and Vjekoslav (Edward Adolph) in 1887. In 1889, Ivan
left his home in Croatia and settled in the mill town of Benwood,
West Virginia, adjacent to the city of Wheeling. Meanwhile, Maria,
still in Orisje, gave birth to Stjepan (Steven) in February of
1890. Not long afterwards, Maria and all the children departed
Croatia for their new home in West Virginia.
quickly acclimated himself to his new surroundings. Unlike most
other immigrants, he did not seek employment in the steel mills
of Benwood. Instead, he became a saloon keeper and boarding house
owner. Generally, the saloon keepers and boarding house owners
were the natural leaders in the immigrant communities; Ivan Ljubic
was no exception to this rule.
| His daily
dealings with his fellow countrymen made him keenly aware of
the dreadful conditions in which so many of them lived and worked.Witnessing
so much misery, he quickly became convinced that something needed
to be done. In 1893, along with other like-minded individuals,
he founded the Croatian Lodge in Benwood, and served as it's
president. Soon, Croatian communities in other cities were forming
their own lodges. It did not take long for leaders in various
cities to realize that there would be great advantages in working
together on a national level. In September of 1894, representatives
from 6 lodges met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and formed the
National Croatian Society (later to become the Croatian Fraternal
Union of America). Ivan Ljubic was elected the first president.
| The National
Croatian Society was primarily an organization that provided
assistance to members and their families in case of death, disease,
accident, unemployment or other distress. But as the organization
grew, it also became the great promoter and preserver of Croatian
culture in the United States. From it's rather humble beginnings
in 1894, the Croatian Fraternal Union of America has grown to
become the largest and most influential Croatian society outside
of Croatia, with a membership of well over 90,000 people, and
assets in excess of $150 million dollars.
Ljubic served two terms as president of the new society - September
1894 to August 1900, and November 1904 to October 1906, a time
which saw a rapid expansion of the organization. During this
period his family continued to grow as well. In 1894, son William
was born, and in 1898, daughter Genevieve.
| On the
eighth of April the following year, Maria Kralj died. In 1902
Ivan married Ida Vogler, a Wheeling native of German heritage.
She bore him three more sons - Albert in 1903, Charles (my grandfather)
in 1906, and Arthur in 1910. In 1906 Ivan left Benwood, and settled
in Johnstown, Pennsylvania where he was once again a proprietor
of a boarding house, the Hotel Ljubic. Around 1920 he left Johnstown
for McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh), where he died
on 7 July, 1923. Today, his many descendents are scattered from
coast-to-coast in the great land that became his adopted home.