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(E) Gold Rush Pioneers from ancient Croatian Kingdom
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  04/29/2003 | History | Unrated
(E) Gold Rush Pioneers from ancient Croatian Kingdom


 Gold Rush Pioneers From Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Boka Kotor

ByAdam S. Eterovich

The majority of the pioneers came from Dalmatia, Istria, Hercegovina and the Bay of Kotor, all part of the ancient Croatian Kingdom. The geographic area of Dalmatia best describes the area where most of the pioneers originated; some were from Hercegovina. More detailed descriptions are lost in antiquity and lack of adequate and inaccurate American records. Most were Catholic. Borders later changed to suit the needs of politicians and foreign rulers. The Dalmatian, Croatian coast has over 1000 islands. This was the center of the spice trade controlled by Venice and Dubrovnik. This area produced wine, olive oil, garlic, fish, sea captains, mariners, and coffee kafanas. They were citizens and businessmen of the Republic of Ragusa-Dubrovnik or the Republic of Venice, and did not go thru feudalism or learn to bow to Princes or Kings; they were freemen, independent and enterprising. This book and study covers the California Gold Rush and the Nevada Silver Boom. It lists all gold and silver miners found in an extensive index. Goldmines and Silvermines were also discovered by the pioneers. The business community is well represented with their saloons, coffee saloons, restaurants and food-liquor houses in the mining areas. They were involved in gun fights, local wars, Indian uprisings, killings and hangings and fit quite well into the Western scene.

Slavonians (Croatians)

The Venetians called them Schiavoni or  Slavonians rather than Croati-Croatians so that they would not rebel and join their inland Croatian brothers. In many cases  Slavonian was used in the West and South....this became an Americanism and had no relationship to Slavonia in Croatia.

California Gold Rush

In 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill. As the news broke, whole towns emptied as everyone rushed to stake their claims. And the world responded. Prospectors flocked to California to get their share of the wealth. Between 1850 and 1860, the State's population grew from 92,597 to 379,994. The fast pace of settlement rapidly changed many parts of the state from a Mexican ranching society to enclaves of foreigners and Americans. New towns sprang up overnight as hundreds of merchants arrived to serve the needs of the prospectors. Roads and railways were constructed for access all across the state. California was changed forever. The original rush brought hundreds of thousands of people-but the idea of "California" as a land of wealth for all has lasted until now and continues to fuel immigration and prosperity. California's uniqueness in America is nowhere more apparent than in the Gold Country.

Nevada Silver Discovery

Silver was discovered in 1859. Nevada became a Territory in 1861 and a State in 1864. In 1864 Virginia City had a population of 5000. Upon hearing of new strikes or discoveries the miners and businessmen would create towns out of the desert. Overnight towns would grow to 10,000. Not only were the officials from California, but also most of the miners, merchants, editors, hightoned gamblers, hightoned gunfighters, stage-drivers and stage-robbers, lawyers, mining magnates, prizefighters, artisans and courtesans, hotel keepers, cooks, waiters, and bottle-washers.

Alaska Klondike Gold Rush of 1896

On August 31, 1896, gold was discovered on Eldorado Creek, a tributary of Bonanza. Eldorado was no more than five miles long and produced over $30 million worth of gold which brought prospectors from all over Yukon and Alaska. But the world didn t know what was happening in the Yukon until July 14, 1897 when the steamship Excelsior landed in San Francisco. On board was more than half a million dollars worth of Klondike gold. The Klondike Gold Rush was on.

Nevada Gold Rush at Goldfield

In 1902, silver and gold were discovered near Goldfield, Nevada, about halfway between Reno and Las Vegas. Goldfield exploded with growth. During its first decade, Goldfield acquired more than 25,000 residents, dozens of saloons, a couple of banks, a railroad, magnificent courthouse and the classiest hotel between Kansas City and San Francisco. It created mining millionaires and power-brokers who would rule the state for years to come. The goldminers came in  49 The whores in  51 And when they got together They produced the native son

