Onward To Our Past® is pleased to continue our exclusive English translation of the 1898 Amerikán Národní Kalendář article “Paměti českých osadníků v Americe” or “Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”.
Today we continue and finish the biography of Czech immigrant settler Jan Faktor and begin a new biography of Czech immigrant settler Vojtěch Dolejš. These are truly marvelous biographies for anyone of us interested in Czech genealogy and Czech history. These early Bohemian immigrants to America certainly did not have it easy at all.
Enjoy today’s installment.
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXI, Year: 1898, Pages: 196-208
“Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America”
“‘Grandpa’ Faktor, which is the way he is generally addressed in Montgomery, is of small to middle stature, but remains swift. His head is not bowed yet, and he walks so well that it seems that he will be around for the next 70 years, which is the age he reached this year. He has healthy color in his face and his shiny eye bear witness to his excellent mental condition. This is proved also by the jokes that our “Grandpa” is telling all the people everywhere.
In the past he attended church regularly, like all Czechs living there, but due to some intrigues fomented by the priest, he changed his viewpoint, and now is a real Freethinker. He does not care whether he will go to hell after his death or somewhere else. The respect that he earned among his compatriots is proven by the fact that he served as County Commissioner for Le Sueur County for several years.
He likes to talk about the troubles that he had to overcome in his life.
When I was drinking a glass of beer with him at the Montgomery Brewery, he said with great satisfaction: “Now it is better here than before when only two Czechs lived here. Na zdar!” (Ed: To Success!)
Vojtěch Dolejš, from Montgomery Minn., was born on 12 April 1827 in the village of Radomilice, the parish of Bila Hurka near Vodnany. As a son from the 4th marriage – his father remarried when he was already retired – Vojtech, at the age of only 5 years, became a complete orphan.
Before he was the age of eight years he learned to read, but not very well though because he attended school for only one winter. He also only learned to read the German Gothic type of writing. Elementary schools were teaching at the very lowest levels and the main educational role model for the education of youth was played by the local priest or a school teacher, with a hazel-rod in the hand, who was usually an uneducated military veteran.
So the eight year old boy became a shepherd at Prasiva Lhota, and he had to graze pigs there. The young Dolejš grazed pigs there for 3 years and often had to go to sleep hungry because the shepherd’s wife was one of those housewives who counting every barley she peeled for the soup.
Vojtěch sometimes fished for trout in a brook for himself and then baked it in dried cow dung so as not to fall down from hunger. Nobody cared about the poor orphan.”
Tomorrow we continue with the story of Vojtěch and begin yet another fascinating biography for your Czech genealogy and history interests.
Onward To Our Past®