The story of Croatians in Arizona began in the town of Globe, which is a two hour drive from the city of Phoenix, over Superstition Freeway, across the desert. After some time driving along the freeway, one passes by a red mountain chain and various impressive rock formations, before arriving at the small town of Miami, which is little more than a few houses by the road. Then the first mines come into view. The area is rich in copper and malachite, used to belong to the Apache natives, and was the area where the legendary Geronimo rode during the time when the first Croatians arrived here.
Leaving Miami, one quickly arrives in Globe, which was called Besh Baa Gowah by the natives, meaning ‘place of metal’. Globe has around 7,500 citizens today, and was founded in 1875, as a mining camp. Croatians discovered Globe at the start of the 20th century. There are traces of them in the names of Adriatic Street and Kotor, which was a Dalmatian city prior to World War I.
In 1916, the Holy angels Catholic Church was built in Globe, which is a part of America’s cultural heritage today. One of the stained glass windows on the church was sponsored by the Croatians that lived there, who didn’t hesitate to part with their hard earned dollars, and the words ‘Roman catholic Croatians’ are written on the stained glass.
The graveyard there is particularly interesting to visit, as there is a Croatian lodge there. This is where most of the people born in the 1880s are buried, and there average age was around thirty. There are few women, and their last names are from Herzegovina or the vicinity of Imotski, as well as the odd one from an Adriatic island. The people here traded a hard life in their homeland for a hard life abroad, where they were greeted with working in mines, the native population, and an early death.
Globe, Arizona: Kotor Drive and Adriatic Avenue
In Split’s Pučki List, under an article titled A Sad Voice from America, a letter by Toma Alfirević, who wrote for the Globe in 1913, was published. Alfirević had the following to say: On April 14th, there was a terrible accident in Miami. In a 500ft deep mineshaft, where a great many people worked, the roofs of the inner passages caved in, and buried the entire mine. Thankfully, there were few troops [miners] in the mine, otherwise hundreds of mothers would be crying, and a great many widows and children would be wrapped in black. Only six were killed, and another 25 were wounded. None of our Croatians were in the mine when the accident occurred. Some say “There’s good wages in America!” That much is true, but every penny is earned in blood. Just imagine working in the mines; at a depth of 500ft, there is no sun, no moon, nor glimpse of a clear day, just entire days spent in tight corridors, amid the stench of coal and other gasses, which catch in your throat.
Holy Angels Catholic Church and the stained glass window with the words “Roman catholic Croatians”.