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Like others of the earliest pioneers in any land, quite a number of our people were buried individually, on their farms, before cemeteries were established. These solitary graves, here and there, were marked by wooden crosses and fences, long fallen into decay and obliterated. The hands of those who sleep in them planted the first kernels of corn in the virgin sod, with the aid of a hatchet, and now, after comparatively a short span, the roar of the tractor and automobile resounds, as it sweeps over these forgotten graves.
Willa Cather tells of such a grave, that of the unfortunate, hapless Bohemian pioneer Shimerda, in her story "My Antonia":
"Years afterward, when the open-grazing days were over, and the red grass had been ploughed under and under until it had almost disappeared from the prairie; when all the fields were under fence, and roads no longer ran about like wild things, but followed surveyed section lines, Mr. Shimerda's grave was still there, with a sagging wire fence around it, and an unpainted wooden cross. As grandfather had predicted, Mrs. Shimerda never saw the roads go over his head. The road from the north curved a little to the east just there, and the road from the west swung out a little to the south; so that the grave, with its tall red grass that was never mowed, was like a little island; and at twilight, under a new moon or the clear evening star, the dusty roads used to look like soft gray rivers flowing past it. I never came upon the place without emotion, and in all that country it was the spot most dear to me. I loved the dim superstition, the propitiatory intent, that had put the grave there; and still more I loved the spirit that could not carry out the sentence--the error from the surveyed lines, the clemency of the soft earth roads along which the home-coming wagons rumbled after sunset. Never a tired driver passed the wooden cross, I am sure, without wishing well to the sleeper."
Within a very few years after a settlement had established itself, cemeteries were provided. Life intertwines with death, the need for cemeteries is as pressing as for shelter. In time, as with all other material evidences in our state, they have been improved and beautified. Inasmuch as those listed here are entirely Bohemian, they will, in the future, be the only purely Bohemian records, visible to the passer-by, of our people in Nebraska. This truth was in the mind of Jeffrey Dolezal Hrbek, when he wrote his poem given below, which was published in "The Pulse" in March, 1906:
The first cemeteryestablished by Czechs did not remain wholly Czech. It is called Jindra's cemetery, because it adjoins the homestead of Joseph Jindra, near Crete, Saline County. Mrs. Mary Jelinek of Crete, widow of Frank Jelinek, one of the very first pioneers there, writes:
"The day following the arrival of the first band of settlers, in November, 1865, old Mrs. Krajnik died during a snow storm, as recorded in the history of Saline County. The men made a coffin out of a wagon box and buried the corpse on the bank of the Big Blue river. A few days later the three-year-old daughter of my brother-in-law Joseph Jelinek died and was buried the same way, as was the body of a Mr. Aksamit, who met death by drowning. In 1868 my grandfather died and my father-in-law, Vaclav Jelinek, who did not want him to be buried thus too, donated ten acres for a cemetery. By 1872 five bodies had been buried there. The settlers increased and so the members of the Reading Society (established by Joseph Jindra as recorded in the chapter on organizations) met in our home, about twenty of them, to arrange for the proper founding of the cemetery. They decided to buy forty acres from my father-in-law and contributions to the amount of $600.00 were subscribed. My father-in-law agreed to sell, provided a Czech cemetery be established. However, before a second meeting could be held, Bowlby and Fuller of Crete called and desired that a general cemetery be established, for those of any nationality, inasmuch as there was no cemetery in the vicinity. A meeting was called for the purpose of deciding this, some were pro, some con. Shares were sold at $10.00, officers elected, Bowlby was made secretary. A diptheria epidemic raged among the children at the time and quite a number of new inhabitants were added to the cemetery. During the following three or four years the cemetery was constantly used by all, but about that time Mr. Jesse C. Bickle, whose homestead is part of the site of the town of Crete, donated a portion of his land for another cemetery. He agreed to donate free lots to those who would first bury there and thus many moved there. Bowlby kept the old cemetery and rented twenty acres of it out. After his death his sons considered it their legacy and wanted to sell the cemetery for $3000.00. In the summer of 1926 the matter was tried in court and the cemetery won. There are about a hundred people buried in this first (originally) Czech cemetery in Nebraska.
