Nikola Tesla biography 6/7





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Uploaded on May 16, 2007

Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, a little village near Gospić in Lika. Tesla was born on July 10th 1856. In the same year was born George Bernard Shaw, the Irish and English playwright, Dragutin Gorjanović-Kramberger, the first man who studied Krapina's early man as well as Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Tesla's father was Milutin. He was a priest by profession. Their family name was not always Tesla. It had been Draganić, surname Tesla was given to them afterwards. Namely, allegedly one of Nikola's ancestors had extremely big front teeth that resembled carpenter tools ("Tesarski" alat) so he got the nickname "Tesla" after it. Most of Nikola's ancestors lived evidently longer that it was usual for a man's life so there was a tale that one of them died in the age of 140!

Brother Dane's death

Milutin was born in nearby Raduč in 1819 and he was supposed to be a soldier, as it was common in the Military Border (Vojna Krajina). His brother Josif was a soldier indeed, but Milutin enrolled seminary in Plaški and became a priest. Having finished seminary, he married Đuka Mandić, a girl from Gračac. In the beginning, Milutin worked in Senj parish (the church there is destroyed now), and from 1857 he was a priest in Smiljan (he had been only an administrator before). While working in Senj he had allegedly used to preach about "usefulness of work" so the Archbishop ordained him a red belt and Milutin became a parish priest. Nikola and Mandica were born in Smiljan, while Angelina, Milka and Dane were born in Senj. Milutin wrote poems and published them. He spoke Italian, Croatian and German.

Nikola's mother Đuka descended from one of the oldest families in Lika. Her father, just like her husband, was a priest. In his book My Inventions Nikola himself said about his mother: "She was a truly great woman, of rare skill, courage and fortitude, who had braved the storms pf life and past thru many a trying experience. When she was sixteen, a virulent pestilence swept the country. Her father was called away to administer the last sacraments to the dying and during his absence she went alone to do assistance of a neighboring family who were stricken by the dread disease. All of the members, five in number, succumbed in rapid succession. She bathed, clothed and laid out the bodies, decorated them with flowers according to the custom of the country and when her father returned he found everything ready for a Christian burial."

When Nikola was only five his brother Dane died by accident. That accident marked a whole Nikola's further life. Allegedly, Dane was an unusually gifted boy and their parents were very proud on him, while they did not consider Nikola intelligent. Because of that, Nikola would constantly compare himself with his brother. Too early brother's death was a horrible attack to a whole family, especially to their mother and father. Nikola decided that he would try to be better than his late brother Dane and make up his parents their huge lost in that way.

Walks on Velebit and father's rich library

Nikola grew up in a land-tilling environment. In those days Lika was one of the most underdeveloped and isolated regions of the Hapsburg Monarchy. Illiteracy, lack of hygiene and education were characteristics of a whole southeast part of the Monarchy. Apart from that, up to 1881 Lika was included in Military Border so the life in the that region was far harder and more cruel than the life in the civil part of Croatia.
Up to age of ten, there was no possibility for Nikola to see the locomotive let alone to find out anything about the world technical achievements. One of the earliest events that Tesla remembered was that when he had been locked in a little mountain church. At the age of five Nikola would take a walk on Velebit, which towered above his home village.

Of a great importance was for the home atmosphere was the fact that Tesla's father owned a big and rich library. There were books of Goethe and Schiller and similar, a few books in French, even the book of German Protestant Sermons from 1595 could be found there. Nikola was not like the other kids- from his early life he used to be an inventor. For that gift, credits went to his mother. Tesla wrote about her:" My mother was an inventor of the first order and would, I believe, have achieved great things had she not been so remote from modern life and its multiple opportunities. She invented and constructed all kinds of tools and devices and wove the finest designs from thread, which was spun by her. She even planted seeds, raised the plants and separated the fibres herself. She worked indefatigably, from break of day till late at night, and most of the wearing apparel and furnishings of the home was the product of her hands. When she was past sixty, her fingers were still nimble enough to tie three knots in an eyelash."


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