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Beyond the Sea of Beer: History of Immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to the New World and Their Contributions

Beyond the Sea of Beer: History of Immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to the New World and Their Contributions

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Beyond the Sea of Beer: History of Immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to the New World and Their Contributions

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9 нояб. 2017 г.


This is a comprehensive history of immigrants from the historic lands of the Bohemian Crown and its successor states, including Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, based on the painstaking lifetime research of the author. The reader will find lots of new information in this book that is not available elsewhere. The title of the book comes from a popular song of the famous Czech artistic duo, Voskovec and Werich, who described America in those words when they lived here, reflecting on their love for this country. It covers the period starting soon after the discovery of the New World to date. The emphasis is on the US, although Canada and Latin America are also covered. It covers the arrival and the settlement of the immigrants in various states and regions of America, their harsh beginnings, the establishment of their communities, and their organization. A separate section is devoted to the contributions of notable individuals in different areas of human endeavor, including Bohemians, Moravians, Bohemian Jews, and the Slovaks. These people excelled in just about every facet of human undertaking. Even though a total number of these immigrants were fewer than other ethnic groups, their accomplishments were phenomenal. Nothing like this has ever been published since the time Thomas Capek wrote his classic The Cechs (Bohemians) in America some one hundred years ago.
9 нояб. 2017 г.

Об авторе

Míla Rechcigl, as he likes to be called, is a versatile person with many talents, a man of science and organization professionally, and Renaissance man by breadth of his knowledge and scholarly interests. Born in Czechoslovakia to a son of the youngest member of the Czechoslovak Parliament, he spent the War years under Nazi occupation and after the Communist’s coup d’état escaped to the West and immigrated to the US. He received training as biochemist at Cornell University and later served as a research biochemist at NIH. Following his additional training he became a science administrator, first at the DHEW and later at US Department of State and AID. Apart from his scientific and science administrative pursuits, he served as an editor of several scientific series and authored more than thirty books and handbooks. Beyond that, he is considered an authority on immigration history, on which subject he had written extensively. He was also one of the founders of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) and for many years served as its President.

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Scholarly Publications:

Encyclopedia of Bohemian and Czech American Biography (3 vols.)

Czech It Out. Czech American Biography Sourcebook

Czech American Timetable

Czech American Bibliography

Czechmate. From Bohemian Paradise to American Haven

On Behalf of their Homeland: Fifty Years of SVU

Czechs and Slovaks in America

Czech and Slovak American Archival Materials and their Preservation

Czechoslovak American Archivalia 2 vols.

Czech-American Historic Sites, Monuments, and Memorials

US Legislators with Czechoslovak Roots

Educators with Czechoslovak Roots

Deceased Members of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences

Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences Directory: 8 editions

The Czechoslovak Contribution to World Culture

Czechoslovakia Past and Present 2 vols.

Studies in Czechoslovak History 2 vols.

Scientific Monographs:

Nutrition and the World Food Problem

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 1. Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Accessory Growth Factors

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 2 Nutrient Elements and Toxicants

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 3. Nitrogen, Electrolytes, Water and Energy Metabolism

Comparative Animal Nutrition. Vol. 4. Physiology of Growth and Nutrition

Man, Food and Nutrition. Strategies and Technological Measures for Alleviating the World Food Problem

World Food Problem: A Selective Bibliography of Reviews

Food, Nutrition and Health. A Multidisciplinary Treatise

Enzyme Synthesis and Degradation in Mammalian Systems

Microbodies and Related Particles

Handbook Series in Nutrition and Food: 18 vols.

Czech Publications:

Pro Vlast. Padesát let Společnosti pro vědy a umění

Postavy naší Ameriky




History of Immigration of Bohemians and Czechs to
the New World and Their Contributions


SVU Scholar-in-Residence and

Past President, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences



1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403


Phone: 1 (800) 839-8640

© 2017 All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 11/09/2017

ISBN: 978-1-5462-0238-7 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-5462-0237-0 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2017950742

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models,

and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.





1. How Czechs Discovered the New World

2. First Visitors and Colonists from the Lands of the Bohemian Crowns

3. Bohemian Jesuits

4. Moravian Brethren

5. Bohemian Jewish Pioneer Settlers in America

6. The Forty-Eighters

7. The First Slovaks in America

8. On the Track of Czechs in Canada

9. On the Tracks of Czechs in Latin America


1. Gateway to America

2. Czechs in Early Maryland

3. Virginia – Old Dominion or Mother of Presidents

4. Pennsylvania – The Domain of Moravian Brethren

5. Bohemian Pioneers to New England

6. Arizona – A Bastion of Bohemian Jesuits in the US

7. Louisiana – State of Pelicans

8. South Carolina – The Slave or the Palmetto State

9. California – The Golden State

10. New Jersey – Domain of Bohemian Jews

11. Georgia – The First Community of Moravian Brethren

12. North Carolina – The Heel State

13. The Czech Cleveland

14. South Atlantic States

15. South Central States

16. Bohemian Pioneers to the Southwest

17. Michigan – The Great Lakes State

18. Kentucky – The Bluegrass State

19. Milwaukee – The First Most Populous Czech Colony

20. St Louis – The First Bohemian Metropolis in America

21. Chicago – Beginnings of the Largest Czech Metropolis in America

22. Texas – The Lone Star State of ‘Moravci’

23. Oklahoma – Chasing the Land in the Style of the Wild West

24. Iowa – The State that Reminded Czech Settlers of their Native Country

25. Nebraska – The Most Numerous Czech Farmer’s Community in America

26. Minnesota – The ‘Idyllic’ State of Woods and Lakes

27. Kansas – The Breadbasket of America

28. Czech Pioneers in the American Northwest

29. Czech Dakotas

30. Indiana – The Hoosier State

31. An Intended ‘New Bohemia’ Colony


1. Harsh Beginnings of Czech Settlers in America

2. Settlement and Assimilation

3. Beginnings of Organizational Life of Czech Americans

4. Place and the Role of Bohemian Pioneer Women in America

5. Beginnings of the Czech Press in America

6. American Czechs and their Religious Beliefs

7. Bohemian Benedictines in America

8. Czech Center of Higher Learning in America

9. From Socialism to Anarchism to Rationalism

10. Political Life of Czech Americans

11. Czech America in the Struggle for Independent Czechoslovakia

12. Organizing Czechoslovak Intellectuals in America after 1948

13. The Czech American Character


1. Czech Farmer and Agribusinessman in America

2. Czech American Tradesmen: Masters of their Profession

3. First Bohemian Businessmen in America

4. The Czech the Musician

5. First Czech Artists in America

6. Dramatic Arts

7. Writers of Fiction and Non-Fiction

8. First Czech Physicians and Lawyers in America

9. First Czech Scientists and Engineers in America

10. First Czech Scholars and Social Scientists in America

11. Czechs in the US Military

12. Czech Americans in Sports and Athletics

13. Czech Intellectual Refugees from Nazism in the US – Natural and Social Sciences

14. Czech Intellectual Refugees from Nazism in the US – in Humanities, and the Arts & Letters

15. Exile Intellectuals from Communist Czechoslovakia

16. Exile Scientists and Engineers from Communist Czechoslovakia

17. Notable Czech-American Women in Arts and Letters

18. Notable Czech-American Women in Higher Professions

19. Contributions of Moravians to America

20. Contributions of Bohemian Jews to America

21. Cultural Contributions of Americans with Roots in Slovakia






In affection to my wife Eva,

Children Karen and Jack,

Grandchildren, Kristin, Paul, Greg, Kevin and Lindsey – who are proud Czech Americans,

