“The Journey Across”
“Memories From My Grandmother”
Written and Contributed by Marci Christensen (1979, rev 2007)
Several years ago, I decided to trace the genealogies of the passengers traveling aboard the Bark Capella, arriving in Baltimore, Maryland for several reasons. One, I noticed on the manifest a small party of Bohemians traveling with my Great Grandparents, Frank & Barbara Bochnicek, with the same destination of St. Louis, Missouri. Second, after exploring an old Bohemian map, found that all these passengers were from the same village as my Great Grandparents, or nearby villages.
This led me to believe that all these people shared many things in common. 20 people from the low populated villages within the area embarking together with the same destination caused me to ask several questions. What was the common factor that brought them together? Why St. Louis, Missouri? Did they know someone there that would help them settle in a new country? Did these passengers know each other before their trip?
Compiling their genealogies, and hiring a Czech researcher answered many of these questions. Yes, all the passengers knew each other and their families for several generations prior to their immigration to America. Their common bond was being employed by the same Lord of the Zinkovy Estate. There were other families already in St. Louis, some sending money and letters home to their families in. In hiring a researcher, I also learned 5 other passengers aboard the ship Bark Capella were members of my own family tree, that present day cousins knew nothing or had forgotten about. Traveling with Frank and Barbara Bochnicek was their 3 month old daughter, Maria (who apparently didn’t survive the trip to St. Louis, or died shortly after their arrival. And Katherine Bochnicek Spacek, sister of Frank & wife of Martin, was my Great Grandaunt aboard the ship. Other Spacek genealogists had lost track of Martin in their earlier research in Bohemia. I found him & his family residing in Radkovice, with my Great Grandparents, prior to their immigration to America.
Martin Spacek’s brothers, Joseph and Mathis, had already settled in St. Louis, and doing well as Masons and bricklayers. And now we learn, through Marci’s story, the Rezabeks also had family members waiting for them in St. Louis.
The Rezabeks in these stories are not part of my family tree, but their customs, traditions in the old country, their experiences aboard the Bark Capella, and their arrival to America are a part of our family history. I am deeply grateful and appreciative that she agreed to share a part of her family history to this website.
I particularly enjoyed the recollections of the voyage across, the Mutiny, and their first day in America. Recollections of life in Bohemia remind us of the harsh life they left.
Following are additional Links I have added to Marci Christensen’s presentation. 1) A brief Rezabek Pedigree and related Family Group Sheets, taken from her Genealogy Website, showing the characters in her story. 2) A “cleaned up” copy of the Ship Manifest. The original was very damaged and difficult to read, and 3) A Partial copy of the transcribed Passenger List done by the Immigrants Transcribers Guild, a group of volunteers that attempt to preserve ship Passenger records. I have added corrections to the extracts.
Lynn Brown, Webmaster