The Leshikar Home
The Leshikar Home, Circa 1909 and today.
Joseph Charles and Frantiska Langer Leshikar Home
By Faith Franklin, Smithville
The town of Smithville, commonly known as the “Heart of the Megalopolis”, is located in the triangle of central Texas which is formed by Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Smithville was established in 1827 by Thomas Gazley and incorporated in March 1895.[i] In 1876, Murray Burleson bought 300 acres of land out of the Gazley and Loomis Leagues. In September 1887, he formed the Smithville Town Company.[ii] In the 1890s, the railroad extensions caused the town of Smithville to thrive. Numerous newly built businesses enjoyed much prosperity and income from the developing town, which were benefitted when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas systems established its central shops in Smithville in 1894.[iii] The continuous building of homes at this time were not the exception but the rule. Numerous homes in the original Smithville town site, the Burleson addition and on Mt. Pleasant were built by V.S. Rabb Jr., around the turn of the 20th century, continuing for several more decades.[iv] The Joseph Charles and Frantiska Langer Leshikar House was one of these homes.[v]
Joseph Charles Leshikar was born on January 24, 1870, in New Ulm, Texas. He was the son of Charles Leshikar born August 30, 1835 and died March 20, 1920; and Rosalie Schiller born October 26, 1843 and died December 16, 1889; both of Austria.[vi] [vii] [viii] He was the grandson of Josef Lidumil Lesikar born May 16, 1806 and died October 21, 1887; and Terezie Silar born February 14, 1808 and died November 1, 1884. Both were born in Bohemia.[ix]
Joseph Charles was the first generation of this bloodline born in the United States. It is important to note here, that throughout this document and based on numerous reference material, throughout his life, Joseph Charles Leshikar was known as Joseph Charles, J.C. and Joe C. The significant impression of his grandfather’s substantial contributions made to his countrymen both before coming to a new country and continuing upon arrival at the end of 1853, enhanced the drive and successful business acumen he achieved during his life.
Josef Lidumil Lesikar was a noted and documented founder of the Czech community in Texas among his other contributions in his homeland of Bohemia. Josef and Terezie’s homestead was recognized as the first house built by first Czech settlers in Texas. Built in 1854 by Josef and his four sons, one of which was Charles, father of Joseph Charles, this home is located in the former Cat Springs, Austin County, Texas, located at the current 3373 Skalak Rd., Bellville, TX. 77418.[x] This Texas medallion, marker number 1726, was awarded and recorded as a Texas Historical Landmark in 1965.[xi] Josef additionally, was awarded a Texas Historical Landmark grave marker, marker number 6357, in the Frnka Family Cemetery in New Ulm, Texas, in 1985, for his leadership and political views in addition to other qualities that left an indelible mark on the new immigrants from Bohemia (Czechoslovakia).[xii]
Charles Sr., continued living in the general area of Austin county per the 1870 United States census for Austin County, Catsprings, (Beat. #4). At this time, the young Joseph was a mere six months old. Charles’ final home, twelve plus miles from his father Josef’s home, has the legal address of New Ulm Town site, Block 27, lot 1-18, acres 2.085, built in 1893. The current address that corresponds with the description is 102 Walnut St., New Ulm, Texas, 78950- 1296, where it stands today.[xiii] [xiv] While his occupation was listed as a farmer, in later years he would begin making numerous land deals, along with both his sons, Joseph Charles and Charles Otto, in the “village of” Smithville.
