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Butler County--1869

   Another large Czech county, our people living all through it, most heavily in and about Abie, Linwood, Bruno, Brainard, David City and Dwight. The most Catholic of all counties where Czechs live. Contains several handsome church, school and rectory buildings.

   Linwood:--The first postoffice in the county was Linwood, established in 1867, where, on Skull Creek. was situated the first mill, run by water power. The nearest town was Fremont. Linwood as a town was established in 1879 and incorporated in 1887.

   The first Czech to come here was Peter Kastl, who took up land in 1866, possibly prior thereto, but did not stay. He settled in Saunders County, where further mention of him is made.

   The first Czechs to settle in this vicinity, in 1869, were:

   Vojtech (Albert) Mares, born in Bezdekov, came to Ohio in 1857, died in 1903.

   Vaclav Vacha, born in Bechyne near Tabor in 1831. He came to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1864. By trade a cooper, he worked and saved money to buy land. He settled near Linwood in 1869 and after proving upon his homestead, moved to Colfax County, where he died in 1900, his wife in 1905, both buried in Heun. He was one of the founders of the church parish, superintended the building and did much of the carved work, all gratis.

1870--The Following Came:

   Albert Prai, born in Nova Kdyne, died in 1924.

1871--The Following Came:

   John Tichacek, born in Vojtesice, died in 1891; Thomas Tichacek, Vojtesice, died in 1921; Vaclav Tichacek, Vojtesice, died in 1918; Joseph Divis, born in Litovany, Hrotovice, 1828. Removed later to Colfax County, where he died in 1914, buried near Richland. Jacob Kriz, born in Hrotovice, Moravia, died 1910.

Thomas Tichacek Sr.Albert Prai

1872--The Following Came:

   Thomas Vitamvas, Hrotovice, Moravia, died in 1912; Charles Urbanek, Zarovice, Moravia, died 1913; Frank Walla, born in Samikovice, Moravia, now living in Texas; Vincenc Sedlicky, born in Nove Mesto, Moravia, died in 1913.

1873--The Following Came:

   Frank Blatny, born in Hrotovice, Moravia, died 1903; Vaclav Duda, born in Soustov, died in 1890; Jacob Kavan, born in Lazniky, Moravia, died in 1901; his brother Frank; John Barta.

1874--The Following Came:

   Frank Plasek.

1877--The Following Came:

   Frank Juranek, born in Samikovice, died in 1912.

1880--The Following Came:

   Thomas Peltz, horn in Litostrov, Moravia, died in 1888; Charles Pribyl, Litostrov, living in North Dakota; Frank Pribyl, Litostrov, died in 1920.

1881--The Following Came:

   John Bratrsovsky, born in Medlice, Moravia, living.

   These all settled around Linwood. About 1881 Czech settlers began to fairly pour in, until now there are about ninety families in the vicinity. The bank and all the business houses of Linwood are in the hands of Czechs.

   Abie:--Another old settlement is Abie, where Czechs came also in 1869. Charles Stevens built a store there in 1878 and a postoffice was established in it. Prior to that time he had conducted a similar establishment in Newton, Saunders County, and the settlers around Abie got mail there. In 1880 Stevens sold the store in Abie to Frank Faytinger and Louis Hromas. When the railroad was built through in 1887, the town was founded a mile from the old postoffice and several stores opened in the new Abie. Frank Faytinger moved his store there, his son still being active in the business. Abie is almost entirely Czech, but three families are of another nationality. The first to come were:

1869--The Following Came:

Joseph Cuda

   Vaclav and John Marusak, born in Bratrice, near Caslav; John Pavel Sr., John Pavel Jr., Joseph and Matej Pavel, all born in Nasavrky, near Caslav; Joseph Vyskocil, the same place; Joseph Cuda, born in Okresanec near Caslav, living in Schuyler; Frank Faytinger, born in Kralohradec County, died in 1890; Jacob Vosicky, County of Tabor; John Shorny, same place, died in 1877; Joseph Shorny, same place, died in 1921; Frank Prochazka, born in Nasavrky, near Caslav.

1870--The Following Came:

   John Voboril, born in Kozohledy near Caslav; Matej Simerka, born in Podmokly near Caslav.

