Rudolph Bubenicek - 1887 - 1958

Author - "Dejiny Cechu  V Chicagu"
"A History of Czechs in Chicago"

A musician (his children would also inherit that talent), a writer, and a journalist, could well describe the life of Rudolph Bubenicek from the time he arrived in Chicago.

In Chicago Rudolph worked as a violinist and music teacher, an employee at Western Electric, and a journalist / editor of several Czech language newspapers.  Rudolph’s first wife, (her occupation,mentioned in the English translation of his book) Marie, was a Bohemian opera singer.  Most of their children were accomplished in the arts, in their own right; piano and violin.  One was a dancer.

Daughter, Lada, was already playing, at a very early age, in front of many audiences.  She would perform for years, also becoming a music teacher in the Cicero school district.

Their son Dalibor, chemist and teacher, would change his last name to Drummer.  (Use Google Translate and one discovers Buben in Czech means drum.) (1)

Rudolph Bubenicek was born on 3-7-1887 at Louny #179, to parents Vaclav and Josefa. (2)  (It appears his parents, and siblings, would remain in Bohemia.)  Departing Bremen and arriving at New York City on 10-21-1905 aboard the ship Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse, No other family members were listed on the ship registry.  Rudolph was listed as a journalist.  (3)


Marie Ptak Bubenicek's parents, Alois and Barbara Ptak were married in 1878 in Pasinka, Bohemia.  Marie, born 9-17-1886 at Ronov #1, and was one of several children.  Her parents would also come to the United States and live, for a time, in Cleveland.

Marie departed Bremen and arrived at New York City on 8-14-1902 aboard the ship Kaiserin Maria Theresa, listing last residence of Kolin, heading to Cleveland.  Marie's Parents and other family were in Cleveland for a period of time.  Mother Barbara died in Cleveland.


The 1910 Census records that Rudolph, Marie and daughter Kveta, were living at 2935 Union Avenue.  Rudolph is listed as a music teacher.

Rudolph Bubenicek married Marie Ptak, between his arrival and perhaps 1908 as their first child, Florence (Kveta), was born on 9-20-1909 in Cook County.

Rudolph may have had his primary interest lie in music, but he also earned his living by other means.  His World War One Draft Registration paperwork lists him as working as a draftsman at and for the Western Electric Company.  The family continued to grow in size and move further south and west in Chicago.  In 1920, they were living on 51st Street and the family listed four children: Florence, Miroslav, Dolibor and Dartal.  Rudolph is still listed as a musician and teacher. (No other information found yet on Rudolph beginning his research or writing related to his book.)

There is a time frame created in the 1930 Census.  Rudolph's occupation has changed from musician, teacher to editor, newspaper.  The translation to English version of his 1939 book lists that Rudolph had been associated with the Czech language newspapers Svornost and Denni Hlasatel, and that Denni Hlasatel would publish portions from his book. (4)

Marie died in 1936 from injuries related to an automobile accident.  Marie's obituary lists Bohemian National Cemetery, but the Bohemian National Cemetery Death Index only lists cremation, not burial.

Many of the family Bubenicek activities were recorded among the translations of the Foreign Language Press Survey, a web site sponsored by Chicago's Newberry Library.

Contests of the Slavonic Singing Societies
Denní Hlasatel, Feb. 15, 1914

Recently we published a report regarding the contest of the Slavonic singing societies, in which the Cesko-Americky Delnicky Pevecky Sbor (Bohemian-American Workingmen's Singing Society) won the first prize. The second prize was awarded to the Serbian Singing Society, and the third prize was given to the Spojeny Slovansky Sokol Spevokol (United Slavonic Sokol Singing Circle).

This latter made the statement that it did not expect the prize, and that all credit for this success was due to their very active teacher, Rudolph Bubenicek.

Monthly Meeting of the Associated Bohemian Liberal Schools of Chicago
Denní Hlasatel, May 28, 1911
A meeting of the Associated Bohemian Liberal Schools of Chicago was held Sunday afternoon, May 21, in the hall of the Bohemian-American School, Lad. Klacel. The meeting was called to order by the chairman, Mr. Kopecky.

A sub-committee was appointed for a children's festival celebration held on May 21, under the direction of teacher, Mr. Bubenicek.

