All new today!  Onward To Our Past® is pleased to bring you another of our exclusive English translations of a Czech genealogy biography from the pages of those awesome Czech-American annuals, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

A new immigrant, a new state, a new narrative, and lots of wonderful things to learn and read in today’s installment!


Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1904, Volume: XXVII, Pages: 256-266

“The Memories of Czech Settlers in America”

1904 Kosnar image

[picture of VOJTĚCH KOŠNÁŘ]

“Vojtěch Košnář, is already 75 years old.  He is an affluent countryman from Clutier, Iowa, and he has endured enough to be able to talk about his fate, which with his permission we give to our kind readers.

“I was born on the 5th of December 1828 in Dobřichovice, now in the Prague district, where my father had a quarter-farm in his holdings and at the same time he ran a cobbler business.  I remember from my childhood years that our closest neighbor was the teacher of our village school who was also the music teacher and the director of the church choir. During friendly discussions, Mr. Henford would complain to my father that he could not live on what he was receiving for his teaching.  Then what about his helper, as we used to call, him Mr. Preceptor?  That poor man had a really hard time.

I was barely 5 when I started going to school and when I was 7 I had the pleasure of encountering Augustin Smetana, the priest who later was thrown out of the church, and who was teaching us religion at school.  And it was I who, during the annual examination in front of the vicar, answered to his question, “What are devils?  They are only spirits who do not have any power.”  After this answer of mine the vicar turned to Smetana and told him something in German, upon which our Smetana turned quite red.  (In America I read in Svojan’ journal about this scene and I learned that the vicar told him to allow people to believe in devils if they want to.)

I would emphasize also that in our village the Crusaders with a Red Star had a farm and a brewery.  I used to be an altar boy in their church and later sang in their choir.

When they saw at school that I was not exactly an empty head, they asked my father to send me to study in Prague when I was 12 years old.  I would get a room and board, and for that I would only have to sing in the church on Sundays and on holidays.

My father did not like the suggestions and he used to say that he does not trust very much those clad in black, even though mother would have liked to see me studying, and he preferred to put me into a tailoring apprenticeship.  I was sent to a master who was German and so I was obliged to learn the trade and German at the same time.  The master was a Free Mason and good hearted.  The first two years were, to speak truthfully, a purgatory for me, since the journeymen tried all their jokes on me as with all the other applicants to the tailoring diploma.  Nevertheless I did finish my apprenticeship and after an additional two-year stay with my master, according to the usual custom, I went onto the road.”

Tomorrow we continue with our wonderful story!  We continue to be the best place on the web for your Amerikán Národní Kalendář translations!

Onward To Our Past®


A Genealogical Historian, who is focused on family history and genealogy of the highest quality, but with a dose of fun. Avid about documentation and evidence. Loves helping folks of all levels in their genealogy pursuits, especially in the areas of Bohemia, Czech Republic, Italy, Cornwall, Kent, United Kingdom, U.S. Immigration and Cleveland, Ohio.

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