CGSI's 15th Genealogical and Cultural Conference - IA

15th CGSI Genealogical and Cultural Conference
Special Guest rate is $107 per night. Either click on the link below to take you to the online special registration page for CGSI guests or call toll-free 1-800-396-2153 and ask for the “CGSI Genealogical Conference” room block rate. The rate is available through September 28, 2015.

Hotel Reservation Link:

All members and non-members of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International are invited to
participate in our Conference events.

The year 2015 marks the 600th Anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, Czech priest, philosopher, reformer and master at Charles University in Prague and the 150th Anniversary of the end of the American Civil War and 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II.

Wednesday October 21

The CGSI Conference will kick off on Wednesday morning October 21, 2015 with a choice of two tours.

The first will include the local communities of Cedar Rapids, Ely, and Solon. The Cedar Rapids area tour will be led by Jan Stoffer, Education Director at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and husband Mark Stoffer Hunter, Research Historian and Tour Guide at The Carl and Mary Koehler History Center.

Cedar Rapids has a lot to see as it sustains its longtime Czech immigrant history. Besides being home to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, the city is the long-time home of the Western Fraternal Life Association (WFLA), formerly known as the Zapadni Cesko-Bratrske Jednoty, which was founded in 1897. The city has an active Sokol cultural organization and the Czech Heritage Foundation (CHF), which supports many Czech activities in the state, including the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa pageant and offers scholarships to college students of Czech or Slovak ancestry. The well-known Czech Village area of Cedar Rapids and the recently renovated New Bohemia (NewBo) district have dining and entertainment.

The rural farming communities of Ely, with its First Presbyterian Church (1st Independent Czech Church in the USA), founded in 1858 and City Historical Society, and Solon with the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church (now designated as a chapel), founded in 1861, and cemetery have lots of Czech history to share. The church is located between Solon and Mount Vernon.

The Czech farm influence in the Cedar Rapids area will be explored in some aspect. CGSI Board Member and First Presbyterian Church member Ed Vavra will talk about the history of the church and its well-known Czech pastors.

The second tour to be offered will be to the Northeast Iowa communities of Spillville and Protivin. Nestled in the gently rolling hills of the Turkey River Valley, Spillville oozes early Czech history and culture.

Anchored by the church on the hill, St. Wenceslaus, built in 1860 and is the oldest extant Czech Catholic Church building in America. The cemetery features famous Andera iron crosses. The church’s original pipe organ, installed in 1876 and played by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, is still in use. Other Spillville tour highlights include one of the oldest Czech parochial schools in America, the Dvorak Memorial and the Inwood Ballroom along the Turkey River, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Bandstand, the 1854 Bouska log cabin school, and the Bily Clock Museum.

Between Spillville and Protivin is the Bohemian National Cemetery featuring the statue of Jan Hus, one of only two such statues in the United States. Tour highlights will include Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Cemetery and the Czech Heritage Partnership’s (CHP) Family History and Document Center. Tour participants will be served an authentic Czech meal.

Thursday October 22

On Thursday conference attendees will gather for a “Night at the Museum”, a gala evening hosted by the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. The registration fee for this event will include transportation to and from the Marriott Hotel, tours of the exhibits, orientation to the library, browsing of the gift shop, and heavy hors d’oeuvres catered from Dostal’s. Czech beers and wine will be available.

Here is the list of the Thursday through Saturday presentations and the speakers.


A Poppy Flower Bookmark and Greeting Card – Art Workshop by Marion Vavra

A Cross on a Hill – Art Workshop by Marion Vavra

The Art of Making Peroutky (Goose Feather Brushes) by Marjorie Stone

National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library (NCSML): Collections, Culture and Connections by Stefanie Kohn

NCSML, Linn County Genealogical Society and Kohler History Center Resources and Services by Dave Muhlena, Judi Pohorsky and Mark Hunter

Discovering Your Czech and Slovak Roots by Lisa Alzo

Exploring Czech and Slovak Culture Through Song by Sister Anita Smisek

Czechs, Rusins and Slovaks in WW II by Michal Razus

Homes of our Czech Ancestors in the Old Fatherland by Miroslav Koudelka

Find it Yourself – Genealogical Resources Available On-line by Jan Dus

Tips on Organizing and Conducting a Community Oral History Program by Dave Muhlena


Best Online Resources for Finding Czech and Slovak Ancestors by Lisa Alzo

Jan Hus – The Legend by Jan Dus

Austrians (German-Bohemians) from Bukovina: The Ellis, Kansas Settlement by Steve Parke

Early Czech Farmers: Agriculture in Iowa and the Midwest in the 19th Century by Mike Prohaska

Sedlak, Pasekar, Fleishhacker or Inquilinus? Let Us Get Acquainted with the Professions of our Czech Ancestors by Miroslav Koudelka

German-Bohemians – History, Culture and Where They Lived in Bohemia by Wade Olsen

Surrounded by Beauty – Czech and Slovak Folk Dress . . . What Our Ancestors Wore, Why They Wore It and What it Meant by Helene Baine Cincebeaux

Frantisek Matous (Ladimir) Klacel – Philosopher, Patriot and Freethinker by Margaret Hermanek Peaslee

Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Eastern European Research by Lisa Alzo

What a Czech-American Genealogist Should Know About the History of the Czech Lands by Miroslav Koudelka

Religions in Slovakia – History, Traditions and Relationships by Michal Razus

The Untold Story: The Hidden Heretics of Bohemia (1620-1782) by John Kotouc


Czechs of Iowa by Mike Prohaska

Magnificent Moravia – 25,000 Years of History and Artistic Culture by Helene Baine Cincebeaux

Family History Writing Made Easier: Cloud Based Tools Every Genealogist Can Use by Lisa Alzo

A Time of Passage: History of the Czechs and Slovaks, 1781 – 1918 by Steve Potach

Cemeteries in the Czech Republic Viewed by a Genealogist by Miroslav Koudelka

Genealogy as Reading Between the Lines by Jan Dus

Unlocking the Secrets of the Czech Archives: You Can Find Your Ancestors by Jim Hudec

Slovak Online Dictionaries by Michal Razus

Emigration from the Policka (Bohemia) Region to the United States by Jan Dus

German-Bohemians: Why they left their Homeland and Where they Settled in the U.S. by Wade Olsen

The Historic Czech and Slovak Settlements of Kansas: Frontier Farmers and Urban Meat
Packers by Steve Parke

Discover Gem of Slovak Folk Music: Queen of Flutes – Fujara and other Slovak overtone flutes by Bohuslav Rychlik

Marriott Cedar Rapids Lobby
Marriott Cedar Rapids Lobby
Marriott Cedar Rapids Exterior
Marriott Cedar Rapids Exterior
Western Fraternal Life
Western Fraternal Life
Western Bank
Western Bank
Czech Heritage Foundation
Czech Heritage Foundation

Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International
P.O. Box 16225
St. Paul, Minnesota 55116-0225
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