Joseph and Catherine Gruntorad

   Joseph Gruntorad was born in Kozohledy, County Caslav, in 1834. He married Catherine Zaloudek in 1862 and of the eight children horn to them six are living: Joseph, Anton, Henry, Mrs. Mary Schorny, Mrs. Emily Prochazka and Mrs. Clara Svoboda. Gruntorad came with his family to this country, to Wisconsin, in 1866 and later to Butler County, Nebraska, where they suffered the usual pioneer hardships. In 1895 they retired from farming and went to Schuyler to live. Gruntorad died in 1922 and his wife two years later, both buried in Schuyler.

1871--The Following Came:

   Vaclav (Wenzl) Brezina, born in County of Caslav. Died in 1912.

   Matej (Mathias) Sonka (Shonka), born in Smolec, County Bechyn, February 27, 1827. In 1850 he married Marie Hajny. In those days young men were obliged to spend ten years in military service and the mother urged the father to move to America where her sons would be free to choose a career. In the fall of 1867 Shonka located five miles south of Cedar Rapids, Ia., with his family, consisting of four sons and three daughters. In 1871, seeing there was not much opportunity for buying more land, due to increase in value, he sold his 80 acres and moved to Butler County, in a prairie schooner. He homesteaded on Skull Creek, near what is now the Abie district, taking 80 acres and buying 320 acres of railroad land for $3.00 per acre, on payments. The family lived at first in a sod house. As there was no school house within four miles of his home, he immediately organized a school district. Since there was no money in the treasury, he called upon his neighbors to assist him. With a yoke of oxen and a breaking plow they effected a building that was partly a dug-out and partly sod, boasting of one window, an opening called a door, home-made benches, one chair and one desk. Shonka also organized a church society, which organization built the Catholic church in Abie in 1876.

Matej and Mary Sonka

   In 1893 Shonka and family left the farm and moved to Schuyler, where they resided for three years. They then moved to Abie, where they lived to 1905, moving again to Schuyler, in order that they might spend their remaining years with their children. Mrs. Shonka died February 14, 1906, aged 76, Mr. Shonka June 7, 1907, aged 80. Twelve children were born to them: Veronica died in infancy, Anna (Mrs. Joseph Dvorak) died in Schuyler in 1889, and Thomas Shonka in 1914. Those living are: Mary (Mrs. Jos. W. Zerzan), John, Frank W., Kate Coufal, Jos. H., Wesley J., Matthew F., George and Emma Prochazka. All except the last reside in Schuyler or on farms in the vicinity. Father and mother Shonka are buried in a beautiful cemetery near Abie. They lie on the crest of a hill overlooking the lovely, fertile farm lands that were once the scene of pioneer hardships, when Indians were their neighbors and antelopes roamed the prairies at will.

   J. Walla, born in Moravia. Died in 1888. Frank Barcal, born in 1813, died in 1900.

1872--The Following Came:

   Frank Tupy, born in Smolec, near Tabor, died in 1906.

1873--The Following Came:

   M. A. Masek, born September 29, 1848, in County Pisek. He came as a three-year-old boy with his parents to Spillville, Iowa, where in 1871 he married Rose Jaros, seven sons and one daughter being born to them. At the time he came, several families started for Nebraska with ox and horse teams. The trip lasted six weeks and five days, until they reached Skull Creek, where they found the families of Simerka. Voboril, Pavel, Prochazka and others. Masek and his caravan settled on lands two and three miles west of the creek. As a proof of his standing in the community, he was elected a member of the school district upon its founding and held that office for thirty-two years, besides being township treasurer, justice of the peace and county commissioner. He was the advisor of pioneer settlers, for he alone spoke English well and was always willing to help in time of need, at the same time being a loyal Czech and a good citizen. During the World War he established a local chapter of the Red Cross before steps were taken to establish one in Abie, and he was the first to contribute.

   Frank and John Hajek. John Hajek was born in 1812 and died in 1892.

1874--The Following Came:

   Vaclav Roh, born May 16, 1838, in Utechovicky, County Tabor, still living. One of the few real pioneers left. James Krenk, Vrbice, Caslav, died 1886; John Krenk, Vrbice, Caslav, died 1918; Frank Krenk, Vrbice, died in 1917; Martin Rezac, born in Veska near Dacice, Moravia, in 1832, died in 1900; Vaclav Dusatko came in 1876. He was born in 1826, Strampouch, Caslav, married Barbara Turek. He died in 1880, she in 1912.

   These were followed by their countrymen in large numbers, so that there are now in the vicinity but two families of another nationality.

