It’s amazing how much one document can tell you about the past! This week I’ve been slowly entering information into my database about the Frank Krivanek family. This family, while not my direct line, has however had a direct and powerful impact on my personal life, as the three daughters of Frank and Anna, Bess, Bernice and Anna, were my father’s beloved “aunts”. And while I never met them personally, their love and respect for my father after the death of his own parents in 1963, helped shape him into the wonderful father and grandfather that he was.
The marriage of Anna Liska to Frank Krivanek took place in Chicago on Monday, October 12, 1908. According to document, the couple received their license to wed the previous Tuesday on October 6th from Cook County Clerk, Joseph F. Haas.
The marriage ceremony itself was performed by Frank B. Zdrubeck, Pres. and Minister of the Bohemian Congregation of Free Thinkers. According to the 1910 Chicago Blue Book of Selected Names of Chicago and Suburban Towns, the location of Zdrubeck’s congregation was 1126 W. 18th Street.
But was this the actual location of the marriage
ceremony? I am unsure. A search of the internet today has given me just a brief understanding of the Congregation of Freethinkers and it is something I need to study more in-depth with the most pressing question being whether or not any archival documents exist for this “central community institution”
These freethinkers set up building and benevolent societies, maintained a school and a library, organized children’s programs and adult lectures, and sponsored musical and dramatic programs. Their congregation offered secular baptisms for their children and secular funerals, in the Bohemian National Cemetery, for their dead. (“Free Thought” Encyclopedia of Chicago, www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/487.html)
Interestingly enough, studying this document allows me to recall a conversation I had with my father at one of our lunch dates in Crandon. At that time, I was researching my great-grandparents John and Antonette Liksa Koranda, and I asked him if he knew the reason why John was not married in the Catholic church like his brothers and sisters were but rather by the Cook County Justice of the Peace? Dad was not sure. But now I wonder if Antonette and his sister Anna, were possibly members of the Freethinker Congregation? Or if not actual members, questioned the established beliefs of the Catholic Church?
Free thought embraced reason and anticlericalism, and freethinkers formed their ideas about religion independently of tradition, authority, and established belief. A product of the Enlightenment, free thought was deist, not atheist. In nineteenth-century Chicago, freethinkers, many of them immigrants from Europe, institutionalized irreligion. (“Free Thought” Encyclopedia of Chicago)
There is always more research to be done!