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The Bold Prairie--Part 2

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  • Susan Rektorik Henley
    Part 2 We should have stayed in Europe, it wasn t so bad there, continues the quote from the two Hayek-Turek women sitting on their trunks at the train
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 2, 2003
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      Part 2
       
      “We should have stayed in Europe, it wasn't so bad there,” continues the quote from the two Hayek-Turek women sitting on their trunks at the train station in College Station. How traumatized by the prospect of life in the wilds of Texas they must have been to think that returning to Moravia was the better option. But, then when folks are faced with great change, what is familiar most often seems more comforting than the unknown.
       
      What was it like to live in Moravian highlands in the 1800’s if you were a true Moravian peasant? These were harsh times indeed. Under the restrictive and business-like rule of Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the ethnic identity of the native Czechs and Moravians was being systematically subjugated, subdued, and censured. Years before, the true aristocracy had been ousted and replaced with mercenaries and adventurers who has supported the Habsburgs during the Thirty Years War. They were of many nationalities including French, Irish, and Italian; but, by the 1800’s. they had adapted to the requirements of the Empire. They spoke German. It is even written that when the first Czech Nationalist Movement began, the new aristocrats turned to their stable boys to learn the Czech language. And, as the Empire reshaped the face of the Czech Lands by creating manufacturing and transportation centers such a Brno and Ulmouc, the common people were having to give up their Czech language. If one was connected to commerce or the government, then one spoke German. The native tongue, the mother tongue, Czech, was dying away. It was only in the non-industrial regions that the language was retained. The highlands of Bohemia and Moravia were in the backwater of the Empire. The land was poor, the resources limited, and even building transportation routes was difficult due to the terrain.
       
      It was the peasants and other work class people of the highlands that held on to the Czech language and the traditions of the past. In a way it seems ironic that it was the events set in motion by the little revolutions of 1848 that, in great many instances, made life for these natives even more difficult. With the end of serfdom came changes in how the great estate lands were managed and the inheritance laws that applied to even the small farmers. And, with the Industrial Revolution came the introduction of machinery such as the mechanized thrasher, causing jobs for laborers to disappear. There were valiant attempts to find new sources of income. Innovative and industrious Moravian farmers pooled resources and created cooperative-effort cottage industries such as the production of starch from potatoes which was sold to businesses in the cities. But, as the small-scale efforts could not afford the more efficient machinery, in the end their efforts failed as large plants came into existence and then produced goods that were less expensive even when the cost of transportation was added. Add to this periods of drought and flooding and the picture must have become desperate. It has been written that many a family lived on the brink of complete destitution. And, the situation even looked bleak for the larger farmers as there was no additional land available for their children to farm and they could not afford the new machinery that would make their farming operations more competitive.
       
      And, I firmly believe that deep within our ancestors burned the fire of independence. The Habsburg Dynasty was to evolve into the first great bureaucracy when it became the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. But, there amid the rolling hills in our hovels and small villages, we were not part of that world. The yoke placed on our people by the Empire was one of high taxes, forced labor,  and civic restrictions. Yet, while they could do this, they could not change the way we lived or the language we spoke. We were still independent and I believe that our ancestors looked beyond the borders of their homelands and across the ocean for a place where they  could still be free and even find a better life. For many, that place was Texas. 
    • Joe Janecka
      ... Does this sound like Texas! Farmer s children can no longer find good land nor can they afford the equipment to start farming. Only a few farmers left,
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 2, 2003
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        On Wed, 2 Apr 2003 14:16:15 -0600, you wrote:

        >Part 2


        >

        >.............. Add to this periods of drought and flooding and the picture must have become desperate. It has been written that many a family lived on the brink of complete destitution. And, the situation even looked bleak for the larger farmers as there was no additional land available for their children to farm and they could not afford the new machinery that would make their farming operations more competitive.

        Does this sound like Texas! Farmer's children can no longer find good
        land nor can they afford the equipment to start farming. Only a few
        farmers left, thank God that many of them are Czechs.

        Thanks for the historical "short story", Susan. I, for one am
        enjoying it.
        Cheers,
        Joe
        Burleson, TX
        http://www.geocities.com/goodolejoe
      • Tricia Burt
        My daddy was also a TexasCzech farmer, Joe Janecek, of Ganado. So I can relate!! Both of my brothers tried to farm, but they had to give it up due to the high
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 7, 2003
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          My daddy was also a TexasCzech farmer, Joe Janecek, of
          Ganado. So I can relate!! Both of my brothers tried to
          farm, but they had to give it up due to the high cost
          of machinery & low prices for the rice & cotton at the
          time.

          --- Joe Janecka <a0010631@...> wrote:
          > On Wed, 2 Apr 2003 14:16:15 -0600, you wrote:
          >
          > >Part 2
          >
          >
          > >
          >
          > >.............. Add to this periods of drought and
          > flooding and the picture must have become desperate.
          > It has been written that many a family lived on the
          > brink of complete destitution. And, the situation
          > even looked bleak for the larger farmers as there
          > was no additional land available for their children
          > to farm and they could not afford the new machinery
          > that would make their farming operations more
          > competitive.
          >
          > Does this sound like Texas! Farmer's children can
          > no longer find good
          > land nor can they afford the equipment to start
          > farming. Only a few
          > farmers left, thank God that many of them are
          > Czechs.
          >
          > Thanks for the historical "short story", Susan. I,
          > for one am
          > enjoying it.
          > Cheers,
          > Joe
          > Burleson, TX
          > http://www.geocities.com/goodolejoe
          >


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