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Ragenovich - Return to Vrba

In 1989, my father, Brooks Ragen, presented a paper to the Monday Club (an organization associated with the University of Washington) that documented his search for the origins of his grandfather, John Ragenovich also sometimes referred to as John Radenovic. This is that story.


Return to Vrba

My name is Brooks Geer Ragen. Don't you think that is a distinguished name? I'm often asked, "Are you related to President Reagan? Are you sure you've spelled your name properly?"

My response has been, "I think my family came from a different part of Ireland". That seems to satisfy even the most curious.

In the summer of 1965, I met and befriended various members of the Brooks family, originally from Minnesota, but then involved as owners and managers of the Brooks Scanlon Lumber Company in Bend, Oregon. The following winter, I had an opportunity to purchase some shares in the privately held company. Conley Brooks, one of the owners and now a good friend, called to welcome me as a new shareholder. He said he was curious about my name. He had researched the Brooks family genealogy, but had found nothing about me. Could there, he asked, be a branch of the Brooks family that he had missed? I honestly replied, "I don't know". (I would, though, surely like to be a twig on that family tree!)

My father, Louis Brooks Ragen, died in 1974. As the oldest child of three, I had been told many stories about my mother's side of the family, who were British and Scottish "with a little touch of German". My mother enjoyed telling me about my maternal ancestor T. T. Geer, who served as Governor of Oregon from 1898 to 1902. I knew that several of my ancestors on her side of the family had come to Oregon by wagon train as early as 1845. The Geer family homestead still stands in Ledyard, Connecticut. My mother's mother, whom I called Danya, lived with us in her last years, and her stories of life in early Oregon are a part of my heritage.

Questions about my father's side of the family were not quite so gladly received. My mother would answer only, "Your grandfather was a Yugoslavian". The end. Later, when I was in my twenties I learned that his name was John Ragenovich. [Note: Radenovic is sometimes used as an alternative spelling.] My mother did tell me that she refused to marry my father unless he shortened his name to Ragen. Both men adopted the shortened form, she claimed, with "good spirits". My father said that he was born in Wardner, Idaho in 1902. From my aunt, I recently learned that my grandfather, John Ragen, and his family moved from Idaho to Montana where he became a successful contractor. My Uncle Don was born while the family was living in Missoula, Montana.

My grandfather later moved the family to Portland, Oregon where he established a contracting business. One of his projects involved work on the old Columbia Highway. Apparently, John Ragen had an opportunity to buy a block of property in Portland where the Federal Building now stands between Broadway and sixth. Simultaneously, he had an opportunity to purchase property on the Lewis River in Washington near the base of Mt. St. Helens. Unfortunately, he chose the latter and in 1918 he borrowed considerable money to buy a lumber mill and timberland. He had a two-year contract to cut railroad ties for the French army. My father worked in that mill during the summer between high school and his freshman year at Oregon State College. The mill, however, burned down during the second year of the contract, bankrupting my grandfather and forcing my father to leave college and go to work.

My aunt described my grandfather as a “handsome, tall man with excellent posture”. I remember talking with him as a child on his occasional visits to our house in Riverwood in Portland. I also recall going with my father and brother on Sunday afternoon drives when we picked up my grandfather at a boardinghouse in downtown Portland. We would drive around the city while he and my father talked. I remember that my grandfather had an accent.

In the summer of 1989, my wife, Susie, encouraged me to go to Yugoslavia for a vacation and to learn something about my father's side of our family. She felt the trip would be enriched and the search facilitated if her parents, Nadia and Frank Munk, joined us. They are experienced European travelers. Frank is fluent in thirteen languages, one of which is Serbo-Croatian. Frank had a student at Portland State (at age 88, he is a professor emeritus of political science at Portland State and Reed College) by the name of Maria Mitrovich Wolf, who was of Yugoslav ancestry. She believed that there was a Ragenovich family associated with her family's home village of Milocir on the Dalmatian Coast, just south of the town of Budva, some thirty to forty miles north of the Yugoslavian-Albanian border. That area of Yugoslavia is part of the Republic of Montenegro. Montenegrins historically enjoy reputations as fierce warriors and pirates. Frank warned us that some of the Dalmatian Coast had been seriously damaged by a major earthquake in 1979. Many churches, along with their records, which might be crucial to our search, were destroyed.

