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Another western county, where the number of Czechs has dwindled.
Frank Broz, now living in Tampa, Kansas, writes: "We suffered real pioneer hardships. Eggs sold at 3 cents per dozen, wheat 35 cents per bushel, a young milch cow $10.00, a calf $1.00, hogs $1.00 apiece. The nearest town was Culbertson, twenty miles distant, where we took our hogs. The agent selected the best, the rest he would not take even for a dollar apiece. The owners did not care to bring them home, so waited until dark and then set them loose in the vicinity of the town. Such hogs were not even fit for food, for all they were fed was water slightly tinged with milk. There was no grain for them. Chewing such meat was like chewing gum."--Mr. Broz stayed there, however, until 1908, when he sold 720 acres for $5,800.00 and moved to Tampa, Kansas. Those who braved it out and stayed are now well-to-do.
Anton Friml with his father-in-law set out in 1885 with a mule team. After reaching Holdrege, they then traversed 250 miles of waste lands. When they arrived at their destination and the mules saw no hay nor any prospects of corn, one lay down and died and the other followed suit within a few days. The situation was desperate,--three small children, no team, not a cent of money and nineteen miles to the nearest town. Friml moved back to Crete, Saline County, after a time, and now lives there.
During the early nineties the settlers were obliged to get aid from their countrymen, and after 1894 but few were left, for most moved away. Among the first pioneers were the following, but more definite record as to birthplace is not available:
1885--The Following Came, from Saline County:
Frank Kalina, Anton Kalina, Frank Tabor, Frank Palas Sr., Anton and Emil Strof, Frank Babka, Vaclav Glaser, Vaclav Mares, John Krchov, John Broz Sr., Matej Broz, Peter Kucera, Frank Altman, Mary Friml, John Dolezal, Thomas Brejcha, Miss Glaser. Frank Hajek came from Colfax County.
1886--The Following Came, from Saline County:
Frank Broz, Joseph Bouska, Frank Vrbsky, Joseph Vrbsky, Joseph Antos, Vojtech (Albert) Vinicky, Joseph Hybl, Joseph Palic Jr., Anton Palic Sr., Anton Palic Jr., Joseph Kalina Sr., Joseph Anton Sr., Joseph Anton Jr., Frank Pains Jr., Ignac Novak.
John Stengl came from St. Louis, Missouri. Joseph Kutina and Mr. Zaruba, unknown.
Later the Following Came, About 1887:
P. O. Thornburg:
Vaclav Hasman, Joseph Hasman, John Skrivanek, John Tlustos, Anna Kucera, Frank Hajek and Mr. Rohel.
P. O. Galena:
Ludvik (Ludovic) Osmera, Andres Brousek, Frank Krcal, Barney Neverna, John Neverna Sr., Marie Teply, John Teply Sr. Maud Osmera, Frank Vavak, Joseph Musil Sr., Joseph Musil Jr., Vaclav Pelikan.
The first Czech to settle in this county was Vojtech (Albert) Stransky, born in Velka Retova, Usti nad Orlici, who conducted a hotel and saloon in Chadron. He had lived in Wisconsin where, during the first half of the seventies, he was, according to some, the wealthiest Czech in the United States at that time. The Czech philosopher and former monk, Ladimir Klacel, found an asylum in his home for a time. Stransky, however, died a poor man. Others who came about the time he did were:
Henry Stepan, born in Krce, Nove Mesto, who conducted a hotel in Chadron; Casper Fuerst (First), born in Breznice, Blatna, a shoemaker in Chadron; Vaclav Austera, born in Plzen, who had a saloon in Chadron; Martin Cilek, born in Klobuky, Slane.
The lands were almost worthless for farming and had it not been for the forests, people would have starved. The soil was gumbo, covered with sage brush. Settlers made a bare living by selling wood, for which they had to go twenty-two miles, a hard journey, especially when overtaken by blizzards. When their condition became unbearable, they took up lands in Sheridan County, but most of them left that county also.
In 1888 a large bunch of Russian thistle was exhibited on the sidewalk in Chadron and settlers were instructed to destroy the dangerous weed wherever they found it. The Northwestern Railroad Company employed men to dig it out along their track before it ripened, to prevent it spreading. No one knew whence the thistle came, and as the railroad employees were not faithful to their orders, the weed did spread. Finally it began to be cut while green for feed to cattle and hogs and thus vanquished. About that time cattle died of hunger by the hundreds, for the heavy snows obliterated all pasturage. During the hard times following drouths no agricultural implements were sold, for people had not the money to pay. There are now about twelve Czech families in the county, around Chadron and Marsland. In the early nineties the following were living there:
P. O. Dunlap:
Anton Chladek, Sadska, Podebrady; John and Frank Nejbert, Sany, Podebrady; Frank Stanek Sr., Sany, Podebrady; Anna Potmesil, Male Opolany, Podebrady; Alois Cermak, Kolin; Frank Feidler, Tabor; Vaclav Rada, Vodranty, Caslav; Frank Vales, unknown; Ignac and Joseph Husak, Ricany, Rosice.
