Czech Genealogy, Culture, & History: Exclusive 1921 Translation of “Three Christmases” by Hugo Chotek
1921. Interestingly enough, the Czech-American newspaperman and author, Hugo Chotek, had been dead for 9 years. Yet, it is in this edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář, (Volume XLIV), we find a most wonderful story penned by this versatile and valuable Czech-American writer, newspaperman, and Czech patriot.
I have always said one of my favorite aspects of Chotek’s writing stems from his years as a newspaperman. As a reporter he knew the importance to readers of providing them names, places, and details in all his news articles! He carried this knowledge with him into his additional writing, which you will find evident in his “History of Cleveland Czechs” and other works. His attention to names and details makes him a highly valued historian of early Czechs in America. HIGHLY valued!
Before we begin our newest, exclusive Amerikán Národní Kalendář translation, let us set the stage for you, our readers, with a short write-up about the life of Hugo Chotek so you can get a better feel for this wonderful Czech-American author.
HUGO CHOTEK was born on the 8th of November in 1851 in Jindrichuv Hradec. In 1876, full of young enthusiasm, he left Bohemia and immigrated to the United States. He first spent some time in New York. Later he accepted an offer from Detroit, for a position at the German newspaper Anzeigen. Later he accepted the offer of Mr. Fr. Skarda in New York to be employed by Diblík and also another local New York newspaper. Sometime later he wished to see another states and accepted an offer from Mr. Fr. Lidiak in LaGrange, Texas, where he was employed by the weekly paper Slovan.
There in LaGrange he met Miss Anna Kalus, born in Frenstat pod Radhostem, Moravia. Six months later they married. Chotek later moved to Schulenburg where he started a small pharmacy, but he could not compete against the existing shops and soon had to close that business.
In about 1885 he moved to Caldwell, Texas when he was offered new prairie land for sale at the cost of four dollars per acre. The land for sale was named Mount Prairie. He joined with a lawyer, McKiver, and shortly after he sold about 2,000 acres of this land.
In his second and third year there he wrote for Svornost and Duch Casu newspapers, translated novellas for Domacnost, and wrote stories for Kalendář, because he did not have any other job there. Later he accepted an offer from Schuyler, Nebraska, where there was an established company starting a new weekly newspaper and soon a new weekly newspaper named Nova Doba was being published.
Chotek later moved to Chicago, where was employed by the daily newspaper published by the priest Pribyl, but this company bankrupted soon.
In 1890 he moved to Cleveland where he worked as co-editor of Delnicke Listy, but this paper ended because of bad finances. For a couple of years he wrote for Svornost and Duch Casu newspapers, wrote stories for Amerikán Kalendář, and Domacnost, translated novels for the paper, Domacnost, and wrote the “History of Cleveland Czechs”. He finally decided journalism held no future for him so he left it since his family was getting larger and he wished to provide a good education for his children. He asked for a position as a “notary public”, started to work in politics, and thanks to his friend, Mr. Aug. Geringer, who had managed to get him a job at Svornost in Cleveland, Chotek became the clerk for the Equalization Council in 1901, and worked there until his death in 1912. He and his family are interred in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
Nine years after his death, the editors of Amerikán Národní Kalendář decided for some reason to publish his story titled “Three Christmases”, which tells the story of Czechs in America in the 1850s! While we do not know if Chotek had submitted this piece earlier or if perhaps a family member submitted it posthumously, I can only say THANK GOODNESS it made its way into the pages of Amerikán no matter what its path!
Now that you know Chotek, tomorrow we will begin our amazing story!
Here is a teaser for you!
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®
“The beginning of the 28th of November 1850 was quite overcast. It was already eight o’clock and the sun so far had not penetrated the thick fog that enveloped the port town of Galveston.”
Tomorrow we pick up this story, which when originally published covered fourteen pages in Amerikán Národní Kalendář. Be prepared for the only English translation of this marvelous story of Czech-Americans in the United States in the 1850s!
Onward To Our Past®