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Personalities: Michal Bosák (1869 – 1937) Issue number
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Michal Bosák (10th December 1869, Okrúhle – 18th February 1937, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) was an important financier, patriot and philanthropist. He attended the primary school in the municipality Radoma, where he learnt to read, write and count. In 1886, at the age of 16, he travelled to the United States in order to find work. At first, he made his living as a coal sorter in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, but later he became a miner and a railway worker. After moving to Freeland in 1890, he started to work with Michal Zemany, for whom he distributed beer. In the local enclave of Slovak emigrants, he met Zuzana Hudáková, whom he married in 1891.
In 1893 he bought a small tavern in Olyphant, which he gradually transformed into a wholesale outlet with alcoholic beverages and a shipping agency that dealt with ticket sales. As his profits grew, in 1897 he established a private bank called the Michal Bosak Private Bank, and later co-founded many other national banks. He was the President of the First National Bank in Olyphant, which was authorised to issue U.S. dollars, and on 25th June 1907, Bosak’s name appeared on a 10-dollar banknote, which became the motif for the FDC surcharge. After moving from Olyphant into Scranton in 1908 he became the co-founder of a wide range of banking institutions, such as the Bosak State Bank in Scranton, in 1915, which became the best-known Slovak bank in the United States.
Nor can we neglect his activities as a philanthropist. He was involved in the First Slovak Catholic Unity and during the First World War, he organised a million-dollar foundation dedicated to the Slovak fight for independence. His patriotic awareness activities were well demonstrated when he signed the Pittsburgh Agreement on 30th May 1918, which authorised the unification of the Czechs and Slovaks in a single new state. He visited Slovakia in 1920 and witnessed the establishment of the American-Slovak Bank, in which he held 60% of the shares. In the village of his birth Okrúhle, he had a state primary school built and it was the first school built in Czechoslovakia after the end of the First World War. In 1925, Bosak even donated it to the state for a symbolic amount of one crown.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Martin Vančo

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