John Kralovec

Builder - Contractor - Real Estate - Brewer

Five articles, found online, were instrumental on discovering and presenting the information on John Kralovec.  (Credits are listed in the Resources, at the end of this summary).  In 1908, Czech language newspaper, Duch Casu contained a story.  In 1928, the Czech language publication, Amerikan Kalendar published an article in which John Kralovec provided his story and commentary.  In 1932, the Amerikan Kalendar published a summary of the career of John Kralovec, after his death in 1931.  In 1990, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks published a booklet highlighting the life of John Kralovec and five homes he built which were the subject of the Commission's study.  In 2016 the great grandson of John Kralovec published an article in the Friends of Bohemian National Cemetery newsletter. (A)

John Kralovec was born March 14, 1849 at Nevolice #29, Domazlice, district of Plzen. (1)  Several articles describe his six week Atlantic crossing from Bremen to New York aboard the ship Magdalene, arriving on June 28, 1868.  (2) A search of the ship registry yields no clear name for a John Kralovec.

John's brother, Martin, (James Martin) Kralovec was born on October 13, 1858 at Nevolice #95, Domazlice, district of Plzen.  (3) Martin arrived in the USA on May 9, 1874 from Bremen to New York City, aboard the ship "Mosel". (4)

After arriving in New York City, with a short stay there, Kralovec was in Chicago by July of 1868.  His temporary home became the saloon and Inn owned by Joseph Fiser (Fisher), listed in the 1866 and 1870 Chicago City Directories as being located at 160 E. Van Buren. (B)  While trained in Bohemia as a mason, Kralovec's first employment was in lumber.  Before the Chicago Fire, and the accompanying changes in construction codes, many homes and businesses were lumber constructions.

By 1870 Kralovec was practicing his trade as mason after joining a German Mason union.  In the 1908 and 1928 articles he described working to construct a stone wall on Sangamon Avenue from Madison to Lake Street.  He also mentions that he worked on a post office which he indicated that the post office would eventually be replaced by the First National Bank Building.  (A) The 1871 Chicago Special Census Directory listed John Kralovec, brick builder, living at 400 South Canal. (B)

Kralovec described he was on the front line during the Chicago Fire of 1871.  Frank Stejskal had a saloon and inn at 398 S. Canal (listed 1870 Chicago Directory) and Kralovec helped get furniture and belongings from the building out and into the street.  He also tried to help save what people could from Thalia Hall.

1873 was a year of important change for John Kralovec.  On June 28, 1873, John Kralovec married Julia Kubin.  The marriage took place at Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church on De Koven Street. (5)

Julia Kubin was born April 3, 1852 at Minsek #56, Straznad Nad Nezarkou, district of Jindrichuv Hradec. (6)

Julia’s parents were married in Minsek on July 12, 1849.  Martin listed as age 27, and Antoine at age 18. (7)

The Kubin family arrived from Bremen to Baltimore on November 30, 1867, aboard the ship Industrie: Martin 45, Antoine 36, Julia 15, Maria 9, Mora 7 (Otto) and Victoria 1. (8)

Three daughters, and the son, of Martin and Antonie Kubin would marry and remain in Chicago, leading interconnected lives.

Julia Kubin married John Kralovec who began in home construction, then ventured in real estate and was a founder and first president of the Bohemian Brewing Company.  Mary Kubin married John Geringer.  In the 1880 Census, the John Kralovec and John Geringer families lived only a few houses from each other.  (9) John Geringer had business dealings with John Kralovec and was the brother of August Geringer.  John Kralovec built a home for August Geringer, which also seems to have served as the first address for the Czech newspaper Svornost.  Victoria Kubin married Charles Vopicka, destined to become a USA diplomat to Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. But Charles was also in business in Chicago and had dealings with John Kralovec , August Geringer and Otto Kubin.  Otto Kubin and Charles Vopicka were partners in a notary and immigration service.  Otto Kubin was in real estate and along with John Kralovec and Charles Vopicka, founded the Bohemian Brewing Company, which was renamed the Atlas Brewing Company.  John Geringer was one of the first shareholders in the company.  Julia Kubin Kralovec, Victoria Kubin Vopicka, Otto Kubin and their spouses, are buried in Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago. Mary Kubin Geringer, and husband John, are buried in Saint Adalbert Catholic Cemetery in Niles, Illinois.

