Pioneer Czechs in Colfax County
Written in 1926.
All the matter pertaining to settlement of Schuyler and vicinity and biographies of the pioneers of that vicinity, the list of business and professional men in Schuyler, information regarding the Bohemian school in Schuyler and Dry Creek cemetery, has been furnished by Mr. Joseph Sudik of Schuyler, Nebraska. Mr. Sudik’s work not only represents the larger part of this history, but it represents also that part of it that required interviewing many people to obtain first-hand evidence and is therefore very valuable.
Messrs. J. M. Mundil and Anton Odvarka Sr. furnished data on pioneers in the vicinity of Clarkson, Mr. Mundil further prepared data regarding Bohemian cemeteries in the county, with the exception of Dry Creek cemetery.
Mr. Jos. B. Sindelar, Howell, furnished data on settlement in Tabor, the history of the church and cemetery there, and the first dramatic performance given in that settlement.
Mr. Joseph F. Zajicek, West Point, Nebraska, prepared the reminiscences of Mr. Fr. Cejda, a Colfax county pioneer, as given him by Mr. , who now lives in West Point.
The remainder, pertaining to religion, lodges, newspapers, political life, teachers, etc., was taken from the History of Bohemians in Nebraska, written in 1926 by Rose Rosicky of Omaha, for the Nebraska State Historical Society. Miss Rosicky has gathered all this material together and prepared this history of Colfax county in accordance with it.
BIOGRAPHY OF VACLAV SUDIK AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HIS SON, JOSEPH
(Written by Joseph Sudik, author of a great part of this history.)
My father, Vaclav Sudik, was born in the village of Menany, County Beroun, in house number 32, in 1838. He was the son of Joseph and Katherine (born Kovarik). His parents had a peasant estate. My father married, at the age of seventeen, Marie Bartos, daughter of John and Frances (born Horakova) Bartos in the village of Lodenice, aged fifteen. They settled on an estate known as No. 29, in Zelezna, County Unhost. The marriage was arranged for material reasons, because property was involved, for my parents were but children at the time. The estate that my mother brought to my father as a dowry was in poor shape, the land being impoverished. It was during the political revolution of 1848 that a form of peonage existing in Austria was finally abolished. Every peasant was, until that time, obliged to work a certain number of days for the lord of the manor, for the nobleman who owned the largest estate in the vicinity, and this at the cost of letting his own work go, when his labor was most needed. Thus many peasants had to neglect their own and the results were evident. My father could not make good, for in addition to this, the property was encumbered and there were two pensioners, to whom he was obliged, according to the law and custom of the country, to furnish a living until their death. To explain this, when the owner of an estate becomes old and steps aside for his son or sells, the next owner must, according to stipulation, furnish a lodging and certain products, such as grain, potatoes, milk, butter, etc. during the aged one’s lifetime. Our granary burned, thieves broke in and took away clothing and feather beds, and these and other losses made my father’s lot difficult. He then sold half of his land, but did not improve his condition materially.
Many of our countrymen were emigrating to the United States and my father decided to do the same. We arrived in Omaha, Nebraska, in November 1875, having spent sixteen days on the ocean, on a ship named Luevia, from Hamburg to New York, then four days by rail. A Mr. Vaclav Kucera operated a saloon and summer garden in Omaha, on Fourteenth Street near Leavenworth, and it was the stopping place for many of his countrymen, who were arriving in by the hundreds. An election was impending, the talk was mainly about polities and my father voted for the first time. He became acquainted with a Mr. Vaclav Fiala, a tailor, who had taken a homestead in Colfax county. He gave to my father the address of some countrymen living in Colfax county, I am not sure who, for at the time I was engaged in husking corn on the farm of Mr. Bleick, eight miles northwest of Omaha where I stayed until New Years and earned my first wages in this country, sixteen dollars for six weeks’ work, They wanted me to stay during the winter for $4.00 a month, but my father did not agree. I think the man, to whom my father was directed by Mr. Fiala, was Frank Polak and with his help we came to Colfax county, settling nine miles northeast of Schuyler, where father bought a farm from a Mr. Benson. We moved on it February 1, 1876. It contained 120 acres, 25 acres under cultivation. Aside from this, the property consisted of a small frame house with a leanto, 16 x 20 feet in dimension, a pair of old horses and harness, one cow, six ducks, a dozen chickens, 100 bushels of oats, 6 bushels of corn in barrels, a barn of flax straw, an old wagon and a harvester. The kitchen had contained a stove and dishes, but the neighbors appropriated same (I do not say they were Bohemians) before we arrived. Father paid $800.00 for this property. He bought 40 acres more, from the railroad company, at $5.00.per acre, ten years’ time to pay, at 6 percent interest, and we began to farm.
There were five children: Frank, Joseph, Vaclav, William and Vincenc. The sixth, Edward, was born on the farm in March 1876. One sister and one brother had died in Bohemia, as small children,one brother in this country. My brother Frank, a butcher, had stayed in Omaha, to work at his trade. I was sixteen at the time and the main portion of the work fell upon my shoulders. Father had our neighbor, Felix Sevcik, a blacksmith, make a harrow patterned after those used in Bohemia. He did not fancy American implements, which is true of most of our countrymen, until they realize how much better the American implements are. Besides this, he had Mr. Sevcik make a sort of soil cutter. I think it was a 4 x 6 fastened to a shaft, furnished with eight knives. He expected to cut the virgin soil with this and then plow it. A good idea, if it had worked, but it did not, simply because it would not penetrate the ground. My father had to listen to a good deal of banter from the neighbors on account of this, and was at a financial loss too. But an experiment is an experiment and if this one had been practical, father would have patented it and we could all have become rich.
We all liked our new home. The location was beautiful, the soil productive and future prospects very promising, but we missed the social life. We had hard times for the next several years, for the grasshoppers ate up our profits and other troubles pursued us. But we kept up our courage and were rewarded. Five years later we bought 80 acres from Felix Sevcik and a finer team, and in other ways began to prosper. With the neighbors collectively we owned a thresher, rented more land, and began to see much better times.
In 1888 my father rented his farm to a tenant and sold the stock, etc. We moved to David City, Butler county, Nebraska, with three younger brothers, so they could attend school. But it was a mistake and we should have not undertaken it. My two older brothers conducted a meat market in David City and my father, thinking to help them, invested the proceeds of his sale in their business and assisted them. It often happens that those who are good workmen for others are poor business men, and this was what happened in our case. Three families depended on one business—it was too much and failure ensued, which brought about family dissension. Father and the two younger brothers moved back to the farm and worked to remedy the mistake.
In 1904 he moved to Oklahoma, with my two brothers, William and Vincenc, having sold his farm for $50.00 per acre. My brother, Vaclav, and family followed him within a year. There my parents died, mother died January 18, 1918, aged 78, father March 17, 1924, aged 85. We bless their memory and are grateful to them for coming to this country, where they put us in a position to prepare better and more comfortable homes than would have been possible in Bohemia.
My brother Frank died in Chicago, Ill., in 1915, where he was cattle buyer in the stock yards for seventeen years. My brother Vaclav lives in Wilber, Nebraska. His first wife was a sister of my wife, after her death he married Mrs. Katherine Semilsky Bartos, in 1913. My brother Edward lives on a farm once owned by Matous Papousek, whose daughter Josephine he married. William and Vincenc live in Oklahoma, with their families and the families of brother Vaclav’s children by his first wife. All live in the vicinity of oil fields, let, us hope they will become millionaires some day. (Editor’s Note: Their dreams of riches came true. The goodship came in for the Sudik family in Oklahoma two years ago when oil was discovered on their lands. They were fortunate in bringing in one of the greatest oil producing gushers found in Oklahoma. The gusher was named in honor of Mary Sudik on whose land the well was found and the name became familiar all over the United States, newspapers having contained extensive reports on the Sudik oil wells.)
I, Joseph Sudik, was born in the village of Zelezna, County Unhost, November 10, 1859, my parents being Vaclav and Marie (born Bartos) Sudik. At the age of twelve years, having finished the four-grade school in our town, I began to learn the blacksmith trade with a Mr. J. Cada. That year a new law took effect, children were required to attend school to their fourteenth year and so I had to let the trade go. After finishing school, I never went back to blacksmithing, for we were preparing to go to America. Originally, we intended to go to Wisconsin, where a good many Bohemians were living, and for that reason we took along axes, saws and whatever is useful in a timbered country. But our plans were changed by a Mr. Chaloupka, with whom we became acquainted on the ship. Mr. Chaloupka was from Cleveland, Ohio, and he advised father to stay in that city, there already being a large colony of Bohemians, or go to Nebraska. Father decided for Nebraska, where homesteads and cheap lands were still available.
January 21, 1882, I married Miss Barbara Jonas, daughter of Anton Jonas and wife of Chynava, near my birthplace. The Jonas family emigrated to Nebraska in 1881, where their brothers, Frank and George, had settled earlier. A year later my wife and I began to farm on our own eighty, bought from the railroad company, on terms. We began with almost nothing—two mares in foal, one cow without calf or milk, four pigs and a few chickens. A cabin, barn and chicken house were put up for one hundred dollars—my wife’s dowry. One mare died in giving birth to her foal and then both foals died. A fine beginning, was it not? But we did not lose courage, for we were both raised in the hard school of life. We take everything as it comes, nothing surprises us, pleasant or unpleasant. We experienced the hardships of the pioneers, to whom the present generation can never be too grateful and must, willy-nilly, admire their courage, industry and persistency, which made of the bare prairies a garden-spot of beautiful farms and fine cities. But one remembers longer the unpleasant things. Storms, hail, cyclones, hog cholera, losses of cattle and other hardships, year by year, take their toll and it is no wonder that, as old age approaches, one’s head grows gray and the body weary.
What more can I say? If I had literary ability, I could write an interesting book taken from memories. However, my thoughts seem to dissemble. After farming for a quarter of a century, inasmuch as we had no children and felt the weight of the years, we retired to live in Schuyler, in 1909. My wife suffered an accident which threatened her life, during a runaway of our horses and if it were not for failing health, we would feel quite satisfied. But old age brings on its physical disabilities and scarcely anyone escapes that.
The life of the average farmer resembles one and another like two peas in a pod. Work, hurry and work. However, we recollect the past as we would pleasant and unpleasant dreams and look forward to the future calmly.
Written in Schuyler, Nebraska, June 1927.
A HISTORY OF BOHEMIANS IN COLFAX COUNTY
(The larger portion contributed by Joseph Sudik of Schuyler).
Colfax County was formed when Platte County was divided March 15, 1869, in accordance with a law passed by the state legislature. Inasmuch as it was republican by majority, the county was named Colfax and the town Schuyler in honor of Schuyler Colfax, vice-president at the time. A later law made Schuyler the county seat. Prior to that time it was the property of the Union Pacific railroad and consisted of a railroad station, a section house and several small buildings.
After the formation of the county in 1869 the first meeting of the county commissioners was held on March 20th. Messrs. Wm. Davis. Q. B. Skinner and Robert C. Kennedy were named commissioners and the meeting was held in a house built by Wm. Brown, tinsmith. C. M. Greenman was named county clerk pro tem. William Davis was elected chairman of the body and the county divided into three districts. In a meeting held March 22nd, the commissioners could not agree on the election of a probate judge, but Daniel Hashberger was appointed treasurer for Buchanan district; Levi Kimball, constable James McAlister, justice of the peace for Center precinct and David Anderson, constable. April 5th, M. B. Hoxit was appointed county attorney and J. C. Maple, county supervisor of schools. However, Maple did not care to acceptoffice and Nathan Woods accepted it. “Judge” Corson refused to qualify for probate judge and Obadiah Hall was named in his stead. In June of that year (1869) all school lands were selected and put up for sale. E. E. Greeman, Levi Kimball and George Lawrence were appointed a commission for the sale of same.
On November 6th, the commissioners received a request from the inhabitants of Schuyler settlement, asking that it be incorporated as a town. The request was received favorably and B. F. King, W. P. St. Clair, H. P. Upton, C. M. Greenman and S. P. Van Doozer were named trustees.
The next important step of the county commissioners was to issue bonds for the building of bridges over Shell, Maple and Rawhide Creeks and making county roads. Bonds in the amount of $20,000 were passed by 27 votes against 15, which figures show the political strength in Colfax county at that time. Eight bridges were to have been built by contractor L. D. Martin, at a cost of $6,350.00.
The first meeting of the county commissioners was held March 20, 1869, with the following present: William Davis and Quartrus E. Skinner, William Davis was elected chairman and C. M. Greenman, county clerk. The next meeting was held March 22, 1869. Daniel Hasberger was named treasurer; A. D. VanHousen, sheriff; A. J. Skinner, assessor for Center precinct. The third meeting was held March 27, 1869 with the following present: William Davis. Quartrus B. Skinner and Robert C. Kennedy. These first meetings were held in the office of Greenman & Hoxie, at a rental of $10.00 monthly.
Today, Colfax County contains twelve townships. It borders on the south with the Platte river, for a distance of six miles, stretch beautiful level lands, further to the north the country is rolling but famous for its rich fertility. The county is intersected from west to southeast by Shell, Dry and two-branched Maple. Along the river, for a distance of two miles, the soil is sandy but after that it is a rich black and yellow soil. In this day it is all under cultivation. When a visitor crosses our country and sees herds of cattle in fenced-in pastures, farms with beautiful buildings, large numbers of hogs and poultry, fine poultry houses built at a cost of $500 to $1,000, hog pens with concrete floors and other improvements, he can hardly believe that all this was evolved from the bare prairie in little more than one generation’s time. The farm homes often are finer than those in the city. They have furnaces, water piped in house and barn, electric or gas lighting, telephones, radios, in fact, all modern conveniences. The yards are filled with all necessary farm implements, tractors, trucks and autos. If there is more than one son in the family, each has his automobile. All about are evidences of prosperity.
Rich yields of wheat, oats and corn enable the farmers to raise cattle and hogs for market and to do dairying, thus engaging in mixed farming. Prairie hay has made way for cultivated alfalfa, timothy, hay and other forage grasses. Indeed, the visitor who has no knowledge of the history of our county must feel amazed to think it is but fifty-eight years since settlement here began. In those times it was considered an arid land, over which rode Indians on their agile, over which roamed vast herds of buffalo, deer and antelope and other wild animals. The first settlers received homesteads from our government for a fee of but $14.00, or bought them from the railroad companies for $4.00 to $6.00 per acre. At date of writing farms sell for $175.00 to $225.00 per acre and during the Great World War (1914–1918) the price ran up to $300.00 per acre. In that period many farmers speculated thus foolishly and feel the effects to this day, for at the conclusion of the war prices for products fell, so that farms bought for high prices are now a losing proposition. But a change for the better is taking place and before long all will be in a normal condition again.
In 1867, before the Union Pacific railroad was built through, Thomas Molacek and John Novotny came from Iowa to Schuyler (although there was no Schuyler then, it was called Shell Creek settlement) to investigate. They took up claims and returned to Iowa, coming with their families two years later. Thus they were the first Bohemians, as far as is known, to enter Colfax county, but not the first actual settlers.
In 1869 Jacob Moural, Frank Kovarik and John Moural settled near Richland, on homesteads, being, as far as known, the first actual settlers. John Moural, son of Jacob Moural, writes:
“Jacob Moural was my father and Frank Kovarik my other father, for Kovarik’s had no children and although they never adopted me legally they loved me as a son and made me their heir. My father Moural was born in the village of Hluboka, County Budejovice, in Bohemia, in 1822. My mother was born Elizabeth Kovar. Frank Kovarik was born in Trebon, Bohemia, in 1814 and his wife’s name was Anna. They and my parents lived in an unusual harmony and friendship, during their whole lives. Both men were carpenters and good at their trade. In their birthplace they had helped to build a beautiful castle in Hluboka, belonging to Prince Schwarzenburg. But they wished to improve their condition and having heard much about America, they decided to emigrate. In 1854 they set out from Bremen, in a sailing vessel and came here having no goal, for they knew no one here and had no letters to anyone.
After a stormy voyage lasting thirteen weeks and three days, they arrived in Quebec, Canada. But alas! In vain did they search for work, none was to be had. They crossed the lake to Fort Burwell, in the United States, and when they found no employment there, set out for Cleveland, Ohio, a hundred miles distant. Again in vain! Their savings were gone and they found themselves in a strange land, not knowing the language,—in faith a desperate situation. Kovarik especially was very depressed. AIthough he was older than my father and could speak German, he wanted to commit suicide by. His wife of sterner nature, dissuaded him, my father loaned him five dollars and the crisis was averted. Finally, Kovarik got work. He helped a Jewish butcher drive cattle to the stock yards and as recompense obtained each time a head and some and thus the two families subsisted for two weeks.
Then they returned to Quebec, where Kovarik obtained work in a saloon and boarding house, as porter. Once, during a heavy storm, a river boat became grounded, was wrecked and the freight was frozen in. My father and Kovarik helped to save the precious goods and each received a sack of flour for his pains.
In the spring of 1885 they got work in a saw mill at $1.00 per day and they stayed there twelve years, during that time accumulating some savings. Farming conditions were not bright there,the soil was fertile and most anything except corn could be raised. The store-keepers did not pay cash for grain, only half, and half was taken out in goods. The best boards of white pine sold for $9.00 per thousand. When all the best lumber had been used, our fathers lost their work and moved to Cleveland, in 1866, after the close of the Civil War, when there was plenty of work at their trade at $1.50 to $2.00 per day.
My father, who had always longed for a farm and was more courageous than Kovarik, came to Nebraska with two friends in 1868. These were a Mr. Pinter (from Cleveland) and a Mr. Pesek. The first had a family, Pesek was single. Both were carpenters and all went to Omaha, where they found work at their trade. At the suggestion of Mr. Vaclav L. Vodicka they took homesteads near Richland, Colfax county, but of course there was no town of Richland then, Kovarik and the rest followed them to Omaha. Our fathers built frame buildings on the homesteads, the first frame edifices in the vicinity. Then they returned to Omaha, to find work. In the spring they bought a team of horses and necessary machinery and moved to the homesteads. Pinter returned to Cleveland without proving on his claim. Pesek sold his after he got the patent, and moved to Kansas.
These immigrants, Moural and Kovarik, were the first settlers in the Platte valley between Columbus and Schuyler (but there was ho Schuyler then, only the railroad station and Smith Bros’ store). They went to work in earnest and were rewarded. My father had three children. My sister Mary, (born 1852); myself (born July 12, 1858) and my sister Anna (born in 1860). My sister Mary married John Stibal. Anna married F. J. Divis and died a tragic death, by her own hand, taking with her into eternity her children, all but one. I became a protege of the Kovariks and lived with them until my marriage. Mother Kovarik died in 1878, father Kovarik in 1907, both are buried in Schuyler. My own mother Moural died in 1904, my father Moural in 1907, both are buried in Richland.
In 1879 I married Anna Rousar. We had seven children, five sons and two daughters, three died. They were: Edmond, who died an infant; Edward who died in 1903 in school in Fremont, aged twenty year and John, who in 1914 was accidently shot while hunting. The following are living: Julia (Mrs. Joseph Dudek), Frank, who farms the original homestead now of 315 acres, Ethel (Mrs. Cor. Seannell) and Elden, who farms 160 acres. We have nine grandchildren and have been living in Schuyler since 1915. I have been county commissioner for the third term.
When my thoughts wander back to my youth, which all-told was happy, and recollect how our fathers and mothers began farming here; how my sister Anna and I learned to herd stock (I think we had two cows and five calves), it seems like a dream. We had a few hogs, too; and chickens and a dog. Everything interested us, for we were young and everything was a novelty. Happy days!
In that same year (1868) FRANK FOLDA, the first Bohemian inhabitant of the town of Schuyler, came. His father, Martin Folda (born in Holovousy in 1812, died in Colfax county in 1895) came with his wife (born Marie Konopik, also born in Holovousy, died in Colfax county in 1892) to Manitowoc county, Wisconsin, in 1857, with his sons Frank and Joseph and daughter Frances. The oldest son John was at that time engaged in military duty in Bohemia. He was born in 1836, Frank in 1839 and Joseph in 1849, all in Holovousy. Excepting Frank, all were farmers, but Frank soon gave evidence of a good business ability. He established a general merchandise store in Manitowoc. He came to Schuyler with his wife, born Johanna Ericksen, when there were but two houses in the place. He built the third. In the following year his parents and brothers arrived. His sister Frances married a Mr. Seibert in Wisconsin and never came to Nebraska. She died in Wisconsin.
Frank Folda had not only good financial ability but also a very good opportunity to exercise it. Settlers were pouring in, new countries were opened up, he was a friend and guide to his countrymen who could not speak English. At his death he owned large tracts of land (it is estimated that he had 4,000 acres), much cattle, and a banking business. Earlier in his career he had a land and grain business. In 1886 he established not only the first Bohemian bank in Nebraska, but it was the first such bank in this country. This bank; now The Banking House of F. Folda, helped to found other so-called Folda banks. In 1875 he was elected to the state legislature, as a representative, on the democratic ticket. In 1879 he was nominated for state treasurer and in 1888 for lieutenant-governor, but the republicans were in a majority in those days and he did not win. In 1887 with other stockholders he established a Bohemian democratic weekly the “Nova Doba” (New Era), which was suspended in 1892. Frank Folda died in 1892, his wife in 1914. He left the memory of a kindly, cultured gentleman; who always remained, despite his rising fortune; courteous and helpful to his countrymen. He donated land to the Těl. Jed. Sokol, which organization expects to build an auditorium thereon. He had two children. His daughter Martha died in Omaha, and his son, Engelbert F. is a banker there, being also president of the Banking House of F. Folda in Schuyler, and the Bank of Rogers.
In 1869 the following came: John Stibal, Joseph Papez, Frank Stibal, Frank Vasko, Thomas Molacek, John Faltys, John Lapacek, Charles Lapacek, Joseph Sobota, John Sobota, Joseph Sobota, Jr., Martin Folda, John Folda, Joseph Folda, Vaclav Dvorak, Felix Sevcik, Joseph Valenta, Joseph Kovarik, Joseph Misek, Thomas Janda, Martin Lodl, and others.
