Memories: Josip

My grandparents (Josip and Mare Butkovic) - Dedo, from Licki Osik; and Baba, from Bilaj; immigrated to America in the early 1900’s from, what was then, Austria Hungary.  That area became Yugoslavia after World War I.  And, is now known as Croatia.  I was told that my grandfather (Dedo) came 3 different times before securing steady employment in America. He would work his way across Europe.  I was told that he worked a substantial amount of time in Cologne Germany, at a train depot type place.  At the time of securing steadier work, he then sent for his wife,  My grandmother (Baba) came with their oldest son, Mile.  Their Ship Manifest papers state that they arrived at Ellis Island in May, 1914.  They traveled, Steerage, on the White Star ship, Oceanic.  There were also two other people; one man and one woman, with the same surname, Butkovic, traveling with my grandmother and Uncle Mile.  They all gave my grandfather’s name, Josip Butkovic, as their Sponser, and as their final destination being Granite City, IL.  They traveled by train to the Midwest. 

Ultimately, my grandparents would make their home in Wood River, IL.  My grandfather worked at the Standard Iil Company in Wood River, IL.  And, subsequently built a two story structure that was a tavern, with the family’s living quarters in the back of the tavern.  The upstairs was boarding rooms for workers, who also worked at Standard Oil.  In addition to raising a family of 8 sons; my grandmother would fix these men’s lunches for work; and do laundry for them.  My grandparents had 11 children (9 boys and 2 girls).  Only 8 boys would live past birth or early childhood.  

Eventually, they would build a new brick home next door to the tavern.  And, in time, the older son(s), (John and Paul) would run the tavern.  

These two buildings, along with two other houses were built in this same block (300 block of Main St., Wood River, IL USA.  The owners of those homes were Peter and Michael.  Peter is my father.  And Michael is the only uncle who was born in Austria-Hungary.  The birth order of the children:

Michael, Twins; John and Thomas (Thomas died at birth); Anne, died at birth or very early infancy, Nicolas, Paul, Peter, Anna (died at 10 months), Joseph, Matthew, and Steven.  

My grandparents, uncles with their wives, my Baba’s brother, Jack Butkovich, baby Anna, and various cousins of mine, are all buried on the top of the hill, Woodlawn Cemetery.  

Just a couple more bits of family information.  My grandfather’s sister, Eva, also married a man with the surname, Butkovic.  They settled in the Sugar Creek, Kansas area.  As you can tell from what I wrote above; my Baba’s (Mare) brother’s last name is Butkovich.  So, her surname was also Butkovic.  We were always told that my grandparents were not related - that Butkovic was that common of a name in that region.  But, I truly wonder if they weren’t distant cousins.  That seems to be the logical answer.  

My dad, Peter, always told me that my Baba had a sister, with a husband and family In Pueblo, Colorado.  This family would come to visit my dad’s family in Wood River, IL.  And, my dad and some friends went to Pueblo, Colorado one time to visit this relation; Pavletic was their last name.  The only thing I know of them, is they had a daughter, whose nickname was, Bay. 

I have made contact with Dedo’s sisters’ family in the Sugar Creek area in Kansas.  

But, unfortunately, I do not have any connection to the Pavletic family in Pueblo, Colorado.  

My name is; Nancy (Butkovich) Ringering.  I have one brother, James Butkovich.  Our parents are Peter and Eloise Butkovich.  

Please note the ‘h’ at the end of our name, now.  I was told the nuns added it after my uncles started attending g St. Bernard’s elementary School in Wood River, IL.  That was our parish.  My dad was one of the brothers, who built his and my mom’s home next door to his parents.  My brother and I grew up next door to our grandparents, Joseph and Mary Butkovich, on Main St., Wood River, IL

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