Stramberk

Stramberk

Wallachia Open-Air Museum

Wallachia Open-Air Museum

Bouzov Castle

Bouzov Castle

Trinity Column, Olomouc

Trinity Column, Olomouc

Astronomical clock, Olomouc

Astronomical clock, Olomouc

Baroque fountain, Olomouc

Baroque fountain, Olomouc

Bouzov Castle

Bouzov Castle

Olomouc

Olomouc

Czech Republic

Moravia

August 1996 • Family roots was Dad's big interest during his final years, but all he could find were a few books with lists of ship passengers, none of whom was us. Five years after he was gone, a distant cousin in Texas came up with the names of the Czech villages where our great-grandparents were born, so I went to Moravia to look for more traces of them. Within minutes of arriving at the town hall in Ticha, the search was over. A local historian's self-published book had everything in it—names of families who boarded ships to Texas in the late 1800s, their dates of departure, their local addresses, photos of their former homes. The historian had also created a museum for the thousands of Texas-Czech descendents who've been similarly researching their heritage since the collapse of communism. Armed with his book and a guide/driver who spoke some very basic English, I visited three different addresses where Jan and Veronika Mikulenka lived before emigrating on the steamship "America" in 1880. Their final house in Moravia was occupied by an elderly widow, who ushered us into the tiny cellar out back to drink slivovice under the watchful eyes of topless pin-ups that had been taped to the wall by her husband. If I had any doubts about being in the correct ancestral home, they quickly vanished as that sweet old lady poured shot after shot after shot. 

Stramberk

Stramberk

Wallachia Open-Air Museum

Wallachia Open-Air Museum

Bouzov Castle

Bouzov Castle

Trinity Column, Olomouc

Trinity Column, Olomouc

Astronomical clock, Olomouc

Astronomical clock, Olomouc

Baroque fountain, Olomouc

Baroque fountain, Olomouc

Bouzov Castle

Bouzov Castle

Olomouc

Olomouc