My great grandmother Mildred Margin is one of those figures who I should know more about, but don’t. She married Marko Mihalovich and had 2 children before they left Yugoslavia (often listed as Austria or Serbia on records of the time) for America (one of the children died sometime prior to arriving, rumor has it at sea). They had 9 more children after settling in Wall, Pennsylvania. Considering she had 10 children who lived to be adults and most of them had children, the amount of information about her between the grandchildren (that I could get, at least) has been pretty sparse.

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Mildred and her daughters. Standing from L: Alberta, Esther, Virginia, Anna, Ruth; Sitting from L: Mildred Mihalovich, Mildred Margin Mihalovich, Stella

Even the basics are unclear…starting with her name. There is no dispute about her first name being Mildred, though on her husband’s naturalization declaration of intention it’s written as Milka – Mildred being the Americanized version. Her last name, however, is another story. My mom has always insisted that her maiden name was Margin and I believe this is probably true. However, on the death certificate of her oldest child, Mildred Mihalovich Stojakovich, her son-in-law Rade wrote the name of parent as “Mildred Zorich.” On the death certificate of daughter Esther, her other son-in-law George McLister lists it as “Mildred Zorick.” Zorich/Zorick is another family name (Mildred and Marko’s daughter Anna married a Zorich), and I’m assuming Rade and George were probably just mixing them up. Her daughter Anna’s delayed birth certificate lists her full name as “Mildred Merdzan,” close to Margin, but no cigar. Yet what gives me pause is that I have never come across even 1 DNA match result with the last name Margin anywhere in their tree…and that is odd.

Next, her birthday. The census records for 1920 and 1930 estimate her birth year to be 1876 or 1875, respectively. Her daughter Anna’s delayed birth certificate estimates Mildred’s birth year to be 1876. However, her obituary lists her birth date as October 22, 1889! This is clearly an error. If this were true, she would have been 9 years old at the time of her oldest child’s birth in March of 1899. This may have been a typo for 1879…or this date may have just been pulled out of a hat. October 22 is the same birthdate as one of Mildred’s grandchildren who was very close to her, yet this grandchild had never heard of she and her grandmother sharing a birthdate. My mom thinks that Mildred didn’t even know her own birthdate and perhaps picked this date herself because of the grandchild.

Her place of birth is also unclear, though most records point to “Karlovac, Yugoslavia” or “Poljana, Yugoslavia”, which in itself is confusing. The family insists that they are Serbian and there is no way we are from or have DNA that is Croatian. However, this information seems to be leading to Poljana, Karlovac which is in Croatia. With the wars and the borders changing so often back then, though, it’s quite difficult to determine what was what. I am trusting my entire Margin/Mihalovich family that WE ARE SERBIAN, but questions still remain…

When I polled my mom and her cousins, no one could tell me anything about the families of Mildred or Marko. No names of parents, no siblings names, or even if they had siblings at all. My mom remembers hearing about “an aunt in Monaca” that my grandmother kept up a correspondence with. After some digging, I came upon this:

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Mildred Mihalovich of Trafford, PA is my great-grandmother. I’m fairly positive of this. Widowed Mildred was living in the tiny town of Trafford with my grandma, her daughter Ruth, at the time of Stella’s death. So that means that Mildred had at least one sibling, a sister Stella. Looking up Stella, it appears she was born March 6, 1882 in Yugoslavia, married Michael Pavkovich about 1902, and immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1908. They had one child in 1907, a daughter Catherine, who married George Milan. They had one child together, George Michael in 1934, but sadly he would die in 1935. Tragically, Catherine would also die young, in a car accident in 1943 at the age of 36. She and her mother were driving to a cousin (Abe Macusic’s) wedding, apparently took a curve too fast on wet roads, lost control of the car, and crashed. Stella survived, but Catherine did not. Curiously, on Catherine’s death certificate, her mother Stella’s full name is listed as “Stella Zoric”, much like Mildred’s was. On Stella’s own death certificate her parents are listed as Milich Margin and Stella Zarick. Her obituary mentions no other siblings so I can either conclude that there are probably either no others or they have already passed away.

Which brings me to Stephen Margin. I looked up Margins in the general area of Trafford and Wall, Pennsylvania and Stephen Margin popped up from my Trafford search. He was born on June 12, 1877 in Krnjak, Yugoslavia and also moved to Trafford, Pennsylvania. I assumed, considering the uncommon last name of Margin and the fact that Trafford is quite tiny, that he and Mildred were probably somehow related, but I wasn’t sure how. Stephen married Helen Dudukovich and they had 4 children: Peter in 1902, Helen Marie in 1909, Mike in 1913, and Nicholas in 1915. Helen Marie married Stephen Dobos. When I mentioned the name to my mom she lit up. She remembered a Helen Dobos who lived in Trafford and that she was family, but she didn’t know how they were related. That confirmed it. This family was related to my family…but I still didn’t know how. Stephen died in 1939 so it was possible that he was Mildred and Stella’s brother, but not mentioned in Stella’s obituary because he had died 20 years earlier. Or he could be a 1st cousin or more distant cousin to Mildred. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on this. Stephen’s death certificate lists his parents as Paul Margin and Stella Tomacic…which doesn’t confirm or deny in my mind that Mildred and Stella are his siblings, the parents names being close enough to the Milich Margin and Stella Zarick on Stella’s death certificate, but not the same, leaving plenty of room for speculation.

I have never seen a photo of Mildred in her youth. I don’t know if there were any. My mom describes her grandmother Mildred as very kind and loving with a delightful accent (my mom and her cousins both remember the cute way she would say my mom’s name). She clearly loved her family and they loved her. My grandmother inherited her mother’s photo collection and there are countless of signed photos to grandma from her many, many grandkids.

Her husband Marko is almost as mysterious as Mildred, but that is a story for another day…

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Mildred Margin Mihalovich