Great daughter-in-law Nancy


In memory of my and Eva’s parents


Míla Rechcígl, past president of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), has been a productive researcher, historian and writer. I am grateful for his dedication in presenting and preserving little known facts about the history of Czech and Slovak immigration to the USA through his books, including his newest publication, Beyond the Sea of Beer: Immigration to and Settlement in the New World of Bohemians and Czechs and their Contributions.

This is a very comprehensive history of Czechs in America, from the time they first put foot on American soil, soon after the discovery of the New World, to date. Nothing like this has ever been published since the time Thomas Čapek wrote The Čechs (Bohemians) in America, some one hundred years ago.

Rechcígl´s work is a precious piece of the puzzle describing the rich history of the Czech-American community. Many of its members contributed through their hard work to the success of American society, its culture, economy, education, administration and research. It is fair to say that America´s win was Czechoslovakia’s loss. Waves of immigration to the US in 1948 and 1968 were mainly politically motivated; thereby, the country lost part of its elite.

With the end of the Communist regime in 1989, the Czech Republic has highly recognized the merits of those Americans of Czech origin who not only achieved great accomplishments in their fields, but selflessly assisted their homeland to develop into a modern, democratic and liberal society that is proud to share the values of the Western world.

I am deeply touched to see compatriots in the United States who tirelessly promote Czech and Slovak traditions and culture. Furthermore, I am proud to see the youngest generation of immigrants continuing to participate in Czech schools, with a network that has already spread to 16 US cities thanks to the support and grants from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I invite you to explore the land Beyond the Sea of Beer, especially so close to the 100th anniversary celebrations of Czechoslovak independence. During this time, it is important to reflect on the freedom born in 1918 through the invaluable Czech-American connection of first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and US President Woodrow Wilson. Through extraordinary circumstance, Czechs overcame great hardship to succeed and inspire future generations.

Petr Gandalovič

Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the US


Even though I consider myself an ‘old-dated’ Czech-American, I frequently recall from my younger days, the words of the tune from Voskovec & Werich, Tam za tím mořem piva (There, beyond the Sea of Beer), which does not require much imagination that I speak of America, at least among the Czechs. Those words brought to mind something distant, idyllic, and exotic, if not like a fairytale.

The purpose of this book is to acquaint the reader about the immigration from the

Historical Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the successor States of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, about the way they found their new home, where they settled, how they became acclimated to their pristine environment and their accomplishments. The reader will indeed find that in America one can achieve just about everything, however, not without arduous work, just as the Czech proverb says: Bez práce nejsou koláče (Without work there are no ‘kolaches’).

Someone’s notion that all people in America are millionaires and that, as Czechs say, "pečení holubi lítají do huby’ (baked pigeons fly into the mouth), meaning that ‘money grows on trees,’ however, is illusionary. When I grew up in Czechoslovakia, people did not spend every weekend in their cottages in the mountains, rather it was customary to work day and night, especially in rural areas and in business. This assiduous work ethic, which I vividly recall, and which the Czech immigrants brought with them to America, was the reason that they found relatively easily a foothold here and why they accomplished so much.

The desire to travel to America manifested itself soon after the discovery of the New World, for which they were prepared, by the works of Bohemian humanists, even before Columbus. Thus, in the fantastic travelogue of Václav Šašek of Biřkov, we read about the travels of Lev of Rožmitál through the Pyrenees Peninsula in 1466, when his expedition reached the village ’Stella obscura,’ where they learned about the dryland beyond the big sea. A few years later, Columbus, starting from the same place left to search for it and then discovered America. Claim was also made that the notable creator of a globe, Martin Behaim, whose name suggests his Bohemian origin, was supposed to have discovered the New World, even before Columbus, or, at least, that he furnished information to Columbus, without which the latter would never have reached the American Continent.

Johann Berger, born around 1502 in Osoblaha (Hotzenplotz), Moravia has the distinction, as being the first colonist from the Czechlands in the New World, when he took part as a soldier in the expedition of Hernán Cortés against the Aztecs in 1519.

It is also a proven fact that Czech miners from Jáchymov were already in Venezuela or Haiti in 1523, while searching for silver and other precious ores. A Bohemian colonist was not even absent during the first colonizing attempt of the English in North Carolina, some 35 years later, before the arrival of Pilgrims to New England.

The first Bohemian who settled in America permanently, as early as the end of the first half of the 17th century, could be found in the figure of Augustine Heřman. He became a legendary figure in New Amsterdam and later gained prominence with his famous map of Maryland, where he later moved. He was followed by many other pioneers, who, one way or another, distinguished themselves in the formative years of the US.

Mention also needs to be made of the meritorious work of the Bohemian Jesuits in Latin America, beginning in 1678 until 1766, after the Bohemian Province of the Society of Jesus was admitted to missionary work.

The first larger immigration wave to America began at the beginning of the 18th century, because of the persecution and the exile of the followers of the ancient Bohemian Unitas fratrum.

The mass migration to America from the Czechlands did not occur until after the Revolutionary Year of 1848, because of political disturbances and the unsatisfactory economic situation in Austria-Hungary, which continued through the first two decades in the 20th century. After twenty years of relative calm during the First Czechoslovak Republic, other emigration waves followed in 1939-40, caused by the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia and later, as a result of the Communist putsch in 1948 and after the Soviet invasion in 1968.

As the reader will learn, the beginnings of most immigrants and settlers in America were difficult, and, frequently quite harsh. Most of them came to America with empty pockets and often without much education. Nevertheless, in a relatively brief time of ardent work, they stood on their feet and, in time, worked their way through to better jobs. Many of them achieved important positions or excelled in their professions. Generally, one can conclude that Czech immigrants were real self-made people. In contrast to other ethnic groups, the Czech immigrants rarely suffered any minority complexes, just the contrary, most of them were quite proud of their family background and in the case of the Czech settlers in Texas, the latter thought of them as being better than their ‘Anglo-Saxon’ neighbors.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the pioneers and the second discusses the arrival and settlement of immigrants in various states and regions of America, and the establishment of Czech centers and communities. The third part is concerned with the social life and public and organizational activities of the settlers, and the fourth part is addressed to diverse types of immigrants and their contribution to America.

