Onward To Our Past http://onwardtoourpast.com Genealogy Tips, Help, and Fun with a focus on family and history Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:34:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Czech Genealogy: 1891 ‘Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America’ Installment 9 Exclusivehttp://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-1891-experiences-of-older-czech-settlers-in-america-installment-9-exclusive.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-1891-experiences-of-older-czech-settlers-in-america-installment-9-exclusive.html#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:34:42 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=5174

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Welcome back to our exclusive translation of the Czech genealogy and history article from the 1891 edition of the Czech-American annual journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  We are pleased to continue with this wonderful article, which contains first-person biographies and stories of some of the earliest Czech immigrant settlers from across America.

The more you read from the amazing Amerikán Národní Kalendář  issues the more you understand why such standout Czech historians, academics, authors, and researchers as Dr. Karel Bicha, Dr. Gregory Stone, Dr. Mila Rechcigl, and Dr. Bruce Garver consider Amerikán Národní Kalendář one of the most important sources of Czech immigrant information anywhere in the world.

Enjoy today’s installment — we know you will!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe

“Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”

“News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”

Josef Pecinovsky

Josef Pecinovský

Josef Pecinovský (Ed: Continued from Installment #7 and Installment #8)

Two of the sons left for service, to make some money for the family. The lost ox was eventually replaced by another, though not as good, and overall conditions improved only slowly as the family could only cultivate ten acres in the first year. At least the next year they did not have to buy more land on which to work. During the second winter, the twenty seven-year-old Josef, an apprenticed tailor, started thinking about his own household, and possibly a better home than the dug-house of his parents. He left for Davenport, which took a week by foot. There he started to work in stores along with his brother-in-law. Despite the small pay of a novice, he worked there the whole winter. In summer, when such work was scarce, he was back working in fields and gardens and cutting wood. He built himself a shanty in the spring. It stood, however, on someone else’s land as Josef did not have his own. He paid rent of a dollar per month to a Frenchman owning the plot. He made the dwelling the best way he knew, not minding a little draught, even a little rain inside. He also made himself „furniture“ out of boxes.

He then happily got married and, together with his new wife, started to work hard as a tailor the next fall. They acquired the most necessary supplies from their first earnings, working day and night. Later they acquired better, contracted work and were thus able to save a few dollars. In 1858 a Czech Jew by the name of Bloch from Pacov moved to Rock-Island and brought the first sewing machine to the Czechs there. Pecinovský bought it for 180 dollars! With Bloch’s help, the machine worked well. After he left, it took Pecinovský some time to figure out how to operate it. At one point, he even thought Bloch tricked him into buying a faulty appliance. Once he figured it out though, life changed for the better. His affluence grew so much that he was soon able to purchase a hundred acres of forest in Howard County in Iowa. The main reason behind this decision was the fact that his eyesight began to decline due to constant night-time work. If he did not want to lose his sight completely, he had to start thinking about giving up his tailor’s work. In the spring of 1862, he thus moved to his new land, where he still lives. His move, mostly via the Mississippi river, coincided with the outbreak of the Civil War. As soon as he settled, in the summer, news spread about uprisings of the Indians, who were allegedly taking advantage of the unrest in the East and, in large gangs, were plundering and murdering everything and everybody who got in their way, unafraid of the government army. One night, one of the brothers came running in fear, urging them to save themselves by flight. The settlers, panicked, were going to leave.”

Be sure to continue with us as we finish the story of Josef Pecinovský and introduce yet another early Czech settler from a differing area of America in 1892.

Onward To Our Past®

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Welcome back to the exclusive home of Onward To Our Past® and our exclusive translations from the Czech-American genealogy and history treasure chest of the annual journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář. 

Today we find ourselves in 1800s Iowa in an article published in the 1891 edition titled “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”, translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”, with the subtitle “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”.

These stories give all of us Czech genealogy, history, and culture fans immense detail about what it was truly like for our Czech ancestors who were early settlers across America.

