The Fon Family in America


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When I was growing up, I would ask my father about this picture. Who were they? Where we they from? Why did they come here? "They came over from the old country" he'd say, although he couldn't remember exactly what country, and had little further information to offer, besides that the man pictured to the left was his grandfather, and that he was a well known figure in "the old neighborhood."

This website is the cumulation of a decade of research that started with this picture and the fact that I had an unusual surname, Fon, growing up. When I would say my last name, I would get a blank stare for a second that was usually followed by either "How do you spell that?" or "... is that it? Huh."

So, here's the story as best I've been able to piece together....

Anton Fon (left) and Rozalija Bergic (right) departed from Le Harve, France on the way to Ellis Island on April 4, 1913. Why they left is unclear, the fact that their first child, Mary, was born six months after they arrived certainly had something to do with it. They both came from small villages in an area near the Yugoslav-Italian border called Kobarid. Anton, age 28 at the time of departure, came from Trnovo ob Soci, while Roza, age 21, came from nearby Dreznica. Kobarid during this time period was later immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in "A Farewell to Arms."