Genealogy & History Primer: The World of our Ancestors in 1878

 1878 globe

At some point in either 1878 or perhaps before, Czech-American immigrant August Geringer of Chicago, Illinois made one of his many decisions, which would have a lasting impact on our view and knowledge of early Czech life in America.  This decision was to have his company publish, on an annual basis, his Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!  This publication would be consistently published by Geringer for seventy-nine years, while being edited under the watchful eye of a variety of well-known Czech-American editors.

Before we begin our newest translation from the 1878 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář, we would like to ‘set the table’ and provide our customary ‘history primer’ of what the issues and happenings were for our ancestors during that year.

So here we go with a brief summary of what the world was occupying itself with in 1878:

Perhaps not surprising to us today, 1878 marked the beginning of a war in Afghanistan.  This time it was the Second Anglo-Afghan War between Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.

In Paris, Louis Pasteur discovered how to inoculate chickens against chicken cholera, while in the United States, “The Wizard of Menlo Park” (New Jersey), Thomas Edison, patented the first phonograph, in Saratoga Springs, New York the American Bar Association was founded, and in Richmond, Virginia the legendary Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was born.

Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles

In Boston, Emma Mills Nutt became the first female telephone operator, in London, on the Thames River, the SS Princess Alice, a paddle-steamer was rammed by another vessel, the Bywell Castle, with a resulting loss of more than 650 lives (still the worst single disaster in Thames River history), and in Gori, Georgia, Joseph Stalin was born.

1878 SS Princess Alice sinking

Greece declared war on Turkey, Fredrick Thayer received a patent for his invention of the catcher’s mask, the silver dollar became legal tender in the United States, and with the signing of the Peace of Zanjón ten years of war was bought to an end between the Spain and Chile.

1878 silver dollar

The Sabi Game Reserve was established in present day South Africa as the world’s first officially designated game reserve, the cable car system began service in San Francisco, California, and Harley Procter introduced his new product “Ivory Soap”.

In London, the Gilbert & Sullivan opera “HMS Pinafore” premiered, a U.S. patent was granted for Vaseline, and in New Orleans, Louisiana, an epidemic of fever struck, killing some 4,500.

1878 vaseline wagon

The first telephone was installed in the White House, Joseph Pulitzer began publishing his newspaper the “St. Louis Dispatch”, and the first store in the United States, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, installed electric lighting.

In London, Cleopatra’s Needle was installed, Henry Tibbe, of Missouri, received a patent for an improved corncob pipe, and in California outlaw ‘Black Bart’ (actually Charles Earl Bowles of Norfolk, England) stole a strongbox from a Wells Fargo stagecoach and left a poem taunting lawmen to catch him.  Black Bart’s poem follows:

“Here I lay me down to sleep

To wait the coming morrow,

Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,

And everlasting sorrow.

Let come what will, I’ll try it on,

My condition can’t be worse;

And if there’s money in that box

‘Tis munny in my purse.”

Black Bart

Black Bart

Tomorrow we will bring you our exclusive English translation of the Table of Contents (Obsah) from the 1878 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář so you can also see what was catching the eye of our Czech ancestral compatriots.

Onward To Our Past®

A Genealogical Historian, who is focused on family history and genealogy of the highest quality, but with a dose of fun. Avid about documentation and evidence. Loves helping folks of all levels in their genealogy pursuits, especially in the areas of Bohemia, Czech Republic, Italy, Cornwall, Kent, United Kingdom, U.S. Immigration and Cleveland, Ohio.

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