Chapter Four, Part Two: The Genealogy & History of the Original Bohemians (Czechs) in Cleveland, Ohio, USA: The Novák/Nowak Family Continued.
Where were we in Chapter Four, Part One?
As you will recall, as we were ending Chapter Four, Part One we were stymied by a cryptic entry in Leo Baca’s Czech Immigration Passenger Lists in Volume IV on page 113 which holds the following listing:
“Nowak, Joseph 36, Marie 34, Anna 9, Barbora 6, Joseph 3, Germany, Hansa, 13 December 183”
If this was going to be a valuable lead, we certainly needed to see if we could discover if there was more to the date listed of “183”. That was when we reached out to the Dean of Czech passenger records, Leo Baca himself. Having worked with Leo through both the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International and the Czech Group on FamilyTreeDNA, we knew he would be as helpful as possible and we were not disappointed. It wasn’t a week when Leo responded that he had delved into his records and discovered that not only was this simply a typographical, data entry error, the answer was the best we could have hoped for: 1853. This date not only coincides with the date reported by the Nowak family in Marie’s obituary, but also gives us the approximate birth years as follows: Joseph in 1817, his wife, Marie, in 1819, Anna in 1844, Barbara in 1847, and Joseph (Jr.) in 1850.
You can’t beat good karma and this was indeed a most welcome confirmation of the 1853 emigration date, which was given to us in the articles we referenced earlier in Chapter Four, Part One. We owe a sincere thank you to Leo for his time and efforts on our behalf.
Off We Go Onward To Our Past® with the Nowak Family
One of our additional challenges we discovered another spelling irregularity. Chotek wrote that the Nowak family was from a village in Bohemia by the name of ‘Bažejovice’, but there is no village by that name. However, there is a village named ‘Božejovice’ in southern Bohemia in the region of Písek. When we discussed this issue with a fellow researcher in Czech Republic, David Kohout, David agreed that this would be a highly likely match. Additionally, in the doctoral dissertation Ethnicity, Class, and Politics Among Czechs in Cleveland, 1870-1940, Dr. Gregory Stone states “fully one-third of Czech immigrants were from small villages in the one south-central county of Milevsko…” This also would tend to indicate that Bažejovice is in reality Božejovice. Another exceptional researcher in Czech Republic, Olga Koliskova, has been tasked with researching onsite in Božejovice to look for birth and marriage documents for Josef and Marie as well as birth documents for their children and immigration papers.
Now that we have strong indications that we were tracing the proper Nowak family, we began the work of seeing what records we could discover beyond the marvelous Chotek interview to discover any living descendants of Josef (Joseph) and Marie (Mary) Nowak.
We were stymied on finding the Nowak family in the early United States Census of 1860, 1870, and 1880 we turned to other materials and records.
We put our darts away as our method for reaching our decision on whom we would research first and decided on going alphabetically and so we began with Anna Nowak.
Meet Anna Nowak (Zíka)
Anna was born about 1843 and we were able to substantiate this as it was reported in various additional articles and documents. While we have not yet found the Nowak/Zíka marriage documents, we have found several children born, in Cleveland to Joseph Zíka and Anna Nowak. Plus, we discovered Anna in the 1870 United States Census listed as being married to Joseph Zíka. There was also the occupational notation for Joseph of ‘Brewer’ just as was stated in the golden wedding anniversary article about Joseph and Mary Nowak. As one way of double checking this, we brought out our copy of Brewing Beer In The Buckeye State, Volume I, A history of the brewing industry in eastern Ohio from 1808 to 2004, which was researched and written by Robert A. Musson, M.D. and published by Indiana Publishing Company in 2005. On page 110 we find Dr. Musson’s entry for the Schneider/Union/Cleveland & Sandusky Co. Included in this listing is the following:
“Located on the southeast corner of Train Avenue and Ash (W. 47th) Street, this lager beer brewery was established in 1870 by Bohemian immigrant Joseph Zíka.”
