Predstavitev knjige Pregled zgodovine slovenske skupnosti v Calumetu

datum: 08.02.2021

kategorija: Novice SIM


Ob kulturnem prazniku smo pripravili predstavitev knjige mag. Dominika Janeza Herleta z naslovom
Pregled zgodovine slovenske skupnosti v Calumetu, Michigan

Pri pogovoru so sodelovali poleg avtorja še prof. dr. Matjaž Klemenčič in dr. Irena Markovič, ki je pogovor tudi vodila.

Prilagamo povzetek predstavitve v angleškem jeziku.

The book An overview of the history of the Slovenian community in Calumet, Michigan was presented by lead presenter Mrs. Irena Marković, PhD, editor Prof. Matjaž Klemenčič, Phd, and the author Mr. Dominik Janez Herle, M.A.

Mrs. Marković first highlighted key facts from the life of the author: Dominik Janez Herle was born on October 25, 1980 in Ljubljana. In 1999, he went to the United States to study philosophy at Ave Maria College in Michigan. After returning to Slovenia, he continued his studies at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, where in 2005 he enrolled in a postgraduate program in American Studies. In 2009, he received the 2nd prize from the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenes Abroad for his master's thesis, “History of the Slovenian Community in Calumet, Michigan,” written under the mentorship of Prof. Dr. Matjaž Klemenčič.  In 2010 Mr. Herle worked for the European Parliament in Brussels for a short time, and then in 2011 he enrolled in a postgraduate program at the Faculty of Theology, University of Ljubljana, where he completed his studies in 2017. He publishes articles in the fields of history and humanities. 

Mrs. Marković then went on to describe the book itself: the book has two basic emphases, which enrich the understanding of Slovene historiography.  It systematically presents the formation and development of the Slovenian community in Calumet, Michigan, and evaluates the importance of Slovene priests for the long-term existence of the Slovene community there.

The author systematically and analytically researched the Slovene community in Calumet and gives a comprehensive overview of the history of the town, from its beginning to the time when the population of Calumet markedly decreased and the settlement lost its original economic significance.  Some economic and social activities are described in detail.  Reminiscences from Slovenian journalist Ivan Molek, who came to Calumet in 1903, contribute greatly to the book.  Mr. Molek described the importance of individuals who contributed to the history of the community through their active role in social life, going beyond narrow local events, and stressed the importance of the labor movement and individuals who, through their active role in it, left their mark on the community.         

Mrs. Marković then described each chapter of the book in brief: In the first chapter, the author considers the establishment and operation of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, which was one of the world's top producers of copper and oversaw the development of the community of Calumet. Further on, he describes in detail the mining strike of 1913-14, during which striking workers demanded an eight-hour workday, an increase in daily wages, recognition of the union, a procedure for filing grievances, and a guarantee that they would not have to work alone underground, despite the introduction of a one-man drill.  The strike was broken, but the company quietly introduced some of the reforms demanded any way.  The author also explains the cause of the tragedy in the Italian Hall on the 24th of December 1913, when the union, the Western Federation of Miners, organized a Christmas party for the families and children of the striking workers.  Seventy-three people, most of them children, died in a crush on the stairs after a false or mistake cry of fire in the crowded hall.  The author also describes the activities of various ethnic communities and the Slovene community in Calumet in particular from 1860 to 1960.

In the second chapter, the author presents the work of Slovenian fraternal benefit organizations, such as St. Joseph’s Lodge, which was founded in Calumet.  He describes in detail the operation of the American Slovenian Catholic Union (Kranjsko slovenska katoliška jednota), and the Slovene National Benefit Society (Slovenska narodna podporna jednota).  In the third chapter, the author describes the publishing of Slovene newspapers in the U.S., such as Amerikanski Slovenec, Glasnik, Ameriška domovina, and Ave Maria, and introduces the work of Ivan Molek, who was a very influential writer and editor in Calumet.

In chapters four and five, the author explains the reasons for the intensive settlement of Slovenes in Calumet at a time when the activities of Slovene missionaries in North America were underway.  These first and second generation missionaries included Irenej Friderik Baraga, Ignacij Mrak, and Janez Vertin.  The author describes the ecclesiastical governance of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the broader context of the development and organization of the Catholic Church in America.  In Chapter Six, the author systematically describes the activities of Catholic parishes and other religious communities in Calumet, which contributed to the development of the town itself.

In chapters seven and eight, the author describes the life of Slovenian immigrants in the parish of St. Joseph Church (now known as St. Paul the Apostle Church). He presents biographies of Slovene priests who worked in Calumet such as Jože Zalokar, Marko Pakiž, Luka Klopčič, Peter Šprajcar, and Jože Kichak).  The author outlines the role of Slovene priests in the Slovene community in Calumet in preserving the mother tongue and building churches.

In the ninth and tenth chapters, the author analyzes the importance of Slovene Bishops Ignacij Mrak and Janez Vertin in the Diocese of Marquette, their role in the development of social and ecclesiastical life in the USA, and analyzes the connection between Slovene settlers and the missionary work of Baraga's successors.

The last two chapters present the historical development of heritage tourism in Calumet and its role in preserving cultural heritage. The author evaluates the importance of various organizations, exhibitions, and educational programs for the preservation of natural heritage in Calumet today.

