Onward To Our Past® Genealogical History Company is pleased to present today’s installment of our exclusive English translation of the 1881 article from the Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This article, titled ‘Czech Settlements in Minnesota and Their Settlers’ (Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci) provides us with a truly phenomenal look into the lives of early Czech settlers in America and the obstacles they had to overcome as they fought to create new lives for themselves and their families. It is great genealogy and great history background for all who have Czech ancestry.
Today these Czechs find themselves embroiled in the Indian Uprising in Minnesota, but with reinforcements on the horizon. Plus we learn specific surnames of some of these Czechs who fought in the U.S. Civil War.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: IV, Year: 1881, Pages: 166-177
CZECH SETTLEMENTS IN MINNESOTA AND THEIR SETTLERS (Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci)
(Collected by Hynek Breuer)
“Meanwhile, bigger fears than those in Praha hit the Czechs working temporarily in the Hastings area, near the Mississippi River about 40 miles to the east of Praha. There appeared rumors that Indians had crossed over the Minnesota River already, attacked the Czech settlers there, plundered and burned their houses, and killed those settlers. We cannot imagine the fright that appeared among our compatriots as they listened to these stories. A lot of them had left their families, brothers, parents, and properties there and now they were hearing that everything was lost and the people annihilated by the furious Indians.
They decided to group up together to go back home, while they were armed. Some of them did not wait for others and ran home immediately so they would know whether or not the horrible rumors were true.
They were not armed, as they had been warned before, and went in small groups. Yankees, seeing alarm among their farmhands, started to harvest what was possible and prepared to move across the Mississippi River.
The son of M. Borak, together with another two men, went to one house at night. Everybody were sleeping, but the mother heard them and woke up shouting with fear: “They are here, already!” The father jumped out of the bed, grabbed his rifle, and aimed it at the people thinking they were Indians. The young men realized that this was a very bad joke and it could lead to disaster so they shouted quickly that they were Czech and friends.
The described perils and chaos were coming to their end. Several days later several military steamboats cruised from St. Louis via the Mississippi River and when they turned at Hastings go up the Minnesota River they fired their cannons to inform the savages that they were getting close to them. When the first steamboat met Indians by Belle Plaine the soldiers started to fire their guns at them. But the Indians did not care about that. Therefore they began to fire their cannons and then the redskins ran away in panic.
The army occupied all the area forts and reached an armistice with the Indians. The settlers returned back to their homes.
In the Civil War fought Josef Kanka, Jan Topic, Jan Vesely, Jan Stary, and Jakub Zahradka, Jakub Krajnik was drafted too, from Rochester, Minnesota. However, he escaped, went home, and no one knew about this. He was hiding in a large hollow tree, and his wife would bring him food, there.
Soon more and more settlers kept coming to the area, since the early times. The forests fast disappearing thanks to their axes and countryside was changed into fields and beautiful meadows. Where there were bushes before now there are roads; swamps were drained; bridges were built to cross the many creeks, and settlers began to forget their previous troubles as they continued with their work.”
Tomorrow we continue to follow these wonderful Czech immigrants as they create their future in America.
Onward To Our Past®