Onward To Our Past http://onwardtoourpast.com Genealogy Tips, Help, and Fun with a focus on family and history Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:48:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Genealogy Resource Available in New Format: The English translation of Hugo Chotek’s 1895 book is now in pdf.http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-resource-available-in-new-format-the-english-translation-of-hugo-choteks-1895-book-is-now-in-pdf.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-resource-available-in-new-format-the-english-translation-of-hugo-choteks-1895-book-is-now-in-pdf.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:48:05 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3709

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Genealogy Resource Available in New Format: The English translation of Hugo Chotek’s 1895 book is now in pdf.

Hugo Chotek

Hugo Chotek

Our genealogy fans spoke and we at Onward To Our Past® listened!

A few years ago, Onward To Our Past® undertook the work necessary to translate the rare 1895 book written by Czech-American author and newspaperman, Hugo Chotek, Ceska Osada, a jeji Spolkovy Zivot u Cleveland, Ohio, v Severni Americe, (A Bohemian Settlement and Her Social Life in Cleveland, Ohio, North America). Originally written in Czech, this book gives in-depth insights for genealogists and historians into the formative years of Cleveland, Ohio, a detailed look into its early Bohemian immigrant community, and additionally provides more than 2,500 Bohemian immigrant family surnames.

Naturally, we are proud of this translation. As a matter of fact we received so many positive comments that we continued our translation efforts with additional translations from the Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národni Kalendář.

At this point, it is important for us to acknowledge the fact we couldn’t have accomplished our translation efforts without the help of two crucial partners. We offer our thanks first to partner David Kohout, a highly talented and able Czech Republic researcher who provided us with our digital copy of this rare book. The second partner we owe thanks to is Karel Kosman (along with his team of experts) at KENAX Translation Service. Their assistance was invaluable throughout the entire process.

Our professional point of view is this first-ever translation of Chotek’s book as well as the Amerikán Národni Kalendář articles are of significant historic value to genealogists as well as historians. As a result we made the decision to provide all of our English translations free of charge. We want to make certain they are available to everyone to read, learn from, and enjoy.

Hugo Chotek’s original book contains 192 pages and our translation covers roughly 158 pages. Due to its large size we chose to post it in sections on our website.

One of the comments we received more often than any other was whether or not we could provide our translation in its entirety as a pdf.

As we said earlier, our fans spoke so we listened!

As a result Onward To Our Past® is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the Hugo Chotek book, Ceska Osada, a jeji Spolkovy Zivot u Cleveland, Ohio, v Severni Americe, (A Bohemian Settlement and Her Social Life in Cleveland, Ohio, North America) as a pdf.

You can access our new pdf file simply by clicking here. .

Feel free to enjoy this version of our translation, but please be advised it is copyright protected through the United States Copyright Office under registration number TX 7-738-771.

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Genealogy and Tolerance: Happy Bodhi Day!http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-and-tolerance-happy-bodhi-day.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-and-tolerance-happy-bodhi-day.html#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:59:27 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3697

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Genealogy and Tolerance: Happy Bodhi Day!

Yesterday, December 8th, was Bodhi Day. It is an important religious observance for Buddhists the world over. Bodhi Day is the celebration of the day Indian prince Siddhartha sat under a fig tree and achieved awakening and enlightenment and became Buddha. This day also celebrates Siddhartha’s generosity and compassion to all, which my wife says is the reason she gave me this nickname shortly after we became engaged.



For Buddhists this is a day for decorating their homes with pictures or small statues of Buddha under the fig tree. The decorations are most often filled with a variety of colors, which signify the fact there are many ways to attain enlightenment. Often small trees in homes are decorated with lights and candles are lit, which then burn for 30 days. There are also three hanging ornaments representing the Three Jewels of Buddism: Buddha, Dharma, and Shanga.

A holiday such as Bodhi Day always cause me to reflect on the need for those of us who love genealogy and family history to be especially tolerant of all people, beliefs, lifestyles, etc.

For Christians, the Advent season is here and Christmas is fast approaching. Likewise from December 16th to December 24th, those of the Jewish faith will be celebrating Hanukkah. From December 26th to Jan 1st, many African-Americans will celebrate Kwanzaa. For others there will be the Winter Solstice on December 21st.

There may well be differing prayers said at our tables and with some there may be no prayers at all.

Many of us will gather with friends and family at this time of year and as sure as God made little green apples we will find ourselves interacting with folks who have beliefs different than our own.

As genealogists it is a prime time for us each to recall all of our ancestors who may well have thought, believed, or acted differently than we might today. We strive in our work on our family histories to discover ‘the truth’. This means we are the ones who, perhaps more than any other family members, carry the burden of being tolerant of all beliefs and lifestyles when we gather. It is a wonderful time to recall and celebrate the fact that we are each unique individuals and just as I use to tell my children: “There is a reason God made chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream. If we all simply liked vanilla we would live in a very boring world.”

This does not mean you have to ‘accept’ that with which you might disagree, but it DOES mean that you must be tolerant of, and allow others to hold, beliefs different than our own. As a genealogy fan, I am well aware that almost to a person, my Bohemian (Czech) ancestors were Freethinkers. Marrying before Justices of the Peace for generations there was no church for these families, no family Bible, no saying grace, etc. But they still raised strong, loving, well mannered, and empathetic families and I am thankful for that. Different beliefs? In some areas yes, in other areas not at all.

It may not be easy nor may it be in your comfort zone, but as a genealogist I am certain you can rise to the occasion and be the most tolerant one in the room!

Onward To Our Past®

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Genealogy Christmas Time Tip – What a wonderful life being a genealogist at Christmas!http://onwardtoourpast.com/hints-and-tips/genealogy-christmas-time-tip-what-a-wonderful-life-being-a-genealogist-at-christmas.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/hints-and-tips/genealogy-christmas-time-tip-what-a-wonderful-life-being-a-genealogist-at-christmas.html#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 10:51:06 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3692

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Genealogy and Christmas – What a wonderful life!

Today’s Genealogy Christmas Time Tip: As Christmas and other year-end holidays approach … put out your best genealogy items for display along with the lights, candles, and presents.

We could all use a minion or two this time of year!

We could all use a minion or two this time of year!

Now that it is Advent and Christmas is fast approaching along with Hanukkah and the New Year a lot of us will be decorating our homes for the holidays. Lights, decorations, cookies, cakes, etc. always make our homes look their best.

BUT don’t forget to decorate with a piece or two of your very best genealogy items too!

If you are like our family, there will be occasions for folks to be stopping by, visiting, partying, etc. during this busy season and a lot of them will be family.

So here is what I always do. My wife and I put out 2 to 4 of our most prized genealogy pieces from the current year. Perhaps it is a copy of a document. If we are lucky, maybe one is a photo. It could be a new book …. or a new, old book.

Maybe it is a report on a particular branch of the family or a specific ancestor. In my case, I always include the articles I have had published over the past year – even though I am certain everyone reads everything I write on genealogy 

I find that having these items out invites talk about family! These chats then evoke memories, stories, etc. and have a tendency to flow a bit better with a ‘prop’ or two on display to help get it going.

After all …… we genealogists and family historians never want to take a chance on missing a story, memory, lead, tidbit, etc. just because of a little thing like Christmas and the New Year!

