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Reverend J.M. Trunk - Minnesota 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.

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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:

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Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011-2604

The society accepts donations of Slovene books, texts, and publications for its genealogy library.


Aurora: There are about 600 Slovene emigrants. Mr. J. Gersic was the President of the School Board when the school was built at a cost of $100,000. I was told that the Slopvenes have their church. Their priest is the Rev. F. Saloven who comes from Biwabik. Slovenes are enrolled in the KSKJ Lodge #1313 Holy Rosary and JSKJ #137 of St. Anthony. Besides these two, there is the St. Joseph Lodge #85.

Beaulieu: The Rev. P. Simon Lampe and his sister are the only Slovenes in the village. P. Lampe, OSB, has been a missionary among the Indians for some years. Close by are some Slovene farmers.

Biwabik In 1891 there were only six houses here. Close by there was a Slovene store. In 1891 Ana Brozovic was the first Slovene baby to be baptized here. Her middle name is Biwabik, and as a present she got a lot. But the Slovenes started to come in larger numbers after 1892. Most of them came from Lower Carniola (Dolenjska), although some of them were also from Upper Carniola (Gorenjska). 

By 1903 there were over 200 Slovenes with 30 families. I could not find out how many Slovenes live here at the present time. In 1894 they started building the church of St. John's (Sv. Janez). Mr. G. L. Brozic was very instrumental in erecting the church. At the beginning the Rev. M. Bilban visited the Slovenes. The present priest is the Rev. F. Saloven. Slovenes are enrolled into KSKJ Lodge #13 of St. John.

Brockway: The Rev. John Trobec reported that the parish of St. Stephen's is one of the oldest Slovene parishes and settlements in America. The first Slovene emigrants came here in 1865 and 1866. There were seven of them and only one is still alive. They came from the villages of Gorje, Doveje and Bled, Gorenjaks (Upper Carniola). Now there are about 70 families. They worked hard and saved their money and now they are proud farmers, own large homes, and have some savings.

In 1871, the second Sunday after Easter the first service of the parish of St. Stephen's was held in a wooden structure, to be accurate, a log cabin. It was blessed by the Rev. Ignaz Tomazin, who was a missionary. On 24 October 1904, Bishop Jacob Robec blessed the new church which was constructed of brick. The building together with interior is appraised at $25,000. It has three altars, four bells, and steam heat. In the basement there is a chapel, and service are held there in the winter. 

Nearly all of the parishioners helped in raising funds. Only $600 more has to be paid. Well, we have to mention that we are proud of benefactors and we are especially proud of Bishop Trobec from St. Cloud who has to walk four hours to reach this place. With the Lord's help the parish hopes to get a new organ soon, and then they will be even more proud.

The parish has been visited by the following priests: Franc Pirc, Josip Buh, P. Severin Gros, Ivan Pavlin, P. Roman Homar, P. Ciril Zupan, P. Vincent Siffrer, Ignaz Tomazin and P Simon Lampe.

The following pastors have served the Parish of St. Stephen's: The Rev. Ignaz Tomazin from 1 June 1894 to 1 May 1895; Rev. Michael Tusek from 16 July 1896 to 1 December 1897; Rev. Josip Knafelc from 1 December 1897 to 4 December 1901 and Rev. Ivan Trobec from December 1901 to the present day.

The children attend public schools, but they also have lessons in Slovene. Every child understands Slovene, and everybody is proud of their Slovene heritage and traditions. There are four religious societies, among which are the Catholic Foresters, who are very active. The community is progressing; from 15 June 1911 to 15 June 1912, 10,235 Holy Communions were distributed. We are not very numerous, concluded the reporter, but we are proud Catholics. We are proud of the fact that the following priests celebrated their first Mass here. They are Simon Lampe, Roman Homar, Matthew Bilban, Michael Tusek, Franc Azbe and Ivan Omar who was born here.