Enjoy the learning and the Czech genealogy and historical insights.

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

“Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”

“Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”

“News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”

Josef Pecinovský (Ed: Continued from Installment 7)

1891 Iowa Corn field

“In Davenport, however, three of the families in the Czech caravan decided to head for Dubuque, reasoning that there they will be close to compatriots settling the area in large numbers. The transport on the Mississippi river was stopped during winter, though, and there was no railroad at the time. They thus rented a wagon for thirty dollars for the three-day journey. However, the weather at that time of year was rainy and even frosty, which caused obvious hardship. The travelers went most of the trip on foot and at night slept outside. No one wanted to offer lodging to the “greenhorns”. They feared that the travelers would bring “something living” into their home after such a long voyage. At most they were offered a place in a shack with some hay and wood to burn, and even for that they had to pay large sums of money!

The Pecinovskýs stayed in Davenport until the spring, getting by only so-so. In the spring they headed off to meet their friends by steamboat on the Mississippi. Josef and his father then continued about 150 miles westward to Howard County in Iowa where some Czechs had begun to settle. There they took over eighty acres of government land for which they had previously paid in a land bureau in Dubuque. They had also bought a pair of oxen and a cow on the way from Dubuque; now they were prepared to move in.

However, what misfortune came – the younger boy who was in charge of the oxen left them one day to get lunch and when he came back, the oxen were gone. Whether they took off themselves or someone took them – they were nowhere to be found, despite the organization of a search party. After a three-day fruitless search, Josef went back to where they had bought them and there he found one of them. The other ox, however, strayed and was never found, despite an announcement in the newspaper. They could not travel with only one ox and so they had to ask for a ride.

When they reached the compatriots, the Pecinovskýs found that the others were no better off. They did have some poor log cabins already built and a couple of shared yokes. It was toward the end of May and every piece of advice was dear and work was urgent.

Josef Pecinovsky

Josef Pecinovsky

They used hoes to plough a piece of land for potatoes and then set about to build a “dwelling“. This was a quite simple task – they dug a hole around which they laid sod, they covered the area with roof frame and then brushwood, on top of which they put hay – and the house was built! No rain – no leak. The stove was under the sky, the bed was on the grass in the den. Yet, there was still a lack of food and money. Flour, for instance, one could only get in a mill, the nearest being twenty miles away. The town was far as well.”

Be sure to follow us tomorrow as we continue the story of Josef Pecinovský and his family as they struggle to fulfill their dream of a new life in America.

Onward To Our Past®

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Welcome to today’s installment of our exclusive translation of the 1891 Amerikan Národní Kalendar article “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe“, translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America” with the subtitle “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”.

Today we complete the story of Vojtěch Vrtiš, who settled in Minnesota, and begin the story of the life of a new Czech settler, this time in Iowa.

If you missed any of our earlier installments of this translation please click here and you can catch up.

There is much here to learn from and enjoy!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

“Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”

“Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America

News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”

Vojtěch Vrtiš (Ed: Continued)

“Those were great hunts and the older among us like to reminisce about those days when we killed one of those furry beasts, even though the danger of it was great. I liked trapping wolves the best, but those bitches would often bite through the iron bars and run away. The wild game that is only reserved for the lords back at home was abundant here for us. However, in other aspects we had to tighten our belts.” – –

Vrtiš brought up nine children, some of whom have their own businesses now. All of them respect their still sturdy and merry grandfather, who happily sang old Czech songs to the author of this text, and who likes to say that he is the first resident of New Prague. „I did give the town those ten acres for the church to make the town flourish. It gives me, you know, a sense of freedom“

Vojtěch Vrtiš was born in Outěšov, in the Písecký region, on April 14, 1827. He has lived in America since 1854. Through hard work in his younger years, he now lives comfortably in the midst of his large, prosperous family.

A.V.

