Czech Articles From Chicago Newspapers

Listed in order of publication

Svornost – May 13, 1880

Immigrants to Chicago and the West

According to reports of the German steamship Agency, there were 50,000 immigrants during the month of April landed in New York. At least 25,000 of these continued on to Chicago and Westward.

Among these were 4000 Polish, 2000 Bohemians, Germans 1800. Of these 2500 Polish and 1200 Bohemians, remained in Chicago expecting to earn their livelihood here.

Those who continued further were for the most part people of some means while those remaining were mostly laborers without any property. From present indications there will be as many arrivals, if not more, this month as there were last month. There are plenty of inquiries for farm hands and for servants for there seems to be few farm hands and scarcely any servants among the new arrivals.

Svornost – Mary 4, 1881

A Bohemian Pioneer

Bohemian social circles in Chicago, who loyalty preserved and fought on the hereditary fields of our people ...

Vaclav Rezanka, one of the first Bohemian pioneers, and one of the founders of present day Bohemian social circles in Chicago, who loyalty preserved and fought on the hereditary fields of our people here in this land beyond the seas, died this morning about 3:00 o'clock in the midst of his loving family.

Vaclav Rezanka, arrived in America in the year 1853 and lived in Chicago since 1861. He was a co-founder of the "Slovanske Lipy" (Slovak Basswood) and when this organization ceased to exist, being replaced by the present "Tel. Jed. Sokol" (Gymanstic Union Sokol), he became a member of the latter. Last summer he paid a visit to the land of his birth, returning late in the fall bringing with him a brother who had been engaged in the ladies tailoring business in Pisek, Bohemia. Shortly after his return to Chicago his health began to fail and he died this morning at the age of 62 years, 6 months, 4 days.

Mr. Rezanka was a tailor by trade, and through his industry his economy and his honorable dealing, he was able to establish for himself here in his own building on Canal St., and was highly respected by all with whom he came in contact. He leaves behind a widow and several children. In the deceased we lose a citizen, a model father and genuine patriot, and he is accompanied by our grateful remembrance of him far beyond the grave. The funeral services will be held next Sunday.

Svornost – February 8, 1882

Chicago Bohemians, Their Representatives in Public Office

For many years Chicago Bohemians were unable to attain even the most minor public office, and only in recent years, namely during Mayor Harrison's term, has there been any change in regards to this matter so as to encourage us to have expectations for the future. Chicago Bohemians, today, have their own representatives in practically all public offices. They have their own officials, both honorary and paid, and there is not another city in the United States where they can boast of so many Bohemian officials as we have in Chicago.

Let us take for example the Honorary positions, and there are many of them, whose holders render their services without pay. On the School Board, one of the most important admisistrative bodies, we have the able countryman of ours, Lawyer Adolf Kraus, who will, no doubt, very soon have the opportunity to prove himself an able defender of Bohemian interests.

The Chicago Public Library is an institution, in which every nationality can consider it an honor to have it's own representative. The interests of Chicago Bohemians are looked after in a deserving manner by Mr. L.W. Kadlec.

Not long, to be sure, but at any rate, we have our own Bohemian Justice of the Peace, on the North Side, Mr. E.A. Fischer, who was given this position to satisfy the requests of Bohemians.

Now let us see what conditions exist among our paid officials. We have, in the service of the Public Library, three appointees, and there may be more soon; they are Leo Meilbek, F. G. Novy, and W.A. Purer. In the City Water Department we have two officials, they are V. Kasparek and Adolf Chladka. In our public schools, we have four women teachers, the Misses Purer, Fischman, and the two Stieger sisters.

In the Unites States Custom House we have, as a clerk, Josef A. Novak. In the Police Department we find three countrymen; they are Fr. P. Barcal, Ant. Kakuska, and J. Vanata.

In the Fire Department we have Mr. J. Kamen. Even in the Post Office we have Fr. Kohout, who is a mail-sorter and Josef Vaska and Anton Lajicek, who are carriers.

Chicago Bohemians are deserving of better representation in public offices, but since it was neglected for so many years, it will take some time to accomplish.

The political activity among us is not so energetic as it could be, but even that is somewhat improved for, whereas, there formerly were only about three hundred of our countrymen taking an active part in politics, there now are that many thousands.

That which is not, may yet be. Chicago Bohemians will not cease striving for political recognition, and if activity in this respect is continued everywhere, as it is in Chicago, Bohemian Americans will not be forced to complain that they are being neglected and pushed aside.

Svornost – March 27, 1882

For the Protection of Bohemian Immigrants

A meeting was held yesterday afternoon in the hall of the Bohemian American Sokol, for the purpose of organizing a society for the protection of Bohemian immigrants. Forty-five citizens were present. Mr. Fr. Kaspar called the meeting to order and Mr. Ed. Uhlir was elected chairman; Mr. Kralovec Jr. was elected secretary.

After several motions, which did not reach a vote, citizen L.W. Kadlec, moved that the chairman appoint nine Chicago citizens as a committee, this committee to take charge of the matter as it now stands, organize themselves into a solid body and make plans for future development; then call a public meeting where steps would be taken for their fulfillment.

Mr. Chairman Uhlir is to exercize care in naming men who are capable and familiar with the matter, and who have the confidence of the public. Mr. Kralovec added that other nationalities, having such societies in existence should investigate and our committee of nine make a report on their activities. Let our society be patterned along the lines of whichever one of the various organizations is recognized a the most suitable. The motion being accepted, the meeting was adjourned.

Svornost – October 24, 1882

The Bohemians of Chicago are very mindful to possess their own dwellings and houses and like last year they are building this year almost in series their own buildings and homes.

The well-known architect, Mr. August Loula, obtained on the 19th of this month, fifteen permits for new buildings, part of them he has already started to build; the others will be started very soon. Mr. Loula supplies us with some interesting data concerning the building activity among the Bohemians in Chicago. He says, "I have built this year 38 new houses of different dimensions at a total cost of $103,700. The majority of our countrymen settled in the neighborhood between Throop street and Ashland avenue on account of cheaper real estate. The houses built there are very attractive brick structures, mostly two-stories with a basement and a comfortable layout. Again it is shown that the Bohemians excel in this regard over all other nationalities. In a majority of cases the loan societies 2play an important part in this enterprise; however it would be more advantageous if they would stop the opening of new companies, at least in this neighborhood in opposition to the existing ones."

Svornost – March 27, 1883

The Loan Association and Their Pioneers – the Bohemians.

The Sunday's Tribune brings much information of the loan associations founded in Chicago and prospering successfully until now. In the first lines of the correspondence the Tribune states that the Bohemians are pioneers in these associations and writes verbatim: "In the last nine years there were founded in Chicago more than twenty loan associations. None of them was struck by any misfortune or disaster, and the continuity of the success of these associations is so well known that new ones are still being organized.

"The Bohemian citizens in Chicago are the first to prove the usefulness of this mutual aid and cooperation. One of the Tribune's reporters was yesterday informed by Vaclav Kaspar, an intelligent and well to do Bohemian who has been living in Chicago over twenty years, that there are in our city fifteen "Bohemian Loan Associations." The first of these associations was founded nine years ago and exists until now under the name "The Chicago Bohemian Building and Loan Association, No. Its capital amounted to $250,000, however, there were sold shares for only $150,000. All the shares were redeemed and the first series put on the market four years ago. The second series is right now in progress and represents a capital of $250,000. This will be redeemed in eight months. The second association of the same kind was founded by the Bohemians and denominated with No. 2. Its shares are limited to $250,000, and of this amount $230,000 is already redeemed. After this, followed the organization of associations No. 3 and 4. As it seems, those four associations are the most wealthy ones among the Bohemian Building and Loan Associations." All associations founded later reduced the amount of invested capital and grew popular and so as to be easily distinguished called themselves by well known Bohemian names. The last founded association is "Tabor," which name is extremely popular among all Bohemians; it is four months in existence. Its limited capital amounts to $500,000 and $200,000 are already secured.

Mr. Kaspar further furnished the following data: In the last nine years the Bohemians have erected over 600 buildings, in all cases subsidized by the Bohemian Building and Loan Associations, which are operating with a deposited amount of money close to $2,700,000. All of them are honestly and expertly managed.

There are in Chicago over 35,000 Bohemians and all have a great tendency to buy real estate and to build a little house, to be able to call it their own homestead. Our main idea in the loan association is to help each other, consequently we lent the money to our members. The success of the loan association is based on economic and honest management; we don't pay high salaries, and every member of the committee supervises the regularity of the deeds and inspects, that not a single dollar is wasted and that sufficient security is given for the loaned money. These loan associations have increased in membership over the whole City of Chicago. Germans and Irishmen started to organize them after our model and there exists even an English loan association called "The Garden City Equitable Loan and Building Association." "In my opinion," says Mr. Kaspar, "all those associations must achieve a desirable success if they are managed cautiously and carefully. The money should not be wasted on expensive printing, for magnificent offices, for high salaries, and the money should be loaned only to such people who offer a sufficient and sure security. The Bohemians are a very economical people and their loan associations operate well and profitably for their members, because they are managed with experience, economy, and skill."

This article in the Tribune will certainly concern the local financial circles because many of our countrymen have withdrawn their substantial savings from the local banks.

It is worthwhile to mention that the founder of the first loan association was Mr. Bobacek who came to Chicago from Cincinnati ten years ago and persuaded the three Novak brothers, Joseph, Francis, and Anthony, to found a loan association in Chicago, modeled on the same kind of institutions operated by the Germans in Cincinnati. They all four organized an association and the first secretary of it was Alexander Purer, at present a notary public and real estate and insurance agent.

Lately there were dissolved three "Bohemian Building and Loan Associations:" Ceskylev, Vlastimil, and Slovan, principally on account of insufficient number of members.

Svornost – August 15, 1883

The Festival of the Old People

Chicago's old settlers held, yesterday, a festival in Ogden Grove. Between 7,000 and 8,000 people enjoyed all kinds of entertainment during the day and in the evening, when the prizes were distributed, the attendance was over 10,000 people. Around 2 P.M. the festival commenced with the writing of the signatures in the "Memorial Book." Only those settlers were allowed this privilege, who have lived in Chicago not less than twenty years, and who are over thirty-five years of age. This being done Em. Hochster, then introduced a very old judge, white-haired J. D. Caton, who came to Chicago fifty years ago in 1833. Chicago was incorporated in July, 1833, and Mr. Caton and Bill Carpenter are the only two Bohemians who participated in the ceremony of incorporation.

