Browsing through the family documents that I've collected over the years I made an interesting and timely discovery. You may have read about the discoveries that I made back in February regarding my great-grandfather's trip to America thanks to a little help from some friends who discovered the passenger lists. (Ferencz Ujlaki and the trip he didn't take can be found in Part 1 and Part 2.)
One fact about Ferencz Ujlaki's trip that has stumped me is his specific intended destination in America. Listed as bound for New York, New York, both passenger lists (the one for the ship he first got on, and the one for the trip he actually took) indicate what appears to be the same friend's name and address as his intended destination.
Now, going through the copies I made of the Matična knjiga (Croatian for church records) that I found a few years back thanks to microfilm from my local Family History Library, I revisited Ferencz's birth registry. Born on March 17, 1879, Ferencz's parents' names are listed on the registry along with his godparents'. What a surprise to find that his godfather's name (listed in its Latin form because it is appearing in a Catholic church registry), is: Stephanus Štefić.
This name is very similar to the name of the man on both passenger lists of 1906. It is too unusual a coincidence and makes me wonder if this could be the same man.
According to the family story, Ferencz had grown up the only child of aged parents, his father blind. Could his godfather have taken a special interest in him throughout his life and could he have been the one to encourage him to set out for America to start a new life?
According to the Hrvatski Telekom (Croatian White Pages), there are many Štefić families still living in the area where my Ujlaki family hails from, particularly the village of Donja Dubrava. There is even currently a Štefić Stjepan living in the village, whose name may be spelled the way my Stephanus Štefić spelled his (outside of "Latinized" parish records, that is - Stjepan is the Croatian spelling of Stephen).
Now my next step is to do a little research on this new mystery man with a link to my family - to determine his history in Ferencz Ujlaki's home village, if possible, and to find his whereabouts in the United States, more specifically in New York City, where it appears my great-grandfather joined him upon his arrival as a brand new American immigrant in 1906.