Mathew Ivankovich at Discovery of Gold in California

On that momentous day in 1848, when gold was discovered, John Sutter had in his employ at the mill a person whom he called the "Sailor Man." The "Sailor Man" later stated he was a "Slavonian"(Croatian) and that he was present at the mill that day when the first gold nuggets were observed in the tailrace. This, then, places a Croatian at the discovery of gold in California. Matt had an older brother by the name of John Ivancovich who was also a sailor. In the year 1842 John was on board a whaling vessel, and during a storm, he fell from the rigging, to the deck, breaking a leg. He was landed at San Francisco. John wrote to his brother Matt, and urged him to come to California. Matt soon met his brother John, and through him found employment repairing boats and ships for Captain Sutter. Toward the latter part of December Sutter wanted his  Sailor man , to go up to the sawmill to help him build the mill-dam. Matt arrived at the sawmill a few days before Christmas, and began work before the first of the year, getting things ready for building the dam, brush, rocks and foundation timbers. Matt intended to stay only until the dam was completed, but as things turned our he stayed there until the 13th of February, 1848, when he left for San Francisco to inform his brother of the gold discovery.

Virginia Saloon-First in Town

Martin Grosetta-Benkovich from Dubrovnik, Dalmatia was proprietor of the Virginia Saloon in Virginia City in 1860. This was one of the first of approximately fifty business in Virginia City at the time. The Virginia Saloon was included in a prominent panorama of Virginia City. Martin had been in Mobile, Alabama in 1849 and had voted in that city prior to coming to the Pacific Coast to seek his fortune. He was one of many who had been established in the South prior to coming West. In 1859 Martin had a coffee stand in San Francisco at the corner of Sacramento and East Streets. Martin was typical of the hardy Dalmatian pioneers who ventured into the gold and silver mining boom towns as saloonkeepers or merchants.

Tadich Grill..1849 King of Restaurants

Tadich Grill is the oldest restaurant in San Francisco and California. It has a genealogy of being in Dalmatian-Croatian ownership since 1849. It was located on Long Wharf as the New World Coffee Saloon and Market, the original proprietors were: Nikola Budrovich from the Island of Hvar; Antonio Gasparich from Dalmatia; and Frank Kosta from Dubrovnik. John Tadich is a native of Starigrad on the Island of Hvar, Dalmatia, Croatia. His restaurant was one of the landmarks of Gold Rush San Francisco. A talk with Mr. Tadich is like turning back the leaves of historical San Francisco; he can tell you of the little tent operating on the northwest corner of Leidesdorff and Commercial Streets, prior to 1849, where coffee was served to sailors and goldminers.

Croatian Home in Gold Rush Country

Nikola Barovich was born on December 31, 1830, at Janjina, Dalmatia, Croatia. He became a sailor and embarked upon the Croatian sailing vessel Fanica. The Fanica, commanded by Captain Ivan Kopatic, in 1849 entered the port of New York. In New York he and boarded a sailing vessel, and sailed via Cape Horn in the direction of California. On June 17, 1850, he entered the Golden Gate, and arrived at the port of San Francisco. He immediately left the ship and went to the gold mines to seek his fortune. He had a business at Sonora in Gold Rush country in 1852-53 and no doubt financed his saloons with his good fortunes in the mining camps. In 1856 he owned the famed Constitution Saloon in San Francisco and from 1857-1860 the Sebastopol Saloon on the corner of Davis and Jackson Streets. He was a member of the famed Knickerbocker Volunteer Fire Department of San Francisco and a member of the San Francisco Vigilante Committee. With the help of fellow countrymen he organized in 1857 the Slavjansko-Ilirsko Dobrotvorno Drustvo(Slavonian-Illyric Benevolent Society), the first Croatian fraternal organization in America. A Croatian Catholic cemetery was purchased in 1861 and in 1874 the Society built the first Croatian home at Sutter Creek, Amador County in the Gold Rush country. During the 1850 s he married Miss Dolores Castro, a member of one of the oldest Mexican-Spanish pioneer Land Grant families in California, and had seven children. He entered into the Nevada Territory in 1864 and was also a member of the Resse River Pioneers. He opened the San Francisco Coffee Stand at Austin, Nevada in 1864; the Alhambra Saloon in 1866; the Sazerac Saloon in 1867 and Barovich s Saloon and shooting gallery in 1873. After the silver boom in Nevada, he returned to California in 1882 and opened the Dalmatia Hotel in San Jose. Later he operated a winery.

