Josef Volčík was born in the small town of Vsetín, situated in the historical Moravian lands of the Austrian Empire, under the rule of Francis I, first Emperor of Austria. While his headstone, one of the original clues to his birthplace and lineage, indicates a birth date of 18281, Parish Registers from the region have uncovered Josef’s baptismal record which indicates that his birth actually coincided with his parents’ second marriage anniversary on 27 Jan 1830.2
Little is known of Josef’s early life as he grew up through the latter Metternich years. The year 1848 was a time of European-wide revolution. There was a general disgust with domestic policies, socio economic problems caused by the Industrial Revolution, increasing hunger and poverty caused by the mid-1840’s harvest failures, and a growing urge for more freedoms which all contributed to civil unrest. At this time, Josef would have been 18 and most likely already a few years into his occupational years.
Despite the growing turmoil, including the period of neo-absolutism at the hands of the Minister of the Interior, Baron Alexander von Bach, we know that Josef met his wife, Anna Cmerek3 of the neighboring town of Jablůnka, and the two were eventually married on the 20th of November, 1855.
Cmerek is a name that is commonly misspelled throughout many online family trees and transcriptions as 'Lmerka'. Confusion in the proper spelling comes from how the name is used within a sentence - where Cmerek becomes Cmerka. Coupled with cursive writing, the 'C' looks much like an 'L', leading to the incorrect formulation of 'Lmerka'.
After the Ausgleich (Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867) established the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary (also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Josef embarked upon a journey to the United States aboard the bark Erna, sailing from Bremen, Austria. He was accompanied by his wife Anna, as well as his four (4) minor children:4
- Johann [aka John] (b. 11 Jun 1859 – d. 31 Dec 1943)5 6 7
- Stepan [aka Stephen/Stephan] (b. 14 May 1861 – d. 10 Jan 1933)8 9
- Anna (b. 30 Jun 1867 – d. unknown)10
- Josef [aka Joseph] (b. 7 Feb 1870 – d. before 1875)11
There has been a suggestion that a Veronica Volcik may be a child of Josef and Anna. According to a death record notice in Fayette County (near Fayetteville), Texas - Veronica Volcik died at the age of 44 years, 2 months on Sept. 13, 1903. This suggests a birth date of July 1859, the same year as the oldest Volcik son, Johann (John). Based on the sources available, primarily the baptism and immigration records, this connection seems highly improbable and has been ruled out as a child of Josef and Anna.
Settling in Fayette County, Texas, Josef purchased land in which to farm. His property was located in the J.M. Burton League, amounting to 109 1/3 acres.12 In an extract from Frank Lotto’s self-published works on Fayette County, Texas,13 we can identify the boundaries of the J.M. Burton League and the relative area in which the family lived and worked, within the short expanse of land between Ellinger proper and Fayetteville proper:
No. 6 — Ellinger shall be composed of the following leagues and surveys; The J. Petty, J. M. Burton, all of the W. O. Burnham and Lucy Kerr leagues lying southwest of the Biegel and Ellinger road, all of the S. A. Anderson lying southeast of Sarrazin’s Creek, and all of the Jos. Duty, W. T. Dunlavy and Jog. Ehlinger lying in Fayette County. All elections hereafter held in said Precinct shall be held at Ellinger.
No. 7 — Fayetteville is bounded as follows : Beginning at Colorado County line at Cummin’s Creek, to the mouth of Clear Creek ; thence up the said Clear Creek to the southeast line of N. Townsend league ; thence to the south corner of said league ; thence along the northeast lines of the Hensley league to its east corner; thence along the southeast lines of Hensley and Biegel leagues to the Biegel and Ellinger road ; thence with said road to the northwest line of the J. M. Burton league ; thence along the northwest line of said league to its north corner; thence along the northeast line of said league to the east corner of said league; thence with the Ehlinger league line to Colorado County line; thence with said county line to the place of beginning.