Onward To Our Past®

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Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America Accounts of the arrival of the first compatriots and of conditions in Czech settlements. Genealogy Gold!http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/czech-genealogy/memoirs-of-czech-settlers-in-america-accounts-of-the-arrival-of-the-first-compatriots-and-of-conditions-in-czech-settlements-genealogy-gold.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/czech-genealogy/memoirs-of-czech-settlers-in-america-accounts-of-the-arrival-of-the-first-compatriots-and-of-conditions-in-czech-settlements-genealogy-gold.html#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 11:08:17 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3687

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The following is the first ever translation from the original Czech to English of “Memoirs of Czech Settlers In America” from the 1895 Edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

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Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America.

Accounts of the arrival of the first compatriots and of conditions in Czech settlements.

Francis Xaver Sýkora was born in December of 1825 in Nevězice u Orlíka nad Vltavou. His father was a tailor, while little František, having only just completed primary school, where he learnt thoroughly to write and count, was to start learning how to handle thread, needle and tape measure. He, however, did not despise that, and before long took to this art with great enthusiasm and love, some years later distinguishing himself as a garment cutter of great skill and renown. Paying no heed to the stormy climate of 1848, he entered the serene haven of marriage, living but for his young wife and vocation. Early in 1850, however, very tempting letters from America started cropping up around him, moving the hearts of the young married couple to emigrate. This was in 1853. Accompanied by two children, they embarked onto the deck of a sailing boat, nourishing hopes for a better future in their hearts. There were 400 or so emigrants on board, yet only one other among them a Czech – young Prošek. It was one of the speediest and most elaborate boats of the company, for which reason, in spite of a storm dreadful and near-perpetual, they landed at the shores of America within a mere 31 days, other ships at the time (as we later learned) taking up to 99 days.
Words cannot describe the bliss they felt once they set foot on firm ground again, despite the fact they were poor in material resources, even though they left home with abundant finances. The problem being that expatriates were dreadfully overcharged in port cities, many a well-known carriage agent growing rich on the toil of the poor immigrants. Once in America, the unsuspecting victims were completely powerless without means of redress from their perpetrator, seeing they lacked the financial means to do so, while ignorant of where to address their grievance. At the time, today’s honest and influential Czech magazines had not yet formed, nor the speedy communication across the pond. Leaving little recourse for the victims but to remain quiet and swallow the losses. At the time, one would consider themselves lucky to free themselves from the hands of carriage agents and hoteliers with at least their luggage. Many had lost all their belonging to these scoundrels, such as their duvets and clothing, and were often forced to write out a promissory note, which they then had to repay later. An entire novel could be written on this subject alone (as could be told by his wife). Immediately upon his arrival to Cleveland, František accepted the job of a garment cutter in one of the largest clothes manufacturing company in town (Wagemann’s), for a salary of $1,200 per year and complimentary housing. Those were good times, especially for good tailors, where anyone could earn and save up a handsome sum within a single year. František worked at the company for a long time, later starting a business of his own, where he continued for 10 years, switching to property trading after that, which he ran successfully until 1887.
However, at the start of that year, his health waned and he died at the age of 62. Out of eight children from their happy marriage, only four survived him – a daughter and four boys. One was František P. Sýkora, who, having read law in Cleveland, practiced law starting in 1873 and relocating to Edgewood, Wyoming 20 years later. Another was Josef Sýkora, born in Cleveland in 1853 and who began his studies in medicine in 1869, graduating as a physician in 1869 and commencing full practice by 1876. In the same year he was named a district physician, an office he proudly held for three and a half years.
At present, Dr. Josef Sýkora is one of the most popular Czech physicians in Cleveland, as much loved for his noble-mindedness, good heart and helpfulness as he is respected and esteemed for his knowledge and learnedness in medical matters. Many a poor family blesses him and wishes him the best for his many good deeds during his medical career. Karel, the second son, was born in 1867 and studied medicine also. The daughter, Alžběta, married J. F. Trojan, one of the most prominent clothes trader on Broadway. Sýkora’s kinsfolk are numerous and include the best and most patriotic of Cleveland families, such as Spurný, Kužla, and others.
Francis Xaver Sýkora was very active patriotically. He was a good and well-behaved descendant of his native country, striving to nurture the same devotion, fervor and love for it among his children as he held with his beloved.
Old Mrs. Sýkorová, a faithful partner of his, now spends the final days of her life in the family of her beloved son, Dr. Josef Sýkora, in peace and happiness, loved and pampered by her children and grandchildren.

Josef Kříž was born in 1820, in Lhota Smetanová, Písek District. He was the only son of Josef Kříž, a cooper/barrel maker. He was trained as a cooper in the house of his father, marrying in 1850. His marriage blessed him with one child, who, unfortunately, passed away shortly. In 1853 he too was swept away by the expatriate rush and, with his wife, sailed across to America – directly to Cleveland, where he immediately found work, well salaried at the time, in one of the barrel making workshops. There he labored for many years, and being thrifty, managed to secure his own abode in only a few years.
Over the course of time his family increased by six members – two boys and 4 girls, one of whom died. His son Vilém moved to New York, while Jan became a cigar maker. His daughter Marie married Mr. František Prayer in 1870, and Mathilda got engaged to an American, Cully, in 1886. Lastly, Barbora became the wife of Mr. Antonín Jílek.
Josef Kříž was very active in societies, and was one of frontmost founding members of the St. John Society, the first catholic society in Cleveland.
He lost his first spouse in 1866. A year later he married a second time, another happy marriage in which he lived with his wife until 1891, when she, too, passed away. Now an elderly gentleman, at the age of 73, Josef is still of active mind, telling stories of his tales in America with such enthusiasm that he always draws a crowd. He lives happily in the midst of his many and loving offspring in a quaint little house on Warren Street.

Martin Krejčí. One of foremost and outstanding of figures, selflessly contributing to the national life of the emerging Czech emigration, was certainly Martin Krejčí. Perhaps there is not a single Czech in Cleveland who did not know him, either in person or by name, and all the older settlers greatly respect him for the selfless work he carried out over the years for the advancement of our native culture.
Martin Krejčí’s name is closely tied to Czech history in Cleveland, as there was not a single enterprise, national or noble-minded, since the 60s in which Krejčí had not played an active part. For he was a spring that animated our cultural heritage, giving it proper direction and tirelessly campaigning to make the social life of the small cluster of Cleveland’s Czechs alluring and pleasant. For which reason many will surely welcome a brief biography of him as well.
Martin Krejčí was born in 1829 in the village of Mahoušt u Netolle, where his parents owned a large farm. Upon completing preparatory school he fully dedicated himself to the farmstead, and, being relatively young, he became engaged to Rosalie Davidova of Malý Záblatec. Shortly after that, very tempting letters began pouring in from America, after which the jaunty and enterprising young man mustered the resolve to try his luck in the new, promised land.
In 1841 [barely legible] he realized his new dream, cashing in all his material wealth and departing to America on a sailing ship. But had he known the trouble he was to endure and the dangers he and his family would be exposed to, surely he would have not found the resolve to relocate into such a faraway land.
The voyage lasted a full 90 [barely legible] days, the family enduring countless woe and misfortune along the way. The sailing vessel was tightly crammed with more than 1400 emigrants, most of them the poorest of Ireland. The fare was exorbitant, while anyone found complaining was promptly beaten. A fierce, 43 day storm tossed the boat like a floating seashell, the passengers fearing to step out on deck lest they be cast away by the mighty ocean waves. Every day they confronted gigantic icebergs, circumventing them proving a real art. Eventually the tempest subsided, all became quiet and the passengers rejoiced. But the calm was brief, as a fire broke out in the kitchen four days later—a good fortune it had been sighted as a collective effort prevented it from sinking the entire boat.
The extent of the trials and tribulations of emigrants back then are difficult to put into words, and neither is the moment of ecstasy felt when seeing the sight of the promised land for the first time. Ecstacy permeating the being, as the distraught ship fairers cast their gaze on their new homeland, where they hoped to build a new and happy future for themselves and their descendants.
They arrived to Cleveland on the 7th of April, 1854, 13 Czech families among them, the most prominent of them Štědronský, Hlavlíček, Vltoň, Mácha, Kocian, Fuerst, Vrána and Drábek. What are now the lively and commercial streets of Croton, Woodland Ave., Broadway and surrounding areas was, at the time, uninterrupted woodland with newly cut streets, barely visible.
Upon accumulating sufficient funds, Krejčí founded the first Czech shop in this very young settlement, eventually becoming a center for all Czech expatriates.
Czech emigration continued during the sixties and no sooner had the small settlement surpassed 200 families when outstanding more inspired individuals began to contemplate the creation of Czech cultural associations. It is through the work of Martin Krejčí and others that the foundations of Slovanská Lípa were laid, followed later by Pokrok Magazine, of which the editor was, as is well known, B. F. Zdrůbek, now the editor of Svornost.
Martin Krejčí, therefore, contributed greatly to the development of Czech cultural life in Cleveland, his influence broadly felt still today.
But sadly, his family life experienced less favor, Krejčí suffering many a cruel wound. From his first, otherwise happy marriage, only one child out of eight survived—a daughter and still unmarried. His second marriage was more successful, both blessed and happy, comprising of seven children aged between 1 and 18, content and with good prospects.
His business life had its ups and downs, as is usually expected, but presently flourishes with an outstanding reputation, even outside the bounds of Cleveland.
This writer wishes him further success and the fulfillment of all his desires and aspirations.

