The Coming to America of One Czech Family--FRANK AND MARIE MATOUS REKTORIK
- Come on folks, let us hear your stories or you will have to read (or delete)
just those I submit such as this one which is about my paternal great-grand
parents. Their son, Alois (Louis), was my grandpa.
Coming to America by Gary Rektorik
The reason FRANK REKTORIK brought his family to America has been forgotten
with time. Many feel, however, the inexpensive land and virtually unlimited
opportunities which could be obtained in Texas by those who wished to work
for it, was the main driving force in Frank's quest for a new beginning.
In the old country Frank owned about nine acres of land and was considered to
be a substantial land owner. However with no ability to increase his land
holdings and with his family growing ever larger his desire to provide a
better life for his family grew increasingly stronger. So strong that in
1885 he decided to come to America and see for himself this so called "land
Frank's first trip to America was on the ship "S. S. Wieland" which left port
in Hamburg, Germany under Captain C. Hebich and arrived in New York on
October 17, 1885. Frank traveled alone on this trip, carried no luggage and
could neither speak nor understand English. He entered the United States
through Castle Gardens since Ellis Island was not established as an immigrant
center until 1892.
From New York City Frank took a four day train ride to the Houston, Texas
area. He first looked at property in Harris County but decided the land was
too low and swampy for farming. He then proceeded on to the Fayette County
area where he established contact with Mr. FRANZ RUSSEK, a noted immigrant
agent in the Schulenburg area. Russek was an immigrant from Hustopece,
Moravia in 1869. It was with Mr. Russek's help that Frank was able to find a
small rent house to which he would eventually bring his family. This house
stood where now is the west side of the Schulenburg City Cemetery.
Frank traveled back to his homeland to convince his wife Maria that they
should uproot their family and move to Texas. Maria originally would have no
part of leaving her family and friends to travel to an unknown land. However
Frank remained persistent and after much persuasion Maria agreed to come to
So in the fall of 1886, Frank, Maria who was eight months pregnant, and their
five small children (Mary, John, Josephine, Alois and Frances), left Hamburg
on their journey to the United States. They traveled on the ship "S. S.
Rhaetia" under Captain Vogelsang and arrived in the port of New York on
October 19, 1886. Two people accompanied the Rektorik family from MORKOVICE.
Mr. FRANZ MINKS, who worked as their farmhand and JOSEFA STUIPCAK (?) who
became the family maid. These two eventually married and lived north of
After being processed through Castle Gardens they made the four day train
trip to Schulenburg, Texas where they settled into their small rent house.
It was in this house that their sixth child, Frank, was born on December 4,
Sometimes during the following year Frank purchased two plots of land. One
plot of 25 acres was from the original tract of W. R. HENSLEY and a second
plot of 193 acres from the original tract of S. G. Hanks. From tax records
it appears Frank paid approximately $8 an acre for the property.
The above story was researched and written by a cousin of mine, Gary
Rektorik. It is contained in a family published book, Descendants and their
Families of Frank Rektorik and Marie Matous, written by Gary Rektorik and
printed in 1997. My great appreciate goes to Gary for all his efforts.
Unless there are great outcries of "NO MORE!", I will soon submit Chapter
Two, Living in Texas.
Susan Rektorik Henley