Janeček History: 1849-1890

The Janeček family traces it ancestry to the village of Týnec. Týnec is a small farming village in Bohemia; the western most portion of the current day Czech Republic. The village sits on rolling plane about 1 km west of the Otava River. The plane is surrounded by mountains in every direction, the nearest mountain known as Prácheň. Where lands have not been cleared for farming, there are heavily forested areas.

The village of Týnec is historically linked to the nearby town of Horažďovice. Going back to medieval times, Týnec and the surrounding farming villages were owned by the noble of the Horažďovice Estate.  The Janeczek family, along with with the Hlaváč , Smetana, Kyselo, Marek, and Čada families, were the earliest recorded residents of Týnec.

Maly Bor - Mary Magdalena Roman Catholic Church

1620 – 1684

The Janeček family emerges from the end of the Thirty Years War in the village of Týnec in the Pilsen region of Bohemia.

1684 – 1773

Janeček’s appear in Týnec in 1644

1774 – 1848

Janeček’s appear in Týnec in 1644

1849 – 1890

Bohemia enters a period of great political, economic, and political change.

1891 – 1906

František Janeček arrives in New York harbor, marries, and takes residence in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.

1907 – 1937

Frank Janecek moves his family to Trenton, NJ to continue his position at J.L. Mott.

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Anna Unknown
Female View tree
Father: UnspecifiedMother: UnspecifiedSpouse: Jakub Janeczek
Children: Ludmila Janeczková, Jan Janeczek, Vít Janeczek, Matěj Janeczek
Siblings: none


Matěj Janeczek
Male View tree
Born: Bef 1644 Died: 1716
Father: Jakub JaneczekMother: Anna Unknown
Children: Test
Siblings: Ludmila Janeczková, Jan Janeczek, Vít Janeczek


Jakub Janeczek
Male View tree
Born: Bef 1644 Died: Abt 1678
Father: UnspecifiedMother: UnspecifiedSpouse: Anna Unknown
Children: Ludmila Janeczková, Jan Janeczek, Vít Janeczek, Matěj Janeczek
Siblings: none


Josef Janecek
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Father: UnspecifiedMother: Unspecified
Children: Frantisek Janecek
Siblings: none


Vít Janeczek
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Born: 1644 Died: 1688
Father: Jakub JaneczekMother: Anna Unknown
Children: none
Siblings: Ludmila Janeczková, Jan Janeczek, Matěj Janeczek


Jan Janeczek
Female View tree
Father: Jakub JaneczekMother: Anna Unknown
Children: none
Siblings: Ludmila Janeczková, Vít Janeczek, Matěj Janeczek


Ludmila Janeczková
Female View tree
Born: 1658 Died: 1751
Father: Jakub JaneczekMother: Anna Unknown
Children: none
Siblings: Jan Janeczek, Vít Janeczek, Matěj Janeczek


Test
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Father: Matěj JaneczekMother: Unspecified
Children: none
Siblings: none


Josefa Poustka
Female View tree
Born: 1867 Died: 1937
Father: UnspecifiedMother: UnspecifiedSpouse: Josef Janecek
Children: none
Siblings: none


Frantisek Janecek
Male View tree
Born: 1867 Died: 1937
Father: Josef JanecekMother: Unspecified
Children: none
Siblings: none

1620-1684

The Old Road to Malý Bor
The Old Road to Malý Bor: Janecek fathers for generations carried their newborn children down this road to Malý Bor where they were baptized at the Mary Magdalene Churchthe day of or day after their birth for baptism.
The Janeček family traces it ancestry to the village of Týnec. Týnec is a small farming village in Bohemia; the western most portion of the current day Czech Republic. The village sits on rolling plane about 1 km west of the Otava River. The plane is surrounded by mountains in every direction, the nearest mountain known as Prácheň. Where lands have not been cleared for farming, there are heavily forested areas.

The village of Týnec is historically linked to the nearby town of Horažďovice. Going back to medieval times, Týnec and the surrounding farming villages were owned by the noble of the Horažďovice Estate.  The Janeczek family, along with with the Hlaváč , Smetana, Kyselo, Marek, and Čada families, were the earliest recorded residents of Týnec.

The earliest recorded members of the Janeček family are Jakub Janeczek and his wife Anna. We have no documentary evidence of Jakub’s birth, but based on what records we do have Jakub was born around 1625 or earlier.