František Sprostý was born in Hrejkovice, district of Milevsko, on 9 January 1820. He was trained in the tailors’ trade in Týn nad Vltavou [not very legible], and having married Anna Cukr in Milevsko, he exercised this skill there until 1866. As his 4 sons were maturing, he sent the eldest to America, lest he be conscripted into the army; but he too set out with his family to cross the big pond during the winter of 1866. The voyage from Bremen to New York on the sailing ship Atlanta was stormy and lasted 53 days, longer than the onboard food store was able to furnish. The food quality was already a problem and many Czech families were on board.
Upon his arrival to Cleveland, where he was expected by his brother-in-law Josef Doubrava, he was forced to take day labor, since only women were accepted into tailoring positions. As someone trained in tailoring garments for women, it was little wonder that day laboring did not suit Mr. Sprostý. Later he set up a small grocery and butcher shop, which he successfully operated until 1885 [not very legible].
At the time, Czech cultural life was only pursued among Cleveland Czechs at family parties, as Czech public houses existed not. As late as 1891, Mr. Sprostý still travelled to Prague to visit the Exhibition , but on 9 October 1893 he parted forever with his family and his numerous friends. His wife, four sons, and a daughter were left behind in good financial standing. One of his sons, Josef Sprostý, is now a renowned detective in Cleveland.

František Payer. Few Cleveland Czechs went through as many life changes and rapid swings between happiness and misfortune as did František Payer. His biography is as interesting as are commendable his activities in public and societal life.
František Payer was born in 1842 in Čimelice, in Březnice County, Písek Region. Having trained to be a maltster , he was conscripted to join the 2nd Dragoon Bohemian Regiment in 1863 (Windisch-Graetz’s) , and took part in wars against Denmark in 1864 and against Prussia in 1866, earning a medal. On the battlefield he was promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officer. In the first year he was sent to the Regimental School in Stará Boleslav, and then awarded the title of field secretary colonel and body guard of Colonel Count of Windisch-Graetz.
At the same time he attended the Regimental School in Meidling [not very legible], where he was awarded a prize for riding, and promised the position of Squadron Lieutenant as soon one became available. Until then, however, he was detailed to assist the First Squadron Lieutenant, and was given the responsibility to teach fencing with sabre to non-commissioned officers, and the German language and fencing to cadets and budding, non-commissioned officers. In 1866 he was wounded in combat and believed to be dead. František Cerha celebrated mass for him on the battlefield, while another one was celebrated in his hometown.
Mr. Payer explains this only because the regiment comprised of Czechs from all regions, and given the above description, his fellow ex-servicemen might be able to recall their ex-service comrade, both in the time of peace and in the turmoil of war.
In 1868 his parents demanded his release from military service with the intention of surrendering to him the family firm and hotel business. At that time younger brother Emanuel was to attend conscription, but his parents, in order to safeguard him from the hardship of war and the misery of military life, sent him to America, František following his footsteps in the same year. In 1870 he married the eldest daughter of Josef Kříž, who had emigrated to America in 1853. This marriage spawned 10 children, although five of them have since then passed away. The oldest, František Harry, [not very legible] successfully graduated from high school last year, and now attends university (Adalbert College) studying classical languages. His daughter Mamie is currently studying university, 16-year-old [not very legible] Kattie is in the second year of a higher vocational school, and Millie and Blanche are currently in elementary school. All his children are fluent in Czech—both spoken and written—and are ardently devoted to mother Czechia, for at an early age their parents instilled love for the homeland in their tender hearts, introducing them to the history of our illustrious ancestors.
In his business life, František underwent many changes and suffered many bitter experiences. Between 1869 and 1872 he worked for several breweries. In 1873, however, he and his associate, Leising, built their own, independent brewery, which produced good quality and sought-after beer. Later though Leising pulled out and was replaced by Mr. Jan Tlapa. That year turned out to be a very bad year for the brewing industry, there being no ice as a consequence of a disappointingly warm winter (ice-making machines did not exist back then), its price climbing to $25 [not very legible] per ton. Malt was $ [not legible] per bushel , the cost of hops proportional. This all inflated costs dramatically, while money was in short supply. Eventually they were forced to abandon their aspiration, František opening an independent grocery & butcher store instead, which he runs diligently to this day, supported in full by his faithful wife.

Josef Václav Sýkora was born on 21 March 1840 in Nevězice, Mirov District. In 1852 his parents moved to Písek, where he completed elementary school (Germanized at that time) and then gymnasium . But rather than starting university studies in Prague, he found the resolve to go to America instead, a wish of his brother who had settled in Cleveland as of 1853.
At the time of his arrival to Cleveland in 1863, only about 100 Czech families were settled there. The first employment he found on American soil was in a bookbinder’s shop, and then in a variety goods store until 1869. After leaving the store he studied law with Mr. Kerrnish, a lawyer, and at Ohio State and Union Law College. He became a Czech notary public in 1869, passing legal examination in 1891. He was the first Czech notary public and lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1866 he married his current wife, Miss Fiřstová [not very legible] from Mirovice. This wedlock was fruitful, producing 9 children altogether, most of whom are still alive today, the two eldest already married.