John Stibal writes: “I was born May 2, 1847 in the village of Jetrichoves, County Pacov, in Bohemia, and emigrated in April 1867 with my step-brother Joseph Papez (four years older), my sister and my cousin from Dol, County Pacov. We were all single. We sailed in a sailing vessel named Wilhelmina; from Bremen and arrived in Baltimore after a voyage lasting thirty-five days. From Baltimore we went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before long my sister and cousin both married and my brother, a tailor moved to Baraboo, Wisconsin, I following after him. From Baraboo he went to Omaha, Nebraska, and wrote me to come along too. While in Baraboo my cousin Frank Stibal from Dol, County Pacov, arrived in the fall of 1868. In March 1869 he and I set out for Omaha, crossing the Missouri there on the ferry. While in Omaha we conferred with Vaclav L. Vodicka, Vaclav Stepanek and others, and upon Mr. Vodicka’s advice, who told us that John Moural had just settled on Shell Creek in Platte (now Colfax County), we followed him via the Union Pacific. Shell Creek was not a town, not even a settlement. There was nothing there but the railroad station, a newly-built section house to the south, and a few shanties. I tried to converse with several of those standing about, but it was hard, for I did not know English. However, I made out that a new town, called Cooper, was being projected. That was to have been the name of the present town of Richland, eight miles west of Shell Creek (now Schuyler) and so I determined to seek homesteads in that vicinity. I was told that I might obtain further information in the home of the Greenman brothers. I called on them and got a map of Section 4, now Richland Precinct, three miles from Richland. I selected three eighties adjoining each other and returned to Omaha, to make entry. I think the date was March 24, 1869. During that same spring the settlers fairly poured in and there were many Bohemians among them. The majority came from other states and were experienced farmers. At first they settled north of town on Maple Creek, later they spread over the whole county. The town of Schuyler began to grow so that when I came again in December of that year (1869) there were about fifty residences and stores although it oh be the number was somewhat overestimated.
When I arrived in December I first lived with Jacob Moural. Inasmuch as it was impossible to build a sod house at that time of yearI erected a frame building. In the meantime brother Joseph Papez had married Josephine Vodicka, sister of Vaclav L. Vodicka, and they came to Colfax county also. We moved into the half-finished house. I think the date was February 24, 1870, and our farming, which I knew very little about, in earnest, as well as we could without any capital.
I think that my brother Joseph Papez, my cousin John Stibal and I were the first Bohemians to take homesteads in Colfax county, for those Bohemians who had preceded us, Thomas Molacek, John Novotny, Jacob Moural and Frank Kovarik, were recorded in Platte county, before Colfax county was established. I may mention here that Moural, through error, built his first home on land belonging to another. Both parties were to have a hearing in Grand Island, but the owner of the land did not appear and Moural was adjudged the rightful proprietor. Such mistakes happened very often though, for the country was a waste and quite often even the locator had a hard time to find a given tract. My cousin Frank Stibal died eleven years ago, leaving a fine farm of 180 acres. Joseph Papez is living in Albion, Nebraska.
We were able to get ahead in those first years only by our concentrated efforts. My brother Joseph Papez did not stay long, however, he moved to Schuyler, where he worked at his tailoring trade. Then he went to Omaha and then to Albion, where he established a clothing store, now conducted by his sons. My cousin and I farmed until 1874. In 1879 I moved to Richland, where I conducted a general merchandise store until 1911, and prospered. In the meantime, in 1888, I farmed one of my farms with other help, but in 1912 I sold all but the land and quit the farming business altogether.
In the spring of 1873 I married Marie Moural, daughter of Jacob Moural, who died in 1879, leaving three sons and a daughter (Mrs. Fred Kluck, near Richland). My oldest son Edward died in January 1906 after an operation, aged 32 years, leaving a widow and one son. My son William moved to Idaho in 1898, where he farms a ranch of 800 acres, near Roberts, on the snake river. Three years after my wife’s death I married Anna Duda, daughter of Vaclav Duda, a farmer in Butler county. From this second marriage were born: Mary, John, Thomas and Aloisie (Louise). Mary married Joseph Swadley, the others are single.
When we arrived in Milwaukee from Bohemia, I had fourteen paper dollars. Following the Civil War, all money was paper, even three cents. I paid $1.50 to a certain Jew for finding me work and taking me to the place. I may say here that we had the address of another Jew, who had formerly lived near our birthplace and had emigrated to Milwaukee. My brother looked him up and he was of great assistance to us. It is not fair to have prejudice against anyone of another faith, there are good and bad people everywhere.
In May 1920 I was the owner of 2400 acres of improved land. All these farms but one (in Saunders county) are in Colfax county. I kept 500 acres and divided the rest among my children. Besides that I am keeping 220 acres for a member of the family still under age, and then I have some cash on hand too. I gave my son in Idaho 160 acres and water rights costing me in all over $3,000.00 and several thousand in cash. He settled there before I had made the division of land.
Not one in fifty has been able to accomplish what I have, but it is the result of many years of work, not only my work, but that of my wife also. Life was not always easy, we had to breast bad storms at times. Ignorance of the prevailing language and method of work, on the farm and in business, costs the immigrant time and money. But strength, health and good will conquer all.” (Written January 7, 1926.)
JOSEPH PAPEZ was born March 28, 1843 in the village ofin Bohemia. In April 1867 he came to Baltimore in a sailing vessel, with his sister Barbora Papez-Povondra and step-brother John Stibal. In June 1867 he went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a week later found work as tailor in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, working there five months. In 1868 he tailored in Baraboo and Mauston. In that year an election occurred, which was to decide which town was to be county seat. One vote decided for Mauston and Mr. Papez, who had voted the first time in this country, was the deciding factor.
In November 1868 Mr. Papez came to Omaha, where he worked at his trade. In March 1869 he took a claim three miles north of where the town of Richland now is, in company with his step-brother John Stibal and cousin Frank Stibal. January 29, 1870 he married Josephine Vodicka, sister of Vaclav L. Vodicka and February 12, of that year they moved on their claim. The house was half-finished, no doors, no ceiling, unplastered. They had hardly got settled when a fierce blizzard raged for three days. Even the bread froze, although it was wrapped in newspapers and clothing and put in the trunk. There were no dampers in the stove, so the heat all went up the chimney. Had it not been for the good old Bohemian featherbeds that Mrs. Papez had brought from her native country, they would have frozen. Their furniture was of boards nailed into shape and a kitten, which Mrs. Papez brought from Omaha, was their “stock”. However, before long they had poultry, hogs and a cow, for Mr. Papez worked for the farmers and Mrs. Papez sewed for their wives and for the inhabitants of Shell Creek, now the town of Schuyler.
After farming for five years, they moved to Schuyler, where Mr. Papez tailored. June 16, 1880 they moved to Albion, Boone county, going by stage from Columbus. Shortly after their arrival there the railroad was built through and the first train out of Albion carried the dead body of little Rose Papez, to be buried in Schuyler. In January 1884, Papez moved to Omaha, where he engaged in the tailoring business with his brother-in-law Frank Vodicka, but the following year they returned to Albion, where, until September 1908 Mr. Papez conducted a tailor shop and clothing store. He sold out to his sons Edward B. and John S. There are two daughters, Otilie, living with the parents and Emily B., who teaches in colleges. January 29, 1920 Mr. and Mrs. Papez celebrated their golden wedding. Mrs. Papez was born in Techonice, County Klatovy, March 23, 1848. She came to this country in the spring of 1869, with her sister Dora Vodicka-Junek, another sister Leonora (later Mrs. Frank Mares, and brother Frank. They arrived in Baltimore after a voyage by sailing vessel lasting four weeks and on August 19, 1869 they met their brother Vaclav L. in Omaha. Later another sister came, Mrs. Anna Zelezny, whose husband died in Omaha and she then married Henry Fingado. In 1871 the parents, Jacob and Anna Vodicka, arrived and lived with the Papez family. Of this whole family but one sister, Marie V Salak, remained in the native land.
THOMAS MOLACEK was born in 1830 in Osyk, County Chrudim, Bohemia, and his wife, born Kučerova-Faltysova was born in 1829. Molacek died in 1894, his wife in 1890, both are buried in the Heun cemetery. The family consisted of eight sons and two daughters: John Faltys (Mrs. Molacek’s son from a former marriage), Anna (Mrs. Joseph Bartunek) and Katherine. They came in May 1867 to Linn county, near Cedar Rapids lowa, where they bought 120 acres and began to farm. There was considerable talk about Nebraska, but the Union Pacific railroad had not been built through. Thomas Molacek and John Novotny came in 1867 by wagon to the vicinity of Schuyler and sought homesteads. They selected same four miles north of the present town of Schuyler, but when they arrived with their families two years later, they found that the locater had not advised them properly, for others occupied their homesteads. They were obliged to go further north, fifteen miles from town and railroad. Molacek and his three sons took a homestead and bought additional land at $5.00 per acre, on terms, so that they had in all 760 acres.
They came from Iowa by wagon, drawn by horses and oxen, and they brought with them cattle and farm implements. The trip required three weeks’ time and they arrived in November. They hauled some building material from Schuyler, which was sold from the freight car, there being no lumberyard as yet. They built a house of simple construction and a shelter for the stock. There was no hay to be had so they cut up dried grass for feed, but the animals did not thrive on such fare and by spring were full of vermin. Food for humans was not much better in comparison. There was plenty of meat, for game was abundant, but flour was scarce and seldom to be had—there were no mills, no stores, no supplies. The only mill in Columbus had just burned and the damaged flour was cheap. Our countrymen got some and were supplied at least for the winter. Luckily it was a mild season.
JOHN FOLDA, the oldest son of Martin Folda, and brother Frank, came to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1860. The day his parents left for America, John was detained in the old country and, had to serve in the army for a period of three years. He then followed his parents to America. At first he farmed, then engaged in business. In 1861 he married Josephine Sinkula, born in Prodeslady near Kozlany. In 1869 he came with the other members of his family to Colfax county, where he took a homestead. In 1879 his wife died and a year later he married Katherine Panek. Twelve children were born of both marriages. His seven sons with Frank Folda and his son Engelbert, established and conducted six banks, which are still in the hands of the remaining members of the family.
The oldest son, LAMBERT, was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1862 and died in 1910. Until the year 1887 he engaged in the drug business, then with his uncle Frank Folda and Joseph Smatlan they established the bank in Howells, where he was active until his death.
LONGIN was born in Tisch Mills, Wisconsin, March 15, 1864 and died in Corpus Christi, Texas, April 17,1923. He used to assist his uncle Frank in Schuyler, then entered the services of the First National Bank in Schuyler in 1885 while having an interest in the other Folda banks. In 1897 he bought the Clarkson State Bank. Later he retired from the banking business and engaged in real estate speculations in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he died. He had some literary ability, having written a play, “The Merchant and the Poet,” and he also compiled a system of book-keeping or accounting books for banks.
EMIL FOLDA, the oldest of the brothers now living and also the oldest member of the Folda family living, was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1866. He is president of the Clarkson State Bank (Clarkson is his home), Colfax County Bank of Howells, Farmers & Merchants Bank of Linwood and Pilger State Bank of Pilger. These four banks with the Banking House of F. Folda and the Bank of Rogers, constitute the six Folda banks. Emil Folda was also a member of the State Bankers Guarantee Fund Commission and for 13 years head treasurer of the Z. C. B. J. society. He entered the banking business in 1889, when he received a salary of $5.00 and board. He came to Colfax county in 1869 with his parents and his first home was a sod house. At that time there were but three farms in an area of twelve miles north of Schuyler. No bridges, no roads and no horses, only oxen. The nearest town was West Point, in Cuming county, forty miles distant and the trip by oxen took a long time. The settlers made coffee of parched grain and sugar was scarce. Mr. Folda remembers the grasshoppers of 1874 and for several years thereafter; the bad dust storm of 1880, which raged many days and drifted the soil from fields into drifts several feet high. He remembers the terrible blizzard of January 12, 1888; the prairie fires that destroyed everything not protected against them; winter storms, when the snow swirled over the burned-over lands; Indians; wild game, which had to be driven away, for it destroyed the crops; antelope and deer; streams and hallows, where the buffalo and deer shed their horns—the creeks were full of them—all this he remembers and has seen it vanish as when the curtain falls and rises again to show a new landscape. In 1904 his first wife, born Emily Pesek, of David City, died and he married Miss Antonie Sadilek, daughter of F. J. Sadilek of Wilber. His son by the first marriage, Albin, was killed in the World War (1914–1918); his daughter Laura, married Joseph A. Kucera and his daughter Olga, by the second marriage, is married to Prof. Orin Stepanek.
ADOLPH, the fourth son of John Folda, was born in 1869 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and died in 1914 in Howell, where he was cashier of the Colfax County Bank. His son, Lambert, has taken his place. He left his wife, one son and two daughters surviving, the daughters are, Leona and Martha.
RAINOLD, the fifth son, was born in 1873 in Colfax county, Nebraska, and died in 1906. He was assistant cashier of the Clarkson State Bank. He left his wife, one son, Lawrence, and two daughters, Elva and Arline, all living in California. Lawrence is connected with a large bank in San Diego.
JAROSLAV, the sixth son, was born in 1875 in Colfax county and is cashier and manager of the oldest and largest of the Folda banks, Banking House of F. Folda, also vice-president of the Bank of Rogers
JOHN, the youngest son, born in 1887 in Colfax county, is managing president of the Colfax County Bank in Howells.
From the foregoing, in connection with data about Frank Folda, it is evident that the Foldas, as a pioneer banking family, occupy a prominent position among Nebraska Bohemians. Bohemians, as a rule, at least the immigrants are content with modest though steady gains, enough to help their children and insure old age. As a whole, they do not have the qualities that enable them to grasp financial opportunities, especially when it means a risk. They have always been good and useful citizens, ready to support all worthy objects.
JOSEPH, the third son of Martin Folda and brother of Frank and John, was always a farmer and died in 1904.
More than twenty male descendants of Martin Folda lived in Nebraska and achieved good positions. Could they have done this in the little village of Holovousy, the birthplace of their father and grandfather? John Folda died in 1895 and is buried, as are his parents, in Heun cemetery, for which he donated half the land. The Heun church also stands on the land that he donated in 1877.
JOHN LAPACEK SR. was born in the village of Bezdecin, County Pacov, Bohemia, in 1836. His wife, born Clara Plzak, was born in 1826 in Porin, County Pacov. He died in 1871, she in 1884, both are buried in Heun. They came to this country, to Chicago, in November 1868, there being three sons and two daughters: Charles, John, Thomas, Anna and Josephine. They came to Omaha April 1, 1869, bought a team and other supplies and went to find a homestead. They stopped with Vaclav Maly, near West Point, who advised them to go to Colfax county, which they did and in the fall of that year (1869) settled on a homestead near the present settlement of Heun.
CHARLES LAPACEK was born in the village of Bezdecin, County Pacov, Bohemia, in 1844 and in 1868 came with his parents to Chicago. In 1869 they settled in Colfax County, where he and his father each took claim near the present Heun, eighty acres each, and began to farm. In 1871 Charles Lapacek married Mrs. Agnes Mytiska, a widow, who had four children: Frances (Mrs. F. Zlabek), Antonia (Mrs. Joseph Vanicek, deceased), Marie (Mrs. Anderson) and Anton. Four children were born of the second marriage: John (deceased), Charles, Frank and Joseph. All the children of Charles Lapacek are in good circumstances and he is living in retirement with his son Frank. His wife is in the sanitorium in Norfolk.
FRANK WASKO was born in Chrudim, Bohemia, in 1832. He came to St. Louis, Mo, in 1866 and three years later came to Colfax county, where he bought 80 acres twelve miles northeast of Schuyler. He died years ago and is buried at Heun. His son, Edward, resides in Schuyler.
JOSEPH SOBOTA was born in the village of Losina, County Blovice, Bohemia, in 1819 and died in 1901. His wife, born Katherine Slais, was born in the same place and died in 1912. Both are buried in Heun. They had nine children: Mary (Mrs. Martin Lodl, deceased), Katherine (Mrs. Sklenar), John, deceased, Barbara (Mrs. Jos. Krenek), Anna, (Mrs. Shreeder), Lidmila (Mrs. Vaclav Kudera) and Joseph, deceased. They settled in Manitowoc county, Wisconsin, in 1861, where they bought twelve acres of land, later forty more, and farmed for eight years. In the fall of 1869 they came to Colfax county and took two claims of eighty acres each eleven miles northeast of Schuyler. They prospered and bought more land. When their children grew up and married, they established homes of their own and the parents until their death lived with the youngest son Joseph.
MARTIN LODL was born in 1836 in Bucek, Bohemia, and came to Colfax county in 1869 from Wisconsin. He died November 1, 1919, and is buried in Heun. He left three sons, Frank, Rudolph, Albert (Peter died at the age of seventeen) and a, Mary, (Mrs. Vaclav Brichacek.)
VACLAV DVORAK was born in the village of Nebuzele near Melnik. Bohemia, in 1824. He came to Wisconsin in 1855. In 1869 he settled in Colfax county on a homestead twelve miles north of Schuyler. In 1873 he sold out and engaged in the grain business in Schuyler and in that year built a mill on Shell Creek, five miles northwest of Schuyler, where he prospered: He had three sons: Adolph; Stephen and Emil (all deceased) and a daughter, Mrs. Creminson. His biography would have been very interesting, but no particulars have been preserved. He died in 1916 and is buried in Schuyler..
In 1870 the following came:
VACLAV VITEK, born in 1828 in Hnevetice near Vysoke Myto, Bohemia. He emigrated to Iowa in 1868. In 1870 he came to Colfax county, with his family of wife and son, Joseph, and daughter, Mrs. Papousek, both deceased. They settled on a farm on Maple creek, near Heun, eleven miles from Schuyler. Vitek died in 1913, his wife Christine a year prior thereto, both are buried in the cemetery, Sion. His son, Joseph Vitek, born 1853 in Cachnov, Hlinsko, married Frances Jurka in 1882 and they had three children: John, who farms the old homestead, Anna (Mrs. Julius Kuzel, deceased,) and Christine, Mrs. Joseph Kuzel. He and his wife live in retirement in Schuyler.
JOSEPH HOUFEK, born in the village of Knezice, County Caslav, Bohemia, May 8, 1816, came with his wife, daughter Josephine and three sons, Frank, Vaclav and Joseph, to Omaha in 1869, with no means. They all worked in the brickyards there for a year. When they had saved enough for a yoke of oxen and a wagon, they went by wagon to Schuyler, where they took a claim on Dry Creek, Houfek first and then his sons, as they became of age, nlne miles north of Schuyler. Houfek died in 1878, he is buried in Dry Creek cemetery. His wife died in 1888, buried in Schuyler.
JOSEPH SMATLAN, born August 11, 1844, in Teleci, County Chrudim, Bohemia. When he was eighteen years old, his father died and he was obliged to assist his mother Anna, born Zvacek. October 28, 1866, he married Anna Telecky from Siroky Dol and the next day they emigrated to America, accompanied by the mother. They went by sailing vessel, spending seventy days on the sea and arrived in New York in January 1867. They set out for Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the mother’s two sisters and a brother were living. It was shortly after the close of the Civil War, there was little work and wages were low, but food, clothing, etc. were high. Smatlan began to work in a brickyard, for $15.00 a month. Then he farmed three years on a rented farm. When people began to move westward in 1870, to South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, several families set out together by ox teams for Nebraska and all settled in Colfax county, fifteen miles north of Schuyler, where they took homesteads. Smatlan farmed there eight years, then moved to Schuyler, where with John Novotny he conducted a lumber and coal yard. In 1891 he bought out his partner and with his sons continued in the business until 1901, when he handed it over to his three sons, who are his succersors under the name of Smatlan Bros. Mr. and Mrs. Smatlan had three sons: Joseph E., born 1876, married, and living on the farm near town and managing the business established by his father; Edward, born in, single, proprietor of a big farm near town and Victor, born in 1886, married. Daughters: Anna (Mrs. Thomas Molacek, lives in Oklahoma); Josephine (married Dr. Vojtisek, died May 15, 1918 in Los Angeles, Cal.) and Marie, married to Rev. Kadlec, living In Minneapolis, Minn. Joseph Smatlan, the father, lives with his son Edward. He gave all his children a good education and enjoys a calm old age, after many hardships suffered in youth. He is respected by all the citizens, regardless of or religion and is beloved by his children. He is a good patriot, a member of several lodges, in which he was active while younger, and has raised all his children to be proud of their Bohemian origin.
JOSEPH KOVARIK from the village of Sirakovice, JOSEPH FIALA from Habr, JOSEPH MISEK from Okresanec and THOMAS JANDA. from Spitice, all County Caslav, came to Omaha in 1869 and took claims in the same section on Maple Creek, except Fiala, who took a claim in the section to the east. In 1870, in the spring, they moved thereon; erected sod houses and helped each other. They all lived on their homesteads until death overtook them in old age, except Fiala; who died comparatively young. He burned to death while trying to rescue his stock from a burning barn, the fire being caused by the overturning of an oil lamp.
FRANK STIBAL was born in Dol near Tabor in Bohemia, January 20, 1847. He came to Wisconsin to his cousin John Stibal, to Milwaukee, in1868 and in that same year went to Omaha, where he worked at what he could get. He married in Omaha. In 1869 he took a claim near Richland, as did his cousin John Stibal and Joseph Papez and moved thereon in 1870. In 1915 he retired with his wife (born Rank) to Schuyler, leaving his 200-acre farm to his son Edward. His daughter, Mrs. E. S. Krenze, lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Anna, Mrs. Jacob Abraham, lives on a farm near Richland. Emma died single. Frank Stibal died January 4, 1916 and his son Edward two years later. Both are buried in Schuyler.
