Trlica, John Paul (1882–1977)

By: Barbara McCandless

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: March 29, 2016

John Paul Trlica, photographer, was born in Vsetin, Texas, on June 24, 1882, the only child of Paul and Vera (Machu) Trlica. His mother emigrated from Vsetin, Moravia, in 1868, his father Paul in 1870. The elder Trlica was killed in 1883, when John Paul was nine months old. In 1884 Vera married John Struska, and this couple had four children. The family moved to Colorado County in 1898, and in 1900 Trlica moved to Granger, where he lived for the remainder of his life. After working on area farms and as salesman and bookkeeper in the general store of J. F. Martinets in Granger, Trlica opened a photography studio in 1909. Between 1909 and 1915 he attended workshops at the traveling Eastman School of Photography in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. His studio remained in business into the mid-1950s. During his career he made portraits of nearly everyone in the area and documented family, business, and community activities such as anniversary celebrations, parades, and fairs. Taken as a whole, his photographs thoroughly document the society of this Central Texas community for the first half of the twentieth century. From his arrival in Granger in 1900, Trlica was actively involved in Czech religious and social organizations. He participated in the organization of the Mutual Aid Society of the Unity of the Brethren in 1904, then served as vice president from 1910 to 1912, as general secretary for thirty-five years, and as treasurer for twenty-five years. He was involved in the Granger chapter of the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas, the Slavonic Mutual Fire Insurance Association, and other Czech organizations. He also photographically documented these state organizations by taking panoramic group portraits of all annual conventions. Trlica married Vlasta Surovik of Caldwell on January 15, 1905, and had five children. He died on November 16, 1977, in the Bluebonnet Nursing Home in Granger. An archive of his photographs, negatives, and business records is in the photography collection of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Barbara McCandless, Equal before the Lens: Jno. Trlica's Photographs of Granger, Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992). Barbara Ann McCandless, The Photographs Tell the Story: Images of Granger by Jno. P. Trlica (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1987). Photography Collection, Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Peoples
  • Czechs
  • Visual Arts
  • Photography

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

Barbara McCandless, “Trlica, John Paul,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022,

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July 1, 1995
March 29, 2016