Josef Petr of Dubina. Perhaps every Czech migrating to this country from the old fatherland have the same thousand thoughts whirling in their heads. How will I fair abroad? What circumstances await me? Will I drop to the ground in hardship and misery, or will I become successful, possibly wealthy? Even at present, when migrating here has become so much easier, grim thoughts still beset the emigrants. How much worse it must have been back then, when the only means was almost exclusively by sailing ships.
In July of 1856, 16 Moravian families set out for the new frontier, crossing the wide seas on board a small German sailing boat, as full of fear as hopes. All those families departed Frenštát and surrounding areas prepared to face both adversity and misfortune, confronting these while still onboard. The voyage was challenging indeed, many of them convinced they would not reach shore alive. Their misery endured for 13 weeks before they finally glimpsed the shores of their new homeland.
During this hard voyage, 11 passed away to become fodder for the sea. And as each calamity made its way through the boat , the remainder asked themselves: “When, oh when shall I myself feed the sea creatures in this way?”
A quarter year later, they had finally reached the sunny shores of the south as the ship landed in Galveston. Only to board another ship, this time steam-powered, escorting them to Houston, their destination being Catspring, a town where several of our countrymen had already settled. There were no railways in Texas at the time, and other then on waterways, all transport was by ox-drawn wagon. One can only imagine how long the journey must have been.
And indeed it was by ox-drawn wagons that the above entourage of Bohemian and Moravian emigrants arrived in Catspring, roughly in mid-November of 1856.
I do not, however, intend to delve into the destinies of all of them, but stay with but one of them, Josef Petr, a boy of 11 years at the time. His father, also called Josef, had boarded the ship with his two sons and three daughters. During the journey, however, his youngest daughter was one of the unfortunate to surrender to the dark vastness of the ocean. Upon overcoming all the obstacles, they reached their destination, Petr and his family standing on shore among the other impoverished immigrants, clueless and helpless as to what next. The lamentations of poverty and miserable conditions of some of their compatriots settled in Catspring so drown the newcomers’ morale that they were thrown into near despair. Old Reimershofer, however, inspired courage by claiming that whoever is willing to work shall never die of hunger. He suggested they move on to La Grange, where some or another opportunity would present itself.
And so, having rested for several weeks, the group of Bohemian and Moravian emigrants left Catpring in search of better pasture in La Grange. Once there they were offered land for purchase at a good price next to a stream called Navidad, and indeed most of them ended up staying.
Eventually, the Petrs, too, finally stood on land they could call their own, although it was populated by none other than mighty trees, initiating their struggle against the wilderness for mere existence. To build a shelter, cultivate land, secure livelihood and familiarize themselves with the new country and its inhabitants – that was the lot of the large Petr family in their new homeland. Each and every family member had to start working and helping their parents as soon as they learned to walk. The 11-year-old Josef was, of course, no exception, and in the stead of enriching his spirit with knowledge at school, he had to drudge his young body until exhaustion. Back then, schools were few and far between and, moreover, one had to pay for tuition. Josef Petr had no other choice than to expend his youth in perpetual, grueling work.
The year was 1861 and Texas, too, plunged into the turmoil of war. “For freedom and independence of states”, as it was phrased at the time, everyone fit for service was forced to enter combat ranks. Being an adult, Jan, the eldest of Petr’s sons, was forcibly enlisted into the Confederation. Regardless of one’s political views, every man fit for battle had no choice but to risk his life for the privilege of the slaveholders.
Josef Petr was only 16 [not very legible] years old, and as such was not conscripted, but he had to follow the army with a wagon, delivering food, or transport government cotton to Mexico. During those troubled times no one’s life was safe at home, let alone in the vast plains along the Mexican border. Young Petr was held up by robbers several times, although they never hurt him, as he resisted them not. So inhospitable are those steppes that merely travelling through them represents unbearable suffering. There are stretches with no water for miles, and stretches with no green in sight but only desert sand as far as the eye can see. Josef was fortunate to survive these struggles and the civil war, although his older brother, among others, had less fortune and failed to survive.
After the Civil War, the people of the south were exhausted and impoverished. The Petr family had lost not only some of its property but also its eldest son. Josef, the younger son, went to train as a blacksmith, knowing that knowledge of a trade would make life easier. He earned a living as a blacksmith for several years, but eventually took over his father’s farm, when fortune finally cast a glowing smile on him. Working tirelessly both in the fields and in the blacksmith’s workshop, he started buying neighboring plots of land and is now the owner of 1,200 acres, nearly 2 square miles in extension.
A traveler on the trail named Snu Sett [not very legible] leading from Houston to San Antonio will arrive at the tiny town of Weimar, Colorado, about half way. About 3 miles north from this town he will reach a deep forest, on the edge of which there lies a small church, school, several houses, and extensive commercial spaces with several annexes.
The name of this town is Dubina, the owner of the extensive building Josef Petr. It was he who gave the place the Czech name Dubina, for he was appointed the first postmaster and on such occasions the new post office must be given a name. Petr’s store always stocks beer and sundry groceries, and in the woodland behind the building guests often frolic on the dance floor to the tune of jolly music. Josef Petr was elected a representative in the State Legislature, which is a sterling example of the popularity he enjoys among the citizenship of Fayette County.
Now then, let us contrast Josef Petr’s woeful arrival to the country, his hardships and struggles, with his present position. He is now the owner of extensive properties, providing livelihood for up to 20 Czech families, who live thereon as tenants and laborers. He owns a nice store, earning him a handsome profit. He has held honorary offices, establishing himself in the finest social circles. In spite of all his successes, however, Josef has not retired from working life—an assiduous one at that. You will either find him by his anvil, pounding molten metal, working in the field, or serving customers in his store.
His children are encouraged to work, help with domestic chores and labor in the field. In times of weeding and picking cotton, Petr’s children can be found working diligently among other hired laborers. Albeit an owner of assets worth at least 30,000, his family and himself may still be found to work as hard as the poorest of farmers.
These ethics elevated him to his present status, work remaining a defining factor of his life to this day. Even though his children receive a good education and their future is well taken care of, Josef still leads them to hard and persistent work. I have seen many who, having come to riches through all sorts of fluke of fortune, would look down at work and encourage their children to be idle. But not Josef Petr. He is well aware that it was through hard work that he earned his present fortunes, and so he remains faithful to it, his family and himself working assiduously. An affluent farmer, a successful trader, a state legislature representative –Josef Petr of Dubina, or ‘father’ as locals far and wide call him, still remains a hardworking man. Each and every industrious and thrifty immigrant is capable of finding the same success he did, no matter how grueling the beginnings may appear.
Written by [not very legible] for the almanac Amerikán

Josef Sháněl was born in 1822 in Čičeníce, Plzeň Region, Bohemia. “Before having even considered the journey to America, I had already seen a large portion of the world,” writes our old compatriot, “as I travelled through most of Austria and parts of Italy. I lived in Vienna a few years before I was offered a job at Hluboká Castle, where, during my three-year tenure, I married. In 1854 we went to America. Our journey led through Canada and Quebec to St. Louis: I settled there and contributed to the Czech national project during all of the 11 years I domiciled there. We struggled against all obstacles and endured persecution until we founded Missouri No. 2 Č.S.P.S. (Czech-Slovak Protective Society).
“I also played my part in the Civil War, having served 9 months in the 2nd Regiment in the C Heavy Artillery Company , up until I suffered injury.
“In 1865 [not very legible] I moved to Black Earth, Wisconsin, my current abode. I carry out my trade and I own a warehouse that stocks home furniture, coffins, and all manner of related articles. I recall the days of old, when a carpenter in St. Louis could earn between 50 and 75 [not very legible] cents per day while paying dear for bread and butter, clothing and footwear. If I look at my present circumstances in the context of my whole life’s trajectory, not dense with adventure but through which I suffered deep austerity and sorrow, I’d say I am happy. I am now 72 [not very legible] years old, we’ve brought up 6 [not very legible] lovely children, all of whom are independent and provided for. Our family has subsided to only the three of us—my wife, our youngest son and myself—with whom I run the business. We have a nice home with a garden, a separate commercial store, we are in good health, and looking forward to the golden jubilee of our marriage. God willing we shall live to see that too.”

