Onward To Our Past® is pleased to present today Installment #3 of our exclusive English translation of ‘American Czechs’ from “Národopisná Výstava Českoslovanská v Praze 1895”, which was the guidebook for the 1895 Czechoslavic Ethnographic Exposition held in Prague in 1895. This event was attended by more than two million visitors!
‘American Czechs’ contains the story and the detail about the Czech-American section and displays at the Exposition.
“In accordance with the new decision, it was determined that the Catholics would build their desired temple in the exhibition settlement. As for the other main buildings, plans were developed and carried out: Mr. Fr. Randák for a city dwelling of an affluent Czech called “residence“, Mr. Ant. Charvát for a cosy dwelling of a farmer or a “farm“, and Mr. Jos. Krčil for an inn or “saloon“. All three of these gentlemen are builders from Chicago. According to an older decision, the first Czech Catholic temple in the United States, built in the fifties in Saint Louis, Missouri and important for poor temples in new immigrant settlements in general, served as a model for the church.
In the meantime, funds were being raised with great success. There were hardly any well-off compatriots in the Czech-American settlements that would not contribute to the exhibition preparation division in Prague according to their means.
At the front of the line of selfless contributors was the company of the Korbel brothers. They donated all the wood necessary for the interior decoration of the residence. It was an expensive material of “red wood” from the sequoia trees growing in the forests of northern California, where their vast land and lumber mills were also located. The brothers, without a doubt, are the wealthiest fellow countrymen in America. The preparation of the wood was conducted by the Czech company of Č. Dlouhý in Chicago, while two Czech companies, Holpuch’s and Kálal’s, provided the furnishing of the inn. Additionally, other individual Czech companies donated a range of objects. To mention the following contributors from Chicago: Aug. Geringer, a newspaper and book publisher and bookseller, who contributed 100 dollars; Frant. Novák, a banker, who also donated 100 dollars; V. Kašpar, a banker, who contributed 50 dollars; Jan Karálovec, a brewery owner, also contributing 50; and many others. In total, over 3,200 dollars or about 7,000 guldens were raised.
With this sum and in hope of additional contributions, the construction of the Czech exhibit began, for which a plot was allocated in the northern portion of the exhibition space, to the right of the main entrance, on both sides of the road leading from the administrative building to the former “Czech cottage”. Here, in the shade of plenty of trees, the Czech-American settlement was supposed to stand. The location was quite satisfactory. Delegates of the committee were sent from America right after spring. First, as a main organizer, builder Josef Krčil, and shortly after, builder Josef Strnad, both from Chicago. They were to carry out the construction of the buildings, with exception of the temple, which was assigned to a Prague based company “Hübschmann a Schlaffer”. Four Czech workers, carpenters and cabinetmakers were also sent from Chicago and started their work on the “farm” and then the “residence” right before the Easter. They elicited admiration from local experts with their fast and “effortless” style of work.”
 an Austro-Hungarian currency used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries
Tomorrow we conclude our exclusive translation of ‘American Czechs’ from “Národopisná Výstava Českoslovanská v Praze 1895”.
Until then, enjoy your day!
Onward To Our Past®