Chisholm: The population of the village is 6,784 and the first Slovenes came here in 1901. Two years later there were over 400 and the number is now over 1,000. At the beginning they worshiped in the church in Hibbing. Now they are proud of the church they built. The Rev. J. Tscholl was their first priest, followed by the Rev. J. Ev. Schiffrer.

Slovenes are enrolled in the KSKJ Lodge #54 Heart of Jesus and Baraga #93; JSKJ Lodge #30 of St. Joseph has 224 members; St. Barbara's Lodge has about 50 members. In 1908 the village burned down. Slovenes can be found in the mining communities of Nashwauk and Buhl.

Duluth The community is a prosperous one and some Slovene families live here. On 20 November 1811, the JSKJ Lodge, The Slavs from Duluth was founded. It has 15 members. In the community "The National Announcer" (Narodni Vestnik) has been published. The present editor is J. Zupan, who became famous all over America as "Mike Cigar", the writer of humorous short stories and poems. 

All over the Northwest Josip Sarabon is well-known. He is the brother of Ljubljana Wholesale storekeeper A. Sarabon. Joseph is the owner of a travel agency, is a very hard working and is rather wealthy. About 30 miles from Duluth, the Slovene missionary, The Rev. Lcniskar, a Benedictine monk, is teaching the Indians Catholicism. There are ten Benedictine Sisters who are getting ready to take over the Slovene parochial school. (Mr. J. Zupan)

Ely: On 22 May 1887 some men left the community of Tower with their axes trying to reach Ely. But first they had to clean the forest. Among them there was a Slovene. But when the mines were opened, the Slovenes started coming in large numbers. They came from all parts of Slovenia, but most from Lower Carniola (Dolenjska). Among the first to arrive in 1889 were the Rt. Rev. Mons. J. F. Buh, F. Lozar, J. Skala, S. Presern, M. Agnick, S. Banovec and others. Ely, with a population of 4,617, was for sometime an entirely Slovene village.

There are 175 families, most of whom has their own homes. It has been estimated that there are around 1,600 Slovenes. Most of them work in the mines. Among them, however, there are six storekeepers, seven tavernkeepers, one insurance agent, a store which sells coal, etc. Very respected among the Slovenes are the Rev Buh, G. Brozich, R. Bezek, J. Skala, M. Agnich, F. Verant, J. Govze, M. Kaps and others. In recent years the Slovenes have become active in politics. G. L. Brozich, Treasurer of the First State Bank of Ely became City Treasurer in 1912. S. Banovec and P. Pubovec were elected aldermen.

The first Catholic church was blessed by Bishop McGolrick of Duluth on 27 November 1890, with the assistance of the Rev. Buh and Rev. F. Kosmerl, a young priest. As the city was expanding the Catholics built a new church in the most beautiful part of the city at a cost of $18,000. In the steeple there are three bells and a clock which was manufactured in Carniola (Kranjska). The church was blessed on 4 July 190.. Among the parishioners the Slovenes are in the majority. The Rev. Buh worked very hard. The Rev. M. Bilban and Rev. A. Smrekar spent some time in Ely. The children are enrolled in the public schools, but they get religious instructions in the church.

Ely is the seat of the JSKJ which has about 10,000 members. About 12 fraternal organizations have their lodges in Ely. The largest lodges are St. Cyriland Methodius Lodge #1 and the Heart of Jesus Lodge #2 JSKJ. The former has 135 members and the latter has 130 male members and 61 female members. The KSKJ has two lodges: St. Joseph's Lodge #112 and St. Anthony's Lodge #72 and the SNPJ has two lodges also: Falcon and Morning Dawn. CFU has the Lodges of St. Lawrence and St. Ann. There is the Singing Society Bell and the Dramatic Club Preseren. Mr. J. Boljka is the conductor as well as theatre director. Years ago there was a Slovene band here.

Eveleth: I received an unsigned report which stated that there are some 1,200 Slovenes here, among the 200 families and 600 single men. They came from all parts of Slovenia. The first ones were here already in 1894 and were the families of J. Murnik and M. Pretner. Most of them work in the iron mines and many families have farms. Some emigrants have prospered. The Slovenes are very hard-working and cooperative. Religious conditions are good. 