Jan Albrecht from Kewaunee County, Wisconsin (as conveyed by J. V. Luňák [not very legible]). Not all emigrants from Czechia can, in their declining years, gaze into their colorful past and behold a long series of diverse adventures changing along an eventful path like images in a kaleidoscope. And all for the better, as most such adventurers often drowned in the mud and sludge that this country is, due in part to the great diversity of immigrants, and in part because it served for many a year as a sort of dumping ground for outcasts of European society.
We do, however, have many compatriots who we are greatly proud of, not for their brave deeds but for the fruits of their diligent labor and exemplary honesty. Czechs have earned themselves a good reputation among the many nations immigrating to this country. Many of them were pioneers in the woodlands of Wisconsin and Minnesota, others yet pioneers in the vast plains and prairies of the West. Let forever be remembered these men who, having started with only humble means, or oftentimes outright with their bare hands alone, converted deserts to lands fertile with milk and honey.
Jan Albrecht is one such compatriot, settled as a farmer in West Kewaunee near Kewaunee City, Wisconsin. Although he was not renowned for an ostentatious life filled with grand deeds worthy of great mention, he did distinguish himself by his honesty, industriousness, sense of judgment and other civic virtues. He celebrated his 81st birthday on 14 September 1894, having been born on the same day of 1893 in Roztoky, Jilemnice District, Jičín Region in Czechia. This land lies at the feet of the Krkonoše Mountains, so splendidly portrayed in the writings of Karolína Světlá , where people, full of fairy tales, have warm hearts and bright and keen minds. Jilemnice is no further than three quarters of an hour from Roztoky.
His father was a cottager, or [not legible], as it is called in other regions, and Jan was his only son. Under ancient law he inherited the cottage, living in it for many a year. Just before 1960 a major migration began by the inhabitants surrounding Jilemnice to the promised land of America. Their motive was to improve their livelihood and a longing for greater liberty and freedom, [one line illegible, p. 220 bottom left], in the hands of bureaucracy and conservatism. Jan Albrecht shared these passions, but also had motives of his own. One of them stemmed from the esteem he was enjoying in the village of Roztoky. They insisted and kept pestering him to accept the honorary office of chief counselor, which he avoided out of concern for the need to travel to the regional capital frequently, incurring substantial expenses and requiring a great deal of time. It happened to many a mayor in search of honors that they lost all as a result of their tenure: property, well-being of their family, and often honor too.
His second motive for emigration was that it befell upon his eldest son František to present himself for enlistment. As a young, strong man, he would not have escaped the call of duty. It took Albrecht three years to settle his mind on the departure to America – the same length of time it took him to ready his passport. When the summons to attend conscription first arrived, he was not quite decided to emigrate, as it is difficult to bid adieu to the family hearth—where we are born and spend our youth, where we discover our first loves and many a sorrow too (for none can escape those in one’s lifetime). To say farewell to one’s homeland is not an easy matter either. But many had warned him that, considering his son’s name began with the letter A, he will be one of the first to be called to arms. And so he journeyed to Jilemnice to consult the matter with the regional commissioner, and acquaintance, Mr. von [surname illegible; pan would prob. be eq. to Sir?], who advised him that the only way for his son to avoid conscription was to emigrate to America. This meeting precipitated his decision.
Relatives from his mother’s side opposed the idea, but since there was positive news from those who had already emigrated, although not long before, this obstacle too was overcome. The letters were namely from Old Kotyk [Starý Kotyk], whose family now resides in Cooperstown, Manitowoc, from Havel in Two Rivers, the Paul family, Jarolím Wodsedálek and František Svatý in [illegible], who also lived in Two Rivers.
The cottage was promptly sold and 26 October 1860 the date they left for Bremen . They spent time in an immigrants’ inn waiting several days for their sailing ship to depart. Every evening, Mr. Kareš, an immigration broker, paid them a visit, accompanied by a young man of about twenty years of age. One day, when they were in Mr. Kareš’s office, two policemen came and discussed matters with him in the German language. They were later informed that the police were looking for the young man who used to visit them at the inn. [Portion of text left out because not clear enough] “How could I do that unto him? After all, we sleep in the same bed!” added Mr. Kareš. “Apparently, he was seditioning all the Slavs!” [Source not very clear; perhaps: “for inciting riots amongst all the slavs there.] And indeed, Mr. Kareš did not detain the young man, who turned out to be none other than Karel Jonáš, now the Consul General in Saint Petersburg. On the family’s [Source switches to “our” all of a sudden] departure from Bremen, while seated in boats on the way to the sailing ship, Mr. Jonáš suddenly appeared sitting next to Mr. Albrecht, who asked him whether he was also on the way to America. Mr. Jonáš answered that he was not going to America but to England. Inevitably, at the time, Mr. Albrecht had no idea that this young chap was to become the second highest figure of Wisconsin, honorably elected the state’s vice-governor.
On the 2nd of November they boarded the sailing ship, shortly after the New Year. Aboard the same ship was Mr. Josef Brádl, who died one year later in Two Rivers, František Dolenský, who still lives in Kewaunee, enjoying both robust health and copious prosperity, and František Svatý’s sister with a child. In total, 18 Czechs were on board.
They landed in Baltimore precisely on New Year’s Day, disembarking on the same day, following a voyage lasting [illegible] days. Immediately upon landing in Baltimore they boarded a train to Cincinnati, where a German innkeeper accommodated them. This prankster of an innkeeper lured them into missing their train, in hopes of forcing them to spend much more with him, but failed. By 6am they were already walking to the railway station, guided only by telegraph poles, arriving in the nick of time to the sound of the train’s whistle, after walking three miles with heavy load.
Their friend, Svatý, who lived in Two Rivers, surmised they might soon arrive to Milwaukee, so he set out on the 100-mile journey on foot. He reached Milwaukee’s train station at the very instant the train was arriving. Albrecht’s wife caught sight of him first and called out: “Svatý is here!” No one can imagine the joy they felt upon seeing their beloved friend.
They immediately headed to a pub of which Svatý knew the landlord. He immediately started negotiating with him how much it would cost to take them to Two Rivers, asking $50 for all 18 persons. Svatý deemed that too expensive so they shopped around, obtaining two other quotes of $70 and $75, only to return to their first offer and head out the next day. The journey took 3 days by wagon. Svatý leading on foot and always negotiating for bed, dinner, and breakfast for no more than 18¢ a head. Mr. Svatý owned a house in Two Rivers where the Albrechts resided for three months. Their first purchase was two cows, in order to supply milk for the entire family.
Later, Albrecht bought the farm, now owned by his son Frank and located in West Kewaunee, extending over an 80 acre area. They paid $400 in cash for it, no more than a clearing in a forest with a small log cabin at the time. The cabin was spacious and made solely out of logs. Not long afterwards, František Hrbek came for a visit, proclaiming: “From the outside your cabin looks hideous, but inside it is very tidy and organized.” And such are Czech housewives – everything always tidy to the button.
To America Albrecht brought his 20-year-old son Frank, 16-year-old daughter Anna, 12-year-old daughter Františka, and 10-year-old son Josef, as well as [illegible amount] in gold. They began to cut down forest and peel bark to obtain tan, and make shingles for their own use, railway sleepers and fence posts. In the same year they planted 10 bushels of potatoes. The work in the forest was hard, excruciating in fact, but with high spirits, all hurdles were overcome. They tidied up the land to obtain more arable space. Oh how quickly did time pass!
One day Albrecht was felling a mighty pine tree, but while running to avoid being hit as it was going down, he stumbled and fell, the forest giant landing just next to his arm, all but killing him. On another day, as a great ash tree was being felled, one of its branches hit his shoulder—a very hard blow! Not used to such hard work back home, these accidents were understandable.
After some eight years he handed the farm over to his son Frank, who had married by then, and bought 80 acres of old growth forest for $600, which he later passed on to his son Josef, who had also married. Since 1874 he has enjoyed his retirement and helped out as long as he was physically able.
The daughter Anna is now married to Mr. Wais in northern Wisconsin; the other daughter, Františka, married Jan Šára, this couple now residing in the Republic District, Kansas. After that, Albrecht bought a piece of land of 80 acres in the town of Montpelier, Kewaunee County, which was then passed on to his son Jan’s daughter, Anna, who later wedded Josef Bažant. They too later moved to Kansas. There were altogether seven children born from J. Albrecht’s wedlock, five of whom are still with us. Grandpa Albrecht has, in all, 36 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren (it is impossible to say whether any more arrived since then). He has lived with his wife for 58 years, during which time they have not suffered a single disagreement.
The worst disaster met him in 1876 after he had come back from a 5 week stay in Kansas, where he was visiting his children. When he returned, his neighbor, on the opposite side, Mr. Wais, was building a house. At that time, Mr. Abrecht found remarkably lustrous stone. And so he climbed up the scaffolding in order to both show Wais the stone, and to help him put in place some timber, but the scaffolding slipped and caused Albrecht to lose his balance—he fell down and dislocated his arm at the shoulder. His fall was a lucky one, as he landed next to a heap of stones and other building materials—should he have landed on top of that, the consequences would have been dire.
Twice he visited his children and grandchildren in Kansas. Once he had the misadventure of having been carried by rail 100 miles further than his actual destination. He was heading to Narka, Kansas, with his wife, no one informing them that they had reached their destination, so they remained seated while the train kept marching forward. They stopped later and the conductor encouraged them to get off. It was grueling work. As a result of the long journey and the lack of sleep, grandpa fell ill and was not able to move. Once he disembarked at the railway station, they thought they might watch him pass away right then and there, and were not able to communicate with him at all. Later, a young Czech arrived and who was heading to somewhere in Nebraska in order to claim homestead. Grandpa needed some refreshment for strength, which was provided to him by the traveling Czech in the form of some spirits he was carrying to Nebraska. Later that evening they set out back by rail and arrived at Howell, transferring later to Voj. Kasl [not legible] and to his friends the next day.
When back in Czechia, whenever he went to church, he was always the last to arrive and the first to leave, the sole purpose of his attendance social only, since many neighbors gathered in the pub on such days, granting an opportunity to meet those who lived further afield. But once in America, he renounced all the rites of church for good and brought up his children as free-thinkers, almost all his sons and sons-in-law now belonging to freethinkers’ associations, mostly to Č.S.P.S. (Czech-Slovak Protective Society). He subscribed to the freethinkers’ magazine Pokrok , and later other freethinkers’ magazines.
Considering his advanced age, he is still quite brave and has been reading with glasses since his arrival to America 33 years ago. His wife is also still with us, the two spending their well-deserved retirement together, enjoying their flourishing children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Should he stay with us a few years more, as I sincerely hope, he may yet live to see great-great-grandchildren, as the oldest great-granddaughter is now 14 of age.
I recounted the course of Grandpa Albrecht’s life, as he told it to me himself, him making it known to me that he would not have divulged himself if it were anyone else. Grandpa Albrecht reminds one of Petr Dubský, the character of J. L. Stroupežnický’s play “Naši furianti” [Our Swaggerers – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na%C5%A1i_furianti]. He is just as kind, direct and honest as Dubský. The lives of these old-timers, who spent their lives first and foremost for their families and the places where they settled and lived, should be taken as a lesson for us all. Surely every county inhabited by Czechs has such old Grandpas, and surely a collection of their biographies would greatly enrich Prague’s National Exhibition.

