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The Origin of this Mikulich Family in the United States.

by Matthew J. Mikulich, REVISED, July 2006

This Mikulich family name is of Croatian ancestry. The name was originally spelled Mikulicic, but the spelling was changed in the US in the mid-1930’s to Mikulich.

This is the history of Matia (Mate) Mikulicic and Marija Juricic in the US. These two people were born in Croatia, immigrated separately to the US, and married in Joliet, Illinois. In the Croatian language, “ic” is a diminutive ending, which loosely translates in English to, “small,” or “son-of.” So, literally, Mikulicic is, son of Mikulic. This story of the Mikulich family is written from data gathered from vital records, church records, county records, census records, ships manifests, other documents, and from conversations with family members.

The Croatian name, Matia or Matija is translated to Matthias in English, but grandfather was always known as Mate in the US, pronounced Mat-tay. In Dalmatia, Mate is sometimes called Mato. My grandfather was listed in at least one publication of church members at St. Mary’s Nativity Church, in Joliet, Illinois as Mato. Marija translates to Mary. Juricic is pronounced You-ree-chich.

The author. The author is the son of Matthew A. and Pauline (Jancik) Mikulicic, and a grandson of Mate and Marija (Juricic) Mikulicic.

Uncertainty of some dates. We have noted some discrepancies in dates, especially with birth dates, when correlating them to the stated ages of people on the ships registers, census forms, marriage, and death records. The same individual may have several different dates in the records. It is possible that some individuals do not know their birth year and date. These discrepancies propagate though subsequent records, and onto gravestones, etc. We have found that the Church records are the most reliable, and always use the Church record of birth as the ultimate truth when it is available.

The ancestry of Matia (Mate) Mikulicic

Mate was born in Krasica, Primorje, Croatia on February 21, 1876 according to Church records. His parents were Antonius (1844-?) and Catharina (Pavletic, 1845-?) Mikulicic. Krasica (Kras-zee-tsa) is a small hillside village of about 500 people today, in the geographical coastal province of Hrvatska Primorje, which translates to Croatia By-the-Sea. The village is located about 20 km SE of the major Croatian Adriatic port of Rijeka, and about 9 km east of Bakar. Primorje extends along the coast roughly from Istria in the north to Dalmatia in the south. There are two towns in Croatia named Krasica; the other is located in Istria, about 40 km SW of Trieste.

Krasica, Primorje, Croatia with the Church of our Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel.

Krasica Primorje lies in a narrow northwest trending valley in the coastal mountains of Croatia. The mountains in this area are part of the Dinaric Alps, a chain which extends from Italy on the north, all along the entire coastal length of Croatia. The local rocks are primarily white carbonates, highly resistant to erosion, which makes the topography very rough. The surface is hilly and the soil is very rocky and does not support farming, but it does provide grazing for sheep and goats on the local grasses, and some grapes.

Looking west over Krasica with the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Taken May 2001.

Mate’s parents, Antonius and Catherina Mikulicic, had a total of 5 children and in birth order they are: Paschalina (1868-1953), Simon Carolus (1870-1872), Simon (1872-1873), Josephus (1874-1881), and Mathias (1876-1927). Note that these are exact spellings of the names as taken from the Church records. Mate’s paternal grandparents were Joannis Mikulicic (1803-1882) and Matthea Antic (1807-1890), and his maternal grandparents were Antonius Pavletic (1822-?)and Joanna Togunjac (1819-1887).

Because Krasica did not have a church until 1896, Mate and his brothers and sister would have been taken to Bakar and baptized at the Church of Sv. Andrej (St Andrew). The church is very large; we were told that it is the third largest church in Croatia. At one time Bakar was a Bishopric, but it was moved to Rijeka, when it grew to be larger than Bakar. We did visit this church and looked through the parish records there during our visit in 2004, but did not find any new information on that trip. Bakar is located on Bakar Bay on the Adriatic Sea, and has had a seaman’s academy for many years. Because of this, many men from Krasica have become seamen. The University of Rijeka also has a Department of Marine Engineering.

Church of St Andrew, Bakar, Croatia, built in 1830 on the site of an older church.

