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Frank Joseph Petura
A Family History Resource

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wo Petura families came to America from Bohemia in the 1800s and settled in Racine, Wisconsin.  The first -- Joseph and Katharine Petura and their son John -- came in 1857. The second Petura family -- Wenzel and Elizabeth Petura and sons John and Joseph -- arrived in 1874. The city of Racine was popular for immigrants from Bohemia, a region today part of the Czech Republic. Caledonia just north of Racine was a well known Czech farming community.

The younger Joseph Petura who arrived in 1874 soon married a woman named Mary. They had two daughters, Mary and Agnes, and then a son --  Frank Joseph Petura -- who studied chemistry and engineering at the University of Wisconsin and became a successful business executive in New York. Here is a Petura family sketch.

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GO TO: WisconsinPetura FamiliesFrank J. Petura | Czech Genealogy

oming to Wisconsin & Racine      [ Top ]

Czech Pioneers in Wisconsin:  in 1860, 1870 and 1880, Wisconsin led America in Czech immigrants. Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Racine were key urban locations. North of Racine is Caledonia, then a key Czech agricultural community. Many individuals and their origins mentioned including Frantisek Korizek who published the first Czech newspaper in America, a periodical that became Slavie.

Czechs in Wisconsin: they settled along Lake Michigan from Racine to Manitowoc and inland in places such as Champion Valley in Vernon County where an annual Czech celebration is held.

Czechs in Racine Area: north of the city of Racine was a farming area called Caledonia, later called Tabor, known to the Bomhemian immigrants as Czech Bethlehem. As early as 1850 there were Czech schools here, and this Bohemian Schoolhouse, as pictured, was built there in 1888.

History of Czechs
in America

by Jan Habenicht
, Miroslav Koudelka


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Great Lakes and
Great Ships: An
Illustrated History
for Children

Two Petura Families Come to Racine         [ Top ]

Joseph Petura, 38, and his family arrived Castle Garden, N.Y., on August 8, 1857, having sailed from Bremen and  Southhampton on the ship Argo. With him were wife Catha., 33, and son John, 9. All three gave their last residence as Popowetz, a town in eastern Bohemia.

The book History of Czechs in America mentions the arrival of Joseph Petura and his family in Racine on August 14, 1856 [p. 304]. He was born in Vinary while his son was born in Popovec [Popowetz] on December 25, 1846, this volume states. Both villages are near Vysoke Myto in the Pardubice region of Bohemia. This Joseph Petura died Nov. 11, 1900.

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They Came in Ships:

Finding Your
Immigrant Ancestor's
Arrival Record

Czech Passenger Lists, Vol. VIII, shows the arrival in Baltimore from Bremen on May 23, 1874 on the ship Braunschweig of Wenzl Petura, 57, an economist, Elizabeth Petura, 54, and sons Johann, 29, and Josef, 25, all born in Bohemia. They settled in Racine, Wisconsin, as confirmed by naturalization papers for Joseph Petura, father of Frank Joseph Petura.

1880 Census for Caledonia, Racine County, Wisconsin, had the following Petura families:
  Joseph Petura Household
with Joseph, 61, farming, and
wife Katherine, 56, born in Bohemia, and son Wensel, 16,
at home, born in Wisconsin, and Macak Thomas, farm laborer.
  Joseph Petura Household with Joseph, 31, farming, and Mary, 28, born in Bohemia; daughters Mary, 2, and Agness, 9 months, born in Wisconsin, and Joseph's mother Alberta, 61, born in Bohemia
  John L. Petura Household
with John. L Petura, 34, no occupation listed, and wife Katherine, 24, keeps house,
both born in Bohemia. [He is the son of the elder Joseph Petura].
  John Petura Household with
John Petura, 35, keeps a saloon, born in Bohemia, his wife Anna, 20, keeps house, born in Wisconsin to parents born in Prussia, and daughter Helen, born in Wisconsin.
In the 1880 Census, the John L. Petura and John Petura households were recorded as adjacent to each other.

Joseph and Marie Petura Family in Racine       [ Top ]

Joseph and Marie Petura with dates, places of birth and death, with sources, and their daughter Agnes who married twice. Joseph and Mary also had a daughter Mary and a son Frank Joseph Petura.

Frank J. Petura was born October 29, 1881, the son of Joseph and Mary Petura and brother to Mary and Agnes.

1890-1891 Farmers & Land Owners Directory:  Joseph Petura Sr., Joseph Petura Jr. and John L. Petura owned land in the Caledonia area, served by the Tabor Post Office. The designations Sr. and Jr. simply meant the older and younger Joseph, not father and son. Joseph Petura Jr. was the father of Frank Joseph Petura.