Prior to our departure, with nothing more than this information, Susie began researching my father's side of our family. Her first call was to the records clerk of Boise, Idaho, asking for help in finding my father's birth certificate. She was eventually directed to the Shoshone County clerk, because the town of Wardner, located on the outskirts of Kellogg on the northern Idaho panhandle, was in Shoshone County. The Shoshone County clerk said that no birth records existed before 1911 for that county. Susie then visited the Seattle Public Library to ask about U.S. Census records. The library directed her to the Pacific Northwest branch of the United States National Archives on Sandpoint Way, where she consulted the 1900 census for Shoshone County, Idaho. There she found listed in Wardner, living in a boarding house owned by Edward and Ellen Brooks, one John Ragenovich, born in 1872 in Austria. His date of immigration to the United States was 1892. His occupation was recorded as "saloonkeeper".

On nearby pages of the 1900 census, Susie also found a John Ragenovich who was born in 1855 and immigrated in 1890, and a Samuel Ragenovich, born 1876 and immigrated 1900. In fact, there were thirteen men with Yugoslav names boarding with the Brooks family. (It must have been a large house!) Except for the younger John, the saloonkeeper, all had listed their occupations as miners. The census taker noted that only a few could read, write, or even speak English. One of the Yugoslavians in this group was named William Mitrovich, who was the same age as the younger John and arrived in this country the same year. A Michael Mitrovich, age 27, arrived in the United States in 1900, the same year as Samuel Ragenovich. Susie guessed that the older John Ragenovich came first; two years later he was followed by the 28 year old younger John and his friend Bill Mitrovich. They were, in turn, followed eight years later by Samuel Ragenovich and his friend or relative, Mike Mitrovich. Most of this scenario is pure conjecture.

A sentence or two will explain the Austrian birthplace. Some of the Yugoslavs had first listed Dalmatia, Croatia or Serbia in the census form, but all were crossed out and Austria written in. Of course, most of the area now known as Yugoslavia was for many years a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Yugoslavia did not become Yugoslavia until 1918.

Not one of the three Ragenoviches was listed in the 1910 census for Wardner, Idaho.

Susie next went to the Latter Day Saints Family History Library in Seattle. There she found several Ragenoviches listed, intermingled by marriage with the family Mitrovich. Someone had recorded these names in 1982. Susie was told that a written request for that person's name would take three weeks. But it was four days before our departure to Yugoslavia. We needed this information quickly. So Susie called an LDS "searcher" in Salt Lake City, who, for a small fee, agreed personally to look up the recorder's name that same day.

In the meantime, Susie called the Idaho Historical society and learned that the mine in Wardner was a lead mine called The Last Chance Mine. It was connected by a "cherry hoist" (a shaft) to the Bunker Hill mine in Kellogg.

The following morning the contact in Salt Lake called with the name of Mrs. Elaine Soldani in Clovis, California. Susie traced her to a new address and called her. She was extremely interested in our project. She said she had a genealogy from a cousin who had visited the Praskvica monastery in Milocir in 1982. Elaine sent us a copy of that document by Federal Express. It arrived the day of our departure. Armed with this assorted information and nothing more, we left with the Munks for Yugoslavia on Saturday evening, September 16, 1989.

Yugoslavia, a nation of some 25 million people, was created in 1918 as part of the peace settlement following World War I. The country was formed by joining together several areas under the jurisdiction of Turkey and Austria-Hungary. At birth, Yugoslavia's main nationalities were Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenians. Other nationalities present included Hungarians, Rumanians, Italians, Albanians, Macedonians, and Montenegrins. The population practiced three major religions: Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Moslem. The inhabitants had a long history of wars -- not only against the Turks and Venetians, but among themselves. Today, the Federal Union of Yugoslavia includes six republics and two autonomous areas. The republics are Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. The autonomous areas include Kosovo on the south and Vojvodinia adjacent to Hungary.

Montenegro, which appeared to be the most likely site for our search, has a unique history, because this country, among all the Balkan republics, successfully resisted the Turks and the Venetians for hundreds of years. Although the Dalmatian coast of Montenegro fell under the control of the Austrian Empire in 1809, the mountainous center was an independent kingdom until 1918. Montenegro, similar to Scotland and perhaps Afghanistan today, has a romantic and wild history. For hundreds of years the business of Montenegrins was making war!

