A local family recently got some VIP treatment on a visit to the Czech Republic to look for information about ancestors.

Beverly Babis, a Prosper resident in the Gentle Creek neighborhood, has always known about her Czech relatives. This is partly due to her brother, Robert Hora, who has spent his life involved in genealogy work, but after scanning family pictures through the 3,000-person genealogy program, Hora became well-versed in the basic details of his Czech ancestors. In an effort to learn more than the paperwork could reveal, Hora and Beverly Babis, along with her husband Joe Babis, traveled to the Czech Republic earlier this year.

The trio followed in the footsteps of their grand uncle, Charles Hora, who made a similar visit in 1934. With family records dating back to 1760, the family was focused on learning more about their relatives that first came to America — Johann Hora and Dorota Machacek Hora. Johann Hora was born in Žinkovy, and Dorota Machacek Hora was born in Horšice, but at the time that they married, both Johann Hora and Dorota Machacek Hora lived in Horšice.

“They got out because, during the time, everybody was at war over there,” Robert Hora said. “Everybody wanted to kick somebody else’s rear end. It was just bad times, they wanted to get out of there. It was a bad place to be at the time. They took the ship from Bremen, Germany to New York City. From New York City they moved to Cincinnati, and eventually, they bought land along a creek just outside of Farmersville, where they farmed and raised tobacco.”

The local family traveled to Žinkovy first. However, they did not have much luck. After walking through a cemetery looking for familiar names and speaking with a waitress about their surname, they found no connections to their ancestors. Luckily, thanks to the mayor, Horšice produced different results.

“There’s a Facebook page for the village of Horšice,” Beverly Babis said. “They had changed the mayor from when I first asked for information about the family until the second time. They had me send an email to him, Stanislav Dobrý. When we went to visit, he actually took us around. We visited the old grave sites at the church to see the old family name, and we got to meet his little daughter who is a fourth grader and would like an American pen pal.”

“He helped us to find the house where they were born,” Robert Hora said of his ancestors. “He had a map, and he knew their addresses from the city records. To my surprise, it turns out, at the time they (Johann Hora and Dorota Machacek Hora) got married, they were living directly across the street from each other, so that’s probably why they were making cow eyes at each other, because they were next-door neighbors in that town. We got a lot of pictures of those houses and met one of the ladies who lived there. The mayor was helpful that way, he also took us down to the old Catholic Church.”

The trio thanked Dobrý with a gift of Ester Price candy, which comes from Ohio. In exchange, the mayor gave them a bottle of wine from a local manufacturer and wrote a short article over their visit for the local paper. The trio hopes to return for Horšice’s “Meeting of the Natives,” an event that occurs every five years in which people that originally lived, or are descended, from the village return for a celebration.

“I felt that it was so neat just to see that culture and to imagine that our relatives came from that” Beverly Babis said. “That explained a lot to me about things that we’ve always done as children that I never thought about. For instance, my dad was crazy about mushroom hunting, and mushroom hunting was a big thing in that village. That’s something that’s been passed down to my dad, to my brothers, and I never really knew that it probably came from further back the line.”