1900 Census for Racine County shows the following four Petura families enumerated in Caledonia, shown on page 5B and page 10A:
  John [ L. ] Petura,
53 (born 12/1846), farmer, wife Katie Petura, 43, married for 24 years, and niece Louisa M. Petura, 9, born in Bohemia. 
  John Petura, 54, born in Bohemia,
and wife Annie, 39, Wisconsin native, married 20 years, daughters Libbie
and Helen.

See 5B
  Joseph Petura, 51, and his wife Mary, 48, wed for 25 years, were both born in Bohemia, living with their daughter Agnes, 20, and son Frank, 17, Wisconsin natives. 
  Wencel Petura, 35, a Wisconsin native, wife Annie, 33, born in Bohemia, and 7 children: Joseph A., Libbie K., Katie A., John, Wencel, and Caroline; and Wencel's mother Katherine who came from Bohemia in 1856 and had 3 children, 2 living (Note: John L. and Wencel). See 10A

1908 Directory of Leading Farmers of Racine and Kenosha Counties included -- in Caledonia -- J. Petura, Section 19, and Wencil Petura, Section 21, both served by the Racine Post Office.

Bohemian National Cemetary near Racine has Petura burials including husband and wife Josef and Marie Petura.
  John L. Petura, 1846-1930
  Josef Petura, 1849-1928
  Katerina Petura, 1855-19??
  Libby K Petura, 1891-1974
  Marie Petura, 1847-1905
  Wencle J. Petura,
  Agnes Korbel Mikulesky (the name carved on the gravestone) was born Agnes Petura, one of two daughters of Joseph and Marie. She first married to Frank Korbel who died at age 29. She then married the widower Joseph W. Mikulecky.  See children of both their marriages.

Frank Joseph Petura       [ Top ]

Frank Joseph Petura earned a bachelor's degree in engineering at the University of Wisconsin in 1904.  He was:
  a freshman in the College of Mechanics and Engineering, 1902
  a sophomore in electrical engineering in 1903, from Racine
  a junior in electrical engineering in 1904, from Racine
  in the Class of 1904, shown as Frank Joseph Petura, Racine, called
   "Pete," a member of Alpha Chi Sigma (chemistry fraternity) and
   Tau Beta Pi (engineering honorary), with Engineers' Club roles and
    engineering thesis on high tension and dust collection. Photo.

While in school and living in Madison, Frank:
  was in the Engineer's Club, a sophomore
   in 1902, and in  the UW Engineers' Club,
   a sophomore in 1903 -- and serving as
   secretary treasurer of the Engineers Club
   in 1904 while a junior and vice president
   as a senior.
  was on the victorious debate team of the
   UW Engineers' Club, a three-man team
   arguing a machinists' union issue. Includes
  photo. He later was secretary treasurer
   of the Engineers' Joint Debate League.

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Madison: The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History, Volume 1, 1856-1931

While in Madison, he also:
  was a founder of Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry fraternity, which he
   helped name, incorporate and served as a national officer (see photos
   as collegians and later in life. Frank was also an Alpha Chi Sigma
   member while on the UW faculty
  completed a bachelor's thesis on high tension alternating current
   discharges, with co-author William Bradford.
  was tapped for membership in Tau Beta Pi engineering honorary
   fraternity in 1903 and was listed in his senior year.
  was a UW instructor during 1904-1906 for a salary of $720 and
   expenses of $25.16 and during 1906-1908 at a salary of $100,
   having served as an instructor of electrical engineering for
   1904-1907, listed new in 1905, and again as EE instructor for 1907.

Frank J. Petura of Racine was in 1901 Wisconsin Engineer Undergraduate Directory. In 1902, Frank lived at 524 State Street, Madison.

UW 1905 Class Note: Frank J. Petura reported leaving a job with Lincoln Gas & Electric to become a UW engineering instructor.

Frank J. Petura was listed as having university faculty status as an
alumni member of Alpha Chi Sigma and Tau Beta Pi.

UW 1907 Class Note: Frank J. Petura reported moving from Madison, Wisconsin, to a job with Denver Gas & Electric Co., Denver, Colorado.

At the first Alpha Chi Sigma biennial conclave held in Madison in 1908, F. J. Petura, Alpha chapter, represented Eta chapter (University of Colorado). At the end of this reminiscences article from 1913, F. J. Petura's career was reported as "helping to run Wall Street."

UW 1909 Class Note:  Frank J. Petura reported being transferred from Denver Gas & Electric Co. to the general office of the Doherty operating company, 60 Wall Street, New York, N.Y. (Henry L. Doherty and Co.)

