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Czech Americans

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Czech Americans

Czech Americans (Czech: Čechoameričané), known in the 19th and early 20th century as Bohemian Americans, are citizens of the United States who are of Czech descent. Czechs originate from the Czech lands, a term which refers to the majority of the traditional lands of the Bohemian Crown, namely Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia. These lands over time have been governed by a variety of states, including the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Austrian Empire, the Czechoslovak Republic, and the Czech Republic. Germans from the Czech lands who emigrated to the United States usually identified as German American, or, more specifically, as Americans of German Bohemian descent. According to the 2000 US census, there are 1,262,527 Americans of full or partial Czech descent, in addition to 441,403 persons who list their ancestry as Czechoslovak.



The first documented case of the entry of Czechs to the North American shores is of Joachim Gans of Prague, who came to Roanoke, North Carolina in 1585 with an expedition of explorers organized by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618).

Augustine Herman (1621–1686) was the first documented Czech settler. 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. 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 Peter Stuyvesant. 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 removing to the English Province of Maryland. Lord Baltimore was so pleased with the map that he rewarded Herman with a large estate, named by Herman "Bohemia Manor", and the hereditary title Lord.

There was another Bohemian living in New Amsterdam at that time, Frederick Philipse (1626–1720), who became equally famous. He was a successful merchant who, eventually, became the wealthiest person in the entire Dutch Province. Philipse was originally from Bohemia, from an aristocratic Protestant family who had to leave their native land to save their lives, after the Thirty Years' War.

The first significant wave of Czech colonists was of the Moravian Brethren who began arriving on the American shores in the first half of the 18th century. Moravian Brethren were the followers of the teachings of the Czech religious reformer and martyr Jan Hus (1370–1415), Petr Chelčický and Bishop John Amos Comenius (1592–1670). They were true heirs of the ancient "Unitas fratrum" - Unity of the Brethren bohemicorum, who found a temporary refuge in Herrnhut ("Ochranov," in Czech language) in Lusatia under the patronage of Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf (1700–1760). Because of the worsening political and religious situation in Saxony, the Moravian Brethren, as they began calling themselves, decided to emigrate to North America.

They started coming in 1735, when they first settled in Savannah, Georgia, and then in Pennsylvania, from which they spread to other states after the American Revolution, especially Ohio. They established a number of Moravian settlements, such as Bethlehem and Lititz in Pennsylvania and Salem in North Carolina. Moravians made great contributions to the growth and development of the US. Cultural contributions of Moravian Brethren from the Czech lands were distinctly notable in the realm of music. The trumpets and horns used by the Moravians in Georgia are the first evidence of Moravian instrumental music in America.

In 1776, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, more than two thousand Moravian Brethren lived in the colonies. President Thomas Jefferson designated special lands to the missionaries to civilize the Indians and promote Christianity. The free uncultivated land in America encouraged immigration throughout the nineteenth century; most of the immigrants were farmers and settled in the Midwestern states. The first major immigration of Czechs occurred in 1848 when the Czech "Forty Eighters" fled to the United States to escape the political persecution by the Austrian Habsburgs. During the American Civil War, Czechs served in both the Confederate and Union army, but as with most immigrant groups, the majority fought for the Union. Immigration resumed and reached a peak in 1907, when 13,554 Czechs entered the eastern ports. Unlike previous immigration, new immigrants were predominantly Catholic. Although some of the anticlericalism among Czechs in Europe did come to the United States, on the whole Czech Americans are much more likely to be practicing Catholics than Czechs in Europe. By 1910, the Czech population was 349,000, and by 1940 it was 1,764,000. The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that nearly 800,000 Czechs were residing in the U.S. in 1970. Since this figure did not include Czechs who had been living in the U.S. for several generations, it is reasonable to assume that the actual number was higher.

The top 50 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Czech ancestry

The top 50 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Czech ancestry are:

  1. Conway, ND 55.2%
  2. West, TX 40.9%
  3. Oak Creek NE 38.2%
  4. Wilber, NE 37.3%
  5. Shiner, TX 32.1%
  6. Montgomery, MN (township) 30.9%
  7. Lonsdale, MN 30.5%
  8. Wheatland, MN 29.9%
  9. Tyndall, SD 29.5%
  10. David City, NE 28.0%
  11. Montgomery, MN (city) 26.3%
  12. Franklin, WI 26.1%
  13. Lanesburgh, MN 25.2%
  14. Granger, TX 25.1%
  15. Port Costa, CA 24.0%
  16. Schulenburg, TX 23.7%
  17. New Prague, MN and Erin, MN 23.5%
  18. Wahoo, NE 22.7%
  19. Carlton, WI 22.4%
  20. Wallis, TX 22.0%
  21. Hallettsville, TX 21.5%
  22. Hale, MN 20.8%
  23. Montpelier, WI 19.7%
  24. Flatonia, TX 19.5%
  25. West Kewaunee, WI 19.2%
  26. Schuyler, NE and Webster, NE 19.0%
  27. Gibson, WI 18.9%
  28. Hillsboro, WI 18.4%
  29. Kossuth, WI 18.2%
  30. Lexington, MN 18.1%
  31. Mishicot, WI 16.9%
  32. Kewaunee, WI and North Bend, NE 16.7%
  33. Franklin, WI 15.9%
  34. Oak Grove, WI and Caldwell, TX 15.7%
  35. Lake Mary, MN 15.4%
  36. Solon, IA 15.2%
  37. Mishicot, WI 15.0%
  38. Helena, MN 14.9%
  39. Marietta, NE 14.7%
  40. Stickney, IL 14.5%
  41. Ord, NE and Weimar, TX 14.3
  42. Crete, NE 14.2%
  43. Park River, ND 14.1%
  44. Ord, NE and La Grange, TX 14.0%
  45. Wagner, SD 13.6%
  46. Needville, TX 13.2%
  47. Calmar, IA and Worcester, WI 13.0%
  48. Webster, MN 12.9%
  49. North Riverside, IL 12.4%
  50. Belle Plaine, IA 12.3%
  51. El Campo, TX 12.2%

