|Anthony KLOBASA, Sr
Another name for Anthony was Anton.
User ID: 26.
1 Memories of My Boyhood, Anthony Klobasa, Jr, St Louis MO 1937, pp1-30. p5 "During the revolution of 1848, Bohemia (Czech) was endeavoring to shake off the shackles of the despotic government, Austria, which had held the once noble and free Czech nation in bondage for three hundred years after it was conquered by the Germans. The Czech literature was all burned, schools destroyed, the mother language was forbidden, and the German language was compulsory. However, a small percentage of the Czech language was retained by the poor ignorant peasant class, and therefore the language was practically dead until it was gradually revived during the nineteenth century. The revolutionary spirit of France spread to our country. Bohemia under the leadership of the noble Karel Havlicek and others took up arms against the government. My father, Anton Klobasa, organized and became a commander of the so called National Guard in our town.
"Some years before the revolution, after my father had acquired his university training, he was induced to learn a trade (that being the custom in those days) and the tannery business was chosen for him. After he had passed his apprenticeship and became a journeyman, he left his home to get some experience in the larger cities of Europe, and after traveling for five years he returned to his home to establish a business of his own. He had married a young girl from his home town, an orphan by the name of Anna Kaplan, who possessed considerable means, and since he was an only son he inherited his father's estate, which consisted of a large house in what was called the "Rink" (the market place) and also some farm land out of town.
"He carried on his tannery business for some years. In the meantime he was elected a member of the City Council, and was appointed Tax Collector of the district. He also became a Notary (an advocate). As these duties absorbed practically all of his time, he decided to dispose of his tannery business (which had increased too much for home consumption) and devote himself to his Court House duties. He had the respect and admiration of all his fellow citizens, and twice was nominated for mayor, but he declined both times to serve. He was a great lover of books, particularly history and the biographies of free men. He read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence of America in the German language, which greatly interested him and appealed to him very strongly because of the freedom of man which it provided. Being a man of rather wide knowledge and liberal disposition, he commanded the respect and admiration of his fellow townsmen.
"At the time (1848) our people acquired the spirit of the French revolution and began to organize in military form to demand their freedom from existing slavery. My father, being commander of the first "National Guard Company" of the town joined various other branches in Prague for further action. At first the government refused to grant their demands, but after due consideration, in order to prevent the expected blow, declared a Constitutional right for our nation, which was received with great joy, and consequently the national army disbanded and pease was restored.
"But alas, the Constitution and the public peace and happiness were of short duration. The constitution was gradually abrogated, and it was then that my father became disheartened with the government, and having in mind the Declaration of Independence of the United States and the principle of freedom which became very dear to his heart, he longed to become a citizen of that "Land of the Free." Public meetings to discuss America were not permitted, but friends met secretly at our home and contemplated the possibility of emigrating to America to which all agreed, and father took the initiative. Of course it was impossible to obtain a passport to America. However he did succeed in securing passports to Hamburg, Germany, and in the meantime made arrangements with ship agents, under cover, to put them through. Father succeeded in getting four or five families through, but when it came time to secure passports for his own family he did not meet with success, because mother would not consent to leave her home. She lived in perfect happiness and comfort, always with one or two maids, and refused to cross that big and dangerous looking body of water. Therefore, during all the time that father was trying to persuade mother to leave, his passport had become past due. He tried again and again to secure a second one, endeavoring all the while to get mother to consent; but always the passport would become overdue because mother would not change her mind about leaving her comfortable home to cross the ocean.
"In the meantime father received letters from his friends who had reached America, giving glowing accounts of the new country, telling of the large and prosperous farms they had, etc. With the picture of this bright prospect before her, mother very reluctantly consented to sell our estate, and father once more obtained a passport. After the estate had been sold mother wept day and night, but as the home was gone she could do nothing but consent to go with us to America. However, three months passed before mother was finally persuaded to leave the town, weeping bitterly all the while. This was in the fall of 1855.