The same year, according to the 1928 Kalendar article, John Kralovec joined with John Waska to create, perhaps, the first Czech construction company.  It seems that Canal Street would be home to their first buildings.  The Chicagu Vestnik was mentioned as carrying the announcement. Their first project was for Mr. Frank Weinfoldt (1875 Chicago Directory, listed as grocer at 491 S. Canal), building for him a smokehouse.  A marriage of a Czech woman to a German (Mr. Weiser) led to another building (1875 Chicago Directory listed as a shoe maker at 485 S. Canal).  Along with the 1908 Duch Casu article, Kralovec and Waska built for Vaclav Kaspar (1875 Directory lists 62 South Canal), and Mr. Pribyl on La Salle (1875 Directory lists Pribyl, wine sales, 454 S. La Salle) and the first building used for the publication of August Geringer’s Svornost at 463 South Canal (this was also listed as August Geringer’s home address).

Kralovec and Waska did not work together too long.  After Waska left, Kralovec returned to work for John and C.C. Busse and Edwin Sturtevant Brick Manufacturers on 126 S. Dearborn, who were building brick homes during this time.

Brother Martin (James Martin Kralovec used in USA records) reached Chicago in 1874.  James, while working for the architect, Fred W. Wolf and Company, learned of a factory building which would soon be built in South Chicago.  John Kralovec would build in South Chicago for the Robert Aitchison Perforated Metal Company. (10)

Fred W. Wolf and John Kralovec would have dealings years later.  By 1883, Fred W. Wolf had acquired the rights to the Linde Ice Making Machine, an invention from Germany.  Fred Wolf and his firm would build ice making machines into the factories, buildings, and storage facilities for companies across the United States.  One of the company specialties was working with brewing companies.  In 1892 the Bohemian Brewing Company was expanding and they too made us of Fred Wolf's designers to complete an addition for them.  Fred W. Wolf and Company soon became Fred Wolf and Linde Company.  (11)

John, and his brother James Martin, would work together on various projects, commonly named, "Jan Kralovec and Bratr", John Kralovec and Brother, one, which would build homes for more than a decade.  As early as 1884, John as builder, and brother James, as architect, were already working together.  They are listed in the newspaper as partnering to design and build a store for Vaclav Topinka on 12th Street.  (12)

Using Google Translate:  Advertisement for homes for sale in Duch Casu July 10, 1887:

For Sale 2 new homes on Ashland Avenue, closer to 21st Street, are each 26 feet wide.  The homes are currently being completed, they are about 6 flats and they will be the best houses newly built.  for inquiries at J. Kralovec and Brother, 648 Laflin, closer to Blue Island.

Kralovec Brothers Chicago Directory 1885 (B)

James Martin Kralovec, architect designs for Topinka and brother John,  is the builder Inter Ocean,  Sunday, October 12, 1884, page 7.

Advertisement for Kralovec Brothers home for sale July 10, 1887, Duch Casu newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, page 4.

Advertisement for Kralovec Brothers home for sale on Sawyer Avenue, April 7, 1889, Duch Casu, Chicago, Illinois, page 3.

"Kralovec & Brother, Builders, Nos. 648 to 658 Laflin Street.  The firm of J. Kralovec & Bro., builders in masonary and carpentery, enjoys an excellent reputation for skill and realiability in both branes, being in all respects among the foremost exponents of the art in this city.  This flourishing business was established in 1873 by the present senior member, who five years subquently took into partnership his brother Jas. M. Kralove, thus constituting the enterprising and prosperous firm whose name heads this sketch.  The enterprise was started in a rather modest way in a small shop on Canal street, near 16th, but by untiring industry, sagacity and sill it was steadily enlarged, until more ample quarters were found to be necessary, and these ware secured at corner Taylor and Des Plaines streets.  Here they prospered to such an extent that to meet the requirements of the trade they built and moved to the present concern about four years ago.  The premises comprise a two story brick factory, supplied with full steam power and the most improved sawing and planing machines, appliances and appurtenances, sheds, yard and office, while employment is afforded to from fifty to seventy five skilled workmen of every description, sometimes to as many as 100.  Mason and carpentering work of every description is executed in the most superior and expeditious mannerm, contract work being a specialty, and estimates are promptly furnised on any proposed building or job, while a heavy and first class stock of general building material is constantly carried.  messrs. Kralovec, who are both practical and expert workmen, were born in Bohemia, but have resided in Chicago several years.  They are popular members of the Builders' Exchange and the order of Odd Fellows." (13)


Kralovec Brothers Chicago Directory 1895 (B)

Advertisement for Kralovec Brother Home for sale, June 24, 1894, Duch Casu newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, page 608.