The first wholly Czech cemeteryin Nebraska, called the Big Blue (also National) cemetery, was established in 1868 by the dissenting members of the Reading Society, who did not want the Jindra cemetery used for any purpose but that of a purely Czech cemetery. They bought three acres from Joseph Kopecky (Kopetzky, later a jeweler in Crete) four miles north of the present town of Wilber, at $25.00 per acre. The first body to be interred there was that of Mr. Dajc's wife, in 1869. In May, 1870, the body of John Vozab's father was buried.
BOYD COUNTY: Lynch--A cemetery owned by Lodge Lipany No. 56, Western Bohemian Fraternal Association.
Spencer--Bohemian National cemetery owned by Lodge Karlin No. 40, Western Bohemian Fraternal Association.
BOX BUTTE COUNTY: Lawn--A Bohemian National Cemetery was established in 1890 six miles southwest of the Catholic church and cemetery in Lawn, a country postoffice now abolished. Besides this, there is a Catholic cemetery in Lawn, two-thirds Bohemian. Frank Prochazka donated ten acres. Many Czechs are buried in Hemingford, in a non-Czech cemetery.
BUFFALO COUNTY:--A Bohemian National cemetery was established in 1884, in Schneider township, twelve miles south and two miles east of Ravenna, by Frank Skocdopole, V. Vokoun, M. Skala, V. Polka and Vaclav Hervert. In the late nineties it was changed into a Catholic cemetery and in 1912 the church of St. Wenceslaus was erected there.
BUTLER COUNTY: Abie--Two cemeteries, a Bohemian National and a Catholic.
Appleton--(Postoffice David City)--A Catholic cemetery.
Brainard--A Bohemian National and a Catholic cemetery. The latter was established in 1886 on two acres of ground. It has now a very fine entrance and a handsome bronze cross.
Bruno--A Bohemian National and a Catholic cemetery.
Dwight--A Catholic cemetery.
Linwood--A Bohemian National and a Catholic cemetery.
Loma--A Catholic cemetery.
CHEYENNE COUNTY--Bohemian-Slavonian cemetery, five miles in area, situated in Sec. 29, Township 13, Range 48, southwest corner, six miles south of Sunol and eleven miles southwest of Lodgepole. Established in 1900 and at first rather neglected. Later Anton Henzil, Adam Schimka and Vaclav Vacik effected improvements and had the cemetery fenced, which cost $300.00. For this purpose the contributions amounted to $420.00, so that $120.00 was left as a surplus fund. In 1914 the three men mentioned had the cemetery recorded in the court house records.
COLFAX COUNTY: Clarkson--A Bohemian Slavonian cemetery, established October 7, 1888, through the efforts of the lodge Zapadni Svornost No. 147, Bohemian Slavonian Benevolent Society (now Western Bohemian Fraternal Association). Adjoining this, so that it is one burial ground, divided in two halves, one for non-Catholics, the other for Catholics, is the Bohemian Catholic cemetery, established in 1903 by the parish of Ss. Cyril and Methodius.
Nine miles southeast of Clarkson is a cemetery established by the Svobodna Obec (Liberal Thinkers' League) and called by that name, established in 1897 by a club of that League, on Joseph Sousek's land, in Midland Precinct. Well kept, ornamented by evergreen trees.
Half a mile west of Howell is the Bohemian National Cemetery, established in 1912.
One mile north of Howell is a Catholic cemetery, on boundary line of Stanton County. Established in 1893 and Bohemians in Stanton County bury there.
Six miles southeast of Howell is the Catholic cemetery and church Tabor. The cemetery was established in 1880, on land donated by Joseph Sindelar.
Nine miles southwest of Howell is the so-called Heun cemetery, belonging to the Holy Trinity church, in Midland Precinct, established about 1879.
