We continue! More details and surnames as our exclusive story continues to probe the history and people of one of the earliest and most “Czech” communities in America at the time
This is a wonderful story and now we learn about the creation of the town cemetery (Bohemian National Cemetery) and much, much more!
We know you will truly enjoy this installment!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: LVII, Year: 1934, Pages: 187-213
FROM THE MEMORIES OF OLD CZECH SETTLERS IN AMERICA
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)
“I also want to underline that when I joined Slavie we were printing 500 copies at most. At that time not everybody was a continuous subscriber yet. I think that among those who were paying there were not even as many as 400. After the two years when I left, 800 were printed. That after all was progress—meanwhile how did national life go on in Caledonia?—
The first Slavonic Linden Tree Association [Slovanská Lípa] fell apart, however, not completely. A small log cabin school was built on the lot donated by Daniel Střítecký with the same conditions that sometime ago Eliáš put down during the building of the church. Whichever association wanted to take part had to hold their meetings there and mainly take part in the upkeep of the Czech school, otherwise it would revert to the original owners. A significant fraction met at this school and they kept the name Slavonic Linden Tree [Slovanská Lípa]. They were buying new books and everything was continuing quite well, except for several foremost members who pulled out and who founded a new association under the name of Enlightenment [Osvěta]. These two associations held their meetings in the same school. Later these associations decided to separate from the log cabin and in 1888 they built a nice, spacious new building that stands to this day. During the summer they still teach Czech there. For many years Mr. F. Mikulecký was diligently taking care of the Czech school so that it would not perish. After that an order of the Czech Slavonic Support Association [Č.S.P.S. (Českoslovanská Podpůrná Společnost)] was founded and I was its founding member. It also conducted its meetings in the school building. In 1878 we founded the Czech National Cemetery. Five acres of land were purchased. It was too bad that it was not 10 or 20 acres that were purchased; at that time they paid a mere 65 dollars per acre, while today our neighbor is asking $1,000 per acre.
The most credit for the cemetery goes to: Matěj Jeništa, Frant. Nechuta, the Lorenc family, Rynak, Jan Mikulecký (my uncle); and finally to Jan Peťura, my cousin, who came with his family to stay with us in 1875.
Mainly it was the two of us, myself and my cousin, who took care of it. We built a national monument there that cost $500; Daniel Štřítecký gave us $100 for it. The remaining $400 was made during a great picnic, which we organized for the benefit of this cause. It was a lot of work, involving a big risk. We hired the Čapek band from Milwaukee. Mr. Čapek later moved to Chicago where he was active for years. When the musicians came to our home, it was during the night. They all slept in the barn on fresh hay. They appreciated very much how well they slept.—It was a surprise when early in the morning we got up and it started to rain, but about ten o’clock it cleared up and it was nice. In the foundation of the memorial there is a document deposited that was put together mainly by me and written by my cousin Jan Peťura. I still have a saved copy of it. Once I was in Chicago, where I loaned it to Dr. Habenicht and Václav Lenoch.
When we started the activity of founding the cemetery there were many who opposed it. We were offering lots, twenty-five by twenty for five dollars, but it did not lead anywhere, so some [of us] bought two to three lots, so that at least there would be some money received, necessary for the arrangement of the cemetery since prior to that there was only a simple clearing, full of tree stumps and heaps of stones.
Later on, however, the lots sold for eight, ten, fifteen, and toward the end as much as thirty-five dollars. Soon there won’t be anything to sell. I was the secretary of the cemetery for at least twenty-five years at the time that I lived in Caledonia. Today the secretary is Josef W. Mikulecký. For a number of years the cemetery was quite neglected. It did not look very enticing. It lacked order. Many had kept their graves tidy; however, many graves were neglected. Today, everybody has to add two dollars to the cost of the lot for the upkeep of the grave.”
Tomorrow we continue with some of the most poignant words in all of this wonderful story. Words we should all heed. At least all of us who value and love our Czech roots, heritage, and culture! Don’t miss it!
Onward To Our Past®