Czech Genealogy: What do you know of The Great Czech ’48’ers?

Today we complete our original research and writing on the great Bohemian revolutionaries of the 1848 Prague Revolt as mentioned by František Korbel in the 1921 edition of the wonderful and rare Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

We conclude with a very interesting forty-eight’er and the interesting link he has to the family who published Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  As they say it is a small, small world!

 Vraz image

Vráz, Enrique Stanko

Enrique Stanko Vráz was born on the 18th of February 1860 (or on 8 Apr 1860).  He proclaimed that he was born in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria.  He died on the 20th of February in 1932 in Prague.  Vráz was a Czech traveler and photographer.

His origin and identity are still questioned and mysterious to this day.  He proclaimed that was born in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, and was the son of a Russian officer and a Czech mother.  However, a lot of historians assert that his real identity is uncertain.

There is some speculation that in reality he is the missing poet Karel Ilichman, Ferdinand Schpale, Count of Kolowrat, or perhaps even the illegitimate son of Prince Thurn Taxis.

Vráz joined the revolutionary Bohemians in the 1848 Revolution and was expelled from Bohemian by the Austro-Hungarians.  While gone he travelled the world, traded in such goods as India-Rubber from Brazil, but remained connected to Bohemia through his love of the country, his friendship with Votja Naprstek and his museum in Prague.

Vraz with flag in Japan

Vraz in Japan.

No matter what his true origins were, he became known as a world traveler.  The following are a few of his travelling accomplishments:

1) Africa

In about 1880 he visited northern Africa.  Dressed as an Arab, he tried to reach the town of Timbuktu several times but was unsuccessful as he became very sick of malaria.  He was captured by the Ashanti tribe but later escaped.  When he left Africa he brought with him a collection of 15,000 insects, 1,200 birds, 600 mammals, and more.  In 1885 he donated a portion of his African collection to the National Museum in Prague.

2) South America

Vráz lived in South America from 1889-1893 and visited several its countries.  He also explored previously unexplored areas of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers.  In 1894 Vráz tried to donate some South American animals in Prague, but its zoo was not established yet, therefore the ones he had were sold to the zoo in Vienna instead.  In 1900 he published a book on his travels in South America with the title of “Across Equatorial America”.

3) United States, Japan, and Southeast Asia

In 1895 Vráz went to America to lecture about his experiences to audiences of American Czechs in Chicago, New York, and other major cities.  In 1896 he continued with his travels to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Borneo, where he lived among a tribe of head-hunters, the Dayak, and New Guinea, where he visited cannibal tribes.   In 1897 went back to Bohemia to work on his book “Orbis Pictus”.

4) United States of America

Vráz again visited America, this time going to Chicago, the city where his fiancé, Vlasta, one of the daughters of Czech publisher August Geringer lived.  The couple traveled to Mexico for their honeymoon.  One of their children, a daughter, Vlasta Adele Vráz, went on to become President of the American Relief of Czechoslovakia.

5) China and Russia

In 1901 Vráz visited China.  As one of the first Europeans there he visited the Forbidden City and took several photographs there.  After leaving China he continued on to Europe via Russia, and then from Bremen he returned to the United States where he lived with his wife and children.

6) Later years:

In 1904, together with archeologist E.H. Thompson Vráz explored the ancient town of Chichen Itza in Mexico.

In 1907 he moved back to Prague, but because of a lack of financial resources there he returned to the United States where he began a career in politics, as a representative of Narodni Rada (National Council) established in Prague and he worked to build its American branch.  He also worked on the election campaign for Woodrow Wilson for President.  At this time he was diagnosed with cancer and his arm was amputated to stop it in 1920.  In 1921 he went back to Prague in the hopes that he would be employed by the National Museum or by Naprstek’s Museum, but those wishes were not fulfilled.  He earned for money for living from fees he received by giving lectures and presentations and from his published works, etc.

This situation led to depression and he was committed to a sanatorium.  He died in Prague at the age of 82 years.


Tomorrow we will begin an all new set of posts!  S0 stay with us and don’t miss a thing! 

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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