JOHN LAPACEK JR, was born in the village of Bezdecin, County Pacov, Bohemia, and came with his parents to Chicago in 1868. In April of the following year he moved to Omaha, where he clerked in a store and in 1870 moved to Schuyler. Later he became county treasurer and died in 1902 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
FRANK OTRADOVSKY, born in Caslav, Bohemia, in 1846, came to America in 1866 and settled in Chicago. In 1870. he moved to Schuyler, where he worked at various occupations. He was active in lodge life and died in 1910, buried in Schuyler.
ANTON LANGER, born in the village of Podceplice near Stetin, Bohemia, in 1844, came to America in 1866. He settled in New York, where he worked at various occupations, mainly at his trade, that of locksmith and machinist. In 1868 he went to Omaha, where he learned photography. Then he married Anna Svarc and in 1870 moved to Schuyler. He establishgd a photographic gallery, being the first photographer in town. Later he had a second-hand store. Two sons were born, Rudolf, who died and Anton, a barber, who conducts business in the original building built by his father. Langer died in 1924, his wife in 1920, both buried in Schuyler.
JOSEPH KRATOCHVIL, born January 28, 1826, in Kněžice, died in Schuyler, January 8, 1906. He came with his family from Bohemia to Omaha, where he bought a wagon, a yoke of oxen and some groceries, then put his wife and seven children and the rest in the wagon and set out for Colfax County, where he took a homestead thirteennorth of Schuyler. They travelled by day and at night slept under the open sky. The trip lasted four days, now by automobile it can be made in two hours. Of the seven children the following have died: Anna (Mrs. Chris. Wille, Omaha); Barbora (Mrs. Joseph Faltys, Schuyler) and Frank. The following are living: Caroline (Mrs. Joseph Kratochvil, St. Joseph, Mo.), Marie (Mrs. John Janecek, Omaha) and Frances, (Mrs. F. J. Fitle, Omaha) and son Vaclav.
In 1870 a caravan of Bohemian pioneers arrived in the present Lincoln precinct and established the settlement called Tabor. It consisted of two wagons. In one was the family of Thomas Dostal, born in Velka Velesna, Nemecky Brod, In the other the families of JOSEPH F. SINDELAR (born in Stehlovice, Milevsko, THOMAS SINDELAR (Stehlovice), F. J. JONAS (Chynava) and VACLAV SINDELAR (Stehlovice), single. Mr. John Maly, a farmer living three miles from West Point, Cuming county, accompanied them, surveyed their land and helped them get the necessary documents. Mr. Jos. B. Sindelar, now living in Howells, who had stayed with his sister (now Mrs. Schultz) in Chicago, for his father did not have the means to pay their fare, sent him (the father, Joseph F. Sindelar) money to buy the first cow in that vicinity, that being in June 1870.
FRANK J. JONAS was born in the village of Chynava, County Unhost, Bohemia, in 1849, the fourth son of Vaclav and Katherine (Stepanek) Jonas. They had six sons and two daughters; Joseph, Anton, John, Frank J., Vaclav, Jiri, Mrs. Prokes and Marie. When the father died in 1856, the estate was to go to the oldest son, Joseph, but he had a good trade (carpenter) so he named his son Anton his successor. When Anton, three years after his father’s death, married and took over the estate, the younger children and mother became pensioners. That is, Anton was obliged, according to the custom of the country to give them lodging and a living. But the estate was not large enough to support them all, so they had to find a living elsewhere. Thus Frank J. in 1866 came to Baltimore, Maryland, where he worked at various jobs, although he was by trade a shoemaker. In Baltimore he became acquainted with the Sindelar family and married the daughter Anna and they all set out for Omaha, Nebraska. Then to Colfax, where they took claims and suffered the usual pioneer hardships. Beginning with bare hands—on the bare plains—what wonder that their bread was often bitter and moistened with tears. Jonas had a good business mind and established a store and saloon in the settlement, which began to grow. A postoffice, called Arlington, was established and he was postmaster. When the Northwestern railroad was built through, it was abolished. In 1881 Jonas rented his farm and moved to Schuyler, where he had a general merchandise store. A year later he returned to the farm, which he sold later and moved to Holt county, near Atkinson, where his children took claims. He had there a brewery with Frank Krajicek, but neither understood the business and made a failure of it. He understood politics und was a good speaker, so later, largely with the help of his son-in-law Cap, a lawyer in Lincoln, be obtained the position of superintendent of the reform school for boys in Kearney, Nebraska, in the eighteen-nineties, under president Cleveland. He taught the young fellows his trade and used to relate many a story of their ways and tricks, when trying to get out of honest work. When Cleveland’s successor was elected, Jonas lost his position and settled in Lincoln, on account of his children, all of whom he gave a good education. He was the father of twelve children, but one died in infancy. They are John, Frank, Vaclav, Stephen, Marie (Mrs. Cap), Emily (Mrs. Baker), Pauline, Rose, Libuse, Clarence and Florence. He was for several years organizer for the Woodmen of the World and a patriotic Bohemian. Although he lacked schooling, he had graduated from the school of life and had much native ability. He died by accident, for while he was at work on the fair grounds in Lincoln, on August 6, 1915 he was killed by a train. His wife died in Los Angeles, Calif., in June 1920. Both are buried in Lincoln, Nebraska. His younger brother George is living in Holt county, Nebraska. Another brother (father-in-law of Joseph Sudik) followed him to Colfax county in 1881.
PETER LODL, born in Bucek, Kralovice, came from Wisconsin.
The following settled in 1870 in the vicinity of the present town of Clarkson.
JOSEPH DUDEK (Krasny, Nove Mesto), FRANK ZRUST (Teleci, Policka), ANTON KUNHART (Teleci, Policka), JAN NOVOTNY (born 1805 in Policka, came to Iowa in 1857, died 1888, buried in Sion), FRANK NOVOTNY (born 1850 in Policka, came to lowa in 1857, died in 1924, buried in Sion) and JOHN NOVOTNY JR., born in 1847 in Policka, came to Iowa in 1857 and living in San Benito, Texas.
In 1871 the following came: John Pokorny, Frank Brichacek with five sons (Frank, Vaclav, who died in 1920, Matej, Anton and Joseph), Marie Votypka, Matej Dobry and sons (John, Frank G., Vaclav, Charles and Joseph), These all settled in the vicinity of Schuyler.
In the vicinity of Clarkson the following settled: VACLAV KLIMES, born in Nova Ves near Nove Hrady, JOSEPH DUDEK, born in Dankovice, and JOSEPH and FRANK FRANEK, born in Nove Hrady.
JOHN POKORNY, born in Rajkovice, Milevsko, came to Colfax county and settled near Heun. Died 1912 and is buried in Heun.
FRANK BRICHACEK, was born November 1, 1841, in Rejkovice, County Milevsko. In January 1870 he married Anna Pokorny, who was born in the same county in 1845. Brichacek served six years as a soldier, when Austria warred with Italy, then was discharged. He was to have served two years more as a reservist, but a new war threatened and he decided to emigrate. In the fall of 1871 he sold out and arrived here in December, having $300.00. In Schuyler he rented a little house and worked on the railroad. He was taken to Colorado, to clear the tracks of snow, and earned one hundred dollars in three months. Upon his return he erected a sod house on his claim eleven miles north of Schuyler and bought a yoke of oxen, three cows, a stove and other necessaries, so that when he was through, there was no money left for a wagon. During the first year he worked for the neighbors. Cornstalks, straw and dried sunflowers were used for fuel, for there were no trees. Grasshoppers destroyed crops and Brichaceks, like other early pioneers, saw hard times. They had five sons and two daughters, Mary, Mrs. Albert Lodl, and Anna, Mrs. Joseph Sobota, all in good circumstances now. Mr. Brichacek died in 1920. He was one of the founders of the Bohemian Catholic parish Heun and of the lodge No. 6, Catholic Workman.
MRS. MARIE VOTYPKA, born September 25, 1853, in Prodeslady, County Plzen, daughter of Vaclav and Marie Sinkula. She came to this country in 1854 with her parents and sisters and brothers, to Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Her father bought 160 acres of land there, built a saloon and farmed. He was the founder of the church and cemetery at Tisch Mills, near Manitowoc, donating six acres of land for that purpose. In 1871 Mrs. Votypka, then Miss Sinkula and eighteen years old, left for Colfax County, Nebraska, to visit her sister, Mrs. John Folda. She stayed and worked as maid for Mr. N. W. Wells of Schuyler, for $1.50 per week. In 1873 she married John Faltys and the other members of her family followed her. She had seven children by that marriage, two sons being left, Joseph and John. Mr. Faltys had a claim fifteen miles north of Schuyler, 80 acres, where they farmed for six years. They bought 160 acres more from the railroad, at $5.00 per acre. The grasshoppers got most of what they raised, only during the last of those six years did they have full crop. They sold out and moved to Schuyler, where Mr. Faltys bought a saloon from Frank Pesek and they engaged in that business for four years. Mr. Faltys’ health was not good, so he rented the place and worked in Wright & Folkner lumberyard five years. He met with an accident there which resulted eventually in a fatal illness and he died March 3, 1905, aged 44 years. He was born in Osek, County Chrudim, Bohemia, and is buried in Heun. Mrs. Faltys had to earn the living for herself and three children. She established a restaurant, being a fine cook, and prospered, so that she was able to clear the saloon, which her husband had left to the son in an encumbered state. In 1900 she married Joseph Pospisil and after his death lived with her son in West Point. She was employed also as cook in the Catholic rectory at Heun and by Mr. Joseph Smatlan. In 1917 she married again, and lives with her husband, George Votypka, in Schuyler.
MATEJ DOBRY, born in the village of Knezice, near Ronov, County Caslav, in 1823, was the youngest. of the family. He spent ten years in military service, then married Mary Houfek, born in 1828. They moved to Mladotice, the next village, where he bought house No. 37. They came to this county March 1, 1870, with four sons and three daughters. The voyage, in a sailing vessel, lasted thirty-three days. They stayed in Omaha until June 1st, when Dobry with Joseph Houfek and Joseph Kratochvil set out for Colfax county, where each took a claim of 80 acres in Section 26, Midland precinct, nine miles West of Schuyler. Then they returned to Omaha, to earn some money. Dobry had $150.00 on arrival. The next year he bought a team and a breaking plow and with his son John began to break the sod and erect a sod house. Then again to Omaha, to earn more money, in the fall the whole family moved to the farm, except two daughters who stayed in household service in Omaha. Of the seven children, one, a daughter, died in this country. A son Joseph, born in Colfax county, lives in Canada. The oldest daughter, Mrs. Mary Fleiger, lives in Omaha, John in Cedar Rapids, F. J. farms on 120 acres in Colfax county, Mrs. Frances Slouter lives on the original homestead, Vaclav farms and Charles lives in Farwell, Nebraska. They were industrious and thrifty and in time amassed a comfortable fortune. The mother died February 9, 1901, the father October 12, 1903, both buried in Heun.
In 1872 the following came:
JOHN POLAK, FRANK POLAK, MARTIN KRENEK and his son JOSEPH KRENEK. Frank Polak’s father, John Polak, perished in a prairie fire. Joseph Krenek, living at date of writing, writes:
In the spring of 1871 my father Martin Krenek decided to emigrate from his home town, Kardasova Recice, to America. He had a public sale of his property on the Sunday after the feast of St. John the Baptist and cleared 3,500 gulden. April 25, 1871, my father, mother, three children (one was married there, Mrs. Jacob Kroupa, in Sobeslava) and my father’s sister set out. We went by wagon to Sobeslava, there took the train and April 28, arrived in Bremen, where we had to wait until May 1st, for the ship Berlin. We traveled in the steerage and arrived in Baltimore. The trip lasted twenty-one days and during sixteen of these there were bad storms. Frank Polak with his father and family accompanied us and inasmuch as he had a brother in Wisconsin, we decided to go there. However, we met a Mr. Svacina on the ship, who said that two of his sons lived in Nebraska, that the older had been in Wisconsin and found the work hard, the Nebraska prairies being much easier to. cultivate. Therefore, we went to Nebraska, and crossed the Missouri to Omaha over the Union Pacific bridge then nearing completion. Mr. Svacina and his wife came too and suddenly Mrs. Svacina cried out: “My, my, my, there is our Martin!” Her four sons, Martin, John, Jacob and Peter, were Omaha pioneers and well known to the Bohemians there. Martin was employed on the bridge work, he welcomed us and took.us to Thirteenth and Williams, where Bohemians lived in a settlement called Bohemian Town, and we refreshed ourselves. Mr. Svacina found us a place to stay. On Sunday we met with a large number of our countrymen, one advised to go to Butler county, another to Saunders county, but Mr. Svacina thought it would be best for us to go to Colfax county and said he would go with us, if we would pay him two dollars per day for his time and expenses. On Monday morning we set out, but we could not find any claims. For four days we walked about in all directions and at least came to the settlement Tabor. But all the better lands were taken, although there was enough vacant land. However, that was being held by people for their relatives. We returned to Schuyler and Mr. Svacina to Omaha. People advised us to employ a surveyor to show us railroad lands and this was done. He surveyed for us 80 acres seven and three fourths mile north and a mile east of Schuyler, on Dry Creek. Mr. Frank Polak also bought 80 acres, each paying five dollars per acre, ten years’ time to pay at 6 percent. We bought lumber from Mr. Frank Folda and each built a house 14x18 feet. The lumber cost $200.00 and the carpenters charged $35.00 each. Mr. Polak’s house was erected first, for his old parents and his children needed shelter badly. We lay down on a pile of lumber, covered ourselves with a quilt to protect ourselves from the falling dew, and slept sweetly during our first night on the Nebraska prairie. However, by midnight a bad storm came up, each gathered what he could and ran to Mr. Polak’s house, where we spent the rest of the night on the floor. There were fourteen of us in all. By July 4th, we had broken sixteen acres. I was seventeen years old, so I worked for a farmer, father worked on the farm and my sisters were in household service in Omaha. I came home in the fall and we made a sod barn, hauling the timber from the Platte river, sixteen miles distant. We paid $2.00 per load. In the spring I again worked for a farmer, for $13,00 per month and father sowed the sixteen broken acres to wheat. When it was about an inch high, a severe dust storm raged for three days and three nights. That was in the latter half of April and the wheat froze to the ground. Favorable weather ensued and it grew again, but when it was again about an inch high, the grasshoppers destroyed it. That was in 1873. However, we got about ten bushels to the acre anyway. That was the way it went until 1879, when the grasshoppers came the last time. In the meantime, one year we sowed forty acres of broken land, the grasshoppers began to hatch and destroyed the entire crop, we had not left so much as a stalk. In 1873 I bought 80 acres of railroad land at $5.00 per acre, ten years to pay. July 17, 1876 I married and that fall bought 40 more acres from the railroad company, at $6.00 per acre and in the spring of 1877, 40 more at $7.50 per acre.
As stated before, we came with Polaks and poor old Mr. Polak met with a sad death. It happened after harvest in. The weather had been damp, the grass grew high in the stubble and the fall was windy, The grass dried and when farmers wanted to plow, they had to burn off the grass first. On October 14 of that year we were threshing on Mr. Roupets’ place. The afternoon was unfavorable as to weather, so we could not continue. About six in the evening the wind died down. My neighbor Mr. Benes (I do not recollect his first name) plowed around his field to the depth of six furrows and set fire to the stubble. The wind arose from the southwest, jumped over the furrows and raced along in a northeasterly direction. Mr. Polak’s father, John Polak, seventy-eight years old, was herding cattle in the path of the fire. His son Frank was not at home, nor were any of the neighbors, all were away earning necessary money. The woman could not cope with the flames and all of the buildings on Mr. Polak’s farm were destroyed. His father, blinded by the smoke, tried to save himself. He ran to the plowed place, but before he arrived within thirty feet of it, the flames leaped upon him and he perished. His wife was badly burned. The next morning, October 15, they found his corpse, the clothing being entirely burned away, except, the high leather boots. Frank Polak saved a horse and a spring colt, but the latter’s eyes were destroyed, it had to be killed. Old Mrs. Polak was severely burned about the hands, she lay in our house a long time. We lost twenty-two stacks of wheat and the corn as it stood. The ears fell off the stalks and were so badly burned that the hogs would not eat it. We had to buy wheat for seed and food. Times improved later but 1894 was a terrible year for drouth. The wheat had just blossomed when cruel hot winds blew for three days I had 85 acres of wheat and got about 200 bushels in all. The year was a notable one all over Nebraska, a special session of the legislature convened to provide financial aid for the sufferers. In 1905 I moved to Schuyler. Frank Polak was born in Kardašova Recice in 1841, died May 26, 1911 and is buried in Schuyler. His family lives near Hartington, Cedar county, Nebraska.
In 1873 the following came:
Matej Bartunek and sons Joseph, John and Frank, John Cech, Frank Cech, Pankrac Husak, Matej Kopac, Jan Koliha and Vaclav Sinkula.
MATEJ BARTUNEK was born in Oparany near Tabor in 1838, his wife Mary Kocourek in 1836, in Cunkov, near Tabor. He died in 1894, she in 1919, both buried in Heun. There were also three daughters: Mary, (Mrs. Frank Molacek); Julia, (Mrs. Emil Dvorak and Emma, (Mrs. Joseph Smatlan.) All except Emma were born in Bohemia. They came to Chicago in 1872 and a year later to Nebraska and bought 80 acres in Colfax county, for $400.00, six miles west and north of Schuyler. After paying for the land only enough was left to buy a yoke of oxen, but they went to work with a will and were rewarded, for they were able to buy 40 more acres. Mr. Bartunek gave his son the farm and moved to another farm of 200 acres, bought from the railroad at $8.00 per acre, where he died.
JOHN CECH was born in Okresice near Trebic, Moravia, in 1850. He came to this country with brother Frank and family and settled on a homestead near the present town of Clarkson. Later he exchanged it for another ten miles from Schuyler, on Dry Creek. He was a carpenter and therefore much sought after in those days of much building of homes on farms and in town. Having proved up his claim, he moved to Schuyler, where in 1879 he married Marie Balata, who was born in Sobehrady near Tabor inand came to America in 1876. They had ten children of whom five are living: Emma, (Mrs. Gust. Miller,) Matilda, (Mrs. Jos. Kopac,) Eleanor, Marie, (Mrs. Chas. Sindelar) and Helena. John Cech died October 14, 1917 and is buried in Schuyler. He gave his children a good education and two daughters live in the beautiful home he built.
FRANK CECH was born in Okrosice near Trebic; Moravia, in 1835. In 1860 he married Veronika Ferda. In 1873 they settled on a farm ten miles from Schuyler. They had eleven children, of whom seven live: Frank, Mrs. Marie Holub, Anton, Mrs. Antonie , John, Charles and Ludwig. They suffered pioneer hardships, but prospered After his wife’s death, Mr. Cech moved to Schuyler, where he died July 1, 1907. Both are buried in Schuyler. Each son has his farm, Charlie farms the old homestead, now 200 acres.
JOSEPH A. HUSAK writes: I was born in the village of Zalesi, County Nove Mesto, Moravia, in 1858. My father Pankrac Husak was a forester in the employ of County Belcredi. After many years of service for a mere pittance of fifty gulden a year my parents decided to emigrate. They were encouraged in this by letters from my uncle Jos. Smatlan, who wrote that father would get 80 acres of government land almost for nothing. Our family consisted of my parents, my brother Frank, my sister Anna (Mrs. Ed Taborsky) and myself and we arrived in Schuyler in July 1863 with a capital of about $300.00. Father took a claim seventeen miles north of Schuyler, bought lumber for a cabin 14x16 feet, a yoke of oxen and a cow, and the money was gone. Our friends helped all they could, but they did not have much themselves. It was a time of hardship and our parents were sorry they had left their native land, even though there they had suffered want too. But we did not despair, better times came. After while father bought the adjoining eighty for $600.00. We built the first public school of sod. Our neighbors, of Protestant faith, were kind and sincere. We used to meet to worship in our faith, before we built the church called Sion, near Clarkson, I being one of the founders. March 4, 1889 I married Josephine Rousar and we had eight children, seven are living. Julia was drowned while bathing, July 19, 1924. Our children are: Miloslav, Adela Olga, Lumir, Joseph, Frank and Elsie. My father died in 1908, my mother in 1912, both are buried in Zion cemetery. We worked and saved and were able to buy more land, thus insuring a better future for our loved ones. I owned 680 acres and gave my oldest son Miloslav 160 acres. In 1921 we moved to Schuyler.
MATEJ KOPAC was born in the village of Veleno, County Klatovy, in 1836. His wife was Josephine Rericha. They came to West Point, Nebraska, in 1872 and the following year took a claim of 80 acres half a mile west of Howell (there was no Howell then) in Colfax county, where they lived eleven years. Then they moved nearer Heun, ten miles northwest of Schuyler. They had nine children, seven sons and two daughters: Josephine, Anton, John, Joseph, Frank, James, Edward Emil and Marie (Mrs. John Bartunek). Mrs. Kopac died in 1889, Mr. Kopac in 1894, both buried in Heun. As an example of pioneer hardships, Mr. Cejda on another page of this history, relates what Mrs. Kopac, their neighbor, had to endure.
JOHN KOLIHA, born in Stare Sedlo, County Tabor, May 29, 1839, settled on a farm ten miles north of Schuyler, where he lived until his death July 4, 1903 and is buried in Heun.
VACLAV SINKULA, born in Prodeslady in 1818, came with his family to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1854 and had a farm and saloon in a settlement called Tisch Mills, there being a postoffice, store, church and mill there besides the saloon. In 1873 he moved to Colfax county and bought a farm twelve miles north of Schuyler. He died there in 1886 and is buried in Heun. His daughter married John Folda
In 1874 the following came:
John Kovar, Vaclav Misek, Vaclav Vacha, Thomas Vrba, Joseph Kocanda, Frank Najmon, Frank Fajmon, John Petr.
