Welcome back! Today we continue our exclusive English translation of the 1878 article titled “STRUČNÁ STATISTIKA: Osad, míst a okresů ve Spojených Státech Čechy obydlených (Jak daleko nám bylo možno letos dopátrati se dál. Budoucího roku budeme pokračovat)”, which is translated to English as “BRIEF STATISTICS: Of settlements, towns and counties at United States, inhabited by Czechs (As far as we were able to find this year. Next year we will continue.)”
This article is a type of census of the Czech settlements across America in 1878. The Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář, undertook to document the Czechs across America as part of their focus on documenting and preserving Czech heritage and the Czech immigrant experiences in America.
We began with a primer on the world as it was in 1878. Then in Installment#1 we ‘visited’ the states of Arkansas and California. In Installment #2 it was on to Connecticut and the Dakota Territory. In Installment #3 we began our tour of rural Illinois and Installment #4 concluded this tour of Illinois and we moved on to Iowa. Installment #5 we continued with our travels in Iowa. Just click to catch up with us if you’d like!
Today we continue with our journey across Iowa visiting five new Czech communities.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář, Volume: II, Year: 1878, Pages: 97-108
STRUČNÁ STATISTIKA: Osad, míst a okresů ve Spojených Státech Čechy obydlených (Jak daleko nám bylo možno letos dopátrati se dál. Budoucího roku budeme pokračovat)
BRIEF STATISTICS: Of settlements, towns and counties at United States, inhabited by Czechs (As far as we were able to find this year. Next year we will continue.)
Davenport, has 22,000 dwellers, which includes 25 Czech families that began to first settle here in 1854. The earliest settlers were: Martin Haberda, Fr. Cinadr, Fr. Plouhar, and Jan Trnicek. A lot of them moved out of town to farms. There are Czechs who own businesses here. There are three Czech shoemakers, J.V. Virtl, is a case producer and has numerous workers. There are also two engineers (Fr. Cinadr and Jos. Vorki), four bricklayers, one cigar-maker, one typographer, one painter, one brewer, five tailors, and three joiners. The local Czechs do not have any organizations. They just read Czech magazines.
Des Moines, Polk County has 20,000 inhabitants, which includes ten Czech families. All of them work. Four of them are tailors. The very first Czech here was Josef Vosecky in 1869 and the rest of them arrived between then and 1871. No more Czechs have come here since the time.
Faulkner, Franklin County, has several Czech families in the town and in its surrounding area. The first ones arrived in 1871. They were Jan Kolar, blacksmith; Jan Benes, farmer; Jos. Kulas, farmer; Vac. Streba, bricklayer. Later they were joined by Jan Kudej, Jos. Zeman, Jak. Hrudla, etc. All together making sixteen families. But they each lived separately and did not meet together often.
Grinnell, Poweshiek County, has 200 dwellers, which includes four Czech families. One of them owns their own store. The earliest Czech settler was Martin Vondrasek in 1878. He has his own workshop.
Iowa City in Johnson County is a nice town in a great location full of trees and gardens. It has a population of 7,000 and around 800 Slavic Czechs live among them. Thirty-one of them have their own business: two herbalists, two innkeepers, one baker, one clockmaker, one cooper, one brewer, one butcher, two shoemakers, three tailors, one blacksmith, one belt maker, three architects, one wheelwright, one cigar maker, four saloon owners, and two gunsmiths. There is also a producer of a patented liniment. Mr. Benda also produces patented spigots.
Czech social life started later here once the Czech printing shop of Mr. J.B. Letovsky and Sons started in business here in 1870. They publish “Slovan Americky” a large paper of eight pages with a subscription cost of $3.00 yearly. There is no Czech-English school here yet, but some organizations plans to establish one, with the aid of the town, or to at least organize a Czech Sunday School. There is no Czech church, nor any Czech priest. But they do have a National Hall in the building of Mr. J. Slezak, located on the corner of Linn and Bloomington Streets. This is a center of Czech social life because there is an amateur theatre that give performances four times a year. Dancing and balls also take place here monthly. There are four organizations: Slovanska Lipa, fraternal supporting organization, Zastit, supporting society, Ochotnik, a theatre and educational society, and Czech Slavic St. Vaclav Society, a Roman Catholic supporting organization.
Local Czechs here are also active in political life and this year saw one of them re-elected to the town council (J.B. Letovsky, Jr.) and one is a county road inspector.
Among the earliest Czech settlers we count the ones who settled in 1853 and 1854, namely: Jan Cernin, Josef Konvalinka, Josef Charvat, Jan Hanzlik, Jan Cerny, Jan Mudroch, Fr. Zika, Jos. Sosel, and others. The number of Czechs is still increasing today.”
Be sure to join us tomorrow as we continue on with our wonderful tour of 1878 Czechs in America courtesy of Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Onward To Our Past®