Our 1934 Amerikan Narodni Kalendar edition exclusive translation continues today with a new section found within the article “From the Memories of Old Czech Settlers in America”. It is titled “From the History of Caledonia, an old Czech Settlement in the State of Wisconsin.”
This article is unique in several ways. First, the author, Peťura, sets out to recount, in wonderful detail, the early days of the Czechs in the community of Caledonia, Wisconsin. Second, we are treated not only to this detail, but also the fact Peťura provides us with the amazing number of 52 surnames as he recounts the Czechs and their lives in this early community! We will provide the surnames as a separate list soon.
We know you will enjoy this first installment of yet another priceless story from the pages of Amerikan Narodni Kalendar!
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)
“Without boasting, I can write that Czech Caledonia was one of the richest and most progressive settlements in Wisconsin and even in the whole West. This is because whether it concerned help with some national enterprise, or anything in the life of the associations, it was always first.
The Association of the Slavonic Linden Tree was founded in the year 1858 and that was at the home of the Eliášes. That is where the main center of all the immigrants was situated and all the meetings and dance parties took place. The home of the Eliášes was always merry and in addition there was an abundance of food and drink. The period before the war was a different time. There was freedom in everything. Everybody could have an inn without having to pay a license. A 48 gallon cask of booze cost between four and five dollars—A gallon cost between twelve and fifteen cents and it was sixty-six to ninety proof. That was something altogether different than the Prohibition “moonshine.” Today the famous “moonshine” is five, ten, and even twenty dollars a gallon. Eliáš usually brought a cask of 48 gallons and he would make it available to the neighbors for no charge. The beginning of the founding of the Sokol Hall, the store, and the post office of the settlement, that was then called by the name of Tábor took place at the Eliáš home.
The Association of Slovanská Lípa [the Slavonic Linden Tree] continued well. Vojta Náprstek sent books to the association for about $25. That was the beginning and then each year more books were ordered so that in a short time the association had a nice library. Unfortunately, this association was broken up because of several dissatisfied people, and a larger part of the library was lost. Most of all I regretted that all the minutes from the beginnings of the association were destroyed. That is the reason that I am writing what I remember. And all this is the complete truth:
The first collection [of money] that I remember was for Frič in Paris [a Czech writer who escaped from the Austrian government to Paris]. I think that there were more collections. After that about $40 were sent to Karel Jonáš to London for his crossing to New York where a newspaper was supposed to be founded. Afterward a newspaper was founded in St. Louis, which at that time was the biggest Czech settlement. How it went with the newspaper in St. Louis has been well described by Jan Borecký. In spite of all the difficulties with which the St. Louis newspaper was afflicted, the editorship of the National Newspaper [Národní Noviny] was taken over by F. Mráček in New York.—The National Newspaper was founded on the 21st of January 1860. In September of 1861 Mr. Mráček came to the Eliášes in Caledonia accompanied by his whole family and everything that was left over from the National Newspaper [Národní Noviny]. And it was once again Caledonia that financed everything and that included the shipping cost.”
Tomorrow we continue with our next installment of this exclusive translation from the pages of Amerikan Narodni Kalendar from Caledonia, Wisconsin!
Onward To Our Past®