The Janeczek family likely lived in this area for generations prior to us encountering Jakub. Jakub and his family were peasant farmers, and as peasants they were tied to their estate. Without freedom of mobility, a peasant could only move to another estate if granted permission from the noble who owned the estate. A peasant could also move if their noble owned more than one estate, and needed farmers on one of their other estates. However, this was not a common occurrence.

Tumultuous Times

Jakub lived during tumultuous times.

Almost 200 years before Jakub was born, the Kingdom of Bohemia gained some level of religious freedom. This freedom allowed each noble to choose which religion his estate would follow – Roman Catholicism or an early form of Protestantism know as Hussite. In Jakub’s lifetime, the Horažďovice Estate was owned by Ferdinand Karel Švihovský who was a Protestant noble.

The Roman Catholic Church wanted to restore Roman Catholcism in the Kingdom of Bohemia which resulted numerous wars, and culminating in the 30 Year War which started with the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Ferdinand Karel Švihovský supported the Protestant King of Bohemia Frederick V of the Palatinate. When the Protestants lost this battle, Ferdinand Karel Švihovský fled with Frederick V to the Netherlands. Horažďovice and surrounding villages were sacked twice by Swedish troops around the time of Jakub’s birth. The estate was then sold to the pro-Catholic Šternberk family. The defeat at White Mountain started the Roman Catholic Counter Reformation, and defined the religious and political landscape of Kingdom of Bohemia for the next 300 years.

The war decimated the Kingdom of Bohemia. Nearly 50% of the population died from war, famine, and decease. Castle and churches were destroyed, and nearly 75% of farms were vacant or in a state of disrepair. Some historians have referred to the Thirty Years War as a civilization reset event.

It is the end of this calamity we encounter Jakub Janeczek working as a farmer in Týnec.

Matej Janeczek inherited the family farm in 1682

1620

Battle of White Mountain / Bitva na Bílé hoře

The Battle of White Mountain was fought between the 15,000 troops serving under the Bohemian nobles (Protestant) and the combined armies of Ferdinand II the Holy Roman Emperor (Catholic). The battle marks the start of the Thirty Years War

Map | Picture

1644

Birth of Vit Janeczek

Vit Janeczek is born in May 1644 to Jakub and Anna Janeczek of Týnec. Recorded in the Malý Bor Roman Catholic Church parish records, it is the earliest written record of the Janeczek family. It is also only the ninth baptism recorded in the Malý Bor parish since recordkeeping resumed after the Thirty Years War.

More Information | Family Tree

1648

Peace of Westphalia

The Peace of Westphalia signed bringing an end to the Thirty Years War.

1651

List of Peasants by Faith of the Year 1651

The List of Peasants by Faith of the Year 1651 (Soupris Poddanych Podle Viry z Roku 1651) is compiled to determine the faith (Roman Catholic vs. Protestant) of peasants in the Kingdom of Bohemia. It is one of the earliest genealogy resources for the Czech Republic. It lists each member of a household, their age, profession, and faith. Unfortunately, the collection is missing two volumes – one being the volume for the Prácheň Region which includes Týnec.

1652

Berni Rula Establishes Jakub Janeczek as Farmer in Týnec

The Berni Rula (Tax Roll) 0f 1654 provides a detailed inventory of each estate in the Kingdom of Bohemia. The inventory for the Šternberk Estate establishes Jakub Janeczek as a “new farmer” in the village of Týnec as early as 1652.

More Information | Family Tree

1682

Matěj Janeczek Inherits the Family Farm

The Seignorial Land Records indicate Matěj Janeczek, the son of Jakub Janeczek, assumes ownership of the family farm in Týnec.

More Information | Family Tree

1684-1773

Pastuska rybník
The Pastuška rybník (pond) from the old road between Týnec and Malý Bor.
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1692

Birth of Melichar Janeczek

Melichar Janeczek, the son of Matěj Janeczek and Kateřina is born in Týnec 3.

Family Tree
1720

Birth of Jiří Janeczek

Jiří Janeczek, the son of Melichar Janeczek and Dorota Němcová is born in Týnec 3.

Baptism Record | Family Tree

1726

Melichar Janeczek Inherits the Family Farm

The Seignorial records indicate Melichar Janeczek, the son of Matěj Janeček, assumes ownership of the family farm in Týnec a week after the Day of St. Martin (November 11).

