1863! Our wonderful story from the talented Czech-American author and newspaperman, Hugo Chotek, continues! We are now into Christmas number two and following the lives and times of our Moravian Czech immigrant families!
Chotek continues to supply us with a wonderful window into what life may well have been like for our own ancestors from this work found in the 1921 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XLIV, Year: 1921, Pages 154-168
A Page from the Lives of American Czechs from the Fifties
Written by Hugo Chotek
Translated by Layne Pierce and Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
It was once again Christmas Eve, however, thirteen years later in the year 1863.
The place where thirteen years ago was standing the old cabin and which gathered several families for a merry celebration, looked nowadays completely different. The forest around disappeared since it had to make a place for a well-tended garden and in the place of the cabin stood a statuesque farmhouse. Behind it then were horse and cow sheds, log cabins and other farm buildings. Everything that the eyes could see exuded affluence, wellbeing and scrupulous husbandry. Even the rooster that was patrolling the barnyard like a household steward thought that he was better than the neighboring roosters, since he lived with Bláhas. Even the extent of the farm was much bigger since young Bláha having married Kathy Černá took over the farm and several years later he bought an additional 140 acres from the neighbor.
Their marriage was happy and was blessed with five children; three boys and two girls. The oldest, the twelve year old Vojtěch, was skillful enough in farming to be able to help with many tasks.
Neighboring the Bláha farm on the north was the no-less extensive farm of Vojtěch Lešovský. Anna as wife and mother had not lost anything in her attractiveness. To the contrary, she seemed to be more tender and affectionate than before. This family also was very successful and it was a pleasure to watch how she dealt with children and how they were interacting around her.
Two years before, however, they got a cruel blow, since in January, the old Lešovský died and in June he was followed by his faithful companion. The young spouses took this loss hard. The same as it was for the old Bláha, who from that time on was walking somewhat in silence and seldom smiled. Instead he would often go to the neighboring farm of his son-in-law, and he would help with advice and deeds.
The farm in its entirety was also spotless and it expressed everywhere the same well-being as at the Bláhas and nevertheless in both places, today a graveyard silence reigned. The children were walking sadly along the yard and garden, and mother sitting by the bed of the sick one was crying quietly. It was because her beloved husband was brought home half-dead by the distant countrymen and bleeding from two serious shots.
And at the Bláhas also there reigned sadness and sorrow, since the young farmer was not there, the one who so ardently and exemplarily was taking care of everything that was part of the family and farm.
It was like in thousands of other families, since in the troubled times all the young and military able men were torn from the bosoms of their families; either by force, or by choice they went away from their homes and hid in caves and forests, daring to come home only during dark nights and even than with the utmost care.
“We were chased like foxes or rabbits,” I was told by the old settlers, “and our possessions were left to the ravages of chance and depended only on the good will of the rebels. The only good thing was that the inborn nobility of each Southerner did not allow them to hurt women; to the contrary everywhere the farms that were managed by lonely women were spared and woe to the person who would hurt a woman.”
Later in the years 1864-1865 it turned out differently, since as a consequence of the steps by the Union Armies and the excursions of units and the navy to Texas, the Texans were enraged towards anything that seemed to harbor sympathy towards the United States. Whoever was not with them, they perceived as their enemy, and since the immigrants in the majority expressed little sympathy for the lost cause of the secessionists, the latter perceived them as enemies or as the case may be as snitches.
The special military action started in Texas only after the fall of Vicksburg and Ft. Hudson. If it were not for the treasonous and premeditated politics of Emperor Napoleon III, who forever was behaving with enmity towards the United States of America, the Texas state could have been spared a lot of evil. When on the 10th of June, the French Army invaded the capital of Mexico, United States General Banks received an order to strike into Texas and to seize power over all the strategically important places, especially the capital city of Houston, which was at the same time a railroad center.”
(Editor: You can read more about the French-Mexican War and the role of the Bohemians by clicking here!) PLUS for our exclusive translation of the 1881 story of one Bohemian soldier in this war you can click here for the first half and here for the second!
Tomorrow we continue with our wonderful story that has now spanned from 1850 into 1863 and will move forward with even more from the great Czech-American author, Hugo Chotek.
Onward To Our Past®