The Svobodas of Chvaletice

Families that settled in Kansas and Chicago

Chvaletice is a small village in the Protvin, Pisek region of Bohemia.  Individual and family Svoboda would reach the United States.  This particular family Svoboda eventually settled in Kansas and Chicago.


Frank's father, Frank Svoboda, was born October 23, 1846, at Chvaletice, #29 Protvin, Pisek. (Image Above) (  Frank's mother, Catherine 35 was born 11-25-1844 at Kutna Hora #204).  (Image below) (

In the 1880 Census, Frank 34, and wife, son, Frank Albert 5, and his sisters Mary 10, and Kate, 2.  (All born in Wisconsin.) and son, Mike 4/12, listed as born in Illinois are living in Columbia Township of Ellsworth County, Kansas. (1)

Ellsworth County, Kansas would become home to several more Svoboda families.

A 1939 article in the “Amerikan Kalendar” lists son Frank as being born April 16, 1876 in Prairie Du Chien.  That date is also used in Frank’s WWI Draft Registration. No record has yet bound found to indicate when and where Frank and wife Catherine were married.

Father, Frank, (under Swoboda) is recorded as purchasing Homestead (under May 20, 1862 articles) land in Ellsworth County on February 4, 1888.  On October 4, 1890 (under April 24, Cash entry articles), Frank purchased additional land in Ellsworth County. (Image above Right)

The Bureau of Land Management records list other Svobodas, John, and Josef, as also purchasing parcels of land in Ellsworth County.  The Kansas Historical Society has an online plat map for Ellsworth County in 1901.  One of the maps, for Columbia Township, shows property in the Name of Frank and Kate Svoboda. (Image above Left) (

The 1900 census for Ellsworth, Kansas reflects son, Frank A. Svoboda, already having left Kansas for Chicago.  Brother Michael, does not appear after the 1900 census, also leaving Kansas for Chicago.  Michael, in 1910, is living with his widowed brother in law, Joseph Hanzelin in Chicago and is listed as working in a clothing store. (2)  (Sister Mary, born in Wisconsin, married Joseph Hanzelin on 8-8-1894 in Chicago. Mary died 12-18-1909 in Chicago and is buried in BNC – Find A Grave #187077765.)

Census records for 1910 through 1940 list Michael as living in Chicago, and working in a department store as a salesman.  One could assume that he was either working at the store of his Uncle, John Svoboda, or his brother Frank’s department store.  Michael James Svoboda died in 1947 and is buried in Henry County, Illinois (Find A Grave #212720997).

The last census listing Father Frank and Mother Katherine together is for 1910.  The 1915 Kansas State Census lists Frank living in Ellsworth, Ellsworth, Kansas, with married daughter Kate Nemecek / Nemechek and her family,  and wife Katherine living in Columbia, Ellsworth, Kansas, with son Charles.

On February, 7, 1918 the Ellsworth Reporter, Page 1, announced that “Mr. Charles Svoboda and Miss Marie Korelek were married by Reverend Tercy, Wednesday morning, February 6, 1918 at the home of the bride’s mother, south of town.” Charles and Marie lived and farmed in the Ellsworth area, eventually retiring and moving to Arizona.  Charles died in 1965 (Find A Grave 72221924) and Marie died in 1967 (Find A Grave 66185143).

Frank and wife Katherine are buried together in the Old Ellsworth County Cemetery. (  and

“Frank Svoboda died at Excelsior Springs, Missouri, Saturday, May 7, 1921, at the age of 73 years, 6 months and 22 days.  The body was brought to Ellsworth, his former home.  The funeral being help Wednesday morning, May 11, the Rev. J.R. Tercy officiating.  Burial was in the Ellsworth cemetery.  The deceased was born in Bohemia, October 15, 1847.  He was a resident of Ellsworth County for forty years, the greater part of which time he engaged in farming.  After retiring from the farm he made his home in this city, leaving here three or four years ago for Chicago.  He is survived by four children, Frank and Mike of Chicago, Mrs. John Nemechek of Ellsworth and Charles of the western part of the county.” (3)

Son, Frank Albert Svoboda, was helped in Chicago, by a relative, John J. Svoboda.  Published articles list John as Frank’s uncle.  John is listed on the birth index as born in 1863 in Chvaletice, but the birth / baptism record is not yet available at the online archives. (4)  John J. Svoboda’s will does list Frank and his siblings, receiving a monetary portion of John’s estate, listing them as nephews and niece. (5)

Frank Svoboda would marry Julia Novotny.

Julia’s father, Frank Novotny, (Find A Grave 188565617) was born February 4, 1848 at Velka #22, Milvesko, Pisek, the son of Frank and Katerina.  (View Record) (6) Julia’s mother, Anna Fafejta, the daughter of Frank and Anna, (Find A Grave 138670757) was born May 26, 1849 at Velka #14.  (View Record) (7) A widow, Elizabeth Novotny, 53, (Find A Grave 212593603) (No relationship established), Francz 23, Maria 11, and Joseph age 7 arrived from Port Bremen to Port Baltimore on June 22, 1871 aboard the ship Laura.  Traveling with them, was Frank’s future wife, Anna Fafejta/ (listed as Tafej, age 23. (8)

Shortly after arrival in Chicago, Frank Novotny married Anna Ann Fafejta on July 16, 1871 at Saint Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Chicago.  (View Record) (9) Daughter Julia Novotny Svoboda, born August 6, 1878, was baptized at Saint Procopius Catholic Church. (View Record) (10)

The 1900 City of Chicago Directory lists: Frank Svoboda, Dry Goods, 1508 W. 22nd.