JOHN KOVAR was born May 12, 1834 in Kolec, County Brno, Moravia. His wife, Anna Policky, born 1840 in Presovice, County Hotov. They had eleven children, four died, the following are living: Edward, Frank, John, Anton, Joseph, Antonie (Mrs. Botlin in Kansas), Marie (Mrs. Jos. Hejtmanek, Schuyler), Emily (Mrs. Vac. Metelak). This family arrived in New York June 12, 1874. Three days later they arrived in Schuyler. Kovar inspected lands in the vicinity of Schuyler and in Butler county, then bought 120 acres seven miles north of Schuyler for $10.00 per acre. He had $1800.00 upon arrival. After farming successfully, in 1906 he retired to Schuyler. He donated five acres of ground for the Dry Creek cemetery, which later became a church settlement too. He died in 1924 and is buried in Schuyler.
VACLAV MISEK, born in Okresany, County Caslav, in 1845. He came to this country with his wife Anna in 1874 and bought 80 acres, later buying 80 more twelve miles northeast of Schuyler. They had eight children. Since 1905 living in Schuyler.
VACLAV VACHA, born in Bechyně near Tabor in 1831, came to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1864 and worked there at his cooper’s trade: In 1869 he settled on a homestead near Linwood, Butler county, selling it later and in 1874 buying 160 acres of railroad land in Colfax county. He died in Schuyler in 1900 and is buried there.
THOMAS VRBA, born in Cernice, County Kralovice, in 1850. He married Mary Lodl, both are living in Heun. Matej Vrba, his brother, who came at the same time, is buried in Heun.
The Following settled in the vicinity of the present town of Clarkson
JOSEPH KOCANDA (born in Nova Huc, Morava), FRANK NAJMON (Frysava), FRANK FAJMON (Mrhov near Teleci) and JOHN PETR Spelkov, Moravia). Beginning with 1875 settlers began to pour in around Clarkson so that by 1878 they had to buy railroad lands at $4.00 and $5.00 per acre, ten years’ time to pay,
In 1875 the following came:
Jacob Mares, Frank Herbrich, John Rousar, Frank Vanicek, F. F. Svoboda, John Koza, Frank Mundil, Frank Musil and others.
JACOB MARES was born in 1836 and his wife Anna in 1842 in Starci, Moravia. They were married in 1863, He had some land and was a good mason, thus earning good money while his wife looked after the home. Still they longed to try their fortune in America and coming in 1875 they bought 160 acres eight miles northeast of Schuyler. They had $3,000.00 upon arrival. Ten children were born to them, four have died. The following are living: Mary (Mrs. Soudek), Frances, (Mrs. Dudek), both living in Oklahoma; Joseph, Ludwig, Constantin and Katherine (Mrs. Bures). The first two were born in Moravia, the rest in Colfax county. Jacob Mares died in 1890 and is buried in Schuyler. His widow, with the help of her sons, farmed successfully for each got a farm of 160 acres and are settled near the old homestead. Mrs. Mares retired to live in Schuyler in 1905. She has thirty-seven grandchildren and five grand-grandchildren.
FRANK HERBRICH, born in Hlistov, County Trebic, Moravia, in 1818, came with his wife Mary and three sons: Frank, Martin and John, to Schuyler, where he bought a farm east of town for $2,200.00. They had $3,000.00 upon arrival. His wife died in 1887 and he the year , both buried in Dry Creek. The three sons have farmed successfully, being worth together over $200,000.00.
JOHN ROUSAR, born in the village of Milovy, County Hlinsko, in 1839. He married in 1857 and came with his wife and six children to Schuyler, where he bought a farm west of town. They had eighteen children, nine living: Anna Moural, John, Josephine Husak, Marie Bukacek-Svoboda, Fanny Morhon, Theresa Mitchell, Emma, Edward, Adolf and Julia Knipping. Mr. Rousar died in 1889, his wife in 1898, both buried in Schuyler.
FRANK VANICEK, born in Slavice, County Trebic, Moravia, in 1817. His son Frank J. writes: “We came to Nebraska in 1875, my parents Frank and Josephine Vanicek, my brother Joseph, my sisters Mary (born 1843 and married to Frank F. Svoboda), Josephine (born 1849 and married to Frank Vanicek) and I. I was born in 1861, my brother in 1868, all in Starci, Moravia, where father had married mother in 1841. My mother was born in 1822 and was Josephine Hruza. We settled on a farm fourteen miles north of Schuyler. Father bought 80 acres of land, on which stood a little cabin of one room and a straw shack called a barn. There was no well, we had to haul water for two years, in a barrel on a sled. There were two cows, a pair of old horses, a plow, a breaking plow, an old harrow and some tools. Father paid $800.00 for all this. We then bought 80 acres more, from the railroad, on terms. We farmed there until 1890, when father died aged 73 years, mother died a year later. In 1891 I married Mary Vanicek. Her parents, like my father, were from Slavice. My brother Joseph married in 1892 Antonie Mitiska, whose parents came from Mysliborice, Moravia. She died in 1922. I multiplied the one eighty into four eighties and as I have four sons, I gave each one eighty. I have also a daughter and all my children are in good circumstances. My wife and I live in retirement in Schuyler.
F. F. SVOBODA, son-in-law of Frank Vanicek Sr., writes: I was born in 1845 in Sterci, County Trebic, Moravia, where I attended a two-grade school. Then I learned tailoring and after two years of that traveled afoot to acquaint myself with the country. At the age of nineteen years I was drawn into military service, in 1866, when the Prussian-Austrian was was raging, but we fired not a shot. We marched to Pressburg (now Bratislava) where we stayed a month, Then we were sent to Trnava, in Slovakia, whence the soldiers went home and we younger marched to Brod, on the Russian frontier, where we stayed a year. Then to Stanislava in Poland, where I stayed two years. At that time a wealthy and good Jewish girl, to whom I had been engaged, died, and I wanted to leave. I came home and rented a tavern, which business I conducted until 1871, when I married Mary Vanicek. In 1875 we came to America, as related by Frank J. Vanicek. My father-in-law settled on a farm, my brother-in-law and I stayed in town, he to work at his shoemaking trade and I to work for Frank Folda in his grain elevator. Two years later Novotny & Smatlan established a lumber yard and I worked for them. The pay was but $30,00 a month; my wife ailed constantly, it was impossible to save anything. She was operated twice and died in 1904. Buried in Schuyler. I remained a widower and for years have been janitor of the lodge hall owned by the C S. P. S. and Tel. Jed. Sokol lodges.
The following settled in the vicinity of Clarkson.
JOHN PETR, born in Dankovice, County Nove Mesto, Moravia, August 2, 1844. He came to Colfax county in May 1875 and settled on 160 acres in Adams precinct, later buying 100 acres more and then two quarter sections, so that when he retired from farming, he owned 640 acres. He had, in his time, the finest orchard in the whole vicinity. Seventeen years ago his wife died and he went to live with his daughter Emily, Mrs. John D. Bukacek, Howells. He has four sons and two daughters. Frank is a physician in Oakland, California; Emil, cashier of the Clarkson State Bank, and John, a prosperous farmer of near Clarkson. He suffered the usual hardships. In 1876 the grasshoppers destroyed his crops, but heand prospered. At date of writing he is eighty-one years old and in good health.
JOHN KOZA and his father, JOHN, from Spilkov, Moravia; FRANK MUNDIL born in Frantisky, Moravia, and FRANK MUSIL, Frysava, Moravia.
In 1876 the following came: John Faltys, Joseph Krejci, Vaclav Sudik.
JOHN FALTYS SR. was born in the Village of Nadlesny, County Vysoke Myto, in 1841. His wife, Christina Sousek, was born, in 1842 in the village of. They had five children: Joseph, Vaclav, Frank, Anna (Mrs. Anton Mastny) and Marie (Mrs. Matej Havel). Two more, John and Louis, were born later in Colfax county. They came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1874, where they found work. In 1876 they settled eighteen miles north of Schuyler, having bought 80 acres of railroad land. They were industrious and thrifty, and thus were able to buy more land, so that Faltys owned 800 acres at the time he divided it up among his children. Mrs. Faltys died in 1912, he in 1920, both buried in Clarkson.
JOSEPH KREJCI, born in the village of Volesna, County Caslav, December 17, 1830. In 1859 he married Mary Vlcek, born in 1838. They came to Omaha in 1875 and a year later later Krejci bought a homestead from Joseph Zerzan, 80 acres with improvements, seven miles northeast of Schuyler. He farmed there until his death April 3, 1913. His wife died June 13, 1914, both buried in Schuyler. They had six children, of whom are living Frank and Joseph. Frank was born March 2, 1867 in Bohemia and in 1892 married Anna Beran. They had three children: Frank, who farms his father’s farm of 350 acres; Libuse, (Mrs. Rudolph Hobza) and Jaroslav. In 1915 Mrs. Krejci died and in April 1919 Krejci married Mary Balkovec. He is living in retirement in Schuyler. He is president of the State Bank and in 1921–1924 he was councilman from the Third Ward. Joseph Krejci Jr. was born in Bohemia, December 19, 1872, married Mary Cerny February 15, 1898. They have four children: Otilie (Mrs. John Maca), Ernest, Eliska (Mrs. Milton Kluck) and Rose. Mr. Krejci farms on the original homestead which has been extended so that it comprises 290 acres. He has been county commissioner.
VACLAV SUDIK, born in 1839 in the village of Menany, near Beroun, came with his family to Omaha in November 1875. The following spring they settled on a farm in Colfax county, which comprised 200 acres when Mr. Sudik sold it in 1904 and moved with his three sons to Oklahoma, where he died March 17, 1924 and is buried near Oklahoma City, Okla. His son, Joseph, wrote the larger part of this history.
Pioneers who came after 1876.
FRANK COUFAL, born in Petrovice, Trebic, Moravia, in 1823, came with his wife and three sons. They settled on a farm eleven miles north of Schuyler, where he died in 1908 and is buried in Heun.
JOSEPH M. MUNDIL, born August 14, 1856 in Frantisky, County Skutec, Bohemia, finished the village school at the age of twelve and helped his father, a weaver, until the spring of 1870, when he went to live with his uncle Joseph Bren, a teacher, to learn German. A year and a half later he again took up weaving, which prevailed as a calling in the village and entire vicinity. His mother died in 1876 and he entered into business with his uncle Bren, They made and sold linen in the town of Svitava, Moravia. In 1878 he came to this country, to his uncle, Frank Mundil, a Colfax county pioneer. It is interesting to note that the ship on which he came was wrecked on its next trip over, that being its second trip, and only nineteen people were saved, among them being Frank Pliska from Frysava, who also settled in Nebraska. Mr. Mundil came to his relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ventura, near West Point in Cuming county on Thanksgiving Day, which was being celebrated with a dance on Pospisil’s farm. That very evening a prairie fire occurred nearby, so that Mr. Mundil was immediately initiated into pioneer calamities. Shortly after that he went to his uncle Mundil and later worked in the saloon of Frank Pesek in Schuyler, for $4.00, board and laundry per month. He was porter and hostler for the farmers’ horses. Then he worked in Luneberg’s store, for $10.00 a month and board. In the spring he lived with his uncle, so he could learn English, going to school for that purpose and then again worked in a store in Schuyler. In 1879 his parents and sister came. His father bought an 80 acre homestead adjoining his brother and Joseph M. worked on the farm until 1889. In 1882 he married his cousin Frances Mundil. June 8, 1889 he settled in Clarkson, then a town three years old, and engaged in notary and insurance business, being assessor also. Under president Harrison he was postmaster of Clarkson, until August 31, 1897, when he resigned and then continued again in real estate, insurance and notary work. He was a member of the city council for several years, for twelve years a member of the Board of Education, one of the founders of the Clarkson Milling Company and secretary, treasurer and manager for four years. In 1891, when Frank J. Lepsa came from Wahoo to Clarkson and established a bank, Mr. Mundil became a stockholder and vice president and ever since has been active there. His son Fred F., who married a daughter (Irma) of F. J. Sadilek of Wilber, lives in Linwood and is half owner of the Folda bank there. The other son, Joseph, is assistant cashier of the Clarkson State Bank, also a Folda bank. Mr. Mundil helped to establish the C. S. P. S. (Bohemian Slovanic Benevolent Society) lodge Zapadni Svornost in 1888 (it later went over to the Western Bohemian Fraternal Union) and in 1889 the Bohemian Slovanic Cemetery, being president of the latter and active in its affairs for years. With his assistance this cemetery has been improved until now it is one of the nicest of any small town cemeteries. Mr. Mundil is and always was a good Bohemian patriot and supports all national and cultural objects. He used to act in amateur performances, spoke at various gatherings and funerals, and does so yet occasionally. He lives in Clarkson with his wife and son Joseph.
JOHN CHLEBOUN was born in 1844 in Budislava near Litomysl, Bohemia. In August 1864 as a single man he came by sailing vessel to Baltimore, being on the ocean nine weeks. The passengers encountered two big and two smaller storms. The vessel was swept out of its course and for two weeks could not find its way, so that famine threatened. After spending two weeks in Baltimore, they set out by train for Chicago, accompanied before and behind by trains filled will soldiers, for the Civil War was raging and conditions were unsettled: From Nebraska Mr. Chleboun went to Cedar Rapids, lowa and in 1868 to Nebraska City, Nebraska, where he worked in town and on farms. In 1870 he married Anna Placek there, she having been born in Cerna Hura, County Kralove Hradec, in 1850 and having come with her parents to this country in 1868. The couple moved to Saunders county, Nebraska, where they took a claim and erected a sod house, living in same for seven years. This was twenty miles northwest of Wahoo, the only town in the county, but trading was done in Fremont, thirty miles away and numbering 1,000 inhabitants. In 1892 they sold their farm and moved to Clarkson, where they were succeeded in 1903 by their children, having had twelve, four having died. The following are living: Vaclav, Frank and Katherine are in the store; John lives on a large farm in South Dakota; Oldrich; Anna, (Mrs. Joseph Pechanec in Idaho); Marie, (Mrs. Frank J. Miller, whose husband owns a furniture and undertaking establishment) and Emily, (wife of Jos. S. Severa, cashier of the bank in Beemer).
Ondrej (Andrew) Konopik, born in Lohov, Nova Kdyně, in 1832, came with his family to Saunders county in 1872 and in 1882 to Colfax county, where they settled on a farm thirteen miles northwest of Schuyler. He died in 1911, his wife in 1916, both buried in Wilson cemetery.
JOSEPH FILIPI, born in 1863 in Teleci, near Policka. Settled near Clarkson.
FRANK BRODECKY, born November 19, 1826 in Liblin, Kralovice, died March 25, 1899.
JOSEPH HAJEK, born in 1810 in Lipnik, died March 11, 1886.
The foregoing is not intended to be a complete list of all the Bohemian pioneers of those years, it is all regarding which it was possible to obtain data. They poured in by large numbers, so that within a few years all the land about Schuyler was taken up and the newcomers settled further until they spread over the whole county. Thus, the first Bohemian settlements were near Schuyler, on Maple creek and Tabor (near the present town of Howell). When the North-western railroad, in those days called the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley, built a branch west of Scribner, Howell and Clarkson sprang up, during the first half of the 1880’s. Both are lively and almost entirely Bohemian towns. Bohemians live all over Colfax county, most densely in and about Schuyler, Clarkson, Howell and Leigh.
THE TOWN OF SCHUYLER
Schuyler is the county seat of Colfax county, both being named for Schuyler Colfax, vice-president under President Grant. It is situated on the Union Pacific (built in 1868) and Burlington & Missouri (built in 1887) railroads, 65 miles west of Omaha and a mile north of the Platte River. It has 3,000 inhabitants, of these 232 families being Bohemian.
Schuyler has its own electric plant, water system, sewage system, sixty blocks of paved streets, a large mill, two elevators (one owned by farmers), three fine public schools and one High School, five churches (one a Bohemian Catholic church), a Catholic school where Bohemian is taught, a public library, town hall (Bohemians donated the tower clock in same) and a county court house. The court house was built in 1924 at a cost of $250,000, the old court house was built in 1872 at a cost of $25,000—thus did the years bring changes. The old court house was presented to the city for a museum and the grounds for a park. There are three parks and a fine cemetery. Janecek’s Opera House, built 1892 at a cost of $35,000 and Rank’s Hall, built in 1888 at a cost of $25,000, both built by Bohemians, have passed into other hands.
The direction of civic affairs is almost entirely in the hands of Bohemians. The mayor is Edward Zerzan, treasurer A. Hejtmanek, clerk George McKenzie (partly Bohemian) and J. H. Otradovsky, A. M. Salak, Will Dvorak and L. Vacha are members of the City Council. Business too is largely in the hands of Bohemians. Two banks are directed by Bohemians, Banking House of F. Folda and Schuyler State Bank.
Bohemians here gather together by means of various lodges, Bohemian and American, and with the exception of the Catholic societies, their meeting place is the C. S. P. S. Hall, built in Zapadni Jednota (Western Union) No. 42, C. S. P. S., (Bohemian Slavonian Benevolent Society); Vytrvalost No. 34, J. C. D. (Persistency, Union of Bohemian Women); Tel. Jednota Sokol (Sokol Society); the ladies auxiliary thereof called Sokoly Vlastenky; lodge Blanik, Z. C. B. J., (Western Bohemian Fraternal Union) Modern Woodmen and Woodmen of the World; dramatic societies of the Sokol and Western Bohemian Fraternal Union lodges; Dancing Club of Old Married Bachelors; the woman’s literary club and others. Bohemians are active and work in harmony, regardless of politicial or religious affiliation. The Catholic societies, listed in chapter on Lodges, meet in their church. During the war (1914–1918) all sixteen lodges here banded together and formed a branch of the Bohemian National Alliance, which alliance operated among Bohemians all over the United States, for the purpose of aiding Bohemia to free itself from the dominion of Austria. For this purpose the Schuyler branch gathered $15,100.89, aside from this Schuyler Bohemians subscribed $1,000 to the American Red Cross. The Bohemian women also formed a branch of the “Bees”, an organization that knitted and sewed for Bohemian legionnaires in France and Siberia, in the value of $3,000.00,, with an addition built in 1896, at a cost $4,000.00. The members of the following lodges assemble here:
PIONEERS OF SCHUYLER
The first was FRANK FOLDA, whose biography appeared in a previous issue.
JOHN LAPACEK, ANTON LANGER biographies also appeared in previous issues.FRANK OTRADOVSKY. Their
In 1870 the following were living here; Joseph Sramek, a blacksmith, Frank Pesek, a blacksmith and later owner of a saloon, and Anton Jansa. Further particulars unknown.
In 1872 came JOSEPH DVORAK, with his parents, George and Theresa. He was born in Bohemia in 1846 and came to Omaha in 1868 from Mishicott, Wisconsin. In Omaha he conducted one of the first grocery stores and saloons operated by Bohemian, in company with his future brotner-in-law Joseph W. Zerzan. In 1872 he married Anna Sonka (Shonka) and moved to Schuyler, where he had at first a general merchandise store, then clerked. In 1876–1880 he was county clerk, the first Bohemianoffice-holder. He died in 1897 and is buried in Abie, Butler county.
In 1873 the following came:
VACLAV MALY, born in the village of Vetly, county Melnik, Bohemia, November 24, 1846. He came to this country with the members of his family, settling near Mishicott, Manitowoc, county, Wisconsin, in 1854. Eleven years later, as a nineteen-year-old boy, he came west via St. Joseph, Mo., to the vicinity of West Point, where his brother lived: He liked not the waste lands, although he foresaw their future, and returned to Omaha, where he hired to a freighter going to the gold mines of Nevada and California. From California he went by boat via Panama to New York and then again to Wisconsin. Having conferred with his father, he bought a team and wagon in Chicago and the entire family left for West Point, Nebraska, where they settled on a homestead. Eight years later, having sold it with a profit, Mr. Maly moved to Schuyler, where he worked in Frank Folda’s store. A year later he established his own store and with the exception of an interval, continued until 1902, when he retired,his leisure time as agent for various Bohemian papers. In 1869 he married Margaret Fisher. Nine years later she died, leaving two children and a year after that he married Mary Markovic, one son, now in Lincoln, Nebraska, having been born to them. In 1924 his second wife died and he went to live with his son, dying there at the age of 78, buried in Schuyler.
PETER RANK, born in Miletice near Nova Kdyne, in 1844. He came to Pittsburg, Pa. in 1866, by trade a carpenter. In 1868 he married Mary Killian, who was born in 1850, and they moved to Saunders county, Nebraska, settling on a homestead near Morse Bluff. At first he worked as a section hand, while his wife ran the homestead. In 1873 they moved to Schuyler, where he established a saloon. Later he built a hall, three stores downstairs and a dancing and lodge hall upstairs. It burned down and in 1888 he built a large brick hall, still standing. His wife died in 1890, he in 1892, meeting with death when an explosion of gas occurred in the basement of the hall. Both are buried in Schuyler.
JOHN JANECEK, born in Zehuzice, Caslav.
In 1875 the following came:
FRANK VANICEK and F. F. SVOBODA, whose biographies were given in previous issues.
JOSEPH KUBIK, born in 1857 in Zabori, County Skuc, Bohemia. His parents, Anton and Frances (Vosmek) Kubik came to Iowa in 1867, farming there. In 1870 they came to Butler county, Nebraska. Young Kubik came to Schuyler in 1875, working as a bartender, later having his own saloon. In 1879 he married Antonie Oboril. They had nine children; Julia (Mrs. Fr. Novacek), Rose (Mrs. D. Cleary), Emma (Mrs. Demel), Joseph, Antonia (Mrs. Stejskal), Vlasta, Lumir and John. Kubik was always an ardent patriot, a member of several lodges. He died April 30, 1900 and is buried in Schuyler.
