Contact the Author | sample_mail@mail.com

Home

Czech America as Few People Know It

 

A New Book Ideal for Christmas Present:

 

Beyond the Sea of Beer

History of Immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to the New World and their Contributions

by

Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., SVU Scholar-in-Residence and Past President of Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU)
Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2017

The Author and his New Book

 

CONTENTS

Foreword

Preface 

Part I. Pioneers

 

  1. How Czechs Discovered the New World
  2. First Visitors and Colonists from the Lands of the Bohemian Crown
  3. Bohemian Jesuits
  4. Moravian Brethren
  5. Bohemian Jewish Pioneer Settlers
  6. The Forty-Eighters
  7. The First Slovaks in America
  8. On the Track of Czechs in Canada
  9. On the Track of Czechs in Latin America

 

Part II. Czech Settlements and Communities

 

  1. Gateway to America
  2. Czechs in Early Maryland
  3. Virginia – Old Dominion or Mother of Presidents
  4. Pennsylvania –The Domain of Moravian Brethren
  5. Bohemian Pioneers in New England
  6. Arizona – A Bastion of Bohemian Jesuits in the US
  7. Louisiana – The State of Pelicans
  8. South Carolina – The Slave State or the Palmetto State
  9. California – The Golden State
  10. New Jersey – Domain of Bohemian Jews
  11. Georgia – The First Community of Moravian Brethren
  12. North Carolina – The Heel State
  13. The Czech Cleveland
  14. South Atlantic States
  15. South Central States
  16. Bohemian Pioneers to the Southwest
  17. Michigan – The Great Lakes State
  18. Kentucky – The Bluegrass State
  19. Milwaukee – The First Most Populous Czech Colony
  20. St. Louis – The First Bohemian Metropolis in America
  21. Chicago – Beginnings of the Largest Czech Metropolis in America
  22. Texas – The Lone Star State of ’Moravci’
  23. Oklahoma – Chasing the Land in the Style of the Wild West
  24. Iowa -The State that Reminded Czech Settlers of their Native Country
  25. Nebraska – The Most Numerous Czech Farmer’s Community in America
  26. Minnesota – The ‘Idyllic’ State of Woods and Lakes
  27. Kansas -The Breadbasket of America
  28. Czech Pioneers in the American Northwest
  29. Czech Dakotas
  30. Indiana – The Hoosier State
  31. An Intended ‘New Bohemia’ Colony

 

Part III. Society and Organizational Life

 

  1. Harsh Beginnings of Czech Settlers in America
  2. Settlement and Assimilation
  3. Beginnings of the Organizational Life of Czech Americans
  4. Place and the Role of Pioneer Bohemian Women
  5. Beginnings of the Czech Press in America
  6. Czech Americans and their Religious Beliefs
  7. Bohemian Benedictines in America
  8. Czech Center of Higher Learning in America
  9. From Socialism and Anarchism to Rationalism
  10. Political Life of Czech Americans
  11. Czech American in the Struggle for Independent Czechoslovakia
  12. Organizing Czechoslovak Intellectuals in America after 1948
  13. The Czech American Character

 

Part IV. Economic and Cultural Contributions

 

  1. Czech Farmer and Agribusinessman in America
  2. Czech American Tradesmen – Masters of their Profession
  3. First Bohemian Businessmen in America
  4. The Czech the Musician
  5. First Czech Artists in America
  6. Dramatic Arts
  7. Writers of Fiction and Non-Fiction
  8. First Czech Physicians and Lawyers in America
  9. First Czech Scientists and Engineers in America
  10. First Czech Scholars and Social Scientists in America
  11. Czechs in the US Military
  12. Czech Americans in Sports and Athletics
  13. Czech Intellectual Refugees from Nazism in US – Natural & Social Sciences
  14. Czech Intellectual Refugees from Nazism in US – Humanities and the Arts & Letters
  15. Exile Intellectuals from Communist Czechoslovakia
  16. Exile Scientists and Engineers from Communist Czechoslovakia
  17. Notable Czech American Women in Arts and Letters
  18. Notable Czech American Women in Higher Professions
  19. Contribution of Moravians to America
  20. Contribution of Bohemian Jews to America
  21. Cultural Contributions of Americans with Roots in Slovakia

 

Postscript: Pride of America – Pride of the Czechlands

Appendixes

Abbreviations

Index

 

FOREWORD

 

Míla Rechcígl, past president of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), has been a productive researcher, historian and writer. I am grateful for his dedication in presenting and preserving little known facts about the history of Czech and Slovak immigration to the USA through his books, including his newest publication,  Beyond the Sea of Beer: Immigration to and Settlement in the New World of Bohemians and Czechs and their Contributions.

 

This is a very comprehensice history of Czechs in America, from the time they first put foot on American soil, soon after the discovery of the New World, to date. Nothing like this has ever been published since the time Thomas Čapek wrote The Čechs (Bohemians) in America, some one hundred years ago.

 

Rechcígl´s work is a precious piece of the puzzle describing the rich history of the Czech-American community. Many of its members contributed through their hard work to the success of American society, its culture, economy, education, administration and research. It is fair to say that America´s win was Czechoslovakia’s loss. Waves of immigration to the US in 1948 and 1968 were mainly politically motivated; thereby, the country lost part of its elite.

 

With the end of the communist regime in 1989, the Czech Republic has highly recognized the merits of those Americans of Czech origin who not only achieved great accomplishments in their fields, but selflessly assisted their homeland to develop into a modern, democratic and liberal society that is proud to share the values of the Western world.

