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Peter Mikeska — Confederate Army Veteran

          Peter Mikeska was born on February 13, 1838, in the Moravian village of Želechovice.[i]  Moravia was one of the historical Czech Crown Lands, and at that time it was ruled by the Emperor of Austria.  Young Peter Mikeska’s father was also named Petr Mikeska and was born in Želechovice on March 18, 1811,[ii] the son of Jan Mikeska and Marie Jakubík.  Young Peter Mikeska’s mother was Rozina Mikeska, the daughter of Josef Mikeska and Alžběta Švec,[iii] and she was born on November 19, 1813, in the nearby village of Zádveřice.[iv]

          The father, Petr Mikeska, and his wife Rozina Mikeska had the following children:

          Jan Mikeska (1833-1834)[v]

          Maryna Mikeska (1835-1837)[vi]

Peter Mikeska (1838-1911)[vii]

Anna Mikeska (1840-1917)[viii]

Young Peter Mikeska’s mother died on November 19, 1842.  The Evangelical Minister who recorded her death in the church records noted an intestinal inflammation as the cause of death.[ix]  Peter Mikeska was four and one half years old.

His father subsequently took another Mikeska bride, Anna, who was the daughter of Tomáš Mikeska and Anna Jeřábek and was born on October 4, 1823, in Zádveřice.[x]

Petr Mikeska and his second wife Anna Mikeska had the following children:

František Mikeska (1844-1870)[xi]

Rozina Mikeska (1845-        )[xii]

Mariana Mikeska (1849-1898)[xiii]

Jan Mikeska (1852-1853)[xiv]

          In July of 1855 the family of Peter Mikeska immigrated to Texas,[xv] along with several other Evangelical families from the Želechovice and Zádveřice area.  Young Peter Mikeska was 23 years old.  Other members of the Mikeska family at this time were his father Petr Mikeska, Sr., his step-mother Anna Mikeska, his sister Anna, a half-brother František and two half-sisters, Rozina and Mariana.

According to Peter Mikeska’s later memoirs, the ocean voyage lasted seven weeks.  The ship docked at Galveston, and the family then went by boat to Houston.  From there the Mikeskas and their friends traveled by ox-cart to Cat Spring,[xvi] which had become a stopping-off place for immigrants before they set out for different parts of the state.

Again according to his memoirs, Peter Mikeska’s father settled in Industry, where he bought a small farm.  Young Peter Mikeska lived and worked on that farm for five years.[xvii]

On January 22, 1860, Peter Mikeska married.[xviii]  His wife was Anna Skřivánek, the daughter of Josef Skřivánek and Rozina Bravenec from Želechovice.[xix]  Anna Skřivánek was born on July 12, 1835.[xx]  Reverend Josef Opočenský performed the ceremony.[xxi]

In the summer of 1862 Peter Mikeska was called up into the maelstrom of the American Civil War.  He was enrolled in Company D, Second Infantry Battalion (Captain Wickeland’s Company) of Waul’s Texas Legion on June 14, 1862, in Austin County.  On June 20 he was mustered into service at Camp Waul in Washington County.[xxii]  Since Peter Mikeska received no bounty for enlistment, it can be assumed that he was conscripted.

As a rule the Czech immigrants to Texas did not want to take part in the American Civil War, and they had no desire to fight in the army of the South.  They had left a Europe of wars and military conscription.  Having recently been freed from the bonds of serfdom themselves, they did not want to defend a system that enslaved other human beings.  The Czech immigrants did not understand the larger issues of the conflict, such as states’ rights and economic competition.  Finally, many of the pre-Civil war Czech immigrants to Texas, like the Mikeskas, were descendants of the Moravian Brethren Church, a church with a deep pacifist conviction dating back to 1457.

On August 7, 1862, Captain Wickeland’s Company left Camp Waul on a long march for Arkansas.[xxiii]  Peter Mikeska was one of twelve Czech soldiers in the company.  Four others had escaped at the outset of the trek northward.  Along the way the legion received orders to go to Vicksburg, Mississippi.[xxiv]

The soldiers arrived in Vicksburg on September 30, 1862.  From there they went to Holly Springs in the northern part of the state.  They arrived shortly after the Battle of Corinth (October 3-4, 1862), which was just in time to join the Confederate retreat back south.[xxv]

On March 11, 1863, Confederate troops temporarily stopped the Federal advance at Fort Pemberton on the Yazoo River.  Taking part in the Confederate victory was Waul’s Texas Legion,[xxvi] which included Captain Wickeland’s Company and Peter Mikeska.

