Our wonderful story from the 1951 edition of the Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář, continues today!  We are following one early Czech immigrant family as they begin to settle into their new lives in the United States.

However, we see how forces well beyond their control are about to make their dream much harder to realize.

Read on and enjoy another biography, rich in detail and wonderful in value!

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


“In the year 1908 I went to see my old country.  We departed from New York on the ship, Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The ship was nice.  There were many Czechs who came from Chicago and so we had a merry time.  The time I spent on the trip was the best and least troubled time that I ever experienced in my whole life.  Along the way I met a certain miss who also went to Moravia to visit and so what probably should have happened there happened.  When we came back to America, we got married.  Now we have been giving each other a hard time for almost 42 years.  You may ask how I liked it in the old country.   Some things I liked and many things I did not.  The kowtowing and kissing of hands was for me a completely unknown thing.  First I went to Prague.  I had a cousin there, and then I spent some time in my birthplace where memories from youth returned to me.  I did not find many of my classmates.  Many of them were scattered throughout the world. I also visited two aunts and one cousin in Vienna.

1951 Belle Plaine Iowa high school

My visit went by quickly, and after three months I was back home.  I brought my cousin with me.  In 1908 during American Thanksgiving I married my fellow traveler by the name of Hedvika Dostál.  I started to work for the railroad again.  I bought my own home in Belle Plaine.  In the year 1912 I decided to go farm.  I rented 160 acres of land about three miles to the west of Clutier , Ia. we already had a son and a daughter by then.  We spent seven years on that farm and then we sold the farm.  The new owner wanted a much higher rent than I was willing to pay him, so in 1919 I rented a farm near the town of Dysart.  In 1918-1919 all the property prices increased by a mindboggling level.  The price of farm products was also high and so were the rents.  The farms went 16 to 19 dollars per acre.  I was afraid of that so I bought a farm, about 160 acres between Clutier  and Vining.  It was a hilly piece of land, with about 15 acres of nice forest.  Instead of the old house and sheds, there were no other structures.  I paid $20,000 for it.  The other structures cost me $6,000.  If the farm prices had lasted another three or four years it would have been good.  I would have had a nice beginning.  However, the prices fell in a very short while and then any advice was good.  I did rent a neighbor’s farm, which I held for 5 years, together with mine, hoping that I could hold on, no matter what, but all was in vain.  Thousands of people lost their possessions, many lost the money in their banks, and I was stricken as well.”

1951 Belle Plaine Iowa hobo camp

Tomorrow we continue, and conclude our story.  Will our Czech immigrant and his family recover from the economic crash? 

Onward To Our Past®


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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