While my father always told me that his father’s name was Matthew, his birth record shows his name as Mathias. On his marriage license, it also shows his name as Mathias. He has clearly signed the marriage license as Matia. His death certificate lists his first name, abbreviated with a period, as “Math.”. In the Croatian language the apostle-evangelist is Matej (Matthew in English), and the apostle who was elected to replace Judas is Matija (Matthias in English). These names come from the Hebrew and have the same literal translation which is “Gift of the Lord”. Grandfather was always called Mate by his family, as was my father, Matthew. The name, Mate, can be short for either Matej or Matija, just as Matt is short for either Matthew or Matthias.

Mathias (Mate) Mikulicic, date unknown.

My father told me the story that his father, Mate, had a twin sister named Lucille who did not immigrate to the US. She supposedly inherited the two family owned farms in Croatia when their parents died. But, we do not find a twin born in Church records, no sister named Lucille, and Krasica is no place for a farm, so we discount this story. My father also told me that his grandfather was an engineer, and went to Argentina to build bridges. However, we have not been able to validate this story.

Mate did have an older sister who survived to adulthood. We have confirmed that Paschalina married a man named Nikolas Mikulicic, so her surname did not change upon her marriage. She is buried in the Krasica cemetery with the name Paskva, along with her daughter, Zora Svoboda, on the same site.

Paschalina’s grave in the Krasica cemetery and her daughter.

The ancestry of Marija Juricic

Information we have is that Mary was born in Croatia in 1881, but we are unsure of which city or village. Since we have not yet found her birth record, we cannot validate the date. Her parents were John and Marija (Franciskovic) Juricic. Family tradition is that she was also from Krasica. It is possible however, that the Juricic family is not originally from that village, because there are no Juricic family names in the Krasica cemetery, and we have not been able to find the record of her birth in the local Church birth records to date, nor those of her sisters, Amelia and Josepa, nor her brother John. We have also searched the Church records in Rijeka and surrounding villages within 20 kms of Krasica without success. We have also searched in the municipal records office in Bakar without success. We therefore conclude that her family was from a village more distant, and may have later moved to Krasica.

We do have a photo of Marija Juricic taken about 1900, which we know was taken by a photographer from Rijeka. The photographer’s name and city are engraved on the paper frame, “J. Carposio, Fiume.” Fiume is the Italian word for river, and Rijeka is the Croatian word for river. The city changed the spelling of its name when it went from Italian control to Croatian control, but the name stayed the same, River. It is very interesting that Ilario Carposio took her photograph, as he was a very well known professional photographer in Rijeka.

Marija Juricic, about 1900-1902. Note photographer’s name, J. Carposio, Fiume.

Immigration to the US

We have found the record of passage for Mate to the US. He arrived in New York at Ellis Island on June 3, 1893 on the ship, Wieland. He was 17 years old. This information is interpreted from the Ellis Island records, which show a passenger Malto (or Matto?) Mikulic from Krasica with Austrian citizenship of the age which fits his birth year. Croatia was at that time a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was accompanied on that ship by at least 7 other Croatian men from Krasica, of which he was the youngest. One showed his occupation as a stone cutter, one a shoemaker, one a carpenter, and the rest including Mate, as “laborer”.

Mate came to Joliet, Illinois to find work. He worked at the United States Steel mill in Joliet. He also worked for a time at the Coke Plant, a division of the steel mill. This separate plant made coke which was used in the blast furnaces to reduce iron ore to pig-iron. In the 1900 census we find that Mate, a single man, was living as a boarder along with 7 other boarders in the house of John Jerola on Scott Street in Joliet, and shows his occupation as laborer. Mate became a naturalized US citizen in Cook County in October 1896. We have the original papers.

Marija Juricic arrived in the US in Philadelphia on April 7, 1903, on the German ship, Friesland. That ship left Liverpool, England, but the ship’s manifest shows that it originally departed from Hamburg, Germany. The information doesn’t indicate where grandma boarded, but we think she may have boarded in Germany, and Liverpool was just a last stop before the Atlantic crossing. The manifest indicates that she was traveling in a group with 3 others from Krasica: Vinko Micetic, Juraj Pavletic, and Juraj Franciskovic. She was carrying $6.00 in cash. The notes also say that she is going to meet “her intended, Matey Mikulich, at 2149 Archer Avenue, Chicago IL.” We know that two of her sisters, Amelia and Josepa, and a brother John all came to the US as well, and we think they were sponsored by Mate.