In 1903 the Church of The Holy Family was built at a cost of $40,000. For five months the parish priest was the Rev. J. Kozan, followed by the Rev. M. Bilban. There are no Slovene schools and the children are educated in Catholicism in the church in the Slovene language. The Slovenes are enrolled in the Lodges of The Holy Family, St. Cyril and Methodius, The Sweet Heart of Jesus (with 154 members), The Holy Name of Mary and the Slovene Society of Catholic Foresters.

Gheen "The Voice of the Nation" (Glas Naorda) reported on 25 January 1911 that there were over 50 Slovene families who have farms on the Canadian border. The soil is fertile but they lack water. They export lumber to Canada.

Greaney and Rauch These are two entirely Slovene farm communities with about 100 families who came here five years ago. The village of Rauch got its name from the Slovene Postmaster Ivan Rauch. Among the Slovene farmers one can find the following names: Oven, Prozic, Kaps, Kasun, Rom, Rauch, Verant, Smuk, Sadar, and others. The ground is fertile but landscaping is difficult.

Hibbing It is a rather new community with a population of 8,832. In 1893 the first Slovenes came here from Lower Carniola (Dolenjska). Ten years later there were ten farming families. There are about 500 single men. Slovene missionaries visited the community and heard confessions. Most of the Slovenes live in the outskirts. In the city there a few Slovene storekeepers. The Rev. G. V. Gamache, a Frenchman, learned Slovene while being pastor of the parish. In October 1912, the Rev. Josip Pollak became the parish priest.

KSKJ Lodge #40 of St. Barbara, and JSKJ Lodge #54 of St. Franciscus are here as well as the Lodge of the Heart of Jesus CFU. 

Keewatin A Few years ago the Slovenes settled down here, as reported by Josip Irman. Now there are 20 Slovene families and 100 single men here. Most of them work in the mines and some are storekeepers. In 1911 the first Benefit Society #109 JSKJ was founded. A few years later the SNPJ Lodge Keewatin was established. They do not have a church as yet, but they are raising funds for same. They attend service in Hibbing.

Kitzville The Slovene emigrant Anton Rus was elected the Mayor in 1912.

Kraintown and Albany: There are 45 families there. They are farmers and storekeepers. Some of them are rather wealthy, such as P. Krakar; J. Peternal, who is the Treasurer of the local bank; and many others. Since 1910, the Rev. Iganc Tomazin has been the parish priest. Prior to that, the Rev. J. Trobec was pastor here.

McKinley: In 1894 the coal mines were opened. The population is 500, half of which are Slovenes. In 1911 a church hall was built. (M. Pogorelec).

Minneapolis: In 1903 about 39 Slovene families and over 100 single men lived here. Now there are 50 Slovene families. Most of them are cabinetmakers by trade; some are bricklayers and many have found work in the factories.

Mount Iron The first Slovene settlers came here in 1889. As Mr. A. Stefanic reported, L. Kovac came here in 1890. He was the first Slovene. A. Stefanic came in 1894. Two Slovenes were owners of the largest hotel. Now ten Slovene families and a few single men live here. Religious life is not satisfactory. In the past the Rev. Bilban and the Rev. Schiffrer visited here and every now and then the Rev. Saloven paid a visit to the Slovenes. There are no benefit societies.

Pineville It is a small community close to Biwabil and about 50 Slovenes live here.

Spart-Gilbert The first Slovenes came to Sparta in 1896. In 1906 there were 40 Slovene families and over 160 single men here. Most of them came from Lower Carniola (Dolenjska). Twenty-three families are proud homeowner. The worshipers attended St. Joseph's Church with the Rev. M. Bilban celebrating Mass. 

A few years ago some people moved to Gilbert. There is a special ward in New Sparta. They even moved the church to the new community. There are 300 Slovenes here and most of them work in the iron mines. The parish spriest is the Rev. L. Pirnat. There is a KSKJ Lodge #20 of St. Joseph and KSKJ Lodge #135 of St. Cyril and Methodius.

