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Biography of Jacob Method Pivonka Family by JN Pivonka

John N. Pivonka

I was born on December 6, 1872, in the little Village of Vohrazenice (Ohrazenice), in Moravia, then a province of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. I was christened in the Roman Catholic Church in Jaromerice.

My father, Jacob Method Pivonka, was a cobler by trade; he also sold beer and liquors and dances were held in one large room of our home where we lived. The dances were usually on a Sunday afternoon, or for weddings, Easter feasts and Thanksgiving (Posviceni), Besides all of these activities, he also did some farming, using two milk cows to work with.

To the best of my knowledge, father had three brothers. One, Frank, lived in Brno, the Capitol of Moravia. He was an over­seer in a woolen mill and had no male descendents. The other two brothers, Thomas and Vaclav, (Wenzel), left home as apprentices of their trade and had to wander and work under different masters before they could locate and own a shop of their own. Father never heard from either of these brothers until we were in American a number of years. He learned that Wenzel was a widower in Vienna and lived there with his only daughter, Louise. He had them come to the USA where Louise married Joe Dolezal, and after his death, she married and lived in Garden City, Kansas, but I never learned the name of her husband. The other brother, Thomas was never heard from. 

My grandfather on father's side, also named Jacob, was old and had a bald head and a large tumor, the size of a baseball on the left side of his neck below the ear. The language that he used when he spoke, which was not often, was different than was used by the villagers, it was like the written Czech. Even father's language was some different from the coarse dialect of the villagers, from which I deduce that he was a Czech and that even father was of Czech birth. I never knew grandmother Pivonka and never learned how long she had been dead.

My mother's name was Antonia Dvorak, she was a native of a little village of Bohusice, where her parents were small farmers. Grandfather, Jan Dvorak, was a short heavy set man, with a heavy thatch of curled gray hair and smooth face. Grandmother, Katherina, I believe was her name, was slightly taller than grandfather, and that is all that I can remember of her. Dvorak's had only one son living with them, named Frank, who later married their housemaid, and it is my recollection that their son, also named Frank, was an outstanding violinist. Uncle Frank played the accordian and was a  good singer. He fell from a haymow down into the barn and ran a pitchfork through his abdomen from which he died after months of suffering.

The Dvorak's had three daughters besides my mother. One married a man in Moravian Budejovice, and another married a man in Vohrazenice, but I do not remember the name of either one.  The third daughter married a man, Rivola, who lived in Jaromarice and was a swine trader with whom mother visited at times.  Their son, Lambert, oldest of the children, came to America and lived in Timken, where he ran a jewelry shop until his death.  Their oldest daughter, Caroline, married and lived in Vienna, where my brother Frank corresponded with her after Lambert's death,  but I never learned her surname.  The youngest Rivola daughters, Julie and Marie, came to the USA and lived with my parents for a few years and then returned to Europe and lived in Vienna.    This is all that I know about anyone from my side of the family.

As to the Vesecky side of the family, my knowledge is very limited.  I do know that my wife's  (Frances Vesecky) parents,  Stephen and Augusta, (Nee Lhotka) were Czechs and farmed and Mr. Vesecky did some cattle trading and feeding in the stockyards.  Then they came and lo­cated,  together with Frank Stejskal's,  on the quarter of land where the Catholic Cemetery is located now,  one-half mile south of Timken.  Mr. Vesecky had a brother living in Chicago, whose only daughter married Vesecky's oldest son, Anton.


Now, as to my father, his name was Jacob Method (not Mathias) and he was a Husser in the Austro-Italian War in 1886, and his thumbs sticking up was caused by holding the sabre in an upright position while on parade, riding a horse. As to Antonia Dvorak being a lady-in-waiting, that is all nonsense. I have never heard of it before. She was no relation to Anton Dvorak, the composer and violinist, who was born in Bohemia. She was a native of Moravia.

Lillian (Mrs. J. B. McKinley, 446 ELnwood Lane, Hayward, California, has some old documents she has been gathering for years. She will be glad to give you any information she may have. 

This document was apparently prepared by John N. Pivonka late in life, before his death in 1968, and published in the Pivonka Family Record in 1979.
Scanned and converted to HTML 4 August, 2005.