The ship Elsie departed Hamburg on 9-17-1852 and arrived in New York City on 12-7-1852. Passengers included: Stech: Adalbert 45, Catherine 42, Johann 18, Franz 12, Adalbert 9, Thomas 6, Franziska 15, Marie 3, Valentin 1/12. Mirotice was listed as their last residence. (1) It is possible that the Stech family had reached Illinois before the end of 1852. Sons Albert and Tomas appears to have spent a portion of their years in the United States living in Chicago. Their parents and several of their siblings did not remain long in Chicago, settling closer to the Indiana border, or within Indiana itself.
While the three youngest children of the Stech family arriving in 1852 have birth records listing Mirotice. The marriage records of parents, Albert and Catherine, and the birth records of the other children, arriving in 1852, have not yet been discovered.
Tomas was born on 12-17-1846 at Mirotice #26. (https://digi.ceskearchivy.cz/5590/11/2442/2184/73/0)
Sister, Marie, was born 5-19-1847 at Mirotice #26. (https://digi.ceskearchivy.cz/5590/26)
Brother Valentin was born 2-6-1852 at Mirotice #26, shortly before the family departed to the USA (https://digi.ceskearchivy.cz/5590/43/2200/1704/62/0)
In the United States, the Stech family have records which list them as Staff, and others for several of the family, list them as Stech. Tomas Stech has most of his records listed as Stech.
On April 8, 1914, Denni Hlasatel wrote a page one article on Tomas Stech, the title of which included "Behind the compatriot-pioneer" . (3) Google Translate was able to provide the basic substance of that article. The newspaper honored Tomas Stech, as "the oldest Czech settler in Chicago." The article was an interview with his wife, Katerina. She recounted his story of arriving in Chicago on December 22, 1852, with a clear memory of his mentioning Fort Dearborn (the second fort so named) and the sight of Indians still in the area. (Image Tomas Stech (3)
The family, according to Katerina, first lived on North Clark street, at that time a rather unsettled area with simple, log cabin style homes. Tomas was a tanner, but that occupation caused him to have health issues.
For a period of time the family moved to Thornton, Illinois. The Stech family lived in the area, but later Tomas and a brother would return to Chicago, and their parents would continue on into Indiana. The family would begin to use the last names of Stech and Staff.
The article describes that Tomas, while in the area of Dyer, Indiana, living with his family married Katerina Vones on 4-27-1870. Katerina's brother Jacob, worked with Tomas' brother John, and the relationship developed from there. Katerina was born in Sevetin in the district of Ceske Budejovice on 1-12-1845. (4) Brother Jacob, sister Maria, and brother John, mentioned in the article or buried with Tomas and Katerina, also lived in the area. (5)
Returning to Chicago, Katerina recalls in the article, she and Tomas first lived on West Huron Street. Tomas, who had spent years working in the tannery business, as did other family members, left that profession, along with their first home and moved to Fry Street and began a wood and coal delivery business. Tomas and Katerina had four children, none surviving infancy.
Katerina spoke with great enthusiasm of a trip which Tomas gave to Katerina in 1895, the year of their silver anniversary. Katerina returned to Bohemia to visit family. Katerina returned to the USa from Bremen to New York City on 9-19-1895 aboard the ship Havel. (6)
In her summary of the life of husband, Tomas, Katerina described that over the course of several decades, Tomas became very involved in the Czech community of Chicago. He was also recognized for his involvement. (Google translation of continuing article): The deceased for the rest of his life was a great and enthusiastic Czech who, though quietly, worked hard in the interest of everything that concerned our national and social life. Thus, he was a founding member of the Czech-National Order, No. 58, No. S. P. S, who, as a token of gratitude, presented him with a gold badge with the appropriate dedication on the occasion of his 25-year duration. The Old Settlers 'Association then gave him the badge, with the dedication:' "The oldest Czech settler in Chicago in 1899, he arrived in 1852." In addition, he was the founder of the Bratrská Láska association on the northwest side, and for many years until recently he was also an ardent member of Sokol Čechie. (7)
The brother of Tomas, Jan, died in 1913, leaving Tomas' closest Illinois Stech family relatives, sons of Jan, Jan in Frankfort, Illinois and Adolf in Chicago Heights.
Tomas died in 1914. Katerina died in 1917. They are buried in Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago. The Stech memorial was first posted to Find A Grave in 2017. Visiting the cemetery in the spring of 2022, we found the Stech headstone, like a growing number of other headstones in the older areas of the cemetery, had fallen.
Census and Directory records discovered for the family.