On May 18, 1863, Waul’s Texas Legion withdrew to Vicksburg.[xxvii]  Federal troops under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant laid siege to the city, a siege which lasted until July 4, 1863.  After the surrender of Vicksburg thousands of Confederate soldiers were paroled and allowed to return home and await exchange.

By an agreement between the two sides, prisoners of war were to be exchanged on a one for one basis.  First they would be paroled, which meant that they promised not to participate in any military activities until they were exchanged.  Often they were allowed to return to their homes to await exchange, and when they were exchanged they could return to their fighting units.[xxviii]

Peter Mikeska, along with six other Czech soldiers from Captain Wickeland’s Company, signed parole papers on July 9, 1863.[xxix]  Then they walked home, ragged and hungry.

The soldiers of Waul’s Texas Legion were exchanged in the fall of 1863,[xxx] and they were supposed to report back to their companies.  The two infantry battalions of Waul’s Texas Legion were reorganized into Timmons’ Regiment, Texas Infantry.[xxxi]  None of the Czech soldiers returned, at least not immediately.  On subsequent company muster rolls they were reported absent without leave since November 1, 1863.[xxxii]  Apparently only Peter Mikeska ever reported back to duty.  He was dropped from the company roll on April 30, 1864,[xxxiii] but on September 16, 1864, he joined from desertion at Mud Island near Galveston[xxxiv] and served along the Texas coast until the end of the war, at least he was listed present on the company muster roll for March and April of 1865.[xxxv]

The Civil War ended in April of 1865, and the Confederate soldiers made their way home to try to put back together their disrupted lives.  Peter returned to his wife Anna and their daughter Františka, who had been born on January 3, 1863,[xxxvi] while Peter Mikeska was on garrison duty near Grenada, Mississippi.[xxxvii]

Peter Mikeska’s second child Rozalie was born on June 26, 1866.[xxxviii]

In 1866 Peter Mikeska bought two tracts of land in northern Austin County near the Czech Evangelical community of Wesley.  On April 25, 1866, he purchased some 20 acres from Malcom McGregor for $200.[xxxix]  On August 24, 1866, he bought 55 acres on Boggy Creek from František Šebesta.  For the 55-acre tract he paid $605.[xl]  Four years later, on July 22, 1870, Peter Mikeska bought another 22 acres from František Šebesta.  These 22 acres, which were located on Steam Mill Creek, cost $374.[xli]

The United States census of 1870 found five people in the Peter Mikeska household: Peter Mikeska (listed as 32 years old), Anna (listed as 34), Františka (listed as 7), Rozalie (listed as 4) and Anna (listed as 4 months old).[xlii]

Baby daughter Anna was born on January 9, 1870.[xliii]  Two more children were soon born to Peter Mikeska and Anna Skřivánek.  A son, who was given the traditional family name of Peter, was born on October 23, 1873,[xliv] and another daughter, Terezie, was born on November 8, 1876.[xlv]

In 1879 Peter Mikeska and his family moved to Lavaca County.[xlvi]  On November 28, 1879, he bought some 550 acres northeast of Hallettsville from J. W. Bennett.  Peter Mikeska paid Bennett and his wife $3,500 in cash and signed two promissory notes for $1,100 each.  The first note was due at the end of one year, and the second at the end of two, but Peter Mikeska paid them both in full on November 28, 1880.[xlvii]

Apparently Peter Mikeska’s farm ventures were successful, and of course he had the money from the sale of his 97 acres in Austin County.  On December 3, 1879, he sold his three tracts of land near Wesley to his brother-in-law Josef Skřivánek, Jr., for $1,850.[xlviii]

On the following day, however, on December 4, 1879, Peter Mikeska bought another three tracts of land totaling some 59 acres from Josef Skřivánek, Jr., for $800.[xlix]  Then on June 25, 1880, Peter Mikeska sold the 59 acres to his father for $815.[l]  And on November 28 of the same year Peter Mikeska was able to pay off the debt on his Lavaca-County land.

