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Moje Rodina – Immigrant Heritage Month

By Jenna Dolecek
In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, I’d like to share a little about my family heritage too.
My family is from all over Europe. My dad’s side is Irish, Czech, with a pinch of German and my mother’s side is English, Irish, and with a different pinch of German. My mother’s side were mostly farmers or store owners who ended up in Iowa and Kansas and one of my great, great (etc…) aunts came to Kansas on a covered wagon! Sadly, I don’t know much more than that about my mother’s side of my family.
Now, for a closer look at my dad’s side. One line of my father’s Czech family, the Jurenkas, can be traced all the way back to 1724 and have lived in the same town of Písařov, Czech Republic for more than 300 years! My distant cousin designed the town’s coat of arms, a feather and ink to represent the recording of history. My family were, and still are, simple farmers who never ventured far from their ancestral home.
In 1880, Franz and Eleonora Jurenka left rural Czechoslovakia in search of a better life, with the whole family’s belongings in one trunk, which our family still has. From Germany, they and their five children set sail on the SS Berlin and entered the US through Baltimore, Maryland. From Baltimore they made their way to Ellsworth County, Kansas, which had a large Czech population. While in Kansas, he obtained his American citizenship in 1883 and the rest of their family received derivative citizenship in 1887. Franz Jurenka’s son and his wife had Helen Jurenka who married John Doleček and thus began the Dolecek line. Helen and John Dolecek went on to have my great grandfather, Kenneth Dolecek, who married an Irish woman, LaVena McNeil.
Unfortunately, not much is known about my Doleček side. We can only trace them back to John Doleček’s parents. All we know is that Joseph Doleček was born in Jedlina, Czechoslovakia in 1867 and married Bertha Frimmel who was from a nearby German settlement. Needless to say, my Doleček side could learn a thing or two about record keeping from the Jurenkas!
However, had my family not ventured on the journey they did, my life would be very different. For their courageous journey across the Atlantic to a foreign land they’d never been to, nor could speak the language of, I am very grateful.

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Christine Swenson

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