The reader will find lots of current information in this book which is not available elsewhere. I hope that the book will bring not only information but also pleasure, and that it will correct frequently distorted views about Czech Americans and their efforts, and, I also hope that it may inspire the readers to seek higher horizons through their work, just as self-made Czech-Americans achieved, often under most wearisome and adverse conditions. I think the monograph will also inspire students and historians to further serious studies on this theme.




1. How Czechs Discovered the New World

Discovery of New World

As surprising, as it may sound to most, according to some scholars, Czechs could actually claim some credit for the discovery of the New World. I am referring to German author Franz Löher ¹ who made the claim that Martin Behaim, rather than Columbus, or for that matter Amerigo Vespucci, was the true discoverer of America. Löher celebrates Behaim, whom he considers to be a German, not only as the first European to view the coast of America off Brazil in the year 1483 but also as the instructor in western navigation of both putative later discoverers and explorers, Columbus and Magellan.

Although Löher’s claim was later disputed, and even ridiculed, Behaim was known to take part in the expedition of Diego Cap (1485 – 1486) which followed the coast of Africa to Cape Cross. His most important work, which places him among the greatest geographers of the Renaissance, was his terrestrial globe, the earliest extant known, which has been preserved in Nuremberg. What role this globe played in the actual discovery of the New World is not known.

As the name indicates, Behaim was not a German, at all, but rather a Bohemian. The name Behaim is the old German equivalent of the later used term Boehme (i.e. Bohemian) which, prior to the usage of family surnames, was commonly used to designate individuals coming from Bohemia or the Czech Lands. According to the family tradition the Behaim family moved to Nuremberg from Bohemia after the death of the Czech Duke Vratislav I. ²

News about Discovery of New World

Long before Columbus, Czech people were being prepared for the discovery of the New World by the writings of Czech humanists. Among these works is the fictive travelogue of Václav Šašek of Biřkov, describing the journey of Leo of Rožmitál through the Pyrenean Peninsula in 1466. There we can read how, setting out from the city of St. James, Leo of Rožmitál, with his companions, visited the hill Stella Obscura, which has a large settlement extending beneath it, known as Finis Terrae (the end of the world), since beyond it there is nothing but an immense ocean, whose limits are known only to God. The eye sees nothing more than the sky and water. The sea is said to be so stormy that it is impossible to sail across it, and therefore no one knows what might be beyond it. They told us that some people wished to learn what was there on the other side and they ventured out on galleys and on ships. But not a single one of them is said to have come back.

In the same travelogue, Václav Šašek refers to legends about a land beyond the sea, which is said to be mentioned in chronicles. One Portuguese King sent out four ships for four years. After two years’ sailing, the ships were enveloped in darkness, in which the sailors sailed for two weeks. Then they landed on an island, where they found houses built underground, on top of which were gardens and vineyards. When they sailed away from there, they found terrifying waves and they resolved that two of their ships would explore them. The third stayed behind and waited until the others came back. For 16 days the sailors waited in vain for their companions and two years later returned to Lisbon.

Be that as it may, the news of the discovery of the new World reached the Kingdom of Bohemia as early as the first decade of the 16th century, during the reign of Vladislav the Jagellonian (1471 – 1516). ³

Definite proof of this is given by the existence of an early print in the Czech language, Spis o nowých zemiech a o nowém swietie o niemžto jsm prwe žádné známosti neměli ani kdy tzo slýchali (Description of New World), the origin of which was placed between 1505 and 1508.lt is an adaptation of the renown letter of Amerigo Vespucci addressed to the Medici family, appended with other texts. The Czech version apparently preceded the other European nations in this regard since only the Latin original exists from that period. The printer and publisher of this rare print is purported to be Mikuláš Bakalář, originally Štětina, of Pilsen, Bohemia.

We previously had no knowledge or account of it. Dobrovský mentions the author in his Geschichte der böhmischen Sprache und alteren Literatur (History of Early Czech Language and Literature) (1818) but gives nothing except the title. ⁵ This rare publication was quite obscure and actually became lost.

It was rediscovered only in 1911 when the librarian of the Strahov Monastery in Prague, Cyril Straka, chanced upon it. It was reprinted in 1926. ⁶ The original, reproduced in Strahov’s edition in splendid facsimile, has on the title page a woodcut of a sailboat with a number of sailors. It is a thin booklet of 16 pages, beautifully and neatly printed, of fine workmanship and great artistic value.

It is, in fact, a paraphrase of the letter by Amerigo Vespucci, generally known a Mundus Novus, which is, however, here expanded to include additional facts. The publication shows that the author was acquainted with Columbus’ travels, despite the fact that his name is not mentioned there. He writes about five large islands in the Caribbean and that the local population is peaceable and kind. Women and men all walk around naked, not covering any parts of their bodies, but just the way that they were born—that is how they walk about until the day they die. Their bodies are large and well proportioned and they are of a reddish color and that, I imagine, is due to the fact that since they walk around without any clothes they are burnt by the sun and so appear to be red. Their hair is black and long. They walk rapidly and freely and with joyful expressions. But they disfigure their own faces by perforating their cheeks, lips, noses and ears.

About the women he speaks with disdain, criticizing them for being too sensuous; however their bodies are noble and clean. We further learn that those people have no private possessions, but hold everything in common. They live without any king, each being his own master. They have as many women as they wish and as often as they like they divorce their wives, not abiding by any law.

And, furthermore, there is no metal there except for gold. And they told us that in the midst of these lands there is much gold. They also have plenty of pearls.

The book ends with a paean to the King of Spain, who is said to have sent a large quantity of cloth and canvas on many ships into these countries, in order to clothe these naked folk. He also sent various artisans there, as well as many wise men, in order that they should teach this brutish folk human customs and morals….

In 1554 a book was published in Bohemia, entitled Czech Cosmography, prepared by Zigmund of Púchov, being based on the German Cosmographie of Sebestian Munster. It is a remarkable work for its time and of particular interest for us is the chapter entitled About the new islands, how, when and by whom they were discovered. The book documents the fact that the New World lies westward from Spain… almost in the middle between Hispania and India, as anyone can easily see on a globe…. The islands lie to the East of India and therefore also some of them are called the Indies.

We learn here how Christopher Columbus conceived the idea of looking for new islands, thus far unknown and of his difficulties in getting funding for his voyage. The book contains precise information on all of Columbus’ voyages, as well as on the voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, on the rivalry between the kings of Spain and of Portugal and a great city of the Aztec empire by the name of ‘Temixtitan;’ it also describes the Spanish exploitation and oppression of the native population.