Advertisement, just by John Kralovec, homes for sale, January 7, 1895, Duch Casu newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, page 111.

Advertisement for brother James Martin Kralovec and Jame's son, for their insurance company, Amerikan Kalendar, published in Chicago, by August Geringer, 1926, page 344.

Above Advertsement: January 7, 1895 (Google Translate)

Every family had to own their own home.

You are offered the opportunity to own a nice house with 4 rooms and a lot of 25X125 for a nice house with arched windows, as pictured, with all the outdoor work.

It is your own relief society.  This is the best opportunity to make a nice and cheap home in Chicago.

Only $10.00 per month.  That's as much as paying rent.  On Troy Street between 30th and 31st Street, 1 block east of Kedzie avenue.

Conveniently Connected - One block from electric cars on Kedzie ave.  Three blocks from the cable car to Blue Island Avenue and 26th Street, a short distance west of the world's largest factory district.  some of the workshops are: McCormick Reaper Works, Chicago Maleable Iron Works, Kimball Organ & Piano Works, wood fences, etc.

Jan Kralovec, 648 Laflin Street.

(Published in the Chicago newspaper, Duch Casu, January 7, 1895 on page 111.)

As a builder of homes, and subdivisions and the sale of those homes, John Kralovec worked not just with his brother, James, but with others, some of whom he would form partnerships.

The 1928 Kalendar article, written with John Kralovec's input, and the 1932 Kalendar article, published after his death, describe that by 1881 John Kralovec began business partnerships with Frank Honomichl and William Kaspar. (14)

The only documentation found associated with the name Frank Honomichl, are directory and census records which list him as a tailor.  Perhaps Frank Honomichl was an investor. Find A Grave has a memorial for Frank, 1845 - 1899 ID#140431641.

William Kaspar, a Civil War veteran, and originally first landing in Massachusetts, became a successful bank owner in Chicago.  But he also had been a merchant and had been in real estate.  One could assume that Kaspar would be the major financial backer in this partnership.

Numerous advertisements do list land purchases and sales, the creation of subdivisions and the sale of homes with Kralovec, Honomichl and Kaspar on those advertisements.

The 1928 Kalendar article  In the following year, 1881, everything went smoothly. The work was enough. I had to look for a vest in a place that suited me best somewhere in Pilsen. My brother also had a lot of carpentry work. I therefore visited Mr. W. Kaspar, who offered to buy me a whole block. After further negotiations, we agreed to take it together and add another partner. Thus arose the first Czech subdivisions Kralovec and Honomichl. It was on the border of Ashland Avenue and 18th Street, Laflin Street and 18th Place, measuring five acres and well for sale. This success inspired us to be more prominent, so the following year, 1882, another subdivision was listed - the second, in the size of nine acres between 19th Street and Loomis and 21st Street and Blue Island in the name of W. Kaspar, but it took a long time, before it was sold out.  In 1883 we had to record another ten-acre subdivision again in the names Kralovec and Honomichl in Ashland and 22. Street, Laflin and 21. However, in reality we were attended by four - Kralovec and Honomich, W. Kaspar and Jan Kallal.  Even in the following years 1887, 1890 and 1895, I participated in the sale of large subdivisions, which occupy a decent part of today's so-called Czech California. (15)

The Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1882, Sunday, Page 9.

The Chicago Tribune Sunday, April 1, 1883, Page 17.

The Chicago Tribune February 12, 1882 Sunday, Page10.

Above: The Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, April 27, 1887, Page 4.

Left: Builders AD:

Duchu Casu Czech Language Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Frank Zdrubek Editor, August Geringer Publisher, March 11, 1894, Page 368.




John Kralovec would develop a small, but special, set of five homes on Avers Avenue.  Four of those homes would be purchased by friends or family.

The remaining home, 2102 South Avers Avenue would become his personal home for the last thirty years of his life.

The "Five Houses on Avers Avenue" would eventually achieve Chicago Landmark status.

Click here to find what we have discovered so far on the "Five Houses on Avers Avenue."

Image Left: 2102 S. Avers, home built by and for John Kralovec, from Google Maps.


