Bohemian National Cemetery - First Ten Burials
The Friends of the Bohemian National Cemetery, on their website, provide a short summary of the beginning of Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois:
“At a mass meeting of the more than 20 Czech benevolent, fraternal, workingman's, gymnastic, and freethinker’s societies on January 7th, 1877, Frantisek Zdrubek called on all Chicago societies to come together and create a "free national cemetery, where any Czech could be buried without regard to religion."
April 11, 1877 the Illinois Secretary of State issued the charter for the Bohemian National Cemetery Association articles of incorporation. According to this document the purpose of the Association was to provide suitable burial site for persons of Bohemian birth or extraction.
The cemetery is now open to people of all ethnicities and religions.
“Spanning about 125 acres, Bohemian National Cemetery has been called a beautiful Garden of the Dead, is a Chicago landmark and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Rich with both aesthetic and genealogical information, the cemetery is the final resting place for nearly 120,000 people”.”[i]
According to the Find A Grave web site for Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, “The first burial, a baby named N. Brada, took place on July 1, 1877. The cemetery officially opened in September, and the first public funeral was held on November 1, 1877”[ii] N. Brada is posted at Find A Grave.[iii] Before the end of 1877, fifty two burials were recorded at Bohemian National Cemetery.
Brada (no age information) first burial at BNC, address at time of death 723 S. Morgan was originally interred at Grave Row 1 Lot Zero Block Im. N. Brada was later re-interred at another location within the cemetery. The undertaker listed is Seyk.
The Bohemian National Cemetery Burial Index, maintained by CSAGSI (Czech and Slovak Genealogy Society of Illinois) lists seven with the surname Brada buried in BNC. N. Brada’s address at time of death is listed at 723 S. Morgan. The undertaker listed is Seyk. A burial with the same address at time of death for 723 S. Morgan is Vaclav Brada, buried at BNC on February 8, 1879. The undertaker listed is Seyk. Family Search lists the information as James Brada, birth 1823, death 2-6-1879. A Kate Brada died on October 25, 1886, and was listed as buried on October 25, 1886 in BNC by Family Search. No record is found on the BNC Burial Index. Kate was listed as born in 1834.
The Census for 1870 Illinois, Cook, Ward 9, Page 325 of 701, lists a Vaclav Brada and family. So far, no Catholic Church death record has been found for N. Brada to establish a link to this family.
Four with the Brada surname are listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Seven with the Brada surname are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
N Brada Gravesite – Original gravesite not found. Discussion with the nice people working in the office indicated there is no real record for an exact location they know of. Grave was a term grave. Memorial headstone placed in the “Park” to honor the first burial at BNC.
This may help. The Winter 2002 issue of the CSAGSI Journal Koreny, an article written by Paul Nemecek, provides additional information. It seems that around the time of the burial the Cemetery and the Township of Jefferson were still in dispute over the creation of the cemetery. Nemecek writes: "Lawyers advised the Association trustees to hold a couple of burials strictly in private on the Jefferson Township property, to erect a fence and put up a sign saying Bohemian National Cemetery. Not an easy task. But finally Charles Brada agreed to the burial of his child, an infant girl, under these special circumstances on July 1, 1877. On August 7th, a second burial took place, Anna, daughter of John Bocan was interred. The fence and the sign went up and Jefferson Township went to court. A judge ruled in favor of the cemetery in October and the first public funeral, that of Mrs. Anna Hubacek was held at Bohemian National on November 1."
Katerina Bican, (no age information) was the second burial at BNC. The address at time of death 408 W. 18th Street. Katerina was interred on August 10, 1877 at Grave Row 1, Lot 1, Block 1m. The undertaker listed is Seyk.
Twenty two with the surname Bican are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Twenty four with the Bican surname are listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Katerina Bican Gravesite - Original gravesite not found. Discussion with the nice people working in the office indicated there is no real record for an exact location they know of. Grave was a term grave.
Anna Hubacek, (listed as 55 years of age) was the third burial at BNC. Anna’s address at time of death was 434 S. Halsted. Anna was interred on November 1, 1877 at Lot 1, Block1, Section K. The undertaker listed is Seyk.
The BNC Burial Index lists 15 individuals buried in Lot 1, Block 1, Section K: Charles Berlin 1904, age 46; Emily Berlin 1937, age 67; Frank Berlin 1953, age 57; Jakub Heber 1891, age 90; Anna Hubacek 1877, age 55; Marie Korba 1882, age 53; Matej Korba 1889, age 77; Blanche Peceny 1918, age 20; Ferdinand Pfeiffer 1886, age 21; Charles Vaska 1901, age 22; E. Vaska 1896, infant; Vojtech Vaska 1878, age 39, Frank E. Waska 1925, age 52; Mary Waska 1937, age 86; and Vojtech Waska 1878, infant.