Josef Pecinovsky

Josef Pecinovský

Josef Pecinovský (pictured on p. 191) came to America in 1854. It was Saturday, October 18 of that year that he had left his native village of Světlá, in the Mladovožický county of the Táborský region, together with four other families. His family included his father, mother, and four sons, of which Josef was the second. They bid farewell to all their friends who gathered in the nearby village of Vosna at the Kermis festival, and on Wednesday they arrived in Prague. There, they bought all that was necessary for the long trip. In the end they had a box of about 150 pounds and several bundles of bedding and clothing. Two days later they arrived in Bremen, where they purchased tickets for the journey. There were not many shipping agencies in Prague at that time. After a week-long wait, they finally set sail and for ten weeks they rocked on the water, suffering on bad, rotten and tasteless food and often even a lack of it. They survived mostly on dry bread on which they poured warm water.

There was not yet a house for immigrants in New York, thus after purchasing a ticket to Chicago, they left immediately, travelling through Chicago to Rock-Island. However, they did not take proper care of their luggage. In Chicago they were told not to worry and leave without it, assured that their belongings would be sent to their final destination. They arrived to Rock-Island on New Year’s Day of 1855. The weather was so pleasant that they could walk barefoot in the woods. When they did not receive their belongings even after two days, the families left for Davenport, Iowa behind the Mississippi, while the young Pecinovský returned to Chicago to look for their bags. He found them after some time in the warehouse of the railway company. All the bags were given to him except the one belonging to the mother of his future wife, Holubová. It took him a week to return to the rest of the settlers.”

Tomorrow we will continue our translation with more from the stories of Czech settlers in America in 1891.

Onward To Our Past®

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Welcome to our newest installment of the Onward To Our Past® translation of the 1891 Amerikán Národní Kalendář (Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199) article titled “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”, which is translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America” and subtitled “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”.

Today we continue the story of the life and times of Czech immigrant settler Vojtěch Vrtiš.

Enjoy!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

“Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”

“Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”

News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements

Vojtěch Vrtiš (Continued from previous installment)

Voytech Vritz

Voytech Vritz

“Often we were unable to get to a mill because we lacked any roads. We would have to go through swamps that were at some places flooded with deep water and at some places covered with hard to get through thickets. The closest mill was in Shakopee, some twenty four miles away. Dear readers can imagine just how long it would take us to get there on an ox-drawn wagon with a load on such a “lovely” road. If we wanted to know news from our friends in Bohemia, it took a very long time before we received a reply from them. At the time the post was completely “self-governing”. There was a box on a pole standing by the road few miles from me. We would put our outgoing mail there and we would also pick up incoming letters there on our own, without any supervision. Not a soul lived near or far and thus our post was left to the settlers’ consciousness. However, I must say that none of the settlers ever took advantage of this arrangement. On the contrary, when someone saw a letter addressed to a neighbor in the box, even if it was a neighbor living further away, they would take the mail and deliver it. Due to the complete lack of roads it was not rare that one would get lost for several miles on his way until he would, fortunately, find another settler that would set him in the right direction. Often one would be desperate in such cases because every settler was of different nationality and thus communication was quite difficult. Instead of speaking, one would use hand gestures, complimented by all kinds of languages, Czech, German, Swedish, English, Indian or whichever tongue one spoke. If we could not understand each other anyway, a Swede would usually get upset about it in Swedish, I would get upset about it in Czech and, in the end, both of us would laugh about it sincerely.

Despite having to deal with hardship from many directions, I tried my best on my farm, and in order to support my family the best I could, eventually I opened an inn and later a grocery store. Even though the business was slow at first, eventually I was able to add 160 acres to my property. In the meantime, more Czechs were coming to the area and some came with the idea of establishing the town of New Prague. In order to attract more Czech settlers to the new town and develop it further, I donated ten acres of my land for a Czech church, which turned out to be a great idea as more and more settlers arrived.

