Today we continue another in our tremendous chain of stories of the life and times of some of the earliest Czech immigrants across America as reported in the 1899 edition of the Czech genealogy, ancestry, and history volumes of Amerikán Národní Kalendář.
Today’s story picks up in Bohemia and later we find our Czech immigrant fighting in the United States Civil War.
Once again, it is an amazing story you can only find in English here courtesy of Onward To Our Past®.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year 1899, Volume XXII, Pages 187 to 203
“Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”
He (Ed: Alois Čapek) was successful in his business and it could have been a nice life there, but the debts made him worry and they were difficult to pay them. This was when he saw another solution. He sold all his properties in 1858 and left to go to America together with wife and one child.
Along with him went the Jelinek family, the Kos family, and about three more families. They left Bremen harbor via the sailing ship “Helena” and forty days later they landed in New York. From this place they continued via railway and via lakes to Milwaukee.
They spent several days there and later they went to Manitowoc and then from that place to Kewaunee. From this town they walked through the forests to their compatriot, Vaclav Stika, who lived about 8 miles farther to the west. They remained there and Capek helped Stika for some time and later he was able to buy about 40 acres of land for himself. On this land he lived until 1866 when he sold it along with two acres of property in Kewaunee for property in Algoma. This is where he has lived since that time.
Without any doubt, he also suffered various troubles as did many other pioneers and he can talk a lot about his hard start in this country. The storm of the cruel Civil War struck the quiet forests of Wisconsin, and in 1863 Čapek was selected by lot and sent to fight with the 27th Regiment of Wisconsin, Company A. In the same Company there were more Czechs serving: Henry Stepan, Jan Brabec, Fr. Dolensky, Josef Vocedalek, Fr. Musil, and others too.
From Madison they were sent to Little Rock, Arkansas where they fought several battles against the Southerners. Then from that place they were sent to the border of Texas. They suffered a lot from assaults by armed bands of attackers and from a lack of food and water there. Therefore, hungry and exhausted they were forced to withdraw and go back to Little Rock through some terrible swamp lands. They were then sent to Mobile, Alabama where Čapek participated in the conquering of Fort Morgan and other forts. From Alabama they went to Florida, constantly fighting with the Southerners all the way. From Florida they were sent back to Mobile and from this place their whole division was sent to New Orleans and later to the Rio Grande where they fought against the Southerners until the end of the war.
In Rio Grande Čapek met several Czech soldiers who had sailed with Maximilian to Mexico and after his tragic end at Santiago de Querétaro had decided to go to the northern border of Mexico to the United States. Capek encouraged them to take off their Austrian uniforms and to enter the free land of the United States of America.”
We must wonder if the Czechs in our earlier story about Bohemians fighting in Mexico for Maximillian met up with Čapek or not! Read that story by clicking here.
Tomorrow we will continue our translation of the life and times of these amazing Czech immigrants as thankfully reported by Amerikán Národní Kalendář in 1899!
Onward To Our Past®