Today we conclude our wonderful exclusive translation of the biography of Frank Starý and his family!  This has been a wonderful story, with many twists and turns for these early Czech immigrants.

Their ‘journey’ has not been a smooth one, but they persevered and accomplished their best.

Enjoy this installment from the lives and times of our early Czech ancestral compatriots!

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®


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.  I had a share in the bank, then I had to borrow and still add in money.  Two shares in a store and one share in a grain elevator: I lost all of that.  And then came the dry year 1934.  It was the worst year that I remember over my entire 53 years that I spent in the state of Iowa.  From 45 acres of corn I got about 200 bushels.  The oats and hay I did not even cut.  I was lucky to have about 800 bushels of old corn.  I hoped to feed about 60 pigs with it.  I was able to fatten up the pigs, however, I received only about $2.10 for a hundred pounds of live weight.  I sold about 8 cows, the best ones.  The buyer gave me $16 apiece for it and he did not even take care of them.  That year I could not pay the interest.  Because I did not want to make more debts, I returned the farm. I rented 200 acres northeast of Dysart, after 3 years another 80 acres and my son and I farmed together.  My son is still on that farm.  The conditions started to improve.  The beef cattle went up in price as well as all of the grains, so much that sometimes I thought that it had become overpriced.  Over the eleven years that I spent on that farm, I was so successful that my old age and that of my wife is assured.  My son got married and I moved to the little town of Elberon, where I bought a nice house.

Elberon, Iowa today.

Elberon, Iowa today.

We raised five children, one son and four daughters.  Everybody is provided for, and everyone is doing well.  We also have seven grandchildren.  Two grandchildren died.  One of our granddaughters is already married.  Throughout all our hard work and worries, when I could not even sleep and was walking around the yard through the night, my family and I never experienced hunger; even though there was no money, there was always enough food.  For this I am grateful to America and also to my sister, Mrs. Martinková from Clutier, who helped me come to this place.

Towards the end I will still mention my life in the associations.   I belong to the Order of Czech Brothers in Clutier, which I joined in 1901.  I belong to the Order of Karel Jonáš, of Czechoslovak Society of America (Č.S.A.) in Vining, since the year 1912.  I enjoyed going to the meetings, and I was active in both of the orders.  Perhaps there was not an office that I would not have been active in.  Our Czech language is slowly disappearing here and I believe strongly that if it were not for our associations (Sokol and other countrymen organizations) we would already have died out, perhaps.  Nowadays I do not go to meetings very often.  I will soon be 71 years old and my wife 67 years.  To enjoy myself, occasionally my friends and I go fishing and I am content.

2012 Czech Heritage Foundation Princess Kelsey Pokorny of Elberon. Czech heritage is still alive in Elberon!

2012 Czech Heritage Foundation Princess Kelsey Pokorny of Elberon. Czech heritage is still alive in Elberon! Photo courtesy of Russ De Hoedt.

I have held the office of representative of Svornost [Solidarity] and Amerikán for several years at this time.”


Our exclusive translation of the story of the Starý family is now complete!  Tomorrow we continue with an all new exclusive, again from the pages of the 1951 edition of the great Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!

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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