St. Cloud: There are only a few Slovene families here. In the vicinity there are some farmers who settled down under the leadership of the missionary F. Pirc in 1868. This is the seat of the Slovene Bishop Jacob Trobec who is very interested in the progress of American Slovenes.

St. Paul: There are some Slovene craftsmen here. Three Slovene priests take care of the largest German parishes. They are the Rev. F. Ks. Bajec (St. Franciscus), the Rev. Ogulin (St. Bernard), and he Rev. J. M. Solnce (St. Agnes). At the latter parish there were some Slovene assistant pastors such as Kastigar, Rant, Mlinar, and Mazir. Now the Rev. P. Remskar is very active.

On the banks of the Mississippi River there is the large seminary of St. Paul where Slovene teacher such as Dr. John Selliskar, the Rev. F. Missia and Dr. Gruden are members of the faculty. Many Slovene priests have received their education at the seminary. The Rev. J. Zaplotnik reported about his arrival and work at the seminary: After having finished 6 years of classical studies, the Rev. F. S. Rant and I came together to America. We travelled in the company of Vinko Bozja, Val and Ivan Schiffrer, Josip Sodja, Josip Vrhunec and Alloysius Pirnat.

We left the mountainous Sloven on the Emperor's birthday, on 18 August, travelled through the tunnel of Arlberg, Lichtenstein and Switzerland to Paris, where we admired the Eiffel Tower and even climbed on the top. On 23 August we embarked on the ship "La Savoie" and after a pleasant journey of seven days we arrived in New York. The very same day of our arrival we journeyed West, viewing the magnificent Niagara Falls, Chicago and joliet. Our final destination was Minnesota.

"We arrived in St. Paul on 3 September and enrolled in the seminary, where we spent many years "in joy and sorrow: as the Slovenes would say. We were studying to become priests. There were nine Slovene students here already who came before us, but in a year the number increased. In thee Fall of 1903 there were 26 seminarians. I am quite sure it was the largest number ever and won't be repeated again in American history.

"In the Fall of 1903 we founded the Slovene students' club "Baraga". Anton Sojar was instrumental in it. A little later the singing society Little Nighingale was founded. Fr. Missia conducted the choir for several years. Slovene songs echoed quite frequently from the famous "Carnoila Hill" from which the "Father of Rivers" - the Mississippi - could be admired.

"The history of the societies is a rich one, very diversified and interesting. One can learn to know how a social-conservative Slovene cam become an American individual."

The club "Baraga" is still active and represents a strong tie among the former and present members, even though the former members have moved to different parts of the country. But we are proud to note that Slovene songs still echo when some of the former club members visit Minneapolis.

Tower: Upon until about 1894 there were virgin forests here. But as soon as iron was discovered, some Slovenes settled down here. By 1903 there were 150 families and about the same number of single men. All together there were around 1,000 people of Slovene heritage. But when the earnings got lower, many moved away and not there are only a few hundred. Some families have their own homes. A Frenchman, the Rev. Champagne, began to build the Church of St. Martin, which was completed by the current Monsignor J. F. Buh, who arrived here in January 1888. For a while Rev. A. Smrekar was pastor here, now the Rev. J. Ferjancic is here. The KSKJ has its St. Cyril and Methodius Society #4 and the JSKS has the Society of St. Barbara #5.

There is a school here of Catholic Indians who are being cared for from Ely by the Rev. J. Buh. He visits them once a month from across Vermilion Lake, by boat in the summer and by sleigh in the winter.

Virginia The city has 10,473 inhabitants and favorable connections with Canada. There are up to 100 Slovenes here and over 1,000 Slavs. They are employed in the mines and sawmills.

The Rev. M. Bilban took care of all of the Catholics. In 1903 they built a beautiful church. It is said that many Slovenes have moved out of there. The KSKJ has its Society of St. Joseph #16.