By 1890 John Kralovec entered into a venture quite different from all of his other business endeavors.  While that may be true, he did not do this with strangers.  As mentioned earlier, John Kralovec joined Charles Vopicka (brother in law to John's wife, Julia) and Otto Kubin (brother to John's wife, Julia) in establishing the Bohemian Brewing Company.  The 1928 article appearing in the Amerikan Kalendar, in which John Kralovec provided input, seems to indicate that while he became the first President of the Bohemian Brewing Company, he quickly removed himself from much involvement due to illness.

Vopicka and Kubin, appear from a multitude of newspaper articles, to have been the primary officers who would run the company.  In a few short years, the Bohemian Brewing Company, would become the Atlas Brewing Company.  Kralovec also indicated in the 1928 article that he would travel to Karlov Vary as part of his recuperation plan.  Ancestry has numerous listings for John Kralovec's travels to Europe, along with passport applications.

AD Bohemian Brewing Company, Dennice Novoveku Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, June 19, 1890

AD Bohemian Brewing Company The Chicago Eagle Newspaper, Saturday, December 7, 1895, Page 13.

Jan Kralovec, Chas. J. Vopicka Otto Kubin
The President The Vice President and the Secretary Treasurer

Czech brewing company

The only purely Czech brewery in Chicago offers ct. compatriots and especially gentlemen innkeepers in the United States in bulk


Made from Czech hops and the best malt, which is the healthiest and best. Whoever drinks them once, wants to drink them all the time and no one else likes them more!

Bohemian Brewing Co., of Chicago
Chicago, Ill. 684 - 706 Blue Island Ave.
Alojs Palda Managing Director

Bohemian Brewing Company Reception

The Inter Ocean Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, December 22, 1891, Page 8.


Advertisement - Above - Left - (AD Duch Casu Newspaper, Editor Zdrubek, Publisher Geringer, Chicago, August 7, 1892, Page 581. Translation from Google Translate:

Enter it from your innkeeper Real Czech Beer The only Czech Brewing Company and make sure that truly real Czech beer has been served to you Beer is the best and healthiest, and when you drink it, you will enjoy and at the same time support the Czech company at the same time. With all due respect Czech Brewing Company   Jan Kralovec, K.J. Vopicka and Otto Kubin officials 684 - 706 Blue Island Avenue, Chicago, Ill.


Advertisement - Above Center - Bohemian Brewing Company Duch Casu Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Frank Zdrubek March 22, 1891, Page 4.  Translation from Google Translate:

The first purely Czech Brewery Company In Chicago under the sky Bohemian Brewing Company of Chicago whose brewery will be located in our Czech Pilsen on Blue Island ave. and 21st. on Monday, March 16, March 1891 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon the election of an official and were elected the following Jan Kralovec Chairman Chas. J. Vopicka, secretary Otto Kubin, treasurer.

Article - Above Right - Successful Year for Atlas Brewing Company - The Inter ocean Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, January 1, 1902, Page 16.

There was a period of turbulence in the last decades of John Kralovec's life.  There are numerous newspaper articles and a very good summary in the Friends of the Bohemian National Cemetery related to this. (16)

Julia Kubin Kralovec died in 1906.  John remarried in 1911.  His second wife, Antonie Strundl Kralovec, was listed in the 1910 census as a household servant living in John Kralovec's home on Avers Avenue.  Two children were born to John and Antonie.  A son died shortly after birth.

The newspaper articles describe great discord in that marriage, along with court filings, and several papers writing that even a warrant had been issued for his arrest.  The marriage lasted only a few years.

John Kralovec died on February 27, 1931, during one of his daily rituals.  His chauffeur was preparing to take John for a daily drive.

(1932 Kalendar, credit Google Translate). In the same year, he was appointed the first Czech member of the Park Council of the Western Party. He has always participated in all public, national and charitable events and was one of the generous contributors to these.  He proved that he deserved the patron's name with his will, in which he remembered generously for orphans, poor old and old women, and especially the crippled children in the old homelands, and left a total of $ 9,000 to the fortunes for these outcasts. titular and Orphanages in Chicago, $ 3,500. Czech Charities $ 1,000. American home in Brno $ 1,000. The town of Domažlice, its birthplace, $ 600 to distribute to the poor. The Deyl Institute for the Blind in Prague, the Jedlička Institute for the Disadvantaged in Prague, the Bakul Institute in Prague, the Home for the Disadvantaged Children “Coe Camp” in Cernovice for $ 600 each, the Czech Orphanage St. Joseph in Lisle, lil., $ 500.  (17)

