CGSI Quarterly Meeting - May 2010

Czech Immigration to Hopkins, MN area from Bohemian-Moravian Highlands.
The May 2010 Quarterly Meeting focused on Czech immigration to the Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie area, especially from the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands towns of Borova, Oldris, and Teleci near Policka. Three CGSI members with extensive knowledge and data about early families, their ancestors in the old country and their descendants here presented history of their ancestors.


                    The meeting was held in the Hopkins Center for the Arts

                       Ginger Simek
                          Ginger Simek, president of CGSI, welcomed the
                          attendees to the May 2010 Quarterly Meeting

                       Kathy Jorgenson
                        Kathy Jorgenson introduced the three presenters.
            Kathy is responsible for arranging our CGSI Quarterly Meetings


Dave Pavelka described the 1781 Protestants who were allowed to build churches in the Austrian Empire. CGSI has in its library the birth/marriage & death records (1781-1867) from the Protestant Church in Borova (near Policka in the Czech Moravian Highland). Immigration from this area to the Hopkins/Minnetonka/Eden Prairie/Edina area began in the mid 1850’s.

The first Protestant was Josef Bren. Arriving in New York by boat, he traveled to Caledonia, WI (near Racine, WI) by train; the end of the train line at that time. A year later, he completed his trip to Minnesota by horse and wagon. In the early years, before churches were constructed, Protestants and Catholics met in an ecumenical way in each others homes.

In 1887 the Bohemian Evangelical Reformed Church of Deephaven Junction was formed. This church with its historic cemetery today is now known as Faith Presbyterian Church of Minnetonka. Vilem Siller, first full time minister of the original church, in 1900, authored the book Pamatnik, Almanac of the Czech and Slovak Protestant Churches in North America. CGSI is sponsoring the translation of this book from Czech to English. The translation will be available in the near future. An interesting sidelight, the book notes that in 1900 Hopkins was connected to Minneapolis by two trains and a street car.

                       Al Kranz
Al Kranz presented on the St. Margaret’s Catholic Church in Minnetonka including the first immigrants that built the church. He covered their ties to their homeland of Bohemia. Their church was named for and built in similar style to the one they left in Borova, Bohemia. The immigrants received donations from the readers of Hlas (published in St. Louis) and 72 future parishioners as well as land from Al’s Dvorak family. The first Mass was celebrated there on 1 July 1880. Records are available for St. Margaret’s starting in 1881.

Some of the first Catholic families that started St. Margaret’s sailed on the Bark Orpheus from Bremen to Philadelphia; arriving there on 27 June 1867. Bohemia at that time was part of the Austrian Empire which, that same year, became the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Photos of their homeland church, Sv. Marketa, were shown. That church was originally built as a wooden church about 1350 and today’s stone structure about 1600.

                        Chuck Romportl
Chuck Romportl explained that in 1880 the Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie area were farming communities. The immigrants tried to bring many of the old world customs to the new world. The first railroad line was laid in Hopkins in 1871. The Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. brought industrialization to the area with a large manufacturing plant in 1887. St. Margaret’s (1880) and St. Mary’s (1890) were small early churches that served the catholic population. A larger church needed to be built but both parishes wanted their church to survive. Bishop Dowlings (1919-1932) tried to intervene but met with resistance. The construction of St. Joseph church and school was complete in 1922. The new school was opened in 1923. By 1948 810 families attended St. Joseph’s parish.

                       Suzette Steppe
                         Suzette Steppe described the research recources
                         available in the CGSI holdings at the MGS Library.