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Friday, August 8, 2008

Wencil Kratochvil, 1st First Funeral in the C.S.P.S. Lodge, Traverse City, MI - Tallie?

Article from C.S.P.S. Magazine:

Wencil Kratochvil, Story of the First Funeral in the C.S.P.S. Lodge, Traverse City, MI

SOURCE: The following article, C.S.P.S.- The first Funeral Services, originally written in Czech, was translated by W. E. Votruba from "Official Papers of the Bohemian-Slovonic Benevolent Societies of The United States and Canada", Vol XXVI, Issue #4, April 1918. (National Organization of the Brotherhood of C. S. P. S.) Mr. Votruba gave this brief statement concerning his translation:

Due to Czech sentence structure and the Old Country vocabulary it was difficult to put the true meaning of many Czech words in English. This is therefore a (free) translation given as accurately and completely as I could. W. E. Votruba.

article begins here:

Traverse City, Michigan - April 7 1918
Brother and Sister readers!

I take the first pen (opportunity) to write to you, to our organization, because I feel that whatever is written or brought out, is important to all of us. Lodge Michigan #34 C.S.P. S. (of Traverse City) was formed on the 22nd of February 1879, and here is one of the oldest lodges in our beloved organization. However, just as the years of our organization increase, so too are our older members leaving (departing) because of their years, and, though we are glad to encourage - welcome young members, they do not, cannot have the early experience, enthusiasm, desire to belong, of the older members. Yes - it is seldom they take a prominent part, show devotion, show interest, that we hear of these new beginners. They are a second generation, they do not know the homeland. For this reason they do not attend regularly. They do not reply to letters giving orders, requests or desires of the club. One after another they pick up and leave and never return.

On Sunday the 31st of March we said good-bye for the last time to one of our oldest brothers, Vaclav (Wencil) Kratochvil. He was one of our faithful workers, a pure genuine Czech, a real free thinker - a patriot.

Brother Kratochvil was born in Bohemia in the town of Ondrejov, the 26th of Sept, 1835, and lived therewith his parents in that region until they (the family) came to New York the 25th of December 1854. For a short time, approximately six months, they stayed there, then left for Chicago where they stayed about four months. They did not like Chicago so they left for Traverse City. (Another story) Here the young Vaclav started work in the lumber mill of Hannah and Lay Co. Later he was able to buy a farm where he made his home permanently. Because one locality appealed to him above all, he picked out this beautiful village. His home was in Garfield Township, a short distance of but four miles. He was a good neighbor and made friendly calls and visits, and so he became much in favor and loved by all.

Before his death he requested that his funeral be conducted by the members of the C.S.P.S. Lodge and requested that certain members, that is, the oldest of the brothers, act as pallbearers. It is to be recorded, marked down, that he was the first of our brother members to request the funeral service to be performed at our lodge rooms at the C.S.P.S. hall.

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For this reason all our brothers turned out to show their respect and love for this departed brother. Not only did the members come but also the sisters of the lodge who came in large numbers to give honor and respect to this great Traverse City Czech (Bohemian).

At the home of the deceased many people came to say good-bye. Here there were caretakers and relatives where, at the request of the family, a short service in English was performed. A great number of his neighbors were present as well as members of his large family, due to his married daughters, and because of this conversations in English were very noticeable. Automobiles took the mourners from the saddened home to our lodge rooms where many of his friends had gathered before the service.

Members of the lodge eulogized Vaclav and by them was performed a beautiful service for this one of our greatest brothers. Highest lodge officers spoke both in English and Czech and between these spoken words there were beautiful songs. The service was very touching and soulful and many eyes were dimmed with tears at the loss of the loss of the greatly respected Czech. He was never ashamed that he was a Czech and was always on the spot - ready to help - whenever there was a call for assistance, or where anything was happening he would help. He was industrious and helpful throughout his whole life and he was so esteemed by not only those Czech (Bohemian) people but by all in the region who knew him, for in our estimation more than 1200 attended the service and sixty-five automobiles were in the procession.

After the last farewell and the last fond touches to the cheeks of this honest man the members left the lodge and departed for burial riding in the automobiles. the Traverse City band playing sad tunes preceded them. It took twelve city blocks to take care of these cars as we proceeded to this sad spot, the Oakwood Cemetery.

Before the burial speech, brother after brother proceeded past the grave ad placed a flower on the casket, the flowers furnished by the lodge. And this was the final farewell to our greatly loved brother. Even though our lodge has many good members, through lack of study and knowledge of the ritual on their part, none could stride forward, none could direct or conduct the work so well, the loss of this brother was deplored.

Brothers bind yourselves together that you may direct the progress of your organization. In our hears will always be the member of this stalwart member, the cornerstone of this membership who entered into this membership the 5th of October 1879, and died March 27th, 1918. It is with great pride that we remember our great brother Vaclav Kratochvil. [end]

Note: Wencil is the great-grandfather of Brenda K. Wolfgram Moore. My mother being Erma Josephine Kratochvil Wolfgram and her father, Edward Martin Kratochvil (mother, Clarabelle Inez Secor). For further information email Brenda at

Note: In December? of 2003, Julius Petertyl had his 100th birthday. Traverse City Record Eagle had a 2 part story on him and one of Julius's memories was this funeral! After all this time! Made my heart feel good that great-grandfather was remembered from 1918 by someone other than family 85 years ago by a young man who was 17 at the time of the event. Julius also worked with my father, Ben Wolfgram Sr. One job Julius and Dad did was to remove all the decorative trim from the top of the Milliken Building on Front Street in Traverse City. Souce: Brenda

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