Onward To Our Past http://onwardtoourpast.com Genealogy Tips, Help, and Fun with a focus on family and history Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:44:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2 Czech Genealogy: Installment 10 of ‘Czech Settlements in Minnesota and Their Settlers’ 1881 Exclusivehttp://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-installment-10-of-czech-settlements-in-minnesota-and-their-settlers-1881-exclusive.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-installment-10-of-czech-settlements-in-minnesota-and-their-settlers-1881-exclusive.html#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:44:04 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=4593

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Welcome to today’s installment of the amazing story of Czech immigrant settlers in America.  This story comes from the 1881 edition of the wonderful Czech-American journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  This annual journal holds some of the most valuable first person accounts of our Czech ancestors across America.  It was published for 79 years and was hugely popular.

We think you will be fascinated with today’s installment as our Czech settlers fight wolves at their doors (or on their roofs actually) and now Native Americans as well.

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)

“They left the meat on the roof of their log house so it would not be eaten by wolves, but the wolves climbed up from pile of dirt and ate everything, leaving just one piece of meat.

The son of M. Borak found in the forest an Indian trap (a mantrap with double springs) for game and he took it.

Examples of mantraps.

Examples of mantraps.

The remaining piece of meat they used as a bait for the wolf.  They fixed the mantrap to a hayrack that was so heavy it needed two men to bring it.  After sunset Vrtis came back home saying the wolf was trapped and now he would go and kill him.  But Bruzek was afraid there could be more of wolves and decided to wait and go there in the morning.  But the wolf chewed through the hayrack, which was five inches in width, and ran away with the mantrap.  The hayrack was moved almost 3 feet from where it had been.

Photo by Jim Sauchyn.

Photo by Jim Sauchyn.

Bruzek could not afford to buy a new cow so he had to wait for two years when the calf became a grown cow.  Four years later he had saved enough money to buy oxen for work.  Before the next winter Bruzek built a log house, but to be protected against the cold, he dug so deep an excavation that the log house was hidden in it.  The log house had just one window, the roof was on the same level as the ground, and the room was downstairs.  In this wet and dark room the family lived for several years.

Other settlers had similar troubles to overcome and because they were unexperienced, they suffered all kinds of kinds of troubles that could have possibly be avoided.

There are a lot of stories there were told by them, but I have to mention their adventures with the Indians.  For three years the settlers lived with the Indians peacefully and often visiting them especially in the winter, begging for food, saying always just “I am hungry”, because they did not know any more English.  Sometimes they would bring game they had killed and offered to barter with it for flour, bread, or some piece of clothing.  They never asked for meat, but bread they loved very much!  The Czechs were afraid of the Indians and the Indians were afraid of the white people, too.  Sometimes an Indian would come into the living areas to be warmed a bit, but all the time he would hold his rifle as if he were ready to shoot, and when he would walk away as he receded to the doors he would be looking around constantly.

Once there was a fight between the Sioux against the Chippewa nearby in Shakopee and they were shooting at each other over the Minnesota River.  The white settlers in the Shakopee area supported the Sioux tribe. (Ed: The ‘Sioux’ a Native American term which translate to ‘snake’ was the name given to the tribe by the Ojibway and actually this was the Dakota Tribe.

Milford State Monument just west of New Ulm, Minnesota.

Milford State Monument just west of New Ulm, Minnesota.

During the Civil War the whole of Minnesota was imperiled by the uprisings by the Indians, who plundered and burned white settlements and did not save the lives of the settlers.

The reason for the uprising was that Indians did not receive promised support from the U.S.  Government for several years. Therefore they would go out visiting farms asking for some bread.  But a lot of white farmers cheated them very badly, asking for large amounts of money for just the smallest piece of food.  The Indians became understandably angry because of this.”

Tomorrow we see the relations with the Native Americans become ever more strained and dangerous.

Onward To Our Past®

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Today Onward To Our Past® Genealogical History Company is pleased to present Installment #8 of our exclusive English translation of our 1881 article on the earliest Czech settlers in Minnesota.  This story holds amazing details for any of us with immigrant ancestors.  It tells, often in the first person, the amazing obstacles and forces our ancestors had to overcome as they sought a new life in America.