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1762

Birth of Tomáš Janeczek

Tomáš Janeczek, the son of Jiří Janeczek and Žofie Holíková is born in Týnec 3.

Baptism Record | Family Tree

1771

Great Famine

The Great Famine strikes Bohemia resulting in the death of 10% of the population. As a result, potatoes production increases 100% and become a staple crop.

1773

Jiří Janeczek Inherits the Family Farm

The Seignorial records indicate Jiří Janeczek, the son of Melichar Janeczek, assumes ownership of the family farm in Týnec.

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img_tynec_2019_10_janecek_fields_sampi

The view looking west/southwest from Týnec towards Malé Hydčice and Velké Hydčice beyond. The Janeček family farmed fields pictured here and some of the land between the road (pictured) and the river. Additionally, there is a limestone quarry/mine in Velké Hydčice where František Janeček worked before leaving for America.

1790

Industrial Revolution Brings Transformative Change to Bohemia

Bohemia becomes one of the largest industrial centers in the Austrian Empire. The Industrial Revolution brings cultural and economic changes to Bohemia over the course of the 19th century.

1792

Tomáš Janeczek Inherits the Family Farm

The Seignorial Land Records indicate Tomáš Janeczek, the son of Jiří Janeczek, assumes ownership of the family farm in Týnec.

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1796

Birth of Karel Janeczek

Karel Janeczek, the son of Tomáš Janeczk and Anna Kolářova is born in Týnec 3.

Baptism Record | Family Tree

1798

Josef Janeczek Builds Týnec 17

Josef Janeczek, son of Jiří Janeczek, builds Týnec 17 and registers the new cottage and obligations with the seignorial office in Horažďovice.

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1839

Josef Janeček is Born in Týnec 17

Josef Janeček, the son of Karel Janeček and Marie Smetanová is born in Týnec 17. Josef Janecek is the second oldest of Karl’s five sons; and will eventually build and move into Týnec 28.

Baptism Record | Family Tree

1848

Revolutions of 1848

Revolutions sweep Europe with demands for social reforms. The Hapsburg monarchy concedes and implements numerous reforms including the end of serfdom. For the first time, Bohemian peasants acquire freedom of mobility (in law but not always in practice) and can move without permission.

The first wave of large scale emigration from Bohemia occur in the 1850s. Bohemians who immigrate to the United States settle urban areas, including New York City, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Houston.

img_tynec_2019_road_horazdovice_sampi

The old road from Týnec to Horažďovice. It was the shortest path from the center of Týnec to Horažďovice until it was removed during the cooperative farming era.

The road started in front of Týnec House 28 and was the most likely path František Janeček used on his last trip out of Týnec in 1890.

1865-1867

Josef Janeček Builds Týnec 28

Josef Janeček, the son of Karl Janeček, builds Týnec 28 some time between 1865 and 1867. Prior to 1848 when serfdom was still legal, the noble who owned the estate would have recorded the new deed. As Týnec 28 was built after 1848, there is no land book entry for the new cottage. However, we can date the cottage from between 1865 and 1867, as Josef’s son Václav Janeček was born in 1864 at Týnec 17 and his next son František Janeček was born in 1867 at Týnec 28.

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1866

Astro-Prussian War and Cholera Epidemic

The Austrian Empire engaged in the Austro-Prussian War (Seven Week’s War) with the Kingdom of Prussia. The Prussian troops made deep incursions into Bohemia, bringing with them a cholera epidemic. The cholera epidemic ravaged Bohemia and Austria resulting in the loss of ~165,000 lives. Austria went on to lose the war – which resulted in the unification northern German States with the exclusion of the Austrian Empire.

1867

Austro-Hungarian Empire Formed

In response to losing the Austro-Prussian war, Austria attempts to restore the balance of power by joining with Hungry to create the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Empire lasted until the end of World War I.

18 Jul 1867

Birth of František Janeček

František Janeček, the son of  Josef Janeček and Josefa Poustková is born in Týnec 28.

Baptism Record | Family Tree

1890

Josef Janeček Dies While in Austrian Military Custody

The Austrian military reports Josef Janeček, the oldest brother of František Janeček, has died to the Janeček family of Týnec 28.

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1892

František Janeček Leaves Bohemia for America

František Janeček leaves Bohemia and immigrates to the United States.

