Today Onward To Our Past® is pleased to bring you our newest installment of our exclusive translation from the Czech genealogy mother lode of Czech-American information, the annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář.
This installment (#10) continues the biographies of Czech-American immigrants to America who participated in the 11th Congress of the Czech and Slavic Protective Society held in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1896. This article was written for the 1897 edition of Amerikán and includes some fabulous biographies of early Czech-American immigrants from across the United States.
Today we continue in Nebraska with two new biographies.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
“The 11th Congress of the Brotherhood of Č.S.P.S. held at St. Paul, Minnesota”
“He (Ed: Jan Rosicky of Omaha, Nebraska) became a member of Slovanska Lipa and worked as a teacher in the Czech Sunday School. But the small salary he received as a shop-assistant in a grocery store forced him to look for a better job. In May he went to Chicago. First he worked at flour store and when he saved some money after two years he became a co-owner with his employer J. Braus. But not for very long.
Only after three months he left that job and started an insurance and passenger ticket agency and together with his brother-in-law he purchased a grocery store. During all the time he spent in Chicago, a whole 7 years, he was active in the Czech movement, as a member of Sokol, Hlahol, Slovanska Lipa, and amateur theatre. Occasionally he was a correspondent for Slavie” as well as a regular correspondent for “Narodni Noviny” in St. Louis. He was one of the co-editors of the papers when its corporate seat was moved to Chicago during the time when its editor was J.V. Sladek. The big fire in Chicago during 1871 also hit his shop and annihilated it. Sad about this bitter end to several years of his hard work he left to go out west.
In San Francisco he could not find any job, so he then spent fourteen months in Oregon, but his desire for Czech society led him back. When he travelled back he found he liked the countryside of Nebraska, and settle in Crete. In the fall 1873 he became the co-owner of a drugstore there. In the fall of 1874 he married Marie Bayer from Chicago. I n the end of the year of 1875 he left that job and became a travelling agent for “Pokrok Zapadu”. When the editor, Mr. Jos. Novinsky, retired, he gained his job and as an editor he still works today. In June 1877 he also became the publisher of the papers. Rosicky has belonged to the Brotherhood of Č.S.P.S. since 1877. Since the Congress in Chicago he has been elected as a delegate five times and he worked as the Chairman of the now extinct Narodni vybor (National Committee).
Cenek Duras is from a family well known for its patriotism in Bohemia. The best way to prove this is an article published by “Narodni Listy” upon the death of his father. It is dated on 8 May 1892:
“Last Friday, in Zelenice, Slany okres, the old, well-known patriot and participant in the 1848 Revolution, Mr. František Duras, passed away. He was a member of the Council of Slany okres for several years and was aged 81 years when he died. The deceased belonged to the group who suffered very much for their ideals. After the events of March 1848, he, together with his comrades (which included Dr. Sladkovsky) was sentenced at Prague Castle and suffered 6 years in the prison of Olomouc. In him our nation lost a brave and real patriot, our community lost a righteous, respectful, and good neighbor, and his family lost a good father. Rest in Peace!”
His son, Cenek, was born on 21 January 1846 at Zelenice near Slany, located south-west of Prague. Since his early youth he had to travel a lot. When he was only 4 years old his parents moved with him to Prague, but in 1850 his father was taken into custody for his part in the political events of 1848. He was arrested and without any trial was held at Prague
Castle and later sent to the well-known prison of Olomouc. After this hard situation hit his family, the mother and the minor children left Prague for the countryside at Zelenice to farm there. Living there, young Cenek attended a school at Knoviz, but the school was not ideal nor was it a progressive one. Therefore, when he was only 8 years of age Cenek was sent to Terezin for his continued education. Terezin was, in those times, one of the most important fortresses in all of Austria. All the cannons, piles of cannonballs and grenades, marching military units, especially groups of prisoners in chains being marched down the streets, the use of the German language, which was unknown to him, but used at school and in the town, made sad impressions on this homesick boy. Therefore he expected with hope that he would someday be liberated from this kind of prison.”
Tomorrow we continue with the biography of Cenek Duras and believe us, it gets very interesting. This is one of the best stories of what early Czech immigrant life in America could really be like.
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