Old Judge Caton gave a short review of the history of Chicago and its first years of development. His narration was interwoven with many very interesting and humorous episodes. At the time of the incorporation of Chicago there were only three girls in town. One of them is still living, her name was Miss Gray, but she has been grandma for a long time and is always merry.

In 1834 Mr. Caton was elected Justice of the Peace, although he had never held that office before that time. He performed his first weddings on the North Side and twenty years later he untied some of these couples. Ordinarily he charged only three dollars ($3) for the certificate of marriage and it was so reasonable that all couples wanted to be married by him. In 1837 he was elected an alderman of the 3rd Ward and because of that, he became a member of the first City Council. Following are the names of the oldest settlers, who participated in the festival: D. Schmitz (1827), T. T. Kennall (1832), Jan D. Caton, Dr. V. A. Boyer, J. B. Allen, Ratchel Clom, F. Engelhardt (1833), Leo Meiers, A. Berg, T. Lyle Dickey, Barbora Gerber, J. Miller, D. M. Ford, Delphine Rasinot (1834), Jiri Sinclair Marghall, Jiri W. Blair, J. Chackfield, Peter Casey, Kat. Miller (1835).

Svornost – May 27, 1884

An American about the Bohemians in Chicago

Not long ago the Rev. E. A. Adams lectured here in the Palmer House, before the Missionary Society, on the subject "Our Bohemian Citizens."

Before we will start to interpret this very interesting lecture we wish everybody to know that the Rev. Adams, an American lived ten years in Praha (Bohemia, Europe), that he speaks Bohemian and is very well acquainted with all peculiarities of our nation. Three to four hundred ladies and gentlemen listened to the lecture which he gave with intense interest.

Rev. Adams said, "Until 1870 there was in the United States census not a single item regarding Bohemians. Although 4,289 people born in Bohemia were living here. In 1880 this number grew to 85,361, which proves that every year 8,107 people born in Bohemia have emigrated to America.

The census of 1880 showed that there were 11,887 Bohemian immigrants in Chicago. This number was a little less than one-seventh of the total Bohemian population in this country. If we should add the number of American born Bohemians to the number that had immigrated from the old country, we would find in Chicago not less than 31,000 Bohemians, and maybe 40,000. The last number is the correct one.

The research of Mr. Blatchford, and our own experience, shows with very few exceptions not worth mentioning that the Bohemians are living within the city limits in four different districts, or colonies.

One of the two smaller colonies is concentrated on 25th Street and Portland Avenue, the other one around Milwaukee Avenue and Noble Street. As a rule, the Bohemians are mixed among other nationalities and sometime it is a very hard problem to contact them. Their smallest Catholic church is situated on the corner of 25th Street and Portland Avenue. The other two districts, populated by about three fourths of all Bohemians here in Chicago, are more isolated. The smaller district of the two is situated in the region of Bunker and DeKoven streets, between 12th and Taylor streets, extending from Halsted Street to the river. A really large Catholic church of this district is located on DeKoven Street at Desplaines Street. The Bohemians are scattered on Canal Street as far as Canalport Avenue, which links this small colony with the largest one. This section looks like a real Bohemian town. It is bordered on the east by Fisk and Morgan streets, on the north by 16th Street, on the south by the river. On the West Side the Bohemians are mixed with other nationalities as far as Western Avenue. Their main buildings are in this neighborhood. The largest Catholic church is on 18th and Allport streets, the large hall of the Secret Societies is on 18th Street, one block from Centre Avenue and right now they have started to build a large Bohemian theater at the corner of 18th Street and Center Avenue. A person who is acquainted with Bohemian in Europe, when walking around in this district, feels he is in a regular Bohemian town. It is really like a foreign city.

In newspaper advertisements and in general they call this part of the city Plzen (Pilsen). It is so strange that it could be taken for a town on the 5other side of the Atlantic Ocean. At least 20,000 Bohemians are dwelling in this district and about 10,000 in the district of DeKoven Street. Thus we have in this community of a mile radius 30,000 Bohemians.

The three Catholic churches which we mentioned represent the faith of our 40,000 Bohemians. Six or eight years ago there were few Protestants among the Bohemians. The percentage of Protestants among the Bohemians is very insignificant.

Although the three Catholic churches mentioned above are large enough to accommodate 2,500 people, I was informed from a very creditable source that half and maybe two thirds of the local Bohemians are not active members of those churches. I later met two persons who were speaking with entire respect of the Roman-Catholic church and stated that they came to this country as good and faithful Roman-Catholics.

However, the more intelligent Bohemians start soon to be dissatisfied with the teachings of the Roman-Catholic Church and seem convinced that this doctrine is not right. They accuse the preachers of being hypocrites. The main cause of this apostasy is the belief that the idea of liberal thinking is a kind of style that one should adhere to regardless of its consequences. We do not suppose that these intellectual Bohemians, coming here, make as good Catholics as the Irish, and we don't think that the majority have mentally grown up to the point of being able to believe in God, or the immortality of the soul.

The strangest society is the Bohemian-Slovenian Benevolent Society (Cesko-Slovanske Podporujici Spolky). I have seen their statutes and have found nothing indecent in them. It is a society whose aim is mutual help and assistance. Morals and obedience to the law are the main duties of the members. The members state themselves that they are not for or against the church, but they are against all forms of worship. They are familiar with the Catholic religion only, and are against that because of different secret lodges sustained by the church.

Another achievement of the Bohemians in Chicago is their national cemetery. This idea originated, I was told, as a result of some misunderstanding with the Catholic priest. Now they bury their deceased people entirely without a priest, neither calling him to the house nor to the cemetery.

The main objection against the churches is their rapacity and the immoral life of the priests.

Our city has two Bohemian newspapers. A third one appears irregularly, I presume, but I have not seen it. One of them has a circulation greater than the circulation of the other two put together. This paper is a daily publication with a Sunday supplement and its aim is instructive with some 8entertaining and colorful articles. It stands firmly against dynamiters and anarchists. Its viewpoint on religion can be seen from the fact that its Sunday supplement has articles, for example, as "Vek Rozumu" (The age of wisdom), which prove that religion does not originate from God but is an invention of human beings, spread through the world through education.

The other newspaper is spreading anarchistic ideas. It is a publication not only socialistic, but it proclaims further that all institutions of the government are bad and only such men can be called free who do what they please regardless of others. The watchword is "A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye." An extract from this newspaper will be sufficient to convince one of its aims.

The Rev. E. A. Adams read one article translated in English from the Bohemian anarchistic publication. He then continued:

"I have good information that only a small percentage of Bohemians are supporting these ideas, but on the other hand, this newspaper has appeared before as a bi-monthly and now is printed weekly with satisfactory success. Whether the ideas of this paper are true or not, they are nevertheless spread and with no opposition on our part. Maybe the church has no influence on the intelligent classes. Our Protestants are inactive. The best proof of this is that nine different Bohemian Bibles are here in circulation. Their theories lead towards disorganization, anarchy and destruction, although we do not believe that would be really a desire of these Bohemians who are now spreading the ideas of unbelief and skepticism.

I presume it was Voltaire who, during a discussion with his friend about atheism, said: "Wait until my servants will be far away from here. I do not want to have my throat cut during the night."

My personal opinion is that the result of the atheism always must be anarchism. I was advised by my missionary authority in this city to call meetings for Bohemians and to give lectures to them. There were distributed one thousand pamphlets Friday, with the announcement that services would be held on Sundays. This also was advertised in the Bohemian paper, I had expected a dozen or at the most twenty Bohemians present, but there appeared about seventy-five, who listened very diligently to my lecture. The following Sunday 200 appeared. The fifth Sunday there were only seventy. Two evening meetings were arranged. The evening audience was first twelve in number, then twenty persons. I have sold nine Bibles and received orders for more. This will serve as proof how little influence a church has on its most faithful members.


Atheism is spreading among the people who have retrogressed from the church, more than I thought. They are instructed and they believe that Thomas Paine was the main agent of the deliverance of this country, and 11that his principles are the only ones which assure the freedom of humanity. The whole missionary work among these Bohemians was accomplished by the scholar, Robert Ingersoll, and we are still in possession of his documents and literature. If his works are read by the Bohemians, I do not know. The Bohemians are very economical, quiet, obedient and capable. They have their own building loan associations and they are building many beautiful houses around Western Avenue.

Regarding their political attitude, I have very scanty information, but I think they adhere firmly to the country which guaranteed their liberty. They observe with caution each stranger who approaches them, for they do not trust him, but when they perceive sincerity, they cling to him.

The experience gained by me in Praha convinces me that their work here will need plenty of patience, and if I am not mistaken in their enthusiasm 12for any enterprise that they start. I am full of hope that in time they can be transformed into most reliable American citizens. They are here for their own and our benefit.

Should they be let alone and exposed to the injurious influences of this country, they will bring harm to us and to themselves."

The Rev. Adams mentioned, then, the conditions of different English churches and added finally: "We intended to construct a mission building in the district encircling Halsted, 16th, 12th streets and the river. For the proper enlightenment of the Bohemians a building worth $15,000 is needed."

All statements of Rev. Adams seem to be true and show that he is very well acquainted with our conditions. There is only one thing mentioned by Rev. Adams to which we must offer protest, namely, that we will not harm anyone even if we do not believe in religion, and that such a person should not perish either likewise.

Svornost – August 23, 1884

28,287 Bohemians Are in Chicago

The school census taken lately in our city showed that we number 28,287 people, who declare their adherence to the Bohemian nation. We are not ashamed that we are Bohemians. We are respected Bohemians who are raising our families as future Bohemians.

There are many Bohemians in Chicago who have transformed their names into James, or Williams, or Jake, and who do not reckon themselves Bohemians. They do not amount to anything with us and we are rather satisfied that they give themselves out as Irishmen.