1860 Illinois Cook Bloom Page 13 Strasburg PO
Albert Stech 52, Cathar 50, John 20,franz 17, Albert, Thomas 12, Maria 11, Valentine 8
1870 Illinois Cook Bloom Page 31
Albert Staff 68, Catharine 66
Albert 26, Catherine 23, Mary 2, Eddie 10/12
1870 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 18 Page 384
Francis Staff 29, Margaret 26,
1870 Indiana Lake St. John Page 6
John Stech 35, Anna 33, Mary 9, Rosa 6, John 4, Anna
Chicago Directory - 1871 Frank Staff, tanner, N. Halsted near Haines, Ward 18, 3 males, 3 females, b. Bohemia
Chicago Directory – 1875 Thomas Staff Laborer 51 Wright
1880 Indiana Lake Crown Point 072 Page 12
Albert Staff 80, Ellenora 40, Josephine 8, Anna 6, Theodore 4, Tillie 4
1880 Illinois Cook Chicago 142 Page 43 at 144 Cornell
Frank Steff 39, Margaret 34, Mary 15, Frank 14, Anna 11, William 9, Peter 6, Josephine 5, George 3, John 8/12
1880 Illinois Cook Chicago 151 Page 41 at 646 Paulina
Thomas Stech 38, Catherine 36
1880 Indiana Lake Saint John 068 Page 1
Albert Staff 37, Katharina 35, Edward 10, Mary 12, Rosa 3, Katharina 1
1880 Indiana Lake Lowell 075 Page 4
Walter Staff 28, Martha 26, Anah 5, Barbarah 3, Walter 6/12
1880 Indiana Lake St. John 068 Page 16
John Stoch 46, Anna 42, Mary 19, Rosa 16, John 14, Anna 12, Emma 9, Jinie 6, Adolph 3
Census and Directory records discovered for the family.
1900 Indiana Lake Cedar Creek D0024 Page 24
Walter Staff 48, Walter 20
1900 Indiana Lake St. John D0041 Page 17
John Staffe 54, (retired tanner) Lillia 29
1900 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 16 do512 Page 24 at 180 Fry
Thomas Stech 53, Kate 53
1900 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 16 D0519 Page 34 at 107 Cornell
Frank Staff 59, Fanny 25 (married 1898) Fanny Havlik 13 SD
Fannie Havlik married Frank Staff 6-26-1896 Indiana
Francis Bolonski was married to John Havlik, had child Frances Havlik
1900 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 22 D0684
Kathren Staff, widow 56, living with married daughter Kitty Schnell
1910 Indiana Lake St. John D0077 Page 12
John Stech 74, Adolph 32
Edward Johnson 42, Anna 40, Raymond 9, Hazel 6
Chicago Directory 1910
Stech, Thos. Coal 1542 Fry
1910 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 17 D0779 Page 13 at 1542 Fry
Thomas Stich 64, Katherine 66
1910 Illinois Cook Chicago Ward 15 D0732 Page 11 at 924 N. Wood St.
Frank Staff 75 Step Father, Fanny Staff 44 MIL
Frances Snell 24, Roy 6, Hasel 4, Evelyn 3
Stech Family Members: Arrived 1852
Valentin "Walter" Stech
1. Name: Stech Birth Place: Mirotic, Böhmen Departure Date: 17. Sep 1852 (17 Sep 1852) Departure Place: Hamburg, Deutschland Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 004
3. "Behind the compatriot-pioneer" "The oldest Czech settler left is Tomáš Štech" "The same remembered Chicago as a tiny village." Denni Hlasatel Daily announcer: the leading Bohemian (Czechoslovak) daily: a magazine dedicated to the interests of the Czechoslovak people in America. Chicago: Daily Announcer Printing and Publishing, April 8, 1914, 23 (April 8, 1914), p. .
5. Jan Vones (Vonesh in USA records) 11-29-1846 at Sevetin #19. https://digi.ceskearchivy.cz/7787/78 - Find A Grave 1570835224
Jakub Vones (no verified records, other than mention in article found) 7-21-1849 at Sevetin #19. https://digi.ceskearchivy.cz/7787/83
Maria Vones Frycek - Buried in same grave site as sister, Katerina, 8-6-1856 at Sevetin #19. https://digi.ceskearchivy.cz/7788/9 - Find A Grave 179335224.
6. Year: 1895; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfils Serial: M237, 1830-1897; Line: 20; Page Number: 0
7. "Behind the compatriot-pioneer" "The oldest Czech settler left is Tomáš Štech" "The same remembered Chicago as a tiny village." Denni Hlasatel Daily announcer: the leading Bohemian (Czechoslovak) daily: a magazine dedicated to the interests of the Czechoslovak people in America. Chicago: Daily Announcer Printing and Publishing, April 8, 1914, 23 (April 8, 1914), p. .