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Finding "The Son of " Mijo Greguric and the Gregorich Family Tree

(a little history before we get started)

wpe1F.jpg (10109 bytes)I started tracing my family tree thru several relatives who started the work as well as the vast number of online genealogy websites. The free areas of the genealogy websites as proven to be of some help. But I recommend if you really want to research your family tree in greater detail to sign up for the paid areas of the genealogy websites such as Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com. Also, buying the software is a big help in keeping all the data together and organized. Anyway, lets get started.

My Great-Grandfather, Mijo Greguric came to America from Croatia during the late 1800's. Finding history of the Greguric family tree has been difficult. Although records of the Croatian people exist, tracing history over several centuries of turmoil and the lack of a single written language presented a problem in finding family records. But sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart. The "ic" or "ich" in a Croatian name means son of (or clan of) and with this clue it has been possible to relate the Greguric, Gregorich and Gregory name back to the year 1080.

The origins of the Croatian name can be traced to Iran. The Croatian people then called HRVATS (a name still used today) migrated through the Ukraine and arrived in the Balkans at the beginning of the 7th Century.

Soon after their arrival in the Balkans they were evangelized into and accepted Christianity, but this area had already been split into the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches. Those who migrated to the Southern Balkan region fell under the Byzantine Church. Those Croatians who settled in the north came under the influence of the Pope and Catholic Church in Rome. During the next several centuries the region came under the political control and domination of various European powers including Venice (Italy), Austria, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

Gradually outside domination weakened and the Balkan Regions took on their own identity and formed their own kingdoms. Those in the North became known as The Kingdoms of Croatia and Slovenia. Both of these countries remained fiercely loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope in Rome. "HRVATS" in the South became the Kingdoms of Serbia and Bosnia. The Serb's stayed loyal to the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Church with the Bosnian's remaining loyal to the Islamic faith of their old rulers the Ottoman Turks.

Family tree records were kept by the local Parish of the Catholic Church. Church records were written in many languages and reflect the historic turmoil of the region. Records in a single Parish might be written in Italian, Latin. Croatian or Hungarian. Place names could be very difficult to identify because of this diversity. In addition to language changes, villages changed names and spellings changed.

Croatia formalized their alphabet in approximately 1850 with the use of a diacritical-accent mark system. Croatian's coming to America based on circumstance of where they were from in Croatia had their names modified on their passports. A person's name could have been modified to the Austrian, Hungarian or Italian language. Then on arrival in America U.S. authorities would change a name to conform to English.

Many Croatians also had clan names. A name ending in "ich" or "vich" or something similar meant "Son of". Some immigrants used their clan name as more easily pronounced in America. For example the name GRGURIC found in Parish ZAKANJE records could have been GREGURIC on a passport, then changed to GREGORICH by US authorities. By the next generation either by accident or some other reason the name became GREGORY.

Here it should be noted the original Croatian name GRGURIC meant Son of GREGORY. In the 1080's Pope GREGORY VII crowned DIMITRIJE ZVONMIR King of Croatia. Peasant's with out any further identity probably took on the name for protection and to indicate they were followers of Pope Gregory.

Croatia is presently in the process of collecting and cataloging all historical records. As of 1945 all birth, death and marriage records held by churches were turned over to the Civil Authorities and deposited in the Opcina or City Hall. Parish records of churches in small villages without a City Hall went to the closest village or town with a Town Hall. Some day soon, with a little difficulty and a lot of luck we may be able to trace Croatian family tree history back generation by generation.

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