Yugoslavia, today, is not a happy country. During our thirteen day stay in Yugoslavia, the dinar rose from 27,000 to the dollar to 34,000. Today the figure is closer to 70,000 to the dollar. Not only is inflation an enormous problem, but various sections of the country hate other areas. While we were there, Slovenia announced it had the power to leave the Yugoslavian federation unilaterally. Of course, the Belgrade Parliament objected to this declaration because the Slovenes are the most economically productive group in the country. On November 30,1989, the American press reported that Yugoslavia's Serbian Republic urged all of its institutions and enterprises to sever their ties with the Republic of Slovenia. Serbia's statement was issued after Slovenia blocked a rally by local Serbians. Yugoslavia is a relatively poor country. The average wage is $150 a month and the senior bureaucrats and business people earn a salary from $8,000 to $12,000 a year.

After a pleasant three days in Dubrovnik, our foursome departed on the morning of September 20, driving down the coast to Svete Stefan, a luxury resort that had once been a medieval island village. We arrived in the nearby town of Budva at lunchtime. Budva is about ten kilometers north of Svete Stefan, which, in turn, is about one kilometer south of our targeted destination of Milocir. None of the restaurants appeared particularly inviting, but the majority voted to stop at the Balkan Restaurant, which had a pleasant, tree-shaded front terrace. The Balkan was truly local, with only the four of us as eating guests, but several Montenegrins as drinking guests in the dark bar. After ordering, I went inside to ask if any of the locals had ever heard of a Ragenovich family. One very large tall man, who was drinking beer and playing slot machines, spoke a little English. His name was Goyko Parapid. He said he knew a Ragenovich and would take us to him after lunch. After eating one of the many shashlik meals of this trip, he got in our car and we drove to a restaurant near Svete Stefan. No Ragenoviches there, but we were forwarded to a restaurant called Drago's on the hillside just above the island of Svete Stefan. Drago's last name was Ragenovich! There we met his son Peter, and his niece Angelica. Frank introduced me as a banker, not an investment banker. He explained to me that no one would understand the term "investment banker". The profession of "banker" is, he said, as highly respected as is Frank's own profession of professor.

Angelica had recently returned from a visit to her uncle Mitrovich in Calistoga, California. She was an alert and attractive young woman of twenty. We discussed our quest over tiny glasses of slivovitz and larger glasses of Coca-Cola, but no one had any knowledge of my grandfather's generation. It was agreed that we would meet at one o'clock the next day at Drago's for lunch. Drago planned to have an older member of the family present. We were astounded to have found a Ragenovich.

At ten o'clock on Thursday morning, the Munks and Ragens visited the Praskvica monastery in Milocir. Clothes were drying on a line in the courtyard. Dogs, chickens, and a goat were running loose, but no one answered the bell. The doors were locked and not a monk was to be found. Several local people were waiting to visit the church because it was "Good Mother Day". They offered us some delicious red figs from a plastic bag. High above us, maybe 1500 feet, we could see a little church. I thought we might try to find a way up just to see the view.

A road appeared one or two kilometers south of the Svete Stefan entrance and we turned up into the mountains. The road, while very narrow and winding, was paved and eventually led to the church we had seen on the hills. In its tiny cemetery, the first grave that we saw, its inscription written in the Cyrillic alphabet, was a Ragenovich grave. There were about five more legible gravestones of Ragenoviches. (Without Frank, we could never have interpreted the Cyrillic writing.)

We also found the grave of Mark Mitrovich, "born 1914, executed by the occupiers 1941". A magnificent vista of miles of coastline including Svete Stefan was in front of us and, behind us, a steep mountainside with partly destroyed homes scattered over some 300 acres of rocky steep pasture.. To the north, we saw another small church on another promontory -- almost directly above the monastery.

On our return, we passed three typical Yugoslav haystacks – much different than the western American variety. A few hundred yards further, we stopped at a small house on the lower part of the road. Frank asked a woman who was washing clothes in a bucket in the yard if she had ever heard of the Ragenovich family. She replied that she was a Ragenovich. Just then, two men drove up and we introduced ourselves. One was Milan Ragenovich and the woman washing clothes turned out to be his sister. Milan was the general manager of the Milocir Hotel, the former palace of Yugoslavia's King Alexander and former part-time residence of Tito. It is now a luxury resort located on the mainland just north of the causeway to Svete Stefan.

