Janez Božič (June 7, 1872 - May 7, 1926)

Ivana Strmljan (June 21, 1868 - July 22, 1928)

Janez (John) Božič was born on June 7, 1872 in the small village of Prušnja vas, Sv. Križ parish (now Podbočje), Slovenia, to Mihael Božič and Neža Barbič.


In 1898, at the age of 26, Janez immigrated to the United States of America and settled in Indianapolis, Indiana (according to the 1910 U.S. census). Janez and Ivana were naturalized in 1905 (according to the 1920 U.S. census).


Slovenian (Božič) and Croatian (Božič): nickname for someone born between Christmas Day and Epiphany, or for someone who had some particular connection with the Christmas season, from božič "Christmas", from a diminutive of Bog (in the sense "son of God").


The last name Božič underwent several modifications in Indianapolis - most likely because Hoosiers had a hard time pronouncing and spelling it, and perhaps because the Božičs tried to assimilate into the American society.


Since Janez’s arrival to the United States and until approximately 1915, the last name is spelled authentically in most available records, especially Holy Trinity records kept by Slovenian priests. Later in most of the documents the last name of Božič appeared as Bozich and occasionally Bozic, without the carrots above the letters.


The future of the last name Božič was in real jeopardy around the 1920’s. According to the 1920 U.S. Census, the Božičs changed their last name to Christmas. Thus all family members (Janez/John, Ivana, Molly, Frank and Rudolph), with the exception of Anna Golobar (later Mohar/Mohr), were Christmas.


Janez's first name also appears in various forms in different documents: John, Joanne, Joannes, Johannes, Johanne and Joannis. His church birth records from Slovenia, which were kept in the German language, indicate - Johann and Joanes. All U.S. records, with the exception of Holy Trinity church records, refer to him as John. Despite no definitive information, it is known that he was called Janez in the village of Prušnja vas.


Ivana Strmljan was born on June 21, 1868 in the town of Tenetiše, the Šmartno pri Litiji parish, Slovenia, to Franz Strmljan and Agnes Flisek. Among Slovenes she was called Ivana, and in various U.S. and Austro-Hungarian records her name also appeared as Johanna, Joanna, Joana and Anna. Besides Strmljan, her last name also comes up as Stermjan, Sterman, Stermen, Stermljan and Stramjan.


During a trip to Slovenia in May 2011, I (Sasha) visited the village of Tenetiše looking for anyone who recognized the above last names, as I was not positive of the exact spelling of Ivana’s last name. While walking through this picturesque pristine village I spoke with several friendly villagers who had no knowledge of the last name. As I was about to leave the village, I happened upon an old lady, Marija Urbas, who was hoeing her rather large garden across from the village church. When I showed her the name in my genealogy binder, she immediately recognized the last name and was insistent on providing me with the proper spelling, which is Strmljan. She said that at this time no one by that last name lives in the village; however, she remembered the last Strmljans living in this community - three sisters Slava, Marina (Marinka), and Polda (died young).


Before marriage Ivana was a "½ Hüblerstochter", and she resided with her parents at Tenetiše 17, that is in house No.17 in the town of Tenetiše.


The explanation for "½ Hüblerstochter" is: The Austrians developed the word "hube" for a farmhouse with land. ½ hube = 2.8 acres. Hübler - a man who owns a hube. In the German language the word "tochter" means daughter. Thus "½ Hüblerstochter" is a farmer’s daughter - owner of 2.8 acres. 


Ivana was married twice: 1) to Alois (Louis) Golobar; 2) to John Bozic.


Ivana (27) married her first husband, Alois Golobar (30), on August 26, 1895 in the Šmartno pri Litiji parish. Alois Golobar was born on June 21, 1865 in the town of Šmartno pri Litiji, Slovenia. His profession was "wirth" or "innkeeper" (in German). Alois’ step daughter, Molly Bozich, recalled him being a baker. Before marrying Ivana he lived in house No.50 in Šmartno. His father was Johann (Janez) Golobar and mother Anna Jerman.


