We are beginning to receive some of the completed genealogy and history questionnaires we sent out to the descendants of The Original Bohemians of Cleveland, Ohio as a section of our eBook “The Genealogy & History of the Original Bohemians (Czechs) of Cleveland, Ohio, USA”.
What are We Being Told and What are We Learning?
So far we have been blessed to receive some excellent responses and some respondents have gone far above and beyond the call of duty in filling out the questionnaire by sending additional materials to us! Some of these are priceless newspaper articles in English and in Czech, photographs, funeral cards, family trees, and more.
Not only are we learning a lot, but we are also becoming aware of an alarming trend. So, what are we being told and what are we learning?
First the Good News!
While it takes a good deal of work and more follow-up than we had anticipated to get our short (only seven questions) questionnaires returned to us, when they are returned, they hold a wealth of information and often far more than we had asked, or ever hoped, for!
We are seeing that, indeed, a majority of respondents do recognize that they are of Czech descent. Not all, but a majority. Some thought they were of German descent, others thought Austrian, neither of which are a particular surprise, given the fluid nature of the powers that wrecked havoc on Bohemia for generations. This is also especially understandable since “Bohemian” wasn’t even recognized as a nationality by the U.S. Immigration Service for record keeping purposes in the United States until 1882. That is a long time after our ‘Originals’ arrived in the very late 1840s and early years of the 1850s.
When we asked if the descendant knew they were related to ‘An Original’, a pleasing number said ‘Yes’, although at times the given name of the actual ancestor was not known, but the family surname was. A welcome finding, indeed.
Again a significant majority of the descendants have, to this day, some tie to Greater Cleveland. If they do not still live in the general area, then they more often than not have a family member who does.
But Wait! Sound the Alarm!
It is at this point that the alarm bells started to go off in our questionnaires. Right at the point where we asked the questions that to any genealogist, family historian, or historian, were the tw:
Did your ancestors leave you any Bohemian (Czech) traditions, heirlooms, recipes, favorite foods, or legacies that you and/or your family follow/acknowledge today?
Do you or anyone in your family speak any Czech or do you recall anyone in your family speaking Czech?
Only a tiny number answered these two questions in a positive mode. Instead, almost every descendant said that no, they were not aware of any Czech influences nor did they know or even recall having heard a family member ever speak Czech.
If I could sound the alarm bells right now, I would!
The very essence of this Bohemian (Czech) ancestry has already been lost. Personally I realize how crucial this issue is. You see, in my own family, I am the last of the family who will have ever heard Czech spoken in our home. I am the last one who remembers the family gatherings that were more Czech than anything else. How critical, yes critical, the cooking of the knedliky was to the family and guests. Gone are the traditions, the language, the stories, the games, and more. Simply gone …. and with almost no way of getting it back.
Rather than being depressed by this fact, Onward To Our Past® has made the commitment to redouble our efforts and do all we can to regain where lost, maintain where strong, and enhance where weak, the awareness and importance of Bohemian (Czech) influences in all families that have these Czech roots, no matter what the generation, with especial emphasis and effort for those descendants of “The Originals”.
We owe our ancestors and our own genealogy no less than this!
Stay tuned to see more about our efforts in this area of genealogy, ancestry, and family history!
We simply cannot lose this precious tie to our past.
After all, isn’t that what genealogy really is? Remembering and nourishing our roots!