Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/110

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tions which have for their object insurance, protection in sickness and death, as well as the development of social life. There are also a number of organizations offering no insurance, but instead opportunities for education along gymnastic, musical, literary or related lines.

The lodges of the former or fraternal class afford cheap insurance to the Bohemian, the assessments being, in practically every instance, much lower than those exacted in other orders. Of the fraternal orders among the Bohemians the best known and most widely supported are: the Č. S. P. S., Česko-Slovanské Podporující Spolky or Bohemian Slavonian Protective Association, the oldest Bohemian organization in the United States, established in St. Louis in 1854. It has now a total of 25,000 members, 513 of them in eleven lodges in Nebraska; the Z. Č. B. J., Západní Česko Bratrská Jednota or Western Bohemian Fraternal Order with 20,000 members, of whom 1,189 in 67 lodges are in Nebraska; the J. Č. D., Jednota Českých Dam or Federation of Bohemian Ladies, having over 20,000 members with fifteen lodges in Nebraska; the S. P. J., Sesterská Podporující Jednota or Sisterly Protective Association, with five lodges in Nebraska. There are several thousands of Bohemians represented in Catholic Fraternal Orders in this state. In addition there are many minor organizations each with several lodges in Nebraska.

Among the social institutions which do not have any insurance features, but devote themselves directly to the betterment of social and educational conditions are the Sokol societies and the Komensky clubs. The first Komensky Educational Club, the purpose of which is the cultural development of Bohemian communities, was organized at the State University of Nebraska by Bohemian students in 1906. Since then twenty-six similar clubs have been established in six states, thirteen of the clubs being located in Nebraska. They have established libraries and reading rooms, organized evening schools and provided good clean entertainment for the community.

The Sokol societies are chapters of a central association with headquarters in Chicago. They provide physical training, wholesome sports and the use of libraries for members. The high ideals which characterized the organization of the original Sokol or “Falcon” societies in the old country actuated all the early enthusiasts who plunged into the rough pioneer conditions after life in Bohemia where they had had all the accessories of the highest civilization. The first Sokol society in Nebraska was organized in Wilber in 1875. Another very popular and typical Bohemian amusement reached a high state of development in the Nebraska settlements, namely, the amateur performance of theatrical plays.

Music, either vocal or instrumental, always had to be present in any gathering of Bohemians whether it were a coming together of neighbors or a formal session of a lodge. The Czechs are not unwarrantedly called “the nation of musicians”, as the Smetanas, Dvořáks, Kubelíks, Kociáns, Ondříčeks and Destinns fully attest. If a wager were to be made that every Bohemian community in Nebraska today has its own band or orchestra, it is safe to say that the bettor would win. The first musical organization west of Omaha was composed of Bohemians. It was the famous Crete orchestra which used to drive to Lincoln in Governor Butler’s day and play for dancing at the Capitol.

From the earliest times Bohemians have evinced an earnest interest in local, state and national politics. As a rule, they were to be found in the democratic ranks, but very early in Nebraska’s history a representative group of Bohemian Republicans became active, particularly so since the establishment by Edward Rosewater of a Bohemian weekly urging the principles of Republicanism. In the more recent days partisanship is no longer typical of the Bohemian people, their vote going to men rather than for party measures.

Since 1871 there have been forty-eight Americans of Bohemian birth or parentage in the State Legislature of Nebraska. The first representative of that nationality in the legislative body was Edward Rosewater of Douglas county, who also held other offices of honor, representing the United States at the Universal Postal Congress in Washington in 1897, promoted the Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha in 1898 and was a member of the International Arbitration Conference in 1904.

The Bohemians, like all pioneers of western states, had the problem of preservation of existence for themselves and families to solve before the question of higher education could be wrestled with. But that the Czech could not long remain content with-