Welcome! Today we continue with a new installment of our exclusive English translation of the Amerikán Národní Kalendář article from 1898 titled “Paměti českých osadníků v Americe” or “Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”.
If you have missed earlier installments of this wonderful set of biographies of some of the earliest Czech immigrant settlers across America you can click here for Installment #1 or you can click here for a list of all the installments we have published here so far.
Today we continue the story of Josef Wojtishek as he continues across America in search for a location for his family to settle. This after they left Bremen, arrived in Galveston, Texas, moved on to Houston and Cat Spring, Texas, then to New Orleans, north to St. Louis and Chicago.
Enjoy another unique story, filled with terrific history and wonderful Czech genealogy tidbits for your enjoyment and use in your family history work.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXI, Year: 1898, Pages: 196-208
“Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”
“In Galena, Illinois the father of Wojtishek became very sick and on the third day after their arrival in Chicago he died. Everyone can understand the feelings of these poor immigrants staying by the coffin of the man who was their main support and breadwinner. After they buried their father for his eternal rest, they continued on as orphans to Caledonia, Wisconsin, near Racine.
In this town there lived some other Czechs including some of their friends from the Old Country. They went there to buy some land and settle there. But the land in Caledonia was already too expensive and for newcomers it would have been very difficult to start there. Several families from Caledonia were going to move to Iowa at this time because land was cheap there and the people who had already settled there sent them good news. So the Wojtishek family decided to move there, too.
They bought a pair of oxen and together with another four families started the journey. After two weeks of travelling they reached Cedar Rapids. This was about eight miles from the place called Hoosler Grove (now Ely). At this place they occupied governmental land and started to farm. In the surrounding area were a lot of redskins in those times and also a lot of wolves. This made it difficult for the newcomers. Their first summer Josef, together with his younger brother, built a hut. Despite the fact that the hut was primitive one they were proud of it and having one made it feel like a palace to them.
Three years later their mother remarried and in 1862 bought 40 acres in the same neighborhood and Josef remained alone on the first farm. His brother helped at both places and also worked for other farmers. In that time (1862) he married Miss Anna Riegel, who came from an old Czech patriotic family.
They worked hard on the farm until 1872 and being successful, they found themselves able to buy more land. In the mentioned year he already owned 280 acres and an additional 80 acres, which they later sold. But his wife suffered from gout and could not be of much help to him. Therefore he began thinking about starting a new business. In 1872, together with one American, they established a profitable drugstore in Ely. But they went separate ways some time later. From that time on Wojtishek has had his own store and thanks to his hard work it has flourished.”
We continue the story of Josef Wojtishek tomorrow. Be sure to join us again and if you prefer, you can sign up to get automatic notifications of all our new posts at the bottom of our home page, so just click here and go to the bottom of the page. We never sell, rent, share, etc. any of the information from our list, so you information is safe with us.
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