The May 31, 1900 issue of the “Dziennik Narodowy”, Polish language newspaper of Chicago, Volume 2, Number 124, lists Frank Svoboda as owner of Svoboda’s Bargain House.
(Google Translation - Najwiekszy i najbardziej popularny skiad galanteryi, ubran chiopiecych, karpetow, obuwia i roznych towarow.  Na zachodniej stronie miasta.  Ceny niskie. Towar gwarantowany. Fr. Svoboda wlasciciel –

The largest and most popular selection of accessories, boys' clothes, carpets, shoes and various goods. On the west side of the city. Low prices. Guaranteed goods. Fr. Svoboda owner.)

By 1910, Frank and Julia are living at 3139 West 22nd Street.  Frank is listed as the manager of a dry goods company.  The family has grown with: Georgiana 10, Edward 7, Mildred 4, Viola 3 and Ruth 1.

The business section of the Chicago Tribune for September 14, 1916 on Page 18 listed the incorporation of Frank Svoboda’s “Kedzie Avenue Store”.  Future governor, Otto Kerner, then a lawyer, is listed as one of the partners.

The 1923 Chicago Directory lists Frank A. Svoboda, President, Kedzie Av Dept Store as living at 2134 west 22nd Street.

1930 Illinois Cook Chicago D0811 Page1 at 3200 W. 22nd
Frank 53, Julia 51, Ruth 20, John 18

The 1940 census indicates that no children are living with Frank and Julia.  They now live at 3200 West 22nd Street, and Frank is still a store manager.

The Cicero Life newspaper of Cicero, Illinois published on April 18, 1940, on page 7, an advertisement for the Kedzie Avenue Department Store.


Above Left: AD Success Savings And Loan Association Chicago Tribune Sunday, December 25,1949 Page 8.  Frank Svoboda was the president.  Above Right: Kedzie Avenue Deptartment Store AD Cicero Life Thursday, April 18, 1940, Page 7.
Below:  1904 State of Illinois publication on Illinois Savings institutions listing Frank Svoboda as President of the Bohemian Croation Building and Loan Association.


Two publications included articles which included Frank Albert Svoboda.

In 1937, John Reichman, published “Czechoslovaks and the development of Chicagoland”.

“Frank A. Svoboda, Director and owner of the Kedzie Avenue Department Store was born in Prairie du Chien in the State of Wisconsin some odd fifty years ago.  As a young boy he was taken by his parents to a farm in Kansas, but 46 years ago left for Chicago where he began his business career in his uncle’s store and where he also met his life’s companion with whom he has been living in a happy marriage ever since, blessed by six children.  Mrs. Julia Svoboda was born in Chicago.  Their six children, Georgiann, Edward, Mildred, Violet, Ruth and John received high school education, and five, exception, John, the youngest one, are married.

Mr. Svoboda’s slogan is: “Service with a smile”, and that accounts for his remarkable business record.  His son, Edward Svoboda, has been assisting him as manager of several departments in their store, located on Kedzie Avenue and Cermak road.

Mr. Svoboda’s activities extend also to civic affairs.  In which he gained recognition and sympathies of all his compatriots and co-citizens.  He was appointed to the honorary office of a trustee of the House of Correction, is the President of the Building and Loan Association, Vojta Naprstek, a member of the Bohemian Workingmen’s Singing Society Lyra, Lodge Praha IOOF, Club Zobak, and McClaren Lake Club in Wisconsin where he spends every year a part of his summer vacation.

Mr. Svoboda’s father, Frank A. Svoboda, was born in Pisek where for long years he was engaged in the trade of a smith.  His mother, nee Catherine Pakorna, came to the United States from Kutna Hora in Bohemia.

Mr. Svoboda inherited in a great measure his father’s sterling qualities – honesty and straight dealing, so characteristic with the Czech smiths – and thanks to this mental disposition developed into one of our outstanding commercial leaders, acclaimed as such by the general public." (11)

In 1939, the Amerikan Kalendar descrbed Frank Svoboda:
…….” We can say that the business profession is in the blood of Svoboda's family. His uncle, John J. Svoboda, was engaged in the trade of cut goods in Czech California under his name and later under the name Grand Leader. P. Frank A. Svoboda has a sister, Kateřina nu Němečková, who also excelled in the general merchandise business. The appointed uncle gave Mr. Fr. A. Svoboda's basis for the success of his career. After all, in his Chicago department store, our compatriot was listed in the trade; there he trained in the profession and went through the school, brisking his way forward until he became chairman of the well-known Kedzie Avenue Store department store.