Five years after their wedding Alois and Ivana decided to find their fortune and happiness in the land of opportunity - America. Ivana and Alois immigrated to the United States separately.


Alois (Louis) Golobar departed from Bremen, Germany on the ship Kaiserin Maria Theresia on December 27, 1900. He arrived at the port of New York on January 6, 1901 at the age of 35. Louis’s final destination in the U.S. was Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where he was going to join his uncle and cousin. At that time steady work was rather difficult to find in Beaver Falls, so Louis soon moved to Forest City, Pennsylvania.


Ivana left Slovenia for the new world half a year later in order to reunite with her husband.


Ivana departed the port of Bremen on June 25, 1901, just four days after her 33rd birthday, on the ship Konigin Luise with just $10 in her pocket. She saw the famous Statue of Liberty in New York on July 6, 1901. Ivana had a ticket to her final destination in Forest City, Pennsylvania, where her husband Alois (Louis) Golobar resided. Joana was able to read and write.


Forest City was a big Slovene immigrant settlement in the United States. Forest City is the southeastern most community in Susquehanna County. William Pentecost founded Forest City in 1864. He moved from the nearby town of Prompton in Wayne County in order to conduct a lumbering business. By 1865, the population increased to 50. The town’s population swelled to 2319 in 1890, to 4279 in 1900, and to 5749 in 1910. The increase was almost completely accounted for by immigrants from Europe who were attracted to the area to move into the newly opened anthracite mines.

The tide of immigrants in the area began in 1847 when the Irish arrived following the Potato famine. With the discovery of hard coal, immigrant miners arrived to fill the need. Wales supplied the majority of miners until 1890. After 1890, the miners came mostly from Eastern and Southern European countries, including Slovenia.

By 1893, there were enough Slovenians in the Forest City area for the establishment of a fraternal organization, St. Joseph's Lodge. By 1904, with the Slovenian population reaching 300 adults, St. Joseph's Church was built. Prior to 1904, the Slovenian population worshipped at St. Rose's Church in Carbondale and then at St. Agnes' or St. Anthony's in Forest City. St. Joseph's Parish is still active today.

Ivana and Louis Golobar did not live in Forest City for too long and gradually migrated toward Indianapolis. Their daughter Anna Golobar (Mohr) was born on August 2, 1903 in Alexandria, Madison County, Indiana. 


Sadly, Louis Golobar died from tuberculosis (which was prevalent at that time) on June 15, 1905 in Indianapolis. He was buried at St. Joseph Cemetery. Ivana could not afford a headstone.


Ivana met her second husband, John Božič, in Indianapolis. John Božič and Ivana Golobar married on November 4, 1905 in Marion County, Indianapolis. It was John’s first marriage; he was 33 and Ivana was 37. 


On October 21, 1906 John and Ivana’s first child, John (Joannes) Božič, was born in Indianapolis. He was baptized a week later on October 28, 1906 in the Holy Trinity Church by Pastor Joseph Lavric. His godparents were Joannes (John) Sr. and Elisabeth (Elizabeth) Hribernik.


At that time, in 1906, John and Ivana Božič resided in Indianapolis at 212 Geisendorff Street.


In 1910 little John’s godparents, John and Elizabeth Hribernik lived at 711 Warman Avenue. By that time John and Ivana Božič were their neighbors at 705 Warman Avenue. In 1910 both John Hribernik Sr. and his wife Elizabeth were 47. They had two sons, John Jr. (23) and George (9). John Sr. and John Jr. were molders at the foundry. They shared their house with three Slovenian boarders. John Sr. immigrated to the U.S. in 1890. His wife and John Jr. reunited with John Sr. in 1892. George was born in Indiana.   


Little John Božič died of scarlatina on October 1, 1908 at the age of 1 year 11 months and was buried at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Indianapolis on October 2, 1908. Fr. Joseph Lavric performed the ceremony.


Scarlatina (also called scarlet fever) is an acute contagious disease caused by a hemolytic streptococcus, occurring predominantly among children, and characterized by a scarlet skin eruption and high fever.


