“Hidden In A Letter” Mystery Solved

Last weekend, I wrote the blog, Hidden In A Letter, in which I was trying to connect the Ohio Stephanz’s to the Kansas Stephanz’s. Little did I know the mystery man was right in front of me the whole time.

I was confusing my generations a bit, but it was the same family nonetheless. I was also so focused on the fact that MY Stephanz was in Kansas that I was not seeing the facts staring me right in the face! It took two other people seeing my conundrum to help me put the puzzle pieces in the right place.

Back one generation of the Kansas family is my third great-grandfather, Matijas Štefanc married to Marija Fugina. I did not have much information on him except that he was born on 17 Sep 1845 in Stari Trg ob Kolpi, Slovenia, and that his son was also Matijas Štefanc who immigrated to Kansas. It turns out that my third great-grandfather was living a double life. Newspaper articles helped me figure out the secrets.

Matijas Štefanc married Marija Fugina in June 1866 at the Parish Church of St. Jozef in Stari Trg ob Kolpi, Slovenia. In 1867, their son Matijas was born at #10 in Dolenji Radenci, Slovenia. According to a newspaper article, the two separated around 1869 and Marija immigrated to Kansas to be with family.

Another article states that Matijas left his wife and son in Slovenia around 1865 (it was 1869) and came to America. In 1872, he met and married Clara Latour in Toledo, Ohio. They had three children together. They also had an adopted son who went back to his birth name sometime after 1911.

In 1892, the son, Matijas, travels from Slovenia and visits his father. This is when it became apparent that ‘ole Matijas had a second family and was still married! He makes it legal and divorces his first wife (I have not found a record of the divorce) and remarries Clara in October of 1892. Eight years later, Clara died. A month after her death, he remarried Marija on 15 October 1900 who immigrated here on 26 June 1900. She died in 1904 of tuberculosis.

Yes, he married both wives twice!

Now I have two more 2nd great-grand aunts and a 2nd great-grand uncle giving me numerous cousins! My 1st cousin 1x removed (my mom’s first cousin who is four years younger than me) will be meeting one of those descendants soon! They both have the same 2nd great-grandfather in Matijas (1845) but two different 2nd great-grandmothers.

In the letter, my great-grandfather, Matijas (1894), mentions he’s staying with Alice. I believe this Alice is his first cousin, Matija’s and Clara’s daughter’s daughter.

Look at all these cousins! And I haven’t even traced the bottom two lines!

And, I owe it all to a letter my great-grandfather wrote to his sister in 1916.

As always, there is more to the story, so I’ll keep digging.

Do you have ancestors you want to find out more about? Contact me. I’ll be running a holiday special soon. I also have gift certificates to purchase for that hard-to-buy person on your Christmas list.

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