Mateo Marinovich was born in Milne, Brac Dalmatia, Austria and immigrated to America arriving at the Port of New York in 1905 under the name Kuzma Marinovich. After moving to Biloxi and changing his name to Mateo, he began his work in the seafood industry as fisherman and married Mary Margaret “Marguerite” Misko in 1910. In 1918, several months after the birth of their first child, Mateo formally declared his intention of becoming a U.S. citizen and was naturalized in 1921, more than a year after the birth of their second child. Their third child was born five years later as the family resided on First Street in the Summerville Addition area of Biloxi, also known as Point Cadet.
In February, Mateo and his fishing partner were featured in the local newspaper, The Daily Herald after a remarkable fishing [shrimping] trip. While on his partner’s motorboat, the pair ventured 62 miles off the shore of Mobile, Alabama marking the farthest journey of any fisherman that year. The risk paid off when they returned with a catch totaling 62 barrels of “the finest shrimp brought to [market]”. That averaged a barrel for every mile they traveled. To make the adventure even more interesting, they returned with two mysterious fish that were “flat like a flounder, with heads something like a whale; the eyes being on top, dark brown in color and spotted”. The fish were kept alive for the return trip to Biloxi where all were astonished to find that the fish packed an electrical punch in addition to their startling appearance. The fish were donated to J.W. Swetman who was known to collect and preserve all curiosities brought in by Biloxi fishermen.
A member of the St. Nicholas Slavonian Society and the Biloxi Benevolent Association, Mike would often be found entertaining friends in his home, sharing “home brew” and sing-alongs and camaraderie. He worked for Johnson Canning Company using his boat “Mystery” to harvest fish, oysters and shrimp in order to provide for his family.
After a brief illness, Mateo passed away at the age of 41 years, leaving his widow, three children and his legacy of love for the seafood industry and his Croatian heritage which are such an integral part of Biloxi’s amazing story.