The United States census of 1880, then, found Peter Mikeska and his family living on his farm in Lavaca County.  They included the following: Peter Mikeska (listed as 42 years old), Anna (listed as 44), Františka (listed as 17), Rozalie (listed as 13), Anna (listed as 10), Peter (listed as 6) and Terezie (listed as 3).[li]

The remainder of his life Peter Mikeska spent tending his Lavaca-County farm.  In his memoirs he mentioned that he did not engage in politics or belong to any societies.[lii]

The 1900 United States census found Peter Mikeska and his wife still living on their farm and their two youngest children still living there as well.  Peter Mikeska the son was listed as 26 years old and a farm laborer.  Terezie was listed as 23 years old and a school teacher.  All members of the family were able to read and write.  Peter Mikeska and the two children could also speak English, but Anna Mikeska still spoke only Czech.[liii]

Peter Mikeska and his wife both died in 1911.  Anna Mikeska died on April 25, 1911,[liv] and Peter Mikeska died on June 25, 1911.[lv]  Both were buried in the family cemetery, which is located on the Mikeska farm outside Hallettsville.

Peter Mikeska and Anna Skřivánek had six children.  The five who survived infancy were also buried in the Mikeska family cemetery.  The Mikeska children and their spouses are listed below:[lvi]

1. Františka Mikeska            January 3, 1863 — May 14, 1928

   Adolf Berkovský

2. Rozalie Mikeska               June 26, 1866 — April 16, 1943

   Jan Boček                            June 8, 1868 — August 29, 1951

3. Anna Mikeska (single)     January 9, 1870 — December 31, 1899

4. Peter Mikeska                    October 23, 1873 — March 9, 1951

   Bertha Stulken                    March 27, 1883 — January 16, 1964

5. Terezie Mikeska                November 8, 1876 — July 5, 1956


[i] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[ii] The year of death appears on Peter Mikeska’s tombstone in the Czech-Moravian Brethren Cemetery in Wesley, Texas.  The day and month were provided by Dr. Jan Mikeska of Prague, Czechoslovakia.

[iii] Peter Mikeska’s parents and grandparents are listed on his birth record.  Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[iv] Birth Record, vol. III, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[v] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  Death Record, vol. II, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[vi] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  Death Record, vol. II, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[vii] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  For date of death see his tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.        

[viii] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  Information on her death provided by Mrs. Fannie Bell (Ondřej) Ratcliff of Aransas Pass, Texas.

[ix] Death Record, volume II, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[x] Birth Record, volume III, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[xi] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  For date of death see his tombstone in the Czech-Moravian Brethren Cemetery in Wesley, Texas.

[xii] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[xiii] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  Information on her death provided by Mrs. Fannie Bell (Ondřej) Ratcliff of Aransas Pass, Texas.

[xiv] Birth Record, vol. IV, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.  Death Record, vol. III, Zádveřice Evangelical Church, State Archives, Brno, Moravia.

[xv] Leland Anthony, Declarations by the Czechs in Austin County (By the Author, 1983), pp. 13, 20.  Anthony gives the date (July of 1855) that appeared on the application for naturalization.  Peter Mikeska recalled the year 1855 in his memoirs, Peter Mikeska, “Petr Mikeska,” Amerikán Národní Kalendář (Chicago: August Geringer, 1907), p. 257.  Hudson and Maresh mistakenly put the date of Peter Mikeska’s arrival at June of 1854.  Estelle Hudson and Henry R. Maresh, Czech Pioneers of the Southwest (Dallas: South-West Press, Inc., 1934), p. 27.

[xvi] Peter Mikeska, “Petr Mikeska,” Amerikán Národní Kalendář (Chicago: August Geringer, 1907), p. 257. 

[xvii] Peter Mikeska, “Petr Mikeska,” Amerikán Národní Kalendář (Chicago: August Geringer, 1907), p. 257. 

[xviii] Marriage Record, Austin County, Texas, volume D, p. 44.

[xix] Information provided by Prof. Josef Skřivánek of Cooks Point, Texas.

[xx] See her tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[xxi] Marriage Record, Austin County, Texas, volume D, p. 44.

[xxii] See his individual soldier card based on the company muster roll of June 30, 1862, available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.  Interestingly enough, on the muster roll of July 1, 1862, (see Peter Mikeska’s individual soldier card for this muster roll available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.) Peter Mikeska was listed as single and a native of Germany.  Wrong on both counts!

