31, 2000, Joe Matesa wrote:
"I had the opportunity
of making my first visit to Croatia this past summer and would
like to share some highlights with other visitors to this page.
First let me say I am grateful to Ray Sestak, who put the Bosiljevo
page on the web, to Miro Caic for his fruitful research into my
family history and his hospitality during my visit and to Igor Benic, who went with us from Bosiljevo to village Matese where
I met a first cousin and saw my father's birthplace."
| "In addition, I saw where my mother
was baptized and spent her childhood until age 10 when she and
her mother came to Whitney, PA to join her father."
found Croatia to be a strikingly beautiful country, with friendly
people and of course, a lot of history. In spite of the hard times
from the recent war, it is a very safe place to visit. One can
see damage in some places and rebuilding going on. The courage
of the people is admirable."
is a busy city, and the old city is full of attractions. However,
I found driving there to be challenging, with the one way streets,
unfamiliar signs and the trams."
Miro's suggestion, I stopped at the Plitvice lakes on my way to
the coast and was not disappointed. The waterfalls and the lakes
are spectacular. The drive back north along the coast was magnificent
with the very blue Adriatic sea with its many islands on the left
and the mountains on the right."
you get a chance to go, take it!"
On April 6, 2001, Father
Robert Lubic wrote: "When
I first began researching my family tree I held out little hope of
learning much of anything about the Lubic side. After all, neither my
Dad nor any of his 8 siblings even knew the name of their grandfather
Lubic. My grandfather apparently didn't speak of his family at all.
Whenever he was asked about anyone his stock answer, I'm told, was a
curt 'They're dead'. End of discussion. Fortunately my grandmother had
given me a copy of my grandfather's Baptismal Certificate when I was
younger and from that I had learned that his father was John Lubic.
In the summer of 1999 I actively began to research my roots. Through the
relentless questioning of increasingly more distant relations I was
eventually able to establish where my great grandparents lived, and when
they died. My great grandfather's Death Certificate revealed that his
parents were John and Barbara Lubic. I knew they would have been born,
lived, and died in the
'old country' and I held out no hope of ever determining my actual
ancestral village in Croatia. But I continued to interview distant
relations as I tried to piece together the history of the Lubic family
in America. Then I hit pay-dirt; a Death Certificate led me to a distant
half-cousin who had an aunt that had written down some family
information before she had died. And among this information was the name
of a village - Bosiljevo. Bingo!!
My streak of good luck did not end there, however. In fact it went from
good luck to incredible luck. One day, purely on a whim - I was playing
around on my brother's computer while talking on the phone - I typed 'Bosiljevo'
into a search engine. And to my astonishment the village had a website!
And even more importantly it listed the name of a gentleman, Mr. Miro
Caic, who was
willing to research the church books and the civil records! Well, I
wasted no time in firing off an email to Mr. Caic. And within days he
had emailed me back with the baptismal record of Ivan Ljubic, son of
Ivan Ljubic and Barbara Canjar. My great grandfather and great great
grandparents! What's more he informed me that a resident of the village
(Igor Benic I later learned) had told him that an Ivan Ljubic was the
first president of the Croatian Fraternal Union of America. I went to
the CFU Headquarters near Pittsbugh and confirmed that my great
grandfather, John Lubic, and Ivan Ljubic, the first president of the CFU,
were indeed the same man. It was
quite a shock to see his portrait hanging in a place of honor; I was
spellbound staring at the picture of a man about whom I had, until
recently, no hope of knowing anything beyond his name.
Over the next months Mr. Caic continued his research for me and extended
the family tree back further into the past. But finally the point came
when I realized that I needed to pursue the research on my own. So,
despite of my absolute hatred of flying, I made the decision to journey
Once the decision was made everything else just fell into place ... at
least that's how it seemed. I didn't have to worry about any of the
details - Mr. Caic went out of his way to arrange things for me. And
when I finally touched down at Zagreb airport on Tuesday 14 May, 2000 he
was waiting for me and drove me the hour or so to Bosiljevo.
As we drove through the countryside that perfect spring day I couldn't
help but be reminded of home - the rolling hills were so reminiscent of
southwestern Pennsylvania. My excitement was such that it seemed we'd
never get to Bosiljevo, but finally we arrived. And from my very first
moment there I knew I was going to LOVE the place. Maybe it was the
quaint old-world charm. Maybe it was the opportunity to experience a
completely different way of life. Or maybe it was just a feeling
somewhere deep inside that I was home.
