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By Karen (Williams) Souhrada

Marie Rosalie Hartmann is our beloved “Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma” whom we all enjoyed for 90 long years.  She began life in Europe July 4, 1901, the daughter of Anthony Hartmann and Elizabeth Valta. 


We were lucky enough to have critical papers in Edna Williams’s possession, from which to conduct a records search.  The first document was the “Declaration for Intent for Citizenship”; sworn to on December 1, 1917 in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, State of Illinois, and as completed by Marie’s mother, Elizabeth Valta Hartmann Soukup.  This form gave us the following information:  that she was the widow of Anthony Hartman (two children born to them, and that she had remarried while in Austria to Franz Soukup, shortly before they immigrated to the United States.)   According to Marie, her parents, VACLAV VALTA & MARIE HANUSOVA, had brought their whole family to America via the steamer "Carpathia" (spelled as Karpatya by Elizabeth.); this included all of their married children and their families. The port of departure was Hamburg, Germany, and there they probably boarded a “packet boat” to the port at Liverpool, England.  Next, the family would have boarded the steamer Carpathia of the Cunard Line, and promptly set sail.  The ship and passengers arrived at the port of New York on or about September 22, 1904  [the Cunard Line shipping lists, show the arrival at the Port of New York as September 29, 1904], after about a two week ocean voyage.  The ship’s doctor prepared a report for the Immigration & Naturalization Service that stated the condition of the passengers.  The details included name, age, occupation, nationality, ability to speak English, how much money they had on their person, and who was waiting for them or would vouch for them in the United States.  For passengers aboard regular passenger ships, and arriving at the Port of New York, this was about all of the immigration protocol that they faced.  A far cry indeed, from the tales of immigrants entering our country through the “door of Ellis Island”.   Most of the early papers found refer to the country of origin for the Bohemian lines of our family as Austria.  I found a nice explanation for the difference between then and now, Austria – Bohemia – Czechoslovakia:


“Bohemia/Austria simply means the person was born in Bohemia when it was part of Austria.  As of 1918, at the end of WW I, Czechoslovakia was established, and much territory taken from Austria.  Bohemia then became a part of Czechoslovakia. 


A few years back this country separated yet again into the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia, so Bohemia is now the northern part of the Czech Republic.    This is why Elizabeth and her daughter Marie stated on their naturalization papers, that their country of nationality had been Austria, and when they became  citizens, they forswore allegiance to the then Emperor of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.


In 1986, the Eastman Kodak Company offered a special event for their employees.  Marie’s grandson-in-law, Peter Souhrada, was such a company employee.  To commemorate the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty, a “Hall of Immigrants” was to be established at Ellis Island.  There would be a photo library in the hall, and it would contain a photo and short biography of a family’s immigrant ancestor. 


Karen and Pete Souhrada provided a picture of “Grandma Marie Hartmann” and her information for inclusion to the records.  A subsequent train trip that year to New York City, involved the Souhrada family and Grandma Marie.  A surprise trip to the Statue of Liberty and the “Hall of Immigrants” was planned for Marie, but once there, she surprised us!   Marie informed us that she came from “people who were well off, and could afford to take a regular ship with regular rooms, and that they did not have to come through Ellis Island!”  Ah, a bit of pride there, in saying they were a better class of immigrants, I guess, than say your average Irish Hagerty!  This was all news to us, but it does add to the picture of a family that was economically comfortable in Bohemia, probably of the farming and dairy cattle occupation.  Why they decided to leave en masse and settle in a new country is still unknown, and may never be known.  What an adventure all of our immigrant ancestors must have had, especially when the hardest decision our generation usually faces, is to move from one state to another!  The Internet (courtesy of, Mary Hosteny, Czech Roots List, July 2001) has provided us some valuable research information on this Ellis Island arrival and processing question, and in fact bolsters Grandmother Marie’s statement that they came in “over there” at a main steamship berth and were just admitted at this place of arrival.

To view our Hartmann (albeit limited) surname index, click here > Hartmann surname index

To view our Valta surname index, click here > Valta surname index