The North Bend Eagle

 

Janik leading relatives home

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 4/12/17


Nebraska ranks fifth in states with number of people of Czech heritage. But when figuring the percentage of Czech Americans compared to the rest of the people in the state, Nebraska is number one with 5.5 percent of its population claiming Czech heritage.

JanikLynda Moser talks with Dan and Karel Janik about visiting the Czech Republic. About 40 people attended the May 8 gathering with Janik in North Bend.

That brings us to Dan Janik, a 30-year-old from Trebíc, Czech Republic, who is related to the local Soukup family. The connection comes through their Beranek relatives who homesteaded south of Morse Bluff in 1865.

Janik has a master’s degree in economics and marketing and works as a freelance production manager for events and festivals in the Czech Republic. Now he’s taking on a new venture by offering tours of the homeland to his American relatives.

“It just kind of happened itself,” Janik said. “It is not really a business, but a hobby.”

It all started in 1968 when Matilda Soukup visited the family of Dan’s father, Karel Janik. Karel kept in touch with Matilda’s son Don through the years to practice his English. Don visited the Janiks two months after the Iron Curtain fell and has returned a number of times since, taking family and friends. Dan first visited the Soukups in California when was 14 and has connected with relatives there, in Utah and in the North Bend-Morse Bluff area.

Don Soukup was the first to organize a group that Dan Janik hosted. The Janiks only do two or three tours a year, with each tour customized to the visitors’ request. The groups are kept small, 14 at most, so they can give individual treatment. Others from the Janik family assist when needed.

“We like to show off our country,” Dan Janik said. “There is interesting history and places that are natural or historical. We like to take visitors to places they wouldn’t be able to go themselves.”

As an added benefit, Karel Janik, 58, a computer engineer, will investigate the visitors’ genealogy through records and by visiting the area they are from.

“We just need a name, date and village to start,” Janik said.

The Janiks are from the central part of the Czech Republic, in an area formally known as Moravia. Janik says they are two hours from everywhere. But he is most proud of his town.

 

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