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I Am A Migl

Frantisek and Johanna (Jezek) Migl with their children, including my great grandmother,
Theresa, far right in the middle row.
At a meeting of the Austin Czech Historical Association two years ago, a woman speaking from theTexas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center (TCHCC) in La Grange mentioned the different historic homes that had been donated and moved to the center's grounds, including the Migl house. Migl is the maiden name of my maternal grandfather's mother, Theresa (Migl) Kallus. When the speaker said the names of the couple who built the house near Praha - Johanna and Frantisek Migl - I got excited.


Sure enough, I came home and pulled out my genealogy stuff and they were my great great grandparents. They came to Texas in 1874 with their four youngest children, including my grandfather's mother, Theresa, who was two years old at the time. Johanna and Frantisek built the house now at the TCHCC in 1890, the year Theresa married my great grandfather, Alois Kallus. You can read a little history of the house on the TCHCC website here.

I had been to the TCHCC several times, but had never gone into the Migl house, not understanding my connection to it. Since I was traveling to Praha for the Migl reunion, I decided to take my teenage son on a small detour to soak up some family history. See me above in front of the house. I am so excited to have this real place to take the boys to that is now a part of Texas history.

My great grandparents, Theresa (Migl) and A.J. Kallus. 
My great great grandparents are buried in Praha, and the family has its reunion there in the hall of St. Mary's Church of the Assumption. But it's not just any reunion. There were around 300 people at the bi-annual event last Saturday, but that's only 5% of the 6,126 direct descendants (and their spouses) of Frantisek and Johanna recorded by the family historian. In fact, if you are the descendant of any Migl in Texas, you are related to any other descendant of a Migl. 

Family members looking through the voluminous genealogy information
collected by family historian, Cecilia Forrest. 
I go to four other reunions a year for the families of my grandparents (my grandfathers' family names - Orsak and Kallus - and my grandmothers' maiden names, too - Morkovsky and Zielonka.) But this is the only reunion where people are getting together six and seven generations down representing all downlines from one couple. I visited with 2nd and 3rd cousins and found out I was related to people I'd known by name or heard of, but there they were, suddenly my family. The oldest attendee was 95. The youngest (photo below) was seven weeks old. People came from New Jersey, Maryland, California and places in between, including right down the road. 

The youngest Migl at the reunion. 
This is also the only reunion I go to that's catered. My amazing second-cousin-once-removed, Thomas, whose immediate family orders and serves the lunch, claims attendance would drop if people had to bring dishes potluck style. But attendees do bring desserts... homemade and store bought cakes, pies, brownies, cookies, cobbler, fruit, fudge, muffins. This year, traditional Czech foods were represented with kolaches, vanilla crescents, and poppyseed cake. The silent auction was a smorgasbord of homemade foods, which always bring the highest prices of any items... pickled beets, jellies and jams, Meyer lemons, pecan pie, strudel and buchta, kolaches and noodles.

One of the day's highlights was accordion music, and by all women. Family member Beverly Garcia organized live music throughout the day, played by her, cousin Rose Forbrich, and friend Edith Knuepper. Beverly suggested the theme of music for the day, since so many Migls and thier descendants have been musicians. She brought along a poster honoring the ones she knew about including the great bandleader Jimmy Brosch. This year, Jimmy is posthumously receiving the Texas Czech Heritage Society's Blaha-Hejil Memorial Award "for all he did to promote Czech heritage in Texas." Thank you to Beverly for bringing many wonderful Migl family musicians to everyone's attention.

Besides enjoying the food, music and company, the family "meeting" allowed people to mention births, deaths and marriages that had happened in the last two years. Some asked for prayers for a relative going through an illness or difficult time. We recognized the longest marriage (67 years) and newest (6 months). We got a report on the state of the Migl house, 125 years old this year, and we pondered the state of our great great grandparents grave markers in the cemetery we could see out the window of the hall where we were celebrating life and family. Everyone's enthusiasm for being together and continuing the reunion tradition was electric.

Another cousin, Dwayne Pingenot, who wrote a history of his own Migl great grandparents (our great grandmothers were sisters), wrote this in his essay, "Our Migl ancestry is one in which we can all be proud and may we and our children profit from the efforts, sacrifices, wisdom and contributions that are now a part of our heritage." I was proud of that ancestry that day, happy to connect with family cum friends, and to be able to say... 

Comments

  1. I have seen the Migl house at TCHCC. So glad that you found such a wonderful connection to it. We are so fortunate to have an organization that is preserving and celebrating our heritage. I think on the other side of the gate sign is "S Pánem bohem" - which I used to hear from my Czech relatives when we were leaving after a visit - I think it means go with God or God be with you.
    Your g-grandparents, Alois and Theresa Migl Kallus, were the in-laws of one of my relatives. Alois and Theresa's daughter, Johanna, married John Frank Zvesper, my 1st cousin 2xr. John was the son of Dr. John S. Zvesper and Anna Barbara Wiesner Zvesper. Anna Barbara was a sister of my g-grandfather, William Frank Wiesner. Also, Alois' brother, Frank Josef Kallus, married Elizabeth Catherine Wiesner, a sister of Anna Barbara Wiesner. The Wiesner sisters were daughters of Wilhelm Robert Wiesner and Frantiska Bena Wiesner who emigrated in 1873 and settled in Fayetteville.
    There were several other marriages between the Kallus and Wiesner families.
    Linda Wiesner

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