P. O. Chadron:
Joseph Humlicek, Dankovice, Nove Mesto, Morava; Frank Rican, same; Alois Jancik, Vir, Bystrice.
P. O. Crawford:
Frank A. Fafek, Praha; Matej Svoboda, Lednice, Kralovice.
Jacob Cerny, Cernikov, Klatovy. A tailor in the fort.
P. O. Marsland:
Joseph Tramba, Caslav; Vaclav Fendrich, Podmoky; Karel Klos, Zleby, Caslav; Frank Safranek, Novosedly, Lomnice; Anton Havlicek, Lhotka, Melnik; Vaclav Ulrych, Trtice, Nove Straseci; Anton Dobes, Ostasov, Hrotovice; Charles Hrdlicka, Stechovice, Strakonice; John Skala, unknown; Vaclav Cerny, Brnikov, Libochovice; V. Baxa, Dekov, Plzen.
In the Town of Chadron:
Thomas Cizek, Dechtin, Klatovy; Marie Cizek, Janovice, Klatovy; Frank Stastny, Vranov, Benesov; Henry Stepan, Krcin, Nove Mesto; V. Austera, Plzen; Cenek Hlavacek, Zaluzany, Vysoke Myto; V. Stransky, Velka Retova, Usti nad Orlici; Caspar Fuerst, Male Opolany, Podebrady.
The northwestern corner of our state was originally known as Sioux County and later was divided into three counties of almost equal size: Sioux, Dawes and Sheridan. This occurred in 1886, when the inhabitants of the south portion of Dawes County asked for the division because Chadron, the county seat, was distant and there were no bridges across the Niobrara River, while the timbered hills were difficult to traverse. All the records on hand as to Czech settlers in this county are the following, who lived there in the early nineties:
P. O. Canton:
John Pokorny, born in Ostasov, Hrotovice; Frank Koudelka. Hodslavice, Novy Jicin; Joseph Bame Sr., Dolni Lukavice, Prestice; Joseph Moravek, Sloupnice, Chrudim.
P. O. Harrison:
Anton Moravek, Rychnov, Kralove Hradec; Joseph Stastny, Vranov. Tabor.
Later, after 1904, when the Kincaid law went into effect, allowing an individual to take up 640 acres as a homestead, more Czechs settled there, but evidently did not stay, for at present there are only five families of this nationality in this county.
This county lies north of Valley County and the Czech colony, in the vicinity of Burwell, is part of the general colony in Garfield, Custer and Valley Counties. Many Czech farmers living in either of the two latter have their postoffice in Burwell, the county seat of Garfield County, as shown on the list.
The first settler was Joseph Bartos, born in Cerekvice, near Litomysl, who pre-empted land on June 10, 1889. The next was Vaclav Miska (Mishka), born in Peklo, Litomysl, who on March 1, 1891, bought railroad land near Elyria, Valley County. He moved five years later to Washington Territory. During the last twenty-five years many Czechs have been added to this colony, living on farms and in Burwell.
In the early nineties the following were living there:
Joseph Slobodny, born in Ponedraz, a saloonkeeper; Anton Dvorak, born in Chlistov, Trebic, saloonkeeper; Marie Novotny, retired, unknown.
These lived in Custer County, but had their postoffice in Burwell:
John Bazant, Janov, Hrube Pole, Slavonia; Frank Vanek, Svratka Radesinska, Nove Mesto, Moravia; Vavrinec Novak, Archlebov, Zdanice, Moravia; Frank Kolousek, Zvol. Bystrice, Jihlava; John Penaz, Dlouhe, Nove Mesto, Moravia; Vaclav Hejsek, Simanov, Nemecky Brod; Joseph Badalyk, Dlouhe, Nove Mesto, Moravia; Joseph Stefka, Lipa, Holesov; Joseph Rejda, same; John Nedbalek, same.
These lived in Valley County, but had their postoffice in Burwell:
John Pavlan, Simanov, Nemecky Brod; Jacob Stanek, Archlebov. Zdanice; Joseph Pacas, Nasedlovice, Zdanice; George Kruml, Zahorany, Nova Kdyne; John Cech, Dlouhe, Nove Mesto; Frank Masin, Neskaredice, Kutna Hora; Anton Vajner, Velka Viska, Horovice; Vaclav Kasal, Krucemburk, Chotebor; Vojtech (Albert) Hulinsky, Chotice, Votice; Joseph Mares, Dublin, Sedlcany; Frank Bedlivy, Krastovice, Strakonice; Vaclav and John Cech, Dlouhe, Nove Mesto; Frank Rousek, Kostelni Lhota, Podebrady; Jacob Hlouzka, Vitejovice, Prachatice; Frank Penaz, Dlouhe, Nove Mesto; Frank Adamek, Chlumetin, Hlinsko.
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