U.S. communities with the most residents born in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia)

The top U.S. communities with the most residents born in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia) are:

  1. Masaryktown, FL 3.1%
  2. Mifflinville, PA 2.2%
  3. Gulf Shores, AL 2.1%
  4. North Riverside, IL and Sharon Springs, NY 2.0%
  5. Lyons, IL 1.6%
  6. Rose, WI, North Lynbrook, NY and Anna Maria, FL 1.5%
  7. Oakbrook Terrace, IL and Danville, AR 1.4%
  8. Bee Ridge, FL, Cameron, TX, Lenox, MA, Verdigre, NE, and Willowbrook, IL 1.2%
  9. Lower Grand Lagoon, FL, Beachwood, OH, Allamuchy-Panther Valley, NJ, Mahopac, NY, Black Diamond, FL, and Glenview, KY 1.1%
  10. Key West, FL, Woodstock, NY, Madison Park, NJ, Belleair Beach, FL, South Amboy, NJ, Colver, PA, Herricks, NY, Horine, MO, Shelburne, MA, and Gang Mills, NY 1.0%

The states with the largest Czech American populations

The states with the largest Czech American populations are:

However, these figures are grossly understated when second and third generation descendants are included.

The states with the top percentages of Czech Americans

The states with the top percentages of Czech Americans are:

Notable Czech Americans

See List of Czech Americans


Many cities in the United States hold festivals celebrating Czech culture and cuisine.

  • Parkville, Maryland - Czech and Slovak Heritage Festival. Started in 1987 to celebrate Baltimore's Czech and Slovak heritage.
  • Bechyn, Minnesota - Czechfest. Second Sunday in August. http://www.czechfest.com/
  • Tabor, South Dakota - Czech Days, third Friday and Saturday in June - www.taborczechdays.com
  • Prague, Oklahoma - Kolache Festival, First Saturday in May
  • Yukon, Oklahoma - Yukon Czech Festival, 1st Saturday in October
  • New Prague, Minnesota - Dozinky Days
  • Wilber, Nebraska - Wilber Czech Days
  • Montgomery, Minnesota - 4th full weekend in July. Started in 1929.
  • Phillips, Wisconsin - Czech-Slovak Festival and Lidice & Ležáky Villages Memorial Service, 3rd full weekend in June. Started in 1988.
  • Hillsboro, Wisconsin - Český den, 2nd full weekend in June. Started in 1983.
  • Kewaunee, Wisconsin - Czech & Kolache Festival, the 1st full weekend in August at the beautiful Heritage Farm.
  • St. Ludmila's Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - June
  • Protivin, Iowa - Czech Days. August
  • Wilson, Kansas - Czech Festival, last weekend in July.
  • Texas
  • Weimar
  • Hallettsville 4th weekend in March and last Saturday of September
  • Shiner Several lesser Czech and Kolache festivals are held in Shiner varying in size, occasion and date, where Shiner's largest contribution to Kolache festivities conjoins with the Hallettsville Kolache Festival and the annual Bocktober festival.
  • Yoakum 2nd week of June as part of the annual Tom-Tom Festival
  • Missouri City
  • Corpus Christi 3rd Saturday in March
  • Houston 4th Sunday in March and 3rd Sunday in May
  • Rosenberg First full weekend in May
  • Ennis Memorial Day Weekend
  • San Antonio First weekend in June and Last Sunday in October
  • East Bernard Second Saturday in June
  • Ammannsville Father's Day
  • Dubina First Sunday in July
  • Praha August 15
  • Flatonia Czilispiel during the last full weekend in October
  • Marak Last Sunday in August
  • West Labor Day Weekend
  • Caldwell Second Saturday in September
  • Pasadena 4th weekend in October
  • Crosby Annual Czech Fest is held the first Saturday in October. Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Crosby is the festivals organizer and was the original site of the festival. However, as the festival and Crosby have grown it has been held at the Crosby Fair and Rodeo grounds since about 1990.
  • Temple
  • References

    Czech Americans Wikipedia

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