On September 20, 1894, at the young age of 24, Joseph Charles began buying property in the “village of” Smithville, from one of the founders, Murray Burleson. The transaction was for the purchase of lots 3 & 4, Block 28. On December 31, 1898, Joseph purchased the lot known as lot 3 in block 30, from J.H. Chancellor, who was a prominent citizen and businessman, who built his own store, Chancellors’ Dry Goods in 1893 in Smithville. [xv] [xvi] [xvii] This purchase would become a saloon known as Place Saloon, J.C. Leshikar, proprietor.[xviii] Per the Bastrop County Tax Records for 1901, J.C.’s bar had a value of $1700.00. His uncle, Fannie’s (Frantiska) brother, Vinson Longer, had the bar on lot 2, block 33 right next to J.C.’s bar.[xix][xx] Per the Grantee Index to Deeds – Bastrop County Texas; Joseph Charles, his brother Charles Otto and their father, Chas. Sr., dominated numerous pages of transactions in this index. These transactions were not just purchases of property in the Smithville area, but additionally, transfers of vendor liens and oil, gas, and mineral rights. At this point, one notices the variance in spellings of the Leshikar name. These spellings include the following variations; Leshikar, Lessiker, Leschikar, Leschiker, Leshiker and Leskikar.[xxi] [xxii]
The Leshikar Family: Joseph Charles and Frantiska and their children, Gardenia, Esther and Leon.
On or around 1893, Joseph Charles married Frantiska Langer and they resided in Smithville. In 1895, they had their first child, Gardenia,[xxiii] followed by Esther in 1897,[xxiv] and Leon Lidimul in 1901[xxv] These births are further evidenced by the United States Census of 1900 which shows Frank, Joseph’s younger brother, aged 13, was living with him at the residence on lot 3 block 28, along with Fannie and the two girls, aged 2 and 4.[xxvi]
As Joseph Charles continued to acquire property, on February 28, 1902, some prominent businessmen, M. Burleson, J.W. Hill, and Yerger Hill, acting as the Bank of Smithville, went into an agreement with J.C. and his brother Charles, who were in business together running the Place Saloon, to construct a building next to the Place, and wanted to share the wall for their new building. For this agreement, J.C. received an amount of $220.00.[xxvii] On May 7, 1903, J.C., bought lot 8, block 28, known as 301 Mills St., Smithville, Texas, which included the house which currently sits upon that location for a total sum of $1110.00 in cash and a single payment of $390.00 as insurance against fire or loss on improvements made on the property.[xxviii]
J.C. continued his important place in Smithville as a businessman, proprietor and contributing member of society and in 1907, became a director of the First StateBank of Smithville.[xxix] [xxx] As stated earlier in this document, J.C. began his career in Smithville as a saloon keeper in1898, a review of several liquor licenses' more prominent businessmen of that time, Emil Buescher[xxxi] [xxxii] and J.H.
Saloon. J.C. continued acquiring them jointly and solo including years 1909 through 1913. [xxxiii] Included as an attachment to this document, is a photocopy of tokens from J.C.’s saloon, which were commonly used during the early part of the twentieth century.[xxxiv] J.C. was an the owner of two vehicles in 1914-1915, including one for his company, Leshikar Co. license #87, and a personal vehicle, license #290, 1915 Dodge.[xxxv]
In 1919, prohibition became enforceable law in Texas and as such, J.C. began a new career in real estate, per the 1920 United States census report and had his office located on Garwood Street.[xxxvi] He continued running a real estate company per the 1930 United States Census report and lived at 301 Mills St., Smithville, Texas.[xxxvii]
Joseph Charles Leshikar worked as a real estate dealer until 1937 and died on February 20, 1938.[xxxviii] His attending physician was Martin Hoch of Smithville, Texas.[xxxix]
The family continued living in the residence. Fannie stayed in the home until her passing in 1962.[xl] Her attending physician was J.D. Stephens of Smithville, Texas.[xli] Gardenia Leshikar married Louis Naumann and they continued to live in the home after her mother’s death until Louis passed away in 1973[xlii] and Gardenia passed away in 1978.[xliii] Esther Leshikar married Henry Sebesta, a well-known and important figure in Bastrop County Law, who served as a county attorney for Bastrop County in 1942.[xliv]
The Leshikar Family home as it appears today, beautifully restored and, thanks to the efforts of Faith Franklin, is awaiting its historical marker from the Texas Historical Commission (THC).
