Today we conclude our wonderful series of biographies from the pages of the 1951 edition of the spectacular volumes of the history-filled pages of Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Today we bring you an entire biography and this time we are traveling from Bohemia to Texas!
Enjoy another terrific biography free only from Onward To Our Past®
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year: 1951, Volume: LXXIII, Pages: 117-144
“Old Settlers’ Memories”
Translated from the original Czech by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce
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“The Memories of the Texas Pioneer Ludvík Spaniel”
“I was born in the year 1868 in Dolní Bečva pod Radhoštěm in Moravia. – My father, Michael and mother Rozina Spaniel owned only a few parcels of field and a small wooden cottage. The neighbors would say about their region that it is the beginning of stones, and the end of bread. – And whoever wanted to make a living had to go to work either at the farmers, or on the manor in the forest. I was several months old when our cottage caught on fire and they saved me only by risking their own lives. My parents were destitute. All their work, all their efforts, had been lost in the fire. However, their resilient characters did not allow them to leave their hands idle and lament. They started working once again so that they could feed their numerous family. Around the table there were nine of us and those were besides my parents, six sons and one daughter. Each one of us had to help our parents and that included me. When I was six years old I started to help to throw wood into the river Bečva, but how much work could such a boy, who thinks more about how to jump, than how to work, do. I was promised 10 Kreutzers for a full day of work, however in the evening I did not receive anything for all my work. My brothers, as soon as they had finished their school, went into service with farmers so that they would help to feed their siblings, and since work in the fields was hard, often long hours, once can just imagine.– Shortly before I finished school our mother died of Typhus, and I was lying sick for six weeks. After I regained my health I helped my father on the weaving looms for muslin, which we had to carry on our backs to Frenštát.
The journey was three hours long, and for 100 cubits we received one gold piece and 20 Kreutzers. Fourteen cubits took us one day from morning to night, and everyone can then count how much we made per week. I left for service and when I returned to visit my birth village my father was married. He married a widow with several children and one of them was my age. I stayed only three days and I went with a brother and one of my stepbrothers into the world to seek our fortune. We had gone just about one kilometer when we said to each other that it would be difficult to find work for all three of us in a single village. At the nearest crossing of the roads we parted in different directions.
I was working for a farmer for several years for 10 gold pieces a year, until in 1887 I visited home where my father informed me that my sister had left for America and she wondered whether we would also follow her. She had supposedly married Cyril Vrána there, and she was sure that in the New World we could live better than where we were. We did not think about it long, and father and three brothers left for Hamburg where we stayed for three days. We were waiting for a ship which we then boarded and it took us instead of Galveston to New York. In New York we stayed a bit and we had to change to a ship going to the South. Whoever came to America in the years around 1887 certainly remembers what type of travel it was. I don’t remember any more on which ship we arrived, but I can say that the storm which struck us in the sea rolled our ship like an eggshell and so almost everybody among the travelers was sick during the whole journey and we were glad when we arrived in New York and felt firm land beneath our feet. – We settled in Moravia, Lavaca County, Texas. We worked on farms. In 1892 I got married. My wife came from Ukwald near Frenštát in Moravia. We raised four sons and four daughters who by now have their own families and are living contentedly.
Now I have been living already for a number of years in Schulenberg, Texas. I like to sit in friendly company where we discuss all possible affairs and we remember times when we arrived into this Promised Land, how we had to labor in the fields, and how we were picking cotton – when we were getting one cent per pound, and from that we had to repay our journey. So it took us a very long time before we were able to pay for the journey. I remember my first 10 dollars that I made for a month of hard work; the first 30 dollars saved that I sent along with money from my brother-in-law Vrána to another brother in Europe so that he could come to America. I remember the first journal that came into my hands and it was Amerikán, which several years later I started to subscribe to myself.
The Amerikán calendar I have already had for 42 years, and I always gladly read it in my free time, of which I now have enough. I hope that I will read many future Amerikán yearly calendars in good health, since I am from good roots and 82 years after all is not any old age.”
This concludes our series of biographies from 1951. It has been one of our most ambitious translations from the pages of Amerikán Národní Kalendář so far! But there are more and more to come so remember to sign up for our automatic notices of new posts. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of our homepage and sign up! Easy and safe!
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