In 1876 Joseph W. Zerzan came. He was born in Horni Ujezd, Bohemia, April 4, 1848, and died in Schuyler, February 20, 1915. He came to this country, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with his parents, in 1866, and taught school there for two years. In 1868 he came to Omaha, where with his future brother-in-law Joseph Dvorak he had a grocery store. November 10, 1870, he married Mary Sonka (Shonka) of Cedar Rapids, and six children were born to their union: Josephine (Mrs. Chas. J. Safarik of Schuyler), Mary, (widow of M. J. Bouse of David City), Emma (Mrs. Lad. Stopka of Chicago), Edward W.; mayor of Schuyler, Dr. George F., of Holyrood, Kansas, and Charles J. of Portland, Oregon. In 1871, Mr. and Mrs. Zerzan settled in West Point, Nebraska, where he had a general merchandise store for about five years. As a proof of his patriotic and cultural activity, he established there, in 1874, a small Bohemian library and founded a reading club. In 1876 he moved to Schuyler, and founded a reading society, which later developed into the lodge Zapadni Jednota No. 42, C. S. P. S. At first he lived on a homestead and in the winter of that year (1876) taught public school. In 1877 he moved to Schuyler, working for Jellison & Miller, hardware and machinery. Later with John Nieman he bought them out and conducted the business about ten years. After that he engaged, until his death, in real estate, loan and insurance business. He spoke, wrote and read Bohemian, English and German, gave all his children a good education and was always in the forefront of all cultural and lodge activities among Bohemians. He was well known among his people, having assisted many with advice and money.
BIOGRAPHIES OF SEVERAL SCHUYLER CITIZENS.
The Prokes Family.
Frank Prokes was born October 1, 1864 in Jaromerice, Moravia. He came to this country in 1873 with his parents John and Clara Prokes, settling in Butler county, Nebraska, where they bought 160 acres. Besides him, there were two brothers, Martin and John.
Martin Prokes, the eldest, married Barbara Coufal in 1877 and with his brother John conducted a meat market in Schuyler, meeting his death in 1898 by accident. He had six children: Joseph, Emil, John, Stacia (Mrs. George Shonka), Hedvika (a nun), and(Mrs. Edward W. Zerzan).
John Prokes, also a butcher, married in 1878 Annain Wahoo, moving to Schuyler, where for many years he was in the meat market business with his brothers Martin and Frank. He had three children: Alois (Louis), John and Louisa (Mrs. Will Dvorak). He died in 1924, in California, where he and his wife spent their winters. Buried in Schuyler. John Prokes was an esteemed citizen and active in political office. He was a member of the city council and board of education. In later years president of the Schuyler State Bank.
Frank Prokes married Marie Sobolik in 1888. They have two daughters, Edith (wife of Dr. Jos. Lauvetz in Wahoo) and Sylvia. Frank Prokes was for many years in the meat market business, also proprietor of a saloon, and a member of the firm of Higgins & Prokes. He too is a highly esteemed citizen. For two terms a member of the city council and two terms county commissioner. Living in retirement, although still active in the management of a farm which he rents out.
The Prokes family is highly regarded and wealthy, a result of industry and business acumen. The mother died in 1878, buried in Abie, the father in 1905, buried in.
JOSEPH DIVIS was born in Litavany, County Hrotovice, Moravia, in 1828. He came to Butler county, Nebraska, in 1871 with his family and bought a homestead near Linwood, farming same with the help of his wife and two children, F. J. Divis and Mary (Mrs. John Maca), F. J. Divis was born in 1858 and bought a farm on Shell Creek, Colfax county, eight miles from Schuyler, in 1880. In 1924 he moved to Schuyler with his second wife. His father died on his son’s farm in 1914 and is buried near Richland.
VACLAV NOVAK, son of John and Anna (Zita) Novak from Pabenice, county Caslav, was born August 2, 1857 in Mala Becvar, Bohemia. They came to Milwaukee, Wis, in 1867, having six children, but three stayed in the old country, John, Anna and Mary, following the parents later. Those who came were the six: Joseph, Alzbeta, Vaclav, Anton, Frank and Ferdinand. A year later the father with his son Joseph and neighbor Ignac Skala came to Cuming county, Nebraska, to John Maly, who assisted them and each took a claim of 80 acres. Near the German settlement called St. Charles, was a vacant log school house, for the German settlers had built a new one. Novak wrote for his family to follow him and the old log house was their first home, before a “soddy” could be put up. That was in the spring of 1869. They worked with a will but four years later the father died and the mother had to care for her large family. When the son, Vaclav Novak, was 24 years old, he married, in 1881, Anna Maly, Vaclav Maly’s stepsister, born February 16, 1823. They had eight children, five living: Jaroslav, Leonora (Mrs. Frank Moural), Emilie (Mrs. Rudolph Strnad), Adolph, Anna (Mrs. Adolph Divis) and Ralph. After farming for eight years, Novak moved to Schuyler, where for a time he conducted a saloon with Joseph Maly, then farmed. In 1900 he bought a farm three miles north of Schuyler. In 1920 gave each child its share and retired to Schuyler. His wife died in 1897 and is buried in West Point, his father John Novak in 1872, buried in St. Charles, Cuming county, his mother in 1918, buried in West Point, Nebraska.
JOSEPH KRUNTORAD was born in the village of Kozohledy, Bohemia, in December 1834. In 1862 he married Katherine Zaloudek, eight children being born to them, six living; Joseph, Anton, Henry, Mrs. Mary Shorny, Mrs. Emily Prochazka and Mrs. Clara Svoboda. They came to Wisconsin in 1866 and stayed there five years, then to Butler county, where they took a claim near Abie. In 1905 they retired and came to Schuyler, where he died February 21, 1922, his wife two years later, both buried in Schuyler.
JOSEPH CUDA was born in Okresany, County Caslav, in 1849. He came to this country in 1868 with his stepmother. His father, Matej Cuda, had died two days before their departure. They came to Omaha, where young Cuda worked in the brickyard for $1.50 per day. A year later his mother married a German, John Wall and moved to a farm near North Bend, Dodge county. Cuda took a claim near Abie, Butler county, where he “batched” it until he got his patent, then married Mary Turek. There were no children and his wife died in 1912. In 1914 he moved to Schuyler and married his wife’s sister, Josephina Otradovsky, widow of Frank Otradovsky.
JOSEPH CUDA was born in Saunders county, near Wahoo, in 1876. His father Vaclav and mother Katherine came in 1868 from Kamenne Mosty, County Caslav, and settled on a homestead near Wahoo, then bought more land, so that eventually they owned 240 acres. They had nine children. The mother died in 1893, the father in 1918, both buried in a country cemetery near Wahoo. Josef Cuda married Vincencie Divis in 1899 and they came to Schuyler in 1904. There were six children: Mrs. Anna Whatt, Mrs. Josephine Wolf, Joseph, Emma, Edward and Adolph.
FELIX SEVCIK, born in Mila Ves, County Domažlice, in 1844, came to the United States in 1863, going to his uncle Peter Steinberger in Ohio. Later, with his parents, who in the meantime had arrived, he moved to Kewaunee, Wisconsin, and there married Margaret Valenta. In 1869 with his family and father-in-law Joseph Valenta he came to Colfax county, Nebraska, where each took a homestead ten miles northeast of Schuyler. Mr. and Mrs. Sevcik had three daughters and a son. Anna Clara, the eldest, became the wife of Lev. J. Palda of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a very prominent Bohemian in his day. Mrs. K. F. Kirchner lives in Circle, Montana, Mrs. A. V. Vondracek in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Felix Sevcik Jr. in Hillsboro, Illinois. In 1879 Mr. Sevcik sold his farm and moved to Schuyler, where he practiced his trade of blacksmith to 1892, when he moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There he was for twenty years employed by the Rock Island railroad company and pensioned. He died May 23, 1926 and is buried in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
JACOB KRULA came in 1875. His son John Krula writes: “My father Jacob Krula was born in 1825 or 1826 in Sadek, Moravia. From an early age he was employed as sheep herder on the nobleman’s estate and in 1858 was made sheep master. In 1859 he married Veronika Novotny, born in Petrovice, Moravia, in 1833, of peasant birth. They were married in Pribyslavice, Moravia. In 1875 with their five children, Frank, Anton, John, Anna and Marie, they came to this country, arriving in Schuyler, May 21, 1875. Mr. John Kovar helped him select a homestead, an, partly improved, for $1100.00. Father liked our new home very much, but did not enjoy it long, he died two years later, of pneumonia and my sister Mary died two years after him. My mother was obliged to get along as best she could with her young children, but it must have been very hard for her, as the country was more or less yet a waste and she felt very helpless. However, time went by, we children grew up; the country was settled more and more and times improved. My brother Frank left home first, he now lives in Dawson county, Anna married John Nebuda and lives on a farm near West Point, Nebraska. Anton married and lived two miles from our homestead, where he died in 1917. I was left alone with mother. She died in 1896 and in 1899 I married Fanny Woracek and we live on the original homestead.
BOHEMIANS IN BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE IN SCHUYLER, IN 1926.
CHARLES J. SAFARIK, druggist, proprietor of drug store since 1887. Son of Saline county pioneers, Peter and Anna Safarik. Born May 15, 1866, in Dayton, Ohio, where his parents arrived that year from Bohemia and where he was born six weeks later. They moved to Crete in the early seventies, in Saline county, and then to Wilber, where both died. Of their eight children but two are living: Chas. J. and Robert. Mr. Safarik married Josephine, eldest daughter of Joseph W. Zerzan.
RUDOLPH A. DARICEK, harness maker and partner in Schuyler Harness Co. In business since 1894. Born in 1873 in Brno, Moravia. His father Frank and mother Anna came to Schuyler in 1884. Mr. Daricek used to be compositor when the newspaper Nova Doba (New Era) was established in 1887, Hugo Chotek editor. He is an ardent Bohemian patriot, Sokol and member of several lodges and stage manager of the dramatic society of Tel. Jed. Sokol. It was his suggestion that the Bohemian Dancing Club bought and presented to the city, with proceeds from entertainment, the fine clock in the city hall tower costing $600.00. He was the president of the club, Emil Faltys secretary and R. Langer treasurer. The two latter are not among the living now. The clock is an ornament to the city, the building was erected in 1908.
VACLAV PAVLICEK, partner with his son in the meat market Pavlicek & Son, since 1895. Born in Rouchovany, Znojmo, Moravia, in 1867. His father Vaclav and mother Mary came to this country in 1883, settling in Schuyler, Nebraska. The mother died in 1887 and is buried in Heun, the father in 1894, buried in Schuyler. Mr. Pavlicek married Antonie Divis in 1894 and have two children, Vaclav and Lottie.
JOSEPH BURES, proprietor of shoe shop since 1898. Born in Krizanky, Nove Mesto, Jihlava, Moravia, in 1854. In this country since 1887, having lived previously in Tabor, South Dakota.
JOHN L. DUDEK, partner in Schuyler Harness Co. and Schuyler Auto Co. since 1903. Born in 1877 in Nove Mesto, Nove Sady, Moravia. His father Frank and mother (Antonie Hejtmanek) came in 1882 and settled on a farm eight miles northwest of Schuyler. Young Dudek, having gone through school, began to learn the harness making trade with R. A. Daricek and then became his partner. He was three times a member of the city council and in 1920 was elected mayor.
JOSEPH SVOBODA, tailoring shop since 1900. Born in Priluk, December 13, 1873, county Litomysl, Bohemia. His father John and mother Katherine (Hanel) had a small estate, he learned the tailoring trade and worked in Vienna. February 18, 1894 he came to this country, to his relatives the Hanels near Clarkson. Then he worked for Albert Loukota in Schuyler, later buying him out. He is a good Bohemian patriot, a cheery companion and excellent actor. He was very active during the war, when the Bohemians of Schuyler gathered over $15,000 to help free Bohemia from Austria and Germany.
MAREK & SON, soft drink parlor and restaurant. In business since 1918. Marek was born in Prilepy, county Unhost, in 1867. He came with his mother and brother Anton to Wilber, Nebraska, in 1880, later moving to Omaha, then Madison and finally to Schuyler. His mother was an expert midwife and had good practice. She and the brother are dead, both buried in Schuyler.
RUDOLPH RUBRINGER, teacher of music, since 1923. Born in Trebon, Bohemia, in 1870. Came to Chicago, Ill. in 1892 and there married Josephine Tupy. In Schuyler he has trained a band of 24 musicians, which excites great admiration. Teaches to play on all instruments and at present has 45 pupils.
JOSEPH H. OTRADOVSKY & SONS, grocery store, since 1892. Mr Otradovsky was born in Caslav, Bohemia, July 22, 1873. He came to this country with his parents in 1890, to Schuyler, where Joseph went to school one year, to learn English. Then he worked for his uncle Frank Otradovsky, in his store and later, in company with his father, established his own store. He has been a member of the city council three times.
JOHN AND FRANK KOLIHA, tinsmiths since 1921. Both born in Schuyler. Their parents, Joseph and Mary, came in 1881 from Oparany near Tabor, Bohemia. John was born in 1890, Frank 1895. Their father died in 1907.
THE SCHMID BROTHERS, Joseph and Jaroslav, blacksmiths and wagon makers, the business having been established by their father Cyril Schmid in 1886. The father came to Butler county, with his parents, settling on a farm near Abie. He had learned the blacksmithing trade in his native land, here worked for Thomas Hrubecky, to learn the American system, then began on his own account. The sons are always busy, their brother Stanislav helps them when necessary.
EMIL COUFAL, partner in Higgins & Coufal, lumber yard, in business five years. Born in Butler county, Nebraska. His parents, Frank and Catherine, live in Schuyler, retired farmers.
ANTON KUPKA, watchmaker and jeweler, in business since 1896. Born in Crete, Saline county, Nebraska, in 1871, where his father Martin was one of the earliest pioneers. Kupka came to Schuyler in 1891, worked at first for jeweler Huck, then began for himself. He is a good business man and well liked.
JAROSLAV STASTNY, shoe shop since 1920. Born July 4, 1893 in Schuyler. Father Frank and mother born Mary Pesek.
FRANK E. DUDEK, proprietor of a large general merchandise and clothing store, owns several farms. Born in Moravia in 1872. His parents, Frank and Antonia, came to this country in 1882. They bought a farm on Dry creek, two years later sold it and bought on Shell Creek. Young Frank when through school, began to work for his uncle John Dudek and has, in his own business, become prosperous.
VACLAV PROKUPEK, partner in a shoe store since 1917. Came to this country in 1913. He worked in Omaha, then in Clarkson, then moved to Schuyler. Is a good Bohemian patriot and amateur actor. In 1916 married Emily Coufal, they have three children.
ANTON LANGER, barber shop since January 17, 1899. Born in Schuyler, March 24, 1875. In 1903 married Antonia Vrzak, they have one son, Robert. His father, Anton Langer, came to this country in 1866, settled in Schuyler in 1870.
JOHN VAREJCKA, tailor shop since 1912. Born in the village of Seradov, County Hlinsko, Bohemia, in 1875. His parents, Vaclav and Frances (born Dvorak) owned a house there. He came to this country in 1891, to Omaha, then to Schuyler and in 1892 married Frances Bohac, they have eight children. He is a good Bohemian patriot, member of several lodges and a good amateur actor, president of the dramatic section of lodge Blanik, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union.
THOMAS WACHA, dry goods, clothing and grocery store. In business life since 1899 and proprietor since 1904. Born in Saunders county, Nebraska, in 1870. His father Vaclav and mother Marie Magdalena came to this country in 1864. Thomas Wacha married Marie Mityska in 1896, they have eight children. He is a good business man and successful.
JACOB ROUSEK, proprietor movinghouse since 1912. Born in Omaha, son of Joseph and Frances Rousek. In 1904 married to Dora Hasberger.
AUGUST KOUDELA, meat market since 1900. Born in Seradice, Bohemia, in 1873. Married to Bozena Krahulik in 1903. She died a year later, leaving a son, Edward. In 1907 he married Anna Majer, they have five children. A good Bohemian patriot, cheerful companion and practical in business.
JOHN ELIAS, tailor shop since 1900. Born in Holetin, County Hlinsko, Bohemia: His parents, Frank and Frances (born Volda) came to this country in 1875, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, then to Boone, Iowa, then to Omaha, Nebraska, then to Schuyler. John Elias married Pauline Baloun in 1891, they have two daughters.
CHARLES A. KILLIAN, well maker, since 1919. Born October 25, 1862, in Bohemia. Came to this country with his parents in 1868, then to Chicago, then to Saunders county. Married Anna Zelezna in Omaha, they have eleven children. He used to farm a 240-acre farm in Saunders County, learned to make wells and since 1890 is in that business.
L. J. ZIMOLA, plumber since 1916. Born in Wahoo, Nebraska, in 1888. His parents, Vaclav and Frances, born Rezac. In 1915 he married Anna Fisher, one son.
DR. FRED G. KOLOUCH, proprietor of a hospital since 1921. This hospital was established by Mrs. Mary Prokes, born Jonas, in 1915, and successfully conducted by her for three years. Dr. Kolouch was born in Crete, Saline county, Nebraska, July 14, 1887. His parents are Thomas and Anna, born Frolik. His mother came to this country in 1869, his father, a carpenter, in 1879. Dr, Kolouch studied in Western University, Lincoln, then four years medicine in Omaha, was interne in the St. Joseph Hospital there for a year, then practiced five years in various places. In 1917 he was active in military camps in Kansas and Louisiana, during the World War. In 1913 he married Lily Kovarik, one son. Dr Kolouch is a very good surgeon.
JAROSLAV POKORNY, proprietor of two filling stations since 1920. Born in Colfax county in 1885, parents, John and Antonia, born Pesicía. In 1905 married to Mary Dlouhy, they have three children.
FRANK KOPECKY, partner in shoe shop store Prokupek & Kopecky, since 1917. Born in Luben, County Hradec Kralové, in 1894. His parents, Joseph and Barbara, born Broz. Came to this country in 1911, member of a musical band of five men, under Frank Kudrnac. They arrived in Galveston, Texas, and gave concerts in the western states as far as California, then to Omaha, where they disbanded. Kopecky was by trade a shoemaker, so he began to practice that. In 1917 he came to Schuyler and entered into partnership with Prokupek. Married Rose Herbrich, they have a daughter.
FRANK SLERKA, tinsmith since 1922. Born in Zdar, Moravia, in 1887. Parents Charles and Antonia, born Mosner. Came to Schuyler in 1906. Married Pauline Kostal in 1921.
FRANK G. HERBRICH, watchmaker and jeweler, in business 1922. Parents Martin and Marie, born Pokorny. Born in Schuyler in 1888. Married Marie Beznoska in 1917. Learned his trade with A. G. Kupka.
DR. L. H. SIXTA, the oldest Bohemian physician and surgeon, practicing here since 1897. Born in Kostomlaty, Bohemia, in 1867. Came with parents, Frank and Anna (born Kolinsky) tocounty, Wisconsin, where his father engaged in the wholesale liquor business. Young Sixta studied medicine in Chicago, began to practice in 1890 and in that year married Vlasta Bem, daughter of Frank Bem, who established the large Bohemian colony around Yankton, South Dakota. On her mother’s side, Mrs. Sixta comes of the Ferdinand family, which came to Chicago in 1850, when that metropolis was but a little town. Dr. Sixta and his wife made a wedding trip to Europe, where he did post graduate work in Prague and Vienna. They have three children.
DR. L. J. FISHER, dentist, since 1912. Has the best equipped office, with an X-ray machine, the only one of its kind in town. Dr. Fisher was born in Wahoo in 1891, where his parents, Henry A. and Marie, (born Simanek) were pioneers. They came to Iowa in 1856, in 1870 to Saunders county. Dr. Fisher studied music and a business course in Chicago, then dentistry for two years. In 1913 married Anna Novak, they have two sons.
FRANK B. BURES, grocery since 1921. Born in Nove Sady, County Nove Mesto, Moravia, in 1885. In 1887 came to Schuyler with his parents Frank and Anna, born Balaban. When through school, young Bures began to work in the mill, where he worked eighteen years. In 1916 married Katherine Mares, one son.
JOS. J. MILLER, proprietor filling station since 1924. Born in Milwaukee, Wis. in 1869. Came with parents to Dodge county, Nebraska, when but a few months old. In 1900 married Mary Steffl. Farmed the Joseph Smatlan farm three years, then moved to Schuyler.
F. W. SHONKA, born in Smolec, County Bechyně, in May 1858. Came with parents John and Mary to this country in 1867, settling on a farm near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1871 the family moved to Butler county near Abie. When young Frank finished school, he got a position as clerk in Schuyler, in 1879. In 1887 married Frances Simanek of Crete, Saline county, daughter of pioneers there. They have four children. In 1903 established an insurance, real estate, abstract, loan etc. office in the Schuyler State Bank of which he is a stockholder. A good Bohemian-American, esteemed by all. Held several city and county offices.
SMATLAN BROTHERS, Iumberyard, since 1901, successors to their father Joseph Smatlan, who established it in 1878. Joseph E. Smatlan is the president and also owner of a farm, where he breeds thoroughbred Poland China hogs.
V. B. KADLEC, partner Kadlec & Wittera, agricultural implements, since 1915. Born in 1870 in Pisek county, Bohemia. Came to this country in 1891 and worked in Omaha as baker. A year later went to David City, Nebraska, and farmed in the vicinity. In 1893 married Anna Veleba, born in Butler county. In 1894 engaged in the general merchandise business in Octavia and eight years later went into the real state business. In 1911 moved to Schuyler, engaging in real estate, then with John Wittera bought out the business in which they are at present engaged.
JOHN WITTERA, partner Kadlec & Wittera since 1915. Born on a farm in Butler county, Nebraska, near Linwood, in 1876. His parents, Vaclav and Anna, came to this country, to Iowa, in 1867, from Pelhrimov, Jirina, Bohemia. Moved to Nebraska in 1870. John Wittera married Albina Shonka in 1801, they have five children.
JOHN HORAK soft drink parlor and restaurant, since 1925. Born in Saunders county Nebraska, in 1882. His parents John and Anna, came to this country in 1881 and settled on a farm in Saunders county. John Horak married Anna Vnuk in Dodge in 1907.
ANTON PESEK, bakery shop, since 1912. Born in Schuyler in 1888. Parents, F. J. and Mary, came from Moravia in 1883 and settled in Schuyler, where F. J. established a bakery shop, his son succeeding him.
C. A. NOVOTNY, dealer in poultry, cream and eggs since 1905, born in David City in 1879, living in Schuyler since 1898. Parents Martin and Anna. In 1909 married to Julia Bartunek.
JOHN L. PROKES, hardware store, since 1925. Parents, Martin and Barbora, came from Moravia in 1872. Married Frances Herbrich in 1915, they have one son.