III. HISTORICAL/CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
As stated in the context section of this document, the Joseph Charles and Frantiska Langer Leshikar home was built by V.S. Rabb Jr., one of the premier builders in the Smithville area in 1900, for the total price of $930.00, evidenced by the first note of $30.00 and the next 36 notes of $25.00, respectively, payable monthly, beginning on the 20th day of January 1900.[xlv] [xlvi]
This home is an example of what was known as the Folk Victorian style. The characteristics of this house include clapboard and shingle siding; roofs are gabled, pyramidal, symmetrical, front gabled with large decorative eaves. Porches are relatively restrained with decorative brackets which are small or large in size, intricately carved, spindle posts, or intricately perforated areas. Doorways feature paired and single, rectangular and transom lights, and decorative crowns. Windows are one-over-one and two over-two, with rectangular tops, arranged in pairs or threes and decorative crowns.[xlvii]
Many materials were now available to the builder. These were often combined to achieve greater richness. Sawmills had become widespread, and frame houses were given elaborate gingerbread trim, made possible by the jigsaw.[xlviii] What set the Folk Victorian apart from the ordinary folk houses was the decorative detailing on the porches and cornice line. Porch supports were usually turned spindles or square beams with chamfered (beveled) corners. Other porch details were often lace-like spandrels or unique jig-saw cut balustrades. Decorative gable-end detailing that borrowed lightly from the Gothic Revival were also common. Windows were trimmed simply and only occasionally contained a simple pediment above.[xlix]
Mr. and Mrs. V.S. Rabb Jr.’s home received a Texas Historic Landmark in 2002, #12765.[l]
While the Leshikars were not the original owners of the house when it was built, the family resided in the home and had possession of the home from 1903 when it was purchased from B.T. Smith, until May 18,1976, when it was sold to Roger Roy and Barbara Jean Hewitt.[li] The lot number 8 of block 28, can be traced from the original owner M. Burleson to A.F. Bateman to Vinson Longer to B.T. Smith, who sold the home to the Leshikars in 1903.[lii]
Today the house maintains the original rooflines per the Sanborn Maps 1909,[liii] and an 8x10 photocopy of the home in circa 1905. In addition, to the obvious historic value of this original home by V.S. Rabb Jr., which has maintained its integrity, and the significant role Joseph Charles and his family played in the founding of Smithville, so much so that they are all resting in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Smithville Texas, these facts make this house at 301 Mills St., Smithville, Texas, an important part of history that should be recognized and protected.
[i] Texas State Historical Association, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/article/hgs09.
[ii] Smithvilletexashistory.com/founders.html; Crockett, Silky R. Early History of Smithville, Texas. Smithville, TX: Friends of the Smithville Library, 1990. p. 17.
[iii] Texas State Historical Association, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/article/hgs09.
[iv] Carol Phillips Snyder, Donald L. Herrington, and the Smithville Heritage Society. Images of America SMITHVILLE. Arcadia Publishing, 2009. p. 53.
[v] Mechanics Lien Record: Book 2, p. 260,261 Office of the County Clerk, Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop, Texas.
[vi] Texas Department of Health Standard Certificate of Death, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS. Record number 5748, Registrar number 8.
[viii] 1870 United States Census, Austin, Co., Catsprings (Beat #4), usgwarchives.net/tx/Austin/census/1870/033/.a.gif.
[x] https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth460609/m1/9/high_res/, Original application for State Marker, 1962.
[xi] https://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/Details/5015001726, Texas Historic Sites Atlas.
[xii] https://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/Map, Texas Historic Sites Atlas.
[xiii] Ancestry.com, Charles Leshikar.
[xiv] Austin County Appraisal District, Account Details R000017570, V. 729, p. 802.
[xv] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Deeds Records, V. 22, p. 148; V. 29, p. 199.
[xvi] Carol Phillips Snyder, Donald L. Herrington, and the Smithville Heritage Society. Images of America SMITHVILLE. Arcadia Publishing, 2009. p. 29.
