Welcome to today’s installment of our exclusive translation of the 1898 article “Paměti českých osadníků v Americe” or “Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”. This article is from the 1898 annual edition of the Czech-American journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Join in as we continue and complete the biography of František Daněk. We add many new details, new surnames, and much more!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXI, Year: 1898, Pages: 196-208
“Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”
“The amount of money he (Ed: František Daněk) brought from Bohemia decreased by his changing at Bremen and by travelling so much that from 900 guilders rested only 11 shillings in his pockets when he arrived in Milwaukee. But 100 pounds of flour cost 3 shillings more than that.
It was a very difficult beginning, but Daněk had a strong will to overcome his troubles. He made his way to Caledonia, Wisconsin, where his uncle, Daniel Stritecky, had settled before. Daněk worked as a day laborer in the surrounding area as well as another immigrants did.
That same year he married (in Racine) and having saved $25, he bought five acres in Caledonia for fifty dollars. The seller was so generous he promised to wait for the second half of the purchase amount. It was a small debt, but Daněk did not sleep well for three quarters of the year. Those times were much harder than we can imagine today.
Often he had to chop wood earning just 25 cents for one cord and he was not able to do more than one and a half cords daily. With tears in his eyes he remembered his work in Bohemia when he earned 1-1.5 guilders as a weaver there. But as a good fighter he continued in his struggle until the better times arrive and soon he owned 15 acres. In 1867 he left Wisconsin with $1,100 in his pocket. Glencoe, a small town in McLeod County, Minnesota, with a population 200 was the magnet that attracted Daněk.
Once there he bought 80 acres of land covered in forest, brush, and swamps for $265 and thanks to his very hard work his son, Josef, today owns 120 acres (and he still owns the first farm), plus Anton and Frantisek each own 140 acres. Jan bought a pharmacy in Minneapolis, and all four men are quite wealthy.
Life in America brought to Mr. Daněk a lot of interesting stories, but we cannot mention them here due to a lack of space. It was a struggle for each piece of land, for each piece of bread – and the brave Czech prevailed.
Now, when the hard times are over, the old “Helvit” (he is of protestant origin) spends his time beekeeping and reading Freethinker magazines. Mrs. Rosalie Daněk, faithful partner of his lifetime, passed away in 1887.
Daněk now tells to his sons and grandsons all about the past times, when he was one of the first Czechs here and how he offered help to his fellow compatriots. A lot of them are related to him now. In Wisconsin, related to him now are members of the following families: Smrcek, Daněk, and Klofanda. In Kansas we should also mention the Kubiks and in Minnesota the Pulkrabeks. With the exception of members of the immediate Daněk family the families are related to him through both the male and female lines.”
Tomorrow we begin the biography of Jan Vodrážka from Eagle, Brule County, South Dakota! It is another amazing story!
Onward To Our Past®