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Mary Consetta Bonocich Thian

Born in Milna Brac, Croatia in 1898 and arriving on the Gulf Coast at the age of twenty-two, Mary Consetta Bonocich Thian was a resident of Biloxi until her passing at the age of 74. Her two older sisters who had immigrated to the area just before the 20th century and married Mladinich brothers sent for “Consetta” to join them as the economy in their homeland was greatly declining.

Upon her arrival, Consetta began working in factories picking shrimp and crabs, and shucking oysters. With Kuluz Brothers Seafood Factory was her primary employer, she rarely missed any of Biloxi’s seafood seasons- with shrimp processing in the summer, and oyster processing in the winter. With the early morning whistles, she would be picked up by one of her brothers and begin her work. Consetta was recognized by coworkers as one of the strongest, hardest working Croatian ladies at the factories, often repairing worn out gloves and sharpening her own oyster knife. Dr. Matthew Kuluz, who worked by her side as a young boy, averred that “she never gave up, even in her older age when she experienced leg problems.” She found ways to continue her work by sitting and checking scales when workers turned in their seafood.

Mary Consetta’s life was largely spent as a widow with four children, all of whom also worked in the seafood factories. Only her youngest son graduated from high school. Like most Europeans, never was a Sunday Mass missed, and she prayed her rosary daily. Known as “Nuna” by her grandchildren, she dearly loved and cherished her entire family.

 Dedicated to her heritage, Consetta was one of the first members of the Slavic Ladies Auxiliary; dedicated to her faith- a member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church Altar Society; and dedicated to the seafood industry- an active member of the Seafood Workers Union.


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