New reports on the New World were published in the History of the Voyages to America, also known as Brasilia, based on the work of Jean de Lery, translated from the Latin into Czech and arranged in 1590 by two followers of the Czech Brethren, Pavel Slovák and Matěj Cyr. To their translation they added two forewords, in which they endeavor to defend the Indians against their Spanish and Portuguese colonizers. It is interesting that both Czech Brethren themselves set out on a voyage across the Atlantic, as they write in their account entitled Islandia.

Not even at the end of the 16th century was Columbus’ priority in the discovery of America generally acknowledged. For example, the Czech humanist Mikuláš Dačický z Heslova states, in 1580, that Franciscus Drago, an excellent English knight, having set out on the sea, reached India America, a newly discovered world…. A decade later another humanist, Daniel Adam of Veleslavín, published his Historical Calendar, in which he mentions how in 1497 Americus Vespuccius set sail to look for new islands and found this new land, thus far unknown, which has been named America after him and for its size is deemed to be the fourth continent. Elsewhere he again writes, that "in the year 1500 Petrus Alnarus Capralis, the captain of the Portuguese army, sails to India for the second time and, swept from his path by a sea storm, found where the sun sets on the Island of the New World, known as Brasilia. In his World Chronicle the same chronicler again writes that in 1533 Spanish mariners discovered some islands where they are said to have found gold and silver and the Spaniard took these islands by force and brought them under the sway of the Emperor.

Some of these inaccuracies would surely have been corrected in the huge encyclopedic work of Jan Amos Comenius, entitled Theatrum universitatis rerum, which Comenius began to write in 1616-1618, but which he never completed due to the catastrophic consequences of the Battle of White Mountain. The plan of his intended work testifies to the fact that he wished to devote particular attention to America.

From all this it clearly follows that the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Bohemia were informed about the New World at a very early date, which was surely the reason why a number of individuals soon set out to visit the New World, some of them even settling in America permanently.

A number of archival documents, in former Czechoslovakia, enriched by the recent find of manuscripts from the 16th century regarding the discovery of America, prove that not only in Bohemia, but also in Slovakia, there was knowledge about the newly discovered continent. ⁷ In this connection, of particular interest is the so called Codex bratislavensis, deposited in the Central Library of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. It contains valuable information about the navigation of the Portuguese and Spaniards to the New World, including a Latin description of the voyage to Cuba and Grijalva’s discovery of Yucatan. ⁸

2. First Visitors and Colonists from the Lands of the Bohemian Crowns

It is often claimed that, prior to the revolutionary year of 1848, very few immigrants came to America from the historical Czechlands of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Here is an account of early immigration of Bohemians, as the Czechs were then known, to North American shores in the preceding years.

The First Bohemian Visitors in the New World

Johann Berger (ca. 1502 – d.), a native of Osoblaha (Hotzenplotz), Moravia, in 1519, took part as a soldier in the expedition of Hernán Cortés (1485-1547) against Aztecs. He was presumably 17 years of age when he arrived in Mexico (Spaniards landed at Vera Cruz on March 1519), where he fell into French captivity. After being freed, he took part in the exploration and battles in Venezuela and Columbia and subsequently returned to Mexico. He settled in the town Pueblo de Los Ángeles, where he became a local corregiodor (Royal judge).

The first group of visitors from the Czechlands in the New World was an anonymous group of miners from Jáchymov, Bohemia who, prior to 1528, were sent to Little Naples (present Venezuela) to establish the silver mines in that country, while in the employ of the banking house of the Walser family.¹⁰ The project apparently ended with failure since during a short time the Walsers gave up their efforts of mining silver there and thus the miners returned home.

We also have a record from that period regarding a Moravian jeweler in Mexico who was accused, in 1536 of heresy and sentenced to do public penance and expulsion from the Spanish territory. ¹¹

The First Bohemian Colonist in the Territory of the US

The first documented case of the entry of a Bohemian on the North American shores is that of Joachim Gans of Prague who came to Roanoke, NC in 1585 with an expedition of explorers, organized by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618) and commanded by Raleigh’s cousin Sir Richard Grenville (1542 – 1591). It is noteworthy that this expedition originated from Plymouth, England, thirty years before the Pilgrims set sails from the same port on their historic voyage to America. Due to lack of provisions for the colonists and the inherent dangers from the Spaniards and the Indians the expedition had to be abruptly called to an end on June 19, 1586 when Sir Francis Drake (1516 – 1590) was asked to take the entire company of colonists back to England.¹²

Bohemian Settlers in 17th Century

New Amsterdam – Who was the first Czech permanent settler in America we cannot say with certainty. What is certain, however, is that among the first settlers was the famed Augustine Heřman (1621-1686) from Prague. He was a surveyor and skilled draftsman, successful planter and developer of new lands, a shrewd and enterprising merchant, a bold politician and effective diplomat, fluent in several languages – clearly one of the most conspicuous and colorful personalities of the seventeenth century colonial America. After coming to New Amsterdam (present New York) he became one of the most influential people in the Dutch Province which led to his appointment to the Council of Nine to advise the New Amsterdam Governor. One of his greatest achievements was his celebrated map of Maryland and Virginia commissioned by Lord Baltimore on which he began working in earnest after moving to the English Province of Maryland. Lord Baltimore was so pleased with the map that he rewarded Heřman with a large estate, named by Heřman ‘Bohemia Manor,’ and the hereditary title Lord. ¹³

There was another Bohemian living in New Amsterdam at that time, Frederick Philipse (1626 – 1720), who became equally famous, in his own right. He was a successful merchant who, eventually, became the wealthiest person in the entire Dutch Province. ¹⁴ His origin, just as that of Heřman’s, is clouded in mystery. Most genealogists are convinced that he was of Bohemian origin. The famous Supreme Court Justice and diplomat John Jay, whose mother was the daughter of Philipse’s step-daughter, and who subsequently married Philipse’s granddaughter, was convinced of that. In his biography, reproduced by his son William Jay, there is the unequivocal statement that Friederick Philipse was originally from Bohemia, from an aristocratic Protestant family who had to leave their native land to save their lives, after the Thirty Year War. ¹⁵

Even before the arrival of the above two, in 1637, Burger Jorisz from Hirschberg, Silesia arrived in New Amsterdam. For some time, he worked in the colony of Rensselaerswyck. He was a smith and was secured as smith of Rensselaerswyck to take the place of Cornelis Thomasz, who had been killed by his helper Hans van Sevenhuysen, on the voyage out at Ilfracombe, Dec. 8, 1636.

The terms upon, which Burger Jorisz was engaged, were as follows: Inasmuch as Cornelis Tomassen died and Arent Steveniersen, who married the widow does not understand smith’s work, the council of the colony have decided to turn the iron and coal and all the tools over to Burger Jorisen Smit at 50% advance in price, and to let him do the work at the rates paid by freemen at the Manhatans, to wit: pound work at six stivers, nails at 10 stivers a hundred, braces at 12 stivers, double braces at 28 stivers and other work proportionately, and this till the patron makes different arrangements. In the year 1637, the 26th of May, and was signed, Jacob Albertsen Planck, Pieter Cornelissen, X the mark of Dirck Jansen.

