Our current exclusive from 1934 and the pages of the wonderful Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář, continues today!
If you missed the first installment of this biography you can click here to catch up!
Otherwise, read on and enjoy this wonderful look at one Czech immigrant and his life in America!
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®
Václav Morava (Continued)
“The whole country was still burdened with the consequences of the panic in 1873 and it was difficult to get work. In spite of that, Mr. Morava was able to find employment in the office of a draftsman in one machine factory and he lasted for four or five years in this employment. When, not far away from Deadwood in the Black Hills of Dakota, the construction of a large mill was planned, Mr. Morava was entrusted with the direction of the entire enterprise.
After his return from South Dakota, he took a job with a foundry in Pullman, which later joined Pullman Co. At that time the era of steel building construction started to develop and the president of the foundry enterprise, after he handed it over to Pullman Co., organized a steel company in which Mr. Morava took over the position of engineer and director. After several years in this employment, Mr. Morava accepted a position as a representative of a company that was making machinery in Kansas City; however, his interest in steel construction pushed him to return to Chicago where he took over the acquisition of contracts as an independent agent. He saved $2,300 and took out a mortgage on his house, which he later sold for less than the market would bear. A year later Mr. Morava was broke, but with the right Czech doggedness and gumption he did not give up his idea. The following 9 years he worked in different steel enterprises, and in 1901 had saved enough money to have the courage to once again set up his own company—Morava Construction Company, of which he became president and leading administrator.
Led by the experiences from his past, he was able to avoid mistakes. In a short time his company was positioned as one of the largest and foremost west of the Allegheny Mountains. Among some of the buildings for which the steel construction was built and furnished by Mr. Morava are four sections of the Boston Store; the building for People’s Gas, The Light and Coke Company; the Lakeview Building; the addition to Marshall Field Store; the enormous pavilion on the Municipal Pier; the barracks of the Second Regiment; the state barracks on the land of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill ; Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, Calif.; the Federal Reserve Bank Building in Chicago; and numerous other buildings.
Mr. Morava was a member of the American Commission of Engineers sent to Europe in 1911 in order to establish closer ties between specialists here and over there. It was his first visit to the home country of his parents; however, he fell in love with it so much that with the exception of the war years he undertook an excursion to his birthplace every year.
During the World War Mr. Morava offered his services to the government and was named a Major in the Construction Division, Supply Cadre. His specialization and fundamental knowledge was fully utilized for this rank.
In 1917 Mr. Morava retired so that he could rest. He sold off his company, but he still kept an office on Michigan Boulevard where numerous specialists would come to visit for advice. He was an ardent reader and in his library one can find a nice collection of books about Czechoslovakia. He liked to show to his American friends the enormous work of the Czechoslovak Army in Siberia during the World War.
Mr. Morava was able to come up with a solution for the adaptation of his first name, which Americans would translate into German as Wensel. He used the spelling W-e-n-s-e-l as the easiest for the local people, and the most accessible shortening of his correct name Wenceslaus. And he strictly insisted on the correct differentiation from the German Wenzel. During his service in the armed forces, he submitted a protest against the changing of his Christian name into Wenzel to the highest command and he pushed them to correct it.
With the death of Mr. Morava, Czechoslovak America lost one of the few of its members who had become a captain of industry. A man who did abandon his national origins, even though he lived in a completely American environment; and who always contributed willingly to Czechoslovak enterprises. May his memory be honored!”
Tomorrow we will bring you an all new biography as part of our exclusive translations from the pages of the Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Onward To Our Past®