On May 17, 1908 John and Ivana’s daughter Amaliam-Joanna/Amelia (Molly) Božič was born. She was baptized on May 31, 1908 at Holy Trinity Church by Rev. Joseph Lavric. Molly’s godparents were also Joannes (John) and Elisabeth (Elizabeth) Hribernik.


Amelia’s first communion was on May 23, 1915, which coincided with her younger brother Rudy’s first birthday.


Amelia’s confirmation took place at Holy Trinity on June 4, 1916. Her baptismal and family name: Amelia Bozic. Confirmation name: Pauline. Sponsor: Mary Mervar.


Amelia (Molly) was a very attractive lady, but never married. She is still alive in 2005.


When Amelia (Molly) was born in 1908 the Božič family lived in Indianapolis at 705 Warman Avenue. Their next door neighbors were the Volkars residing at 707 Warman Avenue. Note that when little John Božič died of scarlatina on October 1, 1908 at the age of 1 year 11 months, three year old Frank Volkar also died of scarlatina one week later on October 8, 1908. 


When Georgio (Juri) and Maria Volkar had a son Antoniam-Aloisiam, born on January 26, 1909, John and Ivana Božič were his godparents and took part in his baptism on February 4, 1909 at Holy Trinity Church. Rev. Jos. Lavric baptized. George Volkar lived to age 90. He died on July 1, 1966. His son, George J. Volkar, born in Indianapolis, died on August 20, 1985, age 79.


In 1910 the Volkar family consisted of four people: George (34), Mary (33), George (4), and Antonia (8 months). They also had five boarders from Slovenia, who worked at the foundry. Mr. George Volkar was also a molder at the foundry.   


According to the 1910 United States Federal Census, conducted on April 18, 1910, John and Ivana Božič had two children - daughter Anna Golobar, 6 years old, and daughter Amalia (Molly) Božič, 1 year 11 months old. Anna was their daughter from Ivana’s previous marriage. Both girls were born in Indiana. By the time of the census Ivana was the mother of 4 children, two of whom died (son John and daughter Margaret).   


In 1910 both John and Ivana were already naturalized citizens of the United States. They were able to speak English. John was a laborer at the foundry; Ivana, like most women, did not work outside the home.


As far as the level of education, as of April 15, 1910, John was not able to read or write, but Ivana was literate. John would ask Ivana to read newspapers to him so he would be aware of events around the world. Ivan was a laborer, and because he was illiterate he had numerous jobs and was often unemployed. He frequently was absent from the home leaving Ivana to fend for herself and her family. Once he went to search for gold in California. Ivana rented the main room of the house on Warman Avenue to Slovenian immigrant boarders. The boarders slept several to a bed. Ivana did their laundry and prepared meals. The boarders always ate first and the children followed. Later, after Ivan’s death, it is believed, she worked at a paper factory in downtown Indianapolis as a cleaning lady. She walked to and from work at night and in early mornings.


John and Ivana owned their house. They owned it free (not mortgaged). 


At the time of the census eight borders lived in the Božič’s house. Boarder -someone paying for food and bed: somebody who pays for a room, and usually for daily meals, in a private home or a boarding house. All of them were new immigrants from Slovenia seeking the American dream in the Indianapolis foundry.


All eight boarders were recent immigrants, aliens, to the United States from Slovenia. All of them were either molders or laborers at the foundry. Only one of them was able to speak English, the rest spoke only Slovenian. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, they were employed and were not out of work in 1909 (not even for one week). The married ones left their wives temporarily in Slovenia before establishing themselves in Indianapolis.


Boarder No.1: Joseph Repoush (1), 32 years old, single. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1909, not able to speak English, laborer at the foundry, able to read and write in Slovenian.


Boarder No.2: Joseph Repoush (2), 24 years old, single. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1908, not able to speak English, molder at the foundry, able to read and write in Slovenian.


Boarder No.3: Frank Blatnik, 40 years old, married twice, number of years of present marriage - 5. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1903, not able to speak English, laborer at the foundry, able to read and write in Slovenian.


Boarder No.4: Frank Fleis, 30 years old, married, number of years of present marriage - 4. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1908, not able to speak English, laborer at the foundry, unable to read and write in Slovenian.


