Texas Czechs

Discussion in 'Looking for Ancestors' started by sherman, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. sherman

    sherman Member

    Anyone interested in learning more about Texas Czech heritage should read Czech Voices by clinton MacHann and James W. Mendl, JR and is published by Texas A&M University Press. Don't worry, it's all in English! Enjoy.
  2. John Rihacek

    John Rihacek Active Member

    Thank for the reference source. It seems that the Midwest Czech Americans were better at preserving their heritgage then the East Coast
    Czechs. Were there greater numbers of Czech immigrants in Texas that
    were able to marry within the group, and did the isolation of rural Texas
    play a role.

    In the East Coast, most Czechs lived within the German immigrant communities and were Catholics. Even though there were Sokols in
    New Jersey, and New York the tug of intermarriage, and the lack of
    heavy Czech immigration resulted in the gradula loss of our identity.
    All of my Czech-American ancestors married outside their ethnic group
    to other ethnic Catholics such as Germans, Irish, and Italians. Some of
    relatives even have historical Dutch names such as Van Liew as this area
    was first settled by the Dutch.

    The Midwest, inclusive of Chicago, seems to still have Czech communities
    that have held on to their customs, and heritage.
  3. rkasparek

    rkasparek Well-Known Member

    I agree. I come from Cedar Rapids Iowa, home of the "National Czech and Slovak Museum". They had many festivals there: a mushroom festival they called Houby Days... a Kolach Festival and a small area in what was known as "Czech town" Good bands, good eats and GREAT people. We had fun!
  4. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    I spent two weeks in Cedar Rapids and became a "part" of the Czech Community (1994), before the museum was finished. I met a number of wonderful Czechs, walked the streets and ate int eh restaurants around where the museum was built. I went to the concerts at the little square. I even had a chance to speak at teh Czech school they have in June telling about my experience in escaping from Czechoslovakia and coming to the US.

    I almost took a job with a company in Cedar Rapids, but they could not give me an offer that would compensate me for my experience so I could support my family.

    However, my two weeks there were wonderful.
  5. rkasparek

    rkasparek Well-Known Member

    Stephan: Glad to hear your experience was a positive one! I too was there during that time. In fact - the original Czech museum was probably working out of their old facility which wasn't much more that a large garage! They started from practically nothing. Did a fine job with their opportunity and now have a great facility!

    There are efforts here in texas to build a heritage museum as well. Hopefully I will be part of those efforts as well.

    I'd love to hear more about your 'escape'!

    Highest Regards
  6. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    I am Czech by birth, American by fate. I was born in Mrazov, a small town west of Praha. My dad was a music professor, having a music school in Mrazov. In 1948, we (my father, mother, 3 half brothers and I) escaped communist Czechoslovakia, I being carried across the border in a blanket, into Germany, where my father worked for Radio Free Eurpoe and became the Musical Director. My sister was born there. She now lives in New York City.

    In 1952 we emigrated to the US, settling in upstate New York in a very diverse community of Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Italians and Greeks. My dad worked for Endicott-Johnson Shoes and did music nights and weekends. My parents passed away in 1962 (father) and 1989 (mother).

    I try to keep some Czech traditions of my childhood - like fasting on Christmas Eve and having Fried Fish, Potato Salad and Apple Strudel (I make from scratch). I cook Czech foods such as Segedyn Goulas, Svickova/knedliky, Goulash, Goulash Soup, Spanelsky Ptacky, palacinky, and some cookies at Christmas. I make blueberry kolac and sveckovy knedliky.

    I am married with 2 children - a son who graduated college last May and a daughter in her first year of college. We now live in Northern Virginia, about an hour west of Washington DC. I visit the Czech Embassy to speak a little Czech so I don't forget all.
  7. rkasparek

    rkasparek Well-Known Member

    Bless you Stepan for keeping the Czech traditions alive!

    My grandfather came over in the late 1800s and settled in Lidgerwood ND where he opened a harness shop... later turned back to shoes (I think that's what most Czech did - shoes!). My dad didn't speak much Czech to us as kids so I never learned the language. Looking back on it - I wish I would have been more interested in learning!!

    There weren't really many Czech traditions carried on in my family that I can remember and I feel like there's something missing. I'd love to go back in time and recapture some of that but alas, Dad is no longer with us, and most of the Czech side is gone now or lost track of - which is why I am glad to at least have this opportunity on the boards here.

    Sounds like your story would make a great movie! Glad you're here and sharing with us!!

  8. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    Well, try to find some Czech traditions and start them with the family.

    I have done a few, as I said. Christmas Eve being the biggest. However, I do cook a lot of Czech food, to my kids chagrin - they tolerate it and I hope some day that they will appreciate it as a part of their culture.

    If you would like some recipes, let me know and I can e-mail to you.
  9. rkasparek

    rkasparek Well-Known Member

    Yes please!

    My email addy is [removed].

    BTW - some of the drawings I did for the NCSM are at my website.

  10. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I grew up in suburban Texas and had a lot of friends with Czech surnames. Several of them (that I know well) trace their Czech ancestry through one of the Czech towns in Texas.

    I'm curious, Stepan, where upstate this "diverse" community, since I live upstate myself. Maybe there's a bakery which sells kolace ...
  11. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    The "diverse" upstate community is Endicott, New York - actually the entire area, known as the Triple Cities - Binghamton, Johnson City, Endicott - was very European diverse. I have been out of the area for over 20 years and it has become diverse with other nationalities since then.

    This area was where George F. Johnson set up a shoe factory and called it Endocott Johnson Corporation (E-J). They were a major show maker in the US for many decades. Here is a link to the story: http://www.nationalinvestor.com/EJ%20story.htm . And another link: http://www.albany.edu/history/ej/origins/ .

    The employed many immigrants from all over Europe and the story goes that when may got off the boats, the only English phrase they knew was, "Which way E-J?"

    There were a number of bakeries in the area that made good rye breads and pastries, the best being the Endwell Bakery owned by a family named Tomiska (hacec above the "s"), but they died with no children, so the bakery closed. The only other one I knew of is now also out of business. I use to love their rye bread - They made large round loaves about 24 inches in diameter - it was delicious.

    Now the main bakeries are Italian - and they make Italian bread to die for - I have not found any as good as the ones from Roma's Bakery or De Rienzo Bakery.

    I would love some good Kolacky or hard rolls and especially rye bread.
  12. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Thanks! I'll have to do some research before the next time I head down that way.
  13. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    So, Where in New York State are you??
  14. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member


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