It has been a few years since I read Destiny’s Dowry, so I decide to download the other Destiny books by Rosemary Gard and read them in succession. A few pages into my reading, I recall the thoughts and feelings I had my first time through book one – insights and inspiration regarding my great-grandmothers and the lives they endured in the “Old Country” of rural Croatia. The author lays a solid foundation for captivating characters along with a good story line in this historical fiction series. I sense I have known some of these Croatian immigrants in my own lifetime!
Immigrant Katya’s story evolves throughout the first three books, and I feel like I am walking in her shoes along the twists and turns and obstacle of her life’s path. I notice Katya changes as she matures from one life stage to the next, just as my grandmothers did and just as I am changing now. Similarly, the author’s writing style becomes more seasoned as Katya’s life develops, and by book three and four Gard’s words feel increasingly fluid and natural. I want to read more to discover what destiny may bring…….in book five!
I have added the Destiny books to the suggested reading list under “My Heritage” tab on this website. In addition, here is the link for more information http://rosemarygard.com/.
Last month I visited Washington state, and we took an impromptu family drive to the quaint city of Anacortes. I heard about this place quite some time ago, because it has a dance group named after my Baba’s hometown of Vela Luka, so I wanted to check it out. We explored the Museum, Causland Memorial Park, the Maritime Heritage Center, and the W.T. Preston . It is a very pleasant community, and we experienced an enjoyable day together concluding with yummy ice cream from the Mad Hatter! The take away for this trip was the addition of two books on My Heritagepage. Croatian Fishing Families of Anacortes by Bret Lunsford tells the stories of early Croatian fishing families who immigrated to the Anacortes area — many of whom arrived from the sister city of Vela Luka, Croatia — Suryan, Franulovich, Oreb, Barchot, Padovan, Milat, Separovich — surnames of distant cousins on my personal family tree! This hardback book contains many family stories and a lot of large black and white photographs about each family and their life’s work — I purchased my copy via mail from the Croatian Club of Anacortes, but it is also for sale at the Maritime Heritage Center.
I appreciated all these families so much more after reading Lost at Sea by Patrick Dillon, an intriguing book I picked up at the museum. This true story opened my eyes to the dangers experienced by Anacortes fishermen who ventured off to Alaskan waters. The names of several Croatian fishermen were sprinkled throughout the book which made me feel connected to them, Anacortes, and my new Alaskan home. This was a great read if you are interested in history and details about the big crabbing industry in the North! Available a the Anacortes Museum and on Amazon.com. Hoping to explore Anacortes more in the future! ~ Enjoy!
Every American digging up their Croatian roots should read Jennifer Wilson’s Running Away to Home: Our Family’s Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters. This book chronicles the experiences of the author and her family as they leave their middle class American life for one year to experience life in the Croatian village of Jennifer’s ancestors. Written in a casual style, this narrative makes for an enjoyable read that easily allows the reader to identify with the adventures of the author and her family. It pulled me into its pages and offered a good mix of Croatian Culture and History and Family — definitely added it to my book links.
If You are Interested in Reading a First Hand Account…. I recommend two books that you might like. Both give first hand accounts of different cultures: Common Lives of Uncommon Strength: The Women of the Coal and Coke Era of Southwestern Pennsylvania 1880-1970 by Evelyn A. Hovanec includes interviews with many women who shared their memories of living in the Coal Patches of southwestern Pennsylvania. As The Tree Fell: The History and Reunion of Our Croatian Immigrant Family and the Joys and Challenges of Retirement on Vis, An Adriatic Island by Patricia Repanich shares her personal experiences as she and her husband discover his Croatian roots and relatives on the island of Vis. Both books offered food for thought and made me think about food — food the way my Baba would have made it in her homeland of the Adriatic and in the coal camp of West Virginia! See my Book List.
Compilation for Southwest Pennsylvania Researchers: Yvonne L. Blair Morgan has compiled a list of holder facilities and research resources available in the Pennsylvania counties of Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmorland. This great tool for the family historian contains information about the availability of newspapers, census records, obituary indexes, historical societies, and more at numerous locations throughout these counties. See my “Book List”. Available for purchase at www.clossonpress.com.
I have added a new book to my list of Heritage Books entitled Ridge Valley: Living Life in a Coal Mining Town by Bob Menarcheck (2008). This historical fiction does a great job of describing the lives of European immigrant families living in a coal “patch” of Southwestern Pennsylvania circa 1920. What I did not expect, and which engaged some new thought processes, was the incorporation of different points of view throughout the novel – that of poor miners and their families, Coal Barons, Union Organizers, Security forces, and poor Black workers who were recruited from the South. The author presented insightful ideas and reminded me of things I have long forgotten.