This is a solid confirmation of the brewing history of Joseph Zíka however we also note that Joseph sold his brewery just two years later. You might find it interesting to know that if you ever are in Cleveland you can still see portions of this historic building still standing today. As we continued our research, we were soon to find birth records for the children listed in the 1870 Census that listed the mother as Anna Nowak and Joseph Zíka as the father. We also discovered an Administrator’s Notice in the August 3, 1877 edition of The Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio) that was headlined “Joseph Zíka’s Estate” and interestingly it noted that J. M. Nowak had been appointed and qualified to function as administrator of the estate left by Joseph Zíka. We then returned to the assistance we had been given by the staff of the Riverside Cemetery in Cleveland. While looking at the listings for the Nowak family lot of Section 6, Lot 25, in Riverside Cemetery, the staff noted for us that in addition to Nowak family members Joseph, Marie, Joseph Milton, and Joseph M., there are a significant group of Zíka family members interred in the same Section 6, Lot 25.
Given that Joseph died in 1877, we were fortunate to find the 1870 US Census listing, which includes their children, Anna M. (born about 1863), Andrew (born about 1865) and Joseph T. (born about 1869). Further research led us to the listing for Anna Zíka’s death in the Cleveland Public Library’s online Necrology File, and while her husband Joseph died at the young age of only about 37, Anna lived to, what at the time, was the exceptional age of 96, passing away in 1941. In addition to the above children (Andrew and Joseph), her listing also gives children by the names of Mrs. James Teslik and Anthony. It also gives us the notation of Anna being a grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and great-great-great-grandmother, giving us some hope for our finding a living descendant.
In our initial research of RiversideCemetery we found 10 members of the Zika family interred in the same Section in that cemetery. We first noted that Andrew F. Zíka died from pneumonia in 1918 at the age of only 21 at CampSherman not long after his induction into the U.S. Army for service in World War I.
Our next discovery was that Joseph T. Zíka died March 2, 1925 and is also interred in the same Section and family lot at RiversideCemetery. According to the 1910 United States Census, Joseph is listed as living at 2025 Brainerd Street SW along with wife, Jennie M. and son Reynold. It is important to note that here with the child’s name we once again observe a misspelling in that his given name is actually Raynold, not Reynold.
Next we uncovered a Cleveland Necrology File listing and an estate notice in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Jennie M. Zíka passed away September 5, 1912. While we are awaiting the paperwork copies on the estate file from the great volunteers at the Cuyahoga County Archive, the obituary listing does state “Zíka-Jennie, beloved wife of Joseph T. Zíka…” In our work to verify this marriage we encounter an additional example of how the Slavic names, pronunciations and spellings caused challenges to the Bohemian immigrants when we witness the fact that Jennie Kriz Zíka often has her name (as do other of her family members) reports her maiden name at times as Kriz (Kříž) and at times as Cross. This maiden name is fortunate find in-and-of itself given that one of the additional names on our List of 99 is Kříž. I promise there is more to come on the Kříž surname in a later Chapter.
We were also pleased to find the obituary for Anna Nowak Zíka in the April 30, 1941 edition of the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) which gave us a child’s name, that Mrs. Zíka lived 96, came to America in 1852, and gave an amazing note that her trip across the ocean to America took seven weeks and “100 of the 200 passengers were killed in storms that tossed the ship.”
A second marriage of Joseph T. Zíka to Bertha Blum was our next find. It took place in Cleveland on October 15, 1913. A second marriage taking place shortly after the passing away of a wife was not unheard of in those days. A single parent with a child needed a partner almost immediately due to the demands of the world of work at that time. The marriage license application states that Joseph T. was married once before, but that his wife was deceased. From here we can follow not only Joseph T., his second wife, Bertha, but also Raynold who is listed in the Census records alternately as Reynold, Raymond, and Raynold. We also see that Raynold marries Ruth Rehark and they have two sons, Raynold, Jr. and Robert K.
Following this family line brought us to our very first discovery of a living descendant of one of our “Originals’ as the result of some additional follow up through Raynold and his wife, Ruth (Rehark) Zíka.
Good News/Not Surprising News – but not Bad News: A Descendant
We made telephone contact with a living descendant of Raynold Zíka and there was very good news and not so good news. Not surprisingly we took the individual quite by surprise with our call and he was rightly suspicious of us. The good news was that we were informed that we did indeed have the correct individual so we were elated at that fact. However he also informed us that unfortunately any knowledge of the history of the family had ended, at least in his branch, with the passing of his mother some years earlier. You could see a change in everyone’s faces as we heard this news and the realization set in with each person that there may continue to discover that more family history has been lost than has been retained. Luckily, this descendant went on to say that he was willing to accept our questionnaire and after reviewing it that he would consider completing it and returning it to us. Needless to say, the questionnaire has been sent and our collective fingers are crossed that he will find it worthwhile to help us out.