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1891-1906

Mott Haven - Bronx New York
The corner of Alexander Avenue and 138th Street in the historical neighborhood of Mott Haven in the Bronx, New York City. Frank and Marie Janecek lived in multiple apartments within two blocks of this corner while residing in New York City.
When František Janeček left Tynec is unknown; however we know it was no later than

.

William Vaclav Yaneck 1887

When František Janeček left Týnec in 1891, the village included 35 cottages and a population of approximately 220 people. The village was surrounded by farm fields, meadows, and forest land in every direction.

When exactly František left Tynec is unknown

It is difficult to imagine what František thought

It is difficult to imagine how František felt leaving a place where he knew everyone and was surrounded by so much space, to living ~32 days with his only personal space being a cot stacked against a wall of a converted cargo hold of a steam ship. It is equally difficult to imagine his reaction when the S/S Havel entered New York Harbor 31 October 1891 to find a city of 1.7 million people. We can only assume that the size of the city, the number of people, along with encountering a new language and culture was quite a shock.

Immigration

When the S/S Havel arrived in New York harbor on 22 Oct 1890, František cleared immigration at the newly opened Ellis Island. Castle Garden. Castle Garden was the immigration processing facility prior to Ellis Island opening in 1892. It is harder to imagine how František reacted the first time he exited the facility and stepped out into a New York City with a population of 1.7 million.

Frantisek Arrives in New York

How František established himself in New York City is and will likely remain a mystery. It is unlikely that František had someone waiting for him once in New York. He indicated for the ship documentation that he planned to head on to Illinois, Chicago being a common destination for Bohemians immigrating to America. The reason why Frantisek opted not to continue on to Chicago is unknown, or if he ever really intended to go to Chicago.

It was rather common for immigrants to discuss “appropriate” answers to pass their immigration interview. It is just as likely that Frantisek was coached into stating he was moving on to Chicago because it had a large Bohemian population and would appear he had someone to help support him upon arrival. It is just as likely that Frantisek intended to go to Chicago, but stopped in New York for other reasons, such as lack of funds or simply wanted to stay once he arrived.

Regardless, once Frantisek left Castle Garden, we have no clues if someone was in New York to assist transition him, or if he had where he even resided till we encounter him again in 1894 when he completed his marriage license.

Frantisek Establishes Himself in New York

Like many immigrants, Frantisek would dissapear into the tennement houses of New York to emerge 3 years later when he married Marie Chara. What is Frantisek and Marie would take up residence in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.

Even in the earliest documents, Frantisek indicated he was working at a tailor by trade. How Frantisek made the transition from working farms, to miner, to trailer is not known.

We also know from documentation that Frantisek worked for the J.L. Mott Corporation which was located in Mott Haven. J.L. Mott was known as a caste iron company who focused on producing bathroom fixtures, such as toilets, sinks, tubs, faucets, etc. The company also had a “Show Curtain Rod” department. This department produced large curtain rods that were used in theatres, Frantisek being the tailor was responsible to make the curtains that were made for the rods they sold.

František Janeček Marries Maria Chárová

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church 1894

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1886 for Catholics from Bohemia. The church was located at 321 East 61st Street in New York City; an area with a large Bohemian neighborhood.

How František Janeček met Marie Chárová is unknown. Marie immigrated with her family to the United States in April of 1890. This is almost 2 years before František arrived in New York in October of 1892. However, it is quite plausible that František met Marie prior to leaving Bohemia.

The Chára family were also from Plzeň region of Bohemia. Like the Janeček family, the Chára family farmed in Bohemia for generations. Their farm was located in the village of Řesanice located only 15 km (10 mi) north of Týnec. This of course opens up infinite possibilities:

  • František may have met Marie prior to the Chára family leaving for America – it could also have been part of his reason to immigrate to America.
  • A member of the Janecek family could have known about the Chára family and suggested František connect with them when he arrived.

It is just as possible that that František was living in the same Bohemian neighborhood in New York City and where he was introduced to Marie.

Regardless of how they met, on October 21, 1894 – almost 3 years to the day that František set sail from Bremerhaven – he married Marie Chárová. František and Marie married in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church. The church was located on the upper east side of New York City at 321 East 61st Street.