Boarder No.5: John Fleis, 24 years old, single. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1908, not able to speak English, laborer at the foundry, unable to read and write in Slovenian.


Boarder No.6: Frank Novak, 20 years old, single. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1906, able to speak English, molder at the foundry, able to read and write.


Boarder No.7: Mike Brojna, 40 years old, married, number of years of present marriage - 15. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1906, not able to speak English, molder at the foundry, able to read and write in Slovenian.


Boarder No.8: Martin Shelebon, 24 years old, single. Immigrated to the U.S. in 1908, not able to speak English, laborer at the foundry, able to read and write in Slovenian.


On July 3, 1912 John and Ivana’s son Franciscus (Frank) Božič was born. He was baptized at Holy Trinity Church on July 7, 1912 by Rev. B. (Bonaventure) Cicek O.M.C. His godparents were Franc (Francis) and Neža (Agnes) Beršnjak. At the time of his birth, the family still lived at 705 Warman Avenue. Perhaps Frank Božič was named Frank after Frank Beršnjak.


In 1910 Frank and Agnes Bershnak (Beršnjak) lived at 709 Warman Avenue - John and Ivana’s neighbors. They were Slovenian immigrants. He was 63 and she was 43. They married in 1905. They never had children. Frank immigrated to the U.S. in 1893 and Agnes in 1902. He worked as a packer at the foundry.


John and Ivana’s last child, Rudolf (Rudolph) Božič, was born on May 23, 1914 in Haughville, Marion County, Indianapolis. He was baptized on May 31, 1914 at Holy Trinity Church by Rev. B. (Bonaventure) Cicek O.M.C. His godparents were Franc (Francis) and Neža (Agnes) Beršnjak. The same godparents as for his brother Frank. The family still lived at 705 Warman Avenue.


Thus, John and Ivana Božič had five children:


  1. Anna Golobar *Mohr* (August 2, 1903 - October 1968)
  2. Joannes (John) Božič (October 21, 1906 - October 1, 1908)
  3. Amalia/Amelia (Molly) Joanna Božič (May 17, 1908 - November 22, 2005)
  4. Franciscus (Frank) Joseph Božič (July 3, 1912 - October 26, 1999)
  5. Rudolf (Rudolph) Anthony Božič (May 23, 1914 - November 17, 1975)


Frank’s first communion was on June 1, 1919. The same day was Anna Mauser’s first communion - daughter of Martin and Josephine Mauser.


Rudolph’s first communion was on May 1, 1921. Pastor Fr. Cyril.


Frank’s confirmation took place at the Holy Trinity on May 30, 1922. His baptismal and family name: Frank Božič (in records Bozich). Confirmation name: Joseph. Sponsor: Joseph Golc.


Rudy’s confirmation took place at Holy Trinity at 7:30 PM, Tuesday, May 30, 1922. His baptismal and family name: Rudolph Božič (in records Bozich). Confirmation name: Anthony. Sponsor: Anthony Mohar (Mohr).


Ivana was a member of the Slovenian Ladies’ Union No.5.


When speaking with Stanley Mervar in 2005 he provided the following about Ivan and Ivana Božič. Their house was next to Milharcic’s grocery store on one side and the Volkars and Dudars on the other. Ivana’s grandson, Robert Mohr, married the Milharcic granddaughter, Mary Frances Konovsek. He remembers there was an alley behind the Božič house where Mrs. Božič would take her trash.


Molly Bozich recalled the house at 705 Warman Avenue was small by today’s standards. It had an outhouse (a bath was added later). They bathed in a tub near a wood-burning stove (a gas range was used later). A garden provided much of the food. Geese, chickens, rabbits, and, at one time, even a pig were kept for butchering. Laundry was done on a tub on the back porch winter and summer. They had the usual furniture…beds (children shared a bed), table, chairs, victrola, and an organ - Ivana’s daughter, Anna, played by ear quite well.


