My great grandfather was born on February 14, 1874 in Smartno ob Dreti, Nazarje, Slovenia, Austria. His parents were Francis Kocevar and Jenie Prisel (they are listed as his parents on his marriage license). We know he had at least one brother as one of his nephews came to the America, but we do not know anything about his siblings. In fact we know very little about his life in Austria ~ my great aunt told me recently that she thought her father served in the Austrian military before coming to America, but we don't have any information at this point to confirm her recollection. His last residence was Sentjost, Slovenia, Austria.
My great grandfather came to the United States on October 4, 1903. Valentin traveled aboard the S.S. La Touraine, sailing from Harve, France on September 26, 1903 and arriving in New York on October 4, 1903. How he got from Austria to France is still a mystery.
|SS La Touraine|
The Ship's Manifest shows at line 22 ~ Valentin Kocevar - 29, male, single, farmer, able to read and write, Slovene, last residence St. Josta [Sentjost], traveling to Black Diamond [Washington], contact ~ a friend Johan Dobnik, Box 612, Black Diamond.
|Manifest for SS La Touraine|
|Valentin Kocevar & Antonia Zagradisnik|
Their Wedding Day
The Marriage Certificate has not only their marriage information but also their signatures. The Marriage Return on file in King County, Washington lists Valentin Kocevar's parents as Francis Kocevar and Jenie Prisel and Antonia Zagradisnik's parents as Anthony Zagradisnik and Annie Pevec. Their ages are off on the Return but it also appears that document was not filled in by the couple ~ the rest of the information clearly shows this Return is for the correct couple.
|1910 US Census ~ Ancestry.com|
|Mary & Antonia Kocevar|
I love this picture of my grandmother on the chair!
|1920 US Census ~ Ancestry.com|
Valentin & Antonia on their 20th Wedding Anniversary
this photo was taken at their farm
|1930 US Census ~ Ancestry.com|
My great grandfather died on March 16 1955 at the age of 81. His obituary stated in part:
- Mr. Kochevar, who was 81 years old, was born in Yugoslavia and came to this county in 1903. He was employed in mines in Black Diamond, Ravensdale and Taylor before acquiring a farm 40 years ago. His wife, Antonia, died in 1928. Two sons and four daughters as well as 12 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter survived him.
|Antonia's china pattern|
|Valentin's coffee mug which held 24 ounces ~ he soaked biscotti in it - yum!|
My great grandparents purposefully settled in an area with a significant Slovenian community and kept up their ethnic and religious traditions. On a recent visit to Maple Valley, I visited the cemetery where Valentin and Antonia are buried
|Valentin & Antonia's Farm|
So today, on the anniversary of his birth a heartfelt thanks (Hvala lepa) to my great grandfather Valentin Kocevar, who had the drive and determination to travel via ship and train across Europe and the USA to start a new life in Washington and to make a better life for his descendants.