Czech and Slovak Immigration to America – a basic outline

We need to find the answers to the following questions to unlock some elements of our family history:

  1. Why did our Czech and Slovak ancestors immigrate?
  2. When did they leave?
  3. How did they get here?
  4. Where did they settle?

Czech:

  • 1585 – Joachim Gans was a Czech mining expert who was part of the 1585 expedition that attempted to establish a settlement at Roanoke Island before Jamestown was settled in 1607.
  • 1640 – Augustine Herman(1621-1686) was a surveyor and skilled draftsman and arrived in New Amsterdam in 1640 as an employee of the West India Company
  • 1735 – The first large group of Czech immigrants began arriving in 1735 with the coming of a group of Moravian Brethren in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Late 1840s – The mass immigration of Czechs slowly began in the 1840s due to political and economic problems after the failure of the revolutions of 1848 in Europe.
  • 1850s – The magnetic pull of Chain Migration:
  • Increased the number of Czech immigrants arriving in America as letters home gave a glowing picture of the availability of jobs and cheap land.
  • This group was from the rural areas that were affected by a poor economy and the lack of jobs.
  • Immigrants were both single men/women and married couples who had to leave to find a better life.

Slovak:

  • 1695 – The first known Slovakian immigrant was Isaac Ferdinand Sharoshi, who arrived in 1695 to join the Mennonite religious community in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
  • 1770s – Two other Slovak immigrants were Maurice Benyovszkyand Jan Polerecky who were soldiers in the American Revolution. They fought under General Pulaski during the siege of Savannah.
  • 1867 – Mass Slovak emigration began after the American Civil War when the Hungarian nobles were granted their autonomy from their Austrian ruler and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was formed in 1867. By this agreement, the Austrian monarch gave the Hungarian nobles freedom in local matters.
  • Pre-1914 – Most Slovak immigrants who arrived before World War I could not read or write. They came from rural farming areas where the Hungarian government discouraged the development of literacy among the Slovaks. Most became industrial laborers. In America, parents encouraged their children to seek secure jobs rather than professional work, which required higher education.

 Push/Pull Factors:

In the last half of the 1800s and the early years of the 1900s, the forces motivating the Poles to leave their homeland can be divided into “Push” factors and “Pull” factors.

Push factors were forces that drove them out of their home countries such as:

  • poverty
  • a shortage of land
  • the military draft
  • political or cultural repression
  • religious discrimination

Pull factors were:

  • the promise of jobs in the new lands
  • cheap farmland in America and Canada
  • the magnetic pull of “chain “

German Immigration to America – A Basic Outline

Below is a basic outline of German immigration to America that can be used as a handout for CAGNNI’s 9 AM GeneaBar session on German immigration.

We need to find the answers to the following questions to unlock some elements of our family history:

  1. Why did our German ancestors immigrate?
  2. When did they leave?
  3. How did they get here?
  4. Where did they settle?

1608 – German craftsmen were among the workers recruited for Jamestown. Glass-making was one of their tasks.

 1670 – Germans arrive in Pennsylvania fleeing the effects of the Thirty-years War and religious persecution – included Lutheran, German Reformed, Quakers, German Baptists, along with small denominations such as Moravians, Amish, and Mennonites.

1709 – Refugees from Palatinate flee to England, where the Queen exports some to Ireland and New York. They were fleeing extreme poverty and starvation in Germany

 1720 to 1770 – Redemptioners (indentured workers) recruited by agents to fill the labor needs of Colonial America – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Small groups also came to New England, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and both Carolinas

 1800s – German immigration to America was banned by the German princes from about 1700 but resumed in the early 1800s. It grew slowly at first until it became a flood after the 1848 Revolution fails:

  1. Peasants gained more freedom to leave
  2. Over-population fueled the economic problems and crop failures which grew more severe
  3. They fled from political oppression
  4. The magnetic pull from America for farmers seeking cheap land
  5. The need for workers to fuel the Industrial Revolution
  6. Cheap steerage rates for the voyage across Atlantic

DAR Begins Accepting Autosomal DNA

Great news for researchers who have a brick wall proving their lineage for DAR certification. The Society will now accept DNA results (Autosomal, mitochondrial, or Y-DNA) to help prove relationships to your Revolutionary War ancestors. This rule change is only for the first three generations of your lineage and will help adoptees or people with surprise parentage.

You can obtain more information on the DAR blog.

What about Dark Secrets?

If your DNA results do not make sense, ask yourself these questions before you try to uncover the answers:

  • Do you need to know the answer?
  • Are you prepared to deal with a dark secret that may upset the family?
  • What will you do with the information once you know the answer?

If you uncover a dark secret such as previously unknown illegitimate children, how will each family member react? How will telling your family members the details of a dark family secret affect your relationship with them? Do you need to reveal the secret? Can you tell some family members but not everyone?

Be sensitive to your family members. Everyone will react differently. Some people do not have to know. Some people need to know. Be careful with who you tell and how you say it.

Once the Cat Is Out of the Bag, the Cat will not want to get back into the Bag

 

1851 Polish-English Dictionary on Google Books

When trying to interpret the older Polish documents, an older Polish-English dictionary should be used. A modern dictionary will not be useful because word usage has changed over time.  I have found an 1851 dictionary on Google Books that can be very useful. Below is the web address where you can view and download a copy. I recommend downloading the dictionary in the PDF format.

Dokladny Slownik Polsko-Angielski 1851

https://archive.org/details/dokladnyslownik00chodgoog

polish-engish-dictionary