Despite all the hardships in the beginning, we did not lack entertainment. We did not have theater nor dancing hall then, thus our favorite entertainment was hunting. There were herds of deer in the area back then and uncountable numbers of rabbits. Growling bears and howling wolves were also abundant at that time.”

Tomorrow we will continue this translation and wonderful story!

Onward To Our Past®

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Welcome to Installment 5 of our wonderful Czech genealogy and history article translation from Onward To Our Past®.

Today we continue our exclusive English translation of the 1891 article titled “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”, translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”, subtitled “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements.”

Inasmuch as Onward To Our Past®  is the exclusive site for any ongoing translations of the amazing Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář, we suggest you go to our homepage by clicking here and subscribing to our weekly update (located at the bottom of the page) so you don’t miss a single tidbit from these awesome Czech genealogy and history volumes.

Enjoy!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe

Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America

News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements

Jan Kašpar (Continued)

“The members want to maintain the good condition of the library so that it serves education of the entire Czech neighborhood. These selfless compatriots take turns teaching Sunday school, especially in the summer when the younger ones can make the trip to town. The lessons are held in the Society’s hall and allow the children of the Czech settlers here to maintain sound knowledge of spoken and written Czech.

The current officers of the Society are: Chairman J. Kadlec, Vice-chairman J. Kašpar, Secretary Jan Kučera, accountant Jos. Měj, Treasurer Václav Zavoral, and librarian Ant. Škarpík. The members of the school committee are V. Zavoral and Josef Měj and the custodian is Václav Homola, who have been doing their job dutifully for many years now.

Czech fathers, but especially Czech mothers who live in prosperity, can take example from these country people, who are on their own, and yet they make sure to keep the language of their ancestors. These Czech parents ensure their children do not turn their coats from their nation and their language, while at the same time growing up to be good American citizens.

The settlement in which Jan Kašpar lives is, and will be, one of the most well off Czech settlements in America. The Czechs own more than eleven thousand acres of the best land here and more Czech settlers are coming and buying more land. Czechs will firmly be settled here. We will soon bring you the description of this settlement as well. I will conclude with a wish that all other settlers were rewarded and reached success in their new homeland the way Jan Kašpar did because they endured much greater hardship than those who decided to settle in cities in an inferior position – which is a pity!

A.V.

Vojtěch Vrtiš (Pictured on p. 191)

Voytech Vritz

Vojtěch Vrtiš

The current location of the flourishing Czech town of New Prague in Minnesota was, in 1854, still full of raging redskins and only a few settlers dared to approach it, let alone settle there. The first Czech to settle in New Prague was the Czech pioneer Vojtěch Vrtiš, about twenty-seven years old at the time, brave and trusting in the future of this country. His previous short stay in Iowa prepared him for a farmer’s life. Upon his arrival here he experienced unimaginable difficulties, as there were no roads, nor any neighbors to offer advice or help. Since he was previously a farmer in Bohemia, he easily adjusted to his new way of living. He bought a hundred and sixty acres of good land for 200 dollars. However, shortly after the settlers’ arrival, Indians started bothering them. The settlers who lived close to the Indians noticed that the redskins were preparing for a war expedition and rushed to warn the settlers who lived further away. “We often ran miles and miles,” tells Vrtiš, “the whole night to warn settlers and to make sure every man capable of carrying a weapon would grab a gun. Woe betide those who resisted. He would be severely punished by the others, and rightfully so, because we had to stand all for one and one for all if we did not want our families murdered and our homes burned.”

Stay with us as we continue our wonderful translation tomorrow!

Onward To Our Past®

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Welcome back to the Onward To Our Past® exclusive English translation of the 1891 article from Amerikán Národní Kalendář titled “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe“, which is translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America” and with the subtitle of “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”.

Today we continue the story of Czech immigrant Jan Kašpar.  It is a detailed and amazing story, which can help any of us working on our own Czech genealogy to better understand what our Czech forbearers had to deal with while first settling in America.  If you missed any of our earlier installments you can simply click here and get caught up.

