Welcome to our ongoing exclusive translation of the 1898 article from Amerikán Národní Kalendář titled “Paměti českých osadníků v Americe” or “Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”. Today’s installment features the biography of Czech immigrant settler Jan Heck, who was born in Hvozdany, Bohemia and came to America in 1850 at the age of 12. Today’s story includes some good detail regarding military service in the U.S. Civil War and the 32nd Regiment from Iowa plus much more!
This installment concludes our translation of “Paměti českých osadníků v Americe” or “Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America” and we hope you have enjoyed it.
Onward To Our Past®
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXI, Year: 1898, Pages: 196-208
“Paměti českých osadníků v Americe” or “Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”.
“Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”
They went via Bremen to New York and then they continued by train to Rock Island, Illinois and then by wagon to Iowa City. They spent one winter there. Then in the spring the father bought 40 acres located about 4 miles to the north of the aforementioned town. The parents and three sisters of Jan’s worked on the farm. Jan was employed for about two years first at a home for the blind. He where he worked for clothing and bad food. Because he was not satisfied there he left that job and started to work as a farm hand, which he liked, despite the fact that his monthly wage at first was only $6.00. He worked at various farms until 1862, when he joined U.S. Army. He left the quiet of farm life and hurried with his regiment to the battlefield. He served in company K, of 32nd Regiment of Iowa, where another twenty-five Czechs also served.
This regiment joined the army of General Grant and fought in numerous battles under his command. They received their first baptism by fire at Port Gibson, Mississippi. Later they fought at Champion Hill, Black River, Vicksburg, and then moved to Jackson, Mississippi. From that location were sent to Texas where they fought several times against the furious and wild Texas Rangers.
Later they moved to the Shenandoah Valley where they joined the army of General Sheridan. Under the command of this famous general they battled in some of the cruelest fights, because the courage shown by their commander made heroes of them too. Heck had good luck for long time because the bullets of the Southerners did not hit him. But later, at the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, (Ed: September 21-22, 1864) he finally tasted the rebel’s lead.
They shot off two of his fingers and part of his thumb. Because this injury was very dangerous and painful, Heck could not serve any longer. He spent some time in a hospital in Pennsylvania and from this location was moved, together with many other sons of Iowa to Davenport, Iowa. In January, 1865 he was released from the hospital and returned back home to his parents.
In May of that year he married and moved to neighboring Washington County where he bought a farm near Riverside where he lives to this day together with his numerous family members.
Seven of his children live with him and two others are already married. He is satisfied, merry in his character, and rightly proud for his military experiences.
He moved to this country as a poor, thirteen year old boy. He did not spend a lot of his lifetime in the Old Country and therefore his experiences in America are plentiful. And for his new country he did not hesitate to risk his own life when it called its sons to fight under the flag of the star-and-stripes.
Tomorrow we begin an all new exclusive translation project crisscrossing America from coast-to-coast and from the Gulf of Mexico to our northern border with Canada.
Onward To Our Past®