Burger Jorisz’ account in the colony runs from June 4, 1637, to Aug. 18, 1639, when he turned over his tools to Reyer Stoffelsz and moved to Manhattan. On Dec. 18, 1639, he married in New Amsterdam Engeltje Mans from Sweden, as shown in the marriage records of the Reformed Dutch Church of New York. He was one of the few inhabitants of New York who got the great Burgher’s right (1658). He was prominent in public life.

Prior to arrival of Augustine Herman or Frederick Philipse, there may have been other settlers in New Amsterdam. Thus in the archives of the Reformed Dutch Church there is a notation of the marriage of Moravian Jeurian (probably Jiří) Fradell and Tryn Hersker. ¹⁶A few years later, there is another notation relating the marriage of the widower Jeurian Simon Fradell, who is probably identical with Jeurian Fradell, mentioned earlier.¹⁷

Dutch chronicles also abound with other Czech-sounding names, such as Hollar, Adam, Unkelbe, Kostlo, Loketka, etc. ¹⁸

In 1654, Juriaen Probasco (1627–1664), also from Silesia, immigrated to New Amsterdam.

Other Locations – Footsteps of Czech colonists can also be found in Barbados in the West Indies, occupied by the British in 1625. The 1635 passenger list of the ship Expedition includes the name of Richard Benes. The church records of the Church of Christ in Barbados include such names as John Hudlice, Edward Marsan and Anthony Slany.¹⁹ Nothing is known where they came from and what their fate was.

Czechs must have also been in Colonial Virginia. For example there is a reference to the purchase of land in Northampton County by one Christopher Donak, just as that of his co-traveler John Doza. Ann Dubes, in turn, purchased land in Lancaster County in 1652, John Duch and Anna Simco settled Northcumberland County, he in 1660 and she in 1653.²⁰

The old records of the City of Boston mention the name Matthew Cenig (probably Čeněk), who died in Massachusetts in 1654.²¹ Similarly Czechs settled in the State of Connecticut. ²²

In 1656, Balthazar De Wolf (ca 1620-1696), a native of Sagan, Silesia, came to Hartford, CT, having arrived from Holland. In 1664 he settled in Wethersfield, CT and in 1668, he removed to Lyme. CT. Some of his descendants (Simon, Nathan and Jehiel) immigrated to Grand Pre, NS, Canada.

Before 1692, John Heny Burchsted (1657-1721), of Silesia, must have already immigrated to Lynn, Essex Co., MA because he was married there that year.

Latin America – Jiří Kryštof Kaplíř from Sulevice (?-1649), b. Bohemia, is thought of being one of the first Czechs to enter Brazil in 1647.

Šimon Kohout z Lichtenfeldu (-1648), b. Bohemia, was a Prague physician who came to Brazil in 1647 where he soon died from swamp fever.

Bohemian Settlers in First Half of the 18th Century

New York – In 1709, Matthias Kreisler (later Crisler), from Silesia, arrived with his family, at Kingston, Long Island, NY. He and his two younger sons, David and Michael, moved to the land grant, located in the center of the present city of Madison, Madison County, Virginia, in the early German settlement of 1714-1726 on the Robinson River and White Oak Run which was then in the County of Spotsylvania, Colony of Virginia, where they joined other early colonists of 1717 and received a land grant just Northeast of Madison.

About 1740, two Bohemian Jews, Uriah Hyam, a merchant, and Elias Wollin, a practicing dentist, resided in New York.

Several ships bringing Moravian Brethren to America also landed in New York, however, none of the Brethren remained there and continued on their way to Pennsylvania.

Georgia – Moravian Brethren, to whom a separate Chapter is devoted, initially began settling in Georgia at the end of the forties, from where, in a few years, they removed to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania was a domain of Moravian Brethren, who began to move there after 1740. They are discussed in a separate Chapter. Besides them, there were other settlers in Pennsylvania who settled there in the first half of the 18th century, including Philip Otts, Styer (Steiger), Schoenfeldt, Wildfang, Bush, and Boehm, who are discussed in the Chapter dealing with Pennsylvania.

Maryland – There were several individuals from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia living in Maryland, including George Waschke, Andreas Schmidt, Frederick Schoenfelt, John George Karns and Bernard Winterringer. They are discussed in the Chapter on Maryland.

Virginia – In 1728, Matthais Crisler (-1759) from Silesia and his two younger sons, David and Michael removed to the land grant located in the center of the present city of Madison, Madison County, Virginia. He originally immigrated to Germantown, PA.²³

No other settlers came from the Czechlands, until the second part of the 18th century.

South Carolina – There were a few Bohemian immigrants who settled in the first part of the18th century in South Carolina, including Johann Peter Varn and Michael Meyer, who are discussed in the Chapter dealing with South Carolina.

Louisiana –There were several Bohemian and Moravian immigrants, who settled in Louisiana in the first part of the 18th century, i.e., Balthazar Menthe, Henry Hauptmann, Marcus Thiel and Jakob Hans Tuček. They are discussed in the Louisiana Chapter.

3. Bohemian Jesuits

During the anti-Reformation period, while the Czech Protestants in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia were undergoing their greatest persecution, the Czech Jesuits took the initiative of launching their extraordinary ambitious missionary worldwide effort among Indians, Filipinos, Chinese, and Ethiopians. ²⁴

The Bohemian Province of the Society of Jesus sent 160 of its members oversees, among whom, 36 went to Mexico, 3 to Lower California (now a part of Mexico), 3 to New Granada (present Venezuela), 17 to Ecuador, 17 to Peru, 26 to Paraguay, 12 to Chile, 9 to China, 7 to Annam (present Vietnam), 4 to Goa and 2 to the coast of Malabar. Half of them were clergymen and half were lay Brethren, trained in some trade or craft. ²⁵

Bohemian Jesuits in Latin America

Valentin Stansel (1621-1705) was apparently the first Jesuit who worked in Latin America. After joining the Jesuit Order, he became a professor of rhetoric and mathematics in Olomouc, Moravia and, later, in Prague. After ordination, he opted for missionary work in India and left for Portugal where he awaited the arrival of a ship. In the meantime, he taught astronomy at the University in Evora. When his trip to India did not materialize, he was sent in 1657 to Brazil and taught at the Jesuit College and Seminary in Bahia (present Salvador). First, he held the position of a professor of moral theology and later was promoted to Chancellor. In addition to his teaching career, he also conducted research in astronomy and made several important discoveries, especially of comets. Some of his observations were subsequently published in Prague, under the title Observationes Americanae Cometae.²⁶

A steady stream of missionaries began leaving for Latin America, soon after the Bohemian Societatis Jesu was admitted there for the missionary work in 1644. Among the first Missionaries selected were Matiáš Kukulín from Mohelnice, Moravia, Václav Christman from Prague, Pavel Klein from Cheb, Bohemia, Josef Neumann from Olomouc, Moravia, Augustin Strobach from Jihlava, Moravia, and Jan Tilpe from Silesia. Later, the group was joined by Brother Šimon Boruhradský from Polná, Bohemia. In June 1678, the group left Genoa, Italy and from there they sailed to Portugal. They were beset with difficulties from the start. One vessel, with numerous missionaries on board, was wrecked immediately after setting sail, and the voyagers barely escaped. Only a few missionaries succeeded in persuading the captain of the ship San Ignacio to take them on board. After many difficulties, they finally arrived in October 1680 in Mexico City, the capital city of New Spain.