Celebration at the Svatopluk Cech Liberal School
Denní Hlasatel, May 24, 1911
The children's celebration in the Bohemian English Liberal School last Sunday was a very successful affair. It was arranged by the Associated Liberal Schools, under the direction of the teacher, Mr. R. Bubenicek.
An Act Worthy of Repetition
Denní Hlasatel, Feb. 1, 1916

The pupils of the Ceska Svobodomyslna Skola (The Czech Free Thought School), a day school housed in the Redges Public School in Town of Lake, at the suggestion of their teacher, Mrs. M. L. Bubenicek, agreed to donate one cent for every English work spoken during the Czech hour, the money to be used for the orphans of the Czech soldiers killed in war who had lived in Cechy (Bohemia) and Moravia.

The good little patriots collected among themselves for the first week of their self-imposed abnegation, the sum of $1.40, which was deposited with the editorial staff or our newspaper, and we will see to it, with the greatest of pleasure, that the amount named reaches its proper destination.


Slavonic People in Allied Bazaar
Denní Hlasatel, Jan. 22, 1917

Saturday night proved to be a most successful ending for the Allied bazaar. Fifty-five thousand visitors entered the hall, and about ten thousand had to be turned back. Among these more than one half were of Slavic nationality. This could be gathered from conversations, and in no lesser degree from the peals of applause that followed the playing of the anthems of the diverse Slavic nations, and finally, after the performances of pieces in any of the Slavonic tongues.

Among those who contributed to the entertainment was Mr. A. V. Cerny, music conductor, who deserves unreserved praise. It was around his stand that the largest crowds could be seen. But the cabaret also, where Slavonic songs were rendered, and Slavonic dances executed, was a center of attraction. Mr. Bubenicek with his violin, and Miss Martinek, furnished the music for the cabaret, while the Moravian dances were performed by the Bohemian Educational Club, and the Workingmen's Czech-American Sokol, as were the dances from the "Bartered Bride." The Slovak dance, "Odzemek," was exhibited by Mr. Bagl.

The financial yield of the bazaar is estimated to reach $500,000. In the Czech pavilion alone, over $5000 was collected.


[The National Socialist Educational Club J. V. Fric Holds Entertainment]
Denní Hlasatel, Dec. 11, 1911
The National Socialist Educational Club J. V. Fric held its first entertainment yesterday afternoon and evening; the affair was a complete success. The public enjoyed a very beautifully arranged program. The arrangements committee, composed of Messrs. Doubek, Podlipsky, Fiala, and Fordik, took care of all details in a fitting manner. The entertainment was arranged for a noble purpose, that is, for the support of the Liberal [Free-Thought] Schools, to which the net profit will be donated. In the instrumental and vocal numbers on the program appeared young talented performers, who, through their successful performances, ingratiated themselves with the audience and were rewarded by general recognition and thunderous applause....

Doctor Iska's speech was warmly applauded. It should be added that the Czech national dances, performed under the direction of Mr. Rudolph Bubenicek, were very beautiful. The program was completed by the playing of our national songs by the band. Following the conclusion of the program, there ensued an informal dance.


Denní Hlasatel, May 16, 1911

The theatrical presentation by the amateur club, Lada, of the four-act musical comedy, "Lucifer," was, on the whole successful. The play was given under the direction of Mr. R. Bubenicek last Sunday in the C. S. P. S. (Czechoslovak Benevolent Society) hall in the Town of Lake, 48th and Honore Street.

The various characters were played by Miss. E. Janovsky; Miss A. Bernasek; Miss E. Kara; Miss J. Harmacek; Miss M. Trnka; Mr. A. Prucha, and Miss V. Jelinek. The players were given many floral offerings after the performance. The musical accompaniment was by Mr. F. Svoboda and his band. Mrs. M. Bubenicek, who conducted the rehearsals of the group, received a beautiful ring. It is to be regretted that the attendance was not as large as the diligent club, Lada, was deserving of at its first independent public appearance.

To the Memory of John Huss
Denní Hlasatel, July 6, 1915

Yesterday Pilsen Park saw the first of the two celebrations arranged by the Sdruzeni Svobodomyslnych Spolku (Association of Freethinkers) of Chicago to commemorate the quincentenary of the martyred death of John Huss, the great reformer and staunch defender of truth whom the Bohemian people regard as the most brilliant figure of their glorious history. The free thought group of Bohemian-Chicago proved beyond a doubt that it appreciates the significance of the drama that took place on the shores of Lake Constance. Yesterday's celebration commemorated with solemn dignity one of the most impressive events in the history of the world.