"The day of the sailing all arrangements were made. Mother accompanied us to the sea shore of Hamburg, but refused to go aboard the ship. She remained on the shore all day watching the vast and dangerous ocean and the large ships, but was determined not to go any further, crying bitterly all day long. In the meantime all the other passengers went aboard, as well as our baggage, which was taken over on a small steamer and conveyed to the ship anchored a mile from shore. The sail ship was to leave at midnight. The captain sent a boat three different times for mother, but she remained on shore until almost dark. Finally father consulted the captain as to what he should do in his dilemma, and the captain replied, 'I will send a boat over to take the children and I think that when the chickens are gone the mother will follow.' This was accordingly done, the men taking the children against her protest and still she refused to leave, crying now for the children as she remained alone on shore. Father was tortured with pity and remorse. It was now beginning to get dark and the boat went back again. This time mother decided to join us, and when were all united we cried for joy.
"At midnight we left the shores of Europe for America on the sailing vessel 'Elizabeth Rypke'. The next day mother became ill, and continued to be very sick during the entire voyage, which lasted thirty days. Our destination was Racine, in the new state of Wisconsin where my uncle, Mr J Buresh, had been farming for the past two years. On our way to Racine we stopped at Buffalo, New York, where we met a friend of father's who had a jewelry store. He tried to discourage father from going to the wild woods of Wisconsin, and advised him to remain in the city, saying that the farm work was too hard and rough for a man like father. (Oh! had father only taken that good advice.) But the encouraging letters from his brother-in-law lured him on to Wisconsin (to his great sorrow and regret ever afterwards.) At ten o'clock at night we arrived at the Racine railroad station, a little wooden shanty in the woods, about a mile from town. There was a bus at the station for passengers going to town, but before father could arouse his children, who were of course asleep by that time, and get them off the train, the bus had disappeared. The train started off, and there we stood in the dark woods, not a person to direct us to the town, so we commenced to walk along the muddy road which the bus had taken. After walking about one-half hour through the mud we reached the town and found a hotel on the main street, where we took refuge, weary and muddy. The next morning father sent a message to my uncle's farm, which was four miles out on the Milwaukee road, asking him to call for us. In the afternoon two of my uncle's sons came for us in a wagon in which they hauled cord wood. It was drawn by two big oxen. Think of mother's surprise when she beheld this conveyance in which she was to travel to that 'Promised Land', over stumps, logs, and holes. The wagon swerved from one side to the other, and in order to prevent being thrown out we had to hold on to the stakes. After several hours of this weary travel we reached the home of our uncle, a little log cabin of one room, kitchen, and garret, which housed his family of seven; and in which father, mother,and three children, an uncle of my father, and our maid, had to be sheltered. Wherever one looked there was nothing to see but stumps, woods and the blue sky. Imagine the lamentation of my mother. 'So this is that glorious happy land to which you have brought me,' she would exclaim to my father, who of course was greatly disappointed and deluded. 'Oh, why did I consent to leave my comfortable home, friends and surroundings to be dragged into this wilderness,' cried my mother, time and time again. Father, of course, as well as the rest of us, felt very depressed at my poor mother's disappointment...
"Father was very anxious to take out his naturalization papers which he did on the second day after our arrival in Racine, my cousin having taken father to town to make his application for citizenship. My cousin was a sort of county politician, and was agitating for Buchanan's presidency. The following day he took father to a place which was a mile father north and induced him to buy a forty acre farm, on which was situated a large two-story log house. On one corner of this farm was a little country school house which father considered would be an advantage for his children. Hesitating on account of insufficient funds, his nephew remarked, 'Do not mind that, uncle. I will obtain the necessary cash for you by a mortgage at seven per cent. You can hire some men to cut the trees for cord wood, and next spring the agents for the stove foundries and farm implement factories in Racine will gladly come and buy all the wood. In two years your debt will be paid.' In those days nothing but wood was used in factories, as coal was unknown there at that time...
"As the springtime approached, our whole family turned out to clear the land of tree tops and other debris, which was put on a pile and burned, in order to prepare for cultivation. In plowing father managed the plow and I drove the oxen and carried an ax. There were no stump pullers those days, and at every stump the plow stuck in the roots of the tree, which had to be cut up in order to free the plow. This performance was repeated as we encountered each stump, an extremely difficult task for both man and beast...