The determination, grit, strength, and perseverance of early settlers was nothing less than amazing.  If you missed any earlier installments you can click here for our Amerikán Národní Kalendář Translations section of our website and catch up.

Today our settlers, finally in Minnesota, find themselves fighting winter, fire, and wolves…with more on the way.

Enjoy today’s installment.

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)

“Everyone except V. Vrtis settled in Le Sueur County.  However the work of our compatriots was interrupted by the unexpected – a fire started by Indians at October, which made trouble for several weeks.  Settlers had to protect their houses and their hay against the fire.  For three days and nights they tried to stop the reach of the fire, but they were unsuccessful.  They saved their houses but all of their hay was lost.  Only Jan Bernas, Janovsky, and Petricek were able to save any of their hay.

Farm fire

The situation of the poor Czechs was very hard, fruits of their labor was destroyed, but they were not resigned and began to work again with diligence.  Anyone who has not started a new home in the deserted countryside cannot imagine the vast troubles of the pioneers and cannot comprehend how much patience was necessary there in those times.

I will try to show to readers some sketches from the lives of the first settlers based on stories told by M. Borak and Fr. Bruzek.

Fr. Bruzek, V. Vrtis, and Stepka had to spend the whole winter in a hut made from branches and covered only by hay. Three families lived in a hut without a chimney or any windows other than just one very small window.  To be protected from the very cold weather they covered the walls of the house by mud to a height of several feet.  They used one cow, which belonged to F. Bruzek and a pair of oxen, owned by V. Vrtis.  They built a log house also for the cattle but they could not roof it because they did not have enough hay for a roof of any kind.  They bought several chickens for 25 cents each and two piglets for $11 each.

pigs and chickens

In family of Fr. Bruzek poverty reigned for a long time.  Bread was made just from corn only, for flour they had to go to Shakopee, where it was selling at one hundred pounds for $2.50.  When they did go for flour they had to bring axes to make signs for their path and wear bells on their necks to call people in the case that they would find themselves to be in danger.  They then had to walk back home with bags full of flour on their shoulders and backs.  Bruzek says that for a whole two years the family did not eat any meat. Later at Shakopee he bought about 10 pounds of bacon from one lady.  He fed his cow for the whole winter, but when the snow finally disappeared in the spring, the cow started to fail and soon died.  Thereafter they had no milk for the children. They cut the meat into small pieces to feed chickens with it.  They left the meat on the roof of their log house so it would not be eaten by wolves, but the wolves climbed up from a pile of dirt and ate everything, leaving just one piece of meat.”

Wolf snarling

Tomorrow we continue with this amazing recounting of the lives of these settlers as they fight not only wolves and fire, but far more.

Onward To Our Past®

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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.

Enjoy!

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.

 

The only time I have ridden in an oxcart and it was a bumpy, uncomfortable ride!

The only time I have ridden in an oxcart and it was a bumpy, uncomfortable ride!

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.

Early dugout style home.

Early dugout style home.

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.

Not posh by a long shot.

Not posh by a long shot.

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®

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Today, Onward To Our Past® Genealogical History Company is pleased to continue our exclusive English translation of the 1881 article “CZECH SETTLEMENTS IN MINNESOTA AND THEIR SETTLERS” (Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci).  This article was first published in the Czech-American annual journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This article is filled with the stories and lives of some of the very earliest Czech immigrant settlers to Minnesota.  Previously only available in its original Czech, Onward To Our Past® with great assistance from our partner Martin Pytr of CzechKin, is providing this wonderful Czech genealogy and history here free of charge.

We pick up today with our group of Czechs having decided to leave Illinois and Iowa and head north to the Minnesota Territory.

Enjoy!

Minnesota on map of us good jpeg reduced

Click to see full map of the United States.

 

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)

“He also gave them a recommendation and introduction to one Prussian, named Anton Philip.  The bishop asked him to not accept as neighbors any people who were not Catholics.  They followed by ship via the Minnesota River to the village of Shakopee, the capitol of Scott county.  This village consisted of only five houses at the time.

Map showing Minnesota counties of interest to our story.  Click for larger image.

Map showing Minnesota counties of interest to our story. Click for larger image.