There is still another type of Bohemian and one quite numerous. These are the rich Bohemians, who are ashamed of their nationality, so much the more that they were induced to it by the Staats Zeitung or by English newspapers which have depicted us as rascals and rabble. It is no wonder that these big rich men of ours are ashamed of us. Perhaps they do not know that it is impossible to prove that all these insinuations in the English newspapers are only lies. These rich men don't seem to know that the Bohemians in Chicago during the last thirty years gained the best name among the foreigners as good citizens, reliable workers, and respectable businessmen. They are ashamed of us, they think that they do not need us. Really we don't need them. We shall proceed in our development more successfully without them than if they should mix themselves among us, giving us advice of the type that was valuable to their sometime dishonest and punishable activities. They would only awake discontent and disagreement among us. They would do us more harm than good. Nobody knows to which nationality they are declaring allegiance. We have no reason to occupy our minds with these renegades, 3rather, we should be busy looking into our future, and be happy that we have around us 28,287 true and honest Bohemians.

Dividing the Bohemian population in families, each one having four members, we figure to have 7,000 Bohemian families in Chicago, divided topographically into three districts. In the 5th and 6th wards there are over 19,000 Bohemians, or 4,750 Bohemian families; in the 7th and 8th wards, 7,000 Bohemians, or 1,750 Bohemian families, and in the 14th and 15th wards, over 1,500 Bohemians, or 400 Bohemian families. Those Bohemians have proved, not only with their words but with their deeds, that they are united and developing all the time. Look only in the streets, densely populated with Bohemians, and you will see how strongly the Bohemian business is represented by provision stores, restaurants, clothing stores, coal yards, mechanical shops, etc. We should continue to work in the same direction and we will continue to improve. Bohemian business will increase, the Bohemian houses and fortunes will multiply and the welfare among us will grow in proportion.

The spiritual, national development is progressing in the same way among us Bohemians, and taking into consideration the number of Bohemians in Chicago in 1855, we are progressing steadily. In all three Bohemian districts we have our own halls, national Bohemian-English schools, and Sunday Bohemian schools. About 2,000 pupils attend these schools, preparatory to entering the English public schools. We have here national and Catholic schools, which are on guard to create good Bohemian boys and girls.

The part of our national life that is devoted to entertainment is not neglected either, because a real good Bohemian enjoys most the Bohemian amusements given at private homes or in public halls, and which are abundant in all Bohemian districts. Year by year these entertainments are more and more noble and instructive, and are really a big incentive towards preserving our nationality, improving our morals and encouraging us towards education.


Club and society life among the Bohemians in Chicago is very active and praiseworthy. There are only very few Bohemians who would not belong at least to one benevolent, educational or social society. Even those societies which were organized exclusively for benevolent purposes, are demonstrating year by year more development in the educational and national direction. The participation of all Bohemian societies in tomorrow's splendid celebration of the Sokols is a vital proof that the splits and disagreements between Bohemians is weakening. All societies, without exception, will unanimously testify that they represent real Bohemians and are representing them with the dignity that the name Bohemian implies. Our enemies, who have asserted that the Bohemians are neither associated nor united, will be surprised to see the harmony of the Bohemians brought to light for the first time in twenty years. We will appear before all peoples as a united body of fraternized countrymen. This reality will strengthen all members, who are weak, doubtful, unsteady, and it will incite them to activity in the national and educational fields. We could give more valuable information, but we delay it for the near future, leaving today's instructions to the consideration of everybody who feels himself to be a true Bohemian and proclaims himself as such.

Chicago Tribune – March 7, 1886

Manners and Customs of the Bohemian Portion of the City’s Population.  They are Industrious, Thrifty and Generally of a Most Peaceable Disposition. A Community That is Rapidly Growing Rich by the Efforts of its Individuals.


There is probably no more interesting and progressive section of Chicago's foreign population than that inhabited by the Bohemians. Some years ago there was a decided prejudice against them on the part of American workingmen and capitalists. They took a very active part in the strikes and riots here some eight years ago, and they established a Socialistic propaganda which was far from being popular. They so far succeeded in carrying their ideas into effect that they were the ringleaders of the strikes, and they elected four of their nominees - not all of them Bohemians, however, to the Chicago Common Council. One of the most active among them at the time was Belohradsky, who is now living in Texas. Another so-called leader was Leo Meilbeck, Alderman and 2legislator, who afterwards committed suicide while acting as Public Library attendant. Frank Stauber and J. J. Altpeter were also elected to the council as representatives of the German and Bohemian Socialistic elements, as was Christian Meier. It is only fair to say, however, about Stauber and Altpeter that there have been few more conscientious councilmen than they. But as before stated, the Bohemians lost caste about the time alluded to on account of their Socialistic tendencies and "striking" propensities. When they first came to America they were willing to work for almost anything. They would underbid the Irish and German and American workingmen, and naturally evoked considerable hostility against themselves as a result. They were to suffer for this, and were, in fact, looked down on as outcaste, and not entitled to much sympathy. When they took to striking and communism they were cursed up hill and down dale by employers and employees. Latterly all this has changed, and in the lumber and furniture manufacturing regions, where they are now employed, they are looked upon as some of the thriftiest members of the community, useful citizens, capable and efficient workingmen and large contributors to the wealth and growth of Chicago.

The First Bohemian Immigrants

The first Bohemian immigration to Chicago began about the year 1848 - "the year of revolution". The Czechs rose in rebellion against the Austrian authorities, with whom they have never been on good terms, but were speedily suppressed by the Emperor and his army. Those who were prominent in the rebellion had to flee the country. Most of them came to America, some of them settling in Montreal, where they engaged largely in the cigar-making business. The Bohemian emigration was at first about the rate of 6,000 per year. In 1878, 1879 and 1880 it reached probably 10,000 per annum. It has fallen off again to 6,000. Most of those who came here were farmers, farm laborers, workers in wood, or weavers - usually carpet and cotton weavers. Those of them who located in Chicago settled down in the lumber region of the Sixth and Eighth wards. Some settled in the hardwood region of the Fourteenth Ward. F. B. Zdrubek, editor of the Bohemian daily paper the Svornost, estimates the Bohemian population of Chicago now at 40,000 at least. He estimates the entire Bohemians of America at 20,000. Outside of this city 4they are located in Nebraska, Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin on farms. Of the 40,000 in Chicago 26,000 are in the Sixth Ward, 9,000 in the Seventh and Eighth Wards, along Canal Street and Blue Island avenue principally, and about 5,000 are in the Fourteenth Ward.

Lumber Workers and Furniture Men.

They readily find employment in the lumber yards and furniture factories. The lumber merchants say they are steady, faithful workingmen. They are constant, but they do not rush matters. The ordinary pay is about 15 cents per hour, though they get as high as 20 cents. They have practically driven out Irish and German lumbermen. The latter will not work by the hour. They work by the piece - by contract - and are not satisfied unless they make from 40 to 50 cents per hour. At Harvey's, where the foreman, John Kallal, is a Bohemian, very few of the Bohemians are employed. The same is true of Hatch and Keith's. At Beidler's Germans seem to have preference. But as a rule the Bohemians have the call. Many of them are excellent cabinetmakers and upholsterers. They make from 535 to 40 cents per hour at this trade. They are nearly always at work - always driving at something. Their wives and the members of their families are also employed washing for families, tailoring, etc. Any person who goes into the Bohemian district will encounter some Bohemian man or woman in every block loaded down with bundles of pantaloons or vests on the way to some down-town clothing house. The housewife usually employs four or five girls at this work. The girls make from $5, to $6. per week, and their employers make a handsome profit. The practice which prevailed in Bohemian regions some time ago, of sending the women around to pick up shavings and kindling wood is fast dying out. The women's time is more valuable now-a-days and begging is unknown among them. The Italians appear to have a monopoly of that. The "dagos" can be even encountered in the Bohemian quarter plying their vocation.

Getting Rich.

People so hard working and so thrifty as the Bohemians cannot but prosper. The Bohemian quarter in the Sixth Ward is certainly a credit to their industry and zeal. There is not a more cleanly or better built workingmen's section in 6Chicago. The district west of Halsted to Lawndale, south of Sixteenth to Twenty-second Street, is built up with comfortable three-story brick dwellings and stores, nearly all of them owned by the Bohemians. The buildings occupy nearly the entire length of the lot. They are all neat and substantial, although there is some degree of sameness in the plan of building. Portions of some are frame structures pushed back on the lot and built up in front. All are neatly painted and have a wholesome and healthy appearance. Along Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-first, Centre Avenue, Throop Street, Ashland Avenue, Blue Island, Wood Street, Hoyne Avenue, the structures are very fine; the stores are especially substantially built and commodious, and would reflect credit on any part of Chicago. From a sanitary point they are all right too, though perhaps there is too much crowding. Nearly every floor has three families. This is not always conducive to morality, it is claimed. The Bohemians, as is well known, are very fond of soups. The odor from that article of food is not always the most pleasant. But, on the whole, there is little cause of complaint nowadays. Being so very frugal they do not buy the best cuts of meat, but they buy good cuts. Mr. Curran of Curran and Delany, who do an extensive trade with the Czechs, 7says they always buy good but not the best meats, and they are excellent at paying. They always come to time with their bills. They are good customers and not in the least clannish. Very many of them are in the butcher line themselves, and though there are some in the saloon line, there are not many. The editors of the Svornost say there are only about fifty in the "Cesky vinopalna line" (Bohemian distillery). There are almost as many in the drug store business. Quite a number are also in the carpet-weaving and clothing trades. Nearly all of them are making money. It is estimated that at least 60 per cent of the Bohemians are property owners. They have twelve building societies, with an average membership to each society of 700, and Mr. Cermak, one of the editors of the Svornost says that the weekly receipts from each society varies from $600 to $900. Besides, there are a number of men who are not members of those societies who are large property owners; William Kaspar is reported to be worth $100,000. John Kallal is a member of the firm of T. W. Harvey and Company. Dr. Kadlec of the Public Library Board; Frank Fucik, the West Town Clerk; John Matuska of Matuaka and Craig, the furniture dealers; and several others well-to-do. The editor of Svornost publishes besides the daily, two weekly papers, the Amerikan Mondays and the Prilcha Duchu Casu Sundays. Besides, he publishes quite a number of books and 8pamphlets, and his establishment on South Canal Street is well stocked. He employs about fifteen typesetters. Nearly all of the Bohemians can read and write their own language. Their public school system in the old country is conducted almost entirely by the priests. In this country the priests try to control the education, but the liberal thinkers' society - the C. S. P. S. (Czecho-slovak Benevolent Society) - which has a membership of 2,000 in this city, stoutly opposes. The C. S. P. S. by the way, has a magnificent hall and school in the Eighteenth Street. The organization is condemned by the church, but it flourishes. The editor of the Svornost seems to be the leading spirit in it. Liberal thought has been a phase of Bohemian public life since the time of John Huss. The attendance at the Catholic schools - there are three of them - is quite large. They are taught by the sisters. The children in attendance are all neatly and comfortably clad. They seem to run to bright colors. Every one wears a bright red hood, strong, thick-soled shoes, and a comfortable calico dress with abundance of petticoats. The Bohemian attendance at the public schools is also quite large, especially at the Throop, Longfellow and Garfield 9schools. Few, however, remain to complete the Grammar School course. The young women nearly all marry early. There is a disposition among the boys to be somewhat wild. This is especially the case with those of them who get to have a contempt for their parents and their parents' country. There are three Bohemian Catholic churches, one in the Fifth Ward, one in the Sixth Ward and one in the Eighth. Nearly all the women attend church while not more than half the men do so. John Kallal, already alluded to, is the leading Catholic layman. There are three theatres and about a dozen Bohemian halls. There is usually theatrical entertainment every night, and there is sure to be a dance every Saturday. At these dances some of the young Bohemians are apt to be boisterous, but as a rule they are well conducted, and there is little trouble.

