My great grandfather was sort of adopted, more kind of just given away by his father when just a very young child. His ‘adoptive’ family, the Lillia’s, were open with him about what had happened, which was most unusual at the time.
As a result of his family’s giving him away he never wanted to have anything to do with them, never wanted to learn more about where he came from, and until his passing at the age of 86 in 1987 he forbade his family from looking into things. Since then the family has tried to piece together where that side of the family came from, but with little to go by it has been like climbing Everest.
We knew his origins to be Yugoslav, but that was all. In the late 1990s his sister was discovered living in South Australia, she helped fill in a few blanks about the parents and his brother, Michael (anglicised) who fought and died for Australia in World War I. We learned the mother, Eva, was Swiss-born, and the father was a bit of a prick, had an Austrian passport and was thought to be Serbian.
We learned on Thursday via church records that our great great grandfather came from Lopud, Croatia and was and Italian speaker. At the time they lived, and up until 1919 Croatia was under Austrian rule, explaining the passport mystery.
It’s nice to see pieces of the jigsaw come together, my aunt has done an amazing job.