In 1934, the editors and publisher of the wonderful Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář, published a twenty-six page article titled “From the Memories of Old Czech Settlers in America”. One portion of this article was subtitled “From the History of Caledonia, an Old Czech Settlement in the State of Wisconsin”.
Our exclusive translation of this wonderful article has been running here for the past 7 days and today we not only bring you the concluding installment, but we also bring you an index of the 52 Czech surnames mentioned in this highly detailed and amazing article. Not many of our translations contain as many surnames or as many details as this one has!
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)
“Unfortunately, when everything was flourishing the best our Slavonic animosity came to the forefront. After some years, everything was broken. Even though we do have a building that has significant value and is without any debts, and the association has several thousand in cash, what is it worth when nothing is taking place there besides Sokol meetings and social events. Each year there is a need to repair the building and it does not earn anything for the association. I am a member and I have fulfilled my duty a long time ago, and I am too old for Sokol meetings and dances. I even do not know if many members are attending there.
A significant number of those who left Sokol joined the American “Woodmen.” They bought one acre of construction lot for $500 dollars in the place where I used to live for thirty-six years not far away from the Sokol Hall. There they built a building where they organized all their amusement parties. Besides that they play cards there twice a week. Today, perhaps all America and mainly women have nothing else on their mind besides bridge, poker, banco and other games. They start with a penny play, and in a moment they play for hundreds. Add to it the Prohibition and a bottle in each back pocket. If we say it honestly, what example does it give to our youth?
And now something about the founding of Eliáš Hall. It was in the year 1858 when Mr. Eliáš started to think about the building of a bigger building beside the small shop where at that time they started to tap beer. In the spring, my father started to prepare oak logs for this building, which was supposed to measure forty by fifty with a height of sixteen feet. That was so that it would be spacious enough for dance parties and meetings. It was arranged in such a way that there was also space provided for a stage by the alcove. Evening parties were organized in this hall, perhaps even too often, until finally it stopped being orderly. Then Eliáš was advised to build a stage where theatre could be played and that it would pay more than the social gatherings.
Eliáš seized this proposal and he started to negotiate with a certain Czech painter from Milwaukee. The painter painted the main curtain and pictures of Žižka and Hus. It was horrible, pitiful work and it cost $300. The main curtain and the two pictures were sent for cash by mail (C.O.D) to Racine. Eliáš and I went to pick it up, but what a surprise it was for us, when we could not have a look at it before we paid $300 and shipping.
What to do? Eliáš first thought that he would pay for it only later, as he had negotiated. If he wanted to receive it he had to go to Mr. A. Krup and with him to the bank, where they loaned him those $300 for 12% [of interest] for one-quarter of a year. When we brought it home and we unwrapped it we did not like it. It was badly daubed stuff and in spite of that we youngsters were glad that we were going to have a stage and that theatre would be played often. Mr. Josef Novotný from Racine, native from Brandýs nad Orlicí was a good actor and he understood theatre. He and my father started to work and the stage began to be built. I myself was painting the backdrops, which were still lacking. Some of it was received from the English theatre in the town, and so in 1863 we started to play. I don’t have written down which day and what was played, but what do I remember is that we Racine actors under the director Novotný, played the following presentations: “Mrs. Marjánka, Mother of the Regiment”; “George’s Ghost”; “The Miller and His Child”; and with Mr. K. Šisler, “The Devil’s Mill” and in Racine, “The Miser”. In those plays both Jonášes were always taking part. Karel Jonáš in one piece was playing a traveling musician, who was supposed to have broken his violin and he really did break it.
However, as they say, everything has its end and so it was with the theatre. Most of those who performed became bored with it and new people did not clamor for it, so it disappeared completely. Eliáš got out of it more of a loss than a profit, and so the stage went to Racine into the hands of Mr. M. Zíka, who perhaps later donated it to an association. The stage in Caledonia in the Sokol Hall is still in order, however, nothing is being played there. “
1934 Amerikán Národní Kalendář Surnames Index for Caledonia story
Farský (of Chicago)
Fousek, J. K.
Kořízková, Kristina (later wife of K. Jonáš)
Letovský, J. Bárta
Mikulecký, Jan (uncle of J. L. Peťura)
Mikulecký, Josef F.
Novák, Jan [Jr.] (son of Jan Novák [Sr.])
Novák, Vincent (son of Jan Novák [Sr.])
Novotný, Josef (from Brandýs nad Orlicí)
Ostradovská, Helena (later Mrs. Pokorná)
Peťura, J. L. (deceased March 13, 1930)
Peťura, Jan (cousin of J. L.)
Šimek, B. (Professor)
Zdrůbek, F. B.
This ends this portion of our exclusive translation from the 1934 edition of the fabulous Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář! Tomorrow we will provide the last segment of this overall article, which features Chicago Czechs!
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