Main street, Linwood

   Bruno:--This village was originally named Brno (for the capital of Moravia, as this county is heavily settled by people from Moravia). It was established in 1887 and later the railroad company changed the name to Bruno, that being more easily pronounced.

1870--The Following Came:

   Matej Vachal, from Plzen; Frank Novotny, from Plzen.

1871--The Following Came:

   Joseph Posvar, born in Oujezd, died in 1912; Charles Coufal, born in 1843 in Dalesice, living; Joseph Jakl, died in 1908.

1872--The Following Came:

   Vaclav Mazanec, born in Slavetice, died in 1917; Frank Mazanec, same place, died in 1914; John F. Stava, born in Biskupice, 1850, living; Vaclav Wittera (Vitera), born in Caslav, died in 1902; John Stuchlik, born in 1849, in Petruvka near Trebic, Moravia, living; John Paseka, born in Dalesice, Moravia, living.

1873--The Following Came:

   John Urbanek, born in Budejovice. Died in 1874.

   Frank Fleming (Kozisek), born in 1835 in Bohemia. Came to Wisconsin in the early sixties and served two years in the civil War, where he changed his name to Fleming. A soldier by that name was killed in action, and as the name Kozisek was hard to pronounce, the others gave him the dead man's name, which he and his children used. However, strange to relate, his grandchildren have again taken the name of Kozisek.

   John J. Proskovec, born in 1853 in Strejckovice, living in Bruno; Joseph Dobry, born near Caslav; Joseph Semerad, born near Caslav. died in 1921; Joseph Dostal, born in 1845, living in Plattsmouth; Anton Proskovec, born in Strejckovice in 1852. For years a monument maker of merit in Bruno. Prominent in civic and political life. John Proskovec, born in Strejckovice. Died in 1916.

1875--The Following Came:

   John Havlovec, Homolka, living in Oklahoma; Vaclav Polacek, born near Caslav, died in 1918; Martin Posvar, Oujezd, died many years ago; Jacob Fuksa, born in Budejovice, died in 1922; John Frdlik, died in 1892.

1877--The Following Came:

   Martin Riha, died in 1923; John Rech, born in Radonice in 1850, living near Brainard.

   Appleton:--The first came to this vicinity in 1873.

1873--The Following Came:

   Frank Kovar, born in Dacice, Moravia. Died in 1918. His brother, Ignac, from the same place. Died in 1914.

1874--The Following Came:

   Frank Styskal, born in Rabstejn near Dacice, Moravia, died in 1916, aged 97; his sons: Frank Jr., born in Rabstejn, died in 1910; John, born in 1851 in Rabstejn, living in David City; Albert Hines, born in Macerov, Moravia, in 1845, died in 1890; Albert Dvorak, born in Rabstejn near Dacice; George Andel, born in Kynice near Dacice; Matej Riha, born in Budejovice; Frank Shonka, born near Tabor; came from Iowa, living in David City; Anton Shonka, same place, also from Iowa, died in 1903; Simon Walla, born near Dacice, died many years ago; Anton Kopecek, born near Dacice, died in 1921; Anton Bruner, born near Dacice, came with grown sons and daughters. Sons Anton, Joseph and Matt all took claims and prospered.

1875--The Following Came:

   Peter Maly, born in Dacice and his brother, Simon. both died long ago; John Samek, born in Kynice near Dacice; Joseph Pokorny, born in Rabstejn near Dacice, died in 1918; Martin Veverka, born in Dacice, died long ago; Peter Virgl, born in Dacice; Anton Virgl, from same place, now living in Lincoln; Joseph Sabata, born in Trebic, Moravia, died in 1922.

1876--The Following Came:

   Matej Svoboda, born in Kynice near Dacice; Martin Chloupek, born near Dacice; Vaclav Pratt, born in Dacice, died in 1912.

   Brainard:--The first came in 1875 and they were:

   Matej Slavik, born in Okresanec; Frank Maixner, born in Prijemky, Chotebor.

   Within two years later came the following:

   Matej Kabourek, born in Stepanov, Lisov; Ignac Dvorak Sr., born in Pustinna, Jindrichuv Hradec; Joseph Semin Sr., born in Vlasimsko; Frank Novacek Sr., born in Jasenice, Namest; Joseph Jakub Sr., born in Mysliborice, Hrotovice.