From this place they walked to Jordan, where there was only a saw mill and one small house.  There they received some advice.  It was that they should follow a path cut in the bushes, to look for signs of forest trees, and then to look for grooves in the wet meadow grass because there was no other way.  They followed this advice and finally they reached the farm of Anton Philip.  They were happy to see great crops growing around the farm.  They liked the countryside, which had nice forests, and decided to settle there.

This map will help you place the towns our Czech settlers are referencing.  Click for full image.

This map will help you place the towns our Czech settlers are referencing. Click for full image.

III. The Establishment and Flourishing of the Czech Settlement                                                                                               

Anton Philip, the Prussian mentioned before, and four Germans from Luxemburg were the only white settlers in the area, which was also inhabited by a great number of Indians.

The local Germans were very devoted Catholics, and because the Bishop of St. Paul asked them to do it, they did not want to accept anyone as their neighbors who were anything but Catholics.  Anton Philip seeing four strangers entering his house, without any knowledge of their religion, was afraid that they would be non-Catholics, who were wishing to settle there.  The hungry travelers asked his wife if she might prepare some lunch for them, although it was already late in the afternoon.  While she was preparing the lunch her husband visited his neighbors to inform them about their guests and to ask what he should do about them.

The neighbors advised him to not be afraid and to simply watch their behaviors.  He came back home more quiet than before.  Lunch was prepared and the German said to their guests to eat.  Before they started to eat and upon seeing a picture of the crucified Jesus, first they prayed and only then did they eat.  When Philip saw that they were praying before the lunch he appreciated it and said to them that at first he was afraid, but now he see friendship in them.  He called all of their four of his neighbors to come and welcome the devoted “Böhmen” (Bohemians) and everyone then spent the evening together.

The famous picture, 'Grace' was painted in Bovey, Minnesota.

The famous picture, ‘Grace’ was painted in Bovey, Minnesota, although not until 1911.

The German later showed our friends the surroundings, took them to look at the land, and he admitted that he did not know exactly where his property ended.  When they knew the countryside they asked for 160 acres of governmental land: Vojtech Vrtis in Scott County, half of his land is now divided into lots in Praha, and on the other side in Le Sueur County, Mart. Borak, Jan Hanzl and Matej Stepka took land.”

Stay with us and get ready for tomorrow’s installment of this story of desire, strength, fortitude, and true grit by our band of Czech immigrants.

Onward To Our Past®

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Onward To Our Past® Genealogical History Company is pleased to present today’s installment (number 6) of our exclusive English translation of the 1881 article CZECH SETTLEMENTS IN MINNESOTA AND THEIR SETTLERS (Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci).  This article, originally published in the Czech-American annual journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář, tells the story of a band of determined and strong Czech immigrants as they made their way from Bohemia across America to their final destination in Minnesota. 

Today we find our Czech immigrants still in Iowa, but finally learning about the Minnesota territory.  For all the difficulties and trials our Czech band of settlers faced, today it is remarkable as we read how they were able to find humor in their efforts as well.

Today we also owe a note of thanks to reader Paul Makousky who kindly noted that we had misspelled Hynek Breuer’s surname.  Thanks Paul!  We appreciate the correction and the lead on Hynek!

Enjoy!

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)

“Borak found a carriage for $7 to move the lumber to Dubuque, but when he realized all the troubles what will be tied up with it he sold the boards, but for only $4. (Ed: The railway company had sold them to Borak for $27.00)  They went on to Monticello (Ed: Monticello, Iowa) and finally reached it after one and a half days of travelling.

Here is the location of Monticello, Iowa.

Here is the location of Monticello, Iowa. Click for the full map image.

They met their compatriots F. Bruzek, Mika, and Vancura.  But once there they found the landscape was not attractive countryside at all.  There were high sandy hills where nothing could be cultivated, deep valleys and swamps instead of meadows. “This is the paradise promised by you?  This is what you called us to come here for?  How can a man survive with the soil as poor soil as this?” asked M. Borak. “Since I am in America now I will choose a land that will be attractive for me.”  The next day he went immediately back to Dubuque.  Since he was known there he received jobs as a day-laborer there.  In autumn their friends from Monticello also moved there.  Dubuque became their home, they actually Americanized a bit, and they also made some progress in learning the language.

swearing

There are a lot of funny stories when talking about their staying in Dubuque.  M. Borak wished to share his story with our readers.  Borak became friends with one German who had a nice garden full of vegetables.  He made the offer to Borak that his wife could go to his garden and choose some lettuce, cucumbers, melons, etc.  But Borak’s wife was very busy and could not leave the house.  Therefore when Borak came home from work he went to the garden for the promised vegetables.  Prior to going he asked one friend how to say something like thanks, or “s bohem” etc.  The friend said that “s bohem” sounds like “God Bye”.  Borak received plenty of vegetables from the German and when leaving the garden instead “God bye” he said “God damn” by mistake.  The German was laughing hard at this and often still reminds Borak of his mistaken “thanks”.

