Onward To Our Past® Genealogical History Company brings you the newest installment of our exclusive translation from the 1881 edition of the crucial Czech-American annual journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This article, previously only available in its original Czech tells the story of an amazing group of Czech immigrants to America as they search for their future in the Minnesota Territory.
We pick up today as the Czech pioneers are making their way to Minnesota.
If you missed any of the previous installments, you can just click here to find Installment 1 and read from there.
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)
“When they had their land recorded they went back to Dubuque the same way they can come for their families and friends.
They arrived there in August of the same year and prepared to travel to their new home. The first four mentioned pioneers accompanied them: Vaclav Rehacek, (now deceased), Frant. Bruzek, Martin Herman, (passed away), Frant. Petricka, Matej Kajer and Vojta Janovsky. Each of them had saved some money, but not enough for it to be possible to buy everything that they needed. Vojta Vrtis, Jan Hanzl and Matej Stepka each bought a wagon and a pair of oxen for themselves. Bruzek bought a cow with calf – and this was all they brought with them from Dubuque. To their desired place they arrived in September of that same year, but the travelling was not easy.
From Shakopee, located twenty-five miles away they travelled for three days. They loaded on their three wagons as much as they could and the rest of their items they had to carry by hand across their shoulders. They had to spend their nights outdoors, they had to cut through bushes to make a path, they had to bring fallen trees out from the forest, and they had to build bridges over swamps.
We all can hardly imagine how difficult this travelling was for our first Czech settlers.
Finally after this long and arduous travelling they reached their land – the deserted forest, where was not any roof for them to call home. The few German houses, respective huts, could not offer any space for them because the first settlers had just one small room for themselves there.
So their first wish was to build some huts to be protected against the rain and bad weather. One hut was built from tree branches and covered with tall grass to about the height of the tallest rye, which was standing on the land of Frant. Bruzek, near where you find today’s church in Praha; there three families lived from autumn until spring: the families of Vrtis, Bruzek, and of Stepek.
The next similar hut was standing about one mile to the south, but this one was not inhabited during the winter.
During that time when the compatriots came back from Dubuque with their families other Czechs came here from Wisconsin: Tomas Suchomel, Jan Bernas and Frant Marysek; they also bought 160 acres each. Part of their land they prepared for farming, planted some potatoes and corn, and then went back for their families. This happened before our friends returned from Dubuque. When they came back they enjoyed very much having so many new Czech neighbors.
Everyone worked with enthusiasm, helped each other along, and the words of Czech songs sounded together with the voices of axes working in the forest, which had been empty before.
When each family had some sort of temporarily house, they started to grow hay, although by now it was late autumn. They also started to build better houses, i.e. log houses roofed with the hay because there were not any boards nor shingles for their roofs.”
Tomorrow our Czech settlers continue to work to conquer all the world throws at them as they follow their dreams.
Onward To Our Past®