Marriage Certificate - Frank Janecek and Marie Chara
1894 Marriage Record - Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church Parish

Frank Files First Papers

On 8 February, 1897 Frank Janecek appeared before the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Manhattan. He filed what were commonly called “first papers”, the colloquial term for his Declaration of Intention. This was the first step in acquiring United States citizenship.

These papers included two parts:

  • A declaration of his intention to acquire citizenship in the United State of America.
  • Statements concerning his occupation (as a tailor) and when he first lived in the United States and  and where he resided

The application process required that an applicant had lived in the United States for a minimum of 5 years. Additionally, each state set their on minimum residency requirement, for the State of New York that requirement was 1 year.

Frank Files Final Papers and Acquires United States Citizenship

On 15 July 1903, Frank returned to the East District of the United States to file his Petition for Naturalization. The court was located in the Federal Building and Post Office in Brooklyn. These papers were commonly referred to as “second papers” or “final papers.” These were the final step to complete the citizenship process.

These papers also included his signed oath to renounce the Emperor or Austria and King of Hungary and his allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America.

The final document in the process includes a Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization. A copy of this document has not been located in archives.

Frank Janecek Declaration of Intention
Petition for Naturalization for Frank Janecek - Page 1
Petition for Naturalization for Frank Janecek - Page 2
1892

Ellis Island Opens

The United States Federal government takes control of immigration; opens Ellis Island on 1 Jan 1892.

1891

Frantisek Arrives in New York City

František Janeček arrives in New York City aboard the S/S Havel and is processed at Ellis Island.

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1894

František Janeček Marries Marie Chára

František Janeček, who for the first time uses the Americanized name ‘Frank’, marries Marie Chára in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan, New York.

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1898

Mary Josephine Janecek Born in the Bronx, New York

Mary Josephine Janecek is born to Frank Janecek and Marie Chara in the Bronx, NY. Mary was the first of Frank and Marie’s children.

Birth Certificate
1899

Anastasia Janecek Born in the Bronx, New York.

Anastasia Janecek is born to Frank Janecek and Marie Chara in the Bronx, NY. Anastasia, known as ‘Stae’ was the second of Frank and Marie’s children.

Birth Certificate
1901

Emma Janecek Born in the Bronx, New York

Emma Janecek is born to Frank Janecek and Marie Chara in the Bronx, NY. Emma is the third of Frank and Marie’s children.

Birth Certificate
1903

Bertha Janecek Born in the Bronx, New York

Bertha Janecek is born to Frank Janecek and Marie Chara in the Bronx, NY. Bertha is the fourth of Frank and Marie’s children and the last born in New York City.

Birth Certificate

1903

Frank Janecek is Naturalized as an American Citizen

After filing his intention in 1897, Frank Janeček is naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America in New York City.

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1907

Frantisek Janecek Moves to Trenton, NJ

The J.L. Mott Corporation, Frank Janecek’s employer, announces they will move all operations to Trenton, NJ. The company will make this move over a period of several years as new production facilities are built. Frank and family move to Trenton, NJ in 1907.

1907-1937

Trenton NJ Map - 1910

The Janecek Family Moves to Trenton

Trenton Evening Times: 12 Mar 1908

In 1902, the J.L. Mott Iron Works announced it would discontinue business activities in Mott Haven (Bronx, NY). The company moved operations to Trenton, NJ over a period of years as they built or acquired new production facilities. Frank and the rest of the Janeček family remained in Mott Haven until their move to Trenton sometime between 1907 and 1908.

The first mention of Frank and Marie in Trenton is from 1908. They purchased property at 1024 South Broad Street. Frank and Marie purchased the property from the “Williamson Estate” through their legal agent named Lawrence Barden. The Williamson Estate held the mortgage on the property, but Barden as their agent embezzled their $500 mortgage payment and subsequent interest payments. Frank and Marie retained legal representation in March of 1908 and sued Barden for embezzlement. While no outcome for the trial was found, the property remained in the Janeček and used as Frank’s tailor shop for the next 20 plus years.

They purchased a second property sometime prior to 1910, as they are the listed owners on the 1910 United States Federal Census record. It was their first home which was located at 1101 Smith Street in Trenton. Today this area of Trenton is known as the Chestnut Park neighborhood.

