1921 and our story continues of the amazing and dedicated Czech-American entrepreneur, František Korbel from the pages of the wonderful Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

We learn more about his work in the United States, his views on the Czech lands, and his philanthropy!


Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1921, Volume: XXXXIV, Pages: 264-283

“Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America” 

He fought for the freedom of our nation in 1848 – and lived to see it in 1918

 1921 Korbel image


Died in Prague, on the 1st of January, 1920, at the age of 89 years

“A short history of the commercial activities of František Korbel and his brothers and the following four sisters and their families would not be complete without us recalling the long list of disasters, big fires, and earthquake that occurred in San Francisco in 1906.  After these disasters Korbel to build again and he had to work even harder still.  The Korbel factories are located mainly in San Rafael and today belong to the families of his brothers.  Antonin Korbel is still alive.

But František Korbel never forgot to work for the Czech nation, through enlightenment and philanthropy.  Our V. Naprstek and later vice-governor of Wisconsin, Karel Jonas, J. Rosicky, Lad. Klacel, A. Geringer, Tom Capek, and E. St. Vraz, along with many another compatriots kept in touch with František Korbel.  Many grand ideas were supported by him, which was proven several times over, mainly through his part in establishing the Cesko-Americka Tiskova Kancelar (Czecho-American Press Office) at Chicago, led by Dr. Jaroslava Salaba-Vojan.

František Korbel was also active in the organization of Free Masons.  With his great spouse, who died in 1911, he was a true benefactor of poor people.  In the 1860s and 1870s, Korbel supported various efforts of J.V. Fric, which were supporting the Czech nation and culture overseas.

In 1903, when he permanently moved back to Prague, he still remained a modest benefactor.  His philanthropy could be witnessed in the various organizations that he supported: Ustredni Matice Skolska (Central School Foundation), Narodni Jednota (National Union), the “Komensky” Organization in Vienna, Hlavka’s Student Hostel Foundation, and numerous other organizations.  He also supported many private persons, students, and workers as well.

But there are a lot of people who did not ever know who their benefactor was because he liked it when his helping hand was not recognized.  Therefore he dedicated several days to visit with them simply as someone “unknown”.  Sometimes he named himself “anonymous” or as “the old forty-eight’er”, or “American Ježíšek” (Ed: American Santa Claus), etc.  The Economic Institute of the Czech Academy, rewarded his great experiences by naming him as a member.

To organize care efforts for our oversea compatriots, Narodni Rada Ceska (NRC, National Czech Council), elected František Korbel as its great representative and as vice-president of foreign section of the NRC.  He also stayed a member of the American branch of the NRC until his last days.  Thanks to him, in 1907, during 5th Sokol Gathering, there was a reception taking place at the home of Naprstek, with the presence of Mrs. Josefa Naprstek, as the first Conference of NRC along with American Czechs.  At this meeting František Korbel was voted as the representative who would provide the greeting to the American delegation, at the hall on Zofin Island.  This was the same place where he, several decades ago in 1848, had taken part in his very first Czech patriotic meetings.

Photo use approved by F. Korbel & Bros. for exclusive use by Onward To Our Past.

Photo use approved by F. Korbel & Bros. for exclusive use by Onward To Our Past.

Modest personally, good-natured, and a straight, honest man.  This was the character of František Korbel as we remember him. We will remember him over the ocean in America, as well as in the here in the Old Country, with love and respect.  Also we will remember him as a forty-eight’er, the son of the steward, and one who became a Czech self-made-man, thanks to his lifelong work.  He also left a great heritage.”

Tomorrow we will bring you more of the story of the amazing 48’er and his accomplishments!

Onward To Our Past®

A Genealogical Historian, who is focused on family history and genealogy of the highest quality, but with a dose of fun. Avid about documentation and evidence. Loves helping folks of all levels in their genealogy pursuits, especially in the areas of Bohemia, Czech Republic, Italy, Cornwall, Kent, United Kingdom, U.S. Immigration and Cleveland, Ohio.

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