Chicago's Blahnik Pharmacists
Vencel Blahnik

Lorenz Blahnik
Chicago's First
Czech Pharmacist

Marie Blahnik
Chicago's First Czech
Woman Pharmacist
USA's First Czech
Woman Pharmacist

Vencel Blahnik
and Sons, Czech Pharmacists in Chicago

Vaclav L. (Vencel / Wenzel) Blahnik was born on August 1, 1862 at Polenka #5.  Vaclav was the son of Jan Blahnik (son of Jakub) and Jan's second wife, Marie Rejcha. (Birth Record) (1)  Between Vencel's birth and his 1883 marriage in Iowa, no verified records have yet been found.

There are two "most likely" records of his arrival in the United States.  On 3-15-1875, arriving from Bremen to Baltimore, aboard the ship Hermann, are Anna Blanck 20 and Wengel 9.  Anna Blahnik was born in 1855 and her marriage records with Frank Frish continue to record her arrival as 1875.  If Wengel is Wenzel, his age is quite inaccurate.  His census records for an arrival year do not remain close during his life in the United States.  No other record is found, so far, for Vencel before 1883.

Nacl L. Blahnik, age 19, birth 1863, fits Vencel's actual birth time.  Nacl arrived from Bremen to New York City on 6-9-1882 aboard the ship Main.

The earliest USA record found for Vencel is his 9-29-1883 Linn County, Iowa, marriage record to his first wife, Antonie Jedlinsky.  Vencel had family in Linn County. (View Record) (2)  The 1885 Iowa State Census for Linn, Ward 7, Cedar Rapids lists Wensel L. Blahnik 22,  Antonie 20 and Mary 0. (3)  Son Karl Barta Blahnik was born in 1886 in Iowa.  A delayed birth record was filed for Karl in 1887.  (View Record) (4)  Son Lorenz was born 12-13-1888 in Chicago.  Vencel's step brother Lorenz (first known Czech pharmacist in Chicago) had died 8-1-1888 in Chicago.  Vencel's middle name is Lorenz.

1888 is the year that Vencel's step brother Lorenz died, and the year indicated in the articles relating to his step brother Lorenz, that Vencel began to help his step brother's widow, Marie Tomsa Blahnik, in the pharmacy at 88 West 18th Street.  It was the pharmacy opened by his step brother.  A search of Chicago Directories and Chicago Business Directories (Druggists) does not show any listing for Vencel until 1892.  Widow Marie Tomsa Blahnik appears in each directory, until her death in 1914, at the same address.  Vencel's listings change, reflecting his establishment of new pharmacies over the course of time.  (View Directory Search - PDF) 

While it would be understandable that Vencel would arrive and help sister in law Marie Tomsa Blahnik in the operation of Lorenz's pharmacy, it appears unclear exactly when he did so.  It also appears unclear whether he came to own all or part of Lorenz's pharmacy.  Articles found suggest both possibilities of ownership or just help. (5)

Near the end of 1891,  advertisements begin to appear for Vencel's (usually under Vaclav) own pharmacies.  The advertisements are found for the Chicago area, in Czech, in Polish, and in publication of a Czech paper in Omaha, Nebraska.  In 1892 there was mail order!

An 1892 advertisement in the Pokrop Zapadu, a Czech publication from Omaha, Vaclav Blahnik displays a trademarked crest which he would use in his ads from time to time. (6)

V.L. Bhahnik and Sons

Pharmacists and Chemists

1901 W. 47 ul. corner Lincoln st. Postal Filla No. 268

We stock a selection of drugs and the most common chemicals. Each prescription brought to us will be filled in absolutely under the guarantee and as prescribed by the doctor. Dr. K. B. Blahnik Doctor And Surgeon office in the pharmacy V.L. Blahnik and sons Consulting hours: from 10 am to 12 noon; from 7 am to 9 pm in the evening; on Sundays from 10 am to 1 pm. (7)

V. L. Blahnik and his sons run a pharmacy and a chemical warehouse under the number 1901 West 47th corner of ul. Lincoln.

Everyone who had contact with this pharmacy got the impression that he is dealing with professionals, because they are provided impeccably in every respect. They fill all their receipts as carefully as possible and gain a huge clientele due to their strictness and abundance in the supply of fresh and first-class goods. Above the pharmacy there is the office of Dr. K.B. Blahnik is a well-known and respected physician. (7)

Honored compatriots: - Here I give you a list of my proven drugs. These are rare prescriptions from Europe, which I have collected for many years and carefully researched and left to be researched by the wisest doctors in the Czech Republic and here in America. Their power is invaluable. Each individual drug speaks for itself and I am sure that compatriots will always be satisfied and that after the first test they will remain the most popular drugs in every household. My medicines are available at every farm shop and at every pharmacy in towns or cities.

1893 Advertisement for Vaclav Blahnik's Pharmacy at 372 West 18th Street. (8)

With the current time-grained, those who suffer from coughs or chest pains should try without delay
Bláhníkův Plicní Balsám
prepared according to the original prescription and approved by local doctors. The most necessary remedy in every family against coughs, tracheal diarrhea, expulsion, shortness of breath, flu and all diseases of plunder (9)

I would also like to warn anyone who wishes my medication that I will send them anywhere after receiving a regular award. Whoever sends $ 5.00 'will pay the freight. It is necessary for everyone to send the good name of the express station and the name of the express company in the event of a shipment.