A. M. SALAK, restaurant, since 1906. Born in Moravia. Came to this country in 1879, with parents Matej and Anna. In 1902 married Anna Knap, they have five children.
DR. L. A. PROSKOVEC, dentist in Schuyler since 1919. Born in Bruno, Butler county, Nebraska, in 1889. His parents, Vaclav and Anna, came to this country in 1874 and settled in Bruno. Dr. Proskovec studied in the State University, Lincoln, graduating in 1919. Married Anna Suchy in 1916, they have one daughter.
F. H. SVOBODA, photographer, since 1920. Born in Kynice, Moravia in 1871. His parents came to Saunders county in 1872 and farmed there. Young Svoboda, after finishing grammar school, studied in the Normal College in Fremont, for teacher and there he learned Bohemian also. In Zlata Hvezda), something he had long dreamed about; but he could not make a success of it. He then taught school a while and established a photographic gallery. In 1909 he began to publish a non-political paper “The Schuyler Messenger”, his entire family assisting him, in 1920 he handed it over to his son Amos, who sold it to The Schuyler Sun, now the only newspaper in the town, of which Amos is part owner. F. H. Svoboda again entered the photographing business and is successful in it.he taught district school, in 1895 married Clara Kruntorad from Abie and moved to Prague, Saunders county, there teaching for five years, for four years as principal. On Fridays he taught the Bohemian language. He then moved to Schuyler, where he began to publish a Bohemian magazine for children “Golden Star” (
MRS. JULIA JOSEPHINE ROUSAR-KNIPPING, teacher of piano and violin, since 1906. Born in Colfax county. Her father, John Rousar, came with his family in 1875 from the village of Milovy, County Hlinsko, and bought a farm west of town (Schuyler). Mrs. Knipping lived on the farm until fifteen years old, then with her parents moved to Omaha, where they lived nine years. She studied in Fremont Normal College, then in Omaha Commercial College and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Omaha. She taught music in Omaha three years. Then in Schuyler, teaching also vocal, and before her marriage she had 65 pupils, now she has about 35. In Schuyler she taught two singing clubs and one in North Bend. Active in Red Cross and American Legion Auxiliary work, founded Jr. American Auxiliary. Married G. Knipping in 1919. Mrs. Knipping is a good Bohemian patriot, an amateur actress and during the war (1914–1918) was active in the Schuyler branch of the Bohemian National Alliance, the purpose of which was to aid Bohemian in freeing herself from the yoke of Austria, and helped to found a branch of the “Bees”, an organization of Bohemian women in the United States, who sewed and knitted from Bohemian legionnaires in France and Siberia.
DR. A. W. JOHANES, dentist since 1924. Born in Abie, Butler county, in 1892. His parents, William and Anna, both born in this country. Dr. Johanes studied in the State University of Lincoln, graduating in 1924 and in that year married Anna Rezac.
EDWARD HRUBECKY, implements, since 1908. Born in 1872 in Dubuque, Iowa. His father, Thomas, came to Racine county, Iowa, in 1852, to Schuyler in 1878. With two brothers he practiced the blacksmithing and wheelwright’s trade. Died in 1912 and buried in Schuyler. Edward married Emma Wanke in 1907.
WALTER B. SADILEK, attorney, since June 21, 1915. Born in Wilber, Saline county, December 20, 1889, his parents being pioneers there, Frank J. and Teresa, born Jurka. His father came to this country in 1867, to Omaha in 1873, to Wilber in 1877. Young Sadilek studied law in the State University of Lincoln two years, then in Highland College, Des Moines, Iowa, graduated in Lincoln. In 1913 married Frances Slajs, they have a daughter.
JOSEPH DUBSKY, dealer in poultry, cream and eggs, since 1920. Born near Trebic, Moravia, in 1881. His parents, Charles and Mary, came to this country in 1890 and settled in Schuyler. The father died in 1893, buried in Schuyler, the mother in 1924, buried in Sion cemetery. Joseph Dubsky married Emma Knap in 1903, they have eleven children.
PETER F. SVOBODA, partner in undertaking firm Svoboda & Son, since 1922. Born on a farm in Saunders county, in 1873. His father came from Moravia in 1872. After finishing the grammar school Svoboda studied in Western Normal College, in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1894 he married Agnes Roh and became the father of seven children. Mrs. Svoboda died in 1916 and in 1918 he married Mrs. Mary Bukacek. He farmed his father’s farm until 1918, then gave it to his son Vaclav and established an undertaking parlor in Abie. Three years later he moved with the two youngest children to Schuyler, where he is in business with Ludwig Bukacek, his second wife’s son.
MARY BUKACEK, milliner, since 1924. Born in Sklenna, Moravia, in 1877, came to Omaha, Nebraska, 1896 and worked as housemaid. She learned her trade as milliner with Mrs. Julia Stenicka and went into business in Clarkson. Her parents, John and Mary, came to this country in 1897 and settled in Clarkson, where they had a meat market.
The first station to the east is Rogers (east of Schuyler), having 75 inhabitants. The Bohemians there are; Anton and Frank Kracl, brothers, proprietors of a garage; Frank Dudek, cashier in the bank; Mr. Cerny, owner of an implement, lumber and hardware business; Victor Bures, general merchandise store; Albert Bobisud, dealer in poultry, eggs, cream and Joseph Dvorak, shoemaker.
To the west of Schuyler is Richland with 125 inhabitants. The following Bohemian families live there; John Stibal, George Shonka and Mr. Holub.
Tabor, Wilson, Dry Creek and Heun are not towns or postoffice or railroad stations. They are rural church and cemetery settlements.
HARDSHIPS OF PIONEER LIFE.
MR. FRANK CEJDA, now living in West Point, Cuming County, Nebraska, writes thus of pioneer days in Colfax county:
“In 1867 I came with my parents to Wisconsin from Bohemia and from Wisconsin we came to West Point in 1870, by wagon from Fremont. During the two years we lived there, father managed to make a living by working for the homesteaders and sawing wood for fuel in the town. In May 1872 he took a homestead in Colfax county, one and a half miles from the present town site of Howell. The entry fee was $14.00, but all the money we could scrape together was $12.00. That was all we paid. How the difference of $2.00 was made up I do not know, but I suspect Mr. E. K. Valentine, at the time Register of the U. S. Land Office in West Point, a kindly man, paid it; father having worked for him.
We now had the claim, an old wagon, an ox and a dug-out on the claim. How to move with one ox! Father was acquainted with Frank Herold of West Point and in conversation discovered that he too had one ox and he lent it to father, not only for moving, but also for breaking ten acres. We loaded the wagon with clothing, bedding (furniture was unknown to us), an old stove and cooking utensils, and prepared to travel the twenty-four miles we had to go. There being no bridges, travelling was hard and the old ox (the other was young) mired in a creek so badly that we had to ask help to pull him out. Finally, we reached our new home and were soon settled, for beside the beds and stove, there was no garniture to place about. There were no barns or sheds and the old wagon was the only farm implements, except the breaking plow that we borrowed to use that season.
We broke ten acres and planted them to corn and potatoes. Our nearest neighbor was Joseph Kovar, two miles southeast and the next nearest Peter Shad, three miles in the same direction. To the north we had no neighbors for fifteen miles or more until the Elkhorn river was reached. Thus we were the last of the first homesteaders in northern Colfax county. As the eldest of three children, I farmed during the next three years, as father was away earning enough to supply us with groceries and flour. Work was scarce and wages low. It took three years’ work to put enough land under cultivation from which to make our living.
During our first summer there, several thousand Indians passed us, going to battle with other tribes or hunting buffalo and they camped at night within half a mile of our dug-out. They asked for food. We had nothing but hard bread, which mother gladly gave them, she was so frightened. Our bread being gone and there being no flour or provisions, and father away in West Point at work, we had nothing to eat. Father did not come for a week and in the meantime we subsisted on wild spinach leaves, which we cooked and ate. So I may say we lived a week on weeds. When father came, he brought flour and groceries. Many times during our pioneer days did we have to ration our food, when provisions began to run low. During the first two years barley coffee and corn mush, cooked in water, was our menu, for we had no cow to give us milk. Meat was rare and wild game also, because there was nothing for it to feed on. When crops began to be raised, grouse or prairie chicken and deer and elk came. They disappeared later, when the country began to be more thickly settled.
Many years after, I appreciated for the first time how frightened my mother must have been, when the Indians asked for bread that day. One day it dawned on me, when I recollected that a young Indian boy asked me how she happened to change color and got so white. I had not noticed it, but he had. As soon as she could get away, she ran over to the neighbors, but there too only the woman was at home. After our first year or two, wild game provided us with meat and hunting became a delight, I had an old mussel loading gun that we had traded for ten bushels of fifteen cent corn. One can imagine what a beauty it was, but I prized it highly. One day, walking through a draw where the grass grew high, I came upon a deer lying down, but I did not see him until he had jumped up, scaring me so that I had no strength to raise the gun until he was two hundred yards away from me, out of shot. Although I have seen as many as twenty-five deer at one time, I never bagged one. Others had better luck, for instance the Novotny brothers in one winter killed sixty.
In the spring of 1873 we had the ten acres, broken the spring previous, prepared for seeding wheat, but no money to buy it. Father set out to the Tabor settlement, five miles south, to see if he could borrow the seed wheat until he could raise some. It happened that on that day there was a wedding at Tom Sindelar’s place and Tom at once filled a sack of wheat, saying: “Here, I donate that to you”, and the other present followed suit, each one there giving us a sackfull. Never was anyone happier than my father, and I myself can never forget their kindness and am grateful for it. The Bohemian settlement known as Tabor was established in 1870, for at the time we located in Colfax county, they had already raised crops and had horses, something not known in our locality. Later they built a church there and dance hall. Up to 1875 there was no church within twenty miles of us, so we had to attend the St. Charles church near West Point until the church in Olean was built, four miles west of us.
There was no school within many miles until 1876, something I missed very much I had attended school for some time in Wisconsin and then for two years in West Point, reaching what perhaps now would be the third or fourth grade, but from the time we settled on our claim in 1876, I saw no book and scarcely a newspaper. I had forgotten the letters of the alphabet. When the school was built two miles from us, I began to attend as a beginner, and continued until I was twenty-one, but never more than three months in the winter, for I had to run the farm.
During the first few years there were no social gatherings except on rare occasions, for there was no gathering place and no refreshments to offer. A wedding now and then was the only jollification. My first vacation from the farm work in three years was to participate in a fourth of July celebration in West Point, 1875. I was obliged to walk the whole distance there, but was glad to do it.
Prices for farm products were very low. In 1874 we got $1.80 for 100 Ibs. of dressed pork and we had to haul it twenty-four miles to market, West Point. In 1874 we bought our first cow. Unfortunately, we soon lost her, she fell head first into a cave on Joseph Pimper’s place and it took another year before we could buy another, so that we lived three years without milk. And yet in those days no one thought we were undernourished, because we had no milk, for many others were in the same condition.
It was not until 1877 or 1878 that we bought our first team of horses by trading them for a yoke of oxen and giving a mortgage of $150.00 on the team. The neighbors told us if we did not pay the mortgage when it fell due, we would lose our horses, and we believed them. We had just finished threshing grain, so father began to haul it to market, to be able to pay the mortgage within a week. For six consecutive days he hauled wheat to market twenty-four miles each day, starting with a load at four in the morning and returning at ten at night. It was a strain on him, but a greater one on the horses, for toward the last they would fall asleep as soon as they stood still.
Winters were most dreaded, for we had to provide shelter for ourselves and the animals too. We had to depend, for fuel, on sunflowers, cornstalks, weeds and straw. One winter there was so much snow and our cattle shed was built on the side of athis was so covered with snow we could not gain entrance. As fast as we dug the snow away, the wind would blow the drifts back. So we decided to dig a hole through the top of the covering of the shed. As this was of straw, it was soon accomplished and I was let down. Then father got a basket filled with hay and let it down by a rope, and I fed the animals. Snow also completely filled our open dug well one winter and we were without water until it was hauled out.
In summer snakes would invade our dug-out. I remember one of them got into a neighbor’s bed. One of the boys cried so and would not stop, so when his parents began to investigate and threw the covers back, they found the reptile, which had bitten the child. This boy was the son of George Nagengast.
When one travelled over the prairies by night, one was never sure of reaching his destination, for there were no roads or anything else to guide him, unless it was a starlit night, or the horses knew the way. One dark night I lost my way, so I unhitched the team, straddled one of the horses, trusting to his common sense and we all reached home, leaving the wagon behind. There were some provisions in it and as a light rain came on, my parents did not like to have them. I knew the way had been short and felt I could surely retrace my steps back, but we could not find it. The next morning I discovered the wagon in an opposite direction. Had it not been for the natural instinct of the animals which led them home, I would have had to camp out or wander over the prairies. Had I not stopped and unhitched where I had (on top of a hill) we would have rolled down and wrecked the wagon and perhaps been killed.
When we went to town with products or for provisions, it required a day and a half, that is, half the night, and our food supply while on the way was apiece of bread and some hay for the horses. If we were obliged to stay in town over night, we looked up some acquaintance or friend for lodging, for we did not have the means to stop in a hotel. During the first two years there was so little food that we could not supply our needs. I recall an incident in regard to our neighbor, Mrs. Kopac. Her husband, like other homesteaders, was away working in town, to buy supplies for his family. It was in the fall of the year, her provisions were gone, nothing was available but the melon patch. The poor woman lived on it during the whole melon season. She had a small baby to take care of and grew so weak they could scarcely walk. She knew that her neighbors were short of rations, so she did not even let them know of her condition, hoping for the arrival of her husband.
In the summer-time we all went barefoot. In winter men and boys wore boots with rags in place of socks wrapped about their feet. The women and girls managed to knit stockings for themselves and later made them for the male folk. When the men were out driving in the cold days, or afoot too, they wrapped gunny sacks over their boots, to keep from freezing. For light at night we used the old fashioned tape soaked in a plate of grease, or an oil lamp, if we happened to have oil, However, we used but little light for illuminating purposes. It was early to bed and early to rise, very little artificial light was wasted on us.
Finally, those who had put in three or four years on claims began to get some income, so that a dollar or two could be spared for social purposes. Granaries and barns began to appear and these, whether the owner wished it or not, had to be dedicated. The boys and girls knew as soon as one of these buildings was going up that something would be doing and spruced up for the occasion. Dancing of course was the chief attraction, and Lord, how we did go to it! You know, a Bohemian would rather dance than eat, especially if there were any liquid refreshments to stimulate one. As soon as the accordion player struck the first note, the festivities were on and kept on until daybreak. If by chance the musician wore out, there were plenty of others to take his place. Those were happy days for young and old. As time advanced more room and more means provided other social functions. At all these gatherings and entertainments which I attended, from the first to the last, I have never known of a quarrel or disturbance to mar the harmony. Those present always included singing and closed with the Bohemian national anthem, “Where is my home?”
The redeeming feature of those hard times was the mutual helpfulness and sympathy evidenced by homesteaders for each other. It mattered not what their nationality or religion, a common need made brothers of all and sisters of the women. They were all like one family. If one was in need or trouble, the others even sacrificed to help.
In 1886, just fourteen years after we made entry and moved on our claim, the Northwestern Railroad built its branch from Scribner by way of Albion to Oakdale, connecting there with it main line. It cut across my land and the town of Howell was laid out a mile and a half east of my farm. By this time father owned a 320 acre farm and I had one of 160 acres. Compared to others, we were quite well off and living on a much different scale than in our homestead days, although not flying sky-high as many have done during the recent war (1914–1918) period and then falling flat. We learned by hard work and striving to preserve what we had, we can now ride in an automobile that is not plastered up with a mortgage. We have helped to build schools and churches and bring transportation close to home, so that our children need not go through the hardships we endured, and that they may enjoy the advantages we were in such sore need of but could not have. We are glad now that we were pioneers in all this. I have sold my farm and retired to West Point, where I once lived as a baby andI expect to spend the remainder of my life.”
CAME DIRECT FROM MORAVIA
(By Mrs. Emilie Jonas, of Ithaca, New York)
In 1876, during the month of May, Jakub Dvorak, his wife Frantiska and two children, son Frank and daughter Marie, came to Colfax county and took a homestead in Shell Creek precinct, fifteen miles northwest of Schuyler, four miles southwest of Wilson church, which was not there at that time. Jakub Dvorak was born in July 1843, in the village of Hrotov, near Jihlava. His wife, Frantiska Hrozova, was born March 9, 1848, in the village of Domamil, Moravske Budejovice. Their son, Frank, was born in Nova Rise near Moravske Budejovice. Little Marie was also born in Nova Rise neardied soon after they came to Colfax county. At that time almost everybody who did not have any relatives in this country already, located at Peter Rank’s saloon which was then like a hotel for the emigrants, so my parents also stayed a few days at Peter Ranks before they found an 80-acre farm to buy which they purchased at once from Joe Stecker. There was a log house with one room and a . Adjoining this 80 was an 80-acre tract of homestead land so my father filed on it while mother owned the they bought from Mr. Stecker. Of course, those were the years of grasshoppers and poor crops, of which there was little planted anyway. So father worked out for the settlers who already had a better start. By trade he was a mason so he built chimneys and plastered farm houses. At that time he used to go across to Butler county to build chimneys and sometimes he was gone for months while mother took care of the homestead two mules and one cow. They had to build a sod house on the homestead and live there to prove it. The next spring I was born there and I can still remember where this sod house stood, although I do not remember living in it. At one time when my father was away somewhere building chimneys a rattle snake stung our only cow and it died. Once there was a prairie fire which was terrible, but our good German neighbors came over with teams and plowed around our log house so that it did not burn. I must have been about four years then. I also remember the terrible blizzard of February 1888, when us children had to stay in the school house all night. Brother Frank walked home two miles after midnight. Mother, who was in anxiety, started out in the storm for us and got half way and could not go any farther. Our neighbor found her and took her in. My father was one of the charter members who built the first Wilson Catholic church. As years went by my father prospered and when he passed away June 29, 1909, he left a nice property. Mother died in September 6, 1914. Both are buried in Wilson. My brother who came with my parents from Moravia, died June 28, 1932 in Redfield, South Dakota. My younger brothers, Joseph and Ladislav Dvorak, still own the old homestead and live there. Two sisters, Anna and Anastazie, both married, live in Colfax county. Francis and I live in New York state.
In respect to religion, the large majority of Bohemians in Nebraska, as in the United States, are divided into two extremes—Liberalism and Catholicism. The remainder are Protestants, affiliating, in Nebraska, with the Presbyterians. The Liberals, also called Freethinkers, Rationalists and lately Modernists, among the Bohemians number, it is estimated, about sixty percent. Being therefore numerically in the majority, we place them first in order and to show what they have done in the way of building, give a list of their community halls. Catholics also have their halls, although not in the same proportion, for they confine themselves, naturally, more to building churches, schools and rectories.
Bohemian Liberals are organized mainly through their reading matter, lodges and schools. In two different periods they had branches of a Liberal Thinkers’ League (Svobodna Obec), but these are not now in existence in our state. This League had its beginning in 1870, being founded by Fr. B. Zdrubek, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1871 Bohemians in Niobrara, Knox County, West Point, Cuming County, and in Saline County, belonged to branches of it, but did not flourish long. In the first decade of 1900 a Dr. Frank Iska of Chicago, recently arrived from Bohemia, agitated along these lines and several branches were again established in our state, but the war brought all such to a close and they have not been renewed.
LIBERALS’ COMMUNITY HALLS
CLARKSON: A fine brick building in town, the property of lodge Zapadni Svornost No. 28, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union.
SCHUYLER: A frame building in town, the property of lodge Zapadni Jednota No. 42, Bohemian Slavonian Benevolent Society.
BOHEMIAN CATHOLICS, PIONEER PRIESTS AND CHURCHES
The first Bohemian Catholic priest in Colfax County was REV. JOHN A. BLASKE (Blaschke) in the German-Bohemian parish of Olean. Rev. Blaske was born January 15, 1844 in Horni Dobrouci near Lanskroun. He ceased his theological studies in order to marry, but after the death of his wife entered the seminary again in 1876 and in 1877 came to Nebraska. Later he was transferred to La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1881, and died there February 15, 1901.
About that time, or a little later, REV. CYRIL AUGUSTINSKY came to Columbus, from where he was active as a missionary priest in Colfax county. He was horn in Brusberg, Moravia, March 21, 1851, ordained in St. Louis, Mo., July 25, 1875, and died in Veseli, Minnesota, in January 1901.
Rev. FRANCIS, who became incumbent in Olean, June 8, 1882, was born April 9, 1827, in Brezova, Moravia, ordained in Olomouc August 1, 1862 and came to this country in 1881. The date of his death unknown.
Rev. FRANCIS POLD came to Colfax County in 1883 and later was active in other places. In 1888 he returned to Bohemia.
Toward the close of the seventies and in the beginning of the eighties of the nineteenth century there was considerable activity in Colfax county in regard to church matters, for in six years as many churches were built. That was probably why it was planned to build a Benedectine monastery there. Bishop O’Conner (in Omaha) was instrumental in the coming of two Bohemian priests of that order, Rev. Vaclav Kocarnik and Rev. Sigfried Klima, from Pennsylvania, but the plan fell through, the monastery was later erected in Chicago.
The first church in the building of which Bohemians had any share was that in Olean, a German-Bohemian parish. In 1874 with the Germans there they built a church for which the lumber was hauled by wagon from Fremont, a town forty miles distant. In 1875 and 1876 a Bohemian Catholic missionary priest, Rev. Francis Sulak, who was active throughout the Nebraska settlements in which Bohemians then lived, used to come to cheer the pioneers, sorely beset by grasshoppers and other trials. Rev. Blaske was the first regular incumbent in Olean and was succeeded by Rev., in whose time the Bohemians seceded and founded a parish in Dodge, where a church was built in 1884 and dedicated by Rev. .
