The seed was planted during a visit with our friend Misa's grandmother, Libuse Vitova, who now lives with her daughter next door to my family in Netreby, Ceske Hermanice, Czech Republic. Libuse said that many years ago there were two beautiful girls, from nearby Sloupnice, who used to visit my great-uncle, Frantisek, at the house […]
The seed was planted during a visit with our friend Misa's grandmother, Libuse Vitova, who now lives with her daughter next door to my family in Netreby, Ceske Hermanice, Czech Republic.
Libuse said that many years ago there were two beautiful girls, from nearby Sloupnice, who used to visit my great-uncle, Frantisek, at the house next door (it is the same home that my cousins live in today, Roman downstairs and Simona with her family upstairs).
The seed began to germinate and, due to having some extra time on the Saturday morning before the large Vondracek family celebration in Dzbanoz later that day, we decided to head to Sloupnice. We parked our rented Skoda at the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethern in Sloupnice. This is the same church that my Vondracek ancestors have attended for many generations.
The cemetery is about a kilometer or so away from the church, and we decided we would walk there after snapping photographs around the church, which features a stone plaque on its grounds acknowledging the martyrdom of Jan Hus. As we exited the church grounds, a man came up to us and introduced himself. Petr Penaz had been the pastor of this church for over ten years but on this day was in the process of packing his belongings for a move to nearby Vysoke Myto, where he will also serve as pastor.
When we explained what we were doing and mentioned the surname Vondracek, Petr perked up a bit. He said his mother's maiden name was the same. We were soon inside the house, visiting with both Petr and his mother, who was also present that day. He even opened up the church for us to have a look inside.
We parted ways after Petr provided directions to the cemetery, where we searched for and found tombstones with the surname Vondracek/Vondrackova. It seemed that we had found family, and perhaps the two female names listed on the tombstone with Anna Vondrackova were the young girls who used to visit my great-uncle.
We returned to the church and showed the photographs to Petr. He said that these were his relatives. He also mentioned that he would send me a family tree showing his Vondracek relatives and maybe I would find a connection.
We found the possible connection later that day at the Vondracek family celebration. A bilingual cousin, Radka, helped me to interpret the name of the town within one record as being Dolni Sloupnice. This is the name for a part of the village of Sloupnice.
I emailed the pastor with my findings, and he sent me his Vondracek family tree, verifying that we indeed have a common ancestor. However, this common ancestor had a second wife (possibly due to death of the first wife), and that is the branch that my Vondracek family comes from.
Sometimes, you are placed in a certain spot at the right time for a reason. That is how I understand our Saturday trip to Sloupnice. Originally, we had planned to visit Sloupnice on Sunday after church. If we had done this, Pastor Penaz would have already been preaching in Vysoke Myto.
Anyway, I am thankful to have connected with Petr Penaz, who provided one more piece in the puzzle of my family tree (rodokmen in Czech).