Czech Genealogy: Fourth and final installment of the only English translation of the 1881 article “BRIEF STATISTICS of settlements, places, towns, and counties in the United States inhabited by Czechs” as published in the original Czech in Amerikán Národni Kalendář.
We have ‘visited’ the earliest Bohemian immigrant settlers in their new locations across America in Wilson, Kansas, WaKeeney, Kansas, Ellis County, Kansas, Creston, Iowa, North Washington, Iowa, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, River Falls, Wisconsin, Niobrara, Nebraska, Fremont, Nebraska, and Abiel, Nebraska. Today we are pleased to bring you the conclusion of this article by going to visit the Czechs of Nelsonville, Texas, Faribault County, Minnesota, and the Dakota Territory.
Once again you will find wonderful details about the lives and times of these early Czech-American settlers as well as a multitude of surnames.
We know you will enjoy this installment and then watch for additional articles to be posted here soon.
Amerikán Národni Kalendář
BRIEF STATISTICS of settlements, places, towns, and counties in the United States inhabited by Czechs
“Nelsonville, Austin Co., Texas
I decided to write about the Nelsonville area since I am the only surviving old settler there and no one else will write about it for the Kalendář. In the area live about 60 families of Bohemian and Moravian origin. About half of them are farmers, the rest of them are tenants. Mr.Josef Kristof and Mr. Jan Susen are owners of a steam engine powered cotton gin. The first settlers came here just after the Civil War. The first ones who bought land here were Josef Susen and Jan Mikeska, who bought and built farms including a cotton gin. This area is an important as one of first stations for immigrants, because it is here that the good Texas land begins and European newcomers can work without developing health problems. Usually every newcomer settled here, at least for a while. It is now a problem to buy a land here because it is expensive. The town of Nelsonville is very small. There are a Baptist church and school, a Freemason Hall, post office, two physicians, two horse traders, one drugstore, an inn and that is all.
Almost every effort by Czech compatriots to start some type of business here were unsuccessful. The town is located too far from the railroad and all the businesses are already in German or American hands.
All Czech social life disappeared here. We had a Readers Club but it is gone already. We also had a private Czech school, but it is gone now too. When the Czech teacher left our town, our children started to attend German-English or church schools.
Faribault County, Minnesota
As far as I know, among the 151 families living here, there are twenty-seven Czech families. Our Czech compatriots are mostly farmers. Their small number, as well as the fact that they are newcomers is the reason that they have a Club, school, nor even a catholic church of their own. Prices for land varies here from $4-$8 and for more cultivated land it is $10-$15. There is still a lot of land yet for sale.
Czech settlement at Dakota Territory
The first settler to establish themselves here was Fr. Bem. As a delegate of Czechs from Niobrara, Nebraska, he visited Chicago and stopped here at his way back via Yankton. He looked around and found that local prairie looked and sounded well for Czech farmers and wrote a Proclamation for “Slavia”, which encouraged Czechs to move here.
As a result about 200 Czech families appeared here. A lot of them gave it up, but most started to the hard work necessary to establish farms in the area. F. Bem established on his plot (160 acres) a town named Zizkov in Yankton County, built a large hall and an inn. He divided up his land into lots, and when Zizkov received a post-office, as the first settler he became its first postmaster.
Havlickov in Bon Homme County was established by Mr. Ptak on his land which is also 160 acres. Mail is arriving here 3 times per a week. The first settler of the town passed away, and his older son, Mr. Josef Ptak, is now the postmaster. Another son of his serves as sheriff for Bon Homme County.
Tabor was established by 50 members of Czech society who bought 160 acres for it, and elected the following Executive Committee: Jan Hakl, Chairman; Jos. Vyborny, Secretary; Josef Hruška, Treasurer. The first house in Tabor was built by Vaclav Janda. He opened a shop for dry goods and leather goods; his business prospers very well. Now he has received the job as postmaster and mail is going out 2 times a week. The next houses were built by the following citizens: Ferd. Cach, a large hall and inn, (bought later by Mrs. Kolecky); Josef Herman, a brewery and hall; drugstore-keeper Ant. Kofranek; Chladek brothers, a large hall and inn; turner T. Barta; a tailor Jan Sladecek; F. Cach, the builder, built the second house.
Thanks mostly to Josef Vyborny a large public school was built. The St. Vaclav (Wenceslas) Society built a large church of the same name made of chalkstone. They also built with bricks a parish house of one floor in height. Including the mentioned Society, we also have a trade organization, here. One was established by Jos. Vyborny on 12 July 1877 andnow has 50 members with the following officers: Jos. Vyborny, Chairman; Jos. Zitka, Secretary; Vacl. Janda, booking clerk. The purpose of the organization is to provide farming tools for its members, as well as any other items necessary for farming. The Chladek brothers and F. Bem are agents of a company producing farm machines.
The Tabor school is attended by 60 Czech pupils and their teacher is Mr. Josef Zitka, under the control of the following School Committee: M. Horacek, President; Jan Vyborny, Clerk; and Jan Kacer, Treasurer. Mr. Zitka has served as the teacher for two years and before him served a daughter of Josef Vyborny as the teacher.
In Yankton Jan Dufek has two houses and a shoemaker’s workshop; Vojt. Zemlicka, has one house, an herbal shop, and an inn; Jan Novotny, has two houses and a saddle maker’s workshop; A. Snok, has an inn; J. Peir, has one house and a tannery. Jos. Cerny has a house and tailor’s workshop; Tadeas Plsek has a house and a horner’s workshop. There are also more Czechs working as tailors, shoemakers, clockmakers, and joiners. One works in a chemist’s.
The number of Czechs is increasing here. We can estimate there are now some 900 settlers living here. A new settlement, named Peklo, was also established in 1879 by Mr. Josef Teibel; it is located more to the north towards Scotland and prospers very well.
Czech church of St. Vaclav (Wenceslas) in Spillville, Iowa
Hall of the Readers Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Czech church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Butler County, Nebraska”
Soon, very soon, we will be going farther afield in our translations. Here is a hint. Can you say ‘hola’?
Onward To Our Past