Our 1934 Amerikán Národní Kalendář exclusive translation continues today right here at Onward To Our Past® Genealogy & History Services Company.

It continues to bring us marvelous details about early Czech immigrants, their lives, the times, and dozens of surnames complete with occupations and more!  This story has a wealth of details for us to learn from and enjoy!

This is installment #5 and we know you will enjoy it!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Volume: LVII, Year: 1934, Pages: 187-213


Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce

©Onward To Our Past®

“From the History of Caledonia, an Old Czech Settlement in the State of Wisconsin.”

(From the Recollection of J. L. Peťura, deceased on the 13th of March 1930)

1934 ANK Cover page

“So, in a short time Slavie had a third editor, who started with no. 82 on the 5th of June 1863.  Karel Jonáš was owner and editor of Slavie until his death in January 1896 when, as American Consul in Europe, he finished his earthly journey and according to his wish he was buried in Olšany [Cemetery] in Prague.  I still have to write about how I also got to the newspaper.  It was at the beginning of April in 1863 when Miss Kristina Kořízková (later the wife of K. Jonáš) came with a note that I should come to see him, that dad would like to talk to me.  When I got there, Kořízek asked me whether I wanted to learn the typesetting trade.  I answered that it would be ok, that I know how to read and write, but I don’t know Czech spelling because I did not learn it in a school in Bohemia.  I, however, knew already from Bohemia how to read and write.  To this he said that in time it would get easier.  However, that was not true, as you can see in the mistakes that I make to this day, that I did not learn anything.  Upon the intercession of Miss Kristinka I then agreed that I would try it, and as for the rest, that is to say salary, we would agree upon that only based on how I proved myself and whether I liked it.

The editor then was V. Mašek and the whole staff was composed of the following individuals; Kořízek, who was the typesetter, the type-breaker, and he translated shorter articles from German newspapers.  His luck was that he knew German well, since Bárta Letovský did not know any other language but “Moravian”.  His daughter Kristina already knew how to typeset well; then there was Bohumil Bárta Letovský, his son who also typeset well, and then yours truly.

At that time they had a horrible printing press that Kořízek had to repair very often.  With this machine it took all of us two weekdays to print Slavie.  I was older and so I had to do the pulling, which was quite tiring and heavy work.  Bohumil would “smear” the forms.  By the time we had finished it—which took up to three hours—we looked like small black people, or devils.  In time we would do all kinds of silly things during the work.  For some of the numbers we put something into the form, either so that it would not print, or to change the meaning, as a result Mr. Kořízek was often boxing our ears.

Typesetting by hand!

Typesetting by hand!

And so for almost two and a half years I was working myself to death while receiving the royal sum of $3 per week.  If it were not for the accident that I encountered I would have stayed with the newspaper even though I did not like it very much.  I was used to working in healthy air, outside—while in the print shop, where they had only a small place rented, there was always a lot of stench from the print colors.

Early Czech newspapers in the United States.

Early Czech newspapers in the United States.

At noon, often I would go and spend time with my friends, the young men from Caledonia, who were learning from Mr. Zika [Zíka?] how to make suitcases and harnesses, and among them was my good friend F. Uhlíř.  One time he took me aside and he took an old rusty pistol out of his pocket and told me: “I gave 50 cents for it.”  That was something for me since, like most young men, I had a crazy desire for a handgun.  At that time we were standing exactly in the doors of the shop.  I said:  “Show it to me!”  And I took it from his hand.  It was understood that I wanted to know at once how strong its spring was.  I pulled on the trigger and immediately there was a band and a shot straight into the finger of my left hand.  There was a rush of people and they even wanted to punish me for carrying such a device around.  I did not even go to the doctor.  People bandaged my hand and I went home.  It was over a month before I could do anything with my hand.  I did not feel like returning to the newspaper.  I think that they took for my job Miss Helena Ostradovská, who later became Mrs. Pokorná.”

Our exclusive translation continues tomorrow as we are treated to more details, more surnames, and more about the live and times of early Czech communities and their members!

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.

Leave a Reply

captcha *