Czech Immigrants to Texas

By Kristen Lason Pd. 4

Cultural Highlights

  • Festivals in Texas
    • Annual Fathers Day picnic in June- Ammansville
    • Kolache Festival in September- Caldwell
    • Sts. Cyril & Methodious bazaar in late September- Damon
    • Sts. Cyril & Methodius festival, first Sunday in July- Dubina
    • Czech Kolache-Klobase Festival in June-East Bernard
    • National Polka Festival in May- Ennis
    • Czhilispiel in October-Flatonia
    • Kolache Fest in September-Hallettsville
    • South Texas Polka and Sausage Fest in March- Hallettsville
    • St. Mary’s Parish picnic on Labor Day Sunday-High Hill
    • Slavic Heritage Day in July-Houston
    • Gulf Coast Czech Festival in late October- Pasadena
    • Prazska Pout on August 15-Praha
    • Parish Picnic close to Veterans Day- Praha
    • Fort Bend County Czech Fest in May- Richmond~Rosenburg
    • Czech Heritage Festival in October-San Antonio
    • St. Johns Parish Festival Independence Day- Schulenburg
    • Bocktoberfest in October- Shiner
    • Church bazaar Labor Day Sunday- Shiner
    • Westfest on Labor Day weekend- West
  • Customs- Dancing the Polka, Waltz, and Beseda.
  • Traditions- On Christmas Eve the dinner table must be set for an even number of people because an odd will bring bad luck, all lights must be turned off until you see the first star then dinner can start, the first person to stand up from the table will be the first to die so everyone must stand at once, red is commonly worn on Easter, boys whip the legs of the girls with small twigs to bring youth and health, it is bad luck to eat poultry or fish on Jan 1st because your luck could swim or fly away
      • Culture in Texas- Czechs introduced the hammered dulcimer to Texas, brought the tarot card game over (taroky) and there are still competitions.
    • Food-Kolaches, Sauerkraut,Dumpling,Klobase(Czech Sausage), Klobasenks(pig in a blanket),wheat, and barley.

Significant Individuals

  • Prokop Hoffman
    • 1820-1900
    • Left Barringen, Bohemia in 1849
    • Arrived in New Orleans where he married Adelaide Rennar and worked for a while
    • Then he left for Texas to reunite with his brother ,Alexander, in the small village of Corpus Christi
    • He worked as a barber until the civil war broke out
    • He then raised a company of soldiers to fight for the Confederacy but he did not go with them
    • Instead he opened a line of hacks(taxis) and wagons in Brownsville until Union Troops took the town
    • After the Civil War he went to the port of Indianola and bought a load of goods that he took to Corpus Christi to sell
    • `Prokop opened a store and sold all his goods
    • along with the multiple items he was selling, he also sold beer purchased from New Orleans on contract which was sent over to Corpus by a boat
    • Later in his life he became a rancher
    • At one time he owned 6,000acres and in 1889 he got out of the ranching business and sold his land for $40,000
  • John Jaroslav Shiller
    • 1877-1971
    • Was a doctor in Praha in 1903
    • Parents did not want him to be a cotton farmer so they encouraged him to become a doctor
    • He attended the University of Texas in Gavelston until the 1900 hurricane hit and destroyed the school
    • He then went to Tulane Medical School in New orlenas and graduated
    • He set up practice not long after he graduated
    • He delivered 1,400 babies charging $10 each when he started out
    • He charged an extra $1 for house calls out of town because he had to dig out his car a lot from the Texas mud
  • John Pliska
    • In 1912 he built an airplane at his blacksmith shop in midland
    • It was one of the first planes to be built and flown in Texas
    • The wings of the plane were cloth which were covered up to prevent the cloth from leaking air
    • The engines didn’t really have a lot of power so when he tried it on a rough runway it didn’t get very high
    • He then dismantled it and stored it in the back of his blacksmith shop
    • It is now on display in a museum

Did You Know?

  • Did you know that the soft contact lens was invented in Czechoslovakia?
  • Did you know that the word robot comes from the czech language?
  • Did you know that the sugar cube can be traced to the town of daçice?
  • Did you know that the national beverage is beer?

Did the Czech immigrants affect Texas?

I think that the Czech immigrants had a great impact on Texas because they settled over 100 towns and 250 counties. The Czech people were usually farmers and helped cultivate a lot of the Texas land. They also brought many of their traditions with them. Many of the towns in Texas are Czech based still today and are very proud of their Czech culture. West is an example of a very Czech cultured town and they even have a kolache queen. Also there are many bakeries that sell kolaches. One of the most famous is the Czech Stop in West. This has been the rest stop for many people traveling between Dallas and Austin on I35. Each year on Labor Day West throws their big Westfest that brings thousands of people into the town to enjoy the Czech culture. Many other towns in our state do festivals throughout the year. The Czech culture is still very active today in Texas.

Is Texas better off?

I think Texas is better off with the Czechs living here because they have made many contributions that are still around today. They were very hard working people who farmed the land that needed to be farmed and knew how to do it. They could work under bad conditions due to the fact that in their homeland of Czechoslovakia was always in a political crisis. They also put great emphasis on education. The schools were the second thing they built, after the farms. They cared about education and learning about their country, so all schools talked in the Czech language and later in English too. Some students who went to UT in Austin even convinced the college to start teaching the language. Education was important in the Czech family life. They had a great affect on the culture in Texas by introducing new instruments, customs, traditions, games, and food here. Families today are still enjoying the folk dances such as the polka and waltz. A part of the cities and counties in Texas are still living the Czech way of life. Their food and culture can be found all over Texas today influencing much of the culture. The Czechs were a big part of shaping Texas into what it is today.


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