Bohemian Congregation of Freethinkers

It’s amazing how much one document can tell you about the past!  KRIVANEK Frank_LISKA Anna 1908 OCT 08This 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.

Source: The Semi-centennial jubilee of the Bohemian National Cemetery Association in Chicago, Illinois : a free English version of J. J. Jelínek's Bohemian Historical Sketch

F.B. Zdrubek. Source: The Semi-centennial jubilee of the Bohemian National Cemetery Association in Chicago, Illinois : a free English version of J. J. Jelínek’s Bohemian Historical Sketch

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 Chicagowww.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!

Magdalena Laskowski Jochim (Week 1)

I’m a big fan of well-written historical fiction.  It’s how I learn history.  No dates or names to memorize just characters to meet.  I’ve been searching for a historical fiction title that tells me a little bit more about the history of Poland since I am clueless about the country’s leaders and peoples prior to WWII.   I found the book titled Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin. I’m about half way done with the book and I’ll save my review for later; however, each chapter of the book starts with a Polish Proverb.  It was the proverb found in the Prologue that prompted me to write about my ancestor Magdelena Laskowski Jachim.

Wherever you go,
you can never leave yourself behind.
–Polish Proverb

Magdalena Laskowski Jachim was born in Liverpool, England about 1874, the daughter of Michael and Katherine Laskowski.  She married Josef Jachim (also spelled Yockem) in Liverpool in 1889 and they emigrated to the United States in 1893.

This clipping shows the Yockem (Jachim) family arriving in the United States via the port of Philadelphia in April of 1893,  They are traveling to meet Maggie's sister Frances Wrabel in Chicago.

This clipping shows the Yockem (Jachim) family arriving in the United States via the port of Philadelphia in April of 1893, They are traveling to meet Maggie’s sister Frances Wrabel in Chicago.

Even though Magdalena was born in Liverpool, England,  I consider her a Polish ancestor.  According to my research, her parents left Poland shortly after her oldest sister Frances was born in Poland.  The family lived in the neighborhood of Toxteth Park in Liverpool for approximately 20 years as Polish immigrants.

This photo was taken at her granddaughter Clara Cygan’s wedding to Frank Koranda.  My father only remembers a brief visit to his great grandmother Magdalena’s home even though she lived until the age of 75 passing away in August of 1949 when he was seven years old  She is buried in St. Adalbert’s cemetery in the town of Niles in Cook County, Illinois.

 

The search for Frank Cygan (part 1)

Helen Cygan with Grandma Cygan.

It all started about a year ago.  I recieved the following pictures from a distant cousin of my father’s.  The 1st photo states that it is a photo of “Helen Cygan with Grandma Cygan.”  I am assuming that this photo was taken when Helen was about 18 years old, or about 1929.

Antonette Koranda, Magdalene Jochim, Mary Cygan

The next photo is a photo that was taken in 1941 at my grandmother’s wedding shower.  My dad actually had a copy of this photo as well so he was able to identify the three ladies.  From left to right, Antonette Koranda, Magdeline Jochim and Mary Cygan.  Mary Cygan is the mother of Helen.

This is where it becomes complicated.   My father and his cousins, while never seeing the photo of Helen and her grandmother before, claim that the “Grandma Cygan” in the 1st photo is the same woman as Mary Cygan in the second photo.  

I don’t believe them. I do not believe the woman in the picture is Helen’s mother.  No way, no how.  And there’s a few reasons.  #1…the back of the photo reads “Helen and Grandma Cygan”.  Knowing that the photo actually came from Helen’s descendents, I believe that Helen was the one to write on the photos.  (She died young and her children would NOT have know who Helen’s grandmother was).  If Helen was in fact the author, she would have wrote Helen and Mom.  I also think the woman in the 1st photo is older than 38 years old (if Helen is 18 in the photo).

Here’s more proof.  Another photo of “Grandma Cygan”  This time the photo reads “Chester with Grandma Cygan”. (Chester is Helen’s brother).

And so here’s my dilema.  If this woman is not Mary Cygan, the mother of Helen and Chester, than who is she?  If she is “Grandma Cygan”, then she is the mother of Nicholas Cygan, my great grandfather.  And I never expected to find a photo of her.  I assumed she never left Poland.

In that case, this “Grandma Cygan” in these photos would be my great, great grandmother from Poland.

In order to verify the identity of this woman, I must research and document the Cygan family and hopefully find proof that #1 Grandma Cygan left Poland and/or #2 another Cygan descendant knows the identity of this woman.

And that is why I’m looking for Frank Cygan.

Please let me know what you think.   Do you think these photos are of the same woman? Here’s one more photo of Mary Cygan, so that you have a better photo of her (she’s the 1st woman on the left…in 1941)

Mary Cygan, Magdeline Jachim, Antonette Koranda

Scanning Sunday

Sunday is supposed to be “Sentimental Sunday” but instead I’m following the idea of the Family History Fun blog in order to motivate myself to scan the many historical photos I have.

So today I scanned about fifteen photos of my grandparents wedding.

Frank Koranda and Clara Cygan were married  July 1, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois.  Clara was lucky enough to have her mother (Mary Jochim) and grandmother (Magdelina Laskowski) attend her wedding.  They are photographed with Frank’s mother Antoinette Liska Koranda.

The other two photos are from the interior of the church.  I’m posting them hoping that someone will be able to identify the inside of the church as I’m unable to find where they were married.  The photographers of the event were “Candid Photographers Co. of Berwyn”.