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CHROMCIK, JOSEF

CHROMCIK, JOSEF (1845–1910). Reverend Joseph Chromcik, Czech Catholic priest and missionary to Texas, was born in Repcíne, near Olomouc, Moravia, to Martin and Marianna Pitschová Chromcik. After attending seminary school in Olomouc and graduating in 1866, he was ordained on July 5, 1869, and made assistant pastor at Lichnov, Moravia, on August 15, 1869. In 1872 he was administrator of a parish in Zenklebeu Stramberka, near Noveho Jicína. Answering a plea of Bishop Claude Dubuis, bishop of Galveston, Father Chromcik was assigned to America, using a prepaid ticket that was sent by the people of Fayetteville. He sailed to Cuba and New Orleans, and arrived in early December 1872 at Galveston, where no one greeted him. He made his way to Ellinger, where the townspeople took him in and, not knowing immediately who he was, gave him food, clothing, a feather bed, and a pillow. On December 25, 1872, he arrived at Fayetteville and celebrated his first Mass on that Christmas Day. He reestablished St. John's Parish and built the Chromcik School in 1875, after receiving a certificate to teach. He taught for fifteen years.

Father Chromcik was a linguist, and his knowledge of several languages enabled him to represent many nationalities as a community spokesman. Because of the difficulty many Czechs had in obtaining life insurance from eastern companies, Chromcik suggested establishing an insurance and fraternal group to serve Czech Catholics. On March 24 and 25, 1889, the Katolická Jednota Texaská (Czech Catholic Union of Texas) was established. Chromcik was chaplain of the group from 1890 to 1894, 1896 to 1898, and 1901 to 1910; he was also made director and counselor for life. In 1994 local Catholic lodges still carried his name. Father Chromcik was a an ecclesiastical judge (for the clergy in ecclesiastical cases). His mission trips by buggy or horseback to surrounding communities, including Ellinger, Bluff, Round Top, Granger, Dubina, and Warrenton, occasionally in treacherous weather, led him to request that passable roads and bridges between communities be built.

Letters to his homeland encouraged countrymen to come to the new land, which he described as a new free world. He sponsored many families in their journey to Texas, and on July 1878 he became a American citizen. In 1894 he returned to his homeland to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination. A celebration was held with many young children carrying flowers honoring him. He returned with priests for new parishes. In 1894 he recorded 218 family names in the area surrounding Fayetteville. In 1994 a large number of those surnames still appeared.

On July 14, 1909, Chromcik celebrated forty years of priesthood. Father Peter Houst came to assist him. Chromcik died on April 7, 1910, and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Fayetteville. On October 19, 1932, a bronze statue of Father Chromcik was erected; it was moved southwest of St. John's Parish in 1969, where it stood in 1994. Children referred to him as their "Taticek," meaning "dear loving father." A Texas historical marker was planned to be dedicated in September 1995, and plans were in progress for a reenactment of his arrival at the church in December 1997.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

The Czech Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1972). Estelle Hudson and Henry R. Maresh, Czech Pioneers of the Southwest (Dallas: South-West, 1934). Frank Lotto, Fayette County: Her History and Her People (Schulenburg, Texas: Sticker Steam Press, 1902; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1936).

Carol Jurajda Kitchen

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Carol Jurajda Kitchen, "CHROMCIK, JOSEF," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fch45), accessed December 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.