Enjoy as we continue to go Onward To Our Past®.

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe

Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America

News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements

Merchants store from XVII Century

Jan Kašpar (Pictured on p. 187)

“As soon as the Indian unrests ended, the entire area started to liven up. Everyone rushed to work their fields and new settlers arrived. I had also started considering my own livelihood as I had worked on my father’s farm until now. I married in 1865 and started to farm on my own. My father, who had always worked very diligently, stayed and worked his fields with my other brothers and sisters. He still owns his farm today. My brothers, however, are also farmers on their own today. My farm stands on one hundred and sixty eight acres with all its equipment, my brother has two hundred acres, my brother František has one hundred and sixty acres, and brother Antonín has two hundred and twenty acres. Altogether, our family owns seven hundred and forty eight acres of good land including eighty acres of forest. – –

The brothers Kašpar and their father all live as wealthy farmers, held in high regard by all the settlers in this area, no matter of what nationality. Jan Kašpar held the position of the county commissioner for ten years, and he has held the office of the judge of conciliation for over twelve years. In this year’s assembly of the house of the state of Minnesota, it was petitioned that Jan Kašpar receives compensation for his services to the government during the Indian uprisings of 1862 and 1863. There is no doubt that it will be settled to the advantage of this old pioneer of the West.

1891 Jan Kaspar image

Despite living in America since his youth, Jan Kašpar is a good and true Czech and his German-born wife, surprisingly, speaks fluent Czech. Her favorite read, according to her, is the Czech news. “I was born in America and here I lead a very happy life with my husband, surrounded by Czechs. They were always kind to me and I grew attached to them with my heart. My husband loves when our children sing to him in Czech. They all know Czech language as well as their grandpa – they speak Czech with the accent of their grandfather.”

Jan Kašpar had eleven children, three of whom died and the rest of them are alive and well. Despite being a settled landowner, his lively character urges him to still seek adventure.

He is also active in the Czech life – he takes part in the readers’ society of which he is a vice-chairman. I have been told this about the society: The Readers’ Society in Hutchinson was established in 1876 and its first chairman was Antonín Zelený. Initially the members met in rooms rented from Mr. J. H. Daněk, however, after six years they decided to build their own hall in order to meet more comfortably. They built a wooden hall that cost about one thousand dollars. The hall is located in the Town Hutchinson by the state road and it stands on an acre of land. The library of the Society now has approximately four hundred books of both entertaining and educational genres, and they are avidly read by the Society’s nearly thirty members, all of them very conscious men. The annual membership fee is $1.20 and the meetings take place monthly. After furnishing the hall, there was still sixty dollars left.”

Stay with Onward To Our Past® for the continuing exclusive translation of these wonderful Czech genealogy and history articles from Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

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Welcome back to our exclusive translation of the Czech genealogy and history article from the 1891 edition of the wonderful Czech-American journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář. 

Thank you for sticking with us while we recovered from our site being destroyed by hackers.  Our recovery was only possible due to our practice of conducting a daily backup of our site and a fabulous MIS guru with Sociablemedium!

Today we continue with our exclusive translation of the story of Czech immigrant, Jan Kašpar, and his life in Bohemia and then his new life in the United States.  If you missed our primer on the world in 1891 you can click here to read about it.  If you missed Installment #1 or Installment #2 you can click the links and catch up.  You won’t want to miss any of these wonderful biographies for your Czech genealogy and history work.

Onward To Our Past®

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe

Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America

News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements

Praha

Jan Kašpar (Continued)

“The spy squads were of two types, of five or of nine men, mostly young and courageous, who knew the land well. Courage was necessary for them, as their life was in constant danger. The groups of redskins moved up and down to make tracking them difficult. Only slowly could we follow them, as we had to make sure we did not lose their true track, which often happened anyway especially in the barren, dry, and powdery ground where tracks were easily erased by wind. In the forest we could often trace them only by scrunched out grass or broken branches. If one of the squads found an Indian rest, they passed the information onto the spies behind them, who then reported to the settlers in the nearest forts where their enemy dwells. It was the responsibility of the spies to guard the Indian camps and report immediately any movements of these camps to the settlers.