"Our supply of clothes which we brought with us from Europe had soon worn out and we were without funds with which to procure new ones, and again my mother would cry, 'And this is the paradise to which you have brought me.' Father felt the reproach very keenly, although it was through no fault of his own, but still he was glad to be in the land of the free, away from despotic Austria.
"As I mentioned above, there was a little one room school house at one corner of our farm, which was attended by the children for miles around, principally during the winter months, because in the summer they all had to work on the farms. The teacher came at 8:30 to build the fire at the school, but the early comers usually gathered at our house to get warm (by that time we had a large stove), and the children remained until the bell rang, when they would run along together over the high snow drifts which covered the cross rail fences...
"In the meantime I attended the school, where I endeavored to learn English and in two winters I progressed to the first reader. I could not make much progress in English because during the summer I had to practice the vocabulary used on my horny companions at the plow and wagon...Our schoolmaster was a very kind and jolly man. During recess he played ball with us in the school yard, and was full of fun resorting to all sorts of capers, but when he tapped the bell in school every one respected his word and obeyed...I still remember the names of some of my schoolmates at that time, all of whom I believe have now passed to the Great Beyond. Some of the names were Frank Buresh, Elias, Gregor, Mikulecky, Stransky, Castek, M. Zika (who later became the mayor of Racine), Nechuta, Morbacher, Petura, etc.
"On Sunday evenings, or whenever the weather would not permit being out of doors, father would assume the roll of teacher and instruct us in reading, arithmetic, and writing in both the Czech and German languages, in which he was very proficient.
"On Sunday mornings mother and I walked five miles to a German church in Racine. I shall never forget how hungry I was when we reached home after that ten mile walk along the rough country. Father would remain at home reading, and as books were scarce in those days, he would study the Bible. His memory was remarkable and after reading the book three times from beginning to end, he knew it thoroughly. He was a true follower of Christ's teaching, but adopted no particular creed.
"As time passed, our two-story house became the favorite social meeting place on Sundays of all the farmers in the vicinity. They would congregate and discuss the subjects of the day, or sing folk songs; some would play cards, etc. At one of these meetings father suggested that inasmuch as the great American holiday, July Fourth, was near at hand, and as we were citizens of America, we ought to celebrate the day in some appropriate manner. The subject was open for debate. All agreed that we have a gala day at our farm; that we invite speakers, prepare a dinner, and have music and dancing in the evening. The whole arrangement was left to father, the expense to be apportioned...Father procured the speaker, a Mr Juranek from Milwaukee, who thoroughly explained the Declaration of Independence. Then father secured three musicians under the leadership of Frank Karizek (later the publisher of the Czech newspaper in Racine), also a keg of Milwaukee 'lager', some fireworks and paper lanterns. My father's uncle had built a speaker's and dance platform on the lawn in front of the house and the army drill proceeded very nicely.
"Early on July 4, 1857, all the farmers assembled at our house for a last rehearsal, which was pronounced by the captain as good. The company proceeded to parade and march over the entire surrounding section, passing every farm (of which there were not very many) where they would have a short drill, fire a Fourth of July salute, and then march to the next place. By noon they were back at our house. By this time a long table had been placed on the lawn, laden with many appetizing dishes prepared by the wives of the farmers, and which the marchers fully enjoyed, together with a glass of good beer. After the 'inner' man was completely satisfied, there followed an hour of rest, with music by the band. At two o' clock Mr Juranek began his speech about the Declaration of Independence, which lasted for about an hour, after which others made short enthusiastic talks. Between each speech the band played a National hymn, and when the table was finally cleared, the dancing commenced and fireworks were displayed. Everybody was happy and enjoyed the celebration, which lasted until ten o'clock in the evening. This was the first Fourth of July celebration by the Czech farmers of Racine County, Wisconsin.
"Father's first presidential vote was cast for Buchanan, a Democrat; but later he discovered that the principles of the new Republican party were really more democratic and consequently his next vote was cast for Abraham Lincoln...
"In the latter part of June, when the wild strawberries were ripe in the meadows, my sister and I would start out early in the morning to pick them. If we succeeded in gathering a gallon we were fortunate, as the berries were very small and the dew was so heavy that we soul be wet up to our knees. Then I would change my clothes and run to town to sell the berries, sometimes earning as much a twenty-five cents. What I received for them I was permitted to keep as my own. Out of this I bought a new straw hat for a dime, and spent the balance for the Fourth of July celebration.
