The journey to the Adriatic island of Brac, my grandparents' homeland, has finally been fulfilled with the help and direction of my cousin, Petar Skrmeta, who lives in the city of Split on the Croatian mainland.
Confirming the copy I have of the birth certificate, Anton Sekul and Helena Skrmeta are documented as the parents of Vincentia Sekul, born in the village of Bobovisce in September of 1884.
The church baptismal records, scribed in Latin, show the godparents were Maragarite and Mathew Trebotic. The baptism was performed by Fr. Stephonus and was witnessed by Nicholas Radic.
The parish church, set in this little rural hamlet, is a beautiful example of Mediterranean architecture. Along the hillside, families built sturdy small cottages of stone with terra cotta and slate shingles. The front of the homes face the sea while the back is where the olive trees and grape vines grew. Today, they show their weathered and worn age, but you'll also find renovating and rebuilding by new owners from all over the world who have fallen in love by this natural rustic beauty.
Bobovisce and nearby villages of Milna and Lozisce have seen their inhabitants dwindle by war, disease, political and economic influences. In the early 1900s, as many as 600 people lived in this area. Today, after 114 years, only 7 inhabitants remain in Bobovisce.
As I drove the entire length of this incredible island, I was saddened initially with the loss of my heritage, as it once was. A life that was hard and simple. Its people worked hard and overcame adversity that my generation and my children will never know. But as we now develop and promote tourism on the Coast, so does Croatia. A large part of the economy is earned by marketing its beautiful beaches, rustic mountain views, distinctive olive oils and award-winning varieties of excellent wines.
I also found faces of some people here vaguely familiar and recognized the over expressive vocal and physical gesturing I hear and see in conversations among the Croatian men and women of the Gulf Coast!
Bittersweet was this wonderful trip of a lifetime. My brother and I began discussing this adventure before his passing last year. Even though he couldn't make it, I do feel his spirit is with me. I am so thankful for this opportunity to share and dedicate this blog in his memory.