All the children attended Catholic School. Anna went to St. Anthony on Warman Avenue. After Holly Trinity was established, the children went to school there. Anna had to leave after the sixth grade to go to work to supplement the family income. Molly graduated from the eighth grade. Frank attended George Washington High School through his sophomore year, while Rudy quit as a freshman.   


Little Frank J. Božič was severely burned with boiling water, spilled by either him or someone else, from a pan on the stove. Because of this trauma Frank's mom, Ivana, carried him in cotton for a year. Frank was very close with his mother. Frank’s heart was broken when his father died in 1926 and he was devastated when his mom died two years later. According to Frank, his daughter, Carolyn (Ginger), resembles Frank’s mom, Ivana. 


In 1928, at the age of 16, Frank was employed by Kingan & Co., a large U.S. meatpacker. Mom (Ivana) was very happy he found a job (she died on July 22, 1928). Kingan & Co. once produced a full line of fresh meats, canned meat products, cold cuts, and was a major employer in Indianapolis.


According to Frank, John Božič was a hardworking father, who cared much for his family. He spoke with Ivana in their native Slovenian language. John often mentioned Ljubljana in his conversations. He never mentioned anything about his parents or relatives in Slovenia, thus, his children knew very little of his heritage. 


According to Molly, Ivan was a handsome man with brown hair, mustache, trim beard, and a stocky build. He was about 5’8”-5’9” in height. Ivana was shorter than Ivan. He had a jolly personality, but was a strict parent with his children.  


In his backyard John and Ivana had a small garden, grapes, a chicken shack, typical at that time in Haughville. John did not drink whisky or vodka; instead he had a glass of home-made wine almost every day. He had a tiny vineyard and picked his own grapes. He made wine and kept it in the basement. That was one of many traditions he brought with him to Haughville from Slovenia.


Ivana was a stay-at-home hardworking mom. She was a good cook, took care of the household and the kids. She did the laundry and dried her laundry outside in the backyard. Since they lived across the street from a polluting foundry, Ivana had to check the direction of the wind before hanging her laundry outside to dry. Unlike, John, she was not very strict, and children loved her and respected everything she had to say to them. 


According to Molly, Ivana endured many hardships. She was a quiet woman with many burdens and responsibilities. She was somewhat plump and wore her brown hair in what was then a fashionable bun. She worked very hard her entire life - the boarders had to be fed and off to work before the children were awake. After school there was coffee and cake, and then the children had to gather clover to feed the rabbits (Rudy and Frank would dash off to play and leave their sisters to do the gathering). Chores had to be done before play. Housework had to be done and the garden tended. Bedtime was early to save on the light bill.


Holidays consisted of traditional Slovenian foods, and there were special celebrations for first communions and confirmations. Of course, there were always Slovenian picnics.


The Bozic family had daily prayer time usually consisting of the rosary.


John never owned a car or even a bicycle because he could not afford such luxuries. He walked to work and stores, which were located close to his home. The Bozics did not need a clock because the foundry’s whistle always woke them up.


John was religious like most of Slovenian immigrants. He lived close to the church. He had a very good voice and sang in a singing group. John shaved once per week with a straight razor.


John’s life was difficult and he envisioned a better future for his children. He constantly emphasized to them the importance of education and demanded that they attend school. His children were diligent and studied better than most kids from the Slovenian community. Those days most kids in ethnic communities spent two years in the first grade just to learn English, since most of the parents spoke to them in their native languages. John’s children were the exception. 


John was strict and when he said something, he meant it. Some rumors say that like many parents of that era, John occasionally disciplined his children by ordering them to stand on their knees on sharp-edged grain. He was a strict but loving and caring father. His boys did not get into trouble. The Božičs did not own many material possessions because they were quite poor, but they gave their children everything they were capable of giving. They could not afford much clothing for themselves or kids, but strongly believed in a prosperous future for their descendants.


According to 1920 census records enumerated on January 8th and 9th, the Christmas family resided at 705 N. Warman Street and consisted of six members: John Christmas, Ivana (Anna) Christmas, Anna Golobar, Amelia Christmas, Frank Christmas, and Rudolph Christmas.


