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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Francis Kun Collection

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1835-1899
Creator: Kun, Francis (1825-1894)
Extent: 1.75 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0284
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Minister of the Czech-Moravian Brethren Church near Ely, Iowa.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Norman Zahradnik in 1973. Guide posted to Internet: November 2005.

Preferred Citation: Francis Kun Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Francis Kun was minister of the Czech-Moravian Brethern Churh near Ely, Iowa in the years just before the turn of the twentieth century. He is said to have been the first missionary among the Czech peoples in the midwestern states. He was born in Javornik in Moravia in 1825. His father and grandfather were ministers as well. His father gave him private instruction in languages and in addition to Czech, he learned German, Magyar (Hungarian), Latin, and Greek. At the end of his life he could speak and write twelve languages, according to one account. He was ordained in 1849 in the Reformed Church of Moravia and served at a church in Miroslava, Moravia until 1856, when he came to America.

While working as a farmer in Tama County he began preaching. He married Anna Budka, with whom he would have nine children. He did not have a church and held his services in the woods. In 1859, he was called to serve a small community near Racine, Wisconsin. In 1860, he moved to Ely, where he remained the rest of his life. He never affiliated with any Reformed denomination in the United States, and sometimes preached in a nearby Lutheran Church. He also ministered to people in Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, and the Dakotas, and tried to visit these places once a year. His own congregation was eventually able to build a parsonage and a church. He started two publications, The Voice of Truth and the Herald, both of which failed. Though these are not mentioned in the biographical sketch in the collection, the library owns two published collections of sermons, published in Cedar Rapids. Francis Kun died on January 6, 1894.

Kun wrote many sermons, and these make up the bulk of this collection. They are handwritten texts, all in Czech, the only exceptions being two exercises handwritten in Hebrew characters with English translations of the characters. There are three hardbound books. The other texts are mostly sewn into little booklets. They range in date from 1835 to 1899. The processor has added a biographical sketch of Kun from Koreny, the Journal of the Czech and Slovak American Genealogical Society of Illinois.
Main Library BX8566 K8 Verny Sluzebnik. (In Czech.) (Translation of title: The Faithful Servant: A Biography and Selected Sermons).

Main Library BX8574 K8 Postilla. (In Czech.) (Translation of title: The Light of Life: A Homily, Sermons for all of the Lord's Days and Annual Holidays Through the Entire Church Year, With the Appropriate Prayers.)

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Hardbound book (of sermons?)
  • Hardbound book marked Villem Kun - 1835
  • Hardbound book titled Postilla
  • Box 2:
  • Booklets
    folders 1-4
  • Box 3:
  • Booklets
    folders 5-9
  • Box 4:
  • Booklets
    folders 10-12
  • Nemecek, Paul. "Francis Kun: A Czechooslovak Pioneer." CSAGSI Koreny, Winter - 1998
  • Pamphlets
  • Central West Presbytery (Bohemian), 1910 -- 1948. A Historical Sketch
  • Our First Hundred Years Serving Our Lord. First Presbyterian Church Near Ely, Iowa. Centennial Observance October 10, 11, 13 - 1958
  • Journal - 1860

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Clergy and the Church