 They had Dancing, Hunting, Drinking, and other Socially Acceptable Activities.
"Mention is made of gambling. I don't want to hold this against me; for in the days when the Empire of the West was in the making, conditions and the standards of morals were very different from those of the present day. Gambling was no more thought of against a man than going to the theatre, automobiling, dancing, or any of the other conventional modern forms of amusement. I have seen what rattlesnakes and gambling can do to men. My warning to our future generation included every form of gambling. Never attempt to get something for nothing. I beg you, dear friends, to let my advice sink in deep and think kindly of the Old Rounder who was not afraid to advise you." Antonio Mazzanovich, Troop F, 6th United States Calvary, Fort Grant, Arizona Territory, 1881.

A Genuine Slavonian
The Slavonian Assassin, San Francusco Chronicle, June 1871:   Austrian George Sharksovich (son of a shark) was not an Austrian by birth, as was supposed but a genuine Slavonian.  A very large element of the Slavonians are a rough, vagrant rabble given to drunkedness, gambling, robbery and murder.

Apache Chief Geronimo
 Three o'clock was the time that had been agreed upon as the time for surrender. The Lieutenant wired Colonel Carr for instructions. I happened to be standing alongside Geronimo's pony and when the old rascal was not looking, I tried to nip one of the silver trinkets which dangled from his buckskin saddlebag: but I failed, as he caught me in the act. Geronimo was a fine specimen of the Apache Indian, with high cheekbones, a very determined face, straight mouth, thin lips. On this occasion he was all 'dolled up' in his best, with a long war bonnet, the feathers of which trailed down on each side of his pony. Antonio Mazzanovich, Troop F, 6th U S Calvary, 1881.

Gunfighter  Three Finger Petrovich Leaves Town
 His partner, Petrovich, not to be left out of the gun play, drew his pocket I.X.L. pistol but unfortunately not having the practice of Tom Carrol, shot off two fingers of his own hand. When the fight ended Perasich was dying on the floor, more that a dozen shots were found in the woodwork, Petrovich, with two fingers missing, left town for more peaceful surroundings and Tom Carroll was never to be seen again. The Vigilantes formed a posse to find Tom Carroll.  French Restaurant and Saloon. Panamint News, November 26, 1874.

Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Irish-Slavonian War and Gunfights
Slavonians and Chinese in Carson City during the 1870 s cut and mauled each other so often that the court devised a rather perfunctory system of fines. But the clash between Italians and Slavonians employed on railroad gangs proved more serious. In one encounter, north of Reno, four Italians were killed in a single night and guards had to be posted to protect the Latins from their former European neighbors. Tonopah Bonanza Newpaper: Another lively event was the  Austrian-Mexican War out of Tonopah.  The Slavonians felt it wasn t enough to fight Chinese and Italians. Sacramento Daily Union, July 7, 1863: Marko Milinovich was shot and killed by an Irishman at his San Francisco Saloon and Hotel at Virginia City on July 4, 1863.

Matulich, Indians, Whiskey and Piracy
A report was sent to the Governor by De Mezieres: "Likewise I am informed by courier that the persons named Jeronimo Matulich and Juan Hamilton continue to make journeys to the mouth of the Trinity, buying horses and mules off the Indians who live there. These traders go in by land as far as the Bidais Nation, and try to arouse the interior tribes." De Mezieres further reports: "That a man named Matulich had gone to the mouth of the Neches River and there he was selling liquor to the Indians and maligning the governor." On August 8, 1774 the Governor ordered the arrest of Jeronimo Matulich. Matulich was an inhabitant of Mobile and took the Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity to his Britannic Majesty King George III in 1764. Matulich appeared in many court cases in New Orleans in the 1760's and 1770's dealing with piracy, indebtedness and other sundry matters. In Herbert Eugene Bolton's book "Athanse De Mezieres and the Louisiana-Texas Frontier, 1768-1780.

Slavonians in San Francisco
Alaska Herald, August 15, 1869:  The Slavonian race is well represented in the large percentage of foreigners who inhabit this city. All its members are more or less civilized; that is to say they are not savages. The mercantile portion is principally engaged in the fruit trade; others devote their attention mainly to keeping bar-rooms, coffee-houses, restaurants etc. All are prosperous. The secret of their prosperity is in their clannish habits. The Slavonians in San Francisco are classed into three distinct societies. Some are Austrians (Croatians), others are Turks (Hercegovinans), the remainder Russians (not many). They retain all their pristine instincts of jealousy, lust, vindictiveness and other animal passions.

