Genealogy & History of the Original Bohemians (Czechs) in Cleveland
Chapter Three: Taking Stock of and Sifting the Data
Eight resources, all referencing an original 15 or 16 Bohemian settlers to Cleveland, and what do we have? The proverbial ‘can of worms’ or so it seems! Our initial review showed us that we have far more names than just the ‘sixteen’ we had first read about. Our first task was to collate these names that our resources provided and see what that looked like when we put them all together. Did I say 16? Our preliminary list, which was made up of each name that was not identical to any other, numbers a huge and hearty 99!
The table that follows provides the compilation of our 99 candidates’ names for Cleveland’s ‘Original’ Bohemians.
|Adam||Gustav||Habenicht, Chotek, Cox, Dvornik||Prague|
|Havlicek||Jan||Habenicht, Snajdr, Cox||Varvazov (u Pisek)|
|Hladik||Jindrich||Habenicht, Capek, Chotek, Dvornik||Prague|
|Habenicht, Chotek||Smetanova Lhota|
|Habenicht, Chotek, Dvornik||Nenacovice|
|Habenicht, Chotek||Smetanova Lhota|
|Habenicht, Capek, Snajdr, Chotek, Dvornik||Mahous near Netolice|
|Habenicht, Capek, Chotek, Cox, Dvornik||Smetanova Lhota near Pisek|
|Levy||Leopold||Habenicht, Capek, Chotek, Dvornik, JGSC||Smetanova Lhota near Pisek|
|Macha||Josef||Habenicht, Chotek||Smetanova Lhota|
|Rehak||J.||Snajdr, Chotek, Cox|
|Capek, Chotek||Families of|
|Stedronsky||Josef Jan||Habenicht, Chotek||Stedronin near Zvikov|
|Stein||Zigmund (Sigmund)||Habenicht, Capek, Chotek, Dvornik||Prague|
|Habenicht, Capek, Chotek||Nevezice near Orlik|
|Capek, Chotek, Dvornik|
|Habenicht, Chotek, Dvornik||Cerna near Orlik|
|Weidenthal||Bernard||Habenicht, Snajdr, Chotek, Dvornik,JGSC||Vestec near Tabor|
|Habenicht, Snajdr, Chotek, Dvornik||Varvazov not far from Pisek|
|Habenicht, Chotek||Serkov near Mirovice|
|Zika||F. (Frantisek)||Capek, Chotek|
Step One: Methodology and resources used to determine the ‘Originality’ of our 99
After compiling our names from the multiple sources listed in Chapter Two, we began the process of attempting to document any historic facts and information that we could discover. At this early point, we neither discarded nor merged any names in our list even if they seemed likely to be a duplicate of an earlier entry. We wanted to be inclusive, so that step would wait until later in our process. You might ask why and that is understandable. I believe one of the very best ways I can explain my thinking is found in a news article in the Plain Dealer from Cleveland, Ohio and dated December 8, 1868, which included the following “Two of the Bohemian men, with unpronounceable names, to say nothing of the spelling requisite to make them known …” and this is just one example of how the media reported and portrayed the Bohemians of Cleveland. So therefore is it any wonder spellings varied greatly?
The following are the resources that we accessed in our efforts to learn about these 99 and their arrival in Cleveland.
- U. S. Census records
- Immigration records and passenger lists
- Naturalization/Citizenship records
- Newspapers: Obituaries, news reports, notices, etc.
- Multiple Resource Books (identified in the individual Chapters that follow)
- Organizational membership in both non-religious as well as religious groups
- City Burial records for the City of Cleveland
- Individual cemetery burial records
- The Cleveland Public Library Necrology File
- Office of the Recorder of Cuyahoga County for deeds and land holdings
- Cuyahoga CountyArchive
- Archive of the City Council of Cleveland
- Cuyahoga County Probate Court Archive
Step Two: Analysis of each name
Our second step was to begin an analysis of the information discovered on each of our 99 “Originals”. This included not only seeing what was listed, but also to look into and at the background to each item. Test the veracity of each entry, look for multiple agreements, and then to research each individual as thoroughly as possible to make our determination as to the likelihood that they were indeed, or were not, a member of the “Originals”.
Some of this analysis was objective, some was subjective, but each lead discovered was reviewed and investigated.
Step Three: Conducting a genealogy search for descendants of the “Originals’
Once we had compiled all of the information we could find in the above resources we began to conduct a thorough genealogical research regimen to determine if we might be able to locate any living descendants of the ‘Originals’ as we had determined them to be.
Only upon completion of this genealogical research did we begin our search for present day descendents with letters, emails, and/or telephone calls.
Prior to any contact, we also created a brief questionnaire, which we hoped to provide to any descendants of the ‘Originals’ that we might be lucky enough to locate. We purposely kept the questionnaire brief and likewise we kept initial questions quite basic in the hopes of enticing responses.
The questionnaire contained the following:
First Cleveland Czech Descendant Questions
- 1. Prior to my contact with you, did you know you were related to ________________?
- 2. Before we talked, were you aware that you have Bohemian (Czech) ancestry?
- 3. Were you aware that your ancestor, ____________, was one of the very first Bohemian (Czech) settlers in the City of Cleveland?
- 4. Did your ancestors leave you any Bohemian (Czech) traditions, heirlooms, or legacies that you and/or your family follow/acknowledge today?
- 5. Do you or anyone in your family speak any Czech or do you recall anyone in your family speaking Czech?
- 6. Do you maintain any connections to the City of Cleveland or NE Ohio?
- 7. Do you or is anyone in your family study or have you studied your family history/genealogy/ancestry?
However, long before we had any contact with any living descendants we had some serious work to do. We had to analyze each of our 99 names individually in order to fully understand what it was we had as a result of our research.
What is coming in Chapter Four?
Coming up in Chapter Four: The works begins on individual Bohemians and the fascinating stories begin to unfold before our eyes!