Francis Julius "Babe" Shirocky


Not all of the residents of Smithville who lived with the Czechs are actually from the same stock, but share their culture. One of the residents, Francis Julius "Babe" Shirocky, is one of these residents. His family on his father's side, Frank Shirocky, are actually Polish and have a long family history which can be traced from eastern Poland.

"Church records from the village of Petrovice from the year 1778 mention the Szyrocki family. The name is recorded in these records in the German spelling Schirotzky. Szyrocki is a Polish name. The name is found in Poland today. Although the Szyrocki family has lived in the area around Petrovice in Czechoslovakia for centuries, it has been suggested that the Szyrockis may have migrated to Silensia centuries ago from eastern Poland."
(Hannon, 1984, p. 7)

"Szyrocki is not a common name, but it is found in Poland and that part of Silensia located in Czechoslovakia. . . . A Czech parish priest in Texas was probably responsible for spelling the name Shirocky. Although the name is certainly Polish, rules of the Czech language require that a name with such sounds must be spelled Shirocky, just as rules of the Polish language require that it be spelled Szyrocki. Izydor Szyrocki ("Babe's" grandfather) claimed he was neither Czech nor Polish, (he considered his heritage to be Silesian) so he was probably not too concerned whether the Polish or Czech spelling was used. Names were most often recorded by parish priests. Since the Shirocky family lived in Texas in Czech-Moravian settlements, it is understandable that the spelling most often used was Czech."
(Hannon, 1984, p. 9)

The story is told that Izydor became upset at his father-in-law, Antonin Fojcik, for not repaying a loan and decided to leave immediately for America with his wife Marianna. Since her sister-in-law was already living in Texas it was easy for them to make the decision to leave Europe. They settled in Texas in 1890 in Fayette County near the communities of Ammannsville and Holman called Pecan with their sons Emil and Frank, "Babe's" father who was three years old at the time. While in America their family increased and including those that died at birth, the family totaled seventeen children.

At the time Fayette County was the center of social activity for Czech-Moravian immigrants in Texas. "Izydor assimilated very easily into the 'Czech' culture of Texas. The 'Czech' language spoken in Texas was actually a mixture of Moravian and Silesian dialects. Although the dialect which Izydor and Marianna spoke differed significantly form the true Czech language of Bohemia, it was quite similar to the Moravian speech spoken in Texas" (Hannon, 1984, p. 16).

As soon as he was old enough the eldest child Emil found a job in Smithville. He worked in Mr. Adamcik's dry good's store. Frank, the second eldest, found a job working for Mr. Psencik. Both boys also continued to help with the farming. A terrible tragedy for the family was Emil's murder in 1903. Emil and Frank attended a dance near Smithville on the last weekend before the beginning of Advent. Several boys at the dance were envious of Frank because he was a good dancer who was popular with the girls. Emil heard a boy curse his brother, so Emil spoke up for Frank. This angered the boy, who walked out of the dance and waited for Emil when the dance was over. As Emil stepped out the door after the dance, the boy struck him over the head. Emil died from the wound.
(Hannon, 1984, p. 18)

In 1908 the family moved to Granger, a Czech-Moravian community in Williamson County because the land was more fertile than in Bastrop County. An incident that occurred with one of Frank's sisters, Frances Shirocky Schaefer demonstrates that being Polish in a Czech community was not always easy. She remembers being scolded in school by the pastor Father Pridal because she spoke too "Polish."

Frank raised his family in Smithville. He bought property there which is part of the old Fawcett Plantation in 1916 and rebuilt the present family home in 1929. From 1920 to 1923 he operated the West End Grocery Store on Gazley Creek serving the needs of the local residents and the many loggers in the area. In 1923 he moved the store to town.

"Babe" died on January 11, 2009 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Smithville. He was born July 15, 1923.

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