Mirta Mihovilovic, Angelina Thomas, and Mark Thomas

Recorded January 14, 2010 Archived January 14, 2010 00:00 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SFB000652


Mirta Mihovilovic (63) and her cousins Angelina Thomas (88) and Mark Thomas (59) talk about their family history and how they recently came into contact with one another.

Subject Log / Time Code

Immigration stories of the Pavlov family.
Mirta’s memories of her grandfather Juan Pavlov.
Family had to change their surname when they came to America.
Mirta wrote a letter to long lost relative Angie.
Angie calls Mirta after she finds Mirta’s letter on the floor of her daughter’s apartment.
Mirta will retire back to Chile.


  • Mirta Mihovilovic
  • Angelina Thomas
  • Mark Thomas


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 My name is mirta make Oval Office Pavlov. I am 63 years of age. Today is January 14th, 2010. We are here in San Francisco and I am here sitting at this table with my cousin Mark Thomas and his mom Angie Thomas.

00:22 And my name is Mark Thomas. I'm 59. Today's date is January 14th 1919 to 2009 in San Francisco, and I'm here with my cousin mirta and my mother Angie.

00:41 My name is Angelina Thomas and on the 27th of this month. I'll be 89 years old. Today's date is January 14th 1900 here in San Francisco. And my son is Mark and my cousin is Merica.

01:18 I'll get it. Okay, so we have been all interview. So, you know who all of us are and indeed we are all members of the Pavlov family and it happens that Mark and myself are direct descendants of two first cousins who immigrated to the American continent at the turn of the 20th century.

01:43 Yes, my grandmother Ellena Thomas born. Jelica Pavlov on my father's side of the family immigrated to the US specifically to marry my grandfather Mike Thomas. I'm sure she integrate emigrated in 1914 from the island of Brock in what is now Czechoslovakia Croatia Czechoslovakia. I know this because I searched Ellis Island records and I didn't find a record of a jelica Pavlov that immigrated to Oakland in May of 1914. Sorry, I'm pretty sure this is my grandmother in my case. My grandfather Juan Pablo that was born even Pablo on my mom's side of the family.

02:33 Who immigrated to Chile also 1914 it happened that he was first starting with Elena Pablo Thomas whom is Mark grandmother. And I knew about Lord of his stories about my grandfather as I was growing up in Chile. So I know quite a bit of a facts about his life and also the life of others like him that immigrated to chili at the turn of the 20th century.

03:08 Okay, my grandfather died before I was born but I heard the story many times.

03:15 That he came to America got a job as a blacksmith with the Southern Pacific Railroad in Oakland work for a. Of time. I suspect a couple years. I haven't been able to find the

03:28 Records of emigrating at Ellis Island, but I assumed he was must have been here for a couple of years saved up money in and started thinking about getting married in and starting a family.

03:41 I need a different back. Then. My mom tells me my grandfather had a friend who had a picture of a cousin in the Old Country. So I guess they they used to go shopping for people friendly Golf Country. He found one that he liked in this would have been my grandmother Elena Pavlov the cousin of Ivan Pavlov murders grandfather. He saw the picture of my grandmother wrote to her and she agreed to come to America to marry him. I find us some AC

04:17 I guess that's happened. I ignored other family members that see similar things. So I think it was Friday, I guess it's a commonality they have something in common they so they wanted something you would understand. But anyhow, and I mean for this reason of others, I guess they the Americas wearing magnet. I know that my grandfather was seeking a better life than the one he had in the island of brash or black inequities now Croatia, so he wasn't his early twenties when he decided to emigrate the story that I Know Places came first in Northern Chile, and I believe that he landed in Buenos Aires Argentina and gross gross the Enders threw in Northern past region.

05:17 Northern Chilean city of antofagasta this it is very dry and warm. That's the kind of climate indeed. It leads Inland to the driest desert on Earth.

05:30 My grandfather decided that such Drive decide to take place was not for him and what he decide to head south to travel by land mostly by foot or in horse horseback go in about sixteen hundred miles or so to reach the town for this called Chile Chico de Chile becomes a fragmented Pantry. So traveling by Foodland is impossible.

06:02 So the story tell the story that comes to me Place him Crossing to Argentina where he worked as an accountant for the first railroad built in South America in the Argentina and Patagonia.

