The Bosiljevo,

Recent Visitors to the Bosiljevo Area


     On August 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."
     "I 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."
     "Zagreb 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."
     "At 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."
      "If 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 to Bosiljevo.
     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 Croatian.
     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 that ...
     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".


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is the sole property of Ray Sestak and Miro Caic.