Books Available

Eterovich, Adam S. Gold Rush Pioneers From Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Boka Kotor. San Carlos: Ragusan Press, 2003, 2527 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA 94070. Soft Cover, 81/2x11. $25.00. Covers the Gold Rush of 1848 in California and the Silver Boom of 1859 in Nevada. Included are the saloons, coffee saloons, and restaurants. All pioneers are listed in an extensive Index.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatia and Croatians at the Lost Colony, 1585-1590. San Carlos: Ragusan Press. 2003. Soft Cover, 8 1/2 x 11, 156 pages. Illustrated. $25.00. The first English colony in America.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatian Contributions to San Francisco from 1849-1949 to Restaurants, Coffee Saloons, Oyster Saloons, Saloons, Liquor, Importers-Exporters, Fruits-Produce, Fishermen-Oystermen and Mariners. San Carlos: Ragusan Press, 2003. Soft Cover. 215 pages. Illustrated. $25.00. Make check to Adam S. Eterovich, 2527 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA 94070. Phone 650-592-1190. E-Mail

Eterovich, Adam S. A Guide to Croatian Genealogy. San Carlos, Calif.: Ragusan Press, 1995. 50 pages. Booklet. $14.00. Includes Maps, Translations, Archives.

Eterovich, Adam S. A Guide and Index to Croatian Coats of Arms. San Carlos: Ragusan Press, 2003. 70 pages. Soft Cover. Spiral Bound. $15.00. An index and guide to the Nobility of Croatia. Over 7000 names and variations. Eterovich, Adam S. Croatian Popes and Saints and the Croatian Checkered Arms. San Carlos: Ragusan Press, 1998. 60 pages. $15.00. A booklet containing all forms of family and state arms with the Croatian checkered arms. Thirteen Popes had similar Arms.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatians in California, 1849-1999. San Carlos, Ca: Ragusan Press, 2000. 650 pages. $30.00. Gold Rush pioneers, the wild west-saloons, restaurants, farms, orchards, vineyards, fishermen, music, celebrations, societies, churches and 1000's of individuals. 800 biographies. 115 Illustrations.

Eterovich, Adam S. and Simich, Jerry L. General Index to Croatian Pioneers in California, 1849-1999. San Carlos, Ca.: Ragusan Press. 1999. 370 pages. $30.00. An Index by Name, Date, Occupation or Activity, Location, Town of Origin and Reference Source. Abstracted from cemeteries, voting registers, census, society records church records and other source. 45,000 individuals plus mariages.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatian Pioneers in America, 1685-1900. San Carlos, Ca.: Ragusan Press, 1979. 205 pages. $20.00. Covers those that came to the Southern United States and to the West for the Gold Rush.

Eterovich, Adam S. Marco Polo Croatian Adventurer. San Carlos. Calif.: Ragusan Press, 1987. 12 page Booklet. $6.00. Marko Polo born on Island of Korcula, Dalmatia, Croatia.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatia in the New World: Columbus, The Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Saint Vlaho (Saint Blaise) Patron Saint of Dubrovnik. San Carlos, Calif.: Ragusan Press, 1993. Booklet. $8.00. Four Croatians with Columbus.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatia in the New World: Sebastian Cabot's Voyage to the Rio De La Plata, 1526-1530. San Carlos, Calif.: Ragusan Press, 1990. Booklet $6.00. Croatian officers and mariners with Cabot. Cabot could be Croatian.

Eterovich, Adam S. Croatia in the New World: The Verrazano Voyages to America and Canada, 1523-1524. San Carlos, Calif.: Ragusan Press, 1990. Booklet $6.00. New England was first named New Dalmatia. Verrazano could be Croatian.

Send check to

Adam S. Eterovich
2527 San Carlos Ave.
San Carlos, Ca. 94070.

Phone 650-592-1190.

Thank you,
Adam S. Eterovich

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    Wonderful article...very interesting
  • Comment #3 (Posted by nick kelcec)

    toliko puno povijesti
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