All new again!  Yes indeed!  A brand new exclusive English translation of a biography of one of the early Czech-American couples who emigrated from Bohemia and settled in the United States.

From the pages of the 1951 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář, we are pleased to bring you this marvelous story of the lives and times of early Czech immigrants across the United States!

Enjoy today’s full story!

1951 Cover ANK

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1951, Volume: LXXIII, Pages: 117-144

“Old Settlers’ Memories”

“The 40th Anniversary of the Wedding of Spouses James and Mary Petr”

Translated from the original Czech by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce

©Onward To Our Past®

I was born on the 27th of September 1888 in the village Nezbavětice by Pilsen where my parents had a farm.  When I was nine years old our father died and left six children.  At the age of fourteen I went to Pilsen to learn the baking trade.  I had heard a lot about America and I was thinking whether there would not be a better and freer life for me there.  I decided one day that I would go to see the New World.

Spouses James and Mary Petr on the day of their 40th wedding anniversary

1951 Petr image

I wrote to the steamship company in Bremen, which immediately answered that they needed some people in Texas.  I asked my mother for some money for the journey, but it took quite a while before my mother permitted the journey.  That was in the year 1906.  I bade farewell to my dear ones and I went to Bremen completely alone: there, at the company, they told me to go to Galveston in Texas, where I would find enough work.  I departed for Galveston and I stayed in an inn owned by two Czechs, Misters Křižan and Kuták who always took care of the well-being of immigrants.  They also advised me to go to Ft. Worth where I would find good employment.  I did not stay long in Galveston and I left for the town of Ft. Worth where immediately I received work at the slaughterhouse, and shortly after that in the bakery of a Romanian backer who was paying $4 a week with food.  After several weeks, however, I stopped since the work was 15 hours a day and I had found work in a restaurant, but I did not improve my situation even there.  I read newspapers from Chicago and I found out that there was a better social life and working conditions there.  So I left for there, and I worked in several bakeries.  The pay was better and the life was more pleasant.  I lived in Czech Pilsen and then I moved to Czech California and I often went for walks in Douglas Park, when in June of the year 1909, I met Miss Anna Straková who was living with her parents on 20th Street by Marshall Boulevard.  She was born in 1891 in Nehodiv by Nepomuk and she came with her parents and siblings to America in the year 1906.  Her parents were Vojtěch and Mary Straka.  After one year of dating, we were married –on the 18th of June, 1910.  We were both working: I in the bakery, and my sweet wife in tailoring, and we were saving up so that we could open our own bakery.  On the 19th of June, 1911, our daughter Marie was born.  My wife’s sweet mother was taking care of our little girl while we were working, and so, as early as 1913 we could buy a baking enterprise.  At that time our son Václav was born. –We stayed in the store throughout the First World War.

In the year 1920 my wife decided to go and visit my mother to make her acquaintance and I myself visited my birthplace in 1922 since we could not go at the same time and leave the store without supervision.  –In the year 1926 our little girl Carmen was born to us.

We lived through many hard moments during the time of our marriage, especially during the time of the Depression, however through our common effort we reached success.  Our last store that we owned was on Čermák Rd. by Oak Park Avenue, Berwyn, which we sold in May 1950 and departed for a deserved retirement.

We have a right to be proud of our children since we tried to educate them well.  Our oldest daughter, Marie, is working in the main phone center in downtown, and in the evening she is studying at the university; our son Václav and his wife and two children are in the state of California near Los Angeles where they own a bakery and our youngest daughter, Carmen, is married with Dr. Walter W. Mayers and they have a common office on Madison St. where our daughter oversees her own laboratory.

On the 18th of June 1950 we celebrated our Fortieth Anniversary of Happy Marriage.”

Tomorrow we offer yet another fabulous, exclusive translation of a Czech-American immigrant couple for you to learn from and to enjoy!  We promise it will be another great one!

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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