Janeček’s Tailor Shop

Frank was employed as a tailor for the J.L. Mott Company, but he also owned his own tailor shop simply called “Janeceks”. The tailor shop was located at 1023 South Broad Street in Trenton, which was approximately 1 mile from his home. There are several want ads for a tailor position that appear in the Trenton Evening Times from 1910 till about 1918. The original building at 1023 South Broad Street stands till this day. Frank worked at his day job at J.L. Mott Company, and would work in the tailor shop during the evenings. Frank and Marie had four daughters and one son – Josef Francis Janecek. As a tailor who made and altered suits and clothing for men, he often joked “I have four children and but I can only make clothes for one of them.”

 

Trenton Evening Times: 22 Oct 1916

The Lessons of Home

Bohemian communities in the United States were well known for their fraternal organizations. These fraternal organizations provided a safety net to their members.

When one considers the social fabric of small villages in Bohemia, the creation of these fraternal organizations was a logical step. In Bohemia, many people lived in the same small villages for generations. These villages were familiar places, not just because people had lived together for so many years, but also because over generations many of these families were connected through marriage. This made the village more than a familiar place, but a place of family, where people looked out for their neighbors – particularly widows who were well respected.

When they moved to the United States, Bohemians lost their language, their customers, and also the safety net of their village; but they didn’t lose their values. What they lost with their familiar neighbors back home, they created in their commonality of experience and values with other Bohemians.

Fraternal organizations were the pre-cursor to what we consider life insurance today. The fraternal organizations would collect financial dues and host community events in order to raise money which they held in trust. The organization would then invest this money and use it to payout to the families of workmen who were members. It insured that people were provided with a proper burial and some financial support for lost income.

1907

Birth of Joseph Janecek

Joseph Francis Janecek is born to Frank Janecek and Marie Chara in Trenton, NJ

1914

World War I

The Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist group, assassinates Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. World War I started only a month later in July 1914.

1914

Czechoslovak Legion Formed

The Czechoslovak Legion officially formed from Czech prisoners of war in Russia and Czech soldiers who defected from the Austrian Army.

1918

Frank Janecek Addresses the Czech Community

Frank Janecek is one of multiple speakers before the Czech community of Trenton, NJ. The rally was to raise financial support to provide aide the people of Bohemia due to WWI and to support the provisional government who was seeking independence from Austria.

1918

Czechoslovak Independence

The First Czechoslovak Republic formed on 28 Oct 1918, realizing the dream of a independent Bohemia.

1919

Frank Janecek Founds the Trenton Czecho Slovak Association

Frank Janecek and a group of seven other Czech/Slovak community leaders in Trenton start the Trenton Czecho Slovaks Association. This fraternal organization was also known as Rad Komna No. 358, a lodge in the Czecho Slovaks of Association.

1934

Fourth Liberty Bond Default

The United States Treasury issued the Fourth Liberty Bond in 1918, the financial instrument in which the Czech community invested after Frank’s speech in 1918. The U.S. Congress defaulted on payment terms by refusing to repay these bonds in gold. Despite lawsuits, the U.S. Treasury would repay the bond in the late 1930s using devalued U.S. dollars, causing investors to loose 41% of their principal.

1937

Frank Janecek Found Dead

Frank Janecek was found dead in his tailor shop at 213 Liberty Street in Trenton, NJ.

Rad Komna Lodge 356

Trenton Evening Times: 16 Dec 1919

In 1918, Frank Janecek and five other members of the Bohemian community of Trenton formed Rad Komna 356. Rad Komna is Czech, when translated it means “Order of the Chamber,” likely in reference to the Chambersburg neighborhood of Trenton in which many Bohemians lived. Rad Komna 356 was a fraternal lodge of the Czechoslovaks Society of America (CSA). The CSA was once the largest Czech Freethought fraternal organizations in the United States.  During the course of his life, Frank would serve as treasurer of the lodge.

The timing of this event is significant.

Over the course of Frank’s life, Bohemia had experienced a renewed sense of national identity. The political landscape in Bohemia started to change after 1900. One political party known as the “Old Czechs” pushed for political reforms that would grant Bohemia more rights of self rule within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Conversely, another political party known as the “Young Czechs” pushed for more; a free and independent Kingdom of Bohemia.

When World War I started, Bohemia was a reluctant participant in the Austrian Empire. Bohemians were forced to fight for an Austria who they considered an occupier that governed their country like a police state. As the war continued, Czechs fighting for the Austrians on the Russian front crossed lines nightly to join the fight against Austria. These soldiers later formed the Czech Legion and would execute an amazing military campaigns in recorded history. While this was occurring, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš were operating a Czech government in exile that gained recognition when the war ended – resulting in the first Czechoslovak Republic.

