Today we continue our wonderful, detail-rich biography of one Czech immigrant family as they chase their dreams of a new life in the United States.  From Volume 73 (year 1951) of the fabulous Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář this story follows a hard-working, everyman Czech as he seeks his fortune and future in the ‘new country’, while we discover he is going to return to the ‘Old Country’ as well!

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Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1951, Volume: LXXIII, Pages: 117-144

“Old Settlers’ Memories”

Translated from the original Czech by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce

©Onward To Our Past®

1951 Frank Stary image


         “We were paid per piece and because I was a great reader I read every newspaper that fell into my hands.  I was interested in the letters from the farmers and then I got the idea to go to a farm, but how I was going to get there I did not know.  Finally, one of my friends to whom I confided told me that someone he knew had already gone to a farm and he wanted to go back there, so I could go with him.  I immediately asked him if he would take me with him, however he did not have any money for the trip.  I did have some money saved and so I offered to loan him money for the journey.  Now, of course my main desire was to get my sister to let me go.  However, my sister did not want to hear about it at all.  She was afraid that something would happen to me.  But when my brother-in-law heard what it was about, he told my sister, ‘Just let him go.  In a week he will be back’.  However, I never returned.  Indeed, my brother-in-law and my sister followed me; and then in 1899 at the same time my mother came with my brother from our motherland, so that our whole family was together once again.  On the 22nd of April 1897 we went to the town of Toledo, Iowa where I have been, to this day, in the same surroundings for the past 53 years.  I had a good attitude towards work and so I was never without work.  In the beginning it was somewhat harder than I imagined.  At that time one worked mainly manually since there was no machinery like today.  Nevertheless I got used to the countryside so much that I would not even want to go into a big city.

            In 1900 in our neighborhood they built a new line of the railroad C.NW.RR, [Chicago Northwestern Railroad] which went from Belle Plaine to Mason City, Ia. ., and at the same time the little town of Clutier was founded and the town is right now, this year, 50 years old.  My brother-in-law stopped working on the farm and went to work on the railroad, where he worked until he reached retirement.  He bought a building lot and a farmhouse.  Then I bought four building lots adjacent to his. I passed two of the places onto someone else and I kept two. I built a small house on them in 1902, completely on borrowed money.  Now mother was independent and I had a home.  I was working on farms and then I went to work on the railroad.  In 1905 I sold my possessions and we moved to Belle Plaine where I worked only on the railroads and or in shops.  The salary was between $1.50 and $2.04 per day.  Most of the time I was working about 13 hours during the night.  The work in the shops was not difficult, it was, however, quite dirty.  Nevertheless, a person gets used to everything, and me too, I got used to it.

1951 Kaiser Wilhelm II ship

            In the year 1908 I went to see my old country.  We departed from New York on the ship, Kaiser Wilhelm II.”

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A Genealogical Historian, who is focused on family history and genealogy of the highest quality, but with a dose of fun. Avid about documentation and evidence. Loves helping folks of all levels in their genealogy pursuits, especially in the areas of Bohemia, Czech Republic, Italy, Cornwall, Kent, United Kingdom, U.S. Immigration and Cleveland, Ohio.

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