Dominik then presented additional information about Calumet and its Slovene community.  The village of Calumet is located in Calumet Township, in Houghton County, located in the State of Michigan, in what is known as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Before 1929, the village of Calumet was named Red Jacket.  Even before the Calumet Conglomerate Lode was discovered in Calumet, miners from England (especially Cornwall), Scotland, Ireland, and Germany were already working in the Lake Superior copper district.  Soon, immigrants from all over the world came to Calumet because of the work provided by Calumet & Hecla, which at the time was one of the best copper mining companies in the world.  The mining company and its employees also needed a community to provide goods and services.  Around the year 1863, the first Slovenes settled near Calumet: Jožef Vertin and Peter Rupe. They opened a retail store in Hancock and opened a mine at Isle Royale. In 1867, Vertin opened a branch store in Calumet, followed by Rupe the following year.  Soon after their arrival many Slovenes came to Calumet. Most of them were immigrants from all parts of Gorjanci, including Vinica, Črnomelj, Semič, and Poljane; the area soon became known as "Mala Dolenjska". In 1875, Peter Ruppe Jr., a Slovene American, was elected president of the village of Calumet. On September 17, 1882, the Slovenes founded St. Joseph’s Lodge, which became the oldest Slovenian benefit society in America.

Due to the growing number of Slovene Catholics in Calumet, in 1888 Bishop Vertin sent the priest Jožef Zalokar to the Slovene community there. As the Church of the Sacred Heart was too small for all of the Slovenes and other Catholics, Jožef Zalokar and the St. Joseph’s Lodge made a plan for the construction of a new Slovenian church.  In 1889, the Slovenian community laid the foundation stone for a new wood frame church building. On November 29, 1890, the church of St. Joseph, worth $30,000, was blessed by Bishop Vertin.  In 1902 the church of St. Joseph was engulfed in fire and the church was destroyed. Shortly after the fire, the Slovenes convened a meeting with the intention of building a new church.

In January 1903, the so-called building committee convened, chaired by the merchant Janez Vertin. For the purpose of building the church, the congregation established the St. Agnes Lodge to aid in the purchase of the altars, and the St. Aloysius Lodge to assist in the purchase of an organ.  The new church was built of Jacobsville sandstone; inside there are three historic altars, a large organ, and 21 hand-painted stained glass windows. The total cost of building the church, along with furnishing its interior, was $100,000. On May 28, 1905, Bishop Frederick Eis solemnly blessed the bells for the new church, and on June 18, 1908, Bishop Eis officially consecrated the church. In the year of 1966, the parish of St. Joseph, the Italian parish of the Assumption of Mary, the French parish of St. Anne and the Croatian parish of Saint John the Baptist united in the new parish of St. Paul the Apostle, in the historic St. Joseph church building.

In 1901, the Slovene community in Calumet began publishing a weekly newspaper called Glasnik. The writer Ivan Molek came to Calumet in 1903, and in 1905 he became the editor of Glasnik. Under Molek's leadership, there were more and more articles espousing free-thinking views in Glasnik, which was not to the liking of the priest Luka Klopčič, then pastor at St. Joseph’s, who wanted to have a strictly Catholic newspaper. As they had different views on things, Molek published a farewell letter in Glasnik on the 31th of August, 1906. On the same day that the Glasnik published Molek's resignation, Molek wrote a long letter to the newspaper Glas svobode, a kind of introductory letter to the ‘scandalous affair of a priest’. Priest Luka Klopčič called a public meeting on the 16th of September 1906, which took place in the still unfinished church of St. Joseph. Ivan Molek attended the meeting with about 50 of his supporters. About 500 men were already present. In the church, Father Klopcic whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and when they discovered Molek among them, he was beaten and almost lynched.

The quarrel was stopped by an off-duty Slovenian police officer, thus ending the attack on Molek. The rector of the cathedral, Father Pinten (later bishop of Superior, Wisconsin and Grand Rapids Michigan), who had grown up in Calumet, then made himself known, having been sent by the bishop to investigate.  He demanded that everyone leave the church. Molek, Klopčič, and others were subsequently questioned by Bishop Frederick Eis. In the end, Klopčič keept his post, and Molek found himself on the blacklist, but felt he had earned a moral victory. Molek soon left Calumet, but returned to visit twenty years later. In a letter to a friend, he described his years in Michigan’s Copper Country as the best years of his life.

Professor Klemenčič wrapped up the presentation by placing Domink’s work in its academic context.  He noted that the beginnings of the study of Slovene settlements in the USA are represented in Trunk's and Zavertnik's books on the history of American Slovenes. Both authors interviewed the leaders of the Slovene community in individual settlements by mail. Thus their information was limited. They also took into account US federal census data, first for 1910 and second for 1920.  Another important source was the directory of societies of Yugoslav organizations from the period between the two world wars. After the Second World War, Janez Arnež dealt with Slovene settlements quite comprehensively, but only on the basis of sources from Slovene organizations for New York, New York, and Bridgeport Connecticut.  Professor Klemenčič noted that he himself dealt comprehensively with settlements in Cleveland, Ohio, Pueblo, Colorado, Leadville, Colorado, and San Francisco, California, based on archival records of Slovenian organizations, Slovenian American and local newspapers, archives of the Catholic Church, city archives and national all-American statistics, and other national data.  Each of these histories represents the history of the cities in question, the extent and space of settlement, the history of fraternal benefit organizations, Catholic ethnic parishes, national homes, the political participation of Slovenian Americans, and relations with the old homeland. This framework also includes the work of Maruša Koprivšek Verbič and Dominik Herle on Slovene communities in Denver, Colorado and Calumet, Michigan, and in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by the late Mihael Kuzmič. The master's degree and diploma theses in which my students study the history of additional communities, in addition to the already mentioned settlements, are also worth mentioning, including the history of Slovenian settlements in Barberton, Ohio, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lorain, Ohio, Kansas City, Missouri, and Joliet Illinois.