So far, this writer has not been able to find any verified relationship between Anna and any of the other 14 individuals buried in this grave site.
Twenty seven with the surname Hubacek are listed in the Dennis Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Thirty Two with the surname Hubacek are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
The Chicago Directory for 1877, the same year of Anna’s death, lists an Andrew Hubacek, liquor salesman, living at 434 S. Halsted, the same address listed for Anna’s death in 1877.
Census records list arrival in USA in 1848 for Andrew Hubacek. New York City, October 30, 1848, Andreas Hubaskset aboard the ship Emigrant, lists Chicago as destination.
In the 1880 census Wisconsin, Kewaunee, Kewaunee, 052, page 5, Andrew is listed as widow, and as the father in law, daughter Anna Pohl 48, born in Bohemia.
In the 1900 census California, Sonoma, Redwood, District 0168, page 18, Andrew, listed as widow, and is also listed as Kubicek.
Anna Hubacek Gravesite – Gravesite Section K, Block 1 was walked several times by this writer. None of the fifteen individuals buried in Lot 1, Block 1, Section K seemed to have a visible headstone.
Otokar Fuk, (listed as 4 days of age) became the fourth burial at BNC, with an address at time of death 177 Ewing Street. Otokar was interred on November 1, 1877 at Lot 13 Block 5 Section M. BNC Burial Index indicates Otokar was later reburied to Lot 1 Section 16 on April 18, 1915. The undertaker listed is Seyk.
The BNC Burial Index lists six individuals interred at Lot 1 Section 16: Franta Fuk 1878, no age information; Franta Fuk 1886, age 40; Mina Fuk 1882, age 2 years, 7 months; Otokar Fuk 1877, 4 days; Otokar Fuk 1886, 1 year; (all previously listed also reburied from Lot 13 Block 5 Section M) and Bessie Wondriska 1957, age 81.
The BNC Burial Index lists a Vaclav Fuk, born 1904, age at death 1 month in Lot 33 Section 16. Also buried in the same grave site is Marie Dvorak 1932, age 53; James Peters 1952, age 80; and Marie Peters 1943, age 71.
There is a ship registry record for Franz Fuk 28, Maria Fuk 28 and Anna Fuk 4, arriving in 1874 at port Baltimore on the ship Nurnberg. Frank Fuk died on October 7, 1886 at 502 West 19th Street. Wife Maria then married Frank Jonas on October 18, 1887. Marie Venichl Fuk Jonas died in March of 1925 and is also buried in the Fuk family gravesite of Row 1 Section 16. Husband Frank Jonas died in April of 1938 and is also buried in the Fuk family gravesite of Row 1 Section 16.
No one with the Fuk surname is listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Six with the Fuk surname are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Otokar Fuk Gravesite – The walk of Section 16 by this writer was not complete.
Emilie Hula, (listed as 1 year old) is the fifth burial at BNC, with an address at time of death only listed as 6th Ward. Emilie was interred on November 1, 1877 at Grave Row 2 Lot 46 Block 1m. The undertaker listed is Seyk.
The BNC Burial Index lists another Emilie Hula, address at time of death is 68 Waller, (listed as interred on October 27, 1880, age 10 months) at Grave Row 6 Lot 46 Block 1m.
Thirty one with the Hula surname are listed in the Dennis Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Thirty six with the Hula surname are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Emilie Hula Gravesite - Original gravesite not found. Discussion with the nice people working in the office indicated there is no real record for an exact location of Block 1m which they know of. Grave was a term grave.
Marie Sramek, (listed as 2 years and seven months of age) is the sixth listed burial at BNC, with an address at time of death of 444 Clinton Street. Marie was interred on November 2, 1877 at grave Lot 15 Block 5 Section M. The undertaker listed as Seyk. Marie Sramek was transferred to Lot 34 Section 16 on March 27, 1915.
There are ten burials, listed by the BNC Burial Index, at Lot 34, Section 16: Anna Pauke 1947, age 73; Elsie Pauke 1904, age 6; John Pauke 1940, age 73; Emma Schramek 1946, age 74; Barbora Sramek 1910, age 72. Elsie Sramek 1899, age 6; Jakub Sramek 1907, no age information; Marie Sramek, 1877, age 2 years and 7 months; N. Sramek 1891, stillborn; and Stepan Sramek 1890, age 59.
