Ivan “John” Kos[s]

Ivan “John” Kos[s]
birth: 19 November 1892 in Dubranec, Austria-Hungary to Josip Opos and Katarina Cvetković Kos
death: 20 October 1970 in Gary, Lake, Indiana
burial: Oak Hill Cemetery, Glen Park, Lake, Indiana

marriage: 28 January 1917 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Mara “Mary Violet” Kos[s]
birth: 18 July 1900 in Dubranec, Austria-Hungary to Josip “Joseph” and Jana Kata “Anna Katherine” Kos[s]
death: 5 June 1985 in Scottsdale, Maricopa, Arizona
burial: Oak Hill Cemetery, Glen Park, Lake, Indiana

Children of Mara “Mary Violet” Kos[s] and Ivan “John” Kos[s]:

  • Dorothy Elizabeth Koss (1918-2001) m. Orlo Guy Leininger
  • Anne Marie Katherine Koss (1919-2006) m. Michael Andrew Milinovich
  • George Joseph Kos (1921-2006) m. Elizabeth Dorothy “Betty” Altomere
  • Mary Louise “Mary Lou” Koss (1931-1999) m. 1st Paul Julius Domonkos m. 2nd Martin Jerome “Jerry” Vavrak m. 3 & 4 Robert Eugene Hamilton m. 5th Philip Savio

Ancestor here lived in:

Gary, Lake County, Indiana

Other Information:

Ivan “John” Kos[s] was the second son born to Josip Opos and Katarina Cvetković Kos on the 19 November 1892 in Dubranec, Austria-Hungary. His mother died in childbirth when he was 9 and his father remarried soon after. As a child, John was attacked as he tried get honey from a bee hive, sustaining over 100 bites. He was not thought to live but he did. Afterwards, his vision was diminished. He had also been born color blind. In his later years, he developed cataracts. At age 17, he accompanied his brother Janko “Stephen” Kos to America. They departed Le Havre, Seine-Inferior, France and arrived in New York via the La Gascogne on 6 April 1909. John had $10.00, was recorded as being 5’3″ with auburn hair, brown eyes, and light complexion. He continued to grow as he was 5’7″ in his later years. He claimed to be meeting a friend, Pavao Kos, in the U.S. John and his brother stated they were going to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they had secured employment. John worked as a laborer in Pittsburgh and hearing that there was money elsewhere, went to work for the Pullman Company. He took the rails out west and when the job was complete, returned to Pennsylvania. There, he learned that money was to be made in Chicago so he moved there. Meanwhile, his brother who had a wife and child in Austria-Hungary, decided to return home. John loved America and stated he would never return to the old country, which later became Yugoslavia and now, Croatia. Throughout his working life, John continued to send money back to his remaining family members. It was in Chicago while working for Pullman that he met a former villager, Josip “Joseph” Kos[s], a distant relative. Joseph arranged for John to marry his daughter Mara “Mary Violet Kos[s] and they wed in Chicago on 28 January 1917. A child came quickly and the family decided to relocate to Gary, Lake, Indiana where employment was plentiful by late 1918. There, their second child was born the following year. The family lived with John’s in-laws in a rental home at 1521 Garfield Street. He and his father-in-law would bicycle to work at I.I.B. Teaming Company. Both came down with influenza in February 1919, his father-in-law dying from its complications. John became the sole bread winner of a family of seven. The family moved to a home at 2636 Harrison Street. He found work as a laborer with U.S. Steel. One winter night, the men had fallen asleep at work waiting for a shipment of ore to be delivered. As the train pulled in, John realized that one of his co-workers was fast asleep on the tracks. As he pulled the man to safety, John slipped and his leg was crushed. He became an amputee. The home they were living in flooded from the nearby Calumet River so, with the money he was awarded for his heroism from his company, the family purchased a farmhouse at 336 West Ridge Road in Gary. It was so far out in the country that the street car line did not travel there. Madison was not an existing street. John, with a wooden leg, relearned to ride a bike to get to work. He grew vegetables and maintained rabbits and chicken to supplement his income. He also grew grapes and was known for his fine wine. Unfortunately, his culture clashed with the laws of Prohibition and the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on the sand dune across from the family home. John had awakened by their noisy automobiles and got his family to safety, hiding them in the fruit cellar of the home where they spent a cold and frightened night. After the accident, John was promoted to craneman and he continued to be employed at US Steel until the mid 1950s when he retired. John was a Roman Catholic and planted the tree on the west front of St. Marks Church. He would walk there to attend 8 AM Mass on Sundays. He and his wife became involved with the formation of St. Joseph the Worker Roman Catholic Croatian Church. Although John drove a crane at work, his poor vision did not allow him to pass a driver’s license test so he relied on his wife to drive him. John longed to be a U S citizen but he could not read or write; he had learned to use cursive to write his name. His youngest daughter tutored him to pass the citizenship exam. She was rewarded with a new bicycle when he successfully naturalized in 1940 in Hammond, Lake, Indiana. John and Mary had a new home built on the east side of Glen Park after his retirement but their stay there was short as their son, who they had given their Ridge Road home to, had decided to relocate to Florida. John and Mary moved back to their former home where they were joined by his widowed mother-in-law, his oldest daughter and grandchild. In his retirement, Pop or Gramps as he was fondly known, liked to tinker with small appliances. He built a hand held vacuum cleaner in the early 1960s, made scooters for his grandchildren out of old roller skates, and kept their bicycles in tip top condition. John loved to dance and in his younger years, played a tamburitza. He also loved to play cards with his male friends in the neighborhood. He was a member of the Croatian Fraternal Union. John died on 20 October 1970 at Methodist Hospital, Gary, Lake, Indiana of congestive heart failure. He had been suffering with a bad cold for a few weeks before his death. John was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Glen Park, Lake, Indiana.

The family had a name change after arriving in the U.S. Manifests show they left Austria-Hungary with the surname Kos. By 1917, however, the name was changed to Koss as is shown on John’s wedding certificate. 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. The name was officially changed for John by court order when he naturalized in 1940. It was at that time that they also Americanized their first names. John’s son, George, changed his name back to Kos while serving in the Coast Guard during World War 2.

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


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