Habits and Mode of Life.

There is an impression abroad that the Bohemians are slovenly in their habits. This is not the case. On the contrary they are clean and tidy as a rule. The 10women especially are very cleanly. They get on very well with their neighbors. Since Sadowa there has been some feeling between them and the Germans, but it is dying out. They take very kindly to the Poles. The Irish do not play them fair in politics, they say, and there is a tendency among them to be more self assertive. They like Cullerton because he attends to ward improvements, but they are down on Lawler for many reasons, though Frank appointed a leading Bohemian sub-Postmaster of the Southwest district. The leaders among them say that they will demand a better representation among the political parties in the future. They have a sort of natural penchant for politics. They manage to secure representation in all the principal offices in town. They claim from 6,000 to 7,000 votes, though this is probably an exaggerated estimate. They claim a population of but 40,00 altogether, and as they have abnormally large families, and, as many of them neglect to take out naturalization papers, 6,000 or 7,000 is too high an estimate. They have very nearly a majority, however, in the Sixth Ward. Hitherto they have acted with the Democrats, but the leading ones among them, with the exception of Kallal, Schlessinger and Nikodeun, say they are tired of the Democratic party, particularly of the Harrisonian branch 11of it. They assert that they have been victimized by the contractors in street-paving jobs, and, rightly or wrongly, they hold administration responsible therefor. They also complain of the espionage of the police. As a usual thing the Bohemians are orderly and law-abiding - they are, as stated before, a little boisterous at their society meetings when they indulge too freely in beer, which they too often do, and the policemen are too apt to use their clubs on them. There is a general impression, too, that the women are so desirous of getting rich that they do not know the difference between "mine and thine" very frequently. This is pronounced a gross slander, however, by the Bohemians themselves, who complain that the police treat them harshly, spread false reports about them and allow young toughs to break into their amusement halls, where the aforesaid toughs insult the women. This is especially the case at the Bohemian Hall on Taylor Street, near Canal, and frequent fights result as a consequence. In the Sixth Ward places of entertainment the Bohemians are amply able to take care of themselves.

The Loafers Among Them.


It is very noticeable that they do not loaf about saloons to any great extent. The present is a very dull time in the lumber region, and many hundred men are idle there, but in the Bohemian saloons in the vicinity very few men are to be found. They devote much of their time now-a-days to improving their buildings, constructing sidewalks, and clearing away rubbish or assisting their industrious wives. They are seldom found idle. Two young men met on Twenty-second Street last Thursday were asked why they were not at work. "No work to do", they replied. No house - no work now". They went on to explain as best they could that they had been in search of work.

Besides the religious, anti-religious and building societies, the Bohemians have also several gymnastic societies. They practice nearly every night. They are very athletic fellows although they are not quick. For persons who are such skilled tailors they display very poor taste in dressing. The men's clothing is generally speaking, coarse and badly fitting, the pantaloons bag at the knees and are many inches too short, while the shoes are coarse and heavy. They are a healthy race, though there is considerable mortality among the children in summer, very likely due to overcrowding and the neglect of other sanitary regulations. Though they have prospered in Chicago there is a general tendency among those who have ready cash or who can dispose of their property, to leave here and go to live on farms. Their papers here are filled with advertisements of farms for sale in Nebraska, Dakota, Texas, and parts of Wisconsin, and there are a couple of farm agencies here doing a big business. For this and other reasons it is not likely that the Bohemian population of Chicago will increase to any great extent in the future, though they are a prolific race, and many of those who go to farming return in a few years. The Bohemian quarter of the Sixth Ward is now nearly built up. The Scandinavians are crowding in on them west of Ashland Avenue, in what is called the Stockholm region. The lumber business there is not expanding. Much of it is likely to go to South Chicago, and the furniture factories are already crowded. As small traders they do not make much headway, their trade being confined mostly to people of their own nationality. The extension of the tracks of the West Division Railway Company on West Nineteenth Street, will open up some new territory, but not a great amount. The building societies of the region have practically done their work. Very few dwellings are going up now. Nearly all are three and four story store buildings of a very substantial character. The Bohemian are not the only buildings, however. The Germans and the Hebrews are doing more than their share.

Religious Opinion

It is curious that, though there are very many Bohemian Jews in this city the relation between them and the Bohemian Christians appear to be far from cordial; and the Catholic Bohemians and the liberal thinkers appear to cordially hate each other. The liberal thinkers seem to be the most prosperous, and also to be the better educated. They seem to have a decided preference for Voltaire, Huxley, Darwin and two or three of their own writers. Their literature is not extensive. The women have two or three societies of their own, and, strange as it may seem in women, the societies are not of a religious character. It is a mistake though, to suppose that the Bohemians as a whole are not religious people. Of the 40,000 15who live here more than two-thirds attend church some time or other. The average Sunday attendance at the church at the corner of Allport Avenue and Eighteenth Street is about 6,000. Twice that number of different persons attend during the year. The attendance at the DeKoven church numbers about 4,000 on the average, and the attendance at the Portland Avenue Church in the Fifth Ward is about 2,500. The Bohemians of the Fourteenth Ward attend the Polish church. The pastors pay great attention to the societies belonging to the church, and devote their entire energies to keeping them intact. Among no foreign nationality is there such pronounced hostility to formal religion, and it requires all the zeal of the clergymen to combat this.

Mr. Frank Fucik, a well-known Bohemian of the Seventh Ward, said yesterday, in relation to the building societies and other matters: "The district between Halsted Street and Ashland Avenue is now almost built up, and the Bohemians are beginning to build in the district between Ashland and Western Avenues. The Scandinavians are also building in there, but west of the lime kiln on Hoyne Avenue and thereabouts the Bohemians seem to have it all to themselves.

Value of Their Property


"What is the value of their property? I heard it estimated at $20,000,000, but that is an exaggeration, perhaps. They own at least $16,000,000 worth of property in Chicago. They seldom send money to the old country, except for the purpose of assisting relatives to come out. What they earn they keep here. It is a mistake to think that the Bohemians are only common laborers and wood-shovers. They are blacksmiths, watchmakers, and wood-turners, etc. Those along Canal Street, Canalport Avenue and Blue Island Avenue work at various mechanical trades. They work at the manufacture of American cutlery to a very large extent, and they are all steady, sober, active men. They have frequently been slandered because they have not been understood."

"To whom do the house-owners rent"? "To people of all nationalities - generally to their own countrymen though. They usually get $7 or $8 for three rooms. A good proportion of the rent goes for a time to pay interest. The death rate is as low in the Bohemian quarter as in any other portion of the city.

Their homes look as neat and as clean. They appear clean themselves, and I dont think there is the least ground for prejudice against them now."

Mr. Chatfield of the firm of Street, Chatfield and Keep, lumber dealers, who traveled through Bohemia, said that in their native country the Bohemians appear to be industrious, frugal, hard-working people. Like the Irish they did not like their form of government. There have been frequent uprisings. They seemed to be of considerable political and intellectual force in their native country. He considered them a very valuable portion of the population. He had heard few things derogatory to them.

A three days' sojourn in their midst was convincing as to their thrift, their industry, their cleanly habits, their generally high moral character, their saving habits and their intellectual advancement. They usually make good citizens; they have aided more than any other class of the population in building up the best portion of the southwestern district of the city; they have done their part by their labor in adding to the material prosperity of the 18city in adding to its taxable value. They are excellent members of society, and they and their children have done and will no doubt continue to do their full duty towards the great city which they have chosen for their future home.

Illinois Staats-Zeitung – January 25, 1892

The Bohemians in Chicago

The Bohemians constitute a larger percentage of the population than is generally estimated... The first Bohemian immigrants arrived in Chicago in 1853. Several families undertook the long journey from New York to Chicago. Then erected log-houses upon the prairie which is now the North Side, and soon many of their countrymen followed their example. Among the first immigrants were Mathias Barcal, the father of Police-lieutenant Barcal, and J. Padeckcy...He is the founder of the Bohemian Athletic Clubs. Dr. Valenta was the first Bohemian physician and J. Fischer the first one to open a store.

In 1860 the Bohemian colony in Chicago consisted of approximately 1,000 members. The first thing they organized was a rifle club. The sharpshooters participated in the war (Civil War) and were recognized as courageous fighters, particular in the battles at Mission-Ridge, Tunnel Hill, Bussetrost, etc. The commander of the Bohemian battalion, Major Michalozcy, was killed in the last mentioned battle.

Considerable difficulties were experienced in getting a Bohemian newspaper established on a self-paying basis. Finally in 1870 the Nova Doba (New Era) seemed to be successful, but the Chicago Fire destroyed the undertaking.

The Svornost (Unity) was organized in 1874 and became the leading newspaper among the Bohemians in the course of time. Besides the above paper two others, the Chicagske Listy, and the Denni Hlasatel, have now a large number of readers. There is also a large Bohemian library in Chicago.

The scattered Bohemian colonies united in due time and settled in the territory between Canal, Ewing, Forquer, Taylor, and De Koven streets, where they build two gymnasiums, and a theater. The district located west of Halsted, and south of 16th street is now an exclusive Bohemian colony. Not less than 15,000 Bohemians own real-estate property there, and some of the buildings have a value of about $50,000.

Other Bohemian colonies are located west of Ashland avenue, west of Douglas Park, and at Humboldt Park. Some of the schools in these territories are attended almost exclusively by Bohemian children. Likewise do we find Bohemian settlements in Town Lake, and on South Halsted street.

