In spite of the holiday season, past couple of weeks were quite busy. Between the Christmas and the New Year’s Eve I had an interesting experience while researching genealogy for Plemenitaš family.
One of their ancestors came to the US in the late 1800s and in the Ellis Island records it is stated that he came from Karlovac (which was back then Austo-Hungarian Empire and today is in Croatia). Upon researching vital records from Karlovac area, I realized that this surname doesn’t appear there. How come? The person must have lived there and worked hard to earn money to pay for the fare to the US, but he wasn’t originally from Karlovac. Where did he come from then?
Village as surname
I looked into the census data and realized that Plemenitaš family name is most frequent in Donji Miholjac area, namely city of Donji Miholjac as well as nearby vilage Ivanovo. Also, there are persons carrying that surname in other parts of Croatia like Rijeka and Čakovec.
Since the person for whom I do the research was certain that her Plemenitaš branch didn’t come from any of forementioned places, I decided to check out another village which interestingly also carries the name Plemenitaš near Bosiljevo (it is not uncommon that Croatians carry surnames which are the same as the name of their village of residence). Unfortunatelly, there were no persons with Plemenitaš surname there.
A phonecall brings success
The only thing left for me to do was to make a phonecall to a member of a Plemenitaš family somewhere here in Croatia to see if they know anything about their ancestry.
Bingo! An elderly lady from Ivanovo was more than helpful. She explained to me that all Plemenitaš family members living in Croatia today originate from Šid, a city on the very border between Croatia and Serbia on the Serbian side. Many of them reportedly came to Croatia during the Croatian war for independence (1991-95). The city has a significant Catholic minority, and that’s where I am going to continue my research.