We believe we have found evidence of passage in the Ellis Island records for Amelia and Josepa, both arriving in 1905, but not for their brother John. We interpret from the Ellis Island records that Amelia arrived on December 12, 1905 from Fiume on the ship Pannonia. Her name is spelled Emilia Jurisic. She is 27 years old, single, a servant, from Krasica, and carrying $13.00. If her age is correct it means that she was born in 1878, but her death record indicates 1876. Her Social Security application says that she was born in 1881. She is going to Chicago to her cousin Lis Pavletich. Josipa Jurisic, 20 years old, of Krasica, arrived on June 16, 1905, on the ship SS Patricia, from Hamburg. The record implies that she was born in 1885. The record also says that she is going to Chicago Il, to meet her brother Ivan Jurisic. Both her marriage certificate and her death certificate indicate a birth year of 1887, but the church death record says 1885. Josepa married Kuzma Tijan in the U.S. Amelia was always known to us as Teta (aunt in Croatian) and Josepa as Teta Pepa (Pepa, a Croatian short form of Giuseppina, the feminine form of Joseph in Italian.) Josepa was known as Josephine in the US. In both cases, the age shown on the ship’s manifest does not agree with what we have as birth years from other documents.

The Marriage of Mate Mikulicic and Marija Juricic.

Mate and Mary were married in May 1903 at St. Joseph’s Church, in Joliet, which at the time was serving families of both Croatian and Slovenian descent. My father tells this story of how his parents married. After Mate worked for several years in the US and saved some money, he decided he wanted to get married. So he contacted his parents in Croatia and asked if they knew of a young woman who would agree to come to the US to be his wife. They found Marija Juricic and sent her picture to him. He said she looked fine, and he sent money for her passage. And so she came to be married to Mate about one month after arrival in the US. Mate clearly signed the marriage license Matia Mikulicic. Mary could neither read nor write, and her signature was a “mark”.

In another story, Mary was already in love with another boy in Croatia, when Mate’s proposal was presented to her. Her mother urged her to accept Mate’s offer, because she would have a better life with Mate in the US. And, so she did.

Wedding photo of Marija Juricic and Mate Mikulicic, May 6, 1903.

The Mikulicic Family in Joliet.

Mate was a founding member of St. Mary Nativity Church in Joliet, which was established in 1906 with the completion of the new church on North Broadway Street in Joliet, to minister to the families of Croatian descent. Before St. Mary’s was built, the Croatian families attended St. Joseph’s Church along with the Slovenian families. He was an active member of the church and the community. He sponsored and provided funds for many Croatian people to come to the US including Mary’s sisters Amelia and Josepa, and her brother John. The boarders who lived with them in their house on Summit Street were all Croatian immigrants, according to census records.

Croatian men’s club in Joliet. Back row, from the left, Kuzma Tijan, husband of Josipa Juricic, and 3rd from the left, Mate Mikulicic. Date about 1910?

In the beginning the family lived in an apartment on North Chicago Street near the Ruby Street bridge. By 1910 according to the census, the family was living at 619 Summit Street, just a few blocks from St. Mary’s Church, and had 5 boarders which included Mary’s brother John Juricic. In the 1920 census they are shown living at the same address and had just one boarder who was John Juricic. In 1915, Mate bought the adjacent building lot at 621 Summit Street and another lot directly across the alley on Elizabeth Street. He may have bought these lots so that his children could build houses next door someday. That never happened, and that lot at 621 is still vacant today. The property passed to his son Stanley, until he sold it 1995. Apparently there was a re-numbering of houses on Summit Street, as the address of the family home was 819 Summit Street in later years.

Mate and Mary had 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls, all born in Joliet. In order from the oldest they are Joseph (1904), Matthew (1905), Mary (1906), Victor (1908), Frank (1910), Veronica, who was called Vera (1911), Julia (1913), and Stanley (1915).

Mate died on March 19, 1927. We have discovered an interesting medical fact which may explain Mate’s death at the young age of 51. Nephritis is an infection of the kidneys which causes them to stop functioning, due to a build-up of nodules which block the filtering action. Medical science has discovered that one cause of nephritis is from an infection from a prosthesis. Mate lost one leg while working, and so he was fitted with an artificial leg which he did use. The cause of death on his death certificate is shown as nephritis. After Mate died, Mary became head of the family. Amelia lived in the Mikulicic home until she died, and the children lived at home until they were married.