Meanwhile more and more compatriots from Bohemia immigrated and their number increased to eighty families.  They all listened to rumors about very fertile land in Minnesota.  Each of them had already saved some money as they had been thinking about starting their own business.

minnesota map jpeg

They decided to look in Minnesota, which was just a territory in those times.  In July of 1857 they finally tried it.  The following citizens made the trip: Vojtech Vrtis, the only one who spoke a bit German, M. Borak, Jan Hanzel, and Matej Stepka.  Via ship they reached St. Paul, Minnesota, but arriving there they did not know what to do next.  M. Borak suggested asking a bishop where there might be some Catholic settlements established because being Catholics, they were afraid of losing their religion.  The bishop seeing such devoted Catholics enjoyed this and sent these delegates to the place, which is today named Praha.”

Be sure to join us tomorrow as we continue following our amazing band of Czech settlers as they continue to fight amazing odds in their quest for a new home in America.

Onward To Our Past®

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 Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This annual journal, published for 79 years, is filled with a wealth of Czech genealogy information and fabulous details, biographies, and more.  Published only in Czech, Onward To Our Past® is working to translate as many of the articles of genealogical and historical significance we can.  We have also made the commitment to provide all of these translations here, free of charge!

NEW

Our current article, titled ‘CZECH SETTLEMENTS IN MINNESOTA AND THEIR SETTLERS’ (Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci) follows the trials, tribulations, strength, grit, and the life and death struggles of some of the earliest Czech immigrant settlers to Minnesota.  It is a story of incredible determination, strength, desire, and fighting against odds that often seem nothing but overwhelming.

If you missed our earlier installments you can click here for Installment #1, here for Installment #2, here for Installment #3, and here for Installment #4.

Today our Czech immigrant band of friends find themselves still in Iowa and Illinois and confronting issues of pay,

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)

They did not listen to the warnings from their friends who told them it was necessary to first ask for a job.  “When you are working, we can work, too.  And it is impossible for us not to be paid for our work.” they said.  When the Commissary saw the working women he ordered them to leave their work.  They refused and he took their tools from them and drove them away, saying that their husbands would also not be paid.  But their husbands continued to do the work until payday.

We all love payday, but it was not to be for some of our band of Czechs.

We all love payday, but it was not to be for some of our band of Czechs.

The Commissary went to the hut of our friends and called the names of men who would be paid: Martin Borak, Frant. Petricka, F. Bruzek, and Jakub Prokes.  He counted out how many days they worked and gave them their money. Jakub Prokes re-counted it and divided the money.

There was not a single penny for the newcomers.  The Commissary explained that the hut belonged only to the paid workers and the new people would not be paid and that they had no right to dwell there, because he did not ask them to work.

Now the non-paid workers became angry at the householders saying that are cheated them.  They recounted the money again, recounted the number of working days, and recognized that the Commissary actually did not bring any money for them.  They were not able to understand this and could not forgot it.  Even until today they remember with bitter tears the cruel times of their beginnings in America.  Being very frustrated and upset they decided to visit the Commissary at his office, to again ask for their money.  When they arrived he asked them what they wanted and they, without any knowledge of English, could only “money”.  The Commissary refused to fulfill their wish and when they decided not to leave his office he brought out a rifle and pretended to shoot them.   Our friends ran away in panic, recognizing that Borak was right all along. After these events, they moved to various places.  Some of them went to Monticello in Iowa, where they wished to where they wished to farm.

Monticello Iowa map on USA jpeg

Click for full size image.

Shortly after this, in August, the railway staff also became sick with cholera and all the work was interrupted.  Our compatriots became jobless once again.  M. Borak and F. Petricka decided to visit their friends who went to Monticello.  They wished to bring their wooden house, the cost of which was deducted from the last wages of M. Borak, foreman of the Czech workers, in the amount of $27.00.”