Milan suggested that we follow him in our car. He led us to the home of Peter Ragenovich who was sitting drinking coffee and eating cake with his family at a cloth covered table in his backyard, under the shade of several olive trees. Peter is a retired stonemason. He looked like the grandfather of my memory. He did not speak a word of English, but was very talkative and, it turned out, very knowledgeable about the Ragenovich family. His wife served us drinks of slivovitz or lemonade. Frank and Milan translated while Peter, now in his late seventies, told us he knew Dimitri, the only monk remaining at the Praskvica monastery very well. Peter told us we had found no one at the monastery that morning because Dimitri had gone to Budva to greet the Metropolitan, a high Orthodox Church official. The Metropolitan was arriving to attend the ceremonies at Cetinje, the capital of Montenegro, on October 1 when the remains of King Nicholas and his family, the last Montenegrin monarchy, were to be returned from Italian exile and re-interred. (That this event could take place in Communist Yugoslavia indicates the effect of Perestroika on non-Russian communist countries.)

Peter said that Ragenovich families lived on the hillside above Svete Stefan before World War II, but many have now moved to other parts of Yugoslavia and beyond. Their homes and five family churches were originally scattered over several hundred acres. The village was called Vrba. Some family members, he said, still live above Svete Stefan in their earthquake-damaged home sites; many were in the process of rebuilding. Several family members live closer to Svete Stefan and are apparently quite successful. They include Drago, who once owned three houses on the little island of Svete Stefan. In the 1950's the government forced him to trade them for his combined house restaurant. The government wanted the entire island for a resort, Svete Stefan. It is a thoroughly modern medieval village and is the most unusual resort of a huge four-resort complex. A young Peter Ragenovich is manager of the entire complex and Milan, as mentioned earlier, is manager of one of the resorts, the elegant Milocir. We arranged to pick up old Peter, who we now realized was the family patriarch, at four o'clock that afternoon. He would take us to the monastery to see Dimitri.

At one o'clock we returned to Drago's for lunch. Drago's restaurant is a spacious building with both indoor and outdoor dining that is reached by climbing steep stairs. We had a delicious lunch of shaslik, tomato salad, and figs. During the meal, Drago suggested he would like his nineteen year-old son Peter to travel to the United States to improve his English and learn waitering. Peter seemed like a pleasant shy boy and we said we would look into some courses. Cousin Angelica was a quick study. She would like to run a restaurant someday and has almost completed a two-year restaurant school.

Drago's business is highly seasonal, April through October. In the off months, he manages the restaurant, repairs his original homestead on the hillside, and hunts a variety of animals in the mountains, including pheasant and wild boar. To hunt boar, he drives to the end of Ragenovich home sites and heads east on foot with dogs and friends. A large stuffed boar's head graces the inside of his establishment. The formidable boura is an important feature of the off-season. The boura is a wind without rain whose velocity occasionally reaches 125 mph.

Drago explained that the Ragenovich family, like most families in this area, is Orthodox Christian. When we asked him if he considers himself a Montenegrin, he answered quite vehemently that he did not. He was a Serbian first and foremost and very proud to be one. Frank explained that the Serbs had historically been the dominant people in the mid-Balkans. They still consider themselves superior to the other peoples of Yugoslavia.

Drago and Angelica described the experience of the April 15, 1979 earthquake that destroyed most of the Ragenovich homes. It occurred at 7:20 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning when most families were home in bed. The timing was extremely fortunate. The local school completely collapsed and any children inside would have been killed. Most of the churches in the area also collapsed; if the quake had occurred a few hours later when families would have been attending Easter services, the toll would have been enormous. I remember reading about that disaster, but it was just one of those terrible things that happen far away to people I didn't know.

Lunch closed with toasts of slivovitz and Coca-Cola. Drago refused to let us pay for the meal. He graciously said the pleasure of our presence was his payment.

At four o’clock we picked up Peter, the patriarch, and returned to the monastery but found only the housekeeper. This time, Brother Dimitri had gone swimming!

We agreed to pick up Peter at seven o'clock and try the monastery again. Before turning to Svete Stefan, we drove through the Ragenovich village. We saw a man with a cow in a pasture by the road. He told us he was a Ragenovich and he looked exactly like my father. Susie was deeply moved. We also visited the church on the north peak and took pictures of Svete Stefan, Milocir, Budva, and the Dalmatian coast looking south.

Finally, on our third attempt, Dimitri was home. He is a very handsome man, about forty years old, with black hair and beard. His sister was with him and they had six Yugoslavian guests. Everyone was drinking wine and talking and generally having a good time. The monastery reception parlor was dominated by a large central table and chairs. On the walls were dark religious oil paintings. A ceramic stove was in one corner and the floor to the kitchen in another. On a hook near the door was Dimitri's long black hooded robe. We gradually met the other guests who included an attractive 20-year old female law student, a stonemason who had just completed rebuilding the monastery chapel, his young son, Dimitri's brother (also a bearded orthodox priest), and another Yugoslavian couple, never introduced.