[xxiii] See the Company D, First Infantry Battalion record of events card based on the company muster roll of July and August, 1862, available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

[xxiv] Josef Čermák, Dějiny Občanské Války s připojením zkušeností českých vojínů (Chicago: August Geringer, 1889), pp. 189-90.  Čermák quotes Civil War veteran Jan Kroulík as saying that there were fifteen Czech soldiers in Company D, Second Infantry Battalion, out of which four deserted right away.  Perhaps he miscounted.  The sixteen, in order of enrollment, were: Ignác Šilar, František Rypl, Jan Mikeska, Peter Mikeska, Josef Mareš, František Mikeska, František Skřivánek, Pavel Slováček, Jan Kroulík, Jan Wotipka (deserted), Karel Lešikar (deserted), Vincenc Lešikar (deserted), František Novák, Tomáš Wotipka (deserted), Wenzel Wotipka and Jan Štefka.

[xxv] Robert A. Hasskarl and Leif R. Hasskarl, Waul’s Texas Legion 1862-1865 (By the Authors, Ada, Oklahoma, 1985) pp. 8-9.

[xxvi] Clement A. Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Company, 1899), volume 11, p. 169.

[xxvii] Birdie Knippel Pech, “Biography and Diary of Wenzel Wotipka.  A Confederate Soldier of the Civil War” (By the Author, Houston, n.d,), p. 5.

[xxviii] For an explanation of the parole and exchange process, and how it was carried out after the Battle of Vicksburg see: Edwin C. Bearss, Decision in Mississippi (Jackson, Mississisppi: Mississippi Commission on the War Between the States, 1962), pp. 448-55.

[xxix] Copies of the parole papers with their signatures on them are available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.  The seven paroled Czech soldiers included: Jan Kroulík, Jan Mikeska, Peter Mikeska, František Rypl, František Skřivánek, Pavel Slováček, and Wenzel Wotipka.

[xxx] Clement A. Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Company, 1899), volume 11, p. 261.

[xxxi] Explanation found on individual soldier cards for that period available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

[xxxii] See their individual soldier cards available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.  They included: Jan Kroulík, Jan Mikeska, Peter Mikeska, František Rypl, František Skřivánek, Pavel Slováček, and Wenzel Wotipka, the seven who had been paroled at Vicksburg.

[xxxiii] See the individual solder card for the regimental return of April, 1864, available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

[xxxiv] See the individual solder card for the regimental return of September 20, 1864, available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

[xxxv] See the individual solder card for the muster roll of March and April of 1865, available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

[xxxvi] See her tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[xxxvii] See the record of events card for Company D, Second Infantry Battalion for January and February of 1863, available from the National Archives in Washington, DC.

[xxxviii] See her tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[xxxix] Deed Record, Austin County, Texas, volume N, pp. 435-36.

[xl] Deed Record, Austin County, Texas, volume N, pp. 195-96.

[xli] Deed Record, Austin County, Texas, volume P, pp. 598-99.

[xlii] Grace Campbell Clowe, Austin County, Texas.  Czech Census Extracts, 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 (By the Author, Albuquerque, 1983), 1870 census, p. 34.

[xliii] See her tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[xliv] See his tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[xlv] See her tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[xlvi] Peter Mikeska, “Petr Mikeska,” Amerikán Národní Kalendář (Chicago: August Geringer, 1907), p. 258.

[xlvii] Deed Record, Lavaca County, Texas, volume V, pp. 775-77.

[xlviii] Deed Record, Austin County, Texas, volume X, pp. 513-14.

[xlix] Deed Record, Austin County, Texas, volume X, pp. 514-16.

[l] Deed Record, Austin County, Texas, volume X, pp. 518-19.

[li] Dorothy Bujnoch and Anne Rhodes, Czech Footprints Across Lavaca County 1860-1900 (By the Authors, Hallettsville, Texas, 1984), volume 1, 1880 census, p. 8.

[lii] Peter Mikeska, “Petr Mikeska,” Amerikán Národní Kalendář (Chicago: August Geringer, 1907), p. 258.

[liii] United States Census 1900, Lavaca County, Texas, p. 4-B.

[liv] See her tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[lv] See his tombstone in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

[lvi] See their tombstones in the Mikeska family cemetery near Hallettsville, Texas.

                                                – Robert Janak

“Peter Mikeska — Confederate Army Veteran,” The Mikeska Family of Zadverice, volume III (By the Author, Beaumont, Texas, 1991, pp. 12-18.


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