The hardship of these squads was great, as we never felt safe, whether it was day or night, and we rather did not even take off our clothes. When we wanted to rest a little, the hard forest or field ground served as a bed to us and the blue skies served as our blanket. A spy could not even think of comfort, and hunger and thirst were often his closest mates; he had to get used to that as well as other misfortunes.

1891 Jan Kaspar image

After a while we were as dark from the sun as the Indians and our eyesight became extremely sharp. A spy would find traces that many other white men would not even notice, even traces that were several days old. He would be able to identify whether they were traces of white or red folk or only traces of an animal.

At the end of 1863 our squad finally received good news about a larger military division approaching, and we could finally breathe a little lighter. We hoped that now the savages would be chased off and our land would be finally safe. During those two years of Indian attacks, the settlers suffered enormously. The fields were neglected because no one could cultivate them. Even if someone seeded a few crops, he then could not harvest without risking his life. Apathy was taking over everyone, but the news about the approaching army immediately changed the mood. The spies were sent covertly in all directions and sent reliable information about the strength and positions of the Indians. The army then attacked the savages and drove them away without giving them a moment to take a breath. With that the suffering of the poor settlers was over at the end of 1863. The Indians did not dare come back afterwards, and the new ones that arrived were much more peaceful. They were glad when we left them alone to hunt the deer, of which there was an abundance in the area, and they would often come to our homes to ask for food.”

Tomorrow we continue our wonderful story, so stay right here with Onward To Our Past® for all your Czech genealogy!

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A Genealogy Resource You May Not Know: Academia.eduhttp://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/a-genealogy-resource-you-may-not-know-academia-edu.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/a-genealogy-resource-you-may-not-know-academia-edu.html#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 09:54:05 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=5136

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A Genealogy Resource You May Not Know: Academia.edu

If you have done any work on your genealogy you naturally know all the “usual suspects” such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Fold3.com, GenealogyBank.com, MyHeritage.com, etc.

These sites are all highly useful, filled with documents, data, and more. Between these usual suspects you can find a lot of information, especially if you are a neophyte. I remember well the first few times I logged into Ancestry.com and the feeling that I had just stepped into some kind of genealogy paradise.

I also remember well the feelings that followed as I continued to work deeper into my Czech genealogy, my Cornish genealogy, and my wife’s Italian genealogy. It wasn’t long before I started to think “there has to be more to genealogy than this?” Naturally I quickly realized that yes, there is a whole lot more to genealogy research than the mega-sites alone and these sites can hold genealogy treasures and information of unequalled value.

One of these special sites for me is Academia.edu. (http://www.academia.edu)

academiadotedu image

I’d like to take credit for finding this site on my own, but that wouldn’t be right. I actually came upon it through a fellow Czech genealogy and history researcher, Dr. Miloslav (Mila) Rechcigl. Mila has been working on Czech history and genealogy for decades. His love for his Czech roots is evident not only in the dozens of books he has written on the subject, but also by his passion for, and work with, the Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences (SVU for short, which comes from the Czech Společnost provědy a umění (a Society of Arts and Sciences). To make a long story short, Mila posted a paper to Academia.edu and then emailed me asking if I would take a look at it there. One visit and I was hooked!

Mila Richcigl

Mila Richcigl

So what is Academia.edu? In their own words “Academia.edu is a platform for academics to share research papers. The company’s mission is to accelerate the world’s research. 23,297,217 academics have signed up to Academia.edu, adding 6,205,799 papers and 1,593,800 research interests. Academia.edu attracts over 36 million unique visitors a month.”