The Mikulicic children.

The first Mikulicic generation born in the US very much stayed in Joliet, although Vera did move to Florida very late in her life to be near her son, John. She died there, was cremated, and her ashes returned to Joliet for burial. As of this writing, Stanley is the only one from that first generation still living. Mate and Mary had a total of 12 grandchildren, and great-grandchildren now number 28. In contrast, although several do remain in Joliet, the majority of the second generation have moved away, and are now located in other cities in Illinois, Florida, Colorado, and California.

The occupations of the first generation were in the laboring class. Joe was a welder, Matthew worked as a laborer for the United States Steel Company, Mary worked many years at the National Cleaners in Joliet, Frank worked as a bar-tender at Skedel’s Tavern in Joliet, Victor died in his early 20’s, Vera was a seamstress at Hart, Schaffner and Marx (men’s clothing manufacturer), Julia worked for a time at the Louis Joliet Hotel, and Stanley worked at the Ruberoid Plant, an asphalt shingle manufacturer until he retired.

Burial sites of the Mikulicic clan.

Mate lived his entire adult life in Joliet, and died there in 1927. He is buried in St. Mary Nativity Cemetery in Crest Hill, Illinois on the Mikulicic plot. There is a large standing granite stone labeled Mikulicic marking the 12 grave plot. His individual burial stone is labeled Mate Mikulicic. Mary died in 1948 and is buried next to him.

Mikulicic family lot, St. Mary’s Nativity Cemetery, Crest Hill, Illinois.

Others buried on the Mikulicic lot are their children; Matthew, Victor, Frank, and Julia. Also buried there are Matthew’s wife Pauline Jancik, Julia’s husband William Califello, and one grandson, Gerald (baby Jerry) Mikulicic and ashes of Jerome, sons of Matthew and Pauline Mikulicic.

Joseph Mikulicic is buried at Mt Olivet Cemetery, Joliet. Mary Mikulicic Novak is buried in St. Mary Nativity Cemetery next to her husband Leo Novak. Vera Mikulicic McGowan’s ashes are interned in Resurrection Cemetery in Romeoville, Illinois with her husband John McGowan.

How the spelling of the name was changed from Mikulicic to Mikulich.

The Mikulicic descendants began to change the spelling of the name possibly as early as the mid-1930’s, probably to simplify both spelling and pronunciation. My father, Matthew A. Mikulicic, changed the spelling of his last name to Mikulich. However, he did not change the spelling on any of his vital records. The birth certificates and life insurance policies of both my older brother Jerome and myself show our names spelled as Mikulicic. My next brother, Lawrence, born in 1945, has his name spelled Mikulich, as do all my younger brothers and my sister. Other members of the first generation of the family also changed the spelling of their names. Joseph changed his name to Mikulic, Frank also to Mikulic, and Stanley to Mikulich. Victor died as a young man, so I am unsure if he ever changed his name, but his gravestone says Mikulicic. I do not know if any of the daughters changed the spelling of their names before they were married. Incidentally, there are no descendants of Mate and Mary who spell their names Mikulicic today. In the first generation born in the US, only Matthew, Vera, and Stanley had sons. Hence all descendants of Mate Mikulicic spell their names Mikulich today. One more point is that my mother told me that she never spelled her married name as anything but Mikulich from her marriage date. Yet, for legal purposes, she did sign some documents as Mikulicic, of which my life insurance policy is one example.

We have found that the Juricic name is spelled with several variations in the US including, Juricich, Jurisic, and Jurisich. Mary’s name is spelled Juricich on her marriage certificate. Amelia’s gravestone has her name spelled Juricic. Their brother, John’s, name is consistently spelled Jurisic, on both the 1910 and 1920 census forms, his marriage record, and his gravestone. So we are somewhat confused because the names Juricic and Jurisic are different in Croatia. The name Juricic is more common and more widely found than the name Mikulicic. Because we have not yet found the birth records from the Church in Croatia, we are unsure of the spelling of the family name.

Mikulicic and Juricic in Croatia

In searching the Croatian National Telephone Directory on the Internet, I have found 13 current telephone listings for Mikulicic in Krasica, 46 listings in Rijeka, and a total of 86 listings in all of Primorje. Zagreb has 25 listings for Mikulicic. Not a single listing includes Mate, Matia, Matija, Mato, Mathias, Matej, or Matthew for a first name.