Marie Grace Miller of Madison, University of Wisconsin Class of '04, was in the College of Letters and Science, and did her thesis on the influence of physical environment on primitive societies. See photo. She placed second in dramatic readings as a freshman, did recitations at a Castalia event in 1901, was on the student roster in 1902, was the recording secretary for the Oratorical and Debating Society, placing second in 1903 for an oration on Joan of Arc, member of Castalia club as a junior and senior, and spoke at the 1904 Senior Class Day where she gave the farewell to undergraduates, which she gave again at the June 6 Commencement ceremony. In Fall 1904, she was an elocution and English teacher in Manitowoc at the northside high school.

UW 1911 Class Note: The engagement of Frank J. Petura and Marie Grace Miller, both Class of '04, was announced by her parents Mr. and Mrs. Carlton E. (Ensign) Miller, with the wedding set for August 1911. She had been assistant principal at Chilton High School for three years, while he was an expert gas engineer with the Doherty company. Their marriage was noted in the October 1911 alumni news.

Birth of a Son:  In a January 1914 UW Class Note, Frank J. and Marie Petura announced the birth of son Frank Ensign Petura. Their son Richard Carlton Petura was born in 1917.

1914 UW Engineering Alumni Directory lists F. J. Petura, '04, as an engineer with Henry L. Doherty and Co., New York City.

Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Petura (Marie MIller) reported in a 1917 Class Note that they were living at 166 Harrison Avenue, Westfield, New Jersey.

Frank Petura elected president of the University of Wisconsin's New York Alumni Club in May 1918.  In June 1919, he and Marie attended a UW alumni reunion.

1921 University of Wisconsin Alumni Directory: Frank Joseph Petura listed as earning a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1904 and working as a general purchasing engineer for H. L. Doherty & Co., New York. (Doherty was the founder of Cities Service Co.)  Mrs. Frank J. Petura (Marie Grace Miller) listed as earning a B.A. degree in 1904 and living at 535 Highland Avenue, Westfield, New Jersey, where they had moved in 1920.

In 1923, F. J. Petura '04 was one of three New York alumni who led an effort to raise private funds for the UW Alumni Association Endowment.

Order of Altotus: when this Alpha Chi Sigma advisory body was created in 1932, Frank Joseph Petura was listed first, having been the first person to serve as the fraternity's national leader or Grand Master Alchemist.

1936 UW Alumni Directory showed Frank and Marie in the same roles as seen in the 1921 directory listings, above. They reported that son Frank Ensign Petura had graduated from Lafayette College and gone to work for General Electric at Schenectady, New York. They were still living in Westfield, N.J., in 1946.

1948 UW Alumnus article:  Frank J. Petura was reported as vice president and director of Electric Advisers Inc., one of 10 Badgers with prominent positions within the Cities Service Co.

UW 1949 Class Note: Frank J. Petura reported being a vice president of Electric Advisers Inc. and "on the buying end" of the Cities Service company since 1915.

History of Cities
Service Company &
Henry L Doherty

in article on CitGo

UW 1952 Class Note:  Frank J. Petura reported retiring from Cities Service, but continuing as president and director of Westfield (NJ) Savings and Loan Assn. Later that year, it was noted that he and two other founders of Alpha Chi Sigma attended its 50th anniversary.

Frank J. Petura's death in 1959 in Florida was listed among other alumni. He died in September 1959 in Orange County.  The death of Mrs. Frank J. Petura (Marie Grace Miller) in Washington, D.C., was listed among alumni in the January 1973 issue.

Alpha Chi Sigma at 100:  the fraternity Frank J. Petura helped found in 1902 had 45 active chapters and 54,000 members at its centennial.

Frank and Marie's sons' birth and death records: Frank Ensign Petura and Richard Carlton Petura

Petura Surname      [ Top ]

Petura Surname: Novak is the most frequent Czech name while Petura is seen infrequently. A 2004 study found 17 individuals with the name Petura and 31 individuals named Petura with an accent mark on the t.

Petura Immigrant Origins: those arriving in New York listed Popowetz, Bohemia or Hungary as their place of origin. See other family facts.

Petura Genealogy: discover the Petura families who settled in Racine, Wisconsin, in the 1800s, including the grandparents and parents of Frank Joseph Petura.

Czech Genealogy      [ Top ]

Emigration from Eastern Bohemia to the USA in the 19th century with map of key cities that people left and map with statistics on legal, illegal emigration.

Cyndi's List Czech Resources:

CGSI or Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International with links and surname index to Habenicht's History of Czechs in America:
  Molkup-Polacek with
   a Petura reference

Czech Genealogy Forum:  post your queries, search previous queries

Rod & Clan: Czech genealogy Web site where you can search for surnames, post yours, more. Includes a Petura reference.

Origin of Czech Surnames:  of the estimated 40,000 Czech surnames, some are frequent, many are rare.

Genealogy Products     [ Top ]

Visit our Genealogy Shop for family history and genealogy books, family tree software and other and products today. Check out the sections for German genealogy, Irish genealogy, finding women ancestors and much more.

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