John Bencik was born in 1876 in what
was then Hungary, later to become Czechoslovakia following WWI. Both
first and last names are no doubt Americanized versions of the
original Hungarian names and spellings. There are several simularly
spelled surnames from Hungary and several more Americanized versions.
Although I have always heard it pronounced as “Bensick”, I have
been told that the original pronunciation of the name was more like
The records I've found are not clear on
when John arrived in the United States, and whether or not his son
Edward was born in the United States or Michigan. The 1920 Census indicates that
John immigrated in 1893, and Theresa in 1897, which would mean that
Edward Bencik would have been born in Detroit, MI, as he had always
claimed.. The 1930 Census indicates that John
immigrated in 1902, with Theresa and Edward following in 1908, and
listing Edward Bencik birthplace as Hungary.
I tend to believe that the
1930 Census is correct. If the 1920 census is correct, that would
mean that John came to the United States in 1893 when he was 17, then
Theresa came and joined him in 1897 at the age of 16. I believe the
dates and information on the 1930 Census to be more accurate because
they seem more logical. If anyone has information confirming the
arrival dates I would love to hear
John Bencik married Theresa Kobza in
Pest, Hungary in 1900. John Bencik
told me that Theresa's maiden name was Kobza, but I have no idea of his
source of information at this time.
John and Theresa Bencik had a son,
Edward, who I believe was born in Pest Hungary in 1900. Edward
always claimed to be born in Detroit, but I have found no evidence of
that, other than the 1920 census. Again, if anyone has any proof
one way or another please email me.
John came to America in 1902 and came through Detroit to Indianapolis. Theresa and Edward joined him in America in 1908.
Theresa Kobza had two sisters that came
to America with her in 1908. One stayed in America and one returned
Sometime after arriving in Indianapolis,
John bought a house and opened a Bar in
the large front living room, which had a door facing the corner.
Here is a photo of the Bar in 1914 with John
I've heard John was doing quite well
during this time, John probably had some amount of money when he
arrived in America for him to be able to buy the largest house on his
block with a business inside so soon after arriving. He didn't
trust the US banking system because
the US was such a young country, so he banked much of his money in
Hungary. He lost that money when Hungary got involved in WWI and
lost. One can only imagine the anguish and mixed emotions he must
have felt about his new country being at war with his native country
that he had left only 12 years before, plus having most of his money
there and not able to get it. Not to mention his relatives still
in Hungary involved in the war on the other side. It had to be
So by 1918 John had lost most of his
savings, but at least he still had a thriving neighborhood Bar that
made him a decent living so things could be worse. Which they did
in 1920 when Prohibition was passed in 1920, making the sale of
alcohol a crime. John had to convert his Bar into a Soda Shop in 1920.
By 1920 John and Theresa were living
alone. Their only son Edward was living with the parents of his
wife, Ada Spaulding, whom he had married in 1918. I can't tell if
they are living in separate dwellings, or if John and Theresa claimed a
portion of the house as an apartment. John listed his occupation
as "Soft Drink Merchant".
shows John, Theresa and Edward. John and Theresa were living by
themselves, probably in the apartment at the side of the house.
son, 19 year old Edward was living in the larger part of the house
with his wife Ada, who he had married in 1918, and his Father-in-law
Jesse Rutledge. John and Theresa list
their place of birth, and the place of birth of their parents, as
Hungary. Edward lists his as Michigan, but that is not
was known to claim that he was born in Detroit, MI in 1900.
It turned out John was right about not
trusting American banks though. It just came 11 years after WWI
in 1929 with the great depression, when he got stung again.
The 1930 Census
clearly shows that
Theresa and Edward arrived in America in 1908. This census lists
birthplace, and his parents, as Czechoslovakia. This is due the
fact that the newly created Czechoslovakia was formed partly from what
was the part of Hungary John and his parents were from. The place
birth for Theresa and her parents is Hungary, as in 1920. Edward
his true birthplace of Hungary, and his father from Czechoslovakia and
mother from Hungary.