BOHEMIAN CATHOLIC PARISHES
CLARKSON SS. CYRIL AND METHODIUS. The corner stone of the church was laid August 15, 1902, when Rev. Charles Z. Petlach, then incumbent at Howells, took care of this parish. From 1902 to 1905 Rev. Bednar, his successor in Howells, used to come and was succeeded by Rev. Charles Zak, also incumbent in Howells. The parish was incorporated February 11, 1907 and in that year Rev. Joseph Bata became resident priest. In 1918 a rectory was built at a cost of $11,000.00. In 1920 the church was remodeled. Rev. Bata was succeeded by Rev. Charles Z. Petlach, the present incumbent, on August 25, 1921.
DRY CREEK—ASSUMPTION OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. A rural church, built in 1881. The incumbents at Heun took care of this parish until the one in Schuyler was established, since which time those in Schuyler attend to it.
HEUN—HOLY TRINITY. During 1871 and 1872, Rev. Ewing came from West Point, Cuming County, at intervals, to conduct services in the homes of homesteaders. From 1873 to 1875 Rev. Bobai, then living first in Plattsmouth and later in Omaha, and Rev. Sulak, a missionary priest, used to come, from 1875 to 1879 Rev. Blaske came regularly to conduct services here. In 1878 a church 30 x 60 was built and a cemetery founded, for which John Folda and Wilhelm Heun each donated five acres of land. Rev. Blaske then became first regular incumbent. His successor was Rev. Cyril Augustinsky, who used to come from Columbus and he in turn was succeeded by Rev. Francisof Olean. Then a rectory was built and Rev. Philip Maly was transferred here from Crete, Saline County. Rev. Maly was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Hovorka, incumbent in Abie, who took care of his parish from there, to 1890. From 1890 to 1894 Rev. John Hodye (a gifted poet) was incumbent, from 1894 to 1897 Rev. John Vlcek, from 1897 to 1904 Rev. Charles Zak. During Rev. Zak’s time, in 1903, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the parish was celebrated. In 1905 Rev. Joseph Drbal became incumbent and was succeeded in 1915 by Rev. Joseph Bata, he in 1917 by a Polish priest, Rev. Francis Szczepuchowski. During 1918 Rev. Bartik used to come from Omaha, but in 1919 he died there. During 1919 various priests from the vicinity came and in 1920 Rev. Anton Folta was made resident priest.
HOWELL—ST. JOHN. During Rev. John St. Broz’s time in Dodge, he took care also of this parish. In 1901 Rev. Charles Z. Petlach became resident priest. In 1902 he was succeeded by Rev. Anton Bednar, and he in turn in 1905 by Rev. Charles L. Zak. After Rev. Zak’s death, April 17, 1920, Rev. Joseph Drbal, present incumbent, took charge. The corner stone, of the church was laid in May 1893.
SCHUYLER—ASSUMPTION OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. In the fall of 1913 Rev. Francis B. Tomanek came to Schuyler, to effect the founding of a parish and stayed until 1915. Prior to the erection of the church, services were conducted in the old Irish church. In the spring of 1914 Mrs. Anton Svatora and Mrs. Agnes Lapacek together bought lots on the corner of 11th and Banner streets for $1100,00 and donated them to the parish. By the close of 1914 services were being conducted in the new building. During the beginning of 1915 Rev. Tomanek was succeeded by Rev. John Stephan Broz, during whose incumbency two bells were purchased, a debt of $3,000.00 paid and the parish prospered under his guidance. In September 1918 he was transferred to South Omaha and for a time there was no incumbent, until beginning with 1919, when Rev. John Krajicek succeeded. He was succeeded in October 1919 by Rev. John Vlcek and he in January 1920 by Rev. John M. Turek, who had for assistant Rev. John Sekera and Rev. Sekera took care of the parish in Wilson. In August of that year Rev. Joseph Bata became incumbent and in January 1923 he was succeeded by Rev. Joseph M. Vitko, the present incumbent. The parish property is valued at $16,000, there are no debts, and the parish numbers 63 families.
TABOR—NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. A rural church situated six miles east of Howell. In May 1870 two covered wagons left Omaha with the families of Joseph F. Sindelar, Thomas Sindelar, F. J. Jonas, Thomas Dostal and Vaclav Sindelar (single). They settled on Maple Creek and called their settlement Tabor. On Christmas Day 1871 those of the Catholic faith met for the first time for worship in the sod house of Joseph Sindelar. In that year Rev. Ewing, a German priest, came a few times from St. Charles (near West Point), Cuming County and served mass on the farm of Peter Schad, five miles northwest of Tabor. Later in the year he went to the farm home of Peter Lodl, for the same purpose, as did the missionary priest Rev. Sulak and other missionaries. Inasmuch as in 1871 the settlers came in large numbers, they endeavored to build a church the following year, but all were poor beginners, they could not raise the money. So on Sundays and church holidays they gathered in the home of Joseph F. Sindelar. He was known as Joseph Sindelar then, later another of the same name came and so he added the initial F. They came from far and wide, so that by ten o’clock a goodly crowd had gathered. At half after ten, when the bell hung in the window frame had been rung by Joe (Joseph B. Sindelar) they entered for worship. The altar was a plain wooden cross. After a song by the congregation, one of the older men conducted mass, which was sung, then another read from the Scriptures. This was followed by a sermon. Joseph Krajicek, a settler, used to be bell-ringer in Bohemia and had received from a priest two old books containing sermons, which were very useful in this emergency. Joseph B. Sindelar (son of Joseph F.) who has furnished data for the history of this parish and the names of the founders, was born in Jickovice, Milevsko, Bohemia, November 11, 1853 and came to the U. S. when fourteen years old. He attended public school in Chicago and Nebraska, having moved to Colfax County in 1870. Later he took a homestead near Howell, which he stills owns. When the town of Howell was established, he moved there and engaged in the general merchandise and creamery business, being now retired. He served two terms as justice of peace, one term as county assessor and nineteen years as precinct assessor, besides serving in the state legislature as representative from the twenty-seventh district.
The following are the names of the founders of the parish of Tabor: Joseph F. Sindelar, born in Jickovice, Milevsko; Joseph Sindelar, Stehlovice; Thomas Sindelar, Stehlovice; Vaclav Sindelar, Stehlovice; John Sindelar, Jickovice; Joseph Krajicek, Rimovice; Joseph F. Krajicek, Rimovice; Frank Strudl, Jickovice; John Strudl, Jickovice; Joseph Mejstrik, Vilimov, Habry; John and Joseph Prusa, Kostejn; Joseph Kaspar, County of Tabor; Matej Dostal, Velka Volesna; Joseph B. Svoboda, Vsehrady; Joseph Houfek, Knezice, Caslav; Herman Mestl, Strejckovice; John Nemec, Spavice, Chotebor; Joseph Brichacek, Jickovice; John Pojar, Stryckovice; Joseph Misek, Okresanec, Habry; Vaclav Hruska, Stuparovice, Habry; Frank Konvalin, Habry, Caslav; Frank Evert, Stryckovice and Frank Semerad, Frydnava, Habry.
In 1874 a public school was built and services conducted therein. By that time the members were able to build a church. However, a church had been built in Heun, eight miles west, and those living near joined that congregation, which depleted the ranks of the one in Tabor. Later, they succeeded in building a church, which was consecrated September 14, 1880, by Rev. Francis, who named the settlement Tabor because it is easily pronounced in English. Joseph Sindelar (not Joseph F.) donated three acres of land for the church and cemetery and also made the first contribution in money. Joseph Kaspar brought the first load of brick from Schuyler, Joseph Krajicek the first load of lime. Jos. B. Sindelar, as an officer of the church, laid the first brick (only one), Joseph F. Sindelar drove in the first nail, Frank Strudl did the masonry work. Miss Barbara Hajek, now Mrs. F. K. Sindelar, made the first wreath when the church was roofed and the first child to be christened there was Frank, son of Jos. B. Sindelar. The first couple to be married there were Joseph F. Krajicek and Miss Anna Vlasak. The first burial was that of the infant of J. B. Svoboda, and the first adult Joseph Sindelar, the donor of the site.
From this church used to issue the first processions of pilgrims, after the fashion in the old country, to Heun and Olean. The young girls, dressed in white, came first, carrying the statue of the Virgin on a lighted pedestal, then came Frank Vondruska’s band, then the choir with its leader, and the remainder of the participants followed. The procession walked about half a mile, then got into wagons and proceeded further. There were no buggies or carriages in those days to say nothing of automobiles.
There has never been a resident priest. The following have served from Heun: Rev. Joseph Hovorka to 1890, Rev. John Hodyc, 1890–. Rev. John Vlcek, 1894–1897. Rev. Charles Zak, 1894–1904. Rev. Joseph Drbal, 1905–1915. Rev. Joseph Bata, 1915–1917. Rev. Francis Szczepuchowski, 1917–1918. Rev. Joseph Bartik, 1918–1919. The following year various priests took their turn and in 1920 Rev. Anton Folta, present incumbent in Heun, took charge.
WILSON—BLESSED VIRGIN MARY OF PERPETUAL HELP. A rural church, at present a mission attached to Schuyler. The church was built in 1882 on land donated by Joseph Mrazek. Priests from Heun came until the church in Schuyler was built, since which time they serve from there. A new church was dedicated on August 27, 1918.
Of the priests who have been active in Colfax county, two achieved distinction in a literary way. Rev. John Stephen Broz wrote prose and poetry and published several books. Rev. John Hodyc had a high talent as poet, but his poems were not published in book form. Rev. Broz was born December 25, 1865 in Kardasova Recice, was ordained in Chur, Switzerland and came to Nebraska in 1890. He spent his whole life as priest in our state and died in South Omaha September 2, 1919. Rev. Hodyc was born in Lochenice near Kralove Hradec, January 17, 1863, ordained in Chur, Switzerland, July 14, 1889, came to Nebraska in that year, and died, a victim of tuberculosis, in Boerne, Texas, in 1906.
Bohemian Protestants in Nebraska affiliate with the Presbyterian Church and are proud of the fact that, nationally, they are the descendants of the Bohemian Brethern, the first Protestants in Bohemia and probably in the world, for they began to organize, that is the Bohemian Brethern, as to congeniality of principle, soon after the burning of Jan Hus (1415) and by 1456 numbered many members.
Just as the first Catholic church in which Bohemians had a share was located in Colfax county, so also the first group of Bohemian Protestants in our state, to meet for worship, comprised the families of six Colfax county pioneers, John Novotny, Joseph Smatlan, Anton Kunhart, Frank Zrust, John Danek and Joseph Vitek. These people came in 1869 and 1870 from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they had been members of Rev. F. Kun’s congregation, the first minister of this faith in the middle west. By 1875 their numbers were augmented and they began to meet in public at a church eighteen miles north of Schuyler and six miles from Clarkson and named it Sion (Zion). Rev. Kun dedicated it and also the cemetery of that name, the site for which (two acres) was donated by Joseph Smatlan. The first funeral was that of John Novotny, 83 years old, who had lived to see his ardent wish, the building of the church, fulfilled. Rev. V. Losa was the first incumbent. About that time another church was built in the town of Clarkson and named New Zion, also dedicated by Rev. Kun. Rev. Losa was incumbent of both. In 1900 he was succeeded by Rev. Anton Svoboda, who had come from Cobb, Wisconsin, and who took care of both churches and conducted services in Maple Creek precinct, although there was no church there. In 1913 he left and the congregations divided into independent bodies.
ZION—For a time after the division there was no incumbent, then in 1916 Rev. Bedrich Paroulek became such. In 1919 he was transferred to Wahoo and Rev. Joseph Havlik helped to build the Bethlehem Chapel in Maple Creek precinct and at intervals conducts services in Howell.
NEW ZION—After the division, Rev. B. A. Filipi, the present incumbent, took charge. In 1922 a new and imposing brick church, an ornament to the town, was built.
SHELL CREEK VALLEY HISTORY
Schuyler Sun: The Sun has for the past several weeks been publishing Czech history of Colfax county, briefly arranged. Taken from the Clarkson Press. One constant reader of The Sun and these stories, Mrs. P. F. Svoboda, writes interestingly of her childhood days, the daughter of a Czech, pioneer resident of Shell Creek valley, and who has since spent the most of her life in and about Schuyler. Mrs. Svoboda contributes the following as part of her early recollections:
One of the first Czech pioneers in N. W. Shell Creek valley was John Rousar. He was born, March 24, 1833, in Milovy, Bohemia. In 1859 he married Josephine Shultz. The old world held few attractions for him and in the spring of 1875 found him on his way to America, with his wife and six children.
A sea voyage of that time was not a matter of days but of weeks, The journey was made in one of the latest type four masted wind pammers. The rough seas encountered during the most of the trip caused a great deal of discomfort to the entire party. Sea sickness took its toll in a large measure over the entire list of passengers and new home-seekers. The boat docked, May 15, 1875 and, May 21, 1875, John Rousar and family arrived in the town of Schuyler. The entire family was housed at the John Janecek rooming house, still on the present site.
The same day my father hired a rig and with a land agent, drove out to the Shell Creek valley and selected an 80 acre tract of land nine miles northwest of Schuyler. The site chosen was partly improved, there being a log house with a straw roof, a few straw covered, pole braced out-buildings. A span of oxen, a wagon and a milk cow figured in the deal for the 80 acres. The tract was purchased with the above personal property for the sum of $8.00 an acre. The next day the entire family moved to the new homestead. To one and all it did not present a very appealing picture. There were high weeds, sunflowers and brush virtually up to the door of the log house. The site being near Shell Creek had long been the domain of the raccoon, skunk and snakes. These creatures were in abundance and it was a far cry, to what the family had been accustomed to; the white stone buildings, gravel walks, trimmed shrubbery and clean yards of homes in the old world.
It is not difficult to imagine that after being transplanted from a quiet peaceful village in Bohemia, to a stark uncivilized virgin tract of land, that my mother cried herself to sleep many a night
Housing facilities were of the crudest sort the first few weeks. The house had a loft where we children slept. The manner of ingress to the loft was by an outside stairway, a ladder like affair. There was no floor in the cabin except that which nature provided, it having been tamped down hard
Mother and father slept on the first floor but after one particular night this practice was discontinued. Mother woke up this particular night and felt something cold and clammy next to her body. She told father who made a light and on pulling back the covers, they discovered a large bullsnake sliding out of the bed. Her terrified shriek woke me and several other of the children. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Running to the door of our stairway, we saw the big snake slither past the stairs into the weeds. There was full moon that night, it was almost like noon and with the dark shadows, for contrast the sinous snake looked like a boa constrictor of another world. That ended sleeping for the entire family that night.
From that time on till the new house was built my mother refused to sleep indoors. She preferred to sleep on a bed made in a wagon. Father decided then to build a new home. It took about two weeks to haul the necessary material from Schuyler as oxen teams were the only motive power. In about a month, the new homes, made of new lumber throughout, real glass windows replaced the log house. The home was a three room affair and was quite a show place in our minds. Again mother could sleep fearlessly indoors.
Some time later, father, the hired man and we children declared war on the snakes in the rest of the straw out-buildings. A large number were killed, some being as long as eight to ten feet and having the girth of a small cedar post. We did manage to rid the place of the snakes, in the years that followed, that is, we moved them or frightened them to seek quarters elsewhere besides the farm stead.
Another source of thrills that added no little discomfort to the peace of mind, at least, were the visits of Indians. In earlier years it was the habit of the roving bands to visit all the homesteaders who were in the paths of migration of the red men. The Indians were friendly enough, but their sudden appearance at the door or at every window was enough to quicken the average pioneer’s breath. Their first visit was a memorable one. It was near noon one day. Father, the hired hand and several of the older children were still in the field. Mother was preparing the noon meal. We younger children were playing near the house. Suddenly from nowhere several Indian braves appeared at the house, one in the doorway and the rest peering in through the windows. Mother glanced up, when the doorway darkened and almost fainted from fright. She had great presence of mind to snatch her youngest child from the cradle, grab a butcher knife and stand at bay in the corner of the kitchen. By this time the other Indians appeared near the door and she thought that her time had come. We children, too, appeared on the scene, coming from the our legs and lungs were frozen to a state of immobility, but not for long. We soon found both and started running and crying to our father to leave the country where wild men and snakes abounded. He at a full gallop, with the rest of the family, we found that the Indians had vanished. My mother was near hysterics and implored father to leave the country where wild men and snakes abounded. He placated her fears and told her that possibly all the Indians had wanted was food. Nevertheless we all had the first visit of the red men indelibly imprinted on our minds.of the house, unaware of the Indians near the door. On rounding the corner of the house and seeing these dark skinned natives were rendered speechless with fright. Somehow
Father was right in his opinion of the Indians in regard to the annual visits. Several times after the first meeting, the family did entertain the wandering braves. All they wanted was food and tobacco. Fatherfed them but not always were they given tobacco. The Indians never ate anything but meat, and if it happened to be a fowl, the carefully cleaned ones were placed back on the dish from which the fowl was served. Needless to say, subsequent visits of the Indians, were taken more , but we all always heaved a sigh of relief when they departed.
The summer of 1878 presented to the pioneer another spectre, one of want. Who of the pioneers, does not remember the grasshopper? Announcing their arrival in clouds that obscured the sun, they settled and consumed all in their path. With the precision and despatch of machines there harbingers of poverty stripped the pioneer of his food supply in a few hours. Fields of verdant grain, gardens and even young fruit trees were destroyed, leaving the settler to eke out an existence the rest of the year.
We stood in the house during the first visit of this curse and watched them ravage our carefully tilled crops. Father and mother stood side by side with tears streaming down their cheeks as they pictured the possible want and poverty that could overtake them. It took a stout heart and grim determination to weather all the blows that the pioneer endured.
The hoppers visited us again in later years but they never completely destroyed our crops as the first time. I do remember one time, that when this plague visited us that my sister and I had forgotten our sun bonnets on the clothes line after washing them. The grasshoppers were not so fastidious this time and included even these two bonnets in their diet.
The early settler had many a day of woe and travail caused by the long hard winters of yesteryear. Snow usually came in November and the groundwhite up until the end of March. The length of this season made the homesteader make an annual trek to town in the fall to stock up enough provisions to last throughout the winter. Once the snow came, hauling heavy loads was next to impossible. The trips served a twofold purpose one the above mentioned fact the other, it afforded the family to make their second annual visit to town, the first being on Fourth of July. Back in pioneer days, if we children came to town twice a year we counted ourselves fortunate.
The winter of 1888 will always befor its famous blizzard. I remember it very well. The day started out mildly, a typical January thaw. We had the washing on the line. By mid-morning the wind changed to the north and started blowing furiously. Before we could gather all the storm was in our midst. Hasty preparations were made to house the stock. We were none too soon. The storm lasted that day and most of the night. Morning greeted us with the snow level with the house. Regular tunnels had to be made to the different out buildings to do chores. It presented an awesome sight. Two of my sisters were compelled to stay in school over night much to their discomfort. While we fortunately had no loss there were many lives lost elsewhere and many herds of cattle perished further west.
Another fact worthy of mention, that was synonymous with pioneer life, was the abundance of small game in our locality. There wereof wild fowl whose fall and spring migrations literally darkened the sun. During their flight all water holes and streams were covered with birds. Our farmstead being only about 200 yards from the creek afforded us an opportunity to acquaint ourselves, quite well with our feathered , Our intrusions into their havens, never seemed to disconcert them greatly, if we came too close they either swam away or flew up, circled a bit and back to the water they came.
The now extinct wild pigeon was another bird whose flights were announced by darkened skies. Several times, some of the flocks stopped to rest over night in our vicinity. The trees did not have enough branches to accommodate them all. They roosted where they could. If we wanted pigeon pie the next day, all we had to do was to walk out beneath the trees in the evening, reach up and gather as many birds as we could use.
The prairie chicken and grouse were our chief delight. These birds were not migratory to the extent of the ducks and pigeons. The ranges of Hills on both sides of the valley afforded them ideal nesting places. During the summer one of our tasks was to herd cattle on the hills. Having great deal of leisure time, we children spent many an hour watching the birds. Wild life if not molested becomes remarkably tame, and the prairie chicken was no exception. We knew their nesting places, their habits and family life very well. Their lives were not a great deal different from human beings. There was love making, quarrels in the family, fights among the roosters, and even hens driven to distraction trying to round up their broods.
Flocks of wild turkeys and cranes used to pass overhead, but as I remember we never saw any stop near our homestead. Of the four footed creatures such as the buffalo and deer, we saw very few on the creek. On one or two different trips to town, I remembera few small herds of buffalo. However the range of these shaggy beasts was further west and all we ever saw were just stragglers.
In the years that followed four more children were born. This made a family of ten children, a real pioneer size group. During the next 16 years father added acres and improvement to his holdings and at the time of his death in 1891 he had 400 acres of Shell Creek Valley land. His untimely death was caused by a runaway span of mules.
His death left mother with seven children ranging from five to 17 years; three having already married. She took up the management of the farm and with the aid of a hired hand and older children, she carried on in true pioneer fashion. She did very well up to the time of her death in the fall of 1899. The estate was then divided among the children. Of the family of ten children, nine are still living: Mrs. Anna Moural, Schuyler, Mrs. Josephine Husak, Schuyler; Mrs. P. F. Svoboda, Schuyler; Mrs. Edw. Marohn, Euleta, Florida; Emma Rousar, Norfolk; Mrs. F. C. Mitchell, Omaha; Mrs. August Knipping, Schuyler; Edward Rousar, Oklahoma City; Adolph Rousar, Great Falls, Mont. John Rousar died in Chicago ten years ago.
LODGES AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
In union there is strength and Bohemians acknowledge this truism, for they have many lodges and clubs, fraternal with insurance, singing societies, dramatic, social, gymnastic, etc. For poor immigrants in a strange country, where they did not know the language or customs, especially in the hard pioneer days, it was not only agreeable but necessary to meet with their own kind and to do what they could in the way of entertainments, to gather courage and cheer. The fraternal orders are a great boon to them, for the officials do not have anywhere near the large salaries the officials of the large American insuring fraternal orders have, and so they can sell life insurance at a lower rate. These fraternal orders keep records as to membership, therefore we are able to give same here.