"After we had struggled for about three years on this farm, with no favorable results, everyone was tired, disappointed and disgusted. Father was almost crippled with the hard work, and was worried almost to distraction because his debts to which he was not accustomed preyed upon his mind day and night. He could see no way of overcoming this difficulty, which loomed larger and larger each day, so he decided to dispose of the farm for whatever he could realize on it, in order to ease his mind from his nightmare of debt. Suddenly a new emigrant with three able-bodied boys appeared, who was looking for a bargain, and it was here that he found it.
"After we had disposed of the farm, a friend in Iowa, who learned of the sale, persuaded father to come to Linn County, Iowa, where as he said, there were no stumps to contend with, and farming was a pleasure. Father, believing the man to be truthful and honest, adopted his suggestion. This so-called friend pleaded illness, and decided to lease his farm to us for a number of years, on a one-third basis (Father afterwards discovered that his illness proved to be laziness.) On this farm was only one small one-room house with a single little window in it. Therefore, the first thing to do was to build a large log house. Father's uncle was a carpenter, and with the aid of some farmers, a two-story house was under roof within a few weeks and we were able to move in, together with the old farmer who occupied the upper floor. He spent his time hunting and visiting other farmers with whom he played cards while our family did all the work. Father bought a pair of oxen, a cow, chickens, implements, etc, from this farmer, for which he paid cash. (This proved to be another very unfortunate transaction).
Early in the spring we all commenced to work with renewed energy from sunrise until late in the evening, and as the farm was in a very neglected and dilapidated condition, it took many days of hard labor to put it into shape. We planted corn, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and sugar cane, and succeeded in producing a reasonable crop. While it is true that this farm land was easier to work and was fairly productive, nothing was salable, as there was no market anywhere. We therefore raised more than we could use of vegetables and home parched rye for coffee, but were unable to sell the surplus to anyone, and by this time we were sorely in need of cash, as our funds were again exhausted. Cedar Rapids was only seven miles away, but as there were no railroad facilities, there was no demand for farm products. The town had only one principal business street, and on this street were located a few stores, a law office, a little bank, and a lumber yard. As we were greatly in need of cash my mother would put up a few pounds of fresh butter, several dozen eggs and some spring chickens, nicely packed in baskets and send me barefooted to Cedar Rapids, a distance of seven miles, to sell the provisions. I would go from house to house, would receive four cents a pound for the butter, three cents a dozen for the eggs, and six cents apiece for the chickens; and was glad to sell them even at such unheard of prices.
"One spring day father and I loaded the wagon with a lot of fine potatoes and started out to try our luck at the general merchandise store in Cedar Rapids. There was of course no hard road, and the prairie land was very soft after the melted snow. On the way to town we were mired in the soft ground and could not pull out, so had to unload the potatoes and pull the empty wagon to a dry place and then carry the load over to the wagon. This performance was repeated three times before we reached town, and after finally getting to the store we were offered ten cents a bushel, which we refused and pulled up to the next store. Here we were offered only eight cents a bushel, so we turned back to the first store, but now we could not sell our potatoes at any price. There was no use taking them home again, so we pleaded with the store keeper to take them in exchange for a few provisions which we needed at home...
"The school facilities were very poor in this section of the country at that time. There was a little school house about one and one-half miles from our farm. The teacher was a young lady, the daughter of one of the farmers. Twelve or thirteen children attended this school during the winter months and father insisted that my younger sister and I attend the school during the winter of 1859-60. Sometimes we would be caught in one of the cold prairie windstorms, which were so severe that we could hardly catch our breaths. My sister would cry as the cutting wind almost smothered her and prevented her from walking, and the only protection which I could offer would be to take off my little jacket, throw it over her head, and take her by the hand, leading her as best I could. We made very slow progress, and were utterly exhausted when we reached our destination..."