There are not less than 300 Bohemian clubs in Chicago, and their social activities have reached the climax. The total Bohemian population is estimated at 60,000. The first representative of the Bohemians at the School Board was A. Kraus; his successor, Dr. Jirka, is also a Bohemian. L. W. Kadlec represented the Bohemians as an official of the Public 4Library, and his successor, W. Kaspar, became a financier. J. Kravolec is a member of the West Park Board.

The Bohemians are represented at the present by the Republican Chott in the Congress of the State, by the Alderman, F. Dvorak in the City Council, and by Stepina at the County Board.

They also possess a Bohemian brewery valued at $300,000 and a Bohemian cemetery in Irving Park which is valued at $200,000. They have erected a beautiful monument upon this cemetery in honor of their countrymen who lost their lives in the Civil War.

Illinois Staats-Zeitung – January 25, 1892

The Foreigners among Chicago’s Population

Chicago differs from other world cities most strikingly because of its cosmopolitan character which is stamped upon it by the many nationalities within its population. The hundreds of thousands of immigrants have not been merged with the public in its entirety, but the individual nationalities form almost exclusive colonies in different parts of the city. All are growing continually due to the arrival of more European countrymen. The administration of the World's Fair is trying very hard to solve the problem of making the World's Fair a variegated, international affair in this city.

Although only a few hundred foreigners will come to the World's Fair, we, nevertheless, could easily arrange a large international gathering, which would excel those at Constantinople if only a fraction of our own population of foreigners would dress in their national costumes and walk on the streets on certain days.

The Chicago Times has made a thorough investigation regarding the different nationalities, and has published the extremely interesting results. The following list of the nations represented here furnishes instructive information.

We find in Chicago:

Americans 292,403
Germans 394,958
Irishmen 215,534
Bohemians 54,209
Poles 52,756
Swedes 45,867
Norwegians 44,615
Englishmen 33,785
Frenchmen 12,962
Scotts 11,927
Russians 9,977
Italians 9,921
Danes 9,891
Canadians 6,989
Dutchmen 4,912
Hungarians 4,827
Roumanians 4,350
Welshmen 3,966
Swiss 2,735
Chinese 810
Greeks 698
Belgians 685
Japanese 407
Spanish 297
Armenians 140
Portuguese 34
Sandwich Islands 31
Indians (Asiations) 65
Turks 18
Easkimos 4
Sioux-Indians 2
Total 1,208.833


These figures about the nationalities are taken from the index which secretary Stone published last year, and which are based upon the statistics of the census taken in 1890. Not included in this list are the immigrants who arrived in the interim, particularly those from Russia and Poland.

The accuracy of Stone's calculations in regard to the number of American born persons living in Chicago is doubted by many. Likewise the number of Irishmen is listed too high, but there is no doubt that the German population is at least 300,000 strong. The North side is generally considered as the chief residential district of the Germans. Here we find German poets and artists immortalized by the respective names of streets. Here also we find German churches such as the St. Jacob's, St. Joseph's, St. Paul's, St. Jacobi's and others. One may go from one store to another, everywhere German is spoken. There are few disturbances. All are peace-loving, industrious, and clean, in short, it is a German neighborhood.

In some districts on the North side, as for instance, on Franklin, Market and other streets the Irish element is noticeable. Nine-tenths of the people of the old 19th Ward are from the Emerald Isle. However, the chief residential district of the Irish is now on the West side. Milwaukee Avenue beginning at Ohio Street and going north west is essentially a German business section. There are also other neighborhoods which could be designated as German colonies. Later we will enter into this matter of German population more deeply.

The numerically largest colony - the Poles - we find on Milwaukee Avenue and Noble Street. The Swedes we find at East Chicago Ave, and on some side streets west of Wells, as well as on Division Street, west of Sedgewick and on Orchard, Willow, and Clybourn Avenue.

Russians are chiefly located at Canal and Clinton Streets. In South Chicago a Dutch colony is developing rapidly. The workers in the iron foundries there are nearly all Dutchmen.

Illinois Staats-Zeitung – January 25, 1892

The Bohemians constitute a larger percentage of the population than is generally estimated... The first Bohemian immigrants arrived in Chicago in 1853. Several families undertook the long journey from New York to Chicago. Then erected log-houses upon the prairie which is now the North Side, and soon many of their countrymen followed their example. Among the first immigrants were Mathias Barcal, the father of Police-lieutenant Barcal, and J. Padeckcy...He is the founder of the Bohemian Athletic Clubs. Dr. Valenta was the first Bohemian physician and J. Fischer the first one to open a store.

In 1860 the Bohemian colony in Chicago consisted of approximately 1,000 members. The first thing they organized was a rifle club. The sharpshooters participated in the war (Civil War) and were recognized as courageous fighters, particular in the battles at Mission-Ridge, Tunnel 2Hill, Bussetrost, etc. The commander of the Bohemian battalion, Major Michalozcy, was killed in the last mentioned battle.

Considerable difficulties were experienced in getting a Bohemian newspaper established on a self-paying basis. Finally in 1870 the Nova Doba (New Era) seemed to be successful, but the Chicago Fire destroyed the undertaking.

The Svornost (Unity) was organized in 1874 and became the leading newspaper among the Bohemians in the course of time. Besides the above paper two others, the Chicagske Listy, and the Denni Hlasatel, have now a large number of readers. There is also a large Bohemian library in Chicago.

The scattered Bohemian colonies united in due time and settled in the territory between Canal, Ewing, Forquer, Taylor, and De Koven streets, 3where they build two gymnasiums, and a theater. The district located west of Halsted, and south of 16th street is now an exclusive Bohemian colony. Not less than 15,000 Bohemians own real-estate property there, and some of the buildings have a value of about $50,000.

Other Bohemian colonies are located west of Ashland avenue, west of Douglas Park, and at Humboldt Park. Some of the schools in these territories are attended almost exclusively by Bohemian children. Likewise do we find Bohemian settlements in Town Lake, and on South Halsted street.

There are not less than 300 Bohemian clubs in Chicago, and their social activities have reached the climax. The total Bohemian population is estimated at 60,000. The first representative of the Bohemians at the School Board was A. Kraus; his successor, Dr. Jirka, is also a Bohemian. L. W. Kadlec represented the Bohemians as an official of the Public 4Library, and his successor, W. Kaspar, became a financier. J. Kravolec is a member of the West Park Board.

The Bohemians are represented at the present by the Republican Chott in the Congress of the State, by the Alderman, F. Dvorak in the City Council, and by Stepina at the County Board.

They also possess a Bohemian brewery valued at $300,000 and a Bohemian cemetery in Irving Park which is valued at $200,000. They have erected a beautiful monument upon this cemetery in honor of their countrymen who lost their lives in the Civil War.

Denni Hlasatel – June 27, 1903

Bohemians in the United States

The census figures show 38,570 Czechs in Illinois, however this figure represents only the number of Bohemians who were born in Bohemia. The total number of all Bohemians is two and one-half to three times as great. This can be judged for instance by the Chicago school census, which found 100,000 Czechs, while the government figures show only 36,362 Bohemian immigrants living in

Denni Hlasatel – March 3, 1907

Bohemian Immigrants

The annual report of the United States Immigration Commission shows that twelve thousand nine hundred and fifty eight Bohemians came to the United States during the past year. Of this number four hundred and fifty were in this country before.

It is interesting to note that more came to the State of Illinois than to any other State. The majority of these settled in Chicago, or a total of three thousand seven hundred and twenty, which was twice the number that settled in New York, rating second in Bohemian immigration.

The following statistics show the professions represented by the Bohemian immigrants in this country. One actor, one architect, eight priests, two editors, fifteen engineers, three lawyers, five writers, forty-four musicians, three doctors, nine artists, eight teachers and three of other professional classification. All trades, domestic servants and farm laborers were represented.

Denni Hlasatel – June 15, 1911

Bohemian National Undertakings of Chicago (Editorial)

We have several Bohemian national undertakings in Chicago at present, of which we can be and are proud of by every right. Our National Cemetery which is hardly equaled by any other cemetery in Chicago; our Old People's Home and Orphanage; and our Bohemian Charitable Association. We are now taking care of the living and the dead, and no one can any longer censure us, as happened not so long ago, when we took care of the dead only. True, this is not yet all that we should or could have, but let us hope, that with good will and a little sacrifice, we will live to see it come to pass.

First of all, we should look to the education of our youth. It is understood that education of the youth along nationalistic trends is meant.  Let us raise our sons and daughters to be good, conscientious Bohemians. Let us teach them to love all things Bohemian, and then we need have no apprehension that we will die out, or that our language will be forgotten here. All that is necessary is to work with a will. The founding of the Bohemian National Council was a good start in the right direction.

Denni Hlasatel – July 31, 1911

A Never To Be Forgotten Day Czech Chicago Paid Dignified Homage to Havlicek: Fifty Thousand Countrymen Took Part in the Celebration

It has been eighteen years since we held a celebration that we were convinced, would never be surpassed. It was Bohemian Day at the World's Fair held here in Chicago [1893]. Thousands of Czechs, sincere and enthusiastic, traveled the streets of Chicago. These were moments which will never fade from the memories of those who experienced them. At that time we thought that there could never be a repetition of such enthusiasm. However, yesterday we witnessed that Czech Chicago is just as patriotic, just as enthusiastic, as it was at that time. The unveiling of the Havlicek monument was celebrated in such a manner, that all true Bohemians can be proud of it; all those, knowing the significance of Havlicek and seeing to it that his monument was erected here to prove that Chicago Czechs are a living branch of the Czech people and that they will remain such.

Whoever saw that gigantic parade yesterday, those tens of thousands of our countrymen who swarmed around Havlicek's monument, who filled Douglas Park and the streets leading to it, and afterwards filled Pilsen Park, that person surely was convinced that our people not only revere the memory of Havlicek, but that they are determined to govern themselves according to his principles: to love truth, fight for it, and suffer for it.

It was no trifling matter, during yesterday's heat, to march and remain in the ranks until the end. But those thousands who went to honor the memory of Havlicek did not feel the heat; they defied all tortures in the knowledge that they were paying homage to a man who merited it most and that at the same time they were contributing to a dignified representation of all Czech people here in Chicago.

