Past and people of the copper country: massive immigration from the Baltic countries | News, Sports, Jobs

MTU Archives When this man arrived at Ellis Island from Hungary, his name was Zigmond Molnar. Due to differences in customs, once in the United States his name was reversed to Molnar Zigmond. In Hungary, the surname came first followed by the given name. The photograph, included with the application for declaration of intent for US citizenship, is dated January 1938. He is listed as a laborer.

One could argue that World War I, which started with Austria-Hungary, in 1914, actually started Louis the Pious, grandson of Charlemagne, in 840.

Charlemagne was the illegitimate son of Pepin III, the last of the last of the previous dynasty, the Merovingians. The family came to power as hereditary palace mayors of the Frankish Kingdom of Austrasia. Pepin III held the title of Mayor of the Palace and seized the throne with papal sanction several years after Charlemagne’s birth.

Although the pope asked Pippin to appoint only one of his sons as king of the Morovingian Empire, Pippin instead followed Frankish custom and divided his territories between Charlemagne (Charles) and Charlemagne’s brother Carloman. Carloman died (or joined a moneyer, depending on who you ask) however, leaving Charlemagne as sole ruler.

Charlemagne extended the power of the Franks by conquering all of Gaul and into Germany and Italy, and he made tributaries of the Bohemians, Avars, Serbs, Croats and other Eastern European peoples. He formed an alliance with the papacy and in 774 created a papal state in central Italy. On Christmas Day 800, in the presence of Pope Leo III, he was crowned Emperor of the restored Roman Empire, becoming the first Emperor of Europe in over 300 years.

Charlemagne died, leaving his son, Louis the Pious, as his successor, but Louis had three sons. When Louis died in 840, his sons contested the succession. The feud ended (temporarily) with the Treaty of Verdun in 843, during which they agreed to divide the empire into three kingdoms. Francia Occidentalis in the west went to Charles II; Francia Orientalis in the east went to Ludwig II the German; and Francia Media, including the Italian provinces and Rome, went to Lothair, who also inherited the title of emperor.

As the Britannica editors assert, and one might have guessed, the later partitions of the three kingdoms, as well as the rise of new powers such as the Normans and Saxons, reduced Carolingian authority. The Western Carolingian Empire splintered and the last war to reunite it under a single emperor ended in May 1945.

The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, but two years before that, Francis II of the Habsburg dynasty declared himself Emperor of the Austrian Empire, which included what is now Austria and Hungary , as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and parts of present-day Poland, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro. In 1867, Austria formed a dual monarchy with Hungary: the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Dual Monarchy had negative impacts on what had been the Kingdom of Croatia.

Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, said Ljubomir Antic, Filozofski fakultet, Zagreb, Republika Hrvatska, in his 1995 publication, “The economic causes of emigration from Croatia in the period from the 1880s to the First World War.” but was territorially and politically divided between the Banat of Croatia with Slovenia, Dalmatia and Istria. He goes on to say that at that time Dalmatia was a typically agricultural region. Of the 527,426 inhabitants in 1890, 86.12% were involved in agriculture, while only 4.58% were involved in mining, crafts and trades, and only 2.58% in intellectual professions.

In other words, Croats lived in both halves of the Dual Monarchy. Croatia, the heart of the emerging Croatian nation, was in the Austrian half, and Slavonia was in the Hungarian half.

A major cause of the mass emigration of the 1890s, however, began some 50 years before.

Even before the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, however, Croatia was in chaos, Antic said. The abolition of the feudal system in 1848 caused drastic changes in the social structure of Croatia.

Antic explains that in rural areas the peasant became the owner of feudal land and was freed from forced labor and other duties stipulated by feudal law. The peasant did not, however, receive what l’Antic calls land outside the home, which did not belong to him under feudal law, while innkeeper rights were still the privilege of the landowners, who also retained the land use. pastures and forests. So if the peasants wanted off-farm land or vineyards, they had to buy it. It worked well for a while, until 1876.

That year, a “special law” was introduced, under which the current owner of the land he occupied had to pay the previous owner of that land in cash for the land. Payments had to be made every six months, or the estate owner received the monetary equivalent in promissory notes, so the farmer became a debtor to the state government. Antic says the smallholder also lost, as the cash compensations they received could not cover the abolished serf rights.

To simplify the problem, the peasants could not produce money, because they could not move quickly enough to commercial production. There was simply no cash in rural Croatia.

If those conditions weren’t bad enough, from 1857 to 1859 Croatia was hit by drought and people started to starve. To add a touch of soap opera, the vines were attacked by diseases, which disrupted the production of wine. Other issues contributed to the mass migration.

During the 1880s, Croats, Slovenes, and Serbs from Austria-Hungary immigrated en masse to the United States, wrote Dragoslav Georgevich in “Serb Americans and Their Cleveland Communities.” A majority of Serbian immigrants came from provinces that were under the domination of Austria-Hungary: Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Many of them were people whose ancestors were for centuries peasant-soldiers on the military frontier of the Austrian Empire. Their situation after the abolition of the military frontier in 1873 became so unfavorable that they decided to immigrate to the United States.

In the 1880s, the Lake Superior copper region, along with other areas of the United States, began to experience the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from the Baltic states, particularly Croatia and Slovenia. .

The mining companies in the district employed many of them, but made no attempt to accommodate them. In fact, in most cases they faced outright discrimination. Company records appear to indicate that much of this originated with company executives, as opposed to offices in the East.

One of the causes of this can be attributed to the fact that the vast majority of these new immigrants had no experience of industrial work, lacked the skills needed for mining production, and as a result were very little respected. This raises two questions: why did the mining companies employ men who knew absolutely nothing about mining or the metals industry, and why did farmers come to Lake Superior to apply for jobs for which they did not had absolutely no qualifications? The most readily available answers are that businesses needed labor and immigrants were willing to supply it. From a very practical standpoint, companies needed men to haul rock from working sections of the mine to shafts and other jobs that required little or no skill. These included the installation of water pipes, overhead lines and pipes and a host of other similar works, the installation of wooden supports, the repair of tram tracks and rails in shafts, between others.

The Croats, like the Finns, were needed. But the companies didn’t want it.


• Antic, Ljubomir, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia, “The economic causes of emigration from Croatia in the period from the 1880s to the First World War.” Historical Contributions (Historische Beiträge), Vol. 14, No. 14, 1995. (

• Britannica, T. Encyclopedia Editors. “Carolingian Dynasty”. Encyclopedia Britannica. (

• Georgevich, Dragoslav, Maric, Nikolaj, Moravcevich, Nicholas: Serb Americans and Their Communities in Cleveland, Volume I. Cleveland Ethnic Heritage Studies, Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library and MSL Academic Endeavors, Cleveland State University, https://pressbooks .

≤ Michigan Technological University JR Van Pelt Library, MTU Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, Keweenaw Ethnic Groups: Croats. An Ellis Inner Island,

≤ Mutschlechner, Martin: “The Croats in the Habsburg Monarchy.” (

≤ Snell, Melissa. “The Treaty of Verdun. Thought Co.

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