No one captured Iowa better than Grant Woods.

No one captured Iowa better than Grant Woods.

Stay with us here at Onward To Our Past® as we continue the saga of these truly amazing and determined Czech immigrants tomorrow.

Onward To Our Past® Genealogical History Company

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Onward To Our Past® is pleased to offer our newest installment (number 4) of the exclusive English translation of the 1881 Czech-American journal, Amerikan Národní Kalendar titled “Czech Settlements in Minnesota and Their Settlers”.

If you have missed our earlier installments of this amazing story of immigrant courage and strength, click here for Installment 1, then click here for Installment 2, and click here for Installment 3.

Today the hardships for our Czech immigrants continue, but so does their determination!

Enjoy.

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Volume: IV, Year: 1881, Pages: 166-177

CZECH SETTLEMENTS IN MINNESOTA AND THEIR SETTLERS (Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci)

Cover for 1881.  Click for full image.

Cover for 1881. Click for full image.

(Collected by Hynek Breuer)

“One day the wife of F. Bruzek, who was also lying at bed sick, died. Bruzek called for his compatriot, Martin Borak, and asked him: “Go to the Commissary and tell them that my wife is dead. Ask him for some box I can use as a coffin. I cannot make it, you can see that I am too sick. Also ask him where we can bury her – I hope that he will understand you at least a bit.”

Borak explained it all to commissary, the best way that he could. The Commissary called for a coachman and ordered him to do something, and motioned to Borak to go to the wagon with him. The coachman loaded a pile of boards onto the wagon and went to the camp of the Czechs where he unloaded the wagon and went away. Shortly after this he was back again with his wagon full of beams and poles, as well as with a coffin, and explained to the poor people that they could built a hut there.

They brought the deceased wife of Bruzek, lying in her coffin, to the ship. However, the ship’s crew refused to put her aboard saying that they cannot bring dead people from Illinois.

But because on their side of the river there was not any cemetery the poor Czechs decided to bury the deceased lady somewhere. Finally Matej, the son of M. Borak, and a Frant. Petricek dug a grave along the Mississippi River and buried her there without any rituals, but in the presence of four Czech families. There today is resting the first Czech woman from Dubuque who died.

coffin wood

I wonder if the casket was like this modern one?

 

Our compatriots started to build their hut and when they finished it, they thought that their new home was actually a palace. The house was large enough, made of wood, and served as the accommodations for six families. The Town Council also sent to the house English physicians, but because our compatriots had no money they refused their service being afraid that they would be obligated to pay for it. A Polish physician came shortly after this and explained to them that the physicians were sent by, and paid for, by the town, and that they would not have to pay anything. They understood his language and he left some medicines for them.

On Sunday some of them went to visit their friends who had decided to stay in Dubuque. They told them about all their troubles and that they were earning $1.25 a day. When the Dubuque friends heard about this they decided to work there too and moved to the other side of the River. On Monday all of the newcomers went with their compatriots to work together with their wives.”

Tomorrow we continue our story about these amazing Czech immigrants as they try and build a future in America.

Onward To Our Past®

 

 

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Czech Genealogy: Installment 3 of ‘Czech Settlements in Minnesota and Their Settlers’ 1881 Exclusivehttp://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-installment-3-of-czech-settlements-in-minnesota-and-their-settlers-1881-exclusive.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/ank-article-translations/czech-genealogy-installment-3-of-czech-settlements-in-minnesota-and-their-settlers-1881-exclusive.html#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:39:28 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=4519

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Today we are pleased to bring you installment #3 of our exclusive translation from the 1881 edition of the Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  This magnificent set of journals hold amazing Czech genealogy details, clues, information, biographies, and much more.

Today we continue with the almost unbelievable story of the early Czech immigrants who settled in Minnesota, however they still aren’t there!  Today’s installment features the difficulties these immigrants had as they attempted to find a location for settlement and jobs.  These pioneer Czech immigrants and the difficulties they overcame are a prime example of two things: 1) Why chain migration became popular and 2) why so many Czech immigrants in the ‘new country’ were so welcoming and helpful to those newcomers from the ‘old country’.