Four miles south of the Heun cemetery is the so-called Dry Creek Catholic cemetery, adjoining the church. It was established February 12, 1876, in a meeting called to the home of John Kovar, who donated five acres for the purpose. 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 joined the association: Joseph Hajek, Karel Benes, Joseph Riha, Frank Dvorak, Frank Cech, John Nozicka, John Dvorak, Joseph Krejci, Joseph Coufal, John Zahradnicek, Cyril Kuzel, Martin Rygel, Anton Votava, Jacob Mares. Frank Roupetz. In 1879, when the members began to divide as to religion (Catholic and non-Catholic) dissension arose. When the church was built in 1881 a struggle about the cemetery ensued, but the Catholics had a majority and it was decided that all who did not belong to the church lost membership in the cemetery association. It is interesting to note that even the donor of the land fell under this ruling. The first to be buried there was the child of John Vobornik, then the children of Dvorak, Rubes, Kovar, Sudik and Zmotany.
Twelve miles southwest of Clarkson is the so-called Wilson cemetery, Catholic, in Wilson Precinct, established in 1888 on Mrazek's land and belonging to the church there, Blessed Virgin Mary of Perpetual Help.
Six miles southeast of Clarkson is the Protestant cemetery, belonging to the church called Sion. Established in 1875 in Adams Precinct, on land donated by Joseph Smatlan.
About 1885 a cemetery was established on land of Frank Tejkl (southwest quarter of Sec. 8, Township 19, Range 3, Midland Precinct). About seventeen bodies were interred there, but as other cemeteries were established, they were removed. This cemetery was about seven miles south of Clarkson.
CUMING COUNTY:--Five miles from the Dodge County boundary is a Catholic cemetery, established in 1883, and used mostly by those living in Dodge County.
DODGE COUNTY:--A Catholic cemetery in the town. Near Dodge is the Bohemian National cemetery, established mainly through the efforts of the local Bohemian Slavonian Benevolent Society lodge (now Western Bohemian Fraternal Association), on April 22, 1883, with the following founders: W. F. Kriz, Vaclav Luxa, Anton Bartos, Joseph Brazda, John Studnicka, Frank Srb, Anton Kadlecek, Alois Pospisil, Joseph Dolejs, Frank Belina, Ignac Skala, Joseph Srb, Frank Bartos. Anton Bartos donated the land and in 1884 a community hall was built, in which was placed a library. Later this library was consolidated with that of the Tel. Jed. Sokol in Dodge. The building (formerly the community hall) is used for office purposes and the cemetery kept in good condition.
DOUGLAS COUNTY: Omaha--The Bohemian National cemetery, situated at 54th and Center streets, was incorporated April 25, 1883, by the following members: Vaclav Jablecnik, Vaclav Vancura, Frank Kaspar, F. R. Chrastil, John Rosicky, Joseph Klofat, J. J. Smrz, Frank Jelen, Joseph Kavan, Frank Pivonka, Vaclav Fiala, John Svacina, Fr. Pycha, Frank Salda and V. L. Vodicka. Ten acres were bought for $800.00. For a long time this cemetery remained in a not very improved condition, for lots were sold at first at $10.00 apiece, consequently there were no funds for betterment. Of late, however, notable improvements were instituted, so that with the flowers and trees and many beautiful monuments, the cemetery is attractive. In 1924 a brick building was erected, the front part being used for a waiting room and columbarium for urns, the rear for the caretaker's home. Sewer and grading work also was done, all costing $7,214.31. In 1925 further improvements were made, fence, piers, walks, enlarged driveway and installation of a city water system. It is in this cemetery that the public monument, dedicated to John Rosicky, was erected by his friends and admirers, mostly members of the Western Bohemian Fraternal Association. It is of granite, surmounted by his bust in bronze.
Public monumnet erected to John Rosicky by members of
Western Bohemian Fraternal Association and other friends.
In Bohemian National Cemetery, Omaha.
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