52ancestorsGenealogist Amy Johnson Crow, who blogs at No Story Too Small, has set a challenge to write about one ancestor each week. I’ve decided to take up that challenge to wake up my (somewhat) languishing blog, but to honor my ancestors. I plan to post every week on Sunday, and I encourage others to join the challenge with me.

I Hardly Knew Ye

Magda and her granddaughter. c1970

Magda and her granddaughter. c1970

Despite being my mother-in-law for 25 years, Magadelana Duzdevich might as well be a stranger to me. The fact that she lived in Argentina, South America all of her life and didn’t speak English had a lot to do with it. Also, I only met her in person once, and by the time I was seriously into tracing family history, she was my former mother-in-law. I no longer had a reliable source of information. Even when she was asked in the past about her family history, she didn’t think it was important. “What do you want to know that for?” she’d ask incredulously.

I’ve tried to cobble together what I can for the sake of my children, but it has not been easy. I know that she was a “second-generation” Argentinian, born to Yugoslavian immigrant parents Antonio Duzdevich and Maria Hraste – one of 6 six children. She passed away in February of 2012 and was in her 90s, so she had to have been born no later than 1922.

Her parents were probably of Croatian descent, as was the man she later married (a first-generation immigrant named Anton Nemaric). In fact, Magdalena and her sister married brothers, and ended up living next door to each other in the suburb of Martinez, Buenos Aires.

The Yugoslav emigration in South America mostly came from the regions formerly under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, primarily from Dalmatia. Most of them were of Croatian descent and a slightly lower number was from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Macedonia. They had emigrated to Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and other South American states since the end of the 19th century and the emigration intensified in the 1920s. According to some data from 1927/1928, there were about 150,000 Yugoslav emigrants throughout South America.

I believe that her parents owned a lot of land in Argentina and that Magdalena (“Magda”) grew up on her family’s ranch (Santa Fe Province?). Her son remembers happy times visiting the ranch and being allowed to roam all day on horseback.

All I need is a little help from some family member in Argentina who can speak or read a little bit of English. Por favor.