Rokos Family Czech-American Collection - PP145

Collection finding aids of Photograph Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Maryland Historical Society Library

ca. late 1880s-1960

Prints and Photographs Division, Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument St.
Baltimore, MD 21201

Finding aid created by Katherine Cowan with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, November 1999



Joseph Klecka (d. 1926) was among the first Czech immigrants to Maryland. Married to Marie Hranicka Klecka (d. 1913), he worked as an oysterman in the early 1870s, and later owned a saloon at 1513 Ashland Ave. in the Bohemian section of East Baltimore. He was a founder of the "Slavie" Savings and Loan Association, and started a political dynasty from the 7th Ward of Baltimore City, as many of his descendants were lawyers and political figures in Baltimore and State government.

One of the Klecka sons was Joseph Klecka, Jr., a lawyer. Another was James Francesene Klecka (b. 1888, d. early 1940s), also a lawyer and a judge in Baltimore City. He married Margaret Ambrose in ca. 1910. The most prominent son of Marie and Joseph Klecka was August Klecka (1878-1946), a leader among Bohemian-American Democrats in the city, a Baltimore City Council member from the 2nd District and the council's vice president, and U.S. Marshall for Maryland in 1933-1946, appointed by President F.D. Roosevelt.

Klecka daughters were Bessie Klecka Riha, Barbara Pokorny Segrist Hofmiester, and Marie "Mamie" Klecka Rokos (1893-1982), who married Gustav L. Rokos (d. 1926), a bakery owner, in 1909. The daughter of Gustave and Marie Rokos was Bessie Marie Rokos (b. ca. 1913), and George Washington Klecka Rokos (1910-1990) was their son, who graduated from the University of Baltimore in 1932 and became a real estate broker.

The brother of Gustav Rokos was Jaroslav J. Rokos (d. 1913), who was born in Caslav, Bohemia, and settled in Baltimore in the late 1890s, living at 801 N. Broadway. He married Katherine Sesula and their children were Ella Ree, Katherine, Ernestine, Amelia, Birdie, and William. Jaroslav was a politically active Democrat, running for City Council in 1909 and 1911, and serving as a delegate in support of Woodrow Wilson at the Maryland State Democratic Convention in 1912. He operated a bakery at 1614 Barnes St. west of Broadway, and pioneered delivery of bakery products to other groceries. His was known as "the largest rye bakery in Baltimore", and he was planning an expanded facility at the time of his death in an automobile accident at age 42. Due to his stature in the Bohemian and local communities, his funeral was one of largest in East Baltimore, with over 2,000 people in attendance.

The Czech or Bohemian community in ca. 1900 was centered in East Baltimore along Broadway from roughly Monument to Preston Streets. Sokol Hall (also known as the Bohemian Gymnastic Hall) at the corner of Gay and Preston Sts. was the quarters of the Sokol Organization, which originated in Bohemia to preserve Czech culture there, and provided a link with the old country for immigrants to the United States. There is a Bohemian National Cemetery at 1300 Horner's Lane in East Baltimore, created in 1884 as a burial ground for protestant and non-religious Czechs.

Collection Origin

Gift of Michael Rokos, 1991 (003228).

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 1 box (with 3 larger photoprints stored separately) and a total of 39 photoprints from ca. 1890-1960. The photographs document the Czech community in East Baltimore, especially the Rokos and Klecka families. Subjects include a grocery store and a saloon, family portraits and wedding photographs, and views of funeral processions and people lying in state. There are several views of the Sokol Hall at Preston and Gay Sts., a portrait of young women in the Sokol Organization, and a 7th Ward picnic at a park in Dundalk.

Note: The collection contains several folders of printed ephemera, including a photomechanical picture of the J.J. Rokos Bakery, and a copy of Palecek, a Czech community newspaper from 1902.

Note: Related materials are held in the Manuscripts Department of the Maryland Historical Society: MS. 2268, the Chyba Czech Collection.


The photographs are arranged according to PP catalog numbers. Medium sized photographs are stored separately in flat file drawers.

Container List

1 Box

Box 1

PP145.1 - Marie (Mamie) Klecka and unidentified man in East Baltimore grocery store, ca. 1930.

