Our 1908 exclusive translation continues today as we follow our Czech immigrant settlers as they chase their dreams of a better future in their new homeland.
The image below is of a ‘passport’ used by my Bohemian ancestors to leave the Old Country as they moved on to America.
If you missed Installment #1 of this article you can click here and catch up before reading the continuing translation, which follows right below.
Enjoy today’s installment!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXXI, Year: 1908, Pages 272-275
Translated by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“Frank Dudek was born in 1845 in the village Lupenice of the Rychnov District in the former Hradec Králové Region of Bohemia. His father was a village smith and because, not counting little František, he had eight children to feed, it will be apparent to everyone that he was not drowning in wealth. This is the reason that he decided to move to America, from which letters often came– from other countrymen from Lupenice, Roveň and the surrounding small villages– about how easily a person could obtain land in America.
Mainly, Ant. Sulek in Johnson County, Ia., who had settled there, would describe the inviting conditions in America for the Dudeks, so that they departed directly to his place. At that time the railroad only went as far as Iowa City, and when our immigrants reached it, after several weeks of grueling travel, the older Dudek went on foot across the prairies to search for Sulek, his countryman. The latter then came with a wagon rack for the Dudek family. There was another friend and countryman of the Dudeks living in Jones County, Šabata, for whom old Dudek, together with a certain Roček, went to find on foot.
Šabata took Dudek into his home and helped him to find a homestead with 20 acres. Here the Dudeks made a small hut out of clay and straw bricks. With the remainder of their money they bought a young cow, and now they were penniless on a twenty acre unfenced farm. That was on the brink of the Civil War and money was hard to come by. Throughout the countryside, in fact, there was no money, and as a means of barter they used coupons that were given out by businessmen, or shopkeepers in the tiny towns, which they accepted among themselves.
As an example of the financial situation of those times Mr. Dudek narrated the following to me: “Countryman Jílek received a letter from Europe that was not paid for with a stamp. He had to pay fifteen cents before the postman gave him the letter. One evening, fatigued and completely exhausted he came to our place and asked us to help him with five cents. He had been walking in the surrounding area for three days already to collect the postal charge, and he had succeeded in collecting ten cents from among the farmers. At home we had five cents hidden, as today golden coins are hidden, and we helped Jílek so that he could get the letter from the post office.”
The father worked in the area with farmers who paid him for the work with wood for the fencing of the little farm. He also chopped shingles for covering roofs and so the first year they received enough potatoes. One day when there was no one in the house the prairie caught on fire and the shed made out of straw for the small cow that was built behind the house burned as well as the roof of our simple, and so they had to start the work over again.”
Tomorrow we continue this fascinating story about life for the early Czech immigrant settlers across the United States.
Onward To Our Past®