Onward To Our Past is pleased to bring this second installment of the first translation to English of the Amerikán Národni Kalendář article “Brief Statistics of settlements, places, towns, and counties in the United States inhabited by Czechs”. This follows our first installment, which focused on Wilson, Kansas. This section contains four new locations with two in Kansas and two in Iowa.
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Amerikán Národni Kalendář
BRIEF STATISTICS of settlements, places, towns and counties in the United States inhabited by Czechs
“WaKeeney, Tergo County, Kansas.
The above mentioned county is a new one, recently established on 26 July 1879. Its population was 1,500 and the number of Czechs settled there was 21. Well-known compatriot Fr. V. Zeman, helped our people to get government land grants. The population of the town is 900. Its railroad station is the best looking one on this line. In the Czech part of Trego County only 32 Czech families live who have settled together; one owns 300 acres in the area. 539 acres are cultivated, already. Czechs living here are quite happy and it is also possible to acquire more land. Perhaps it will be interesting to readers for me to say a word or two about the first Czech settler, there. He is Fr. V. Zeman who was born at Libsice, Dobris okres. In Bohemia he was a farmer and trying to find a way to solve his uneasy situation there in Bohemia. When he heard about the better lives of Czech immigrants in America he decided to move there. He sold his property but received only a small advance payment. He asked for permission to move to America and received it shortly before his planned departure. However, his buyer did not pay on the terms and therefore Zeman sold his farm to another person. When he was going to leave the country again the first buyer complained and a trial was planned for 20 May, but the accused Zeman had already made plans to clear the Bremen harbor on 5 May. Zeman paid a lawyer from Prague and won the trial. But he received only 1000 guilders for the farm as the 1st installment because one burned down, and the 2nd buyer went broke and could not pay more. Zeman went to Chelsea, Iowa and for $200 bought 40 acres of rough land, a pair of oxen, a cow, lumber, and a stove, and had not almost nothing remaining for living. He tried very hard there and in his 3rd year there he sold everything and moved 110 miles west to Hamilton County, Iowa. There he bought 120 acres for $760 and paid $100 as a down payment for it. Next he spent $600 and used it to build farm building. Unfortunately his crops came in poor and 7 years later Zeman owed $1200. At the same time he read about nice government land in Kansas, He tried to sell his property and to seek his fortune there, but nobody wished to buy it. Zeman left it all; his house and farm buildings, 100 acres of cultivated land, etc. and went to Kansas. His family consisted of 9 persons and they were on the road for 9 weeks. They were starving during a lot of these travels. On 18 July 1878 they stopped at WaKeeney, where there were 6 houses.
At the Land Office in Hayes City, they offered Zeman a plot of land located around WaKeeney. He agreed and occupied the plot there and started to work. He was finally rewarded for all his previous troubles, and now is one of the luckiest farmers in the area.
Ellis County, Kansas
The first settlers here were Frantisek Zeman and Jan Novacek. In the whole area of the county just 3 Czechs lived: Josef and Jan Kutina and Hynek Papez. There were also 3 German-Bohemian settlers there. But this year is expected a large wave of Czech newcomers.
Creston, Union County, Iowa.
The first settler in our county (1868) was our compatriot Vaclav Susanka and his two sons, who have their own farms, now. When Susanka first came here, his property cost only $65 and now it has increased to $5,000. There are also 4 additional Czech settlers in the area. Thee next 15 settlers live farther to the west in Adams County. The town of Creston, although it is quite young has 5,500 inhabitants, which includes 15 Czech families. Occupations of these local
Czechs are as follows: 1 baker, 1 physician, 1 shoemaker, 1 locomotive-fireman, 2 brakemen, and the rest are employed by the railway as day laborers. The area of the town totals 1200 acres. The number of buildings is increasing and the town will be connected by 2 railway lines and an engine house will also be located there. It is a great place for business and Czechs are welcomed. There are 6 churches and 6 schools, 2 steam mills, 4 grains-traders, 3 banks etc.
We do not have any Czech organization here yet. The reason being that each man is very busy with his own work. The number of Czechs in the community is increasing.
North Washington, Chickasaw County, Iowa.
There are 23 families of Czech farmers here. The first Czechs came here in 1869 and the last ones in 1878. They were: Hyn. Hlavin, J. Hlavin, F. Vondra, M. Koblizka, T. Horacek, J. Svoboda, J. Marik, F. Praska, J. Praska, F. J. Praska, Josef Koblizka, Jan Kutis, Jan Sypal, Fr. A Jos. Wagner, F. Sypal, J. F. Svehla, Vaclav Novak, Josef Adamek, J. Jirsa, V. Kozibradek and V.
There is a good, rolling land without large hills, some places are wet a bit, and there are plenty of forests. It is possible to buy one acre for 10 -25 dollars. The population in North Washington and the surrounding area is mostly German. Most of the businesses are in German hands too. There is not any Czech organization yet and our magazine has only 7 subscribers. The rest of people would rather borrow the magazine. People are complaining of bad times, but it cannot be compared with situation when we came here with our father in 1854. We arrived in Winneshiek County and it was a new beginning for us: we entered a deserted land and we did not know where to sleep. Our property cost only $25. Father was going to build for us some “building”. He dug a hole on a hill, and we lived, there. Later he went to the mill to buy some flour so we would not die of starvation. He found a job in a German mill, to peel barley, for 30 cents daily there. It was the highest possible wage, and he got it because he could speak German. Father was out of the home for the whole week. My mother and my brother (he lives at Kansas, now) planted potatoes at that time. They were often hungry and were constantly expecting father’s arrival. His monthly income he had to give for a small bag of dark flour. We had not have any cow for 3 years and only had 3 chickens. Father bought 40 acres for $50 and he owed $25 for it. Five years later it was easier and now is everything all right.
Watch for section three coming very soon right here from Onward To Our Past.