The Serb National Federation (SNF) is a fraternal organization over a century old, founded by Serbian immigrants who realized the need to create an organization that would help and support their fellow Serbs in America.
2017 Lodge #43 Officers
- President: Stephen Lemley
- Vice president: Mary Jean Venema
- Treasurer: Bev Sobotka
- Secretary: Donna Lemley
Stojan Stipanovic's grave site.
History of Lodge #43
The first Serbian immigrants to Kansas City came from the Austro-Hungary provinces of Lika and Kordun, including the towns of Plaski, Rakovica and Gospic towns. Stojan Stipanovic was the first known Serbian immigrant to come to Kansas City, arriving in 1898 from Austro-Hungary. He later brought his wife, Ana, to Kansas City, and she was the first Serbian woman to emigrate to the area. Stojan passed away in 1905, and is buried at St. John Catholic Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas. Many other early Serbian graves can be found in the St. John and Mt. Calvary Cemeteries in Kansas City, Kansas.
Iso Vujnovic, a young man from Divosleo, Gospic who worked at a packing house in Kansas City, died in early 1900s . After his death, several young Serbs met together and organized the fraternal Serbian organization of St. George #59 to help each other in times of need in their new country. In April 22, 1904 the Serbian Orthodox Unity Srbobran #59 was organized. The first group of officers were: President Mane "Omerov" Dokmanovic, who later moved back to Plaski; Vice President Jovo Janjatovic, who migrated to other city; Secretary Marko "Nogas" Trbojevic; Treasurer Rade Strika, who moved back to Medjedjak, Plaski and died there in 1936; Financial Secretary Nikola "Stric" Potkonjak, who moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Auditor Jovan Katic; Sick Committee Chairman Petar Bunjevac, who later moved to Indiana; and Marshall Ilija Vujnovic.
Below are other important dates and events that directly and indirectly impacted the development of this organization, which eventually came to be known as Serb National Federation Lodge #43:
- In 1906, St. George Serbian Orthodox church was organized. Two houses were purchased on First Street in the West Bottoms, one served as rectory and school and another was converted to a church.
- The Serbian Orthodox Brotherhood of St. John the Baptist #146 was founded on April 29, 1908.
- The Sisters Society #98 was founded in 1907.
- By 1910, approximately 1,500 young Serbs lived and worked in packing houses on both Kansas and Missouri sides.
- In 1911, two local Brotherhoods, Nos. 59 and 146, combined into Savez Sjedinjenih Srba Sloga #59.
- In 1918 the Brotherhood organized the Junior Order "Podmladak." The first president or "staratelj" was Vaso Stanar, a Serb from Bosnia. He was replaced after his repose by Rade B. Supica, a Serb from Vera, Plaski, who continued in that position for over 40 years.
- During the First World War, 1914 -1918, about thirty young Serbs from the Kansas City area who were members of the brotherhood volunteered to fight for the Freedom of their old homeland. Only two of them returned after the war, and the rest either were killed or stayed in Yugoslavia.
- By 1934, the Serbian National Federation was formed after combining with several Fraternal Organizations and St. George Brotherhood #59 to become St. George Lodge SNF #43. The Christian name of "brotherhood" or "drustvo" had been replaced with a secular name "lodge."
Historical photos from Lodge #43: