Donated by ©Karen Souhrada
Identified in the picture as: VALTA/WALTA siblings; photo taken after
Far left: Rosalie Valta LIDISKY (1867 - 1947; married to Vaclav "William" Lidisky)
Second from left: Marie Valta KOUDELKA (1871 - 1948; married to Karl Koudelka)
Third from left: Elizabeth Valta (m1) HARTMANN (m2) SOUKUP (1877 - 1941) (married last to Franz Soukup)
Far right: Alvina "Albi" Valta PECHMAN (1881 - aft. 1941); married to Charles Pechman
Vaclav VALTA (born 1839 Bohemia – died 1927 St. Clair Co., IL) and his wife Mary Hanus VALTA (born abt. 1848 Bohemia – died 1916 St. Clair Co., IL), and unidentified daughter; This couple emigrated to St. Clair County from Bohemia around 1910, along with the families of their adult children. The couple is buried in the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville, IL
The extended family of Vaclav & Marie (HANUS) VALTA [called WALTA in the United States] began in Kladno, Bohemia where the couple were married in 1865. There the family was by occupation, farmers and dairy operators.
Around 1904 a decision was made to emigrate to the United States, and all of the children and their marriage families were to be included in this decision. The large family would settle in the St. Clair county area of Illinois where many of them were coalminers and farmers, and descendants of these families are found within the county to the present day.
The marriage of Vaclav and Marie were blessed with the following children:
Elizabeth, b. 1877; m1 HARTMANN; m2 SOUKUP (emigrated under this surname)
Franz, b. 1869
Marie, b. 1871; m1 KOUDELKA (emigrated under this surname)
Rosalie, b. 1867; m1 Vaclav LIDISKY (emigrated under this surname)
Alberta, b. 1881; m1 PECHMAN [perhaps moved to Chicago, IL after marriage)
Josepha, b. 1876-d. 1876; burial in Bohemia
All but one of the above children, with their own marriage partners and children, along with the original parents of Vaclav & Marie, immigrated to Illinois starting about 1904 and continuing to at least 1910. The family first chose the French Village area for their first settlement, but later moved to the Belleville - Swansea - E. St. Louis area of the state. St. Clair County holds many records of this VALTA family, with its offshoot marital branches of : LIDISKY, KOUDELKA, and SOUKUP.
The St. Clair Genealogical Society has published two articles concerning members of this extended family. The articles cannot be printed here due to copyright laws, however the full record can be found as referenced below.
The first in time of occurrence, but just recently published in their Quarterly 22:2, 1999, was for the emigration of daughter Elizabeth SOUKUP and her children Frank & Marie HARTMANN. Elizabeth [nee VALTA] had been married [Anton HARTMANN] and widowed in Bohemia and in 1904 remarried to Franz SOUKUP who appears to have emigrated shortly after their May, 1904 marriage. His emigration seems to have been in conjunction with brother-in-law Karl "Charles" KOUDELKA*, the husband of Marie, sister of Elizabeth. The men were evidently the first wave of the family to emigrate, and are named as "sponsors" on the passenger manifest of the SS Carpathia.
Further newspaper articles found in the Daily Advocate of Belleville, Illinois trace the life of this SOUKUP family through weddings, military life for son Frank HARTMANN, and deaths. The father of the family, Frank SOUKUP, committed suicide in 1917, which was due to a severe depression over poor health brought on by many years of working in the mines. The twice-widowed Elizabeth continued to reside in the Belleville-Swansea area with her children and extended family, until her death there in 1941. All four of the above noted persons: Vaclav & Marie VALTA, and Frank & Elizabeth SOUKUP are buried in the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville.
The second article dealing with a member of the family VALTA, is found in the SCCGS Quarterly Volume 1, Published 1988, Written by Wildamae Brestal; concerning the memories of Mary LIDISKY/LIDICKY, daughter of Vaclav and Rosalie [nee VALTA]. In this article Mary recounts the emigration of her father and oldest siblings, the twins Bill and Rose, in 1906. Following them came brother Charlie, who in 1909 along with the father, arrived in Belleville where they obtained a job in the coalmine called Nigger Hollow Mine #1. By 1910 the mother Rose and the last seven of the children sailed on the ship Kaiser Wilhelm, arriving in the Port of Baltimore on August 10, 1910, thence by train to join the rest of the extended family in Belleville. This article gives a great account of what the life was like for these immigrant peoples. Another article of interest was found in a newspaper article, possibly the Daily Advocate; published 1998, and written by Cheryl A. Moody, Staff Writer.
Titled: Woman Turns 104 In Style.
One hundred and four. That's how many years CLARA BENESH celebrated at her birthday party last week. BENESH was born on April 21, 1894 in Czechoslovakia. Although she came to America when she was 16 years old, she still remembers how to speak in her native language. Benesh remembers several things from her youth, including her attendance at a German School in Austria, Hungary until she was 14 years old. Clara's son, FRANK BENESH, said that after she quit school, Clara helped her mother make milk deliveries by horse and buggy during the early morning hours. At 16, Clara traveled to America with her mother on August 16, 1910. Her father and brothers had made the trip to America earlier. In 1912, two years after Clara's arrival to America, the Titanic sank. When asked if she could remember anything about the incident, she said, "big". Clara said before she married, she worked as a house-girl for a farmer's wife in Belleville.
"I worked for $10 a month," Clara said. "She was so good to me. She had six children. Everyday was diapers, diapers, diapers! I got so sick of them." When she was 19, Clara married a friend of her brother's from Czechoslovakia. His name was JERRY [BENESH] and he too had traveled to America and was working in the Belleville area as a coal miner. Clara and Jerry had six children, two who are still living, FRANK in Maryville and ROSE KIRKWOOD in Anna. Frank said the family lived on a six acre farm in Belleville. After Clara's husband died in 1936, at the age of 46, Clara raised the children by herself. When Clara turned 92, she moved into the Lincoln Home in Belleville, where she still lives today. "She lived on her own until then," Frank said. "At 75 years old, she was watching someone else's mother. When she came here, there were residents at the home that she helped."
