Julius Vita

Czech accordion player from Seymour, TX


Jim Vita talks about Julius Vita growing up. Phone interview with Alan Govenar, 2010.

Jim Vita talks about where Julius Vita used to play accordion. Phone interview with Alan Govenar, 2010.



Julius Vita’s story presents a good introduction to immigration and diversity in Texas. Ellis Island dominates our nation’s immigration story, yet the Port of Galveston was also a vital entryway for immigrants from around the world. Likewise, students may not realize how many immigrants from different parts of the world have made Texas home. Czech immigrants, like German immigrants, contributed significantly to traditional music in the state.

The earliest Czech immigrants came to Texas in 1852 and settled in the Coastal Plains not far from the Port of Galveston. In their homeland most of the immigrants had been farmers and sought land that would be suitable for agriculture. By the 1870s, Czechs had moved into Central and Northwest Texas in the area near Seymour in Baylor County, where Julius Vita lived and worked.

This story also brings a variety of gathering places to life to spark students’ awareness of the importance of such places to communities. From Facebook to food courts and football games, students also gather, just as the Czech community assembled at the Old Settlers Reunion, feed store, VFWs, barn dances, and Knights of Columbus halls.

Julius Vita is a good role model for students to discuss earning privileges and giving to community.


Students may:

Big Ideas

Immigration and Diversity


Gathering Places


Julius Vita’s story and photos
Radio clip
Everyday Music Field Notes
Everyday Music Listening Log
Traditions Venn Diagram
Release Forms (optional) 

Time Required

1-2 class periods


Texas history, social studies, English language arts, music


Review Julius’s story and the audio clip. Choose Big Ideas that you find relevant to your curriculum and your students. Copy Everyday Music Field Notes and other worksheets students will need and cue the audio clip. 

Class Discussion

Students may read the story and listen to the audio story independently, in groups, or as a class. Using the Everyday Music Field Notes worksheet will help them focus more closely. In a class discussion, raise some of the Big Ideas above, depending upon your curriculum and students’ needs and grade level. Here are questions to spark discussion:

Suggested Activities

Students may work independently or collaboratively to:

Investigate how local radio stations, both FM and AM, contribute to a sense of place and community history. Although many stations play mainstream popular music of various genres, plenty of stations also feature local music programming in a number of languages. For example, every Sunday KSEY-94.3 FM in Seymour, Texas broadcasts a Czech polka show. Adapt the Everyday Music Listening Log to research what local radio stations say about your community. Summarize your findings in a report, chart, or classroom radio show. Listen to KSEY at www.radioksey.com and find other Texas polka shows at www.radio4polkas.com/polkaradio_files/state/TX.html

What are gathering places in your community? Your school? Use the Traditions Venn Diagram to compare Julius Vita’s gathering places with your own. Choose one of your favorite gathering places and work with a team to document it to create a multimedia presentation. Elements to research include the following: age groups, layout, landscape, sounds, who’s in charge, activities, rules, private versus public spaces, rituals, customs, traditions, meaning to those who gather there, meaning to the overall community. If you include interviews, be sure to use a Release Form.

Research Czech immigration to Texas and the importance of Galveston as a port of entry for thousands of immigrants (see Resources). When did Czech immigrants arrive, where did they settle, and why did they leave Europe? Write a report summarizing your findings and include photos and maps.

As you listen to Julius Vita play Czech accordion, make an accordion book where you can sketch your reflections, his portrait, or his button accordion. You may also use the book to sketch the instruments that all the artists in this book play as well as the artists. To fold pages, take a piece of paper and fold it in half, then fold the edges back, toward the centerfold.

The accordion is a very popular instrument among many types of Texas musicians. Research the button accordion, the piano accordion, or both. Present your findings in a class presentation or Web page that includes illustrations and, if possible, sound files.

Assessment Strategies

Field notes
Radio listening logs
Local radio reports, charts, or radio shows
Multimedia presentations on gathering places
Accordion books
Web pages


button accordion
gathering places
piano accordion
Port of Galveston


Analyze information
Use and create primary sources
Immigration and migration



Galveston Historical Foundation www.galvestonhistory.org

KSEY-94.3 FM www.radioksey.com in Seymour, Texas broadcasts a Czech polka show every Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

Texas polka radio show list and schedule www.radio4polkas.com/polkaradio_files/state/TX.html