Jana Kata “Anna Katherine” Grdenich

Jana Kata “Anna Katherine” Grdenich
birth: 21 December 1876 in Jerebic, Austria-Hungary to Janko and Yalza Elizabeta Cvekuvich Grdenic
death: 14 February 1966 in Gary, Lake, Indiana
burial: Oak Hill Cemetery, Glen Park, Lake, Indiana

marriage: 10 February 1895 in Dubranac, Austria-Hungary
Josip “Joseph” Kos
birth: 24 May 1875 in Dubranec, Austria-Hungary to Nicholas Miko and Kata Trputec Kos
death: 19 February 1919 in Gary, Lake, Indiana
burial: Oak Hill Cemetery, Glen Park, Lake, Indiana

Children of Jana Kata “Anna Katherine” Grdenich and Josip “Joseph” Kos:

  • Vincent (1897-bef 1900)
  • Thomas (1899-abt 1899)
    Mara “Mary Violet” Kos[s] (1900-1985) m. Ivan “John” Kos[s]
  • Josip “Joseph Stephen” Kos[s] (1902-1993) m. Mary Ann Farkas
  • Doro Kos (1904-1909)
  • Barbara Mary Kos (1914-1995) m. 1st Ferencz “Frank” Weigus m. 2nd Joseph Paul Milosevich

Ancestor here lived in:

  • Gary, Lake County, Indiana

Other Information:

Jana Kata “Anna Katherine,” born 21 December 1876 in Jerebic, Austria-Hungary, was the daughter of Janko and Yalza Elizabeta Cvekuvich Grdenic. Anna’s mother’s nickname, in English, was Blondie, for she was known in the small village for her thick blonde hair. The name of the country Anna was born in has changed since her time there; it became Yugoslavia and later, Croatia. Little is known of her early years. She was married at age 18 to Josip “Joseph” Kos on 10 February 1895 in Dubranec, Austria-Hungary. Dubranec was a nearby village to Jerebic. Anna was a homemaker while Joseph served in the Austrian-Hungarian calvary. In their native country, five children were born to the couple, three dying young. After Joseph sustained a medical condition he was released from the military. He decided to make his way to America. He arrived in New York on 17 January 1910. Thus, Anna became a single mother for a time. After establishing himself as a laborer on the railroads, Joseph sent for his wife and living children, Mary and Joseph. He traveled from Chicago, where he was then working, to New York City to meet them upon their arrival on the President Lincoln in July 1913. Emigration records show Anna was 5’2″ with brown hair and green eyes. The family spent their first night on American soil in a hotel in New York City. Mary recalled years later how they window shopped after dinner and were amazed with all the items available for purchase. Anna fell in love with an electric hurricane lamp on display, painted with pink roses. She asked Joseph to purchase it but he said its fragility would not survive the long railroad trip to Indiana where the family was headed. He promised to purchase one just like it when they were settled. Joseph did just that; he made his purchase at Marshall Fields in Chicago and the lamp remains in the family today. While Joseph was working in Chicago, he found his family a room to rent in the back of a church located between Adams and Jefferson Street on West Ridge Road in Gary, Indiana. The family spent their days learning English and the children were enrolled in school. Joseph found a residence in Blue Island, Cook, Illinois and it was there, in 1914 that their daughter Barbara was born. Anna took in boarders, did needlework, and child care to earn the family extra income. By 1917 the family had moved to the Lincoln Park section of Chicago. By late 1918, Joseph and Mary’s husband, John, had found work in Gary, Lake, Indiana so the family relocated there. It was in their rental home at 1521 Garfield Street that Joseph died on 19 February 1919 of broncho pneumonia,a complication of influenza. Mary mourned the loss of her husband for her remaining years. Although she understood and could speak English, she preferred to use her native Croatian. She lived with her adult children, rotating homes, through the rest of her life, assisting them with childcare and later, with taking care of her great grandchildren. She was well loved and known as Granny. In the last years of her life she suffered from dementia and was moved to a convalescent center for a few weeks before her death on 14 February 1966 in Gary. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Glen Park, Lake, Indiana next to her daughter Mary and son-in-law John. Her husband, also buried in Oak Hill, was buried in the older part of the cemetery.

The family had a name change after arriving in the U.S. Manifests show they left Austria-Hungary with the surname Kos and were still using that spelling when their youngest daughter, Barbara, was born in Chicago. Between 1914 and 1917, however, the name was changed to Koss as is shown on Mary’s wedding certificate. Joseph’s death record reflects the spelling Koss. This submitter asked Mary why the name was changed; she stated that it was a recommendation of a clerk at Ellis Island. He said to think about it as most American names are longer than three letters. The family continued to use the original spelling but as they became assimilated, decided to add a letter to their surname. It was at that time that also Americanized their first names. Barbara continued to use the original surname spelling of her maiden name throughout her life.
Interestingly, a Tony Kos is buried next to Joseph Koss in Oak Hill Cemetery. No relationship between the individuals has been discovered. Tony’s burial date was 20 November 1934. Cemetery records are not clear as to when both plots were purchased and by whom. Kos is a common name in Croatia, meaning crow or blackbird, so Tony may not be related. Other Kos[s]’ in the cemetery with unknown relationship to this family are Nick Koss 30 Sept 1948 and John Kos 27 January 1934.

Submitted by:
Lori Samuelson
Email: genealogyatheart@gmail.com

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