06:19 But once this project was completed he decided he decided to keep going south. He had heard of the booming town of Punta Arenas located by the shores of a Strait of Magellan.

06:34 And at that point was that. Of time at the turn of the 20th century was really a center of Commerce, and he was also obligatory poured 408 traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans prior to the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914. My hometown that happens to be something very special. So there you have Juan Pablo Juan Pablo arriving to Punta Arenas.

07:10 On my father's side of the family there seems to be there was a lot of name confusion with our last name or last name. My last name is Thomas, which is a lot of people think I'm English but The Spar from the truth, like like a lot of immigrants. My grandfather changed the surname to accommodate the English Beat speaking Community after his arrival in America by various documents. That indicate is original surname was told me for whatever reason his surname change to Thomas and then finally to Mike Marco Thomas

07:49 My grandmother's American maiden name Elena Pavlov was the Americanization of jelica Bev. Love her Croatian name documents from the 40s and later list. Her name as Ellen Thomas their marriage license dated in the 1914 listed them as Mike Tomas and Elena pavlok.

08:15 A year later the birth certificate of their first child Mary born in August of 1950 listed their names has Michael told me chandelle Ellen Pavlov adding to the confusion for all us descendants this surname switching cause some issues for my aunt, my Aunt Mary.

08:36 Your daughter because her birth certificate listed her as Mary Matalin tomiche, but she was known as Mary Matalin Thomas in school or she worked at Montgomery Wards and buy her friend. She never got a driver's license to my knowledge. So she never had to have any official showing of her birth certificate around 1980s. She wanted to travel to Japan to visit my my sister Mary Ellen Thomas, but she couldn't get a passport with her birth certificate name Being Mary Matalin Thomas, so she had to go through the effort to petition to change your birth certificate to marry Thomas and baptism records to to Mary Thomas to straighten out her name and eventually receive her passport in and get to visit my my sister and Japan, but I was wondering why she didn't change get the passport as in I change your name.

09:36 Either way to why not go back to Thomas but much confusion already.

09:43 Call Meek.

09:46 I think it's well, I had actually heard rumors that we had a different name. I didn't know what if it was told me assure Tomas or what it was until I finally saw it on that birth certificate change record. That's the first time I actually realize what the official name was of my grandfather.

10:06 So cuz he died in 1948 way before I was born.

10:10 Best kind of interested in in in chili my grandparents didn't change their last name. So it was a straight last night, but they did the old first name where translated saw as I have said before he was one for us. He was born even so that's that just kind of the same kind of pressures maybe to say to balanc where they came not to face that for him to the place. That's kind of embrace them in a while because they were looking for something that I can say. I was fortunate because my ground both my grandparents as a matter of fact that we're allies as I was a child and with particularly with Juan Pablo the one we are going to rain today about I grew up with him. So I have a lot of stories about him.

11:05 And at the first one they'd be by the time we were sitting at the at the dining table we call it. No no one and here maybe I should agree with me. It happens that he had emigrated from division of Dalmatian that is part of the Croatian croatians Republic nowadays. I'm very close to Italy and grandfather in Italian is not so old people immigrating from the dalmatian coast of Croatia and in most Croatia Colts camp on Ono on one. Well, we wearing Sheila so even had become Quan however is very interesting because of five brothers and sister or immigrated to Sheila all of those great aunts and uncles of mine and that generation will not call him Quan. We the children that she lives right?

12:05 There there see his brothers and sister will call him either. That is the nickname for the band. And so that's that that's that's kind of the story. They are about names in Chile versus name of the Thomas Thomas play in common that we didn't know about about this earlier that many when they want to record birth of children at least in Chile. They wanted to put one name, but the name was non-existent in the Spanish dictionary.

12:50 So I think I told them that do the case of my mom that she in the right course is dinner. But all the family called her Dinka that is they didn't allow the name of that time for Florida birth certificate right now. So there is a lot of God in the family. There are two people with two names be in the family inside, then the other one thing about my no no no, no, no Quan. He said he he he was not only an adventure as you could see he was an avid writer. He wrote a lot of letters if he was not really he was writing or working doing something grandfather grandfather letters. He didn't he try to load. My father is the writer of the family that Chronicle some of these stories but no no one will drive.

