Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peter Goldsmith (Petar Zlatarich)

We know so little about Petar Zlatarich who after arriving in the United States changed his name to Peter Goldsmith.  So, here is a little information we do know and hopefully some of you readers might be able to fill in a few more blanks.

We do know he died on April 12, 1914 and doing in research on genealogy they recommend if you know nothing, start from death and work backwards.  So here goes.  

Unfortunately on the US Census reports his age on the various reports changes.  Not unusual because in the mid-1800s several people didn’t know when they were born for various reasons.   It these reports vary, it doesn’t exactly mean that the information on is any more correct.  However, a search of Peter in their files reveal the following information:

  • 1878 Territorial Census
    • Peter age 45
    • Birthplace - Spain
    • Occupation - fisherman
    • Precinct Steilacoom
    • S. Goldsmith age 45 
  • 1880 Territorial Census
  • 1892 Territorial Census
    • Peter age 60
    • Son Peter Jr. age 10 - student
  • 1900 Census
    • He was born June 1832 in Habsburg Austrian Empire that part of Austria known as Dalmatia in or near Dubronik as were his parents, names unknown
    • His immigration date to the US - 1852 (New York)*
    • He was a widower with one son, Peter Goldsmith, Jr. age 17
  • 1910 Census
    • Widowed
  • WA Death Records
    • April 12, 1914
    • Peter Goldsmith, Tacoma Pauper Cemetery, Grave 303
    • Peter Goldsmith, Jr. May 9, 1914 Tacoma Obituary
    • Tacoma Pauper Cemetery, Grave 307

 I was unable to find naturalization papers showing his name change, only Index # 556103.  I am also curious as to how his immigration date and record would be in New York District.  All the information we have states that Peter arrived in US from Canada in the Harbor History Museum, as well as on the First Croatian Fishermen on Vancouver Island site and on the Gig Harbor Founding Families site .

Central Europe was involved in crises in the 1860s and Austria, Croatia and Serbia were also affected by natural calamities damaging agriculture creating vast unemployment throughout the country.  The other major way of life was fishing.  People fled seeking a more stable employment climate and the United States and Canada were a natural destination.

Petar met two other men fleeing Europe on a steamer bound for Victoria, British Columbia:  Samuel Jerisich, a Croatian and John Farragut (Farrague), a Portuguese.  It is likely that he first arrived in New York on an steamer, and then continued on that or another steamer around the horn to California, and on to Nanaimo, British Columbia.  It is unknown at which leg of the journey they met, but most like the last leg.  We only know from Dr. Zelimir B. Juricic’s book about Samuel’s trips.    In 1854, at age 21, Samuel Jerisich arrived in San Francisco for the second time; Samuel left  San Francisco for Canada when, in 1860s, gold was found in Canada on the Fraser River.  .

The three men had decided to become fishing partners by the time they arrived in Nanaimo, British Columbia.  The waters in and around Vancouver Island contained tremendous varieties of fish:  again, quoting Dr. Juricic, “halibut, smelt, haddock, and whiting, herring and herring spawn, shrimp and prawns, trout, rock and link cod, oysters, dog fish, seals and sea lions”.They settled on Vancouver Island and fished the waters around Vancouver, down into the San Juans and further down the Pacific Coast to the Olympic Peninsula, rowing the long flat-bottomed skiff with sixteen-foot oars.  The men fished by trolling with hook-and-line as practiced by the Native Americans and the First Tribes of Canada, or from the harbor shore drawing the nets into shore by hand.    They never fished with a motor-power boat.

On one of their fishing trips on the Puget Sound they were caught in a storm, seeking shelter, came into the Gig Harbor bay.  While here they found there was good fishing in the sound and that the San Juans were not that far away.  They liked the Native Americans they met and decided to settle here in 1867.  Samuel returned to Vancouver to fetch his wife, Annie and their children.

Samuel built his business selling the fish he caught in Steilacoom, Olympia, and the Hudson Bay Store at Fort Nisqually.  He built a dock in Gig Harbor, rendering plant to extract dogfish oil, a smokehouse and warehouse for smoked and salted fish.

John Farragut also remained in Gig Harbor.  Both he and Samuel are buried at the Artondale Cemetery.  

But Peter basically just disappeared for memory with few men or women remembering him.  I recall a few years ago of seeing something about him owning and selling a piece of property in Gig Harbor but unfortunately couldn’t find it for this piece.

If you are a Sherlock Holmes and discover more facts about Peter, his son, his life, please share with us by commenting on the blog.

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  1. This is a rather screwy comment box. Choose a profile? Huh? Why? I would like to post my name but I have to log into google to make a comment. This seems rather weird. Do you want Google to track our lives?

  2. I would like to know if the museum has copies of the different Censuses that you reference or is that only through My grandfather became a US citizen in Pierce County in 1902 but I've never seen any count of him in any census. The 1900 census was unavailable at the time I searched. Do you have it?

    1. I access all the census reports at the GH Pierce County Library on which is free to members.