Family Search has a record of the birth, March 26, 1875 and baptism of Marie Sramek for Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Chicago. The record lists Stepan Sramek and Barbara Heyl Sramek as her parents.[iv]
Stephan Schramonck arrived from port Bremen to port New York City on August 12, 1861 aboard the ship Herzogin Von Brabant. The ship registry listed Stephan 31, Barbora 29, Martin 6, and John (infant). Their 1880 census record for Illinois, Cook, Chicago, District 089, on page 20, listed their address as 444 Clinton, the same as listed for Marie. Listed were Stephen Schramek 50, Barbara 47, Jacob 14 and Anna 7. The family, in the 1870 census, is listed under Stephen Gamack, Illinois, Cook, Chicago, 09, on page 57.
Ninety two with the Sramek surname are listed in the Dennis Hlasatel Obituary Index.
111 with Sramek surname are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Marie Sramek Gravesite – Marie’s gravesite was located. The only headstone for this large family plot was that of her father Stepan. In a few more years any readable inscription will have vanished.
The book, the Semi-Centennial of the Bohemian National Cemetery lists Stephan (Stepan) Sramek became one member of the first set of BNC trustees before the actual purchase of the Bohemian National Cemetery property.
Katerina Hanis, (listed as 1 year of age) was the seventh burial at BNC, listing an address at time of death as 701 Centre Avenue. Katerina was interred on November 3, 1877 at Grave Row 2 Lot 39 Block 1m. The undertaker listed as Seyk.
No one with the surname Hanis is listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
No one else, with the surname Hanis, is listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Katerina Hanis Gravesite - Original gravesite not found. There was also a spelling concern. Discussion with the nice people working in the office indicated there is no real record for an exact location they know of. Grave was a term grave.
Emily Wosalik, (listed as 6 days of age) became the eighth burial at BNC, with an address at time of death listed as 115 West 19th Street. Emily was interred on November 5, 1877 at Grave Row 2 Lot 47 Block Im. The undertaker listed as Seyk. Emily Wosalik was transferred to Lot 179 Section 11 on April 28, 1906.
There are no other Wosaliks buried in BNC, but there are 6 Vosahliks buried in Lot 179, Section 11. It appears this is another W vs V spelling choice found with many of these family spellings. Buried in Lot 179 Section 11: Vosahlik (buried): Anna 1914 at age 64; Edward 1936 at age 60; Evelyn 1918 at age 1; Josephine 1913 at age 1 month, 29 days; Mary 1936 at age 59; and Joseph 1906 at age 56.
Anna Blaha married Joseph Vosahlik on July 27, 1873 in Chicago. Anna Vosahlik has a Find A Grave posting as #143509995. Joseph has a Find A Grave posting as #143509987. While not successful at finding the 1880 census record for the family, Joseph Vosahlik is in the 1880 Chicago City directory available through Chicago Ancestors living at 715 S. Morgan Street.[v] One of the witnesses to Anna and Joseph’s wedding was Vaclav Vosahlik. He and his family are found in the 1880 Census for Illinois, Cook, Chicago, District 059, at page 49. Anna and Joseph, along with several children, are found in the 1900 Census for Illinois, Cook, Chicago, Ward 30, District 0914 at page 8, listed under Vosalie.
Twelve with the surname Vosahlik are listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Twenty four with the surname Vosahlik are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Emily Wosalik (Vosahlik) Gravesite – The gravesite was found. Emily, and other infants, do not have individual headstones.
Barbara Divis, (listed as 35 years of age) the ninth burial at BNC, had no address provided. Barbara was interred on November 9, 1877 at Grave Row 1 Lot 7 Block St.v. The undertaker listed as Seyk. Barbara Divis was transferred to Grave 3 Lot 3 Section H on April 18, 1908. The BNC Burial Index lists 13 people buried in this grave site.
Sixty six with the surname Divis are listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Sixty two with the surname Divis are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
This writer believes, but without definitive proof, that Barbara Divis was Barbara Cesal, who married Joseph Divis. Barbara died in 1877 and was buried in Block St. V. Joseph died in 1883 and is still buried in Section St. V. (Row 5 Lot 29 Block St. V).
Barbara Divis was transferred to Lot 3, Block 3, Section H. The 12 other people buried there are:Anna Bednar 1917, age 59; Annie Bednar 1905, age 23; Baby Bednar 1902, Infant; Edward Bednar 1909, Infant; Joseph Bednar 1896, infant; Martin Bednar 1927, age 69; Anna Cesal 1879, age 32; James Cesal 1911, age 40 (father listed as John Cesal, mother listed as Anna Divis); John Cesal 1915, age 80: Josef Cesal 1884, age 1; Martin Cesal 1884, age 35, and M and J Vrba 1913, infant.
