Today we offer Installment #2 of our wonderful exclusive translation of “The Biographies of Czech Editors in America”.  If you missed Installment #1, click here and catch up!

After yesterday’s introduction to the Czech American media of the late 1800s, today we bring you the first biography of a significant Czech editor, Ladimír Klácel!


Amerikán Národní Kalendář 

VOLUME: I, YEAR: 1878, Pages 118-127 

Published by August Geringer, Chicago, Illinois 

Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce 

©Onward To Our Past®

To understand the history of Czech emigration to America it is necessary to know the biographies of our Czech editors.  We therefore respond to this need in the following text as far as our sources permit:

“THE BIOGRAPHIES of Czech Editors in America”

Ladimír Klácel

Ladimír Klácel with another Czech editor we will meet soon! Image courtesy of AKAY Consulting.

Ladimír Klácel with another Czech editor we will meet soon! Image courtesy of AKAY Consulting.

The editor of “The Voice of the Free-Thinkers Association” [Hlas Jednoty Svobodomyslných] and the greatest Czech learned man in America was born in Česká Třebová in Bohemia (and not in Moravia as the Czech encyclopedia says), on the 27th of April 1808 and he was christened František Klácel.

He attended German and Latin schools in Litomyšl at the Piarist Institute.  And his professor of philosophy was the unforgettable Professor Bonifacius Buzek.  Klácel remembers this teacher with gratitude, who took him down the path of reclaiming one’s soul.  “And this gift“, says Ladimír Klácel “was the source of all my daily discontentment, since I encountered this philosophy during a time when it did not yet fit.  Now, however, I consider it to be the treasure of my life, since through it I found myself, although always in penury. “

What I would be without you, I do not know.  However, I am struck cold whenever I notice your absence among the hundreds of thousands of other people. 

                                                                        (Schiller, Purkyně.)

            When Klácel was in logic class Professor Bonifacius was let go from the teacher’s chair.  His successor was kind Professor Mosler, by whom Klácel was granted the secret privilege of writing a writ of ethics according to Professor Bonifacius for the best students of physics.  During exams the students were paraded in front of the bishop from Hradec and Dean Vorel, who called out:  “This is philosophy!?” by which words he intended to humiliate Bonifacius Buzek.  Klácel put together the work more in the Free-thinking way sprinkled with biblical quotations.

1878 Klacel portrait from Capek

Klácel very quickly took an interest in nationalism this was in no small part due to his uncle, Anton Šmíd, who was governor’s council in Brno, and then also due to the writings of Kollár.  In the year 1627 (sic) (should be 1827) he entered the monastery of the Augustinians in old Brno, where he received the name Matouš [Matthew].  He quickly began to improve his mother tongue with the help of Czech books he obtained from the late professor Neděla.  In 1830 he took his monastic vows.  A year later he became the cloister librarian and in 1832 he was ordained a priest.  As a response to the call of the Prelate Napp, who came to like him, he did three rigors in theology, but he did not obtain a doctorate, since in the meantime he had heard a different calling, becoming a professor of philosophy at the bishopric institution in Brno, in the office of which he was able to acquire the love of its students to a great degree.  During this period, he appeared in public for the first time as a writer of poems, which received great recognition as the fruit of a Free-Thinker of Slavic origin.  Klácel’s work nationalistic work among the school’s youth and his popularity caused many unpleasant moments for him.   Soon Count Bombelles in Vienna was heard to say: “There is a dangerous person working in Brno.”   He was accused of being a pan-Slavist (an accusation which at that time filled people with horror) a heretic, a Free-Thinker, etc., which was quite a bit for Austria.  The thing they feared most was that the “youth were transfixed by him.”  It even went so far that by the year 1845 he was fired from his teaching position, so he left for Prague and from there he went to stay with the noble philanthropist, Mr. Ant. Veith at the Liběchov Castle, where he lived a quiet life in the company of Čermák, the parish priest, and Vác. Levý, a young artist.  Liběchov belonged to the Litoměřice Diocese.  The elderly local bishop, who had been called in to rid the diocese of Bolzanism and Free-Thinking clergymen, could not stand having Klácel in his sanctuary, and about Veith he said:  “Veith, himself, is a crude Hussite,”.  And he pushed Klácel out of Liběchov, where he lived alone with Veith, more severely than in a monastery with science and arts.  He returned to the Brno monastery, and devoted himself mainly to natural sciences and more specifically to the study of plants.  In 1848 he once again left the Brno monastery to live in Prague, after which he was called by the Moravian Parliament to edit the national newspaper in Brno. However, things did not work out for him there, as he was suffering from a great spiritual depression.  When the reactionary coup happened his activities were also halted, and he once again returned to the monastery, to take up his private studies.”

Tomorrow we will continue with this wonderful article on American Czechoslav editors and complete the story of Ladimír Klácel!

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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