Zvolanek, Jan (1815–1890)

By: Albert J. Blaha, Sr.

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1995

Updated: March 29, 2016

Jan (Johann, John) Zvolanek (Zwolanek), minister and physician, son of Jan and Anna (Kafka) Zvolanek, was born on August 3, 1815, in Sobinov, Bohemia. The Zvolanek family had lived in Sobinov for at least 200 years and were well-to-do members of the Protestant Brethren Church. Zvolanek received his education as a physician in Vienna and, at his mother's insistence, studied theology at Basel. His first church was at Hab_ina. He married Amalia Elizabeth Lojka at Humpolec, southeast of Praha. Their daughter, Julia Johanna, was born at Hab_ina. In 1847 Zvolanek was assigned to the district of Vsetin in Moravia and served the Protestant churches at Usti, Leskovec, Polanka, Hovezi, Halenkow, and Zdechov until 1853. Zvolanek immigrated to Texas, arriving at Galveston with his wife and daughter on the bark Weser on December 3, 1854. They settled at San Felipe, where Zvolanek bought a house and practiced medicine. The Czech-Moravian Brethren Church in Texas was founded and grew under Zvolanek's ministry. In 1855 he was called to serve the Czech and Moravian families at Ross Prairie. He was probably the first minister ever to preach in Czech in Texas, and perhaps in the United States. He also became associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Texas and preached in German in Lutheran churches. In 1859 the Zvolaneks left Texas and went to Gnadensutter, Ohio, where there was a Moravian church. Then, about 1862, the family moved to Santa Fe, Indiana, and about 1864 to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Zvolanek and his wife were divorced on August 8, 1868. He moved alone to Muscoda and the Blue River valley, where he served the Czech Evangelical Church. There, on November 19, 1879, he married Mary Schafer, a former patient of his some forty years his junior. They had four sons. Reverend Zvolanek died in 1890 and is buried in the Blue River Church Cemetery near Muscoda, Wisconsin. His second wife died on December 23, 1914.

Christian Sisters Union Study Committee, Unity of the Brethren in Texas, 1855–1966 (Taylor, Texas: Unity of the Brethren, 1970). Jan Habenicht, D_jiny _echuv americk_ch (St. Louis: Hlas, 1910). Estelle Hudson and Henry R. Maresh, Czech Pioneers of the Southwest (Dallas: South-West, 1934).

  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners
  • Peoples
  • Czechs
  • Religion
  • Moravian Brethren

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

Albert J. Blaha, Sr., “Zvolanek, Jan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/zvolanek-jan.

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November 1, 1995
March 29, 2016

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