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The following is the first ever translation from the original Czech to English of the Table of Contents for the 1895 Edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

National Almanac
Volume XVIII

Featuring many pictures of both serious and jocular content.

Edited by Josef Jiří Král

Printed and published by Aug. Geringer, 150 W. 12th Street


The Contents of this Almanac.

First Title Illustration: The Hall of “Sokol Slavic Linden Tree” (Design)

Second Title Illustration: Officers of Main National Leadership of the Bohemian-Slavonic Fraternal Benevolent Union (Editor’s Note: Also found as Bohemian-Slavonic Fraternal Benefit Society/Association)

Annual Calendar –Signs and Numbers Attached to this Year – Moveable Feasts – Four Seasons – Overview of 1893 – Dates of Lent – Eclipses of Sun and Moon

Tables of Saint Calendars with Roman Catholic and Protestant Names, as well as Empty Boxes for Noting Household Incomings and Outgoings, Sky Phenomena, Jewish Calendar, Adages

List of Names

Postal Service Rates

Interest Rate Calculation Tables

Illustration from The Bartered Bride, an opera by Bedřich Smetana. “Our Faithfull Love…” (Editor’s Note: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bartered_Bride)

She Has Found a Husband. A drama taken from Czech Life in Chicago. Written by Pavel Albieri for the Almanac “An American”, based on a true story. (With 4 illustrations.)

Spring of Spring. A poem by J. S. Machar

Winter Idyll. With an illustration.

The Wandering Jew of Our Day and His First Love. A picture from turbulent times. Written by Hugo Chotek.

French Humor

History and Man. A poem.

Jiřinka. An original for the An American almanac. Told by Věnceslava Lužická.

Another Spring. A poem by Eliška Krásnohorská.

Illustration from The Bartered Bride, an opera by Bedřich Smetana. “Make up your Mind, Mary…”

Confluence. An original for the An American almanac. Based on a true story and narrated by M. Mašek. (With 6 illustrations.)

Harald and Ringvalla. O poem by A. E. Odyniec, translated by Jan Nečas.

Two Women. Written for the An American almanac, by K. R.

A Women Harrowed by the Times. Written by V. Lužická

Thread. A cultural snapshot by V. Lužická

The Life of Artists

Glimpse of Truth. A poem.

August Volenský. With an image.

Vojta Náprstek. With an image.

Strike in Pullman’s Mills

Laws on Divorce and Marriage.

National Hall in Allegheny City, Pa. With an image.

Proud Girl. A poem by Eliška Krásnohorská.

The American Justice System

Pastoral Idyll. With an image.

Note Book of the Honorable St. Allen

Weather. A poem.

Householder’s New Year. With an image.

For Moments of Gloom. With an image.

Biographical Memoirs to Go with our Portraits

Memoirs of First Czechs in Cleveland, Ohio

Memoirs of Czech Settlers in America

The Hall of “Sokol Slavic Linden Tree” (Goes with First Title Illustration)

Officers of Main National Leadership of Bohemian-Slavonic Fraternal Benevolent Union (Goes with Second Title Illustration)

For Household and Farm

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Amerikán Národní Kalendář: A Unique and Wonderful Czech Genealogy Resource

The 1939 cover.

The 1939 cover.

Some things in Bohemian (Czech) genealogy simply shouldn’t be ignored and a significant one of them is the Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

Onward To Our Past® genealogy services is proud to announce the immediate online availability of the first ever English translation of two portions of this historic Czech-American journal found in the 1895 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář. These two translated sections should be very helpful, and of significant interest, to all of us with Bohemian (Czech) ancestry.