Peter took charge and announced the purpose of our visit. Dimitri began rummaging about in incredibly disorganized cupboards in this room and others. Finally, he came back lugging several huge scrapbook-sized registries, each covered in brown leather. He opened the first and began running his finger down column after column, with Peter advising constantly. The pages, written in careful spidery old Cyrillic script, were torn and soiled and chewed at the edges by mice. Dimitri examined three books before he found the one that might apply to me.

Each registry, perhaps 75 pages long, listed about thirty names a page and began in the 1700's. The Ragenovich family is one of many included in the church records. The various Ragenovich families are each recorded on a separate page or pages.

After searching that particular book for an hour, Dimitri announced he had found my grandfather. His name was Ivo, which is John in English. Dimitri then constructed my family name as follows:

Porodica Luke p. Mila Rastenovica

Rastenovic Luka

1 augusta 1833


Kugaca Kate, Zena Lukina



Rastenovic Ivo, sin Luke

17 febr 1870

America, 1943

Rastenovic Kate, sin Luke

5 dec 1872


Rastenovic, Niko, sin Luke

30 aug 1876

Fresno Cal, 1919

Rastenovic, Marya, kcer Luke

11 nov 1881


Rastenovic, Mitar, sin Luke

16 oct 1884

10 jul 1893

Rastenovic, Styepo (Zvani Simo)

13 jul 1888



Porodica Iva Stankova Rastenovica – Vrba


20 febr 1837

14 nov 1914, Vrba

Mitrovic Anste, Zena Ivova

7 oct 1850

1 oct 1914

Rastenovic Kate, kci Ivova



Manja, kci Ivova

1 febr 1873


Manja, Simo, sin Iva

6 dec 1875


Manja, Stanko, sin Iva

29 jun 1880


Manja, Mitar, sin Iva

16 oct 1882


Manja, Filip, sin Iva

12 may 1887


The last column on the right side edge of the page was for information on the date and place of death. For Ivo Ragenovich, it was blank. He had evidently not kept in touch with his homeland. Dimitri asked me when my grandfather died and I told him it was about 1943 in Oregon. He carefully recorded that information in the appropriate space, writing "Died in America, 1943". Watching him write those words brought to mind various additional bits of information about my grandfather. After his mill burned, he returned to Portland to work on a few small contracting assignments. His wife became thoroughly discouraged and left him and the family without so much as a note. My grandfather traveled extensively to find odd jobs. While my father always described his father as an "engineer", I imagine he was really a stonemason whose last working years were spent laying stone bulkheads for the steep parts of the Sunset highway. This was the family craft. My grandfather must have died lonely and sad, far from his homeland.

One last piece of information was revealed in Dimitri's registry book. Ivo's father's name was Luka. Apparently it is customary in this area to name your firstborn son after your father. My father's name was Louis, surely the Americanized version of Luka. His middle name was Brooks, which by now I concluded was in honor of the Scots boardinghouse owner in Wardner, Idaho. We also found in the monastery registry the older John of the 1900 U.S. Census, probably my grandfather's uncle, and Samuel (Stanko in the registry), perhaps a cousin or brother of my grandfather.

It was now nine o'clock. Dimitri had worked on my problem for one and a half hours and he and his friends were ready for dinner. I thanked him profusely, made a donation in American dollars to the monastery, and presented the gathering with a bottle of 12-year old Ballantyne Scotch to celebrate our success. Toasts were drunk all around.

At breakfast on Thursday morning, Frank and Nadia casually asked the headwaiter if he knew any Ragenoviches. He answered that he was one! By this time, the question and answer was almost becoming a joke. They called me to come and meet him. His name was Goyko Ragenovich and he asked me to call him George. He was a tall, handsome fellow, about 45 years old, and bore a marked resemblance to my father. Susie took our picture on the restaurant terrace of the Svete Stefan hotel. We told him we were planning to meet Peter for a visit to Vrba that evening at five o'clock and he said he would meet us at Peter's house. We spent the day at Cetinje, the capital of the Republic of Montenegro. Traveling to Cetinje from the coast included a two hour drive over winding roads through the dramatically steep mountains. There was great excitement there as the town prepared to receive the remains of King Nicholas and his wife and children.

Just before five o'clock, we stopped at Drago’s house to give him a gift and take his picture in front of his boar head. He was about to leave with friends on another hunt and the party was in fine fettle.