I offer special commissions to traders.


I always mean your service is free Vaclav L. Blahnik, Czech pharmacist and archer, 372 West 18th Street, Chicago, Illinois


If you cannot receive the excellent Czech-Slavic Blahník calendar in the store or pharmacy where you buy, write pron under the above address and it will be gladly sent to you. (6)

Vencel, though Vaclav L., is becoming more commonly used in advertising, is found in Chicago census records from 1900 to 1930 (Vaclav in 1910).

1900: 1062 S. Troy; Vencel Blahuik 37, Antonie 36, Mary 16, Karel 13, Lorenz 11, Emil 6, Frank Jedlinsky 79.

1910: 1733 West 47th; Vaclav Blahnik 47, Antonia 45, Karel 23, Lawrenc 21, Emiel 16, Antonia 16 (adopted daughter) Rose 19 (daughter in law).

11-3-1918 Antonie Jedlinski Blahnik died.

1920: 1733 West 47th; L Blahnik 31, V.L. Blahnik 56

On 11-25-1920 Vencel L. Blahnik married Barbara Raz Pekar Hajek.

1930: 2458 Trumbull Avenue; Vencel L. 66, Barbara 64, Emil 37, Bessie 33 (Daughter in Law), Arline 11 (Grand Daughter). (10)

History of Cook County - Editors: Weston A. Goodspeed, LL.B. and Daniel Healy, The Goodspeed Historical Association Chicago, 1909, Hammond Press, W. B. Conkey Company Chicago, Page 685.

Vencel L. Blahnik of the firm of V. L. Blahnik & Sons, 1835 West Forty - Seventh street, was born in the village of Malo Polneka, Bohemia, Austria, on August 1, 1862, and is a son of John and Maria (Rejcha) Blahnik.  In 1872 Vencel L. came to the United States and located in Chicago.  He soon entered the drug store of his brother Lorenz who had settled here in 1867 and was the first Bohemian druggist in the city.  With him Vencel L. learned the drug business.  He was educated in the public schools and was graduated from the Chicago College of Pharmacy in 1888.  In August, 1889, his brother died, whereupon he purchased the business at 88 West Eighteen street which he conducted until 1891, when he sold out and opened a new store at 372 West Eighteenth street.  This store and others he conducted prior to 1903.  At the latter date he opened his present drug store at 1733 West Forty-Seventh street.  Here he quickly built up a large and lucrative business.  In the summer of 1909 he admitted his sons into partnership with him.  Mr. Blahnik is one of the well known citizens and successful business men of the city.  He is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Bohemian Turners' society, the Modern Woodmen of America, and in politics is a Republican.  In 1883 Mr. Blahnik married Antonia, daughter of Frank Jedlinsky, and by her had four children; Mary R., wife of C.J. Cernoch, Karel, Lawrence and Emil.

(Note: This 1909 article does not mention any time in Iowa, his first marriage, or the birth of his first two children in Iowa.

Vencel's sons, Emil and Lawrence would follow their father in the pharmacy business.  Vencel's son, Karel would become a physician.  For a time he would have an office in the same building as his father's pharmacy, and would work in conjunction with his father.

The only other snippets of information into the life of Vaclav, which appear in newspapers, is advertisements to rent his summer home in Michigan.

Vaclav (Vencel, Wenzel) Blahnik 8-1-1862 - 1933  Bohemian National Cemetery Columbarium  (1969475770)

Antonie Jedlinsky Blahnik - 1864 - 11-3-1918 Bohemian National Cemetery Columbarium (196947582)

Barbara Hajek Blahnik (220185690) Lot 17 Block 4 Section E with: William Baker 1982, Ottillie Davis 1923, 2nd husband Bedrich Hajek 1916, 1st husband John Pekar 1911 and 12 other members of the Pekar family.



(2) Iowa, U.S., Marriage Records, 1880-1945 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

(3) Iowa, U.S., State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007.

(4) Iowa, U.S., Births (series) 1880-1904, 1921-1944 and Delayed Births (series), 1856-1940 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017.

(5) Vencel Blahnik owns step brother Lorenz Blahnik pharmacy after Lorenz's death: History of Cook County - Editors: Weston A. Goodspeed, LL.B. and Daniel Healy, The Goodspeed Historical Association Chicago, 1909, Hammond Press, W. B. Conkey Company Chicago, Page 685.  Vencel not mentioned as owning the pharmacy: Duch Casu, Czech language newspaper, August Geringer Publisher, Chicago, "Ze Starych Vzpoinek" – Marie Blahnik - 11-1-1908 Page 3.

(6) Pokrok západu: týdenník politický, poučný a zábavný. Omaha: Publisher Edward Rosewater, December 28, 1892, Page 37.

(7) "Dziennik Narodowy", National Polish Daily newspaper,  Chicago, Illinois,  12-1-1915 Weds Page 14 & 17.

(8) "Amerikán: národní kalendář na rok". (once a year publication) Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 1893, Page 212.

(9) "Duch Casu" Czech language newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, Publisher August Geringer, 12-20-1891, Page 12. (Google Translation)

(10) 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:

Lorenz Blahnik
Chicago's First
Czech Pharmacist

Marie Blahnik
Chicago's First Czech
Woman Pharmacist
USA's First Czech
Woman Pharmacist

Vencel Blahnik
and Sons, Czech Pharmacists in Chicago