We know you will enjoy and be amazed at the story as it continues to unfold today.

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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)

“But they were not passive in this hard situation. After preparing their new home they discussed what they should do and decided to ask the bishop for advice. They did this because one Pole served the bishop and he could interpret for them fairly easily. The day after their arrival at the cemetery they visited the cemetery. The bishop asked them first for their religion. When he recognized they were Roman Catholics he told them to kneel, welcomed them to their new homeland, and blessed them. When they told him about their troubles he sent his servant to find jobs for them.

Dubuque map in USA

They had to cross over the Mississippi River to the State of Illinois, where there was a new town was being established named Town Line and they were building a railroad there. The offer to work on the railroad construction was agreed to by only the four poorest of the Czech families.  They asked for a carriage to move their families and belongings over the Mississippi River.  After they crossed back over the River the coachman went with them from one house to another, but no one wished to allow the immigrants to live together with them. When coachman realized that he could not do anything more, he went with wagon to an empty wooden house, unloaded everything there, and went away. The women started preparing the new dwelling immediately, fully expecting a better future, and the men went to work the next day. But this happy moment was over very soon.

Map showing the Iowa-Illinois border on the Mississippi River.

Map showing the Iowa-Illinois border on the Mississippi River.

Near the house was a large orchard with fresh ripe apples. When the homeowner – a widow with three sons recognized what kind of guests occupied her house she sent her son to learn more about them. The young man went there to see what the situation was and without saying a single word to anyone, he went back. Shortly after he came back with his brothers and started to throw all of the belongings of the immigrants out of the house. When the house was empty again the brothers locked the doors. They also nailed the doors and windows shut with wooden crosses and ordered them never to enter the house nor the garden again.

The next four days the immigrants suffered terribly due to the July heat, rains, and even winds too. They found a small hut with hay in it where they spent nights. But the hay was wet and started to steam, which led to increasing the number of cholera cases. Several of the children died from it and their bodies were moved to the other side of the Mississippi River and buried at Dubuque cemetery, because on the side of the river where they worked had no cemetery.

The Town Council of Dubuque learned about these new troubles of our compatriots, because local ladies who had been out picking berries near the railway had witnessed all the hardships and disasters which befell these poor people. Because of this the Town Council ordered the railway commissary to offer some accommodations for their workers immediately.”

Tomorrow we continue to follow these strong and determined Czech settlers as they forge their future in the United States.

Onward To Our Past®

 

 

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Today Onward To Our Past® is pleased to bring you the second installment of our exclusive English translation of Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníci from the 1881 edition of the Czech-American annual journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  This wonderful article, covering 11 pages in it’s original form tells the amazing story of the early Czech settlers in one area of Minnesota.  It is a story of incredible courage, perseverance, strength, and just plain grit!

You can catch up with Installment #1 by clicking here if you missed it.

We know you will be amazed with today’s installment of the what these settlers experienced.

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)

  1.  “Origin of the Czech Settlement

In 1854 members of seventeen families left Bohemia for America. They did not plan to stay in the eastern states, but went directly to the Mississippi where they planned to stay. They went via railway to Detroit, where they met an Englishman with four cows who was going to his home near Dubuque, Iowa. Eight families accompanied him. The remainder of the group decided to find their new home in Wisconsin.

Rock Island, Illinois 1860s.

Rock Island, Illinois 1860s.

At Rock Island they, the eight families, boarded a ship and went, via the Mississippi River to Dubuque. The Englishman helped the travelling group a lot. He said, via gesticulation to the Czech women, that they could milk his cows for themselves and they were glad for that. Their travelling was very hard; the areas where they stopped on their travels had recently suffered from cholera. Everybody was more or less hit by the disease, especially the children. Although being very weak the Czechs reached Dubuque, but because they did not know the English language they did not know how to get started.

Dubuque in 1872

Dubuque in 1872

They spent the hot July days looking around the harbor, without any idea of what to do. Finally the Englishman helped them again. He left the cows at home, dressed, and went to look for these fellow travelers and to learn how they were doing. When he saw them in their very difficult situation he told them to pack their baggage and to stay in an unfinished house located nearby for rest. The Czechs suffered constantly with cholera. The town had not been hit by the epidemic yet, but the Town Council had to take some steps to protect the health of their citizens so they would not be infected by the immigrants. Local people were going to visit them, bringing them some food and a few gifts. Also several physicians went to see the Czechs.