13:50 Letters and I remember he's tidy calligraphy and I imagine Croatian, you know, what the dialect and there is when we knew that he wrote to some castle in the United States, but Anson uncles and cousins where where we were all have other interests. We never paid attention on my granddad died suddenly after a very short illness in 1972 and that connection was gone. We never we didn't know about our Northern American family anymore. And then in 1975 for other reasons, I decided to immigrate to the United States and at that moment. The first thing I remember is yes, I have relatives in the United States. Where is discussing of my grandfather?

14:45 But nobody could tell me so I emigrated without knowing and I was Nineteen seventy-five, but I went through the Oracle to Chilean in 1995 in one of my visit visit. I stay with my aunt Cuba. That is the youngest daughter of no no one and we were reminiscing and going through boxes and boxes of pictures on there in one box. My aunt said this is you are no no one. This is my dad's first cousin brother. They were first cousin

15:26 And there's this lady very well dressed in a very nice looking living room. Like, you know, she very proudly them and we were about to move to the next box and I just know I'm kind of line and I don't have good eyesight. I did see the address label the reverse of an address label at the very bottom of the Box on could I turn around it says

15:54 What is this Elena table has an Oakland California address so back from that trip from Chile. I came back to Chapel Hill North Carolina and I wrote a letter and I address the letter to Elena Thomas at Orchard descendants because I knew she might maybe weigh 90 by the year was 1995.

16:23 On a year goes by nothing cop and I have forgotten about the letter.

16:29 I'm one day.

16:32 I received a phone call.

16:36 Well now it's your on Mom. Okay, so you can just read the script.

16:44 Talk about and remember you got the phone call.

16:48 I go the phone call earlier and I was at work that day in Durham. I work in Durham North Carolina. If you will know I was at work there on the phone call came through and they said I have a phone call will they receive but apparently received the letter but for some reason didn't reply to it, it is possible that Mary just didn't get around.

17:25 But then Mary had died suddenly from a heart attack. She was going to the beauty shop and fell on the sidewalk and Mary was Elena's daughter daughter when my son I were cleaning up her house after her death. I found Marcos letter in the living room. I called Marty telling her about Elena's passing in 1976 and Mary's in 1995. This initiated archive reconnection was long-lost relatives.

18:05 Eventually Marta came to San Francisco. She was on a business trip and Mark and I got together.

18:15 I'm going out to lunch and got to meet her which was very exciting.

18:23 And after that we cough.

18:27 Oh, yeah, so that was a reconnection. Which so are you now connected the northern American Pavlov's in the Southern America Pavlov's?

18:40 We are lucky that members are our families are good at keeping letters and pictures. If not, we would never this is yours. We would never have met and and be able to be part of story carbs personally. It's very important. As you have said and my father is the writer of the family and it happened that he had these stories of the Pavlov family links to Other Stories. He had written about particularly those in in his book from afar forever. But basically that book The speak the lies of those immigrants that immigrated into Southern chili to the Chilean Patagonia over there. And so if either we are here today is kind of Africa be too late. Anyway this type of a story of people that instead of

19:40 Latency to the southern region of the Americans found their best their destination in the United States, but but but basically I think the people that either when there came here are very similar and they where accepted

20:03 AC Milan in a similar way now. What was the name of your father's book? I remember reading. It was very interesting. He's from afar forever from afar from afar for Croatia. It was really really I mean the trip I understand to fly one month or something and not war and stay forever in the new land that they that they

20:47 So so basically

20:50 I think we can now say that these two cousins like many Croatian immigrants in many European. They were immigrants fulfill their dream for a better life in America.

21:03 It is interesting to me that two members of the same family immigrated at the same time. Basically one went to Northern California and one went to southern Chile and ended up.

21:19 What does essentially equal success although you would think?

21:26 It was just so different coming to Oakland California versus Punta Arenas in the end each of their offspring their descendants ended up with a better life than their parents and the further descendants. Me and Murda ended up with better lives in our parents. And so I would say that that's a

21:49 Pretty good success overall. I would like to that saying that I think that is speak to the Coleman Drive of these immigrants who also seek a better life.

22:04 In the Americas and here they wear given the opportunity to fulfill whatever hit their dream was not all of them. And we're that lucky though. Hi there sorry stories to of immigrants that didn't make it but in our case in the case of Elena of Love Thomas and one or L and I should say Ellen Thomas to be jhelisa. Boblo Island. Like Ellen Thomas. My grandfather was even Pablo and end up as Juan Pablo and I should say in that regard that when we were born. I mean after we were born my grandfather going to see the pretty much as she land and one of his arguments were if I had Chilean children,

23:04 Grandchildren, who am I you know and I imagine is the same.