PP145.2 - 7th Ward Picnic at Miller's Park, Dundalk on the Bay (people identified), ca. 1922. People identified, includes members of Bartlett, Pozer, Klecka, Rokos, Riha, and Pokorny families.

PP145.3 - Bohemian Gymnastic Hall (Sokol Hall) at Gay and Preston Sts., ca. 1910.

PP145.4 - Joseph Klecka's Saloon (1513 Ashland St.), 1911.

PP145.5 - Jaroslav J. Rokos as candidate for Baltimore's City Council, ca. 1910.

PP145.6 - August Klecka, ca. 1910.

PP145.7 - James Francesne and Margaret Ambose Klecka, ca. 1910.

PP145.8 - Pokorny family (people identified), ca. 1905.

PP145.9 - Bessie Rokos Hill at age 1, 1914.

PP145.10 - Wedding portrait of Gustav L. Rokos and Marie Klecka, 1909.

PP145.11 - Joseph Klecka, Jr., ca. 1910.

PP145.12 - Marie Hranicka Klecka, ca. 1912.

PP145.13 - Joseph Klecka, ca. late 1880s.

PP145.14 - James F. Klecka, ca. 1905.

PP145.15 - Joseph Klecka, Jr., Mamie Klecka (Rokos), and Bessie Klecka (Riha), ca. 1912.

PP145.16 - Burial marker for Jaroslav J. Rokos in Baltimore Bohemian National Cemetery, ca. 1915.

PP145.17 - Hearse bearing body of Marie H. Klecka, April 1913. Picture taken in vicinity of Gay and Preston Sts.

PP145.18 - Funeral procession for Jaroslav J. Rokos, Sokol Hall in background at Gay and Preston Sts., August 1913.

PP145.19 - Funeral of Jaroslav J. Rokos, probably at corner of Madison St. and Broadway, August 1913. Duplicate/copy negative Z24.1630.

PP145.20 - Funeral of Jaroslav J. Rokos, probably at corner of Madison St. and Broadway, August 1913.

PP145.21 - Funeral of Jaroslav J. Rokos, outside of Sokol Hall at Gay and Preston Sts., August 1913.

PP145.22 - Funeral of Jaroslav J. Rokos, outside of Sokol Hall at Gay and Preston Sts., August 1913.

PP145.23 - Young ladies of the Sokol Organization in East Baltimore, including Marie and Bessie Klecka, 1909.

PP145.24 - Marie Hranicka Klecka in casket at 1513 Ashland Ave., April 1913.

PP145.25 - Joseph Klecka, Sr. in casket in East Baltimore home, 1926.

PP145.26 - Barbara Klecka Pokorny and Joseph Pokorny, Sr., ca. 1895. Duplicate/copy negative Z24.1629.

PP145.27 - August Klecka, ca. 1940.

PP145.28 - George Washington Klecka Rokos, 1912. Duplicate/copy negative Z24.1676.

PP145.29 - Group portrait, including George W. K. Rokos and Thomas D'Alessandro, Jr., n.d.

PP145.30 - Marie "Mamie" E. Klecka Rokos, 1946.

PP145.31 - George W.K. Rokos at time of graduation from University of Baltimore, 1932.

PP145.32 - Thomas Clayton Hill, Sr., executive with Martin Co., ca. 1960.

PP145.33 - George W.K. Rokos dressed as George Washington, ca. 1916. Duplicate/copy negative Z24.1579.

PP145.34 - George W.K. Rokos dressed as Woodrow Wilson at Masked Ball, ca. 1915. Duplicate/copy negative Z24.1677.

PP145.35 - Saloon of Joseph Klecka, St. at 1513 Ashland Ave., ca. 1910. Shows entrance to bowling lanes.

PP145.39 - Marie "Mamie" Klecka (Rokos) at age 5, 1898. Tintype, cased photograph #342.

Medium-sized Photographs

PP145.36 - George W. Klecka, 1946.

PP145.37 - Bessie Klecka, ca. 1910.

PP145.38 - Testimonial dinner to Col. Vladimir Hurban, Minister from Republic of Czecho-Slovakia, April 1937. © 2001 Maryland Historical Society - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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