Christman remained in Latin America until the end of his life in 1723 and spent most of that time in Paraguay. Klein later left for the Philippine Islands. Both Tilpe and Strobach removed to Pacific Coast and sailed to Mariana Islands where they met Kukulín. Neumann with Boruhradský remained in Mexico.

The second group of Czech Jesuits began their journey to Latin America in 1684, their destination being Peru and Chile. The group included Jiří Burger, Ignat Fritz and Václav Richter from Moravia and Jiří Brand and Ondřej Suppetius from Silesia. They were followed by other groups, destined for New Granada (present Columbia), Venezuela, Brazil and other countries in Latin America, to broaden their missionary work.

Among these Missionaries, Šimon Boruhradsky’s name will be forever remembered in Mexican history, for his melioration structures that saved several cities from devastating floods and his part in the rebuilding of the vice-regent’s palace, after Indians burned it down.

Jiří Hostinský’s abilities were extremely useful during the negotiations with Indians of the powerful Tarahunwa Tribe. Josef Neumann from Valašské Klobouky was an outstanding authority on Indian dialects, who was credited with writing the history of the uprising of this tribe, while Matěj Steffel compiled a dictionary of their language and Adam Gilg of Rýmařov, Moravia did the same, with reference to the dialects of Pinas and Eudeve tribes.

The third group of Bohemian Jesuits went to Mexico in 1686. It included Father Adam Gilg, the father of the first map of Pimeria and three dictionaries of the Indian language, Maxmilian Amarell and Father Jiří Hostinský, a poet in Tarahumara.

The fourth group of Bohemian Jesuits, consisting primarily of physicians and pharmacists, left for Philippines. It included Jiří Camel, Jan Haller, Vilém Illig, Jan Keller, Pavel Klein and Jan Verdier.

The fifth group, which left for Tarahumara, included Father Václav Eymer, Johann Steinhöfer, Jan Gintzel and Daniel Januska.

The sixth group of Bohemian Jesuits left for Latin America in 1693.It included Frantisek Boryně and Václav Bryer, who served as missionaries, for a long time and were admired by the Indians. Other members of the group were Jesuits Stanislav Arlet, Vojtěch Eusebius Bukovský, František Vydra, Marek Žourek (or Jan John).

In the region of today’s Venezuela several Czech missionaries excelled, including Vojtěch Bukovský, a scion of an old family of Bohemian Knights of Hustiřany, Bohemia, Jindřich Václav Richter from Prostějov, Moravia and Samuel Fritz from Trutnov, Bohemia. Fritz succeeded in converting, among others, the powerful tribe of Omaguas and in concentrating into civilized settlements the savages of forty different localities. An adept in technical arts and handicraft, he also was endowed with extraordinary linguistic abilities, supplemented by the rare gift of knowing intuitively how to treat the Indians. In 1689, he undertook, in primitive Parakou, a daring expedition down the Amazon to Para, where he was captured and imprisoned for two years on the suspicion of being a Spanish spy. Although only imperfectly equipped with the necessary instruments, he completed a relatively accurate chart of the river’s course. This was the first such attempt to chart the Maranon territory.²⁷

Among Czech missionaries in Peru excelled Stanislav Arlet from Silesia, the founder of San Pedro, and František Boryně from Lhota, Bohemia. According to his contemporaries, Boryně worked more effectively than twenty missionaries altogether, converting to Christianity over 100 different tribes. He founded a whole series of new posts, built beautiful churches, introduced new agricultural practices and new trades, taught native women how to spin flax and men how to weave. Brother Jan Roehr from Prague was responsible for preparing the architectural plans of the famed cathedral in Lima, after its destruction by the earthquake of 1746. František Eder of Kremnice will be remembered for writing an authoritative account of the hard and distressful life in the Majos Mission where the missionaries resembled living corpses rather than human beings.

Jiří Burger from Vyškov in Moravia served in the Chilean province. His Spanish far exceeded that of most native speakers. In 1700, he was put in charge of the College in Chillan. Father Supetius from Silesia, who held the position of a Chancellor of the Jesuit College in Santiago, wrote, with pride, in one of his letters: All of us, who came here from the Bohemian Province, can truthfully confirm that the native Fathers in Chile of Spanish parentage love, and hold in high esteem the Czechs, above all other nations, even above European Spaniards, which is among these people extremely rare… Jan Josef Čermák from Moravské Budějovice and Václav Horský from Hradec Králové deserve mention of the Czechs serving here. It is of note that the Czech missionaries participated in the rebuilding of the Jesuit state of Paraguay, called by Voltaire a ‘victory of humanity’ even though he was a deadly enemy of the Jesuits. Several Czechs were active here, including Václav Christman from Prague, Jan John from Jaroměř and Jindřich Kordule from Beštvina.

Selected Bohemian Jesuits

Stanislaus (Stanislav) Arlet (1652-1717), b. Opole, Silesia, a Bohemian Jesuit, joined the S.J. Order in 1679. He studied philosophy in Prague and theology in Olomouc, Moravia. He left for mission work in Peru in 1693. Just like F. Boryně, he worked on the territory of the Moxos Indians. He established his own reduction, which he named San Pedro. Later he worked as a rector of the Jesuit College in La Plata.

Franciscus Borinie (František Boryně) (1663-1721), b. Malonice, Bohemia, a Bohemian missionary, studied philosophy in Olomouc and theology in Prague. In 1695, he was sent with other missionaries to Peru, where he remained until he died in 1722. He worked among the Indians of Moxos tribe in Bolivia. The first 7 years he spent in St. Francisco de Borja Mission, Bolivia. He then founded San Pablo Mission in Beni, North Bolivia, where he arrived in 1703.He was one of the best missionaries who christened hundreds of unknown Indian tribes, according to his contemporaries. On two occasions, he was wounded by Indian arrows, and to illustrate the remoteness of his station, he complained to a friend in Prague that, for 23 years, he had been away, he had received no news from Bohemia. He died on July 26, 1721 in the mission.

