Onward! We are still back in 1934 and the pages of the fabulous Czech-American annual journal, which was chockfull of wonderful information on the lives and times of Czechs throughout America!
This story is different as you can tell by the title “The Sentimental Story of a Forgotten Immigrant”. We are following a very wonderful, although challenging story, of one Czech immigrant and his life in America after he left the village of Choceň, Bohemia.
Enjoy this wonderful installment today!
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®
The Sentimental Story of a Forgotten Immigrant
From the Life of Antonín Wíša. For Kalendář Amerikán written by Antonín Klobása
The loving couple had a hard mission to say goodbye forever. Their hearts, full of love, were crushed. Their goodbyes were hard and Wíša finally left disappointed and nobody knew where he had gone.
Shortly before the civil war in the year 1861, my father, who was living in St. Louis, learned that a person named Wíša was living in the German suburb on the north side of the town. My father wanted to make sure that it was our Choceň friend. We set off for a reconnaissance journey to the suburb and then we were shown the house in which the “bachelor” Wíša was living. It was a great and pleasant surprise for my father to find a friend for whom five years ago he had requested a passport for America, and to whom he had wished good luck at the railroad station. He took us to a great room that resembled a small museum. Several well-done oil paintings made by his brush were hanging on the walls. All around there were stands with stuffed birds and animals; above the door was a big deer head with wide antlers and similar decorations. In the middle there stood a great table and on it was an unfinished big model of an ocean ship, which he hoped to improve. Meanwhile my father spoke to him and I examined those things that interested me very much. The friendly conversation of my father with Wíša took a long time; however, at the end we had to set off on the return journey back home, which took several hours. My father gave him his address and invited him to visit us sometime. He promised, but for a long time we waited for him in vain.
Shortly after, the Civil War erupted and President Lincoln called up 75,000 volunteers into armed service for 6 months, since he thought that the war would be finished within that period. The war, however, lasted 5 years.
As a consequence of the cruel panic that had already lasted a considerable time, the vast amount of unemployed people suffered hunger—(at that time there were no helpful associations)—and therefore young people in mass were joining the Army so that they could at least satisfy their stomachs.
General John C. Fremont, who four years before was a presidential candidate of the newly founded Republican Party, was named the commander of the Western Region Army of which the state of Missouri was a part. With his own money he formed a cavalry under the title “Freemont’s Body Guards“, and because there were enough people, he chose the tallest, most beautifully built men placed on tall beautiful horses and he ordered beautiful body hugging uniforms for them. That unit offered a beautiful view, one man resembling another. They dwelled in a small church on 13th Street and Park Avenue, in the southern part of the town, about 6 blocks from our dwelling. At that time the town was teeming with army men.”
Our wonderful story continues tomorrow and we learn even more about the life and times of Czech immigrants in America, as well as this one individual Czech in particular!
Onward To Our Past®