The Pilsen Brewery Park became the gathering place for the pupils of our free thought Saturday and Sunday schools, and the celebration may be justly called a tribute of the Bohemian-American youth to the memory of our giant of Husinec [Huss' birthplace in Southern Bohemia]. Perhaps never before has such a multitude of our young people assembled. The children came to the meeting place in streams, accompanied by their teachers, from all directions. They met at the Ceska Svobodomyslna Skola Vojta Naprstek (Vojta Naprstek Bohemian Free Thought School) on Homan Avenue, and shortly after two o'clock the march through the streets of Bohemian California started; the parade wound like an endless serpent to the children's destination. Of the two thousand pupils enrolled in the schools more than half participated in the parade. Some of them were dressed in national costumes, but all of them carried little flags in national colors. Particularly colorful were couples of little boys and girls in sokol uniforms, boys in their red shirts, tan coats, and breeches, girls in blue and white. The parade was picturesquely arranged and, accompanied by the music of Mr. Rudolf Rubringer's band, caused a great deal of excitement all along the line of march.

The program of the afternoon festivities was very ably selected. It consisted mostly of recitations, singing, and tableaux. The introductory words were pronounced by teacher Ruda Bubenicek whose speech about the significance of John Huss, his teachings, and the scope of his field of endeavor was very well adapted to the mental sphere of his little listeners.....

Pupils and teachers of practically every free thought school in Chicago participated in the afternoon's program.....


In 1939 Bubenicek published "Dejiny Cechu v Chicagu", a 568 page book on the history of Czechs in Chicago.  One can only wonder on when his began his research, how he gathered his information and put all of that into this book. Today's family genealogy researchers, and Czech Chicago genealogy researchers, including this writer, consider his publication a very important resource.  Bubinieck's book covered the time period between the 1850's and the 1890's, and in great detail. The book included: pages of information on many early Czech families, the formation of Czech churches and Czech social organizations, the early Chicago Czech communities, the establishment of early Czech cemeteries, information of the earliest settlers, and much more.  When one works through the book, one comes to understand that in the years prior to its publication, and the census information of Rudolph Bubenicek being a musician and teacher, he was doing much more than that.  Bubenicek's original publication also appears to be a "do it yourself project", assuredly the writing, but also the method of publication.  The end of the book contains a list of individuals who contributed money or a loan to help in the publication of the book.  The listing of donors (or loaners), at the end, included information on how one could order a copy of the book directly from Bubenicek, for $2.50. (6)

In 2011, Karleen Chott Sheppard, translated the 1939 publication for the Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois.  The title was also given in English: "A History of the Czechs in Chicago".  (It appears copies of the English version are only available on the secondary market and in several libraries, including the society library in Riverside, Illinois.)

On September 24, 1938, Rudolph Bubenicek married Bozena Skala.  Bozena's application for naturalization included her birth information as 6-1-1907 in Marindvor, Yugoslavia and she had crossed out Yugoslavian / Slovak and written in Bohemian.  Zagreb was listed as her last residence.  Bozena departed Cherbourg and arrived at New York City on 7-15-1932 aboard the ship SS Leviathan. (7)

Their daughter Dagmar (Dasha) Bubenicek Ramer was born on July 24, 1940 in Chicago.  The 1940 Census, taken in April, does not show Dasha, as it lists: Rudolph, Bessie, Lara and Svetalana.  It does note that Rudolph is now listed as a newspaper editor.  (The record also provides an example of  the perils of trusting everything on a census record.  Rudolph is listed as born on Christmas Island on the Ancestry posting, while the census record itself does list Czechoslovakia.)

The 1950 Census lists Rudolph as a newspaper editor, with wife Beatrice (Bozena) and daughter Dagmar (Dasha) living at home.  Also living there was mother in law, Bozena Skala, age 71.  (Again Rudolph has a census error, listing divorced on the Ancestry posting, while the census record itself lists married.) (8)

Census Records: (8)

1910 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 4 D0265 Page 22 at 2935 Union
Rudolph Rubenicek 23, Marie 23, Kretuce 0
Rudolph listed as musician, teacher.

1920 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 29 D1262 Page 23 at 1640 W. 51st
Rudolph Bubenicek 32, Mary 32, Florence 10, Miroslav 7, Dolibor 4, Dartal 1
Rudolph listed as musician, teacher.