That we were celebrating a national holiday was plain to be seen early in the morning, especially in Ceska California (Bohemian California) [a district of the West Side] and Pilzn (Pilsen) [also a district of the West Side.] The decoration of the streets was completed Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Early in the morning, large crowds of countrymen streamed toward the Pilsen District, which was the gathering place of the societies that had announced their intentions of taking part in the parade. Great activity was evident on all sides. The various societies assembled at their assigned places. Foremost of these were our Sokols, those of the National Sokol Unity and of the Fuegner-Tyrs Group; the C. S. P. S. (Czechoslovak Benevolent Society) Lodges; the C. S. B. P. J. (Czechoslovak Brotherhood and Benevolent Society) Lodges; the C. S. J. (Bohemian-Slavonic Unity); the Cesko-Americkych Lesniku a Lesnic (Bohemian-American Foresters); the Cesko-Amerika Jednota (Czech-American Unity) Lodges; and the Taborite Lodge, which lined up to demonstrate that they revered the 4memory of Havlicek, that they grasped the principles which made him great and through which the Czech people, if they govern themselves accordingly, can gain recognition in the great family of nations.....Delegates from various lodges, in carriages and in automobiles, followed in the rear of the parade.

Almost every individual society in the parade had its own band.

The main column of the parade started from the Pilsen Sokol Hall at Eighteenth Street and Ashland Avenue. How large this imposing parade was, can be judged from the fact that when the head of the parade was arriving at the park, the end of the parade was at Ashland Avenue and Fifteenth Street. The parade required more than an hour to pass a given point. There were more than two hundred carriages and about fifty automobiles, besides a large number of both which were not officially in the parade.

In brief, the parade was imposing, pompous, and testifying of the love and reverence of the Czechs of Chicago and America toward the most famous son of the Czech peoples, Karel Havlicek Borovsky!

Exceptionally well represented in the parade was the National Sokol Unity; the Fuegner-Tyrs Sokol Group is also deserving of mention for its women's section and bugle corps. The lodges of the C. S. P. S. were probably most numerously represented, followed in order by the Bohemian-American Foresters, and the Unity of Taborites. The Pilsen (district) Butchers' Association was represented by its entire membership.....

Governor Deneen, of the State of Illinois, and Mayor Carter H. Harrison, of the City of Chicago, arrived promptly at 2:30 P.M. Both were welcomed by applause and many, who did not believe that our distinguished guests would honor our celebration, were relieved by their arrival.

Then came the marshal and a cordon of police forming the head of the parade. The first automobile brought the Czech speakers, who were greeted by a burst of applause. Then the various societies, with the Sokols in the lead, began to arrive. The Sokols grouped themselves in a semicircle before the monument.

Mr. Brousek's band played as an overture a medley of Bohemian airs, after which, the first speaker of the occasion Professor J. J. Zmrhal addressed the gathering, speaking in English. The speaker explained that Havlicek was a great man who would have been an honor to any other nation, the same as to ours. He was a fighter for freedom, that great possession of the people, for which all nationalities strive. His ideals were not exclusively Czech any more than they were exclusively American, but they belonged to the whole world. We noticed, especially, that the beginning of his speech made a good impression upon our guests of other nationalities.

The Ceska Ustredni Pevecka Jednota (Central Bohemian Singing Society) sang Smetana's "Veno" and then the Czech speaker Mr. Jaroslav Kosar was introduced. Mr. Kosar is a fiery speaker and fascinated the listeners in general. The speech was enthusiastic; the phrases were well chosen and sincerely spoken. The speaker mentioned first the meritorious work of the associations for the erection of the Havlicek monument and he then explained what Havlicek means to us. Although his was the longest speech of the celebration, it was listened to with bated breath to the last word. The Ceska Ustredni Pevecka Jednota (Central Bohemian Singing Society) sang a chorus of "Probuzeni."

The time had now arrived for the act which had been awaited by all with impatience--The chairman of the Monument Association Mr. V. Sedlacek appeared upon the platform, tugged at the rope, and down came the veil which covered the statue of the great man. The entire gathering arose 8and during the strains of our national hymn "Kde domov muj," gazed breathlessly at the statue......

Mr. V. Kolacek, president of the West Parks Commission, accepted the monument from Mr. V. Sedlacek and presented it to the State of Illinois. Mr. Kolacek's speech was brief and suited to the purpose.....

Governor Deneen then appeared upon the platform. His appearance brought a storm of applause. He said that probably with all nations, those men who fought for freedom and against oppression gained the greatest favor. The United States, in that respect, was more fortunate than other nations.--It gained the freedom for which other countries hopelessly struggle--Havlicek did not fight for freedom with the sword, he proved that the pen is mightier than the sword. When we honor Havlicek, we honor the principles for which he and other patriots of all ages and 9nations fought. The Governor ended with a request that we learn real patriotism from such men; we citizens of a land in which such great responsibility rests upon each individual citizen. Not only Czechs, but all Americans can learn from Havlicek's examples.

The band then played the "Star Spangled Banner," while the audience stood at attention. Mayor Carter H. Harrison was the next speaker. He expressed himself sincerely saying that he had not had sufficient time to prepare himself to speak, but in spite of that he spoke quite fluently.

The last speaker on the program was the president of the Czech National Council Mr. E. S. Vraz. Last in order, but not last in significance and effectiveness, Mr. Vraz transmitted to the gathering greetings from the old homeland. Mr. Vraz spoke only briefly but with his greeting he brought the feelings of the listeners to a high degree of enthusiasm.

The band played the impressive "Spi, Havlicku" and the parade moved on. The celebration in Douglas Park was thus ended.

A national celebration was then held in Pilsen Park, which ended yesterday's festivities in a dignified manner.....

Denni Hlasatel – September 18, 1911

The Frantisek B. Zdrubek Funeral Gigantic Crowds of People in the Hall, the Streets and at the Cemetery

Yesterday, Chicago's liberal-minded Bohemians [freethinkers] attended the funeral of one of the foremost Czechs, Nestor of Czech journalism, writer, speaker, and journalist, Mr. František Boleslav Zdrubek, president and speaker of the Svobodna Obce (Rationalist Society). Mr. Zdrubek was a member of many other national societies; a man outstanding and meritorious in every respect, editor and founder of the first Czech daily in America, Svornost, and of the weekly, Amerikan, etc. The funeral of the deceased was a most phenomenal one. By this gigantic participation, the people demonstrated their recognition of the deceased for his inestimable merits on the national field, as a pioneer of Czech journalism, and as a fearless and persistent fighter for the Rational cause.

The funeral was held from the Cesko-Anglicka Svobodna Skola (Bohemian-American Liberal School) on Eighteenth and May Streets. The body lay in state in the center of the hall and hundreds of people filed past to pay their last respects to the deceased who was departing forever for eternal rest, after many years of hard work.

The stage was crowded with floral pieces, while the coffin was covered with a simple laurel wreath.

After all the speakers had arrived, the Česko-Dělnícký Pěvecký Sbor (Bohemian Workingmen's Singing Society) sang the dirge, "Co Pláčete" (Why Do You Weep?). Then the president of Lincoln Lodge, Č. S. P. S., Česko Slovánska Podporujici Společnost (Czech-Slavonic Benevolent Society), of which the deceased was a member, addressed the gathering. Mr. M. M. Mangasaian, well-known freethinker and lecturer of the Svobodna Obce Rationalistu (Rationalist Community), a personal friend of the deceased and a fighter for the same ideal, then appeared. He called attention to the great merits of our deceased countryman, that fearless, persistent defender of rationalism, that fighter for the spiritual and political freedom of his countrymen. "For almost half a century he cleared the way for the Rationalist idea. Mr. Zdrubek was a Catholic, but in his twenty-first year he awakened from a deep dream and forced his way to the light of spiritual freedom. After him, came those others who today mourn beside his coffin. With all his energy, he threw himself into the open arms of the Rationalist idea." The speaker recalled Mr. Zdrubek's debates with Mr. P. Cokou, at which time, because of his quiet and scholarly appearance, he gained the respect and admiration of even the most ardent Catholics....

The next speaker was Mr. Lev Palda of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an old friend and fellow worker of the deceased with whom he had worked a great many years upon the national field for the enlightenment and spiritual freedom of his countrymen.....

Mr. Jaromir Pšenka then spoke in behalf of the publishers of Svornost, and described the rare character of the deceased. He reminded the people that with the departure of Mr. Zdrubek a breach, which will not be filled so soon, was created in the ranks of the liberal-minded Bohemians [free-thinkers].

Dr. Frank Iska spoke for the Svobodna Obec (The rationalist community).....

The services at the hall were concluded by Dr. Jaroslav E. S. Vojan, manager of the Český Tiskový Kancelař (The Bohemian Press Bureau).

At the cemetery, the rites were opened by Mr. John Pech, president of the 5Bohemian National Cemetery. He was followed by Dr. John Jicinsky of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who spoke in behalf of the Narodni Jednota Sokolska (National Sokol Union).

Mr. Joseph Egermayer, president of the Cremation Society, was the next speaker. He expressed regret over the fact that the deceased did not live long enough to see the realization of a Czech crematorium, although it has been decided already that a new crematorium of the most modern type will be built in the Bohemian National Cemetery.

Mr. Bartoš Bittner, a colleague of Mr. Zdrubek, then gave a short talk in behalf of the Czech journalists of Chicago.

The rites at the cemetery were concluded by Mr. Soukup and Mr. Hrodět.

The body was then taken to Mount Rose Cemetery for cremation.

Dennis Hlasatel – April 25, 1913

Opening of Bohemian Settlement Many Prominent Persons from All Parts of City Attend

Yesterday at half past 3 o'clock the new Bohemian Settlement on Center Avenue in our Bohemian Pilsen district was opened to the public. It is a beautiful structure built at a cost of $46,000 which includes the real estate, furniture, and equipment. The building occupies two lots, totaling 50 by 100 feet. The third adjoining lot is reserved for a children's playground to be equipped at a cost of $1,500. The Settlement was built by the ladies of Presbyterian churches of Chicago who are united in the Women's Presbyterial Society. The principal credit for the erection of the Settlement belongs to Mr. and Mrs. C. D. B. Howell of Evanston, who devoted a great deal of energy to the solicitation of contributions and devoted much care to the furnishings of the Settlement. The building has two stories. The basement contains a gymnasium covering an area of 50 by 100 feet, and an electric washing machine which will be available to the neighborhood women. The first floor contains a large assembly hall, a dispensary, a reading room, and an office. The second floor is divided into several schoolrooms, a kindergarten, a sewing room, cooking school, and two music rooms. On the third floor are living quarters for those who will work in the Settlement, and there is room for eleven employees. The rooms are modern throughout, tastefully furnished, and electrically lighted, and all those present agreed that the new Bohemian Settlement House surpasses all buildings of its kind in Chicago.

