Everest, Brown County Settlers

The Kansas Heritage Server would like to thank Orren Davidson (ORRENDAVIDSON@prodigy.net) for providing this information.
Copied from "Kansas Pioneers" compiled by the Topeka Genealogical Society from articles submitted by any family member of the "Pioneers" and published in the Bicentennial Year 1976.

John Hrenchir, by Joan Hrenchir

John Alois Hrenchir was born in Sviadnov, Moravia, Austria,on January 21, 1849, the son of Tomas and Veronica Hrncir. He grew up in the village and was drafted into the Austrian army at an early age. Mary Victoria Sedlacek became his wife. She was born in Mystic, Austria.

Their eldest son, Frank, was born in 1871 and John Joseph was born in 1873. Anna and Mary joined the family in 1877 and 1878. Two other sons, Joseph and Edward, had died in infancy.

..In 1880, the family came to America. It took six weeks to cross the ocean. During that time their three-year old daughter Anna became ill and died. They feared if her body was discovered, she would be buried at sea so they hid her body until they reached New York, where they had her properly buried.

They were destined for Everest, Brown County, Kansas, as they had relatives who had been there 15 years. There were more of their countrymen nearby in a settlement called "Stringtown". The Hrncir name took on a few more letters at this time and became "Hrenchir", pronounced with the "H" silent, which sounded a little less foreign.

In September of 1881, John Joseph was enrolled in St. Benedict's Prep School at Atchison, and the rest of the family stayed in Everest. Anna was born in 1882 and Frances in 1884. Frank was enrolled at St. Benedict's in 1884, but both boy's education was interrupted on December 26, 1885, when the family moved to Western Kansas.

John had applied for a homestead and they moved on to 160 acres near Collyer, in Trego County. By January 24, 1886, he had constructed an 11 x 14 dugout home, sod stable, cellar and well, even though it had been the coldest winter on record.

John and his sons had to break the sod and they managed to cultivate more acreage each year. He was new to farming since he had been a tailor in the old country and had made all the clothing for his family. John, and his son, Frank, worked twice for the railroad and they were gone three and six months at a time. The family remained in the dugout and they were sometimes bothered by tramps and Indians. Once Anna ran and warned her mother that a tramp was coming, but it turned out to be her father with quite a growth of whiskers.

Mary delivered a son, Joseph, in June of 1886. Months later she became ill and died. Anna was only four years old at the time and remembers the priest and children gathering around her mother and praying.

John had to have someone take care of the children, so he went to Everest and brought back a spinster friend of the family. Her name was Magdalena Chamrad and she was 11 years older than John. Each night he walked her a mile and a half to the neighbors, where she would stay. She walked back in the morning. In April of 1888, John married Magdalena. He claimed it was to save shoe leather!

John and Magdalena received their homestead deed in 1891, and sold their land for $600.00 to Katie Lumpkins. They bought a farm in another Moravian settlement in Rossville Township, Shawnee County.

Their land had quite an orchard of over 130 bearing fruit trees. The sons John and Frank, rented land from a neighbor and had their own farming operation until each was married.
John Alois Hrenchir died in 1900 and his four year old son, Joseph, died a few months later of typhoid fever.

Frank married Mary Zurich and they moved to San Francisco, taking Magdalena with them. He worked in smeltering plant and died after an accident in which hot liquid burned him, in 1923. They had no children.

John Joseph married Eleanor Getty and they had 12 children. They farmed around Soldier and later lived in Holton.

Mary married John Schrader and they had seven offspring.

Anna Hrenchir Harris is now 93 years old. She has two children and is the widow of Crawford Parks Harris.

Frances married James Davidson and they had four children.

The following are things that I, (Anna Harris Neider, daughter of Anna Hrenchir Harris) remember in addition to the information in the article from "Kansas Pioneers":

John Alois Hrenchir is the great-grandfather of Robert and Patricia Harris, the children of Francis B. Harris, who is the son of Anna Hrenchir Harris, the daughter of John Alois Hrenchir.

The author of the article, Joan Hrenchir, is the wife of Vincent Hrenchir, who is a great-grandson of John Alois Hrenchir. She got her information for the article from Anna Hrenchir Harris, the archives of the Kansas Historical Society and the Topeka Genealogical Society, and from birth and Baptismal certificates she obtained from Europe and various parishes in Kansas. Joan and Vincent Hrenchir have four sons and live on a farm near Berryton, Kansas, which is about 12 or 14 miles southeast of Topeka.

The name "Hrenchir" means potter in English. Mother says that her father, John Alois Hrenchir, died of cancer. He had been kicked in the stomach by a horse, and the doctor thought that the resulting bruise turned into cancer. However, at that time, not much was known about cancer in this remote part of Kansas, and there was nothing much that could be done for him.

You will note that in the beginning of the article there was mention made of a son Joseph and a daughter Anna, Joseph dying before the family came to America, and Anna dying during the journey. Anna Hrenchir Harris is the second Anna in the family, and the 4 year old Joseph who died of typhoid fever, was the second Joseph.

Mary Hrenchir Schrader was four years old when she came to America with the family, and told us that she could remember they came in steerage class, and how long the trip seemed. She said that when Anna died, the boat was only one day away from landing in New York, so that is why they hid Anna's body in order to bury her in New York.

Mother says that she can dimly remember the dugout home they lived in, and remembers the children building fences, etc., with sticks, in the dirt floor of the dugout. She also remembers the story told her later that their Mother had baked some bread and put it outside to cool. A couple of Indian braves rode their ponys into the yard and their Mother took the shot gun and went to the door. The Indians pointed to the bread and grunted, so she gave them two loaves of the fresh bread, and they turned and rode away.

Frank and Magdalena Hrenchir, and Mary his wife, who moved to San Francisco from Rossville Township, were there during the earthquake in 1906 and lost all their possessions, but were not injured. They came back to Topeka during the 1920's to visit the Harris and Davidson families and brought with them some of the dishes that they had salvaged from their wrecked home, and which were burned black, but had not broken, in the fire which followed the earthquake. We have one of the saucers they brought with them.

This article states that Mother is 93 years old. It was written in the early part of 1976, when she was 93, but she was 94 on October 15, 1976.

Magdalena, born in 1838, the second wife of John Alois Hrenchir outlived both Frank and Nancy Hrenchir, and after Frank's death, went to live in St. Joseph's Home in San Francisco, where she died, but I do not know the date. When Mother and I were in California during the summer of 1940, we went to St. Joseph's Home and visited with an elderly nun who remembered Magdalena and she told us of her last years spent in the home. We also located the cemetery where Frank and Mary Hrenchir were buried, and did find their graves, but could not locate Magdalena' s grave.

Hrenchir Newsletter:

The Czechoslovakian name, Hrncir, means "potter"

John Alois and Victoria Sedlacek came to America from Sviadnov, Mistek-Fridek, Moravia and settled near St. Mary's, Kansas

Return to the Kansas Family History
or return to the Kansas Heritage Group.