Peter, dressed quite formally in his Sunday best, a gray suit, was waiting for us. We waited for George who never appeared. When we drove to George's house, we found him dressed to go to the Svete Stefan Restaurant for the six o'clock shift. Peter severely scolded him for overlooking our appointment. We then drove back to Drago's and asked Angelica to join us as an interpreter since Frank had not come when he thought George would be interpreting for us. Angelica agreed and we were off up the mountainside to Vrba once again.

Visiting Vrba with Peter was a very special experience. The five-minute drive up the steep winding road came just as the sun was approaching the horizon and the hillside was bathed in pink light. Peter pointed out the remains of each home and told us who owned them: Drago, Milan, George, younger, and his own, among others. Then we went to the two small churches, each on its own promontory. We had stumbled on them our first day there, without understanding their significance to our search. Next to the north church was a tiny stone building we had thought was an outhouse. Peter explained it was one of three lookouts that protected Yugoslavia's King Alexander when he was in his palace at Milocir. We then visited the Ragenovich church on the south promontory, where Peter identified many of the graves, stroking each stone as he talked. One was uncovered by the earthquake and we could see human bones inside. There was a wrought iron gate to the churchyard and I cut my forehead on the cross at its center. A stigmata of sorts! The view and the moment were quite amazing!

Our last stop was at Peter's house, which he has given to his son, who is gradually restoring it. Peter offered us delicious white grapes from his arbor. He told us the Ragenovich families raised sheep, grew grapes, olives, and corn on their property. Some members of the family were stonemasons who built these houses stone by stone, as well as the retaining walls that terraced the hillsides. These people were not rich in worldly goods, but lived simple and contented lives until World War 11. Most of the Ragenoviches still living near Vrba seem to lead very happy lives, but their vocations are now associated with tourism.

On the way down the hill, Peter pointed out the three other churches, all in various stages of ruin. One had been rebuilt and re-consecrated just before the earthquake. There are no plans to rebuild it again. We easily imagine the hillside in another time with its twenty-one Ragenovich houses and their five churches, the huge mountains looming behind them and the sea below.

That evening, Milan, the manager of the Milocir Hotel, joined us for dinner. We also met his son and nephew who were tending the front desk. Milan has researched his branch of the Ragenovich family with the help of his 94-year old uncle who lives in Australia. He told us that, at this time, knowledge of my family begins in 1389 with the Battle of Kosovo. The Battle of Kosovo, a monumental contest of Serbs versus Turks, ended on St. Vitus' Day, June 28,1389, with a conclusive victory for the Turks. The Battle of Kosovo is so important in Yugoslavian history that the country recently held memorial ceremonies to mark its 600th Anniversary. (Parenthetically, Kosovo has a very special place in Serbian history. It is the historic core of old Serbia. The present bitter conflict in Kosovo, virtually a civil war between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians, is directly related to the Turkish victory in 1389 and the immigration into Kosovo of Moslem Albanians who today comprise the bulk of the Kosovan population. Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 1n Sarajevo to commemorate the anniversary of the Serbs disastrous defeat in 1389. (The assassination, of course, was the beginning of World War I.) Some Serbs were too proud (or too endangered if they were able bodied warriors) to remain under Turkish rule. Four Ragenovich brothers, named Nikac, Vukac, Sjepac, and Radonja left Kosovo and migrated over the mountains to the coast of Montenegro. They settled in Vrba. They were my ancestors.

Milan gently admonished me to take life less seriously, to stop working so hard. “Return to Svete Stefan for a long visit,” he said, "because it is your home.”

So my first name, Brooks, originated with the owner of a boardinghouse in Wardner, Idaho. In the 1890s, Mr. Brooks housed a group of Yugoslavian immigrants, which included my grandfather, most of whom worked in The Last Chance Mine. My last name is only half of the proud name of Ragenovich, a family of farmers and stoneworkers from Vrba, on the Dalmatian coast of the Republic of Montenegro in southern Yugoslavia. Geer, my middle name -- but that's a whole different story.


I am interested in your perspective on what you found to be interesting within this paper. If you could please send me feedback, I would be grateful.  Thank you.

Here are some related books on Montenegro that may be of interest. For more details on these books, click here:

History of Montenegro
by Francis S. Stevenson. Hardcover (May 1971)


The Falcon & the Eagle: Montenegro & Austria-Hungary, 1908-1914 by John D. Treadway. Paperback (January 1998)


Montenegro: Its People and Their History
by William Denton. Hardcover (July 1977)


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