Czech American

Czech American
Czech American
Thomas r. cech.jpgAnton Cermak cph.3b27410.jpgAlbrightmadeleine.jpg
James Lovell.jpgEugeneACernan.jpg
Notable Czech Americans:
Louis BrandeisGeorge Halas
Thomas CechAnton CermakMadeleine Albright
Jim LovellEugene Cernan
Total population
Czech or Czechoslovak
1,703,930 Americans

0.6% of the US population

Regions with significant populations
Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, New York

American English, Czech


Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism, Atheism

Related ethnic groups

Czechs, Poles, Slovaks

Czech Americans (Czech: Čechoameričané) are citizens of the United States who were born in, or who descended from, the territory of the historic Czech lands, (consisting of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia), or succession states, now known as the Czech Republic (however, the descendants of German-speakers from these lands might choose to identity themselves as German Americans). In the 19th century, they were frequently called Bohemians. According to the 2000 US census, there are 1,262,527 Americans of full or partial Czech descent, in addition to 441,403 persons listing their ancestry as Czechoslovak.



The first documented case of the entry of Czechs to the North American shores is of Joachim Gans of Prague, who came to Roanoke, North Carolina in 1585 with an expedition of explorers organized by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618).

Augustine Herman (1621–1686) was the first documented Czech settler. He was a surveyor and skilled draftsman, successful planter and developer of new lands, a shrewd and enterprising merchant, a bold politician and effective diplomat, fluent in several languages. After coming to New Amsterdam (present New York) he became one of the most influential people in the Dutch Province which led to his appointment to the Council of Nine to advise the New Amsterdam Governor Peter Stuyvesant. One of his greatest achievements was his celebrated map of Maryland and Virginia commissioned by Lord Baltimore on which he began working in earnest after removing to the English Province of Maryland. Lord Baltimore - Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore - was so pleased with the map that he rewarded Herman with a large estate, named by Herman "Bohemia Manor", and the hereditary title Lord.

There was another Bohemian living in New Amsterdam at that time, Frederick Philipse (1626–1720), who became equally famous. He was a successful merchant who, eventually, became the wealthiest person in the entire Dutch Province. Philipse was originally from Bohemia, from an aristocratic Protestant family who had to leave their native land to save their lives, after the Thirty Years' War.

The first significant wave of Czech colonists was of the Moravian Brethren who began arriving on the American shores in the first half of the 18th century. Moravian Brethren were the followers of the teachings of the Czech religious reformer and martyr Jan Hus (1370–1415) and Bishop John Amos Comenius (1592–1670). They were true heirs of the ancient "Unitas fratrum" - Unity of the Brethren bohemicorum, who found a temporary refuge in Herrnhut ("Ochranov," in Czech language) in Lusatia under the patronage of Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf (1700–1760). Because of the worsening political and religious situation in Saxony, the Moravian Brethren, as they began calling themselves, decided to emigrate to North America.

They started coming in 1735, when they first settled in Savannah, Georgia, and then in Pennsylvania, from which they spread to other states after the American Revolution, especially Ohio. They established a number of Moravian settlements, such as Bethlehem and Lititz in Pennsylvania and Salem in North Carolina. Moravians made great contributions to the growth and development of the US. Cultural contributions of Moravian Brethren from the Czech lands were distinctly notable in the realm of music. The trumpets and horns used by the Moravians in Georgia are the first evidence of Moravian instrumental music in America.

In 1776, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, more than two thousand Moravian Brethren lived in the colonies. The Moravian Brethren established a close relationship with President Thomas Jefferson, who designated special lands to the missionaries to civilize the Indians and promote Christianity.

The free uncultivated land in America encouraged immigration throughout the nineteenth century; most of the immigrants were farmers and settled in the Midwestern states. During the American Civil War, Czechs served in both the Confederate and Union army, but as with most immigrant groups, the majority fought for the Union. Immigration resumed and reached a peak in 1907, when 13,554 Czechs entered the eastern ports. Unlike previous immigration, new immigrants were predominantly Catholic. By 1910, the Czech population was 349,000, and by 1940 it was 1,764,000. The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that nearly 800,000 Czechs were residing in the U.S. in 1970. Since this figure did not include Czechs who had been living in the U.S. for several generations, it is fair to assume that the actual number was much higher.


