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Texas Czech Immigrant Legislators

Over the past one hundred twenty years at least six Czech immigrants have served in the Texas Legislature.  All but one of those immigrants came to this country as children with their parents.  And all but one were born in the northeastern part of Moravia.

Augustin Haidusek

Augustin Haidusek was the first Czech immigrant to be elected to the Texas Legislature.  He represented Fayette and Lee Counties in the Seventeenth Legislature.

Augustin Haidusek was born September 19, 1845, in the village of Mnisi, Moravia.  His parents were Valentin Haidusek and Veronika Kladiva.  Haidusek’s mother died of typhus in 1847, and his father married Mariana Broz.  In 1856 the Haidusek family emigrated to Texas.  They settled first at Dubina, along with several other families that emigrated with them, and later west of Schulenburg.  During the Civil War Augustin Haidusek served in Company F, Bates Regiment, 13th Texas Infantry.*  After the war he taught school and studied law.  He was admitted to the bar in 1870.  He was the first Czech lawyer in Texas.  In 1872 Augustin Haidusek married Anna Becka, whose family came from Vsetin, Moravia.  He was elected mayor of La Grange in 1875.  He was the first Czech mayor in Texas.  In 1880 Augustin Haidusek was elected to the Seventeenth Texas Legislature.  He served one term, the regular session of 1881 and a called session in 1882.  In 1884 Haidusek was elected County Judge of Fayette County.  In 1890 he purchased the Czech-language newspaper Svoboda.  Augustin Haidusek died September 28, 1929, and was buried in La Grange’s Old City Cemetery.

Wenzel Matejowsky

Wenzel Matejowsky was the second Czech immigrant to be elected to the Texas Legislature.  He represented Fayette County in the Twentieth Legislature.  Unlike his compatriots, he came to this country as a young man and was Bohemian by birth.

Wenzel Matejowsky was born May 1, 1829, in Nechanice, Bohemia.  His parents were Anton Matejowsky and Barbora Herrmann.  In 1851 Wenzel Matejowsky emigrated to Texas with an aunt and uncle, Franz Herrmann and Katerina (Pospistl) Herrmann.  Matejowsky initially settled at Cat Spring, and later moved to Bastrop.  He married Christiane Dietrich from Saxony in 1854.  During the Civil War Matejowsky served in the Long Prairie German Company.  In 1867 he went into partnership in a store at Waldek in Fayette County.  In 1870 he moved to an area that was eventually named Nechanitz after his birthplace.  He started a store, and in 1874 was named postmaster of Nechanitz.  In 1886 Wenzel Matejowsky was elected to the Twentieth Texas Legislature.  He served one term, the regular session of 1887 and a called session in 1888.  Wenzel Matejowsky died December 18, 1904, and was buried in the Waldek Cemetery.

Josef Peter

Josef Peter was the third Czech immigrant to be elected to the Texas Legislature.  He represented Fayette County in the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Legislatures.

Josef Peter was born January 18, 1846, in the village of Ticha, Moravia.  (Some accounts mistakenly give his birth date as February 2, 1845.)  His parents were Josef Peter and Rosalie Konvicka.  In 1856 the Peter family emigrated to Texas in the same group as the Haiduseks.  Like the Haidusek family, the Peters settled at Dubina.  But young Josef Peter made Dubina his life-long home.  During the Civil War Josef Peter hauled cotton to Mexico.  He was a blacksmith, and eventually owned a store, saloon and cotton gin at Dubina.  In 1871 Josef Peter married Barbora Vrana from Dobra, Silesia.  (Some accounts mistakenly give the marriage date as 1875.)  He was named postmaster of Dubina in 1885.  In 1890 Josef Peter was elected to the Twenty-second Texas Legislature.  He served two terms, being reelected in 1892.  He served in the regular session of 1891, a called session in 1892 and the regular session of 1893.  Josef Peter died March 26, 1924, and was buried in the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Cemetery at Dubina.