The afternoon ceremonies were opened by the Rubenstein Ladies' Singing Society of Austin. The Society has sixteen members and Miss Ida Belle Freeman is its director. The speakers included Mrs. A. G. Beebe, Miss Helen I. Duncan, who is in charge of the Settlement work, and Professor J. J. Zmrhal. Mrs. C.D.B. Howell of Evanston acted as chairman of the afternoon ceremonies.

The evening meeting was opened at 8 o'clock by the chairman, Reverend G. B. Safford. Among the speakers were the well-known director of the University of Chicago Settlement, Miss Mary McDowell; Mr. Howell; and Judge Joseph Z. Uhlir, all of whom presented spirited, enthusiastic talks. Miss McDowell spoke about her impressions of Prague and experiences during her visit to Bohemia. A large part of her talk was devoted to such famous Bohemians as Jan Amos Komensky and Jan Hus; and she stressed the fact that these men do not belong to the Bohemian nation alone, but to all humanity, to the whole world, and should be held in the highest esteem and honored by all people, no matter to what nationality they may belong--just as much as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln do not belong to the American people, but to the entire human race. Further she pointed out that the rights of immigrants should always be respected; otherwise this country will have to pay a heavy penalty. Chicago is a great cosmopolitan city, and we should always bear in mind the fact that we are one great family. She concluded her talk by urging the Bohemian youth to respect Bohemian history, the language of their parents, the achievements of Bohemian people in musical and creative arts; and to realize that all these advantages now belong to Chicago, since Chicago is now the home of our youth.

In his speech Judge Uhlir discussed the value of the work which is being done by various settlements in Chicago and paid a merited tribute to their workers who gladly give any kind of assistance to our youth, help them in getting an education, and promote their well-being and happiness, no matter to what political party, religious group, or nationality they may belong. Such settlements are located throughout the city, but this is the first Bohemian Settlement in America and deserves full support for its humanitarian work.

The Judge showed no mercy in his criticism of large department stores for requiring their employees, particularly young girls, to work twelve or more hours a day for starvation wages; and he enlarged upon the desirability of establishing a large farm where men who are incorrigible in the neglect of their families would be put to work. Those assembled showed their agreement with the speaker by frequent applause.

The musical selections on the program were presented by Miss Edith Jones and Mr. Wm. F. Hypes. Both the afternoon and evening meetings had a large 5attendance. There were guests present from all parts of the city, many of whom came in their own automobiles.

Today there will be a concert in the Settlement with free admission to which the Bohemian public is cordially invited.

The official dedication of the building will take place on Sunday in an appropriate ceremony. In the afternoon there will be a meeting for the English-speaking people with Dr. John Timothy Stone, Dr. J. B. Shaw, and Dr. Edgar P. Hill as speakers. The evening is reserved for a Bohemian meeting at which Dr. Barta of Dubuque, Iowa, will be the principal speaker.

The Austrian consul of Baltimore sent a telegram to Reverend V. Vanek on the occasion of the opening of the Settlement, reading: "Accept my congratulations on the opening of the Bohemian Settlement. May the House render most useful service and crown your work with complete success."

Denni Hlasatel – July 28, 1912

Interesting Statistics Bohemians Live in All Wards of Chicago

Chicago there are 882,516 persons who have not yet reached maturity; of these 443,854 are male and 438,662 are female.

At the last meeting of the School Board, a report of the school census was presented, according to which Chicago now has 2,381,700 inhabitants.

The school census, which was under the direction of Mr. William L. Bodine, shows that in Chicago there are 882,516 persons who have not yet reached maturity; of these 443,854 are male and 438,662 are female.

Bohemians are listed as having 3,666 foreign-born and 42,745 American-born persons under twenty-one years of age.

We hereby express our thanks for these reports to our Bohemian school 2commissioner, Mr. J. B. Dibelka, who was so kind as to furnish us with a copy of this detailed school census report. Mr. Dibelka is a member of several important committees in the Board of Education. He is a member of the real-estate committee, chairman of the committee on vocational training courses, etc., Mr. Dibelka worked for the introduction of the Bohemian language as a course of study in the Chicago high schools. He informs us that teaching of the Bohemian language will be started in two high schools after the summer vacation. Teachers of the Bohemian language will be appointed next month.

Denní Hlasatel -- September 15, 1913

A Tribute to Chicago Bohemians

Yesterday's Tribune carries on its first page a very enthusiastic but not quite accurate article about the Bohemians of Chicago..... Here is a translation of the article:

[Translator's note: Most of the first part of the article appears to deal with the "Slavonic Epopee" by the famous Bohemian painter, Alphonse Mucha, whose work on the paintings of which the "Slavonic Epopee" is composed was financed largely by Mr. Charles R. Crane of Chicago. After a paragraph containing general information about Bohemians in the United States, the article goes on as follows;]

.....Chicago is the largest Bohemian center with the exception of Prague and Vienna. Here the Bohemians have five banks of some importance, one of which is a national bank and four are state banks. From their directors we learnthat Bohemians send very little money to the "old country". They like to put their savings into homes which they own. To promote home building, they have organized about one hundred building and loan associations, some of which show assets close to one-half-million dollars.....

All around Chicago there are many farming districts where Bohemians predominate. Some of these districts are almost purely Bohemian.....

It has been more than fifty years since the first Bohemian colony settled in Chicago. But no Bohemian has yet been sentenced to death for murder in this city.....

Chicago Bohemians are prominent in politics. More than eighty per cent of them have become American citizens.....Mr. Karel J. Vopicka, a prominent Bohemian brewer of Chicago....will soon go to Europe as the United States Ambassador to the Balkans.... Here [in Chicago] the Bohemians have one congressman, two judges, the chief bailiff of the municipal court, a clerk of the probate court, seven aldermen, and many other public officials of consequence.....

....They have many Catholic and a number of Protestant churches here, four dailies printed in the Bohemian language, several weeklies and other periodicals, a Bohemian theater, five thousand Sokols (gymnasts), many clubs, and some six hundred fraternal and benevolent societies. Of special interest as an unusual institution are their Saturday classes where their children learn the Bohemian language and the history of their own and their parents' homeland.....

Denni Hlasatel – April 25, 1914

National Statistics of Chicago’s Population: Illinois has 124,225 Inhabitants of Bohemian Descent, Chicago 110,736

The Census Bureau in Washington has just issued a report showing the number of immigrants in Illinois and in Chicago. The report is based on the 1910 census, and shows not only the number of immigrants, but also the number of American born citizens of foreign parentage.

According to these figures there now reside in Illinois 2,926,407 immigrants who make up fifty-three per cent of the total of 5,526,962 white residents.....

The report is, of course, very interesting, especially that part which refers to Chicago. It shows that the Bohemians are the sixth from the top in the number of whites in this city, and also the sixth among groups registering other than the American language as their mother tongue.

The Germans hold the first place in Chicago as far as numbers are concerned: 461,981, or twenty-two per cent of the total of 2,139,057 white residents.
The second place goes to the English, Irish, and Scotch, with the total of 368,651.
The Poles rank third with 230,132, and form eleven per cent of Chicago's white inhabitants.
The Swedes number 120,615, and the Jews 111,098.
The Bohemians and Moravians together total 110,736, which amounts to five per cent of the city's white population.
The Italians follow the Bohemians with the count of 75,929.
The Norwegians are next in line with 49,414.
The Lithuanians follow with a total of 26,355.
The French number 24,718, the Danes 23,893. Holland is represented by 21,208. Hungarians number 13,253, Slovaks 13,093, Serbo-Croatians 10,085, Greeks 7,785, Slovenes 6,336, and Russians 2,906.

The number of immigrants resident in Chicago is 1,693,918, which is the best proof of the strength in our city. They constitute seventy-nine per cent of all of our white residents, and the so-called American element, which does not mix with the immigrants, makes up only twenty-one per cent of the people of Chicago.

Denni Hlasatel – September 9, 1915

Record Enrollment in Bohemian Schools

This year's enrollment of children in Bohemian schools has been looked forward to with a great deal of interest on the part of our public, and--let us be frank--with some apprehension, also. This, because it was for the first time in the history of Chicago schools that the energetic efforts of our Bohemian member of the Chicago Board of Education, Mr. Joseph A. Holpuch, succeeded in obtaining the School Board's permission to use, for the teaching of the Bohemian language and home lore, the same building in which the children get instruction in other subjects, that is, permission to have the classes in these two subjects in public school buildings. This success must be fully appreciated. It must be borne in mind that this permission means an increase in the school budget of fully $33,000, and we must also remember that this permission means an important recognition of our colony in the City of Chicago, and act accordingly. Furthermore, it means that we need not be ashamed of our language, and every one of our children has now the opportunity of learning it in his public school, and has every reason to be proud of that fact. It means that the name "Bohemian" has a good sound in America, and that the School Board believes it is possible to be a good American and yet not forget the Bohemian language.

This permission is also important in a hygienic respect. The children will be studying in large, airy, sanitary rooms, fully and properly equipped for school use--rooms with which they are well acquainted and which are close to their homes. Hence they offer every possible comfort and convenience. In saying this we are far from trying to imply that every effort has not been made to do all that could be done to offer similar conveniences in rooms where Bohemian classes were being held last year, and where all our Saturday and Sunday Schools will be held this year also.

But, we shall confess, we were somewhat afraid that we should be unable to take full advantage of the affability of the School Board, and thus find ourselves in the disagreeable, embarrassing situation of having, all of a sudden, ample school rooms and of being unable to fill them with pupils. Our apprehensions were a result of our observation that, seemingly, our younger generation does not love its mother tongue as much as was the case with our fathers. No doubt there have been many instances where our euphonious language was discounted and not fully appreciated. However, we are happy to say that our anxiety was quite unnecessary. On the very first day of enrollment it was proved that we can rely on our countrymen to do the right thing, that the love of our mother tongue has not died among our people, and that we know how to show publicly our own self-esteem. The first day proved that we are interested in the education of our youth, and that we know our own value in the international arena. All this gives us the more reason for rejoicing the more we realize that we cannot and must not rely on anybody or anything but ourselves and our own strength.