Distribution of Czech Americans according to the 2000 census,

The top 50 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Czech ancestry

The top 50 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Czech ancestry are:[2]

  1. West, TX 40.9%
  2. Oak Creek NE 38.2%
  3. Wilber, NE 37.3%
  4. Shiner, TX 32.1%
  5. Montgomery, MN 30.9%
  6. Lonsdale, MN 30.5%
  7. Wheatland, MN 29.9%
  8. Tyndall, SD 29.5%
  9. David City, NE 28.0%
  10. Montgomery, MN 26.3%
  11. Franklin, WI 26.1%
  12. Lanesburgh, MN 25.2%
  13. Granger, TX 25.1%
  14. Port Costa, CA 24.0%
  15. Schulenburg, TX 23.7%
  16. New Prague, MN and Erin, MN 23.5%
  17. Wahoo, NE 22.7%
  18. Carlton, WI 22.4%
  19. Wallis, TX 22.0%
  20. Hallettsville, TX 21.5%
  21. Hale, MN 20.8%
  22. Montpelier, WI 19.7%
  23. Flatonia, TX 19.5%
  24. West Kewaunee, WI 19.2%
  25. Schuyler, NE and Webster, NE 19.0%
  26. Gibson, WI 18.9%
  27. Hillsboro, WI 18.4%
  28. Kossuth, WI 18.2%
  29. Lexington, MN 18.1%
  30. Mishicot, WI 16.9%
  31. Kewaunee, WI and North Bend, NE 16.7%
  32. Franklin, WI 15.9%
  33. Oak Grove, WI and Caldwell, TX 15.7%
  34. Lake Mary, MN 15.4%
  35. Solon, IA 15.2%
  36. Mishicot, WI 15.0%
  37. Helena, MN 14.9%
  38. Marietta, NE 14.7%
  39. Stickney, IL 14.5%
  40. Ord, NE and Weimar, TX 14.3
  41. Crete, NE 14.2%
  42. Park River, ND 14.1%
  43. Ord, NE and La Grange, TX 14.0%
  44. Wagner, SD 13.6%
  45. Needville, TX 13.2%
  46. Calmar, IA and Worcester, WI 13.0%
  47. Webster, MN 12.9%
  48. North Riverside, IL 12.4%
  49. Belle Plaine, IA 12.3%
  50. El Campo, TX 12.2%

U.S. communities with the most residents born in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia)

The top U.S. communities with the most residents born in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia) are:[3]

  1. Masaryktown, FL 3.1%
  2. Mifflinville, PA 2.2%
  3. Gulf Shores, AL 2.1%
  4. North Riverside, IL and Sharon Springs, NY 2.0%
  5. Lyons, IL 1.6%
  6. Rose, WI, North Lynbrook, NY and Anna Maria, FL 1.5%
  7. Oakbrook Terrace, IL and Danville, AR 1.4%
  8. Bee Ridge, FL, Cameron, TX, Lenox, MA, Verdigre, NE, and Willowbrook, IL 1.2%
  9. Lower Grand Lagoon, FL, Beachwood, OH, Allamuchy-Panther Valley, NJ, Mahopac, NY, Black Diamond, FL, and Glenview, KY 1.1%
  10. Key West, FL, Woodstock, NY, Madison Park, NJ, Belleair Beach, FL, South Amboy, NJ, Colver, PA, Herricks, NY, Horine, MO, Shelburne, MA, and Gang Mills, NY 1.0%

The states with the largest Czech American populations

The states with the largest Czech American populations are:

Texas 155,855
Illinois 123,708
Wisconsin 97,220
Minnesota 85,056
Nebraska 83,462
California   77,673
Ohio 61,640
Iowa 51,508
New York 44,942
Florida 42,890

The states with the top percentages of Czech Americans

The states with the top percentages of Czech Americans are:

Nebraska 4.9%
South Dakota   2.1%
North Dakota 2.0%
Wisconsin 1.8%
Iowa 1.8%
Minnesota 3.7%

Notable Czech Americans

See List of Czech Americans


Many cities in the United States hold festivals celebrating Czech culture and cuisine.

See also

Further reading

  • Capek, Thomas, The Czechs (Bohemians) in America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. 293 p. Reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1969.
  • Epstein, Helen, Where She Came From: A Daughter's Search for her Mother's History, 1997, Holmes&Meier or Kindle.
  • Habenicht, Jan, History of Czechs in America. St. Paul, MN: Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, 1996. 581 p.
  • Rechcigl Miloslav, Jr., Czechs and Slovaks in America. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs and New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. 317 p.
  • The Czech Texans, The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures
  • Hampl, Patricia, A Romantic Education: Houghton Mifflin, 1981.
  • Grossman, Patricia, Radiant Daughter, a novel: Northwestern University Press, 2010

External links


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