John R. Kubena

John R. Kubena was the fourth Czech immigrant to be elected to the Texas Legislature.  He represented Fayette, Bastrop and Gonzales Counties in the Twenty-eight, Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Legislatures.

John R. Kubena was born June 10, 1868, in the village of Lichnov, Moravia.  His parents were Jan Kubena and Veronika Kahanek.  (Some accounts give his mother’s name as Veronika Kulhanek.)  The Kubena family emigrated to Texas in 1882.  The family settled first near Schulenburg, and later moved to Fayetteville.  In 1890 John Kubena moved to La Grange, where he worked in a store.  He married Julie Sladek in 1896, and moved to Moulton where he worked in another store.  In 1897 John R. Kubena was elected the first secretary of the newly-formed S.P.J.S.T.  He held that office until his death in 1938.  In 1899 Kubena bought a store in Fayetteville.  He served as alderman of that city, and then in 1902 he was elected to the Twentieth-eighth Texas Legislature.  Kubena served three terms, being reelected in 1904 and 1906.  He served in the regular session of 1903, a called session in 1903, the regular session of 1905, a called session in 1905, a called session in 1906, the regular session of 1907 and a called session in 1907. John R. Kubena was run over by a car and killed on May 3, 1938.  He was buried in the Fayetteville City Cemetery.

Cyril L. Stavinoha

Cyril L. Stavinoha was the fifth Czech immigrant to be elected to the Texas Legislature.  He represented Lavaca County in the Twenty-ninth Legislature.

Cyril L. Stavinoha was born June 29, 1875, in the village of Hrabuvka (also known as Mala Hrabova), Moravia.  His parents were Felix Stavinoha and Marie Lycka.  In 1881 the Stavinoha family emigrated to Texas.  They settled first at Hostyn, then at Ammannsville and eventually at Holman.  Cyril Stavinoha was a teacher and studied law.  He was admitted to the bar in 1902 and set up practice in Hallettsville.  In 1904 Cyril Stavinoha was elected to the Twenty-ninth Texas Legislature.  He served one term, the regular session of 1905, a called session in 1905 and a called session in 1906.  In 1914 Cyril Stavinoha married Marie Jansky.  For much of the decade of the 1920’s he served as County Judge of Lavaca County.  In 1927 he was elected Legal Advisor of K.J.Z.T.  Cyril Stavinoha died December 17, 1944, and was buried in Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery at Hallettsville.

Thomas Kraitchar

Thomas Kraitchar was the sixth Czech immigrant to be elected to the Texas Legislature.  He represented Burleson County in the Thirty-second Legislature.

Thomas Kraitchar was born Tomas Krajca on April 8, 1848, in the village of Lutonina, Moravia.  His parents were Tomas Krajca and Anna Matyak.  In 1855 the Krajca family emigrated to Texas.  First they settled at Cat Spring.  Then they moved to Houston.  There Thomas Kraitchar married Anna Mikeska from Zadverice, Moravia, in 1867.  Kraitchar moved his family to Wesley, and then in 1870 settled at Novy Tabor in Burleson County.  He was one of the county’s first Czech settlers.  Kraitchar farmed and owned a store at Novy Tabor.  In 1879 he moved the store to Caldwell.  Later he engaged in buying and selling cotton.  When the city of Caldwell was incorporated in 1891, Thomas Kraitchar was elected to the first Board of Aldermen.  In 1910 Thomas Kraitchar was elected to the Thirty-second Texas Legislature.  He served the regular session of 1911, but he died before the convening of a called session in that year.  Thomas Kraitchar died May 28, 1911, and was buried in the Caldwell Masonic Cemetery.

* “Form A – Soldier’s Application for a Pension,” September 27, 1928.

- Robert Janak

“Texas Czech Immigrant Legislators,” printed in the series Czech Connections, Cesky Hlas (Newsletter of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas), August 2000, pages 16-17.

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