Welcome to ‘the New World’ as our Czech family has now made their way from Bohemia, to Bremerhaven, over the ocean, and on to the United States.
This translation from the 1934 edition of the wonderful Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář, is being brought to you exclusively by Onward To Our Past®.
This biography, one of the most detailed we have translated so far, is from the 57th annual edition and is truly amazing for its attention to detail of life in Bohemia and now in North 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®
John Zajíc, Sr. Edgerton, Alberta, Canada. (Continued)
“I chose the best ship that was completely new at that time, “Kaiser Wilhelm II.” It was its second voyage across the sea. We boarded in Bremerhaven on the day of the 28th of June 1905 and on the 4th of July in the afternoon we were already in New York. Therefore the journey lasted five and a half days. At that time it was the fastest way. The voyage was completely peaceful. My beloved wife, however, was more sick than well.
From New York we went to Cleveland. Our boys got an apartment for the whole family. Immediately the second day I went to work in a shoe factory, where I liked it very much.
Many countrymen visited us to hear news from the old country. They were truly astonished to learn that I went to work already the second day. Why don’t I rest? I answered that I had already missed seven and a half days of work.
I was disappointed in America. I brought to America a model of my sewing machine that would sew soles quickly. I hoped to sell this patent. Nobody knows how I felt when I came to work and I saw that they were already working on similar machines. My hope to make money from my imagined miracle snapped shut.
I liked it well enough in Cleveland, except that old as well as young men were too fond of “saloons.” I was afraid that this bad habit would get into my family. After two months I went to Kansas to visit my cousin, Mrs. Linhartová. Over the summer I observed the farming with interest and I went to work at the neighboring farm no matter what the work was. While talking in English, I was helping myself with German. I learned about all the farm work except for the sowing of corn (the corn was already 5 feet tall when I came there). I did not dislike any of the work.
I rented a nice farm; however, it was neglected, grown over by wild plants. Three hundred and forty acres for rent paid in cash always on the first of the month, and it was in eastern Kansas. It is fertile land and quite propitious weather and mainly corn is being raised there; alfalfa is in second place. The cattle business is excellent there. The county is settled by Czechs and Moravians from the time when Kansas was opened. Those are in general industrious settlers and they are outstanding in their success.
The dear settlers, when they learned that I was a former shoemaker and, in addition, a greenhorn, laughed publically at my activities; they declared that such a greenhorn shoemaker would get fed up when he walks around the farm once a day. They were right that such an adopted shoemaker usually does not know, however, in my case they were mistaken. This green shoemaker was also quite an experienced farmer, since in Bohemia I was already farming according to method. While shoemaking I also had a small farm, only 14 korecs [korec = 0.7 acres]. When raising sugar beets, however, it calls for a lot of experience as well as work. After 25 years in such a village among 20 farmers who today are able to give their daughters up to one million crowns in dowry an industrious person gets an education. With such a small farming business I had to hitch up two pair of oxen or cows and, when I was busy, like during the harvest of sugar beets, then I worked at home and in the fields even during the night.”
Tomorrow we continue to follow our Czech family as they continue their lives in the United States and it continues with the same vivid detail as earlier when they were describing their lives in Bohemia.
Onward To Our Past®