   David City:--Established in 1872 and made county seat in 1874. Czechs here do not form a very heavy settlement. The first came about 1878 and they were: Frank Kaspar, Martin Novotny, Frank Dvorak, Frank Pesek, Frank Sudik, John Styskal, Joseph Kudrna and others. Czechs are represented here by the second generation very creditably.

   Dwight:--Another large settlement, where our people first settled in 1878, many coming from Abie and Saunders County, so that it is now almost entirely Czech. The town was established in 1887, when the railroad was built.

1878--The Following Came:

   Frank Coufal, born in Krhov, Moravia, died in 1916; Leopold. Matt and John Hotovy, born in Rouchovany, near Mor. Krumlov, all living; Anton Andrle, died in 1910; Jos. F. and Anton Coufal, born in Rouchovany, living; Philip Novak, born in Samikovice, living.

   This colony grew so that at present it overflows into Seward County and six miles west of Dwight.

   Loma:--Another Czech settlement, where the first came about the time they settled around Dwight. The town was established in 1901.

   Besides the settlements here described, Czechs live all over the county, one after another buying fine farms for his sons, so that they and their descendants number one third of all the inhabitants.

Mat. J. Bouse

   Matej (Michael) J. Bouse, a deservedly popular man, who lived many years in David City as a county official, prepared the data about this county. He died before they were published. Matej J. Bouse was born in 1867 in Hajany, County Blatna. In 1881 he emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, later moved to Schuyler, then settled in David City, where he engaged in business. In 1891 he married Miss Mary T. Zerzan of Schuyler. He died April 1, 1927, in Belleville, Texas, while travelling through the south in search of health. Everyone who knew him mourned his death, for he was ever ready to aid by word and deed.

   Czechs in this county, as elsewhere, acquitted themselves very creditably as co-workers with their fellow-countrymen in Nebraska during the war. They responded generously to every call issued by their adopted country (the United States), and the Red Cross. In addition to that, they contributed heavily toward the funds gathered by the Bohemian National Alliance and the National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics in America. On July 23, 1918, a meeting was called in David City for the purpose of founding a branch of the Bohemian National Alliance for Butler County. A central committee with headquarters in David City was chosen, and other committees for each Czech settlement in the county. It was agreed that at least $20,000 must be gathered to help free the mother country (Bohemia) from Austria. Butler County Czechs went over the top, for they contributed $27,452.00, as follows: David City, $2,163.00; Linwood, $765.50; Abie, $4,600.00, Bruno, $4,500.00; Brainard, $2,000.00; Dwight, $5,192.50; Ulysses, $3,231.00 and the bazaar in Brainard brought $5,000.00. On October 14, 1918, the treasurer sent $10,250.50 to the Bohemian National Alliance in Omaha; a like amount to the National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics in America, Chicago, $132.30 paid for various expenses, and the remainder was divided among local worthy organizations.

Mary and John Osmera

   The pioneers of this county naturally had to endure hardships common to all pioneers, but they are the first to have a monument erected to a group of their number. It stands in Red Willow County, but those whom it commemorates were Butler County Czechs travelling to western Nebraska. In May, 1885, the families of John Osmera (wife and four children), Joseph Kavalec (wife and two children), John Macek (wife and child), and Jacob Lang and his two children, set out in covered, ox-drawn wagons, to settle on homesteads in Dundy County (by another account in Hayes County). On May 26th they camped in Richmond Canyon, midway between Bartley and Cambridge, at a point where the D. L. D. Highway now crosses.

   About nine o'clock a wall of water came down the canyon and swept the entire camp away. Of the seventeen members, three women and six children were drowned. To commemorate this incident a monument was erected near the place where these emigrants camped for the night.

   On May 25, 1924, twenty-five hundred people gathered for the exercises, from all parts of southwestern Nebraska. Hon. C. E. Eldred of McCook, Hon. B. F. Butler of Cambridge and Hon. A. M. Kayes of Holbrook and others spoke and the Cambridge band played. Mrs. Mary Vlasim of St. Paul, Nebr., (a daughter of Jacob Lang), John Osmera of Weston, Nebr., and his sister Mary Osmera, of Brainard, Nebr., the only survivors of that party, were present. The monument is a granite slab, bearing the names of the women who were drowned, the date of occurrence and a brief statement of the destination of the party. The project of placing it originated with D. F. Neiswanger of Cambridge, the expenses of $300.00 being defrayed by popular subscription.

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