What is Amerikán Národní Kalendář?

For eighty years, from 1878 to 1958 (although some report it ended in 1957) August Geringer (1842-1930) of Chicago, Illinois published an annual journal by the name of Amerikán Národní Kalendář. This journal, always published in Czech, was highly regarded and widely distributed throughout the Bohemian-American community across the United States and abroad. Each edition of this journal contained items useful for keeping a calendar, prose, poetry, biographies, and autobiographies of Bohemians from around the United States. The title page proclaimed “Featuring many pictures and both serious and jocular content.”

August Geringer, a Bohemian immigrant to Chicago, established the printing company August Geringer a Synů (translated as August Geringer and Son) and proceeded to publish the first Bohemian daily newspaper in the United States, titled Svornost translated as ‘Concord’. Thankfully Geringer also published the Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

Most frequently editions contained well over 300 pages and each was filled with a broad array of material that Czech genealogy aficionados will appreciate. There are some excellent period drawings, images of many of the individuals featured, Czech-American fiction, horoscopes, biographies, humor, poetry, and naturally some advertisements, which also offer us a worthwhile look at a portion of the Bohemian business community.

A sample advertisement.

A sample advertisement.

However it is the biographies and first-person accounts that will attract the genealogist the most.

In his most recent book, Czech American Bibliography, Czech expert, author, and researcher, Miloslav Rechcigl, Jr., refers to Amerikán Národní Kalendář as “such a splendid source of ‘Czech Americana,’ a special effort was made to list many of its articles in the relevant sections of this bibliography.”

Likewise Professor Karel D. Bicha praises Amerikán Národní Kalendář with this: “The reminiscences in Amerikán constitute a major body of primary material concerning Czech immigrants in United States.” (The Czechs in Wisconsin History).

1895 Edition – First time translation to English of one article containing 9 biographies and its Table of Contents.

Over the past several years Onward To Our Past® has undertaken the work necessary to accurately translate, from the original Czech to English, several articles from a variety of issues of Amerikán Národní Kalendář. Just this past week a new article from the 1895 Edition has been translated, plus the Table of Contents for that issue. These two translations are now available, along with the earlier translations, on our website at http://OnwardToOurPast.com. Not only will genealogy fans find this article and its nine biographies of interest, but we realized that it would be highly valuable to translate the Table of Contents as well since this too had not previously been available in English.

The nine surnames featured in this new translation are Sýkora, Kříž, Krejčí, Sprostý, Payer, Sýkora, Petr, Sháněl, and Albrecht. In each biography you will find given names, maiden names, home villages in many cases (good for those trying to locate their ancestral home village using Chain Migration Theory), children, in-laws, occupations, and more. It also includes some wonderful insights into what our ancestors had to overcome in their quests to establish themselves in their new homeland in the United States.

An interesting additional note regarding the 1895 Edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

The 1895 Edition was edited by Josef Jiří Král (1870-1951). Král was a Bohemian immigrant born in Loužná. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated as a lawyer. Evidently not enjoying the practice of law all that much Král spent most of his working career as a writer and editor. Much of his work was in Bohemian-American newspaper businesses. From 1905 to 1911 he was editor of Spavedlnost, wrote dozens of books and articles, as well as writing for the United States government in the 1920 while he worked in the Bureau for Foreign and Domestic Commerce. He also was a frequent contributor to Amerikán Národní Kalendář between 1894 and1946. He was the co-publisher and editor of the Bohemian-American newspaper Slavie from 1894 to 1904, which after the suicide of the founder Karel Jonáš, was purchased by the publisher of Amerikán Národní Kalendář, August Geringer. This fact that might explain why Král would be connected to Amerikán Národní Kalendář, located in Chicago while being the editor of Slavie in Racine, Wisconsin.

Mila Richcigl describes Král by saying “He was considered one of the most talented journalists among the Freethinkers.” In his doctoral dissertation, “Bohemian Voice: Contention, Brotherhood, and Journalism Among Czech People in America, 1860-1910”, Professor David Zdenek Chroust wrote “Král…was one of the most versatile and prolific authors in Bohemian America, while Geringer was its biggest publisher.” (Page 98) Professor Chroust also notes Amerikán Národní Kalendář “is the only almanac whose content…is indexed in Esther Jerabek Czechs and Slovaks in North America: A Bibliography (New York: Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in America, 1976).”

The fact that Král functioned as the Editor of Amerikán Národní Kalendář had gone completely unnoticed and undocumented by academics and historians until its discovery by Onward To Our Past® during our translation work.

The title page from the 1895 Edition.

The title page from the 1895 Edition.

Onward To Our Past® also announces their newest goal for Amerikán Národní Kalendář.

While we at Onward To Our Past® enjoy the work of translating full length articles from Amerikán Národní Kalendář, which we will continue to do, our newest goal is to translate to English the Table of Contents for every annual edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář so non-Czech reading researchers will know what can be found in each Edition.

This effort has already begun with the translation of the Table of Contents (Obsah) for the 1895 edition. This first Table of Contents translation has now been published on our website and, as with all of our genealogy resources on our site, it is available free of charge. We already have additional Tables of Contents translations from more Editions underway, so be sure to stay tuned.

Joining the translation of the 1895 Table of Contents, the translation of the additional article from the same edition titled “Memoirs of Bohemian Settlers in America” has also been published on the Onward To Our Past® website.

We trust you will enjoy these new resources as well as keeping Amerikán Národní Kalendář uppermost in your mind as you work on your Bohemian (Czech) genealogy.

Onward To Our Past®

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Genealogy Beauty: Generational Amnesia

Generational Amnesia

Generational Amnesia

An interesting thing happened during our recent Thanksgiving family gathering.

Due to geographical constraints my wife’s and her siblings’ first cousins rarely find themselves in the same place at the same time so the fact they were all here was a marvel in and of itself. Between the memories, laughter, stories, and general catching up there was a most interesting observation made – and I made one of my own.

My personal observation was this:

Genealogy is a powerful motivator! Had I not worked for the last few years on my wife’s ancestry I doubt that our wonderful gathering would have ever happened. Sure, we would have all seen each other, but it most likely would have been relegated to funerals, etc. Instead, the excitement of the shared ancestry was powerful medicine and did its trick by showing the importance of family and keeping the fires and memories of our ancestors burning in our lives today.

The second observation was made by one of the cousins.

A group of us were gathered around the computer screen going deep on the Italian side of the family. We landed on a branch of the family that ended up locating in Canada, but not all that far from the ‘main’ branch of the family in northern Minnesota. It turns out that some time ago there was a rift developed in the family over a piece of family property in Italy and the chasm this disagreement caused was significant. While some of us recalled bits and pieces of the cause and resulting fallings out, it was not enough to keep us from reaching out and doing a bit of repair and beginning to reconnect with this branch of the family. Sometimes it just takes a thick skinned genealogy buff to boldly go where others have feared to tread!

An additional observation:

This situation caused me to recall that there had been a schism in my own ancestry as well. It seems there were two cousins, who happened to share not only the same surname, but the same given name as well. Confusion in school, etc. was frequent, but the families, on both sides, simply told these girls it was nothing more than coincidence. The truth?

The girls were are actually cousins, but one family, after emigrating from Bohemia practiced Catholicism while the other family were ardent Freethinkers. In the Bohemian community in Cleveland that was enough to rend those two branches of the family totally apart from each other.

So while we genealogy fans love to preserve stories and family history, every so often it seems good that some of those old issues, peccadillos, and rifts get lost in the mists of time.

