Bio: Slovnik, John & Josephine


Surnames: Slovnic, Korzic, Plevnik, Artac, Zallar, Van Loos, Govek, Dolence, Govek, Koschak, Verschay, Zupancic, Ruzic, Zupanc, Trunkel, Vivoda, Kutzler, Bombach, Abel, Cesnik, Prosens, Zorman, Ryoti, Goeke

----Source: Family Scrapbook

John (Janez) Slovnik was born in Notranjih Goric pre Ljubljana, Slovenia, Jugoslavia on August 29, 1882 - only son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Slovnik. He had three sisters. At the age of four his father died. John was taken in by an aunt and uncle who had no children. He lived with them until he was old enough to join the military service (18 years old) at Vienna, Austria. His hitch was for three years so he was through when he was 21. He then sailed to America, arriving in New York; then on to Waukegan, Illinois. He lived in a boarding house with some Slovenian people by the name of Root. He found employment at U.S. Steel Corporation.

Josephine (Jozefa) Korzic was born on March 19, 1887 in Raketna, Slovenia, Jugoslavia. In 1905 when she was 18 years of age she sailed to America, same route, and came to the same area. Her trip was paid for by her two brothers who were already here. She was the youngest of ten children.

§he met John the same year she came and the next May 27, 1906 they were married at "Mother of God Church" (a Slovenian Parish) by the Reverend John Plevnik in Waukegan on Tenth Street. They were both Catholic. She was 19 years old and he 24.

From 1906 to 1912 they continued living in Waukegan with John working at American Steel Company. During this period four children were born. First a girl in 1907, but lost her due to illness at 18 months. John came March 29, 1908; Josie January 13, 1910 and Frank November 24, 1911.

In the Spring of 1912 they moved to Willard. They stayed with the Artac family until they could clear land to build a house. The area was densely wooded with lots of brush and rock. A little house was built of logs, which later was the barn. In 1913 they built a better house closer to the road or wagon track. This was where Mary was born September 20, 1913. Two years later Steffie was born December 25, 1915.

Our house was small and cozy. The walls were covered with some kind of tin. There were no cracks so it was warm. We had no basement, it was cellar. We used wood to heat and cook with. We had a pump outside for water, kerosene lamps for light and an outhouse. Most all our food was made and grown from scratch. Raised on the farm were milk, eggs, meat, vegetables and grains. The supplies were bought from a farm store which was run by some people by the name of Zallar in town.

I started school at the age of six. The school was a very small white structure. One room with all eight grades together. I remember only one teacher - a Miss Van Loos. The church was also very small, next door to the school. The pastor was Father Novak.

My little friends were Annie Govek and Annie Dolence. Also have a fond memory of a little boy about seven years old. He'd wait for me on top of the hill, each school morning, take my hand and help me over big drifts of snow in the winter and mud puddles in the Spring. As of today in his golden years, a devoted hus¬band, a proud parent and a respected citizen of his little community, I'm speaking of Frank Koschak.

Our neighbors were the Goveks, Dolences, Koschaks, Verschays, and Zupancics. Along the road toward Willard were Ruzichs, Zupancs and Trunkels. Toward Greenwood were the Vivodas, Kutzlers, Bombachs, and Abels. The Artacs and Cesniks lived somewhere near the church. The Zupancics left before we did and Prosens rented their farm. John bought forty acres across the road, east, for pasture. It was nice. There was a creek running through with a lot of brush and trees. We had a swimming hole there. We picked blueberries. John and Frank fished. We loved it.

During our stay I think Willard had its own natural beauty. A lot of the area was still untouched by man. The woods and meadows were beautiful, especially in Spring, full of wild flowers of every color and the wild tree blossoms. The animal life was scampering about. The creeks and streams were so clear you could see the bottom, with little tadpoles, fish and crabs swimming about. Winters were pretty too. The sledding and sleighing was fun.

Several winters John went back to Waukegan to work. After the fall chores were done, he'd leave and wouldn't be back until the spring work began. Josephine managed by herself with the children. I remember a phonograph John brought back. You had to crank it and it had a big horn for a speaker. We enjoyed the records. He also brought us clothes. When he didn't go to Waukegan some winters he corded wood and made money that way.

Other things that I vaguely remember; (A fire!) My Dad had a large pile of stumps that were very dry, so he decided to burn it at dusk. It made a huge bonfire, then the wind changed toward the house and buildings. You could see it for miles around. All the neighbors near and far came on horseback with buckets to help put it out. We were so frightened. The house was already hot. We could have lost all! We were lucky for once.

We also lost a mare that we loved dearly. She was so tame, almost human. She was gray. My Dad would hitch was her to the wagon. Frank and John would hold the reins.

She knew the way to town. They would get supplies and red she'd come home with them safe. She was to have a pony. My Dad worked her in the field all day. I guess they let her have too much cold water. Anyway she lay down, the pony was born dead and she didn't make it either. It was so sad, we all cried.

A flu epidemic, during World War I in 1918, made a lot of people very sick. It wiped out some families - we were ok. Some boy got lost in the woods and froze his feet before he was found.

Our stay in Willard was ten years. We had an auction in the Spring of 1922. We sold everything but our clothes. My Dad took us to Greenwood and bought us all new clothes. Patent leather shoes for us girls, straw hats with white ribbon streamers and navy spring coats. The boys got new suits. It was very sad for us kids. We couldn't bear to see our pets sold. We had some ponies that were so cute. Frank cried all the way to Waukegan on the train - he didn't want to leave. We sold to Louis Zorman. When1 we left my Dad was 40 years old, my Mother 36, John was 14, Josie 12, Frank 10, Mary 8 and Steffie 6.

Brother John comments: that my Dad went from heavenly Waukegan to hell in Willard. He thinks it was a big error. When John started school, most of the time he couldn't go. In the winter they were completely snowed in. In the spring it was a sea of mud. It was better roads and everything by the time I started.

There was the episode about who stole all the honey in our woods. I remember my Dad, taking blankets and a rifle and going to the woods at night. He was very angry. We were so scared at the time.

Three members of family left: John Slovnik, 830 Adams Street, Waukegan, Illinois; Mary Slovnik Ryan, 1611 Dugdale Road, Waukegan, Illinois; Stephanie Slovnik Ryoti, 17 Dorchester Court, Waukegan, Illinois. Frank Slovnik deceased at 52. Josephine deceased at 52.

Submitted by Mary Slovnik Ryan and Phyllis Goeke



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