Today we are excited to bring you an all new, exclusive translation from the pages of the Czech genealogy and history treasure chest known as the annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

Today we bring you an interesting and somewhat different biography as you might guess from the title “The Sentimental Story of a Forgotten Immigrant”!

On of the first things we noted was there are several surnames in this story so we naturally liked it a lot just for that reason alone!

Enjoy this wonderful addition to our exclusive translations, sit back, and have a good time back in 1934…and before!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

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


Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce

©Onward To Our Past®

“The Sentimental Story of a Forgotten Immigrant.

From the Life of Antonín Wíša.  For Kalendář Amerikán written by Antonín Klobása”

1934 Wisa image

Antonín Wíša

                “In the revolutionary year 1848 the Czech nation was given a constitution.  It was welcomed by the people with great excitement.  The nation experienced a taste of freedom, however, it was a pity that such freedom, so long-awaited, did not last long, since already in 1851 it was completely retracted.  In their yearning for freedom many people in my birthplace Choceň wanted to move to free America.  Small groups of people were gathering in the house of my father to offer each other advice.  My father ordered the “Declaration of Independence of the United States” in German as well as the Constitution, which he would read to them, and several of them then departed to the promised America at the first occasion.

Those were the families, Bureš, Houdek, Kutina and others.  My father obtained passports, ship passage, etc., for them.

These immigrants sometimes wrote about how big the farms in America were and how blissfully they lived there.  But in reality these people did not know very much about America.

The letters, however, were attractive and they lured over there other immigrants, among whom was also Antonín Wíša, the brother of a known Chicago watchmaker, Václav Wíša who came about 15 years later, and settled in Chicago on 18th Street.  My father also got a passport for this young man and strongly approved of his undertaking, since he had a feeling that such a gifted and especially able young man would find his happiness in America.  When he was saying farewell to him, he wished him the very best and a happy voyage across the ocean.  That was more or less in the year 1854.

During that time the immigrants were traveling on wooden sailing ships and often in great storms, they were driven back by the adverse winds, or in different directions and sometimes their journey would take up to 3 months.  The same fate was also encountered by our friend Antonín Wíša who heroically attempted the unpleasant journey during which, however, he began to consider whether the ship could not be altered somehow so that it would be pushed forward even by an adverse wind. He promised that when he would be settled in America, he would take an interest in the realization of this project.

When, finally, after a long journey they stepped out onto the American shores he took a step onto the ground of freedom with a joyful heart.  He was filled with indescribable yearning to reach his goals for those beautiful and boundless farms about which he had read at home.  Having reached Racine he sent word to Caledonia to the farm of his former neighbor Bureš that he should come and meet him.  In response to the message two sons came to pick him up, not with a coach as he expected, but in a lumber jack cart that was pulled by two horned oxen.

After two hours of ride along an impassable path through an old growth forest they arrived in front of a small log cabin that had one room and one kitchen.”

Tomorrow we continue this wonderful story from the pages of the fabulous Czech genealogy and history treasure chest that is known to us as Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

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.

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