Over 6 million papers on site covering almost 1.6 million areas of research. Once you go to the site you can search by all kinds of key words and find papers from all over the world on your chosen topic and find fellow researchers who are working on, or interested in, that same topic. You can also search by author in addition to topic and/or title.

Here is just one example. When I recently searched on the topic of “Czech History” the results I found were 1,014 fellow individuals following that topic, 580 documents, and a listing of 20 related categories to search.

I started to enjoy the site so much I decided to begin loading selected articles I have written to provide them not only on this site, but as a new vehicle for ever more interested folks to find the work. And they surely have! Each month I get a set of analytics regarding my papers on Academia.edu and it is wonderful to see how people worldwide are finding my papers, reading them, and using them for their own research. Talk about a classic win-win scenario!

I’ll close with this advice. If you have not yet checked out Academia.edu I strongly suggest you do it. Just do it when you have a spare hour or two, because if you are like me once you get into it, it is tough to leave. There is almost (notice I say almost) too much wonderful material on this site.

A beneficial Hotel California so to speak!

Onward To Our Past®

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Czech Genealogy: 1891 ‘Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America’ Installment 2 Exclusivehttp://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-1891-experiences-of-older-czech-settlers-in-america-installment-2-exclusive.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-1891-experiences-of-older-czech-settlers-in-america-installment-2-exclusive.html#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 09:46:49 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=5132

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Welcome to Installment #2 of our 1891 exclusive translation of “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”, which is translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America” with the subtitle “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”.  This wonderful article comes, as do some many other Czech genealogy gems, from the Czech-American journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář. 

Today we continue with the first of the extensive and detailed biographies of early Czech settlers across America with the story of Jan Kašpar of Choceň, Bohemia and who emigrated in 1854.

Enjoy the continuation of this tremendous story.

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

“Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”

“Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”

“News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”

Jan Kašpar (Pictured on p. 187) Continued from Installment #1.

1891 Jan Kaspar image

“While he worked in the city, we continued to cut the forest. That lasted a few years. The cropland grew only slowly and only gradually did we started making a humble living. After several years of strenuous labor we were able to grow some crops to sell, but without the roads through the forests, it was another drudgery to get to the market. We would travel along creeks or along edges of forests and often we had to unload and again load our wagon on the way. Additionally, we had to travel in groups and with arms as the Indians of the Sioux tribe used to hunt heavily in these places, and these red devils had no mercy on the white folk.

These were difficult times for us because there were only a few of us living around here. In 1859 we had our first town elections and we turned in 13 votes. Today we have more than 300 voters, most of them Czech. In addition to our small numbers back then, we also lived far away from each other, which made us vulnerable to the Indians even more.

The worst years were 1862 and 1863 when the Indians revolted against the whites on a much bigger scale than ever before, and started to kill and burn without any consideration. Half of Hutchinson was burnt and many people in the area were brutally murdered. There were only fourteen Czech families in the entire area. All of them gathered in one home and made it into a sort of a fort by erecting palisades of cut tree trunks around it. In this fort we kept all of our possessions and livestock.

All the men were well armed and even the boys were grabbing weapons in defense of our little fort. The army was far away and we were left to defend ourselves. The redskins were cruising our fort from a distance but wearied to come to gun-range. We were also careful not to peak out of the fort too much as every carelessness could result in a horrible death by poisoned arrow or a bullet. The harvest was very sad that year and we did not even harvest in some places due to fear of the large numbers of Indians in the area. We harvested only on the fields and meadows closest to the house, keeping loaded guns with us at all times, ready to fight. We could fire thirty shots at one time from the fort and that kept the Indians at a safe distance. The army was slow to arrive as they could only advance slowly due to the thick forests and lack of roads. They would dispatch outposts, from which many did not return due to the fact that they were not familiar with the land and, thus, were easily surprised by the redskins and killed before they were able to send a warning to others. Government officers started creating groups of spies that knew the way of life and migration of the Indians. In 1862 I was drafted to serve as one of the spies, an order I had to follow.”