Source: Belleville, IL newspaper obit, dated Tuesday, July 28, 1998:
CLARA BENESH, nee LIDISKY, age 104, of Belleville, Illinois, born April 21, 1894, in the town of Osek, Czech Republic, died Sunday, July 26, 1998, at the Lincoln Nursing Home, Belleville, Illinois.
Mrs. Benesh came to the United States of America in 1910 at the age of 16.
Being able to talk German as well as Czech, she worked as a housegirl in St. Louis, MO., for the Collins family and the Anheuser family of beer fame.
She married JERRY BENESH in St. Louis, MO., in 1913, with whom she had eight children; their first pair of twins died at the age of 1 year. Her husband, Jerry, died in 1936 at the age of 46 and left her with six children, the youngest being 9 years of age.
For immigration information on the KOUDELKA side of the family, we look at the information noted on the Carpathia manifest, as well as citizenship papers for daughter Rose KOUDELKA*, which states:
I was born in Bruch, Czechoslovakia on 12-25-1898. My race is Bohemian. The name of my husband is Frank SEDLACEK. We were married on 11-25-1915 at Belleville, IL. He was born at Koncana, Jugo Slavia on Dec. 10,1891; He entered the US at New York, N. Y. on 10-20-1909... My husband is a citizen by naturalization. He was naturalized March 27,1935 in the circuit court at Taylorville, IL. My last foreign residence was Bruch, Czechoslovakia. I emigrated to the U.S. from Bremen, Germany to New York under the name Rosalie Koudelka on June 4, 1904 on the vessel Moltke. We assume then that this was the time the family KOUDELKA emigrated to the U. S., and most probably the time Frank SOUKUP emigrated as well. Research is ongoing for the passenger manifest of the ship Moltke.
Federal census records show that the extended family chose to live close to each other in 1910:
SOUKUP: 1910 Federal Census; residing in the northern part of St. Clair Twp.
KOUDELKA, 1910 Federal Census; northern part of St. Clair Twp., Dutch Hollow Road [63 yr. old mother-in-law Marie Valta, living with family]
LIDISKY...Rose and children arrive later, August 1910
VALTA, Frank: 1910 Federal Census, northern part of St. Clair Twp., Caseyville Rd. [71 year old father Vaclav Valta, living with family]
Immigration information for the "parent couple" of Vaclav "William"
Marie VALTA [in the U. S. the name is often shown as WALTA, and to the
present day with their descendants]
Emigrated aboard the "Kaiser Wilhelm II" arrived August 14, 1906 from
Bremen, Germany to the Port of New York [found on Ellis Island records,
Internet release, July 2001]
Item 0006. WALTA, Wenzel: Male, 66years, Married, Austria Nationality,
Bohemian People/Race; Last Residence at Bruch
Item 0007. WALTA, Marie: Female (wife), 55years, Married, Austria
Nationality, Bohemian Race, Last Residence at Bruch
Death notice found by descendant Debbie Strachan, and as published July
1916 in the Democrat Newspaper, Belleville, IL
What was intended to be a happy visit with relatives and friends turned into
tragedy Saturday when Mrs. Mary Walta of this city, residing on the
Caseyville road, died suddenly from heart's disease while visiting at
Christopher, IL. Death came suddenly, and is understood that, although she
was advanced in years, she has apparently been in the best of health.
She is survived by five children:
Mrs. Wentzel Lidicky, Mrs. Carl Koudilka and Frank Walta, all residing on
the Caseyville road, and Mrs. Frank Soukuy and Mrs. Charles Beckmann of
Benton, IL. Her husband, Wentzel Walta, also survives.
The funeral was held from the Bux repository Monday morning at 9 o'clock.
Burial was made at Walnut Hill Cemetery. [Note: surnames of children are
mis-spelled: please note correct spellings as LIDISKY, KOUDELKA,
VALTA/WALTA, SOUKUP, PECKMAN]
Obituary Notice [Source: " Belleville Advocate", June 16,1927 (p9 c5).
Vaclav Walta, 85 years old, died at his home on the Caseyville road, a
short distance northwest of this city, Wednesday night at 9:15 o'clock,
after a long illness, due to old age. He leaves a total of 78 descendants.
The deceased was born in Bohemia, September 12, 1839, and came to this
country many years ago. The following children survive: Mrs. Rose Ledicky,
Frank Walta, Mrs. Marie Koudelka, and Mrs. Elizabeth Soukop, of this city,
and Mrs. Albi Beckman, of Benton; 34 grandchildren and 39 great
The funeral will be held Sunday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock from the Bux
chapel to Walnut Hill cemetery."
In St Paul's UCC (Belleville) records: Death Record: Waslaw Walta, b.
Sep 1839 in Bohemia, d. 15 Jun 1927 in Belleville, burial 19 Jun 1927 in
Walnut Hill Cemetery. [contributed by descendant: Debbie (Sedlacek)Strachan
Death Certificate extraction: State of Illinois, St. Clair County
Name: Vaclav Walta :
b. Sept. 12, 1839, Bohemia
d. June 15, 1927, Belleville
cause: arteriosclerosis;acute myocarditis
buried: Walnut Hill
wife: Anna Walta
father: Martin Walta, b. Bohemia
mother: Madegelin Wartynek, b. Bohemia
informant: Frank Walta of Caseyville Road, St. Clair
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