Šimon Boruhradský (1650-1697), b. Polná, Bohemia, a Bohemian Jesuit joined the S.J. Order in 1670. Brother Boruhradský was sent as a missionary to Mexico, where he changed his name to Simón de Castro. He started as treasurer of Jesuit College but is best known as an architect and builder. He died on his way to Marian Islands.

Jiří Brand (1654-1690), b. Wartemberg, Silesia, entered the S.J. in 1670. He studied philosophy in Prague and theology in Olomouc. In 1684, he left, together with other missionaries, for Peru. He worked among the Moxos Indians in the reduction of St. Jacob. He died in Santiago, Chile.

Jiří Burger (1654-1720), b. Vyškov, Moravia, a Bohemian Jesuit missionary, entered S.J. in 1669. He was sent to South America in 1684 and served in the Chilean province and in Peru. His Spanish far exceeded that of most native speakers. In 1700, he was put in charge of a college in Chillan.

Václav Christman (Chrisman) (1647-1723), b. Prague, Bohemia, entered the S.J. Order in 1664. He was one of the earliest Jesuit missionaries in Latin America. He worked in Paraguay in the reduction of San Loreto among Guarani Indians. Later he worked as a director of a school at Santa Fé.

Juan de Esteyneffer (orig. Jan Steinhöffer) (1664-1716), b. Jihlava, Moravia, was a lay Bohemian Jesuit, who joined the S.J. Order in 1684. He studied pharmacy in Brno, Moravia. He was sent to the Jesuit College at Chihuahua to help care for elderly and ill missionaries. While there, he compiled the Florilegio Medicinal, completing it in 1711, with the first publication in 1712. The work combined traditional European Materia Medica and the New World medical lore with what was then modern medical science, and anthropologist Margarita Artschwager Kay posits that it served to standardize herbal therapy in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Esteyneffer died in 1716, while visiting Sonora.

Wenceslao (Václav) Eymer (1661-1709), b. Mělník, Bohemia, a Bohemian Jesuit Father, entered the S. J. Order in 1768. In 1692, traveled to Tarahumara, Mexico, where he served as the missionary for over thirty years. He took up work in Arisiachi mission, a little west of Papigochi. Despite his busy schedule, he found time to explore the surrounding regions. Through his observations of natural phenomena, he concluded that California was a peninsula and not, as was claimed, an island. Challenging that huge myth, Eymer proclaimed: Away now with British temerity, with her English Drake and let him keep silent who boasts that he has circumnavigated California, as if, by a foolish fiction, California were the Atlantis of the West. He died in Papigochi in 1709.

Samuel Fritz (1654-1725), b. Trutnov, Bohemia, a Bohemian Jesuit, in 1684, was sent to Quito. He is noted for his exploration of the Amazon River and its basin.

Adam Gilg (1653-ca 1710), b. Rýmařov, Moravia, a Bohemian Jesuit, entered the S. J. Order in 1670. He was sent, to assist Father Francisco Eusebio Kino, soon after his arrival in Mexico. He started his work in Guaymas on the coast but in 1688, he moved into the interior, to the region of the Indian tribe Seri. He also worked in the mission of Santa Maria del Populo on the River Sonora. In 1699, he accompanied Kino on the expedition toward the rivers Gile and Colorado (present Arizona). In 1700 and 1701, he was Superior of the San Francisco mission, south of his original station. In 1704, he consecrated the newly built churches of Nuestra Seňora de los Remedios and Nuestra Seňora del Pilar in central Pimeria, south of border, which now divides Arizona from Sonora. In 1706, he was a rector in Mátape. He compiled a dictionary of the dialects of Pinas and Eudeve tribes.

Jan Gintzel (1660-1743), b. Chomutov, Bohemia, a Bohemian Jesuit, entered S.J. in 1676 and studied theology in Prague (1687-90). He went by way of Lisbon to Brazil, arriving in Bahia in 1694. He was active in many places, also among Tupuyos Indians at Rio San Francisco. In one of his letters, he complained: The more you do for them, the worse they are. They value horse or cow more than God. To church you get them only by beating or by threats.

Jiří Hostinský (1652-1726), b. Valašské Klobouky, Moravia, a Bohemian Jesuit, was sent as a missionary to Mexico in 1686, arriving in Veracruz. His center of activities was Tarahumara in the Cajurichi settlement. In 1690, his life was saved, only through receiving a timely warning, that a storm broke out in the region. He then moved to the region further northwest, called Pimeria Alta. In 1693, he was director of the mission at San Ignacio on Rio Magdalena. In 1694, he participated at consecration ceremony of the church of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, located in southern Arizona. In 1697, in another rebellion, he again escaped in time. Subsequently he worked in the region Chínipas, surrounded by high mountains on all sides, where he held the office of superior of the mission. Later he returned to Tarahumara and became Superior of the mission of Santa Tomás, near Papigochi (1721-26). Hostinský wrote four accounts dealing with the missions and a monograph entitled Ophirium. He died in Papigochi in November 1726.

Daniel Januschke (Januška) (1661-1724), b. Silesia, a Bohemian Jesuit missionary, entered the S. J. Order in Breslau in 1676. He was sent to Mexico in 1692. He was located at mission of San Pedro Tubutama, west of the mission of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, in today’s southern Arizona. He was first assigned to the Tarahumara, but after the rebellion of 1690, he came to Tubutama in the spring of 1693. He left there after the revolt of 1695 and was at Teópare in the Sierra in 1697 and 1698. By 1702, he had moved to Oposura where he remained until at least 1721 and probably until his death in March 1724.

Jan John (1655-1702), b. Jaroměř, Bohemia, a Bohemian Jesuit, entered S. J. in 1672. In 1691, he sailed from Cardiz, arriving at Buenos Aires in April. He first worked at the mission of St. Thomas and then at the mission of St. Anna. He died in San Diego.

Jindřich Kordule (1658-1727), b. Běstviny, Bohemia, entered the S.J. in 1675. He studied philosophy in Olomouc and theology in Prague and was ordained priest in 1687. In 1689, he left Bohemia for missionary work in Latin America. Later he worked in Paraguay in the Chiantitoc mission, together with another Bohemian Jesuit Jan Neumann. Since 1714, he worked in the reduction of San Ignacio. In 1724, he became consultant of the Parana mission.

Wenceslao Linck (Link) (1736-1797), b. Nejdek, Bohemia, a Bohemian Jesuit, joined the S.J. Order in 1754 and studied in Brno and in Prague, and later in Mexico City and Puebla (1756-61). In 1762 he was sent to Baja California, initially to Santa Gertruidis and then he moved north to found the Mission of San Francisco de Borja (1762-68), in the center of the San Borja Desert at the watering hole of Adac. Over the next five years Linck undertook a series of exploring expeditions to scout future missions and resolve geographical puzzles. In 1766, he was ordered, to proceed over land to the Colorado River. He proceeded as far as the region of San Bonaventura, located in Ventura, California. He returned to Bohemia, when the Jesuits were expelled in 1768. He died in Olomouc in February 1797.