I have also searched for Juricic. There are no current listings in Krasica. However, in Rijeka there are 44 listings for that name, and there are 122 listings in all of Primorje.

In searching for Franciskovic, I found 18 listings in Krasica, 44 in Rijeka, and 115 in all of Primorje. For Pavletic I found 17 listings in Krasica, 70 in Rijeka, and 134 in all of Primorje.

I have found several listings of Mikulich in the Croatia National Telephone Directory, so Mikulich is a currently spelled Croatian name. I have also seen Russian names spelled Mikulich, as translated from the Cyrillic alphabet, so the Mikulich spelling alone does not guarantee that a family is of Croatian origin. There is also a residential street in Zagreb named Mikuliceva. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia.

The Croatian Homepage on the Internet can be found at: www.hr. You can find links to many Croatian sites including academia, business, government, etc. There are also cultural and historical items to read, and maps to browse.

Our visit to Krasica in May 2001.

In May of 2001, my wife and I traveled to Croatia to visit Krasica. We wanted to look for any original Church records on the Mikulicic and Juricic families, and we wanted to visit the cemetery to look for deceased relatives of either family. We also guessed that there might be an historical archive in Rijeka, and hoped that we could uncover conclusive evidence of the Juricic family there.

We were mostly unsuccessful in finding anything new on this trip. We searched the archive in Rijeka, but could not find the Juricic family after looking through as many as 15 nearby villages. In Krasica we found that since the local priest died a few years ago, there is no priest in residence any more. We were told that the local church records have been moved to Bakar. Mass is said in Krasica at the church of Our Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel by a visiting priest on Sundays. At the cemetery we found that there were no gravestones with dates earlier than about 1900.

During our visit to Krasica, we visited the school and met the teachers and many students. They greeted us with enthusiasm. I think I signed more than 15 autographs. Fran Mikulicic founded a school in Krasica in 1884, and is a very important person in the history of the village, and so the hospitality door was open to us. We were invited into local homes and were wined and dined, and enjoyed discussions ranging from the local history to the current economy.

The author with the school children of Krasica, Croatia. May 2001.

During our trip, we took a hotel room in Opatija, a seaside resort town on the Adriatic seacoast near Rijeka. The shear beauty of this area is striking. The mountain sides are green with trees and other vegetation, and fall steeply into the blue ocean. The waters of the Adriatic are very clean and clear, the sea breezes are refreshing. The climate here is very temperate year round, and my guess is that it is similar to the US west coast at Los Angeles. The architecture is Mediterranean with tile roofs over pastel painted stucco buildings. We ate wonderful seafood and fresh vegetables, and drank the local wines. We found people everywhere friendly to us visiting Americans, and we could recommend this area to anyone as a place to visit.

Adriatic seacoast from Opatija looking east at Rijeka in the distance. May 2001.

In early 2004, we had an email contact from Fran Mikulicic, of Zagreb, who found our website. He is the second-great-grandson of Fran Mikulicic, the teacher in Krasica. In May of 2004 we journeyed to Croatia, and met Fran, his wife Nikolina, and his family in Zagreb, including his parents, Vlado and Silvia Mikulicic, and his sister, Nela. Teaching seems to run in the family; Vlado is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Zagreb. They have tried to help us find information on Marija Juricic, but unfortunately we continue to be unsuccessful.

In Zagreb with Fran Mikulicic and his family. From the left: Silvia, Nela, Donalyn Mikulich, Vlado, the author, Nikolina, and Fran.

During our visit to Croatia in 2004, we also went to Bakar to look for records on the family at the Church of Sv. Andrej. We were kindly met by Mladen Cvijanovic and his daughter Pia, who opened the church files and assisted us. Mladen is the organist and choir director at Sv. Andrej. But, we were not successful in finding any new information on trip on either the Mikulicic or Juricic families. However were delighted to meet Mladen and Pia, and on our trip to Bakar in 2006, we also met his wife, Sonija. They graciously invited us to dinner at their home, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening with them.

Mladen, Sonija, Pia, and author at the Cvijanovic home in May 2006.

Contact the author.

If you are a visitor to the Mikulich.com site, and think you may be related to us through a family connection, or have any factual information to add to the history, we would appreciate hearing from you. Please contact the email site shown on our homepage, or send a note to Matthew J. Mikulich.


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