 

I am deeply touched to see compatriots in the United States who tirelessly promote Czech and Slovak traditions and culture. Furthermore, I am proud to see the youngest generation of immigrants continuing to participate in Czech schools, with a network that has already spread to 16 US cities thanks to the support and grants from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

I invite you to explore the land “Beyond the Sea of Beer,” especially so close to the 100th anniversary celebrations of Czechoslovak independence. During this time, it is important to reflect on the freedom born in 1918 through the invaluable Czech-American connection of first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and US President Woodrow Wilson. Through extraordinary circumstance, Czechs overcame great hardship to succeed and inspire future generations.

 

Petr Gandalovič

Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the US

 

 

PREFACE

Even though I consider myself an ‘old-dated’ Czech-American, I frequently recall from my younger days, the words of the tune from Voskovec & Werich, “Tam za tím mořem piva” (There, beyond the Sea of Beer), which does not require much imagination that I speak of America, at least among the Czechs. Those words brought to mind something distant, idyllic, exotic, if not like a fairytale.

The purpose of this book is to acquaint the reader about the immigration from Historical Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the successor States of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, about the way they found their new home, where they settled, how they became accustomed to their new environment and their accomplishments. The reader will indeed find that in America one can achieve just about everything, however, not without hard work, just as the Czech proverb says: “Bez práce nejsou koláče” (Without work there are no ‘kolaches’).

Someone’s notion that all people in America are millionaires and that, as Czechs say, “pečení holubi lítají do huby’ (baked pigeons fly into the mouth), meaning that ‘money grows on trees,’ however, is illusionary. When I grew up in Czechoslovakia, people did not spend every weekend in their cottages in the mountains, rather it was customary to work day and night, especially in rural areas and in business. This assiduous work ethic, which I vividly recall, and which the Czech immigrants brought with them to America, was the reason that they found relatively easily a foothold here and why they accomplished so much.

The desire to travel to America manifested itself soon after the discovery of the New World, for which they were prepared by the works of Bohemian humanists, even before Columbus. Thus, in the fantastic travelogue of Václav Šašek of Biřkov, we read about the travels of Lev of Rožmitál through the Pyrenees Peninsula in 1466, when his expedition reached the village ’Stella obscura,’ where they learned about the dryland beyond the big sea.  A few years later, Columbus, starting from the same place left to search for it and then discovered America. Claim was also made that the notable creator of a globe, Martin Behaim, whose name suggests his Bohemian origin, was supposed to have discovered the New World, even before Columbus, or, at least, that he furnished information to Columbus, without which the latter would never have reached the American Continent.

Johann Berger, born around 1502 in Osoblaha (Hotzenplotz), Moravia has the distinction, as being the first colonist from the Czechlands in the New World, when he took part as a soldier in the expedition of Hernán Cortés against the Aztecs in 1519.

It is also a proven fact that Czech miners from Jáchymov were already in Venezuela or Haiti in 1523, while searching for silver and other precious ores. A Bohemian colonist was not even absent during the first colonizing attempt of the English in North Carolina, some 35 years later, before the arrival of Pilgrims to New England.

The first Bohemian who settled in America permanently, as early as the end of the first half of the 17th century, could be found in the figure of Augustine Heřman. He became a legendary figure in New Amsterdam and later gained prominence with his famous map of Maryland, where he later moved. He was followed by a number of other pioneers, who, one way or another, distinguished themselves in the formative years of the US.

Mention also needs to be made of the meritorious work of the Bohemian Jesuits in Latin America, beginning in 1678 until 1766, after the Bohemian Province of the Society of Jesus was admitted to missionary work.

 

The first larger immigration wave to America began at the beginning of the 18th century, because of the persecution and the exile of the followers of the ancient Bohemian Unitas fratrum.

The mass migration to America from the Czechlands did not occur until after the Revolutionary Year of 1848, because of political disturbances and the unsatisfactory economic situation in Austria-Hungary, which continued through the first two decades in the 20th century. After twenty years of relative calm during the First Czechoslovak Republic, other emigration waves followed, in 1939-40, caused by the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia and later, as a result of the Communist putsch in 1948 and after the Soviet invasion in 1968.

As the reader will learn, the beginnings of most immigrants and settlers in America were difficult, and, frequently quite harsh. Most of them came to America with empty hands and often without much education. Nevertheless, in a relatively short time of ardent work, they stood on their feet and, in time, worked their way through to better jobs. Many of them achieved important positions or excelled in their professions. Generally, one can conclude that Czech immigrants were real self-made people. In contrast to other ethnic groups, the Czech immigrants rarely suffered any minority complexes, just the contrary, most of them were quite proud of their family background and in the case of the Czech settlers in Texas, the latter thought of them as being better than their ‘Anglo-Saxon’ neighbors.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the pioneers and the second discusses the arrival and settlement of immigrants in various states and regions of America, and the establishment of Czech centers and communities. The third part is concerned with the social life and public and organizational activities of the settlers, and the fourth part is addressed to various types of immigrants and their contribution to America.

The reader will find lots of new information in this book which is not available elsewhere. I hope that the book will bring not only information but also pleasure, and that it will correct frequently distorted views about Czech Americans and their efforts, and, I also hope that it may inspire the readers to seek higher horizons through their work, just as self-made Czech-Americans achieved, often under most wearisome and adverse conditions. I think the monograph will also inspire students and historians to further serious studies on this theme.