We continue our wonderful exclusive article from 1904 titled “The Memories of Czech Settlers in America” as found in the pages of the rare and hard to find editions of Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Enjoy this story as our Czech immigrant gets married, makes his way across the ocean, and begins his new life in America!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year: 1904, Volume: XXVII, Pages: 256-266
“The Memories of Czech Settlers in America”
“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. Upon my return in 1850 I was stricken by cruel misfortune. I lost my dear parents, who both died because of cholera and were buried in the same grave. I
settled therefore in my birthplace and having married Marie Řezníčková I started the trade independently. It is true that I had enough work, but slowly news about America came and while reading different descriptions and depictions of life over here, my intention to immigrate to America gradually strengthened, especially from the time when both of my sons started to grow up.
I sold out all my possessions in Dobřichovice and even though my neighbors discouraged me and shot down my goals, as with, for example, a certain Mr. Josef Bolart from Letky, who offered me 50 gold pieces as a substitute and a free apartment in his house for 5 years, if I stayed –I left on the 29th of April 1868 Dobřichovice forever.
Already on the road from Prague to Bremen I compared my taste with the clothes worn by the emigrants and I was thinking that I will probably sew clothing. After a short time in Bremen we boarded the sailing ship ‘Kosmos’. The crossing was quite long and quite dangerous, since the wind chased us somewhat more to the north off the normal course of the voyage. And so we had the pleasure of encountering from a very dangerous proximity floating icebergs. For a whole week we floated in their neighborhood and on the day of the 13th of July about 10 o’clock in the morning we almost hit one in full wind and thick fog.
Through the quick thinking of Helmsman Vilém Heidelmayer, however, we can be thankful that at that time he was able to turn the ship from a straight direction towards the iceberg and save us as well as the whole crew. The commotion on the ship was enormous and even our helmsman himself, our savior, was so exhausted by his emotions that he had to be carried into the cabin by his colleagues. Finally on the 2nd of July we reached the shores of America in New York.
From there I headed out directly across Washington to Iowa to the place of several countrymen, however, I would have done better had I stayed in some town where there was demand for tailors. In this way I hurried to Iowa where I started my work in America by tying sheaves. My wife and I got used to the local climate soon and after the harvest we moved to Richmond where I started my trade.
About half a year later an opportunity presented itself to buy a small house and I scraped several dollars each from my acquaintances, about $100 altogether and with those I started the purchase.”
Come back tomorrow as we conclude this exclusive and begin a brand new Amerikán Národní Kalendář biography!
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