23:10 I need my hugging the same for you or Italian descent. Yes, my father and mother both came across in 1920 and my mother was pregnant with me and she said all the time on the ship. She was sick. The only thing she could eat was oranges and they came to live in Pennsylvania. That's where her brother was so they came for a better life, but my father didn't think it was because he went to work in the coal mines and he did not like that. He said well, we're going to go back to Italy and my mother said you can go but I won't she knew it was better hair than Italy. She was never hungry here. But in Italy there were many times when she was very hungry. What did they do in Italy do no.

24:07 Your grandfather was a plaster Blaster. He was a little guy and he could

24:16 Climb up on ladders and stuff, but his father had

24:23 Immigrated to South America, but there he was an engineer and there he had a stroke and I killed him. So then it left his wife with two children.

24:42 I am widowed. Do you know what part of South America, great. Do you know who I don't I don't know because in a Cantina tremendously talented you can see the the soccer team players, you know, it's like half of the last names are Italian is not moral.

25:06 The Amazon River in Bolivia when he had that the Masonic basing takes Brazil and Peru. So that's what I heard, but I don't know if that's true part of that story is that

25:40 My father's mother remarried and before that.

25:48 Her husband's father must have been wall to do cuz he was giving her money for her to live and the two children, but after she remarried he had nothing to do with the family anymore. LOL.

26:05 My beasts would we call the selfish Gene genetic makeup increase kind of family stick together like beans stick together. So maybe that's the scientific explanation for bad behavior that I don't approve off my dad. My dad had to work in the coal mines and he hated that he came home and sat down and cried. He said I came to America for this.

26:42 But they stayed and then a friend of my mother that lived in while she used to live in West Virginia where we were living but she moved to California and she was telling writing to my mother and tell her how nice it is and if my father would like to come he would get her job like a janitor recently was doing the war.

27:06 So we came to California. We moved our furniture cuz in those days to you couldn't buy furniture cuz everything was going into the war.

27:17 And so we shipped our furniture here. Some of it was cracked and all of it. That's how we happened to come to Oakland, California. Well, I met your

27:35 Elena's fun at a dance in West Virginia with my sister and I went to a lot of dance or so. They told us this place downtown they had live music so we will and we were dancing and then they had some kind of a game where you could pick a partner and I had noticed this young man's how good-looking Santa good dancer. So I tagged him and he had come in with another girl so he took my phone number.

28:13 And so he said he'd call me. So that's how I met your father Mark dancing. I don't know. Why don't you go down so you can get another husband good things to go dancing. You have to do a nice and I'm blind as a bat or not. I used once in awhile and I seen you dressing the public side of the family not in my other side of me or below is it would have loved side of the family. That's what I mean. If my mom is my mom is dead the daughter of Juan Pablo incabloc. She was a good dancer and play the piano pretty good to ya maybe I should

29:08 Take my my blind stick angles.

29:18 But then

29:22 That is my story because when I found that little address was an Oakland California address, so that's what because they're two things that I think we have to stress it at this moment is the fact that if Angie would have not fun my letter.

29:50 A weekend with God never been here and make a phone call to myself and I remember an address label was an address from Oakland California that must mean Elena Publix and Mike Thomas address, right? Because marry their daughter Lee, I guess one day pass away Mary Madeline live there right now.

30:21 So, California, where you where would you leaving Oakland I lived in Walnut Creek.

30:30 When I called you when you when you call me back when you mad that we lived about 4 or 5 miles away. I live in an apartment. I do win Dancing with my daughter to she lives in.

31:03 Washington DC near we should be I had a question about when you first came out here you brought that big family tree, which was

31:20 Interesting to me cuz I could trace all the people and I just wondered if you always had an interest in family tree genealogy things or where. What motivated for companies that in 1999. I went to a meeting in Rome as a matter of fact, so I decided if I was going to be in Wrong by not to jump to Croatia, right and it was in Croatia. I visit the little island of trash where Elena and one come from and who sold these people and it happens. I have a Chilean casing that have moved back to Florida. I was Yugoslavia really because it was before and it was 1989 before the bike and War we start building the tree right there because she starts play me who all that people so I stay one night in that house that is as much yours and you were Sandman.