But two days later, on Sunday, while all the men were at church, a black coachman came with a wagon and started to load all of their belongings into the wagon. The women did not know what it meant so they cried and called for their men who were attending church. When the men came, it was explained that the Town Council had ordered that they all be moved to another place. Therefore they helped to load all their belongings and followed the black coachman to an unknown place. The wagon did not stop until it was well out of the vicinity of town.

He stopped in front of empty house located at a cemetery. There was also another house nearby – the home of the gravedigger. There they had to stay and knowing this they all became very sad and afraid that the cemetery would be their final station. It was very sad to see the poor weak people, ill from the epidemic disease, left there.”

An advertisement from the 1881 edition.

An advertisement from the 1881 edition.

Tomorrow we continue with this truly amazing story of Czech fortitude and desire!

Exclusively here courtesy of Onward To Our Past®

 

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Onward To Our Past® Historical Genealogy Services Company is pleased to present an all new, exclusive English translation from the Czech-American journal Amerikán Národní Kalendář.  Thanks to our partnership with Martin Pytr of Czech Kin we are able to bring this Czech genealogy article to you for your enjoyment and learning.

This article is from Volume IV, Year 1881, and in Czech is titled “Česká Osada v Minnesotě a její Osadníciand translates as ‘Czech Settlements in Minnesota and Their Settlers’.

Written by an early settler, Hynek Breuer, it will take us on quite a trip from Bohemia to Minnesota with several stops in between.  It will give us a detailed view of the lives of early Czech settlers in this area of America as well as their trials, travails, and successes.

We know you will enjoy this and, again, extend our thanks to partner Martin Pytr for his help.

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)

“To readers:

When I was reading several volumes of “Amerikán” calendar, the descriptions and stories of various Czech communities in our United States, as well as of struggles and difficulties the first settlers had to overcome, I decided to try and collect data and stories about the establishing and later flourishing of the large Czech community here. The size of the Czech population in our state is so large here, there are not many states that can compete with our state (Ed: Minnesota).

I would like to dedicate my small work to the Czech public, and it is my wish in each Czech community there would be one man who would do similar work. It would be wonderful if it were to be easy to find where Czechs settled, including their numbers, occupations, and what difficulties it was necessary for them to overcome prior to reaching today’s population levels.

I have lived here for only four years. Therefore I have not yet come to know the larger area where Czechs have settled. As a result my description will be in some parts unfortunately insufficient. I would like to ask all my Czech compatriots to forgive my possible mistakes. I would also like to thank everyone who helped me in my efforts to compile this work. I have decided to divide it into several parts for better understanding.

1881 view of Wheatland Township, Rice County, Minnesota.

1881 view of Wheatland Township, Rice County, Minnesota.

  1. Description of the Czech Settlement

Our Czech settlement covers area of about 800 square miles. It is located between 93-94°W and between 44-45°N. From east to west it makes up about twenty-five miles. From north to south it makes up about thirty-two miles. The settlement covers areas of the Counties of Scott, Le Sueur, and Rice. There are several towns here inhabited mostly by Czechs.   The largest and oldest town of these is Praha (Ed: Now New Prague) located on the borderline of Scott and Le Sueur Counties. The next town is Montgomery. It is located 12 miles south of Praha. Then there is Skolastika, and finally Heidelberg, which is located 5 miles southwest of Praha and situated in Le Sueur County. In Rice county, located six miles to southeast, is situated the town of Veselí. Another town named Jordan, in Scott County is of German origin, but a lot of Czech have settled there, too. The countryside is made up of rolling hills, is heavily forested, and has numerous lakes; but there are only a few of creeks around the Czech settlements. Most of these creeks are ones that become dry in the summer time; only one, named Sand Creek, has more water, runs all year and runs to the north from Praha through Jordan to the Minnesota River.

The soil is excellent here and it is especially good for raising wheat. Surrounding the town of Praha the whole population is Czech. The population of the areas more distant from Praha are Czech slightly mixed with Irishmen, Germans and Frenchmen. Farther to the east is a German settlement. To the south is a French settlement. Czech communities are located to the west and are mixed with Germans. The north is predominately Irish.”

 

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