Thomas Capek In Nebraska

Capek in Nebraska 1884 - 1886

While still living with his oldest brother John in Brooklyn, Thomas received a letter in February of 1884, from Jan Rosicky of Omaha, inviting Thomas to come to Omaha and work for him.  Thomas accepted.

Bohemian Jan Rosicky was a Bohemian already living and working in Nebraska, also beginning a long and prominent career in that state.

Nebraska was a state which was attracting many Bohemians.  Thomas described a portion of Omaha as "Praha" or "Bohemian Town".  That was the area around William Street. A church and a meeting hall built with lumber, numerous shops and all the Bohemian activities and events associated with that area were part of the description.

Omaha was home to the newspapers which served the area and the growing population of the state.

Capek Graduates From The University of Michigan With A Law Degree - During His Time Away From College Capek Works For August Geringer, Chicago Foreign Language Newspaper Owner.

Between 1886 and 1888, Thomas Capek spent time in Michigan and in Illinois.  Attending the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, he would earn a law degree.  One of the Czech students Capek describes during his time in Michigan came from Chicago, the old area of "Praha".

Not providing many details Capek stayed with and worked for August Geringer in Chicago during his class break periods.  Working for Svornost, Capek indicates the home of Geringer and his paper being close to the area the Chicago Fire began.  He reported on courtroom and other related news.

After graduation, Capek did not return immediately to Nebraska.  He spent several years in New York.  There Thomas Capek continued his education by attending Columbia College in New York, he was interested in literary studies, and for a short period of time also was a teacher in the City.

While in New York, the Czech version of Wikipedia summarizes that Capek had an interest in one of the very early Czech settlers to the United States, Augustin Herman.  His interest was so great he would become involved in creating a monument and settlement on the Herman property in Maryland. (HERMAN)  Published in Nebraska, with the help of Jan Rosicky (1907), "Památky českých
emigrantů v Americe", Capek would include with details information on Augustin Herman. (Moje Amerika 90 - 93)

Capek in Nebraska 1890 - 1894

In his autobiography Capek indicates that with the encouragment of Jan Rosicky, he returned to Omaha and open his law office.  The first location was in the Omaha National Bank building.  In a short period of time he moved to the Creighton building and Louis J. Piatti, a man of Italian and French parentage.  Capek mentioned this worked to the law firm's advantage, as two lawyers, fluent in four languages, attracted a variety of clients.  (Moje 94-106)

For a brief period of time Capek entered the world of national and local politics.  Capek was fond of William Jennings Bryan.  He would meet Bryan and would speak on his behalf.  Traveling to Table Rock, Pawnee County, Nebraska to deliver a speech in support of Bryan, Capek, staying at the Montgomery Hotel encountered a number of the staff there were Czech.  He was surprised by this and described it in his autobiography.  Thomas Capek was successful in his own first attempt, running for, and winning a seat in the Nebraska Legislature.  He tried again later, running for Police Magistrate, but was not successful.

Thomas Capek married Anna Vostrovska

Capek, in his autobiography, "Moje Amerika", described how he met and married Anna Vostrovsky.  Capek and several friends traveled to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  While attending the Fair, Thomas engaged in conversation with the Vostrovosky family, father, and daughters Anna and Klara.  The conversation continued at the Libuse restaurant.  The Vostrovkys were staying with Otto Kubin, brewery owner.  Thomas and Anna met again before the Vostrovskys returned to California.

Anna was born in Iowa, her father became a Nebraska businessman who eventually took the family to California.  Thomas wrote his brother John than he eventually went to California and professed his love for Anna.  In the letter he also describes meeting their brother Joseph, also living in California.  (Mojve)  Image - Anna and Thomas, first year of marriage - (Mojve)

Greater details on the meeting of Thomas and Anna, and their marriage was actually found in newspaper articles announcing their marriage.

The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, October 31, 1894, Page 8.

"White City Romance" - The Outcome of a Change World's Fair Acquaintance - Two Young People Well Known Here Form a World's Fair Attachment Which Ripens Into Love and Ends in Marriage - A Romance From Real Life.