Family Search Catholic Church records for Chicago list Birth / Baptism records for children of Barbara Cesal and Josef Divis: Barbara 1866, Saint Wenceslaus; Maria 1869, Saint Wenceslaus; Albert 1871, Saint Wenceslaus; and Christina 1873, Saint Wenceslaus. Family Search and Ancestry.com list daughter Marie Divis, born June 24, 1869, married John Vaclena on May 5, 1890. Marie Divis Vaclena died in April of 1946 and is buried in Resurrection Cemetery, Justice, Illinois.
No verified census records have been found for Barbara and Joseph Divis. No close to matching 1880 census, but a possible, very bad name variation, for 1870, Illinois, Cook Chicago, Ward 8, Page 201 of 576 listing Joseph Gerish 26, Barbara 26 and Mary 1. None with the surname Gerish are listed in the BNC Index or the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Barbara Divis Gravesite – This writer walked Block 3, Section H, along with the remainder of Section H several times. No headstone was discovered for any of those listed as buried in Grave 3, Lot 3,
Anton F. Matejovsky, (listed as 4 days of age) was the tenth burial at BNC, with an address at time of death of 73 Forquer. Anton was interred on November 12, 1877 at Grave Row 1 Lot 15 Block 1m. The undertaker listed as Rezek.
So far this writer has not been able to discover any additional verified genealogy information on Anton.
Twenty with the surname Matejovsky are listed in the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index.
Twenty eight with the surname Matejovsky are listed in the BNC Burial Index.
Anton F. Matejovsky Gravesite - Original gravesite not found. Once again, discussion with the nice people working in the office indicated there is no real record for an exact location of Block 1m which they know of. Grave was a term grave.
This writer contacted the Friends of the Bohemian National Cemetery seeking more information related to Block 1m. A reply was quickly received. Block Im was an area of term graves and an area of many infant burials. Unfortunately, very few other records exist for Block 1m and its exact boundaries within the cemetery.[vi]
Seyk - Undertaker
Nine of the first ten burials at Bohemian National Cemetery used the services of the Seyk undertaker service.
Vaclav / Wenzel Seyk 1847 – 1909
(Image courtesy of Find a Grave Contributor – Grave Recorder – ID 47359603)
Vaclav Seyk is also buried in Bohemian National Cemetery Lot 9 Block 1 Section K. It is a family grave site (Find A Grave #156303617). Vaclav arrived, listed as Wenzel, on June 5, 1867 from port Bremen to port New York City, aboard the ship E.F. Gabain. There are two Wenzels listed. One age 24 and the other age 33, both laborers, heading to Chicago.
Vaclav Seyk married Anna Urban in October of 1868 at Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Chicago.[vii]
Seyk appears in the 1880 and 1885 Chicago Business Directory as an undertaker and living at the same address as his business, 135 West 19th Street. [viii]
In the 1880 census, Vaclav, Anna and family are listed at Illinois, Cook, Chicago, 055, on page 20 at 135 West 19th Street.
In the 1900 census, Vaclav, Anna and family are listed at Illinois, McHenry, Algonquin, District 0147, on page 23.
Vaclav’s wife, Anna Urban Seyk, had several brothers. Her brother, John Urban, worked for a time with Vaclav in the undertaker business. After a few years, he and his brother, Albert Urban took over Vaclav’s business. By the Chicago Business Directory of 1892, Vaclav is no longer listed as an undertaker and in 1900 he and his family are living in Algonquin.[ix]
Not all members of the Seyk family left the business. Two of Vaclav’s sons, Otto B. and Steven are listed as licensed embalmers in the 1913 license book, working for the Urban brothers at 1013 West 19th. [x]
BNC – First Grave Digger
Joseph Lahvic 1830 – 1895 (Find a Grave 3528) (Photo R. Liska)
The Friends of the Bohemian National Cemetery have posted a good summary of Joseph Lahvic. “In August 1877 the cemetery hired Joseph Lahvic as a grave digger from among 5 applicants. It was a position he was to hold until his death in 1895. Lahvic’s first years were complicated by the town of Jefferson which objected to a cemetery in their township. Burials were halted until a judge ruled that the cemetery association had the right to burials and no one must put obstacles in their way. The town of Jefferson did have the right to police supervision and to keep the peace. Jefferson interpreted police supervision as obstructing every burial possible and, failing that, they sent the local constable as an unwelcome guest to each burial. Finally, they captured and jailed the grave digger. “The poor man did not know how to find help and had great difficulty and inconvenience” Two years later, after the court dismissed Jefferson’s appeal of the original ruling, “Mr. Lahvic was no further annoyed.” After his death, his son, Joseph A., took over as grave digger until his untimely death just four years later. Both widows stayed in the neighborhood, raising the next generation, and finally being laid to rest with their husbands.” (http://www.friendsofbnc.org/serendipity/s4.html)