Some bygones are best to be left as just that…bygones.

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Genealogy and Giving Thanks: Who’s at Your Table?http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-and-giving-thanks-whos-at-your-table.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-and-giving-thanks-whos-at-your-table.html#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:01:00 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3667

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Genealogy and Giving Thanks: Who’s at Your Table?

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday and, if you have been following here, you know it is my favorite. To me it is one of the last non-commercial holidays and needless to say you will not find anyone from our family out at the stores on Thanksgiving Day. Rather we will be celebrating being thankful for all we have.

Yes, I really DO get into Thanksgiving!  This fellow is 10' tall!

Yes, I really DO get into Thanksgiving! This fellow is 10′ tall!

For those of us who enjoy and thrive on our genealogy it is an even more special holiday because it is hard to be thankful and not think of those who came before us to help us get where we are today.

When we gather around our table it will be wonderful to see the faces of friends and family! Even if you are eating solo, as a genealogist we will see a lot of other faces as well.

I will see my mother who taught me family gatherings take time, money, and effort, but if YOU don’t do it chances are it may not happen, so JUST DO IT! (She was Nike well before Nike).

I see my grandmothers, especially as our table will hold two holiday dishes made direct from their recipes: pickled cucumbers and sweet potatoes.

I see my wife’s Italian grandmother who when asked by her son to finally have turkey for Thanksgiving rather than pasta did just that by cutting up the turkey to put in the pasta sauce!

I will see a multitude of the faces of ancestors worldwide who, in the case of my wife’s and my family, gave up their homelands to come to America to begin a new life. The struggles they undertook are part and parcel to make it possible for us to be at our table enjoying the life we have today.

I will also see faces of family who are scattered across the globe, many of whom have only recently joined our fold through the ‘magic’ of our genealogy research.

I will see the faces of friends – old and new. Some will grace our table and some will be enjoying their Thanksgivings elsewhere in their homes, in the homes of their families, or perhaps with other friends. But no matter as their spirit and the lessons, blessings, and treasures they have imparted to me through their friendships over the years will be evident and in place.

Before we feast we will have our formal graces. One for each of the religions present at our table and many silent ones as well as we all have our special intentions for thanks.

Then at some point, while not wanting to bore the family to tears, I will step aside to some quiet place and raise my glass in a very special toast. It will be to all those who have helped me along my path be they family, friends, ancestors, etc. It will come from a place in my heart that is deeply thankful for all I have and all I received from them.

Our Thanksgiving motto at our home!

Our Thanksgiving motto at our home!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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A Genealogy Ode to Thanksgivinghttp://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/a-genealogy-ode-to-thanksgiving.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/a-genealogy-ode-to-thanksgiving.html#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3664

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A Genealogy Ode to Thanksgiving

A sample of a typical Thanksgiving gathering at our home!

A sample of a typical Thanksgiving gathering at our home!

I will be the first to admit I am no poet. My wife and children will all attest to this fact as well. The best I usually can do is a hinkie-pinkie and some of those are tortured for sure!

However, be this as it may, my love of Thanksgiving leads me to the following. I hope you enjoy it!

A Genealogy Ode to Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I am thankful for the fact that my family tree is full of imperfections.

What you say? Imperfections in your family tree?

Oh yes, indeed! Not in the data mind you, but in the wonderful people who make it up.

We need to be thankful and bear in mind none of us are perfect.

Each and every uniqueness, blemish, flaw, difference, idiosyncrasy make our richness

Makes me thankful for the people all and each that they were.

Blessed they tried.

Amazed and thankful they risked.

Awed how some followed their hearts.

Some followed their heads.

Dreams were followed – some came true, some were dashed, but all had dreams nonetheless.

Triumphs and tragedies

Each tried, to their best I always imagine.

The rainbow flourishes throughout our tree with pride and sparkle.

Home villages, cemeteries, gravestones, those without one or all.

Maiden names hidden in the mists of time.

Birth records for ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ and nothing more.

Sons, Fathers, Grandfathers, Great-Grandfathers, Uncles, and Nephews all sporting the same given name.

Daughters, Aunts, Nieces given nicknames bearing no relation to their birth name.

Those who changed their surnames often on the fly.

Census enumerators who when in doubt scribbled.

Laughs, frustrations, brick walls, and (the occasional) breakthrough.

If they were all just like me…how boring genealogy would be!

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Genealogy Games for Thanksgiving: Simple, fun for all ages, and family tree valuable!http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-games-for-thanksgiving-simple-fun-for-all-ages-and-family-tree-valuable.html http://onwardtoourpast.com/genealogy_blog/genealogy-games-for-thanksgiving-simple-fun-for-all-ages-and-family-tree-valuable.html#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:46:42 +0000 http://onwardtoourpast.com/?p=3658

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Genealogy Games for Thanksgiving: Simple, fun for all ages, and family tree valuable!

After my most recent post on genealogy and Thanksgiving a couple of people asked me to explain how I incorporate genealogy into our Thanksgiving. So here we go.

Everyone in our family understands that I live by the adage, which I have taped up on our kitchen cabinet, “I used to have a life then I discovered genealogy.” When you combine my love of genealogy with my love of Thanksgiving it is a dream come true for me. As a result, my family allows me a certain amount of leeway to squeeze in a bit of genealogy and family history whenever we gather. This is especially true at Thanksgiving. Now that I think about it, this leeway could most likely be due to the fact I roast the turkeys for us all 

My Thanksgiving genealogy/family history game is focused on being something simple, able to be participated in by guests of all ages, and does not take too much time. Here is how we do it.

In advance of the holiday I prepare a single sheet of paper for our game. The first year I did this I kept it very simple and it was only one question. After seeing what a hit the game was, I expanded it to three questions, but never over one page. I keep the questions simple and light. You can see in the image below my first year’s form.

This was our first Thanksgiving genealogy game form.  Simple for sure!

This was our first Thanksgiving genealogy game form. Simple for sure!

I print out a copy of the blank form for each guest. I put these, with a box of pens on the table that holds our hors d’oeuvres. I announce that each person is to fill out the form, put there initials in the corner, fold their finished form, and not share their responses with anyone. I also explain that these forms need to be turned in to me prior to filling their dinner plate! Needless to say I get 100% participation!

The sign says it all...

The sign says it all…

I hold the collected forms until we are ready to move from the meal to our desserts. This gives us a chance to ‘digest’ a bit and prepare for the onslaught of pies and other goodies!

I then begin reading the responses one by one. As I finish each page I ask everyone to chime in with who they think the author was of that particular form. This can result in even more memories being shared, more stories, and some friendly interchanges between family members too.

Here is our game form from Thanksgivukkah.

Here is our game form from Thanksgivukkah.

When I am finished we all move on to the desserts.

I keep all the forms. My intention was always to take these responses and add them to each family member’s profile on our electronic family tree we maintain at MyHeritage.com, but what happened right from the get go surprised even me. Almost as soon as I had finished reading the last answers someone piped up and asked if I would type them all up and share them with everyone. As you can guess, I was thrilled to do it. After all it is our stories that cement in our memories, nourish our family trees, and draw in even the most skeptical!

It is now standard operating procedure for our family to expect a game about family history and genealogy each holiday and to have the responses shared (via my favorite, Dropbox).

I’d share this year’s game, but I know family read my blog so I have to keep it secret for now!

I hope you’ll pick a game and weave your passion for genealogy and family history into it as our family has. It really is a highlight of our holidays now!

Onward To Our Past®

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