Janaks Texas-Czech Articles and Photos

Common Male Czech First Names in Texas

Native American Czechs often are hypnotized by the magic-sounding names that inhabit the pages of Czech history: Bretislav, Premysl, Vratislav.  Most of the Czechs who came to Texas in the last century, however, bore traditional Western names.  They had names that were common to all Roman Catholic countries.  They just said them and spelled them differently.

What first names have been the most common in Czech Texas?  A trip to the graveyard might give us a clue.

The chances are very good that if you are a Texas Czech one of your grandparents was named John, Joseph or Frank.  These are the most common first names for men found on the tombstones in the Catholic cemeteries at Ammannsville, Dubina and Hostyn, Texas.

Tombstones in these three cemeteries record the birthdates of 337 men born between 1800 and 1879.  These men bore 51 different names.  (The various forms of a name, such as Frantisek, Franz and Frank, are considered one name in this study.)  Of these 337 men, 188 were named John, Joseph or Frank (55.2%).

The nine most common first names for men on Ammannsville, Dubina and Hostytn tombstones for this birth period were:

Name: Occurrences: Percentage:

Jan         70     20.8%

Joseph         61     18.1%

Frantisek         55     16.3%

Anton         18       5.3%

Karel         18       5.3%

Vincenc           8       2.4%

Alois           7       2.1%

August           7       2.1%

Jindrich           7       2.1%

The period from 1880 to 1979 found only 289 men with birthdates recorded on the tombstones of these three cemeteries.  There were fewer men buried, but most of the deceased now had 74 different names.  John, Joseph and Frank were still the most common, but now they accounted for only 29.1% of the total.  And their order was reversed somewhat.

The nine most common first names for men in these cemeteries for the 1880 to 1979 birth period were:

Name: Occurrences: Percentage:

Josef         35     12.1%

Jan         26       9.0%

Frantisek         23       8.0%

Adolf         15       5.2%

Jiri         10       3.5%

Emil           9       3.1%

Jindrich           9       3.1%

Karel           8       2.8%

Vilem           8       2.8%

What do all these figures suggest, if one can assume that the Ammannsville, Dubina and Hostyn, Texas, Catholic cemeteries contain a representative sample of Czech first names in Texas?

1. Czech immigrants brought traditional Western names to Texas.

2. John, Joseph and Frank were by far the most common names for men.

3. Texas Czechs broadened their choices for names as they became Americanized.

– Robert Janak

“Common Male Czech First Names in Texas,” Naše Dějiny, (Magazine of Czech Genealogy and Culture published in Hallettsville, Texas, by Doug Kubicek from 1982 to 1989), May-June 1984, pages 8-9.

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