32:20 Tried that is serious there where the great-grandfather of Elena and Juan built that house for three sons. And then the house was divided in three parts of one of those spots are from kind of you guys and I am the other parties from the Nicolas that it will be the father of one and turn would be the father of Elena and then the other side I know little less than that side of the family that is there. And as I told you the other day, I received a Facebook note about this family tree and that their branch of the family. Also, there are people that immigrated at the onset of the Balkan War because they didn't want to get involved because there was throw us married with serves and grow.

33:20 Is married with bosnians and I told you that Neil's dad was in the militia. He didn't want to be caught in between so they're at this moment in the United States.

33:33 Of the three branches from the gray grandfather of Ellen and Juan the three branches that represent I getting the state but we have to make that other connection. I have not heard from them all the links and everything because like you say you go over all these cousins and how did they be cousins using other part of the house? So guessing that have remember reminder Pablo's the living said I did have other time and they came from vacation to brush and they where they are and so my my chill passing that have gone back there to be island was my interpreted and and she started making this and that's where they satisfy the internet.

34:33 But if that's doing the update is the one in the United States now that side of the family do you mean Domingo? Yes, but I don't know. I don't have his address and only I hadn't contacted your Facebook that I don't I am not very good at Facebook. So I send my email so we could do like direct email to communicate better because he's 20 I met him as a baby. I remember he must have baby now. He's a 20 year old or so. I'm just going to be about it was funny because I will but we were preparing kind of for these and Pops a Facebook message that he knew that I may have liked that mean you're on Facebook Facebook.

35:33 My blog Blogspot basically song Only yes, I am going back to Siri, you know some of these people that immigrated when back of my brothers that went by then, I guess some people we have this Theory I said that we are all sounds like the fish that has to go where they came from and I am very much is salmon, so I have to go back.

36:21 I am not going to know I would not leaving my hometown. My hometown is too cold for me. Yes ice beautiful as modify the most beautifulest but if you go to Chile, you have to go to Puerto natales to Torres Del peine and that little town is gorgeous. But sometimes you can cut it snow today is too much. So I would leaving chilly. But in the region that is called the Lakes Region that is very beautiful it rain is equivalent to the rainforest that is in Goshen. Washington stay there. Only to temperate rainforest in the world isn't going to stay the others inside and silly and I would leave just a little Northern, you know, so I would not be in the rainforest proper, but it's quiet rainy and that's why I like it all the time.

37:21 Do toys you ever go to everybody's invited up to how many Five Loaves and they have blush houses with the new don't have relatives or friends in this guy. So you have some on Daddy's. Yes. I do have that I would not be isolated. I don't have 20 minutes from town from Puerto Vallarta. Yes. I'd like to do like your face in Nevada right to Lance's and then I am a US citizen and but if I can keep my citizenship Because unless I go in front of chili on Authority, and I said that I don't want to be a zillion. I am recognizes so I keep both passport.

38:20 What I should say is handy because if I travel to South America do it a sicilian, it's not that is unsafe or anything. I could probably be out of honestly. I don't want to sound that way. It is more that you know, I was 28 when I immigrated to the United States where you grow up, I think it's where you belong the most regardless to a defense that I would be good very upset about this. They do things here because I am accustomed to the modus operandi of a laboratory here, you know, but but otherwise emotionally speaking, I think I fit in in Chile.

39:12 By what you won't have an accent anymore.

39:20 It says my phone and then I lost my accent very interesting I go there and I can't calculator in my head because when is the second language Aldo you don't think about it? I think I told you are very nice all the time translating and I noticed that I go there and I can start calculating again. Hahaha won't be able be able to buy or get better than this is the end you guys have any last words?

40:00 Well, I'm glad that we got to meet. I am so glad that Angie one day. I have to say this call me in the middle of an experiment. I start talking on the phone of this Prettyman 100. It was it was incredible bodies for from my work. I was like the last step on this I stood talkin with Angie, and I forgot this pretty much working, but I didn't know I I I would not have change that it is. Honestly, I would not have changed. It was really I should have thought about calling you later in the day. Perfect.

41:00 By the displacement, I don't think Alyssa promoted. You never know how your actions affect the future, but I think in this case it was. I don't I don't mind having met this very moment.