Joseph Neumann (1648-1732), b. Brussels, Belgium, became member of the Bohemian Province of Jesuits in 1663 and studied philosophy in Prague and theology in Olomouc, Moravia. At the age of 33 he took up missionary work and his activities spread over more than 50 years in Mexico. He worked for 12 years at the Sisoguichi mission. In 1693, he arrived at Carichi mission, where he remained until his death in 1732. During his long hard work, Neumann was several times Mission Superior and visitor. He founded new centers and initiated younger priests into the work. Neumann was considered a model of the permanent missionaries and one of the pillars upon which the missions in Tarahumara rested. In 1724, University of Prague published his history dealing with the uprisings of Tarahumera tribes, under the title Historia Seditionum

Jan Röhr (Rehr) (1692-1762), joined the S.J. in 1709. He studied philosophy in Olomouc and theology in Prague. He left for missionary work to South America in 1723. Since 1724, he worked as a missionary in Peru among the Moxos Indians. He was a noted mathematician and architect in Lima, Peru. He also wrote a meteorological treatise in Spanish, entitled El Conocimiento de los Tiempos.

Henricus (Jindřich Václav) Richter (1653-1696), b. Prostějov, Moravia, studied at Univ. of Prague, entered the Society of Jesus in 1670 and was sent, in 1684, to work in the Peruvian mission territory, known as Minas. He arrived together with Samuel Fritz, a fellow Bohemian Jesuit, and the two together became the most outstanding mission builders in the Peruvian Amazon basin in the 17th century. Richter was sent to work along the Ucayali River, which is a major north-south tributary of the Maraňón and Amazon Rivers. Based in Laguna, he worked especially among Conibos, but also had contact with the Piros and the Campas. In 12 years he founded nine reductions (a mission town), along the Ucayali River. Richter was killed by Piro Indians, who were incited by a Canibo, whose wife had been stolen by a Spanish soldier. Richter, who was considered the Apostle of the Ucayli, wrote catechisms and vocabularies in the languages of Conibo, Piro, Campa and Cocama Indians.

Mathias Steffel (1734-1806), b. Jihlava, a Bohemian Jesuit, joined the S.J. Order in 1754. In 1755, he left for New Spain, specifically for Mexico. He worked among the Tarahumara Indians. He compiled a dictionary of their languages, as well as their grammar. He returned to Brno in 1768, having been evicted, together with the other Jesuits. He died in Brno in 1806.

Andreas (Ondřej) Suppetius (1654-1712), b. Ratiboř, Silesia, a Bohemian missionary, was sent to South America where he remained from 1684 to 1712. He held the position of Chancellor at the Jesuit College in Santiago, Chile.


This narrative hardly touches on the varied activities of Czech missionaries in Latin America, nor does it do justice to the hardships and stress and the inhumane conditions under which they had to live - in impenetrable jungles, under the most severe climatic conditions, often exposed to incurable diseases, not to mention frequent hunger and constant dangers by wild Indians.

4. Moravian Brethren

The first significant wave of Czech colonists to come to America was that of the Moravian Brethren²⁸ who began arriving on the American shores in the first half of the 18" century. Moravian Brethren were the followers of the teachings of the Czech religious reformer and martyr Jan Hus (1370-1415) and John Amos Komenský, known as Comenius (1592-1670), and the true heirs of the ancient Unitas fratrum bohemicorum, ²⁹ who found temporary refuge in Herrnhut (‘Ochranov’ in Czech language) ³⁰ in Lusatia ³¹ (Lužice’ in Czech) under the patronage of Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf (1700-1760). ³² Because of the worsening political and religious situation in Saxony, the Moravian Brethren, as they began calling themselves, had to seek a more permanent home and also fresh territory where they could freely profess their faith and expand their mission activities. The North American continent, with its abundance of fertile land and large Indian population, was ideally suited for their aims.

After initial visits to St. Thomas in 1732 and Greenland in 1733, ten selected Brethren ³³ sailed in November 1734 to the English province of Georgia, arriving in Savannah in February 1735. In the summer of the same year a second group, under the leadership of Bishop David Nitschmann, followed. This group comprised twenty-five persons, majority of whom were from Moravia or Bohemia. In the summer of the same year reinforcement followed, under the leadership of Bishop David Nitschmann. The second group comprised twenty-five persons, most of them again from Moravia or Bohemia. Among the passengers on the ship was John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist Church, who became acquainted with the Brethren, attended their services, worshiped with them, and lived in their homes during his initial stay in Georgia.

Through the efforts of Bishop Nitschmann, the Brethren were soon organized into a congregation. He also ordained Brother Anton Seiffert (1712-1785), a native of Bohemia, to the Ministry, placing him in charge of the congregation. The service performed by the Moravian Bishop is thought to be the earliest record of a regular ordination performed by Bishop of the Christian Church in the English colonies of North America. The Moravians immediately went to work and within a brief time were not only able to take care of their needs and maintenance but even repaid the moneys advanced to them in London. Moreover, they offered their helping hand to newly arrived immigrants. At the same time, they erected a schoolhouse for the Indian children and proceeded with their plans to preach the gospel to the Indians.

The tranquility of the Moravian Colony was soon interrupted when the neighboring Spaniards endeavored to expel the English from Georgia., The Brethren were also called upon to join in taking up arms against the invaders. Stating that they neither could nor would bear arms under any consideration, they refused. When the Trustees of Georgia, to whom they appealed for exemption, ruled that the Brethren must furnish men for military service even though they would not have to bear arms, the Moravians decided to move to Pennsylvania which also offered more ideal conditions for their work.

After the unforeseen debacle in Georgia, all future migrations of Moravian Brethren from Europe were directed to Pennsylvania, the port of entry usually being Philadelphia or the New York Harbor. The massive immigration fell between 1742 and 1767, although individuals continued coming to America even later. Shortly after the purchase of land by the Church in the present Northampton County, PA in the year 1741, two colonies were organized in Europe, known as the First and Second Sea Congregations, followed by four others, bearing the name John Nitschmann, Gottlieb Pezold, Henry Jorde, and Gottlob Koenigsdorfer. The colonies were brought in by one of the four vessels owned by the Church, namely the Catherine, Little Strength, Irene, and Hope, which were afloat at various times within the twenty-five-year period. Some Brethren, including Bishop David Nitschmann, who traveled back and forth between America and Europe, sometimes booked his passage on commercial ships.

There is a common perception that the native Moravians or Bohemians ³⁴ formed but a minute percentage of Moravian Brethren, who immigrated to America and settled in Pennsylvania. Since we have fairly complete passenger lists of the Moravian-owned ships,

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