Onward we go! Onward to the past into 1894 and the continuing exclusive translation of a wonderful set of biographies of Czech immigrants who settled across America and had a mindboggling array of experiences!
Enjoy today’s installment from the 1894 edition of the Czech genealogy treasure chest that is Amerikán Národní Kalendář.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year: 1894, Volume XVII
S 68 obrázky vážného i žertovného obsahu.
“With sixty-eight images plus serious and funny content”
Edited by Josef Jiří Král
Paměti českých osadníků v Americe
“The Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”
“A report on the first settling activities of our fellow countrymen and the situation in Czech colonies”
(Ed: Continuing the story of Matěj Rybín)
“Those were strange times in Vienna: the lower class experienced times of abundance suddenly followed by terrible poverty. They were frustrated and needed no encouragement to join the fight. Every one of them took a weapon and lined up with the crusaders.
“Those were horrible moments,” tells Rybín, “especially when we besieged the military quarters of the Emperor’s grenadiers. They were all strong and tall men but that did not save them from the turmoil of the furious masses. Besides that, we also conquered other quarters. The military equipment was distributed to the citizens to protect them from the besieging forces.
However, people were finally defeated and young men were being taken to the army in Vienna wherever they were or came from, no excuses accepted. My brother was taken before me and sent immediately away from Vienna. We never saw him, never heard of him again, although we had the authorities officially searching for him. He was no doubt put away in one of the forts. I would have preferred to disappear from Vienna but that for absolutely impossible. And so there was my turn. I was taken but first I was allowed to spend a short holiday with my family; then I was obliged to join the army. I used this opportunity to run away to America. Fortunately, I was able to get to Hamburg where, for a high payment, I could board an English ship that took me to London. I did not stay long. At those times, there were thousands of fugitives in London and each of them wanted to travel further as we still did not feel safe from the claws of the Austrian eagle.
I went to Liverpool and boarded a ship heading to New York. From there, I set out for St. Louis and further to Chicago which was still a town at that time. When we arrived there we got off the train on the prairie because no railway station was built yet. There was only a kind of platform so that people would not jump to mud and water right from the train. I think it was then the only railway to those parts of the country. All around me I saw nothing but swamp and water so I decided to go back to St. Louis where the environment was livelier compared to Chicago. There were yet some Czech families in St. Louis but no church or public buildings for Czechs.
Later on, we used to meet at Motl’s who established a saloon. That was where we founded a club; our meetings took place in the attic above the saloon main room. But someone informed the priest about the place serving as a church for Czechs; that German reverend visited us, berating and forbidding. That raised our hackles and although a few of us agreed with the priest, we eventually established a society called Česko-Slovanský Podporující Spolek (Czechoslavonic Support Society).
In St. Louis I worked as a machinist for long until I got a very good job in Keokuk, Iowa where I made four and a half dollars a day. I was the only Czech there until my future wife’s brother Fialka moved in.”
Tomorrow we continue this wonderful story of one Czech and his life in the United States in the 1800s!
Onward To Our Past®