Census Records – Chicago City Directory Listings - John Kralovec

1871 Kralovec, John, Bricklayer, R. 460 S. Canal, W9, Bohemia

1875 Kralovec, John, Mason R. 88 Forquer

1880 Illinois Cook Chicago D086 Page1 Occupation: House Builder
K: (Kralovec) John 31, Julia 27, Mary 5, Otto 3, Emil 1

1885 Kralovec, John, builder, 189 W. Taylor
1885 Kralovec, John (J. Kralovec & Bro.) 648 S. Laflin, house 189 W. Taylor

1888 Kralovec, John (J. Kralovec & Bro) 648 Laflin, house 642 Blue Island Ave

1900 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 10 D0282 Page 35 at 979 Avers (would become 2102 Avers)  Occupation: Real Estate Dealer
Kralovec: John 51, Julia 48, Otto 23, Emil 21, Adelaide 13, Robert 11, Charles 9

1904 Kralovec, John (Real Estate) 711 Blue Island Ave.

1910 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 34 D1480 Page 10 2102 Avers Occupation: Real Estate Employer
Kralovec: John 61 (Widow), Emil 30, Charles 19, Antonie Stundl 25 (Servant)

1920 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 34 D2172 Page 3 2102 S. Avers Occupation: Real Estate
Kralooec: John 70, Emil 40, Barbara Lajic 45 Housekeeper

1930 Illinois Cook Chicago D0844 Page 33 2102 S. Avers Occupation: Retired
Kralovec: John 81, Emil 49, Lydia 18 (Adopted Daughter), Barbara Zaciech 55 Servant


(A) Duch Casu, Chicago, Illinois, Editor Frantisek Zdrubek, Volume 32, Issue 13, 12-13-1908, Page 196.  Amerikan Kalendar, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 1928, Page 241.  Amerikan Kalendar, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 1932, Page 206.  "Five Houses on Avers Avenue", Preliminary Staff Summary of Information, submitted to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, July 1990, Timothy Wittman and Janice Curtis.  "Stories of the Stones - John Kralovec" , by John Fortelka, Heritage Happenings, Newsletter of the Friends of the Bohemian National Cemetery, October 2016, Page 4.

(B) Chicago City Directories are referenced numerous times:


(2) "Jan Kralovec", Amerikan Narodni Kalendar, Publisher August Geringer, Chicago, Illinois, 1928, Page 241.


(4) Year: 1874; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 53; List Number: 434

(5) "Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), St Wenceslaus Parish (Chicago: DeKoven St) > Baptisms, marriages 1871-1886 > image 149 of 173; Catholic Church parishes, Chicago Diocese, Chicago.



(8) Year 1867 Arrival: M255 Baltimore 1867 - 1869, Roll 16, Page 37.

(9) Year: 1880; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 191; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 086.

(10) "Jan Kralovec", Amerikan Narodni Kalendar, Publisher August Geringer, Chicago, Illinois, 1928, Page 241.

(11) The Inter Ocean, newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, 6 March, 1892, Sunday, Page 10.

(12) The Inter Ocean, newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, 12, October, 1884, Sunday, Page 7.

(13) "1837 - 1887 Half Century's Progress of the City of Chicago - The City's Leading Manufacturers and Merchants - Part 1 - History of Illinois", Publisher International Publishing Company, Chicago, 1887, page 122.

(14) Amerikan Kalendar, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 1928, Page 241.

(15) Translation of paragraph, using Google Translate, Amerikan Kalendar, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 1928, Page 241.

(16) “Says Aged Man Wooed Her”, The Chicago Tribune, Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, October 9, 1910, Page 3.

“Suit Asks $100,000 From Realty Agent”, The Inter Ocean, Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Thursday, October 10, 1910, Page 1.

“Wife’s Suit Ties Up His $350,000 Estate”, The Chicago Examiner, Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, January 14, 1912, Page 5.

“Prenuptial Agreement”, The Daily Gate, Newspaper, Keokuk, Iowa, Wednesday, December 30, 1914, Page 3.

“Stories of the Stones – John Kralovec (1849 – 1931), John Kortelka, Published in Heritage Happenings, Newsletter of Friends of Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, October, 2016.

(17) Amerikan Kalendar, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 1932, Page 206.