Our wonderful exclusive translation from the pages of the 1934 edition of the Czech genealogy and history filled pages of the Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář continues today!
We began yesterday with the story of John Zajíc. He began his story with his birth in Bohemia and is now outlining his life before he emigrated. This story is a very detailed and wonderful picture for us of what life was like for some of the real people who toiled in the “Old Country” and why they dreamed of a different life in the “New World”. One can only imagine this is what it was like, or at least similar, for our own ancestors! John Zajíc does a marvelous job telling his story and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce have done an equally fabulous job of bringing it to English for us!
Enjoy Installment #2 here today — and if you missed Installment #1 you can simply click here and read it too!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: LVII, Year: 1934, Pages: 187-213
FROM THE MEMORIES OF OLD CZECH SETTLERS IN AMERICA
Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“The working people were needed in the region to hoe and harvest sugar beets, and to take care of the wagons and the draw animals. These were provided by the South Bohemian region, the district of Pelhřimov, Budějovice, Jindřichův Hradec and other places. The local people were moving in mass to Central Bohemia. These people caused the habitual way of addressing farmers to change from “Mr. Father” [Pantáta], into “Sweet Mr. Father”, and later to “Gentleman.” They also introduced the habit of kissing the hands of farmers. Of course many farmers had to go through the strainer so much that many of them were sucked dry and they became good journeymen for their smarter neighbors. I saw God’s judgment—A farmer who had 120 korec [1 korec = 0.7 acres] was holding his head very high, was dressing in expensive material and was drinking expensive drinks, and was staying more in pubs than at home. Whenever he met poor children he called them beggars. Finally, he put so much debt on the farm that it was sold away from him in an auction. After that it went down very quickly for him. He lost his wife. Two daughters left the home poor as church mice and the young lad stayed with him at the retirement cottage, and then even the retirement cottage was taken away from him by his creditors, so that he received only half, and so that is how he barely survived with this young lad several years that were full of misery and insects. When he paid off his last debt with half of his retirement, he died. His casket was in the middle of the village and the lad was running from neighbor to neighbor asking them to take his father to the cemetery. There was a bunch of people not far away, but no one wanted to approach the casket. Only when the priest gave a lesson to the people that people should forgive dead people, so that the same fate wouldn’t fall onto them, then only did four men take the boards beneath the casket, and the train of people moved towards the cemetery.
We moved to the village of Žabonosy in the year 1869, where my parents bought a small new house and my father only had to walk a quarter of an hour to get to the Plaňanský Sugar Refinery.
My father was of an uncommonly tall build. His work was to take out the ashes from beneath the steam kettles. I also, at nine years old, I had work in the factory. I was pouring beets into a slatted washing machine, where they were cleaned to be cut. At that time Napoleon III enticed Maximillian to go to Mexico with sixty-thousand stationed soldiers. The Mexicans uprose. Maximillian was captured by them and he paid for his audacity with his life. His wife Charlotta travelled to Rome to beg Pope Pius IX for mercy for her husband. (So that the Pope would intervene on his behalf in Mexico.) Supposedly the Pope laughed at her and ended the audience. Charlotta lost her mind because of it, and the Emperor Maximillian was shot. At that point, his brother, Franz Josef I, became angry with his friend Pius IX and he drove the priests from the schools. We Czechs had a good time, because we did not have any Czech nobility that would support the national school and our nation embraced this driving away of the priests with both hands. A national school was founded.”
Tomorrow we continue with this amazingly detailed story of Czech life in the “Old Country. Be sure to stay right here with Onward To Our Past®