Recently a couple of readers asked a very good question as they were reading the 1895 Hugo Chotek book on the early Cleveland, Ohio Bohemian (Czech) immigrant community, translated recently by Onward To Our Past® and exclusively available here — for free of course!
I had to think about this for awhile, as I didn’t have a ready answer. As is always the case when I am at a loss about a question that includes both of the words ‘Cleveland’ and ‘Czech’, I turn to the incredible Dr. Gregory M. Stone and his work on the Cleveland Czech immigrant community, his PhD dissertation “Ethnicity, Class, and Politics Among Czechs in Cleveland, 1870-1940″, published in 1993 by UMI Dissertation Services.
Over and over again I have thanked my lucky genealogy stars that I found this truly remarkable work early in my genealogy journey. If you have followed me for any amount of time you know that I often lament the overall lack of study that has been undertaken on the early Czechs of Cleveland. It is one of the significant reasons I undertook to translate Hugo Chotek’s book into English. So it is that I consider Dr. Stone’s work to be one of the most important written on the Czech community of Cleveland.
So where did the Cleveland Bohemian (Czechs) come from?
While I was discussing this question with Dr. Stone, he agreed that I could post from his dissertation to help everyone better understand and grasp the geography and findings that were a part of Dr. Stone’s original research of his dissertation. We all owe Dr. Stone a huge THANK YOU for his generosity and help.
Remember, please, that this work was completed before Google maps, etc, so the maps are handmade and the book was completed on a, gasp, typewriter (some of you may, like I do, even remember what a typewriter is).
In his dissertation, Dr. Stone has a section titled “Geographic Origins”. In this section he refers to three maps that I you will see here.
First, Dr. Stone found that his research indicated “Czech immigrants came to the United States from the two historic Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia. Of these two provinces, Bohemia sent the vast majority of emigrants, over 95% (see Map 2.1)”.
Dr. Stone found “Also unlike many other immigrant groups, the primary regions of origin did not shift to any great degree over the period from 1865 to 1914.” Dr. Stone then continues and begins to refer to his next map, 2.2, below.
Dr. Stone found, through his study of naturalization, church, and mutual aid society records, that as many as half of Czech immigrants to Cleveland came from the area surrounding the towns of Pisek and Tabor, which are labeled as Region 1. His research further notes that ‘fully one-third of Czech immigrants’ were from small villages in the one south-central county of Milevsko (yep, my ancestral home village was Milevsko itself), again noted as Region 1.
Significant numbers also came from the three other regions of Bohemia. Dr. Stone explains that Region 2 is ‘a band of villages around Klatovy in southwest Bohemia, south of Plzen“.
Region 3 encompasses an area around the city of Caslav, to the east of Prague and Region 4, west and southwest of Prague, including the mining district around Kladno plus an industrial band from Beroun in the NE to Plzen in the SW.
Thomas Capek, in his book The Czechs in America, (1920), reports that in Cleveland in 1869 Czechs were from the following locations (with the notion added in which of Dr. Stone’s regions they are located when applicable). Capek’s original source is cited as a private census undertaken by Slavie, the Czech newspaper at that time published in Racine, Wisconsin.
- Beroun (Region 4) 224
- Pisek (Region 1) 194
- Tabor (Region 1) 137
- Plzen (Region 2 & 4) 70
- Caslav (Region 3) 68
- Ceske Budejovice 29
- Boleslav 10
- Cheb 10
- Chrudim 10
The following is more detailed map from Dr. Stone on Region 1, South Central Bohemia, which shows several of the smaller villages in this region.
Dr. Stone notes in his work that chain migration continued to be a significant and strong influence in Czech immigration. Between 1850 and 1914 it is estimated that more than 346,000 Czechs immigrated to the United States, with over 114,000 of those coming between 1870 and 1890, which is over double the number that came from 1850 to 1870.
More to come:
I will be re-reading more of Dr. Stone’s dissertation and will report some more information on Czech immigration patterns and villages as I find it. So stay tuned!
Special thanks to Dr. Stone for his help and willingness to share this information and maps here for all of us who love our Czech genealogy and Bohemian roots as he does!
Onward To Our Past®