As a community, Bohemians expressed their patriotism and defiance in similar ways:

  • Many Bohemians, both in the United States and in Bohemia, publicly renounced their membership in the Roman Catholic Church. The Bohemian community saw the Roman Catholic Church as a religion thrust upon them 300 years earlier by the Austrian Empire. After the Thirty Year War, the Holy Roman Empire (the precursor to the Austrian Empire) replaced the protestant Bohemian nobles with pro-catholic nobles who supported the Holy Roman Emperor. The Roman Catholic Church, with the support of these nobles, started the counter Catholic reformation after the war was over. Nobles would force farmers off their land who did not accept Roman Catholicism, and wrote financial support for the church into each farmer’s land agreement. The Bohemian community saw renouncing their Roman Catholic faith as a patriotic political statement.
  • The Roman Catholic Church found themselves at odds with Fraternal orders over their Freethought philosophy. Additionally, the church saw these fraternal orders as taking their role as a community support. Not surprisingly, Bohemians saw that role by the Church as yet another example of the Churches control, only pushing them out of the church quicker.
  • The newspapers in the United States included stories about the treatment of the Bohemian people at the hands of the Austrians, and the stories Czechs defecting to the Russian army and later the exploits of the Czech Legion. In response, Bohemian communities across the United States raised money to aide the people of Bohemia and the Czech Legion.

Trenton Evening Times: 17 Sep 1918

Moreover, despite the official position of the United States Federal Governments that service in military of a foreign power is grounds for the revocation of citizenship, they allowed Czech forces (The Czech Legion to reside in the USA and train, and to have them recruit American Czechs to join their forces. The forces of the Czech Legion were stationed in Stamford CT, and would go to Czech communities to raise funds and men for the cause.

In September 1918, The Trenton Evening Times documents one such event in Trenton, where Frank and others spoke in support of the Legion. It was also documented in this article that the Union agreed to buy $150,000 (2.6 million in 2018 dollars) in Fourth Liberty Bonds to support the military.

The Janeček Family Loses their Home

Trenton Evening Times: 28 May 1922

In 1922, the City of Trenton decided to build a new middle school on what was known as the “Drayton School Tract.” The city used its powers of eminent domain to condemn several properties in the area to make room for the school. The southern end of Smith Street where the Janeček home stood was included in the Drayton School Tract. Frank and other property owners were given low market value in exchange for their property. Frank and many of his neighbors retained legal council to protest the $3,750 that the city offered for the property. No evidence was found if his lawyer was successful in receiving additional compensation.

Today, the south end of Smith Street ends at the intersection with Dayton Street; the last remaining house is number 999. In 1920, Smith Street continued through the intersection at Drayton Street and continued on through the front doors of Grace A. Dunn Middle School. Estimating based on house numbers, the Janeček house stood on the west-side of Smith Street in what is now the school parking lot along Lalor Street.

The house at 1101 Smith Street was the only family home Frank and Marie owned during their life time. When the family lost their Smith Street home to the government, they rented a home 5 blocks away at 923 Adeline Street  in the Chambersburg neighborhood of Trenton. It is difficult to understand how Frank and Marie absorbed the blow of losing their home. They both left a Bohemia where their was little opportunity to own your own home. While the Janecek family worked the same farm for 250 years before Frank left Tynec, they never owned their own property. The land was always leased from nobles, and even when serfdom was officially ended in 1848, the noble class simply became the rich land owners. The opportunity to own their own land in Bohemia was a dream.

The irony is stark – Frank and Marie moved to the United States to find a freedom and land they could not acquire in Bohemia. They achieved that dram only to have a different government take their land. It is hard to describe and imagine it was nothing short of demoralizing.

The Death of Frank Janeček

There are few mentions of Frank Janecek after his community activities in 1919; however, this changed in February 1937…

On February 24, 1937 the Trenton Evening Times reported that Frank was found deceased in his tailor shop located at 213 Liberty Street in Trenton. The police ruled the death a suicide – even mentioning that he had hung himself. While not listed in the newspaper account, we know he was initially found by his son Joseph. When Frank did not return home from work that Tuesday evening, Joseph went to the shop and found his father.

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