Ellsworth County holds some special memories for me. Both my mother and father were born and raised in Ellsworth County. I spent many summer days and Christmas vacations on my grandparents’ farm in Carneiro and later at their little house a few blocks away from the Ellsworth City Park. I took my first combine ride as a preschooler on my aunt and uncle’s farm. We polka’d (or tried to) and ate kolaches at the Wilson Czech Festival. We looked up how to say different words in grandma’s Czech-English dictionary. All of these experiences lead me to a fascination with the culture not only of Bohemia, but of the farmers who settled in Ellsworth County.
The idea for Ellsworth County Czechs came to me as I began researching my family history. Both sets of my great-grandparents came to Ellsworth County, Kansas from Bohemia in the late 1800’s. As I wandered through census records, I noticed how many families came from Bohemia at the same time. I wanted to learn more about where these families came from and how they lived. As I learn the stories and facts about the Bohemian immigrants, where they came from and their lives in Ellsworth County, I will share them with you all.
Initially, my stories will surround my ancestors, the Vopat and Vodraska families. As I do more research, I will add information on other families. If there is a topic you want to see here, let me know and I will try and cover it.