The first order of business once arrived was to meet the people who
would be caring for me during my stay. First there was Dragica Mojzes
and her beautiful daughter Martina who graciously opened their home to
me. Since neither spoke English my time with them proved to be an
adventure! But some things transcend language ... like just about any
young girl in the US Martina had her walls plastered with familiar
posters - the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, et
al! Then there was Igor Benic and his family. Igor is the resident
historian in the village and helped me considerably in my research,
while his wife plied me each afternoon with fine home-cooked meals. Igor
spoke English well; his young sons Florian and Leon spoke only phrases
they had learned from the cartoon network, their favourite being
"me superman!" Finally there was Matt and Bridgit Bukovac,
Bolsiljevo natives visiting from Germany. Every evening they welcomed me
into Matt's mother's home for another fine home-cooked meal. (I must
have gained more than a few pounds during my stay!) Having spent many
years in Australia before moving to Germany, their English was flawless
and Matt served as translator for most of my visits with relatives.
The final introduction that first day was the one for which I was most
the most anxious, for this individual was the guardian of the treasure I
sought. I am talking, of course, of the village priest, Fr. Ivan Crnek. It was
the promise of the wealth of genealogical information hidden within the
Baptismal, Marriage, Death, and Status of Souls books that prompted me
to make this trip in the first place. Fr. Ivan was more than
cooperative; his help ensured the success of my trip.
The next day I began the project that consumed the majority of my time -
the painstaking page by page search of the church books for any
information on my family. One unfamiliar with centuries-old church books
might believe that this would be a simple task. However, nothing could
be further from the truth. The oldest books in the parish date to 1674.
Some pages in these books are so faded as to be illegible. Others are
torn. Still others are just plain missing. Many priests had less than
stellar handwriting rendering whole sections almost completely
unreadable. And even when the handwriting is legible the old script is
often very difficult to decipher. And then, of course, all these records
are in an unfamiliar language - Latin until the mid 1800s and then
All these factors guaranteed that the search would be a slow and tedious
process. VERY slow and VERY tedious. But in the end VERY fruitful.
Although I could have spent many more weeks with the books I did make
great progress in the limited time I had. On most of my ancestral lines
I was able to get back to the early 1700s. It amazes me that I was able
to learn that Juraj Ljubic and his wife Jelena Barkovic, born sometime
around the advent of the eighteenth century, are my great great great
great great great grandparents.
It would have been sheer folly, however, to have traveled that far and
to have done nothing but engross myself in dusty old books. I wanted to
EXPERIENCE my ancestral home. And that I did. Although I have no close
relations in Bosiljevo - my great grandfather, who immigrated in 1889,
was the only child in his family who lived to adulthood - I do have
distant relatives and it was wonderful to be invited into their homes
and to have the opportunity to see how they live. Time and again I was
shown the most
gracious hospitality - a bottle of pivo (beer), a glass of wine, a shot
of grapa (brandy), a sweet, a cookie. Compared to Americans these people
had little, but they willing shared what they did have.
Life was definitely simpler in the village. Lacking were many of
the conveniences that I've come to take for granted. At first that
bothered me, but soon I realized it was a blessing. It meant a
slower - a healthier - pace of life. I am used to being a slave to
the clock, always in a rush to get to the next "thing I have to
do." People there didn't let the clock run there lives; they knew
how to take their time and ENJOY life. I remember being the
impatient American awaiting Fr. Ivan for 11 AM Mass Sunday morning. Ten
minutes after eleven and he was nowhere in sight. Yet no one
seemed the least bit concerned but me. I wish I could learn to live like
The memories of my visit will always warm my heart: The children
outside the church fascinated with the strange-sounding newcomer who
could say little more than 'Kako ste' and 'dobro;' the trip with
Fr. Ivan to his parents' home; the Sunday spent in Ogulin with Igor and
his family; the lunch in a local restaurant with Matt and Bridget where
I sampled the Croatian national dish; the evenings after Mass enjoying a
not-so-cold pivo with Fr. Ivan while trying to carry on a conversation
via hand gestures and a smattering of German and ecclesiastical Latin
phrases, the late evening sharing of bread, cheese, and ham - and yet
another pivo! - with Dragica and Martina. The kindness and
generosity with which I was welcomed 'home' shall never be forgotten.
And part of me will always yearn for that simplicity and slower pace -
at first so foreign - that soon seemed so much more natural, so much
healthier than that which awaited me upon my return to the States".