1930 Illinois Cook Chicago D1453 Page 13 at 3637 40th Avenue
Rudolph Bubenicek 43, Marie 43, Florence 20, Miro 17, Dalibor 14, Lada 11, Svetla 10
Rudolph listed as newspaper editor

1940 Illinois Cook cicero 160127 Page 6 at 1834 51st Ct.
Raudolph Bubrick 53, Bessie 33, Lara 21, Svetlana 19
Rudolph listed as editor newspaper

1950 Illinois Cook Cicero 104-36 Page 15 at 2343 23rd
Rudolph Bubenicek 63 Beatrice 42, Dagmar 10
Bozena Skala 71
Rudolph listed as editor newspaper

Rudolph Bubenicek died in 1958.  He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Barrington, Illinois.

1936 - Chicago Tribune, May 29, 1936, Page 1
Marie Bubenicek, loving wife of Rudolph, beloved mother of Kveta Divisek, Miroslav, Dalibor, Lada, Sevtia, fond sister of Barbora Pelich, Anna Jilek, Bohumil and Victor Ptak of Cleveland, O., and Joseph Ptak of Omaha.  Funeral 2 pm Monday, June 1, 1936 at 3637 N. Kedvale, then to chapel of the Bohemian National Cemetery.


1958 - Berwyn Life, July 11, 1958, Page 10
Rudolph Bubenicek, 71, of 2343 S. 53rd ave., died Tuesday at a Chicago hospital following a short illness. Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon in the chapel at 5301 Cermak rd.

A resident of the community for 20 years, Mr. Bubenicek is survived by his wife, Beatrice; five daughters, mrs. Kveta Voldrich, Mrs. Dalibor Drummer, Mrs. Lada Orem, Mrs. Svetla Young and Dagmar Bubenicek, and six grandchildren.


Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1958, Page 74
Rudolph Bubenicek, 2343 S. 53rd avenue, Cicero, beloved husband of Beatrice, fond father of Kveta Voldrich, Dalibor Drummer, Lada Orem, Svetla Yound, and Dagmar Bubenicek; granfather of six.  Cremation at Woodlawn.  Resting at chapel, 6301 W. Cermak road.  Services and interment private, Thursday, July 10, 230 pm.  In lieu of flowers, support Bohemian Old Peoples home.


1990 - Northwest Herald, Woodstock, Illinois - September 18, Page 16
Bozena "Beatrice" (Skala) Bubenicek, 83, died Monday, Sept. 17, 1990, at the Sheridan Health Care Center in Zion.

She was born in Yugoslavia June 1, 1907, the daughter of the late Willian and Bozena Bubenicek. (Newspaper mistake - Skala).  She was preced in death by her husband, Rudolph and two brothers.  She is survived by her daughter, Dagmar (Barry) Ramer of Fox River Grove, and two grandchildren, Jay and Sandra Ramer.

Visitation will be from 930 am Wednesday until time of service at 1130 am at the Kahle-Moore Funeral Home, Cary.


Chicago Tribune, September 1, 1953, Page 20
1953 Mother of Bozena Skala Bubenicek

Bozena Skala, Aug. 30, of 2341 S. 53rd avenue, beloved wife of the late William, loving mother of Ljubonir W., Victor W., and Beatrice Bubenicek, mother in law of Rudolph Bubenicek, Rose Skala and Hertha Skala, grandmother of Dagmar Bubenicek. Interment Sept. 1, 230 pm Woodlawn Cemetery


1. “A History of the Czechs in Chicago”, Translated by Karleen Chott Sheppard, Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois, West Side Press, and R. Mejrich and Company, 2011.

2. Birth Baptism Rudolf Bubenicek 3-31-887, Louny #179 Book Louny 1887 year Litomerice District.

3. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957.

4. “A History of the Czechs in Chicago”, Translated by Karleen Chott Sheppard, Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois, West Side Press, and R. Mejrich and Company, 2011.


6. “A History of the Czechs in Chicago”, Translated by Karleen Chott Sheppard, Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois, West Side Press, and R. Mejrich and Company, 2011.

7. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

8. Census: Records from Ancesty, original data, USA Department of Commerce, Census Bureau.

In our society's journal KORENY, the December 2011 edition contained a very complete article by Dr. David Zdenek Chroust detailing the publication of an English language version of Rudolph Bubenicek's book.

If you have additional interest in Rudolph Bubenicek, and an Ancestry account, a good number of photos and other information can be discovered on a family tree with his name.

Karleen Chott Sheppard died in 2013.  Her obituary page contains many tributes to her interest and contributions to Czech genealogy.