In 1920 the family lived in a free owned home (not mortgaged). Both John and Ivana were able to read and write and speak English. John Christmas worked as a laborer at the packing house (Kingan & Co.) and Ivana was still a housewife. At the time their 17 year old daughter, Anna Golobar, worked as a packer at the packing house (Kingan & Co.). Kingan & Co. was one of the largest meatpackers in the United States and a major employer in Indianapolis. 


Meat packing workers were drawn to west Indianapolis or Haughville. Like foundries in the area, meat packing plants also attracted a surge of immigrants to Haughville.      


In 1920 the Volkers were still their neighbors on 711 N. Warman St., however their name was written as Walker. The Volker family consisted of George (49), Mary (40), George (13), Antonia (10), and Joseph (6). George Sr. was a molder at the iron foundry.  


On Tuesday, May 30, 1922 John Božič (in records Bozich) was the confirmation sponsor for Anthony Banich, whose confirmation name was John.


On Tuesday, May 30, 1922 Ivana Božič (in records Bozich) was the confirmation sponsor for Josephine Banich, whose confirmation name was Anna.


On July 1, 1922 Anna Golobar married Anthony J. Mohr in Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana. Anthony was 25 and Anna was 19. 


Anthony immigrated to the United States at the age of 16/17 from Težka Voda, Slovenia in 1913 as Anton Mohar. He departed France, on the ship France, from the port of Le Havre, and arrived at the Ellis Island on September 26, 1913 with $30 in his possession. He had a ticket from New York to Indianapolis, where he was going to join his friend, Joseph Zeunik, residing at 752 Haugh Street. Mr. Zeunik immigrated to the U.S. in 1892. Anthony was 5’8”, of fair complexion, had fair hair and blue eyes. According to 1920 census records Anton was a boarder living with four other boarders in Frank Turk’s house on 710 N. Holmes. Frank Turk had a wife, Anna, sons Joe, Frank, Henry, and two daughters, Sophie and Annie.   


According to the 1930 census, by that time he was already a naturalized citizen of the U.S.A.


John Božič died from tuberculosis on May 7, 1926, one month shy of his 54th birthday. He suffered for many years and spent last years of his life in the Sunnyside Hospital for tuberculosis patients in Indianapolis, where he ultimately died. At the time of his death John was skin and bones. John was buried on May 10, 1926 at the St. Joseph Cemetery. Fr. Casimir OMS.


Two years later Janez’s wife, Ivana, died during an emergency appendectomy on July 22, 1928. No one was aware she had diabetes and she died during the operation. She was 60. Ivana was buried on July 25, 1928. Fr. Casimir, OMC.


Janez (John) and Ivana rest next to each other at St. Joseph Cemetery, 435 W Troy Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46225. Their graves’ location is Section C, Lot 105, South Half. The name on their respective tombstones is spelled “Bozec”.


When both parents died, Anna Golobar (Mohr) and her husband, Anthony Mohr (also Mohar), virtually adopted Anna’s half siblings Molly, Rudolph (Washie) and Frank. They lived at 1442 North Holmes Avenue, Indianapolis. Home was rented (not owned). At that time, in 1928, Washie was 14 years old.


Frank missed his parents and the house in which he grew up. It is not known whether the house was sold after their death. However, after Frank married, he and his pregnant wife, Angela, rented for some time the house at 705 Warman Avenue, which had a lot of sentimental value to Frank. It is not clear what happened to the house after they moved out. When driving by 705 Warman in 2005, an empty lot was found. All that remained were the foundation and some steps.


Amelia “Molly” Bozich, 97, Brownsburg, Indiana, formerly of Indianapolis, died Tuesday, November 22, 2005. Molly was born May 16, 2908 in Indianapolis. She was employed at the Star Store and then later at H. P. Wasson & Company. She retired in 1976. Molly was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Indianapolis and more recently St. Malachy of Brownsburg. She lived with her nieces, Anna Mohr and Jeanne Mohr. Calling and services were at St. Malachy Catholic Church on Saturday, November 26, 2005. Arrangements were handled by Stevens Mortuary, Indianapolis.


Click here to see images of John Božič and Ivana Strmljan.