Join us tomorrow as we continue with our story of Czech immigrant Jan Kaspar and his new life in America.

Onward To Our Past®

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Czech Genealogy: 1891 “Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America” Installment 1 Exclusivehttp://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-1891-experiences-of-older-czech-settlers-in-america-installment-1-exclusive.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-1891-experiences-of-older-czech-settlers-in-america-installment-1-exclusive.html#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:50:38 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=5126

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Welcome to our newest, exclusive English translation for your Czech genealogy and history enjoyment and learning.

Today we take you to 1891 and that year’s edition of the annual Czech-American journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  In this edition we discovered an article, originally running a robust twelve pages titled “Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”, which is translated as “Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America” and has the subtitle of “News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”.

As always, with our Czech genealogy work, we could not bring you this wonderful translation without the help of one of our partners.  In this instance our partner was the truly wonderful Ms. Nina Haviernikova of The Ohio State University.  Nina’s talents in working with “old Czech” are marvelous and she brings these words alive in a unique manner.  We want to thank Nina again for her indispensable help!

If you missed our primer on what the world was like in 1891, you can click here to catch that post, otherwise here we go!

Enjoy.  This is a great offering if we do say so ourselves!

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1891, Volume: XIV, Pages 188-199

 

“Ze zkušeností starších osadníků českých v Americe”

“Some Experiences of Older Czech Settlers in America”

“News about the first settling of the compatriots and conditions of Czech settlements”

 

“Jan Kašpar (Pictured on p. 187)

1891 Jan Kaspar image

Jan Kašpar

One of the settlements with the nicest location is nested in the triangle between the cities of Glencoe, Silver Lake and Hutchinson in southern Minnesota. The land there is hilly, the soil is fertile, and mostly covered by lush forests. One can see well-maintained farms everywhere, as well as lovely towns with busy shops. It is nice to see the vast, cultivated land and realize that it is all property of Czechs. Today, when we visit these places, we find joy in them and we would not hesitate to become one of the locals owning a piece of the land. It is hard to imagine how different this land looked only thirty years ago and how many tears and how much blood moistened this soil before it provided for its cultivators, how many calluses appeared on the hard-working hands of the local Czech settlers who not only drudged here for many years, but risked their lives as well in defense of their diligently cultivated land!

One of the oldest and worthiest local settlers is the still strapping farmer and citizen Jan Kašpar, who has lived here since his youth and, thus, knows the progress of this land well. He describes it as follows:

– – My father, originally from Choceň in Bohemia, immigrated to America in 1854, when I was only 14 years old. After a long and difficult journey we reached Racine, WI, where my father settled for a while and did this and that. There were several other Czech families there at the time, which were eager to migrate further, but their means did not allow them to. After an extended stay here, my father, together with two other families, the ones of Josef Malý and Antonín Navrátil, decided to move to McLeod County in Minnesota. There was no railroad in that direction back then and there were only a few roads. The roads that existed were, however, in such a state that we rather decided to ride beside them in the prairie. Each family had an ox-drawn wagon in which they put the children, featherquilts, and the essential dishes; all of our worldly possessions. We left from Racine, WI on April 1 and we arrived in McLeod County on July 6. Our suffering on the three-month journey was terrible and we were in danger constantly. After the arrival, we took over 100-acre government plots, covered in thick, large forests. A government clerk signed these plots over to us and we were now reliant upon hard work to cultivate the land in order for it to support us.

We drudged from early morning till late at night, cutting trees and ploughing the soil in order to seed crops. We were all very overworked and there was no money to hire any help. Our father went to Minneapolis on several occasions by foot and stayed for few months to make some money because we had nothing to sell in order to buy even the most essential goods.”

Tomorrow we will continue the story of Jan Kašpar as he continues his journey as a Czech immigrant in America.

 

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