Czech Genealogy: What do you know of The Great Czech ‘48’ers?
If you have followed along with our exclusive English translation of the 1921 published story on the amazing František Korbel (yes, the same Korbel as the California champagne company of today) you will have seen many and varied references to a group of Bohemian (Czech) patriots who were often simply called “The ’48’ers”. In case you were wondering about these references, we thought we’d provide a bit of background for you as it can help immensely with anyone’s Czech genealogy to understand this intense and important period in the history of the Czech lands.
During the timeframe of the mid-1800s, and especially the year of 1848, a series of revolts took place in many locations across the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Most, if not all of these, had a decidedly nationalistic theme to them as more and more of the subjugated peoples tried to assert their independence against the coupled iron fisted rule of the Habsburgs and Holy Roman church. One of these revolts took place in Prague.
In the spring of 1848 (the “Spring of Nations” referred to in our 1921 story of František Korbel) saw several meetings in Prague between the various parties as they attempted to come to some agreements to answer many of the grievances of the Czech people and calling for civil liberties, an end to the feudal system, Czech language instruction, and more. While these meeting resulted in some progress in Prague, the Habsburg power structure would have none of it. In May there was an organized Pan-Slavic Congress called for and on June 12th, Whit-Monday, during this congress the was an outdoor “Slavic” mass held in what is now Wenceslaus Square (then called Horse Market). After this gathering some of the participants began fighting with the Habsburg military, which was then under the Habsburg commander, Alfred Prince Windischgrätz, who seen as a reactionary leader by the Czechs. For six days in June, after street fighting, artillery bombardments, and over one hundred dead, the Habsburg military brought the revolt to a bloody end.
As you can imagine, the Habsburg powers did not take this revolt lightly, nor did they want to ignore those they saw as perpetrators of these seditious actions. So they sought them out in order to punish them. Many were captured and imprisoned, with those convicted receiving long prison sentences or even death. Some escaped. Some simply ‘disappeared’. One ‘48’er made his way to Cleveland, Ohio and was the first Czech to settle there. His name was Rudolphus Adams. You can read all about him by clicking here.
Finally in 1857, the Habsburgs issued an amnesty for those who participated in the revolt, but again as you can read in our Korbel translation, the authorities kept an eye on those folks.
In our Korbel translation, you will have noticed not only the fact František was a ‘forty-eight’er, but also the fact he mentions several other compatriots who also took to the barricades that fateful June. There is little better than when a biographer does us genealogists a favor and drops surnames into his story for us!
Our eagle-eyed translator from our team on this project, Martin Pytr, noticed these names and noticed something even more interesting for us. While some were noted in public references, such as Wikipedia, many were not. So he dug in and found some background on those ‘48’ers Korbel mentioned.
Tomorrow we begin bringing you the exclusive research on these fabulous ’48’ers for you to meet and get to know!
Onward To Our Past®