Thomas Capek - Background Information

He wrote the books many of us look through to see if our family names are there.  He wrote the books that many of us use for reference and for discovering our past.  Along with Habenicht and Bubinecek, he wrote the books that provide us with information on Czechs in the Chicago area.

The ability to describe Thomas Capek is helped because there is so much information.  That is also the difficult part, as there is so much information.  Capek even wrote his own biography in 1933, detailing his life and that of his family.  Capek even divided the story of his life into time periods, providing a summary of each time period.

Father Jan Capek was born on 10-22-1814 and died on 8-13-1870.  Mother Katerina was born on 11-18-1820 and died on 9-3-1893. On 8-25-1840 Jan Capek of Chrastovice #16, age 25 1/12, married Katerina ..., age 19 1/2, of Chrastovice #23.

Son, Tomas Capek, the youngest of five known boys, was born on December 6, 1861 at Chrastovice, House 16, the area of Radomysl, the district of Strakonice. (1)  In his autobiography Tomas describes his birth town as relatively nondescript, not even having a school when he and his siblings were living there. (2)

Seven known children of Jan and Katerina (all born Chrastovice #16):

Jan Vratislav Capek: 1-3-1842
Vaclav Capek: 9-18-1844
Matej Capek: 3-17-1847
Josef Capek: 9-23-1849
Maria Capek: 9-1-1852
Anna: 3-29-1858
Tomas: 12-6-1861  (3)

Four of the seven children would eventually depart for the United States.  It appears that son, Vaclav, would remain and work the family farm lands.  It also appears that the two daughters would marry and remain in Bohemia.

Oldest of the children, Jan, received an education in Bohemia, and by 1871 was in Cleveland, Ohio.  Jan began as an editor for a Czech language newspaper, and over the course of years, he would found his own Czech language newspaper in Cleveland and later in New York city.  After marriage, he would become more interested in science, electricity and inventions, leaving the print world behind.  Jan died in 1909 in New York, and is buried in the same cemetery as brother Thomas.  (Find A Grave 110046414)

Brother Josef also received his education in Bohemia.  He served a year in the military and by 1872 he was also in Cleveland, working with brother Jan.  Josef married in Cleveland, and in 1875 left for California.  He made his career there.  Josef died in 1938.  (Find A Grave 181949431)

"Matej" Ladislav Capek....




Capek's 1903 passport application lists his departure from Bremen on June 15, 1880 and his arrival in the USA at New York.  There is no verified record found so far, but it mentions the ship Mosel.  A Carl Capek matching the birth date, arrival year, and ship name arrived from port Bremen to New York City on 6-28-1880.   Capek's 1921 passport applicaton lists the same information, save the date of departure as June of 1879.  (X)

Brother Joseph was in California.  Brother John was in New York Thomas Capek's life in the United States, began and ended in New York.  From the time he landed in New York until he was hired by Jan Rosicky in 1884 and departed for Nebraska, Thomas seems to have lived with his brother, John, in New York.  John and his family lived at 723 Lexington, an address mentioned numerous times as Thomas ventured through the city.  Thomas learned English, partially from experiencing it, along with books and dictionaries from the public library, and seemed very interested in this new culture he was experiencing.  In his autobiography he describes the fascination by the many languages spoken and the interactions of so many diverse cultures gathered in one city. (M49)

Immersed in new adventures, Thomas also had knowledge of the growing number of Czech language publications now beginning to appear in the United States.  At the same time he was an avid reader of English language publications and the "dime store novels", especially those which told tales of adventurers and heroes of the USA West.

He also mentions the 1883 New York celebration of the British leaving New York in 1783, and reading of the assassination of President Garfield.  Much of his narrative of the years spent in New York is a narrative of the many Czech and other foreign language newspapers.


1. Image - Record Birth Baptism Tomas Capek 12-6-1861 Chrastovice #16 Radomysl Book 9 image 191 Strakonice, TrebonArchives

2. Moje


X . Passenger and Ship arrival records, New York City.