The many romantic incidents which have occurred as results of meeting at the World's Fair last summer have a peer in the following case reported a few days ago by Kansas City papers, both of the interested parties being well known in Cedar Rapids.  "A wooing begun in the California building at the World's Fair ended Saturday, (October 10th) by a marriage in Judge Scarrett's chambers.  The bride and groom were separated almost the distance between the oceans, but their love for one another did not allow a matter of a few thousands miles to interfere with their plans.  The man was Thomas Capek, a lawyer of Wyley avenue, Pittsburg, Pa., ex-member of the Nebraska legislature from Omaha district.  The was was Miss Anna Vostrofsky of San Jose, Cal.  Lawyer Capek visited the World's Fair during its height.  He chanced to get into the California building and was inspecting the fruit exhibit when he noticed at his elbow, a petite young woman with an elderly man, who might have been her father.  In the democratic fashion that acquaintances were made at the Fair a conversation was struck up and they were soon discussing the exhibits.  The elderly man introduced himself as Mr. Vostrofsky of San Jose, Cal., and formally made Mr. Capek acquainted with his companion who proved to be his daughter.  Lawyer Capek Knew he loved his World's Fair acquaintance.  In due time he proposed marriage and was accepted.

The next in order was to arrange for the wedding.  This was a perplexing task, as it would be necessary for Mr. Capek to either go to San Jose or Miss Vostrofsky to Pittsburgh.  Finally they compromised by agreeing to meet at Kansas City, which was midway between the two points was accessible to both.  Last Tuesday Mr. Capek arrived in Kansas City and waited for his bride to reach Kansas City.  Friday night she came and they arranged to be married Saturday.  Both of them are Unitarians, and they decided t have a circuit judge perform the ceremony, Judge Scarrett acting in the capacity of "binder".  Mrs. and Mrs. Capek are staying at the Cordova.  They will leave Kansas City tonight for Pittsburgh.

Mr. Thomas Capek, the groom, is a well known figure to Bohemians in the United States, having edited for some time "The Bohemian Voice" at Omaha, Neb., his former home.  He is personally known and honored by many Cedar Rapids people, while his bride has many warm friends in and around the city, she being a niece of Mr. Frank Witousek, the merchant, and having numerous other relatives and friends here and in Western and vicinity, who will read of her romantic marriage with much interest.

Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska), November 1, 1894, Page 5

(Much of the article was the same as the above description, so only additional information listed below)

Lawyer Capek was glad to have some one to see the sights of the fair with him and together he and Miss Vostrofsky "did" the Midway Plaisance.  When he left he, she told him where they were staying an invited him to visit her.  He did so and again they saw the fair together.  A few days later miss Vostrofsky went away to her home in California and not long after Mr. Capek departed for his home in Pittsburgh.

Letters passed between the two and it was not long after before Lawyer Capek knew he loved his World's fair acquaintance.

He was a member of the legislature four years ago and was democratic candidate for police judge in 1891.  He left Omaha about a year ago.



The Omaha Mercury, April 27, 1894, Page 1 - "Thomas Capek of the law firm of Capek & Piatti has left for New York City, where he will engage in the practice of law...."

While the newspaper was correct that Thomas Capek was leaving Omaha, he did not go directly to New York.  Capek and his new bride stayed for a time in Pittsburgh.  Pennsylvania was a destination for many Slovaks and Czechs.  The state still to today has one of the highest percentages of Slovak and Czech ancestry among the other states.

In his autobiography, Capek describes several men he knew in Pittsburgh through encounters with them in various locations.  Those connections did not keep Thomas and Anna in Pennsylvania.  He found the area not one to hold his future.  He felt that the earlier European nationalities to arrive in Pennsylvania felt superior to Slovaks and Czechs and treated them in that manner.  To Capek, the Slovaks and Czechs worked as hard in the factories and mines as the other Europeans, but they did not get respect from other nationalities working alongside them.  By the end of January 1895, he took his brother John's advice and moved to New York. (Moje 107 - 110)





(Moje Amerika 90 - 93)

(Moje 94-106)

(Moje 107 - 110)



Note: The University of Nebraska at Omaha has a very good online collection of information related to Czechs in Nebraska -