When Mr. Svoboda realized that it was impossible to be a man alone, he married Sl. Julia Novotná and from this happy marriage came the following children: Jiřinka Bartels, Eduard Svoboda, Milada Kasík, Violet Tuder, Ruth Janeček and John J. Svoboda. Although Mr. Svoboda is very busy with his business profession, he still finds moments that he devotes to the good of our regions, as evidenced by the fact that he is the director of the Czech Charitable Society, which performs so many beautiful philanthropic work among our compatriots. He is also the chairman of the Vojta Náprstek Auxiliary Association, he also belongs to the fraternal organization Odd Fellows, the Sokol Chicago unit and the Zobák Club. In these associations he finds refreshment after the daily worries, which he has as the chairman of a large plant, Kedzie Avenue Store. Music also brings him refreshment. - He likes to catch fish, he likes to go hunting, to the castle grounds and to travel. The fact that he is faithful to his origin proves his love for the Czech book. He has read many Czech books, and among his favorite authors are Tomáš Čapek, Sokol Tůma and Javořická.

He pays close attention to the homeland from which his parents came out, and he was very saddened on September 21 this year, when Czechoslovakia. the government was forced to give in to Hitler. "President- Liberator Masaryk is beyond a shadow of a doubt an immortal giant," he says of the Czechoslovak founder. of the Republic. "His place in history is fully secured, and rightly so. President Beneš follows in his footsteps. A difficult time has come for him, but he is acting manly, honestly, and swiftly, in full awareness of the immense responsibility that rests on him.

I give these two greats as an example to our people, born here. These certainly cannot be ashamed of their origin, because they came out of a nation that is most cultural……” (Article translated using Google Translate.  Good enough to provide a decent picture.) (12)

(Note: Both articles reference John J. Svoboda of the Leader store as an uncle. Frank Albert’s father’s parents were Joseph and Katerina, while John J. Svoboda’s parents are listed as Frank and Theressa.)

Frank Svoboda died in car accident in 1952.  He is buried in Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago. (Find A Grave # 210850936).  Wife, Julia, died in 1965.  She is buried with her husband. (Find A Grave # 210851203).


Frank’s Uncle John was born in 1863 in Chvaletice.  His 1900 passport application provides that information, along with his previously mention Chvaletice 1863 Birth Index Listing. (13)  John would help Frank Albert Svoboda, in the retail trade in Chicago.  John Svoboda would became a prominent Czech businessman there.

The first census record found for John J. Svoboda is 1880 Illinois, Cook, Chicago D049 Page 77 at 57 Burlington for Frank Svoboda 62, Theresia 51, Mary 21 and John 16. (14)  In the 1900 Census, John’s father Frank is not listed, and Theresa is listed as a widow.
John married Bessie Klepal (daughter of James and Anna Klepal)  on April 4, 1893 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Chicago Tribune on Friday, March 17, 1905 on page 1, listed the incorporation of the Grand Leader Company with John J. Svoboda as an owner.




Also included in the will of John J. Svoboda were donations to the Bohemian Old Peoples Home and Orphan Asylum, the Bohemian Charitable Association and the Lisle Industrial School for Boys and Girls.  His interest or ownership in the Lawndale State Bank and the Grand Leader Company were sold for the support of his wife, Bessie. (15)

Image Left – Bank Officers Lawndale National Bank John J. Svoboda Director Chicago Examiner Volume 14 No18 January 12, 1916 Page15

John J. Svoboda died in 1922.  He is buried, along with wife, Bessie in Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago. Find A Grave #151094437.

Bessie remarried.  She died in 1935 under the name of Bessie Svoboda Dusek.  She is buried with husband John Svoboda in the family mausoleum in Bohemian National Cemetery. Find A Grave #151094989.  Bessie’s parents, James and Anna, are also buried in the same family gravesite.


(1) "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), Kansas > Ellsworth > Columbia > ED 94 > image 20 of 21; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)

(2) Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 12, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_254; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0625; FHL microfilm: 1374267

(3) Ellsworth Reporter, Ellsworth, Kansas, May 12, 1921, Page 1.

(4) Birth Index Listing Jan Svoboda, 1863, Chvaletice -

(5) Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 for John J Svoboda "Cook Book 138 Book 139 1922-1923 Book 140 1922-1923"



(8) The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

(9) "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 139 of 173; Catholic Church parishes, Chicago Diocese, Chicago.

(10) "Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), St Procopius Parish (Chicago: Allport St) > Baptisms 1876-1885 vol 1-2 > image 49 of 245; Catholic Church parishes, Chicago Diocese, Chicago.

(11) “Czechoslovaks and the development of Chicagoland”, John J. Reichman, 1937, The Czechoslovak Historical Society of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois.

(12) Amerikan Kalendar 1939, Page 241, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, Chicago.

(13) "United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 30 January 2015), (M1372) Passport Applications, 1795-1905 > Roll 543, vol 907, 1900 Mar > image 798 of 887; citing NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.)

(14) Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

(15) Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 for John J Svoboda "Cook Book 138 Book 139 1922-1923 Book 140 1922-1923"