The first day of enrollment was a very lively one. The parents brought their children in large numbers. But the real thing was yesterday, the second day. Yesterday, some of the enrollment offices were filled to capacity, and more. The faces of the parents and the children showed how glad they were of this opportunity, how the children are looking forward to the beginning of the school year. The results of the enrollment are commensurable to these feelings.

As far as we could ascertain yesterday, the greatest enrollment was in the Gary School on Lawndale Avenue and 30th Street. There it amounted to 325 children. Next strongest was the Jungmann School on Loefler and 18th Streets with 200 children. The Corkery School on Kildare Avenue and 25th Street had 189, the Cooper School on 19th Street near Ashland Avenue had 145 children. The Throop School had 100 children the first day, to which a number was added yesterday. The exact numbers will not be known until today, when the respective committee of the School Board meets and when the executive committee receives detailed reports on the enrollment. But even these partial results show that the work of our committee on schools, conducted by Chairman Topinka, Mrs. Hrisna, Mrs. Kubica, Dr. Miller, Mr. B. Kral, and Mr. K. Beranek, met with complete and pleasant success. It is now up to our parents to see to it that the enthusiasm we are now witnessing does not ebb in the course of the year, and that they make sure that their children get the full benefit of the advantages given to us by the Chicago Board of Education.

Denni Hlasatel – July 25, 1918

Czech Old Settlers’ Picnic

Old settlers whose services to the Czech community in Chicago have been invaluable, like to remember former times when they had to work hard and untiringly, not only to found an existence for themselves, but also to prepare and insure a better future for those who came after them to the land of liberty, to continue the work which they had begun. All of Czech Chicago gladly joins with them in their reminiscences, which are revived in annual gatherings, at which congenial conversation and pleasant, plain entertainment are offered.

One such gathering took place yesterday, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Czech Old Settlers' Association. This gave the picnic a special luster, and made it one of the most successful in years. It was held in the Pilsen Brewery Park, the usual place for these affairs. Innumerable Czech settlers are members of the Association, including many who left town years ago. Even young people belong, thus symbolizing the future, while the older people form the background, representing the past and the present. These annual celebrations reflect the peaceful, harmonious, sociable life in the settlement, as the old settlers knew it.

Nevertheless, yesterday's picnic reflected the grave import of the present time. A patriotic air pervaded the festival. Aged men and women frankly expressed the wish that "the man with the scythe" might wait for awhile, until the war ended with a victory for the United States, so that the old people could rejoice in the liberation of the world, and, last but not least, in the rescue of Czechoslovakian territory from subjugation.

The festive picnic opened, as always, at 11 A. M., and soon groups of people, most of whom were members of the Association, were seen in lively conversation, for many had not met for a whole year. There was a parade with a markedly patriotic aspect. It was led by John Sokol, head of the Scouts. He wore a mask, and was dressed as "Uncle Sam". Girls from the Red Cross marched, followed by members of the Association.

A new flag was raised over the park pavilion, after which "Uncle Sam" recited the oath of allegiance in English. It was repeated by the audience in the Czech language. This was a solemn moment.

Mr. Anton Pregler enthusiastically outlined the activities of the Association. "My esteemed fellow citizens, fellow members of the Czech Old Settlers' Association," he began. "I wish to say only a few sincere words to you....We are celebrating the memory of July 14, 1898, when our Association was founded.....Conforming with our statutes, the Association is managed by a directorate of six men and six women.....

"Sixteen men have addressed former gatherings at various times, usually after the main ceremonies were over. Among those speakers were Charles Vopicka, V. Kaspar, Robert Pitte, Judge J. Z. Uhlir, J. Kostner, Joseph Cermak, and Judge Kickham Scanlan of the County Court. Mrs. Marie Steiskal, who was a member of the directorate twenty years ago, and Mrs. Margaret Stuchlik, also spoke on various occasions.

"At each picnic a gold medal was given to the oldest settlers. The first gold medal was awarded to Mrs. Marie Pecha, who was at that time a ward of the Institute for the Blind, 19th Street and Douglas Park Avenue (sic). She came to America in 1853. Mr. John Haisman, one of the recipients of the medal, came to this country in 1848.


"Charity has been the guiding spirit of the Association. The members have not paid any dues during the entire twenty years, yet over 5,000 membership emblems have been given away, various expenses have been paid, and annual picnics have been arranged with free admission. Over 10,000 albums have been given away. About $3,000 was contributed to the maintenance of various charitable institutions, such as the Bohemian Old People's Home and Orphan Asylum, the institute at Lisle, Illinois, and the Catholic Orphanage, where an extra room, a memorial to the Association, is maintained for sick children. The Association sent 500 crowns for the sufferers from the flood in Bohemia in 1902. That money was distributed by Mr. F. Korbel. The Association donated $500 to the Czech Hospital in Chicago, and $50 to the immigrant home at Baltimore, Ohio. The Matice Vyssiho Vzdelani (Central Organization for Higher Education), and the American Red Cross have also received contributions. The Association became a member of the Red Cross under the special sponsorship of President Wilson. Our Association has contributed on many other occasions, and can well be proud of its record. As chairman of the board of directors, I wish to thank everybody for their co-operation.....Let us remember the members who have died....." Mr. Pregler closed with a wish that the silver jubliee of the Association might be celebrated.

Mr. Otto Fuerst Followed. During and after his address, there were tears in the eyes of almost everybody present. His words went to the hearts of the old people; they were the very echo of their innermost desires.

These moments of emotion did not however, last very long because the majority of the picnickers gradually congregated about the kitchen, and at the spots where delicious drinks were being served.

The dance of the oldest couple was an important feature. Mr. Joseph Sramek, 83, and Mrs. Therese Doskocil, 81, in spite of their age, gave an excellent account of themselves because they pranced about with youthful vigor, and chatted gaily. They were each presented with a large mug designed in true Bohemian style.


One cannot imagine a Czech Old Settlers' picnic without some funny entertainment being offered at it. There was plenty of fun at this one. The main attraction was the appearance upon the floor of a strange man whom everyone would have guessed to be at least one hundred years old. He hopped about as if he were a boy, and danced with seventy-two-year-old Mrs. Catharine Nemrava until she was breathless. Other dancers, and those looking on, soon began to express doubt about the man's real age. Though unmasked and revealed as Mr. Belohlavek, Jr., he still stuck to his "old age," and continued to romp about as a "centenarian," until the picnic closed at 11 P. M.

Denni Hlasatel – January 20, 1920

The Oldest Living Person in Chicago Is a Czech

Mrs. Anna Burian, living at 4948 South Seeley Avenue, according to the results thus far of the census taken by the United States government, is the oldest living person in Chicago. This grand old lady asserts that she is 103 years old. John J. Gaynor, director of the census in the district of Chicago, announced yesterday that according to the previous results of the census, Mrs. Burian is the oldest person thus far reported. Mrs. Burian lives with her nephew, Mr. Vaclav Lhotak. The census collector, who registered this oldest person in our city is Mrs. Minnie Slesinger.

Mrs. Burian stated that she was born in Bohemia in 1816, and immigrated to the United States in 1875. This, repeatedly, is a proof, "how sound the Bohemian root is." Mrs. Burian, in fact, is almost 104 years old, because around Easter holidays she will complete that year, and is strongly convinced that this will not be her last birthday celebration.

For forty years, she had lived with her husband, and during the last forty years, she has been a widow. She enjoys good health, all the senses serve her well, except her eyesight, which is growing weak. She is the mother of six children. Mrs. Burian, like almost all elderly women born in the old country, indulges in drinking beer moderately, and cannot understand why this privilege has been forbidden by the prohibition act.


Mrs. Burian is an argent reader of the Bohemian newspapers, and follows very closely all the public questions which are to be settled. She is also convinced that women should not mingle in politics, but should devote all of their time to their homes and families.

Osadne Hlasy – March 24, 1933

Slovaks and Czechs Pay Tribute to the Late Mayor Cermak

Slovaks and Bohemians gathered in large numbers last Sunday afternoon, in the Harrison Auditorium, to pay their last respects to their countryman, the late Mayor Anton J. Cermak.

This solemn occasion was sponsored by the Bohemian and Slovak organizations of Chicago, to extend to those Slovaks and Bohemians who were not present at the regular funeral services for the dead Mayor, an opportunity to pay their last respects to this distinguished compatriot, whose name will go down in American history.

The Auditorium was appropriately draped and the participants were deeply affected by this solemn occasion.

The program was begun at three o'clock, when the curtain was drawn aside, to display a bust of Cermak, decorated with the American flag and draped in mourning. A large book, bearing the title History of Anton J. Cermak, 1873 - 1933, was also shown. Prominent men together with representatives of various organizations were seated in a circle about the book, in the center of the stage.

The services were opened with the National anthem, which was played by the Harrison orchestra; president of the committee, J. A. Cervenka, then addressed the audience and explained the purpose of the occasion requesting that they refrain from applause on this solemn occasion.

The program proceeded according to schedule as follows: Hruska's quartet; a selection from Anton Dvorak; speeches: Cermak A Martyr, by Professor Zmrhala; Cermak as a Patriot, by Dr. Peter Hletko; "Cermak and the Homeland" by the Czecho-Slovak Consul General, Dr. Smetanka; Cermak as a Character, by Rev. J. Pelikan; Cermak as a Humanitarian, by John Straka; Cermak, a friend of the working people, by Dr. J. Vojan; songs by the choir Lyra concluded the service.

All speakers performed their role excellently, depicting the entire life of Cermak; and all were of the same opinion; that, Anton Cermak was one of the greatest heroes. He lived for his people, loved them, worked for them, and sacrificed his life for them.

The death of this heroic man brought back, to the vast audience, who deeply mourn his loss, memories of his great work.

The concluding number on the program, which was introduced by the Sokols and Legionnaires, was a drama portraying the life of Cermak. The drama was a historical play, beginning with the year of Cermak's birth until his death, when his last words to President Roosevelt were, "I am glad that it was me [Sic!] and not you." The audience, upon mention of these "last words" were deeply moved, in fact, many shed tears.

The program concluded leaving the audience with the satisfied feeling of having performed their duty as citizens, toward their great political leader, the deceased Mayor Anton J. Cermak. Rest in Peace!