Czechs in Arizona! Early Czechs in the Arizona Territory! Early Czechs in Arizona trying to make ends meet as farmers! All thanks to the wonderful editors and publisher of the Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Read our continuing story here about early Czech immigrant farmers to the Arizona Territory as they work to establish new lives as farmers! Will sugar cane continue to be viable? What about water? And the heat! It may be ‘a dry heat’, but it still gets hot there!
Enjoy today’s installment exclusively from Onward To Our Past®!
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®
“A Quarter of a Century of Farming in Arizona”
For Kalendář Amerikán by Frank Halas
“According to this the readers can form their own point of view as to what such farming in the Far Southwest demands. A farmer cannot rely on the Good Lord, only on work and thinking about how to improve his accomplishment day after day. If he does not do it himself, it is done by his neighbor, of course to his benefit. This is what happened to the first homesteaders. They were swindled out of the result of their long years of work by some misstep, and even when then they profited, they were not helped, because they had to start again somewhere else. Even my brother was sometimes fighting for his existence, but heroically, he made it on his own land for a quarter of a century—as long as his nerves could take it. He could also be grateful that by chance his land was somewhat higher through the deposits of several floods. He was isolated in solitude and he was not included in other lands that were irrigated and then also, because on the site where he settled the town was growing very little, so he was not in a regular county.
Because of low taxes and low rent many “colored people” moved into that neighborhood and so it was necessary to guard the harvest as well as the poultry with a weapon in hand during the night, and there was also moon-shining, that is they cooked up hard liquor. It was self-evident, but we did not get involved in this, being led by the axiom: “Do not extinguish a fire that is not yours!” The Mexicans who are working on the railroad, in laundries, with builders, etc., are working for a very low salary, but also live very frugally and are not only able to make ends meet with such a salary, but they also have something left for drinks. Therefore during that time there were also saloons. They would drink only from bottles, and only their own Mexican spirits. Their farmers had the advantage, because the milk that they got from milking was sold immediately on site, because Mexican children and women would come for it with dishes to their place, and so it did not have to be taken to a dairy. During the time of fruit and melons Mexicans did not care too much about milk, and so the farmer could devote himself to the pork livestock. In short, there had to be a good budget.
As I wrote in the beginning, the original home settlers were irrigating the lower situated lands directly from the riverbed of the creek running on the side of the mountains. In short, there was only as much water as there was in the river. The water could not be raised higher, you could only go with the grade of the little sluice, anything bigger and the floods carried it away. On the other hand there was not a big cost associated with it, only for one guard on a horse, or in a cart, and the channels were cleaned in sequence by the users themselves. A branch from the main flow also went through the small town of Phoenix and water was getting into it every eight days.
This is because there were exactly eight branches. The land of my brother was at the end of one of the branches of the canal, therefore my brother, according to this, could irrigate; however, if he needed the water more frequently like while growing vegetables, for example, he had to pump it. He started, like others, with a windmill;”
Tomorrow we continue with this captivating story of the early days of farming in Arizona by one family of Czechs and their compatriots as brought to life from the pages of the wonderful Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Onward To Our Past®