While living in Fayette County, Josef and Anna had two more sons:
While researching the children of Josef and Anna, there have been a few questions raised as to the naming of two sons Joseph (Josef). For years, these sons were conflated as the same person in many online family trees. For clarity, I will call them J1 and J2 in this note. According to immigration record of 1870, J1 was a 7 month old son, which suggests a birth date in the first half of 1870. A recently discovered parish record confirms that there was a son, Josef, born 7 Feb 1870 to Josef and Anna in Vsetin, Moravia. After landing in Fayette County, ten years later in the 1880 census we find J2 listed as 4 years old and being born in Texas, suggesting a birth date of 1875-1876. This Joseph has since been proven through known death and census records. Research and available sources indicate that these are two very distinct persons, the eldest presumed deceased in Fayette County after migration and possibly even before the age of majority.
Sometime around a $1,500 deed of the land to son Frank recorded in 1899,16 and a subsequent $1,200 quitclaim deed, interest to son Joseph in 1904,17 18 19 20 Josef and Anna moved 100 miles away (as the crow flies) to Harris County, settling in the small town of Crosby.
By 1906, in Vol. 16 of the Obzor (a semi-monthly Czech language agricultural and horticultural newspaper published between 1891 and 1914), we find the startup charter of Řád Prapor Magnolie, číslo 65 (the Magnolia Battalion, number 65) in Crosby, of which Josef is a founding member and elected as the order’s Secretary.21
In an excerpt from ‘A History of the Czech-Moravian Catholic Communities of Texas’, V.A. Svrcek wrote that when he came to Crosby, there was already an established Czech presence:22
Crosby, Texas Some 24 miles east of the city of Houston, in Harris County, is the small but prosperous town of Crosby, with some 20 Czech families. The Czech people began to move here around 1910. In 1912, I. P. Krenek moved here, and there were already the families of Josef Volčik, F. J. Moravek, Joseph Širočka, Karel Machala, Joseph Franta, John Kristinik, Stasny and Clawson.
Josef remained in Crosby throughout the rest of his life, living with his wife Anna at the home of his son Frank. While an exact date of death is unknown, Josef passed away between 1912 (mention in NASE DEJINY) and 1920 (before the census). Josef was interred at White Cemetery in the neighboring town of Highlands. His headstone, written in Czech, reads:
|Zde v Panu Odpociva||Here lies at rest|
|Josef Volčík manzel||Josef Volcik husband [of]|
|Anny Volčíkovi narozen||Anna Volcik born|
|dne 27 ledna roku 1828||27 January 1828|
|vs Vstine Morave z rodicu||at Vsetin, Moravia to parents|
|Anny a Jíří Volčík||Anna and George Volcik|
|–||27 Jan 1830||Born in the town of Vsetín, situated in the historical Moravian lands of the Austrian Empire, house #359.|
|25||20 Nov 1855||Married to Anna Cmerek in Jablůnka.|
|29||11 Jun 1859||Birth of first son and first child, Johann [John].|
|31||14 May 1861||Birth of second son and second child, Stepan.|
|37||30 Jun 1867||Birth of first daughter and third child, Anna.|
|40||7 Feb 1870||Birth of third son and fourth child, Josef.|
|“||25 Oct 1870||Travelled to Prussia and boarded the Bark Erna with his family for the voyage to America|
|“||28 Oct 1870||Arrived in Galveston, Texas with his family and settled in the area around Fayette County.|
|45||1 Jun 1875||Birth of fourth son and fifth child, Joseph.|
|47||26 Jun 1877||Birth of fifth son and sixth child, Frank.|
|69||21 Dec 1899||Gave deed to land in the J.M. Burton League to his son Frank.|
|76||1 Aug 1906||Mentioned in Vol. 16 of the Obzor as a founding member of Řád Prapor Magnolie, číslo 65 (the Magnolia Battalion, number 65) in which he was elected the Secretary.|
|–||after 1912 -before 1920||Passed away and was interred at [Sterling-]White Cemetery in Highlands, Texas.|