Mr. Joseph W. Zerzan founded in 1876 a reading society in Schuyler which was the nucleus of the present lodge Zapadni Jednota of the Bohemian Slavonian Benevolent Society. Bohemians brought to this country their love for music, dramatics, song and dance—all so much more common on the Continent than in this country, where Puritanism has left its traces. They organized dramatic clubs and gave plays, singing societies, etc. With the aid of plays, , speeches etc. they celebrated various events and anniversaries. The Liberals for many years commemorated annually the burning of Jan Hus (July 6, 1415) and the Battle of White Mountain (November 8, 1620) when Bohemia lost her kingdom to Austria. The younger generation knows nothing of the significance of these events and the commemorations have ceased. The Catholics celebrate and did celebrate, of course, various events connected with the church.
In Colfax county one of the first, if not the first, dramatic performances was given in the settlement Tabor, in 1874, by the members of the Bohemian reading society there, in the sod house of F. J. Jonas. Mr. Jos. B. Sindelar of Howells has furnished this data. The play was “Deaf and Dumb Frank” and the following participated: Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Jonas, George Jonas (still living, in Stuart, Nebraska), Miss Mary Sindelar (later Mrs. John Poledna) and Jos. B. Sindelar, who played the title role. Two sheets sewn together furnished the curtain. The only Bohemian band in the county at that time, that of Mr. Vaclav Svoboda, furnished music for dancing that followed the play. Mr. Svoboda is living in Omaha at date of writing. Later in that year the play, “Frank, the Prague Student,” was given with the same performers and with Jos. B. Sindelar again in the title role,
While the city of Omaha stands first as to the number of Bohemian newspapers and other printed matter is concerned, Colfax county comes next, for of all the counties settled by Bohemians it had, in its time, the largest number of papers. The future of foreign-language papers in this county is limited to the readers who have come as immigrants, their children and succeeding generations read English only.
In March 1887 a weekly, Nova Doba (New Era) was established, with Hugo Chotek and F. K. Ringsmuth as editors and The Literary Society, publishers. In 1892 a stock company, composed of Joseph Smatlan, J. A. Fiala, John Pekar, F. K. Ringsmuth and J. K. Sinkula, took over the paper, but it ceased existence June 7, 1892. It was published in Schuyler.
In January 1892 a Sunday supplement “Nove Doby Listy Svatecni” to the paper described above was founded by F. K. Ringsmuth, who was editor and publisher. It was suspended when the weekly was suspended.
In January 1892 the weekly Kotva (Anchor) was founded in Schuyler, J. E. Kroupa editor, Priborsky & Co., publishers. Suspended July 13, 1893.
In November 1893 the weekly Svit (The Gleam) was founded in Schuyler, F. K. Ringsmuth, editor, J. Priborsky and F. K. Ringsmuth, publishers. Moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1894 and there suspended in 1902.
In January 1901 F. H. Svoboda founded in Schuyler a monthly magazine for young people, Zlata Hvezda (Golden Star), being the only paper of its kind ever published in Nebraska. Mr. Svoboda was both editor and publisher. In 1902 he made a bi-monthly of it. Suspended in April 1903.
1889 F. K. Ringsmuth a gifted writer of poems and prose, published in Schuyler his novel “The black shadow of love.”
In December 1904 the weekly Domaci Noviny (Home News) was founded in Clarkson, Anton Odvarka Sr., editor and publisher. In 1910 his son, Anton Jr. and Otto, assumed ownership and in March 1924 sold the paper to the Narodni Pokrok in Omaha. During their time they published a separate edition of the paper for non-local readers, called the Ozvena Zapadu (Echo of the West.) They now publish The Colfax County Press, in English, founded in 1914.
Anton Odvarka, sr., was a pioneer resident of Colfax county and one of the best known lodge and newspaper men among the Bohemian people of this state. He was the founder of the “Domaci Noviny,” a Bohemian newspaper published in Clarkson for twenty years and besides his newspaper career he was for a number of years head organizer of the Z. C. B. J. order, the leading Bohemian fraternal society in America. It was this occupation that brought him into contact with his countrymen in diverse parts of the country and gained him wide acquaintance.
He was born in the picturesque hamlet, Ceska Heralec, Bohemia, on the 13th day of December, 1866, and died at Clarkson, Neb., on the 26th day of September 1929. He spent his boyhood days in the vicinity of his birth and upon completing his studies at the public school, he entered a university where he became a student of theology When almost through with the course he left his studies and departed for America. He came to Colfax county in 1886 and located in Clarkson which at that time had but a handful of shacks. Not being accustomed to hard work and there being nothing else here for him to do at the time of his arrival, he engaged in the shoemaker business and besides this took up correspondence work for various Bohemian periodicals. In 1888 he was united in marriage to Miss Josephine Teply, who died in 1892, two sons, Anton and Otto, having been born to their union. In 1894 he married Miss Agnes Kmoch. Two children were born to their union, Bessie and Vladislav, the daughter having died in Omaha in 1920. Vladislav is a graduate of the Creighton Dental College of Omaha and the University of Denver, Colo. He is located at Clarkson where he is practising dentistry.
Mr. Odvarka was a public-spirited man and was the first teacher of Bohemian school in Clarkson. He also was an ardent lodge worker and organized, a number of local societies. He was one of the founders of the national Z. C. B. J. society and became its first traveling organizer. He also served as secretary of the two first national conventions held by the association. He advocated what he believed was right and of best interest to the common classes. He believed that all people were created alike and always lived up to these convictions.
SCHUYLER: Tel. Jednota Sokol (gymnastic); T. J. Sokolky Vlastenky (women’s auxiliary of above). Zapadni Jednota (Western Union) No. 42, Boh. Slav. Benev. Society. Lodge Blanik No. 93, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union. Lodge Vytrvalost (Persistency) No. 34, Bohemian Ladies’ Union, Lodge St. Joseph No. 122, Catholic Workman. Lodge No. 108, Bohemian Roman-Catholic Central Union of Women.
CLARKSON: Lodge Zapadni Svornost (Western Harmony) No. 28, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union, Lodge Clarkson No. 32, C. S. D. P. J. Lodge Eliska Premyslovna No. 58, Bohemian Ladies’ Union. Lodge SS. Peter and Paul No. 6, Catholic Workman. Lodge St. Joseph No. 40, Catholic Workman. Lodge St. Joseph No. 80, Catholic Workman, Catholic Union Sokol, No. 54. Lodge No. 67, Boh. Roman-Cath. Central Union of Women. Lodge No. 128, Boh. Roman-Catholic Central Union of Women.
TABOR: Lodge St. Vaclav No. 9, Western Bohemian Catholic Union.
HOWELL: Lodge Svoboda (Liberty) No. 60, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union. Lodge St. Joseph No. 65, Western Bohemian Catholic Union. Lodge St. John of Nepomuk No. 14, Catholic Workman. Catholic Union Sokol No. 17. Lodge No. 82, Boh. Roman-Catholic Central Union of Women, Women’s Auxiliary of Catholic Union Sokol No. 17. Daughters of Columbus, St. Anna Society No. 2.
Love for one’s native land and language is a natural and noble human attribute and is stronger in those people who live or have lived under a despotic, alien government, as did the Bohemians under Austria. It is no wonder then that the Bohemian immigrants brought to this country their love for their language and wanted their children to learn Bohemian. The Liberals established, from the beginning, Bohemian schools where the language was taught on Saturdays and Sunday forenoons and in some cases through the summer vacations. However, these never interfered in any way with the children’s attendance of public schools during the week, they were merely private schools where children were taught only during the time mentioned. Later, beginning with 1911, some of the Catholic schools in Bohemian parishes began to teach, as a part of the course, the Bohemian language.
As already stated, Colfax county had the largest number of Bohemian papers (except Omaha, the first Catholic church in the building of which Bohemians shared (anywhere in our state) was that in Olean, Colfax county, the First Bohemian Protestants to organize in our state was the group that founded Zion church near Clarkson, and Colfax county also stands pre-eminent as to a Bohemian school founded by Liberals. It was one of the first and continued longer than any except those in Omaha and South Omaha. However, as with reading matter, it is also something the future of which is limited.
In 1877 a society called The Reading & Dramatic Society Tyl and the lodge Zapadni Jednota, Bohemian Slavonian Benevolent Society, established together a Bohemian school, with the aid of the members of the last named lodge, who gave of their time and services without pay and took turns in teaching. They were: Joseph W. Zerzan, Joseph Kubik, Vaclav Maly and Joseph Smatlan. The last named is the only one now living. The school board kindly allowed the use of public school buildings free, and that is the case as yet, except when the lodge hall is used, also free. In 1885 a school board was organized, with the following officers: Frank Otradovsky, president; Joseph Smatlan, treasurer, F. J. Kovar, secretary; Joseph Maly, financial secretary. The first mentioned lodges supported the schools, the teaching was done gratis. The first paid teacher was John H. Steiger, who taught two days in the week for $5.00 monthly, the next year he taught three days in the week for $15.00 monthly. He was succeeded by a A. Z. Donato to 1888, he by J. Em. Kroupa and he again by Donato. Then there was an interim. In 1892 F. L. Fukx taught, succeeded by Donato. In 1894 V. Kadlec taught, an interim for two years and then Donato again in 1897. In 1898 John Zabka, an interim, in 1900 F. Dagobert Novak, 1901 F. H. Svoboda, interim, 1904 V. Miniberger, 1904 to 1908 Rudolf Fibinger, in 1909 Frank Okrina, an interim, in 1912 Charles Severyn (a former pupil of the school), 1913–1914 Fr. Sedy and then again Severyn. In 1916 Miss Anna G. Vanek of New York, 1917 Miss Caroline Cilek, during the war an interim, for public opinion was strongly anti-foreign. In 1920–1921 Rudolph Kohlicek Hartward of Chicago taught, but the school was changed to a dramatic club. During both of these years the school met in the lodge hall, free. In 1922–1924 Bretislav Jonas of Chicago taught.
From 1885 to 1892 the two first mentioned lodges carried the entire burden. In 1892 lodge J. A. Komensky, American Woodmen and lodge Vytrvalost, Union of Bohemian Women, began to participate. In the following year these were added: Tel, Jed. Sokol, lodge Jan Hus, A. O. U. W. In 1897 lodge Svornost, W. O. W., in 1901 Woodmen Circle lodge. In that year the reading and dramatic society Tyl disbanded and the fifty dollars in the treasury was given to the school. The following lodges and clubs were added: Dancing and Social Association, lodge Blanik, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union, and in 1907 the ladies’ auxiliary to the Tel. Jed. Sokol, Sokolky Vlastenky, All these contributed and besides these contributions various entertainments, plays, picnics, etc., were given for the benefit of the school. The teacher’s salary, at first so meagre, grew until in 1923–1924 it amounted to $144 per month, during the summer vacation when school was in session daily. Fifty children were enrolled on an average, about forty on the average attended. In 1924, 34 children were enrolled.
In 1892 a Bohemian school was founded in Clarkson by lodge Zapadni Svornost No. 28, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union. Mr. Anton Odvarka Sr. taught Sunday forenoons. Later Bohemian was taught Friday forenoon in the public schools, Misses Nettie Aksamit and Stella Folda and the principal Mr. Fred Jelinek, alternating. It may be explained here, that Bohemian was thus taught in the public schools, one half day in the week, in Prague, another strongly Bohemian town and perhaps in others. Later Mr. Anton Odvarka Sr. and Miss Louise Dusatko taught Bohemian in the public school during longer periods. Mr. Joseph A. Kucera taught about a year, three days in the week during summer vacation, on Saturdays during the rest of the year. The war closed all this activity, later school was re-opened again and Rev. B. A. Filipi taught during four half days in the week and eight weeks in summer. From 1901 to 1904 Mr. Joseph Krikac taught Bohemian and English in an evening school in Clarkson. There were on the average 30 pupils, aged ten to forty-five years. The district paid for heat and light, the pupils paid a dollar per month each. Mr. Krikac taught three evenings in the week, four months in the year. The record on this is not clear, it is probable that this school was taught in the country and not in Clarkson.
In 1900 a school was founded in Howell, supported by lodge Svoboda No. 60, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union. The first teacher was Anton Rysavy, succeeded by Miss Louise Dusatko, who used to come from Clarkson. Later Prof. Srb taught in the public school.
In the years 1913 to 1919 a law was in effect allowing the teaching of any foreign language one hour daily in the public school, when fifty parents or guardians of pupils signed a petition to that effect. In those years Bohemian was thus taught in towns largely inhabited by Bohemians. At that time also the Department of Slavonic Languages was established in the Nebraska State University and educational clubs Komensky flourished. There were composed, as to membership, of students and supporters of culture. The war too destroyed this activity and it has never been resumed. In Clarkson the Komensky Club No. 18 and in Howell Komensky Club No. 24 were active. Komensky, by the way, means Comenius, that being the way to spell the name in Bohemian.
In 1911 Rev. John St. Broz stablished in Dodge the first Catholic school where Bohemian was taught by the Bohemian branch of the Notre Dame Order. Such a school is now in existence in Schuyler, where also music, arts, foreign languages and Bohemian is taught.
(With the exception of Dry Creek, information furnished by Joseph M. Mundil, Clarkson).
CLARKSON—BOHEMIAN SLAVONIAN AND CATHOLIC, both in one area, one half being for the Catholics, the other half for non-Catholics. October 7, 1888, lodge Zapadni Svornost No. 147 C. S. P. S. (now No. 28, Western Bohemian Fraternal Union) established this cemetery, at first called National. In 1903 the Catholic portion of it was established for the parishioners of the Cyril & Methodius parish.
NINE MILES SOUTHEAST OF CLARKSON is a cemetery founded by the members of the Liberal Thinkers’ League (Svobodna Obec, by that name. Established in 1897 on the land of Joseph Sousek, in Midland Precinct.
HALF A MILE WEST OF HOWELL is the National Cemetery established in 1912.
ONE MILE NORTH OF HOWELL is the Catholic cemetery on the boundary of Stanton county. Established in 1893 and used by Bohemians living in Stanton and Colfax county.
SIX MILES SOUTHEAST OF HOWELL the Catholic cemetery Tabor, established in 1880 on land donated by Joseph Sindelar.
NINE MILES SOUTHWEST OF HOWELL is the Catholic cemetery called Heun, in Midland precinct, established about 1879, on land donated by John Folda and Wilhelm Heun.
FOUR MILES SOUTH OF HEUN CEMETERY is the Catholic Cemetery called Dry Creek, established February 12, 1876 in a meeting called for the purpose in the home of John Kovar, who donated five acres of land for it. The founders were John Kovar, Frank Polak, Martin Svacina, Jacob Krula, Matej Dobry, Vaclav Sudik, Felix Sevcik, Joseph Valenta, Joseph Krenek, Martin Palik, John Vobornik and Joseph Houfek. The following were elected trustees: John Kovar, Matej Dobry and Vaclav Sudik. Later the following members were added: Joseph Riha, Frank Dvorak, Frank Cech, John Nozicka, John Dvorak, Joseph Krejci, Joseph Coufal, Cyril Kuzel, Martin Rygel, John Zahradnik, Anton Votava, Jacob Mares and Frank Roupetz. In 1879, when the settlers began to divide as to religion, differences arose. In 1881 a church was built and inasmuch as the Catholics were in a majority, it was agreed that non-members of the church lose membership in the cemetery association. It is interesting to note that the donor of the land thereby lost membership in the cemetery. The first to be buried there were children, those of John Vobornik, Dvorak, Rubes, Kovar, Sudik and Zmotany.
TWELVE MILES SOUTHWEST OF CLARKSON is the so-called Wilson Catholic church, in Wilson precinct, established in 1888 a Mrazek’s land.
SIX MILES SOUTHEAST OF CLARKSON the Protestant cemetery belonging to the Zion church, established in 1875, on land donated by Joseph Smatlan, Adams precinct.
ABOUT 1885 A CEMETERY was established on Frank Tejkl’s land, southwest quarter Section 8, Township 19, Range 3, Midland Precinct, seven miles south of Clarkson. About seventeen bodies were buried there, but when other cemeteries were being established in the vicinity, these were removed.
The Tabor, Heun, Dry Creek and Wilson Catholic cemeteries adjoin Bohemian Catholic churches of these names.
POSTOFFICE STATION BEARING A BOHEMIAN NAME.
Before rural free delivery was instituted, there was a large number of small postoffice stations, often situated on farms, the owners whereof were postmasters. One such in Colfax county bore the name of Praha (for Prague, the capital city of Bohemia) and was established by a Bohemian pioneer, John F. Sobota, who was postmaster. With rural free delivery many of these were abolished, Praha being among them.
The majority of Bohemians are Democrats. As is natural, in localities heavily settled by them, they hold their share of offices, but we here list only the moreones.
MEMBERS OF LEGISLATURE: 1875—Frank Fonda, Democrat. 1899—Jos. G. Dobry, Fusionist. 1903—Jos. G. Dobry,. 1911–1913 and 1915–1917—Jos B. Sindelar, Democrat. 1919–1921 and 1923–1925—Thomas Stibal, Republican. All of these were representatives.
COUNTY OFFICES: 1876–1880—Joseph Dvorak Clerk. 1880–1864—John Lapacek (Pache) clerk. 1882—Thomas Vrba, commissioner. 1884–1888—John Lapacek (Lapache) treasurer. 1888–1892—John Novotny, treasurer. 1886–1890—Joseph Kudrna, sheriff. 1892–1896—M. F. Bednar, treasurer. 1894–1898—Frank W. Shonka, clerk and register of deeds. 1898–1902—Frank Hrubecky, commissioner. 1898–1902—Frank Cuba, judge. 1900–1908—Frank Sucha, clerk of district court. 1900–1904—Frank W. Shonka, treasurer. 1902–1908—John Chleboun, superintendent of schools. 1905–1907—Jos. B. Sindelar,. 1905—R. B. Folda, commissioner. –1912—R. B. Folda, commissioner. 1908–1912—Mike F. Shonka, clerk. 1908–1926—F. J. Vogltance, superintendent of schools. 1910.—J. E. Cerny (Cherney) judge. 1910–1924—Adolph Fiala, judge. 1910–1912—Anton Kaspar, sheriff. 1911—Vaclav Maly, commissioner. 1912–1917—Ed. F. Vrzal, clerk and register of deeds. 1914–1916—Frank Prokes, commissioner. 1914–1918—Joseph Bartunek, sheriff. 1914–1918—F. K. Sindelar, commissioner. 1918–1922—Walter B. Sadilek, attorney. 1918–1926—John Moural, commissioner. 1919–1920—Ed. H. Vrana, surveyor. 1920–1924—A. C. Fajman, commissioner. 1922–1926—Joseph Sedlacek, treasurer. 1922– —Jerry E. Severyn, clerk. 1924–1926—Frank Houfek Jr., commissioner.
Frank J. Jonas was superintendent in the reform school for boys in Kearney, under President Cleveland, 1893–1897.
PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS.
As far a recorded, the first public school teacher, a Bohemian, was John F. Sobota, who in 1874 and 1875 taught in District No. 17. Later he taught in Saunders and Butler counties. Joseph W. Zerzan taught in 1876 and John Novotny in 1876, the latter in a little building on John Folda’s farm, now district No. 47. School was taught three or four months in the year, in winter, at a salary of $30.00 per month.
From this vanguard of workers in the noble calling of teaching children, a veritable army has arisen, composed largely of women. Mr. F. J. Vogltance, a Bohemian, has been superintendent of schools for Colfax county for many years.
The following were teaching schools in Colfax county in 1926: Marie Sobota, Clarkson. John J. Koliha, Clarkson. Ella Benes, Theodore Kubik, Howells, Dist. 59. Hattie M. Prochazka, Schuyler. Elizabeth Castek, Schuyler. Irene Shonka, Schuyler. Eleanor Cech (principal) Schuyler. Mary Vybiral, school nurse, Schuyler. Anna Stastny, Dist. 1. Anna Sulc, Dist. 5. Julia Tyburec, Dist. 6. Julia Teply, Dist. 8. Charles V. Jonas, Dist. 11. Josephine Sterba, Dist. 14. Mary O. Krula, Dist. 13. Tillie Pokorny, Dist. 17. Mamie Krcma, Dist. 19. Bessie Havrda, Dist. 22. Agnes Jura, Dist. 23. Mayme Skala, Dist. 24. Sylvia Tyburec, Dist. 25. Vlasta Ulihrach, Dist. 28. Anna M. Karel, Dist. 29. Anna M. Hajek, Dist. 30. Olga Indra, Dist. 31. Lillian Novak, Dist. 32. Josephine Svoboda, Dist. 34. Gilbert Prucha, Dist. 35. Eleanor Rysavy, Dist. 37. Rose Prazak, Dist. 38. Olga A. Severa, Dist. 42. Rose Slama, Dist 44. Frances Cerny, Dist. 47. Tillie A. Karel, Dist. 48. Emma Tresnak, Dist. 51. Elsie M. Petr, Dist. 53. Emily Fayman, Dist. 54. Bertha Hudec, Dist. 56. Ethel Petr, Dist. 57. Josephine Filipi, Dist. 58. Martha Bukacek, Dist. 58. Joseph F. Blazek, Dist. 59. Clara Kovar, Dist. 59. Helen Mares, Dist. 60. Adelaide Kovar, Dist. 61. Adela Urbanek, Dist. 62.
A complete list of lawyers, physicians, dentists etc., is not available, but Bohemians, or rather the children of the pioneers, are well represented in these lines too, for those who came across the sea and suffered hardships in the early days, did so to not only better themselves, but also to prepare a better future for their children.
With empty hands you came to wilderness uncharted.
Lo, gaze upon it now, oh pioneers brave-hearted,
From Father of Waters west to Rocky Mountains’ base,
Prosperity’s sweet streams those prairies grace.
You triumphed over hardships, weary and heart breaking,
None censures you today for prideful joy you are taking
In your fair handiwork, which far and wide you view.
Instead— we wish, success to you!
From the poem by Bartos Bittner,
translated by Libbie Breuer Scholten.