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The Memoirs of Frank (Francis) Cyprian Souhrada Sr.  (1871 – 1964)

Edited by Peter Souhrada (his grandson) 

FRANK C. SOUHRADA Sr. (in his own words recorded while almost 90 years old)


Frank Souhrada Sr. with son’s Frank Jr. and Dan

Cedar Lake, IN (circa 1920)

Born at: 48 Mead Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio on July 26, 1871                                                                                     

Father: Michael Souhrada, Mother: Veronica Luzum Souhrada                                                                       

Two brothers and three sisters…John, Anna, Rose, Antoinette and Thomas

Wife: Anna Catherine Vopicka

Eight Children:

Alfred M. Souhrada

Eliska (Elsie) S. Souhrada

Charles E. Souhrada

George D. Souhrada

Helen A. Souhrada

Bernadette E. Souhrada

Frank C. Souhrada Jr.

Daniel M. Souhrada

I was the youngest (boy) in the family. In the 1870's father was employed at the mills in Newberg, about four miles south of Cleveland at a wage of ninety cents a day.  I can recall when sister Anna, brother Tom, and I along with my sister Rose were all at home while father was at work in the mills and mother at work for a farmer husking corn for twenty five cents a day. There was always a loaf of bread that to me at the time was the size of a wagon wheel (home baked), left for us children to eat while mother was at work in the fields.


In those days there was plenty of unoccupied land and there were the beech nut, chestnut, walnut and butternut trees. Raspberries and strawberries grew wild close to our home. Large farms and orchards growing luscious golden ann apples. Not far away along the N.Y.P. and O. Railroad there were the sun fish ponds where we boys using a bent pin on our fish line were able to catch a fair mess of fish. There was the valley thru which flowed a creek of crystal clear water screened by thick brush and trees which gave us a fine swimming hole. On the other side of the railroad was a large level field which provided a spacious ground for a baseball Nine and on which were two base-ball diamonds.


Mead Avenue was a short street running between Broadway and the N.Y.P & O RR tracks and 48 Mead Avenue was about the center of the block.  The house we lived in had three large rooms and a kitchen (under wing).  A flower garden was cultivated in the front and vegetables in the rear of the lot.  One large apple tree in front and a large apple tree in the center and a large cherry tree in the rear of the lot.  Our drinking and cooking water was from a neigh­bor's well but finally water mains were laid from Lake Erie and water piped to consumers thru hydrants in the lot - there was no indoor plumbing.


We walked three miles to church, (St. Vaclav's) and about fifteen minutes to grade school which was a public school.  My primer's grade teacher was Miss Evat and my second grade teacher was Miss Malony. I will never forget my school day sweet-heart, Sarah Sesabal, whose father owned the big brick yards and lived in a mansion on Broadway.  Then a new parish was organized on '"Ziskov" together with a Catholic School. I was transferred to the Ziskov School (Our Lady of Lourdes.)


The neighborhood-we lived in on Mead Avenue was called Dakota by the Bohemians, and our grocery store was in the neighbor­hood settlement called "Husinec" because every one in the neighborhood raised geese.  By this time I made my first communion, I was twelve years old, I sang alto in the church choir.  Sister Stanislaus, a Bohemian nun and Sister Cypriana and Father Furdeck the Pastor were very anxious that I consecrate myself to Holy Orders. Preparations were made for me to enter St. Cassious College at Brooklyn, N.Y.


At this time, my oldest brother John took sick and on the direction of Dr. Cook, our family physician we moved from Cleveland. Dr. Cook thought a higher climate would be better for John and so we moved to Calmar, Iowa. This naturally changed all of the plans made for my future. The new plan of life for me was in a desolate and forlorn country, Calmar, Iowa. On leaving Cleveland, father Burdeck gave me a letter to the parish priest of Spillville, Iowa.  This priest was an old Army Chaplain in the last span of life, who was to take up my matter of further studies with the Bishop of Dubuque. After weeks and months of making trips from Calmar to Spillville a distance of five miles (an hour and half brisk walk) there was nothing accomplished and I was resigned to acclimate myself to that sad and dreary country, to herd three cows along the road for their pasture and to do such other menial work as I could find among the farmers. Thus ended my life's ambition, from a blessed dream to a terrible nightmare. The solitude and monotony of that dreary Iowa farm life gnawed at my heart until my parents prepared a basket full of food and put me on a train for Chicago to a cousin who had a gents clothing store on Blue Island and 18th Street. He found a job for me in a drug store owned and operated by a Mr. Schimek where I worked waiting on customers and cleaning druggist bowls. I slept upstairs with a hired druggist that also worked for Mr. Schimek.


About this time my folks moved from Calmar to Cedar Rapids, where I joined them. I worked in a drug store for a Mr. Benesh, and after a few months the family moved to Chicago. We lived in a four" room flat on 16th Street and it is here that I started my career working for a law firm named Kraft, Cross & Collins. I entered the Chicago Kent College of Law, graduating and started my career as a lawyer.


On entering upon my duties as a lawyer, I resolved to so carry on the duties of my profession as would cast credit on the practice of my profession. To consecrate myself to the unfortunate and those needy and unable to pay for legal services. To honor my profession, by honest and honorable discharge of the duties, never to, betray, client or counsel, and to always respect the dignity of the presiding judge and his court. That I always would be open to serve the needy without any compensation or obligation.


Frank Souhrada Sr. with wife, Anna Catherine Vopicka, Cedar Lake, IN


The first public office I ever held was that of the clerk of the Maxwell Street Police Court, where I sat in open court alongside of Justice Max Eberhardt. This office I held for the full term of two years.


The next office I held was that of Assistant Corporation Counsel, the duties of which were varied before the court and in office.  Then for over twelve years I served as Assistant States Attorney prosecuting the various violations of law. In this office, I felt not as an officer to punish and convict violators of the law, because I felt that all the guilty should not be punished but corrected, because the "quality of mercy" extended even to the guilty who were worthy of lenience.  By being, a considerate prosecutor I earned the respect of the various judges sitting in on criminal cases.


Most of my associate prosecutors felt a degree of pride and boasted when they accomplished some heavy punishment or penalty, but the only time I worked for or asked for a heavy punishment was when a real degraded person was involved and my purpose was to protect society.  When I prosecuted I found more pleasure in seeing defendants discharged and given another chance, for the Lord knows that all erring people are His children who should receive consideration.  I am now approaching ninety years of age, sometime I feel it is God’s reward for the considerate way I handled the erring.

To view additional photos of Frank C. Souhrada, click here >> Frank Souhrada Photo Album