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Czechs in South Dakota

Reference to Thomas (1820-1898) & Marie (Zak) Souhrada (1806-1896)
 [Source: excerpted from Dvorak, "History of Czechs in South Dakota": Page 280]


Souhrada Pre-emigration Section.


From the Dvorak History of Czechs in South Dakota, I knew that Tomas and   Marie Souhrada were born in Dobesice Bohemia and their years of birth, which information I passed on to my genealogical researcher, ZIenko Alexy, of Bratislava, Czechoslovkia. Almost all of the information on the Souhrada ancestry came from him. He was able to trace the family back to the 1740's. His research report, dated Nov 9 1983, states in part: Noteworthy are the remarks made by the Chrestovice parson in the birth entries for both Jan Suhrada and his father Tomas Suhrada that baptismal extracts were requested and made in connection with their emigration to America in 1867. The village Dobesice comes under the Chrestovice parish. Jan Souhrada's mother (Maria Zak) was born in Kukli (in Myskovec parish) so I had to consult those records. As Myskovec was a recently established parish (in 1784) I had to study the records of Protivin to which parish Myskovec belonged for records prior to 1784. The birth of Jan Souhrada, Tomas Souhrada's father must have taken place between 1767 and 1772. There is however no entry in the birth records of Chrestovice of Jan Souhrada's birth. We do know that his father was Pawel (Pavel) Suhrada. The earliest Suhrada/Sauhrada birth entry in the Chrestovice records appears in 1772; therefore we have to presume that Jan was born before 1772 and not in Chrestovice parish. I searched all Souhradas recorded in Chrestovice in this period and found that many entries indicate that bearers of the surname Souhrada were subjects of the Dominion of Orlik nad Vltavou whereas other ancestors living in Dobesice or Chrestovice were subjects of the Dominion of Chrestovice. In the same time frame we find three Suradas/Sauhradas, one of them the above mentioned Pawel, in Dohesice and Chrestovice who could have been brothers and who apparently moved to the parish of Chrestovice shortly before 1772. They were not farmers by profession and had no family relatives in these villages (this is indicated by the fact that the godparents of their children appear to be people from other distant villages). Since they were subjects of Orlik I tried to find a possible solution to the question of their origin in the records of the parish of Stare Sedlo to which the castle and locality of Orlik belong. I was unable to find anything conclusive. Two entries contain an interesting hint concerning a Jan Sauhrada who lived in Augezdec (Ujezdec in modern Czech). There is a village of Cerveny Ujezdec in a parish near Chrestovice Dobesice. The records of the parish of Horni Zahori to which Cerveny Ujezdec belongs may prove enlightening." We have not pursued this possibility. During my visit to Dobesice when I was in Czechoslovakia in 1985 I learned from local residents that the last person of that name in Dobesice, a Mrs. Mach (born Souhrada), had died a few years prior.


I later wrote, on Jul 11 1986, to the Dobesice village head and received this response from Vaclav Zak, Kukle No 44: "In answer to your letter, the head of the local committee confirmed in the church records that there are no Souhradas in Dobesice, that Matej Souhrada sold the house at No 11 in 1874 and went to America. As for the Zak family, we still live here in the same house, Kukle No 44, as they did then-- Further correspondence followed. His letter dated Apr 3 1990 bears on Zak and Souhrada family history: "This is what I heard from father. There were three (Souhrada) daughters, Marie, Katerina and Barbara. Marie went to America around 1865 but came back in about five years to visit home and convince father Souhrada to return with them. He sold the cottage in Dobesice and went with them. The second daughter, Katerina married a Hajny and had 2 daughters, both teachers. Barbara stayed at home, had a son (my father) in 1891 outside of marriage. After finishing school, the son trained for the mechanics profession. He worked in Praha, building bridges, until 1914 when the world war broke out and he had to join the army. Fortunately he was transferred into another regiment and said it was his good luck because the others who came into service with him all went to Yugoslavia and not one returned. Father went to Russia and finally to Italy where he became a POW in Oct 1918. He said they spent the whole winter outdoors and many of the men died. Father was young and held up through it, he returned in May 1919. After recovering he took upon himself the task of rebuilding the Zak family cottage. It was old, wooden, built in 1739. He had the family records copied from the book and there it said that Jan Zak was permitted to build a cottage under the condition that he tend and preserve the woods and hills of the royal city of Pisek. In 1922 he built a small brick kiln. He prospered, married in 1926, and had 4 children. I am the oldest, and when I returned from the army in 1952 they wanted me to stay at home on the farm.