Immigration, transfer of residence from one country to another, regarded from the standpoint of the country in which the new residence is taken. Immigration has always been important in the diffusion of culture. In modern times, the first great immigration was the colonizing movement of the 16th and 17th centuries, which introduced essential features of Western European civilization to the New World. Immigration, on a world scale, reached a peak in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Immigration to the U.S.

The first immigrants to the territory now constituting the United States were from Western Europe. The first great influx began early in the 19th century when large numbers of Europeans left their homelands to escape the economic distress resulting from the transformation of industry by the factory system and the concurrent shift from small-scale to large-scale farming. At the same time, wars, political oppression, and religious persecution caused a great many Europeans to seek freedom and security in the U.S.

The century following 1820 may be divided into three great periods of immigration to the U.S. During the first period, from 1820 to 1860, most of the immigrants came from Great Britain, Ireland, and western Germany. In the second period, from 1860 to 1890, those countries continued to supply a majority of the immigrants; the Scandinavian nations provided a substantial minority. Thereafter the proportion of immigrants from northern and Western Europe declined rapidly. In the final period, from 1890 to 191 0, fewer than one-third of the immigrants came from these regions. The majority of the immigrants were natives of southern and Eastern Europe, with nationals of Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Russia constituting more than half of the total. Until World War I, immigration had generally increased in volume annually. From 1905 to 1914 an average of more than a million aliens entered the U.S. every year.

Rosandic Immigration

The Rosandic family emigrated from Croatia seeking a better life and escaping the draft that was mandatory for 18 year old men. Their actual route to America has not been traced at this time, however it is assumed they traveled to a port in New York (Ellis Island was not yet opened in 1902). From there they traveled, most likely by rail, to areas that had other Croatian settlers.

Steve’s oldest brother George emigrated to America in 1902 but returned to Croatia to be married. He returned in 1906 and settled in Virginia, Minnesota. He is buried there. George’s descendants lived in the Aurora, Minnesota area and in northern Minnesota.

Steve’s brother Mike settled in the Granton area. He married Suzie Billy, a widow with 5 kids. They had six children of their own. These Rosandichs and Billy cousins grew up with Steve’s children.

Steve’s aunt, Lucy (Marco’s sister) married Anton (Tony) Rosandic and settled in the Gary, Indiana area.

Joe Rosandich, Marco’s brother settled in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a blacksmith. Joe and his family did come to visit Steve’s family a time or two while their families were growing up.

Steve’s half brother John settled in the Milwaukee area. One story behind John’s emigration is this: Marco worked in town at a mill (probably a feed mill). A money pouch with the railway payroll was lost and Marco found it. He returned it to the railway boss who offered the reward “Anything you want…” At that time, in Croatia, there was a mandatory draft for all 18 year old men. Marco wanted his boys to leave rather than face the draft. For his reward, he asked for help to get John to America.

Steve and Katha’s Immigration

We have many difficulties concerning Steve and dates. We’ve found birth years of 1881, 1883 and 1886. Birth months of March and January. Steve’s mother died when he was about 4 days old (he was raised by his grandmother in his early years). So, since mothers are the ones who usually remember the dates, I guess we can excuse Steve of not knowing the dates. Steve and Katherine’s marriage document shows that he was 28 years old when he married, which supports the 1886 date. Steve said he came to this country when he was 16, and that he came in 1902 which also supports the 1886 birth year. However, other Croatian immigrants have said that Steve was older than they which is where the 1881 and 1883 dates come in. For many years, Steve celebrated his birthday in March then switched to January. (See how confusing this can be?). The original church where the family christening record were was destroyed, and the recent hostilities in Croatia and Serbia, I am sure will take their toll on whatever existing records we might have been interested in.

Family stories say that Steve came to this country when he was sixteen, in 1902. As a young child, I asked Grandpa how he got here and he told me he went through Zagreb. As I got older, I thought I had misunderstood him since Zagreb is not a seaport. But Steve didn’t come here directly. He went first to Germany, most likely by way of the railroad. From Germany he came to America. He remained in

Germany long enough to learn to speak German as his children remember him conversing with other neighbors in German with no difficulty. Records have not been located yet showing how he arrived here. He may have entered the United States under a different name, possibly under one of his brother’s name. Once in America, Steve worked for the railroad for several years, spending time in Colorado and California before getting to Milwaukee. He was a supervisor or a foreman of sorts, as he had to hire and fire workers. During the late 19th century, American railroad labor organizations were involved in many unsuccessful and violent strikes as the union movement struggled for worker’s rights. Early working conditions were so hazardous that private insurance companies refused to insure railroad employees.

As many men did at the time, Steve worked and saved his money. He purchased land for a farm through an agent then sent back home for a wife. According to Steve’s son John, getting women to come over to get married wasn’t a problem. All you had to do was send the money to get them here.

One story is that Steve wrote to the parish priest in the old country asking him to find a suitable wife. It is probable that the families needed the approval of the church to make things official. They settled on Katha Mazaar, whose grandmothers were Evonna Paun and Anna Buncic and great-grandmother was Mary Rosandic. No doubt Katha was relation to Steve’s mother Rose Paun and grandmother Rosa Buncic (not to mention the Rosandic connection). Podlopoc after all was a very small village.

Katha, as she was known as in Croatia, was 10 years old when her mother died. She had about a third grade education and taught catechism (she taught Steve’s brother John). After her father Philip remarried, she spent a great deal of time with her uncle (she didn’t always get along with her stepmother). Her daughter, Amanda, said that Katherine loved to sew, that her stepmother had taught her how. At the age of 21, she left her family to travel to an unknown country to marry a man she could remember seeing a few times in church. Fourteen children and many years later, the family still jokes that ‘arranged’ marriages are not always a bad thing.

Katha arrived in this country in 1913. Along with all the new sites and things to experience, Katha had her first encounter with a black person while she waited in New York. She told her children that she was sitting on a bench when a black woman approached her. The woman was chewing gum, something else she had never seen. She didn’t know what it was that was chewing the cud. Was it an animal or some sort of demon God had sent to punish her? She said she had never been so frightened (and prayed very hard).

Katherine and Steve were married on January 4, 1914 at St. Mary Help of Christians Church in West Allis, Wisconsin by Father Mark Pakiz. The family always celebrated December 31st as their anniversary.

The newlyweds lived in West Allis for a short while before they moved to rural Granton, to the land Steve had purchased. They lived with the Paun family while they built a house. Their early married years revolved around clearing land, farming, raising children and surviving whatever things came their way such as forest fires, wolves, wars and depressions.

Katha died of a heart attack on November 14, 1951 at the age of 60. Steve continued to farm for a number of years before he retired. He died August 24, 1976 at the age of 95 (or 93, or 90 depending on the date you use.). Their legacy to us consists of many gifts: courage to face the unknown, strength to survive, laughter to season our lives, and a very, very great love of family.

Information on Croatia, immigration and the history of the railroad when Steve was working on it, was taken from "Encarta 95". For further reading you may check out "Croatia," "Immigration" and "Railroad Labor Organizations," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright® 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright® 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.