[xvii] Early History of Smithville, p. 12.
[xviii] Smithvilletexashistory.com/1800businesses.html, p. 2.
[xix] Rosalie Marek Langer, findagrave.com.
[xx] Bastrop County Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1837-1910, 1901.
[xxi] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Reverse Index to Deeds, L-R, from May 1837 thru June 1920, Grantee Index to Deeds, pgs. 49,50.
[xxii] http://tokencatalog.com, token catalog 3428783.
[xxiii] Texas Department of Health Standard Certificate of Death, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS. Record 15503.
[xxiv] http://www.findagrave.com, Esther Emily Leshikar Sebesta.
[xxvi] 1900 United States Census, Bastrop, Co, ED 4 Justice Precinct 2 Smithville village.
[xxvii] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Deed Records, V. 37, p. 354.
[xxviii] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Deed Records, V. 39, p. 220.
[xxix] Texas Dept. of Banking-Report-ebook, Jan. 1, 1909, p. 76.
[xxxi] Carol Phillips Snyder, Donald L. Herrington, and the Smithville Heritage Society. Images of America SMITHVILLE. Arcadia Publishing, 2009. p. 61.
[xxxiii] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Liquor Dealer’s Record, V. 1, pgs. 6, 34, 44, 54, 63, 86.
[xxxiv] http://tokencatalog.com/token_record_forms., TokenCatalog #428783, Contributed by: James Kattner.
[xxxvi] 1920 United States Census, Bastrop, Co, Smithville, Tx.
[xxxvii] 1930 United States Census, Bastrop, Co, Smithville, Tx.
[xxxviii] Texas Department of Health Standard Certificate of Death, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS. Record 5748.
[xl] Texas Department of Health Standard Certificate of Death, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS. Record number 20355.
[xli] Carol Phillips Snyder, Donald L. Herrington, and the Smithville Heritage Society. Images of America SMITHVILLE. Arcadia Publishing, 2009. p. 64.
[xlii] Texas Department of Health Standard Certificate of Death, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS. Record number 16521.
[xliii] Texas Department of Health Standard Certificate of Death, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS. Record number 15503.
[xlv] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Deed Records, V. 39, p. 220.
[xlvi] Mechanics Lien Record: Book 2, p. 260,261 Office of the County Clerk, Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop, Texas.
[li] Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas Tax Office, Estate of Esther Sebesta by Gardenia Naumann.
[lii] Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop County, Bastrop, Texas, Deed Records, V. 39, p, 116.
[liii] Sanborn Maps, 1909, Smithville Texas, original located at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
THIS HISTORIC HOUSE WAS BUILT FOR B.T. SMITH IN 1900 BY VIRGIL SULLIVAN RABB, JR. (1870-1943), ONE OF THE PREMIER BUILDERS IN THE AREA. THE HOME WAS DESIGNED IN THE FOLK VICTORIAN ARCHITECTURAL STYLE WHICH FEATURES DECORATIVE DETAILING ON THE STRUCTURE’S EAVES, BRACKETS AND CROWNS. BORN IN AUSTIN COUNTY TO CZECH IMMIGRANTS, JOSEPH CHARLES “JC” LESHIKAR (1870-1938) MARRIED FRANTISKA “FANNIE” LANGER (1874-1962) IN 1893. LESHIKAR PURCHASED HIS FIRST BUSINESS, THE PLACE SALOON, IN SMITHVILLE IN 1894 AT THE AGE OF 24. HE EXPANDED HIS BUSINESS HERE TO INCLUDE LAND, OIL, GAS AND BECAME DIRECTOR OF THE FIRST STATE BANK OF SMITHVILLE. THE LESHIKARS RAISED THEIR FAMILY IN THIS HOME FROM 1903 TO 1976, AND ARE BURIED IN THE OAK HILL CEMETERY.
RECORDED TEXAS HISTORIC LANDMARK – 2018
MARKER IS PROPERTY OF THE STATE OF TEXAS