by Margie Sobotka
This book about Czech immigrant settlers in Nebraska and Kansas is unique as it is not a history, nor a biography, but simply a list of Czech settlers names, occupations, where they lived at the time, land they owned or rented, and their place of birth.
When I first started the initial translating and transcribing of the names, I thought perhaps I was only repeating what was already recorded in the book, "History of Czechs in Nebraska", by Rose Rosicky. But as I compared the newspaper articles and the book, there were many in the newspaper that were not in the book and vice versa. So the two books would be compatible to work with rather than having two books repeating the same information.
This information was printed in the first three volumes of the Czech newspaper, 'Hospodar' (The Farmer) which was an agricultural paper for Czech people. The articles appeared from March 1891 to May 1894 and then several months passed, and they appeared again from March 1895 to Sept 1895. The 'Hospodar' came into existence March 1891 at Omaha, Nebraska, under the 'Pokrok Zapadu' (Progress of the West) Publishing Co. They later changed the name to 'National Publishing Co.' Both publications in 1891 were published under the direction of John Rosicky.
The articles were compiled and written by Frank Mares who also wrote about the counties in paragraphs preceding the list of names giving descriptions of that particular county. At times his descriptions left the translator in doubt as to his meaning and it was hard to visualize just what he meant, so some of the passages were translated word for word. When translating a foreign language into English, there are times when a true meaning is lost, so if the paragraphs sound odd the 'word for word' translation is the reason. If there are errors in either the translation or transcribing, I apologize at this time. The original text can be found on microfilm at the Nebraska State Historical Society.
In several instances, Frank Mares would mention C.S.P.S. Lodges. the letters stood for 'Cesko-Slovensky Podporujici Spolek' (Czech-Slovak Protective Society). These lodges were the forerunner of the Z.C.B.J. 'Zapadni Cesko-Bratrska Jednota' (Western Bohemian Fraternal Association). Both associations offered a type of insurance for the Czech people. In recent years, the assciation is known as the W.F.L.A. which stands for the Western Fraternal Life Association. The individual lodge name and number in most instances remained the same even though the brotherhood title had changed.
The description of land from article to article varied, so abbreviations were used at time to save space. Section-Township-Range-and Acres, were headed by the letters S.T.R.A. Where the actual number of acres was shown, apparently this referred to those who owned the land. Otherwise the words 'rent' or 'exch' were used for other than ownership. 'Exch' was for the word Exchange. This translation from the Czech word could mean several things. It could refer to a partnership (i.e. brothers working or a man and wife ownership), a barter (i.e. "I work for you in exchange for work for me" or "I'll work for room and board") or it could be leasing land on shares instead of cash rent.
A word was used meaning 'inherited'. This is assumed to be that the person received the land inheritance or estate, and perhaps didn't live on that particular piece of land.
I was pleased to be able to include the maps along with the name list, as i felt they were as important as the text. In some cases, it shows the name of the person on the map, that isn't included in the typed list. The maps will have to be read with a magnifying glass, I am sure, but i think they are well worth the effort of research.
Since Frank Mares wasn't consistent in his format, persentation, or recording form, from county to county, it was typed and transcribed as it was printed in the newspaper. Abbreviations of the first names were used in the original printing, and that too, was typed as printed. However, a list of the abbreviated names and their possible meanings is on a separate page index for referral. Also it was noted of the possibility of spelling of names was in error, so this was typed as printed rather than making an assumption on correction of that name.
I enjoyed doing this project immensely, and just doing the transcribing and translation, etc., has given me an insight to these people who were some of our earlier settlers and of the times in which they lived.
I do hope it proves very helpful to whoever uses the book, and that it will be helpful for the future generations as well.
Nebraska and Kansas Settlers from 1891 - 1895
Foreword (Includes Tribute to Frank Mares)