"After we had been attending this school for some time, my father observed that the instruction which we were receiving was very unsatisfactory. He realized that his children had a very poor opportunity to learn anything or make any headway, and being extremely solicitous for them, in that they should not be handicapped in the way of an education, he decided to discontinue farming and to move his family to a city where their opportunities for learning were better. His choice of cities was St Louis, which was then the largest city in the Central States, and where all the business of the South, West, North was centralized since the Mississippi Rive was the only means of transportation to the Atlantic Ocean.
"Accordingly, father immediately disposed of all his goods and chattels by means of promissory notes given by the farmers, as very few of them were able to pay in cash. When we were ready to leave the farm, one of the neighbors- a goodhearted and kindly disposed farmer- volunteered to drive us to Muscatine, Iowa, where we boarded the steamer which took us to our destination. When we arrived at the dock in St Louis, we were amazed and dazzled at the sight which we beheld at the levee as there were between forty and fifty steamers docked there, waiting to be unloaded or loaded with merchandise to the West, North, and South. Hundreds of men were busy loading from ten to fifteen steamers at one time. So here we stood again as strangers in a strange land, knowing not which way to turn, and wondering to whom we could go for guidance.
"Our family was now reduced to five members as our maid had married in Racine, and my father's uncle, who was a very handy man around the farm, had decided to remain in Iowa.
"Finally, two of the levee workers passed us, speaking in our native language. Father addressed them and told them of our dilemma, whereupon they became very solicitous about aiding us, and immediately hailed a Czech drayman and directed him to take us to Soulard Street, which was at that time the Czech section. As we drove along and passed the east side of the Court House our attention was attracted by a crowd of people looking up at the pedestal on the steps, where stood a sheriff displaying a young negro girl who was being sold at auction. The sheriff was boldly exposing her in order to impress the prospective purchaser with the soundness and perfect condition of the girl. The drayman explained that this was a public auction sale of negro slaves. 'My God,' my father exclaimed, 'selling human beings into slavery! That is the very reason that I sacrificed my home and my life, in order to escape the slavery in Europe and to get into a country where all men and women are free, and here in the so-called noble 'land of the free' I discover that hideous monster in worse form than it existed in European monarchies.'
"When we passed the northeast corner of Fifth and Myrtle (now Clark Avenue), the driver pointed to a building which he termed a regular every day market for slaves. My father was so incensed at this sight which met his eyes that he determined then and there that he would never vote for a president who was in sympathy with slavery and, accordingly, at the very next election, in 1860, he voted for Abraham Lincoln.
"The driver stopped at a saloon on the northwest corner of Ninth and Soulard Street, which happened to be quite a lively corner and here we spent the night. On the south side of Soulard Street was a large flour mill, and on the Ninth street side new flour barrels were being unloaded. The coopers would open one end of the barrel and push them into the mill in order to be filled, and on Soulard Street the full barrels would be closed and put into wagons which were waiting to take them down to the river for shipment. All day long the sound of the coopers' tools was heard together with the merry songs of the happy workmen. Most of them would have a quart tin bucket with good old-time lager, with which they could wash down the flour dust from their throats, as well as their thoughts, in order to be free to laugh and sing. They were all Czechs and, characteristic of the nationality, were great lovers of song.
"The following day we moved to rooms on Jackson Street...Father obtained work in a tannery at seventy-five cents a day working in lime vats, but at this he was unable to continue, because within a very short time the palms of his hands began to fester, and as a result he was not able to do anything for weeks and weeks...
"...my father could not speak the English language...
"...When the cotton picking was over (in Louisiana) our little party disbanded and nearly all of them were paid in gold. Father went home to talk with mother about moving South...
"My father took the steamer at Lake Providence for St Louis. The steamer reached Memphis at night and unloaded some freight, and as the river here was full of floating ice, the captain decided not to attempt to go any farther north. Father, being unaware of this decision, proceeded to find a comfortable place on deck in which to sleep and after sleeping for some time, he was awakened by the colored cook from the kitchen. Of course Father did not understand what he said, but discovered that his coat was cut and the diary which he kept in his inside pocket was missing. As the cook went back to the kitchen laughing, father imagined he must have played some trick on him and proceeded to follow him to the kitchen door at the edge of the boat. As this happened at night and it was dark, father made a misstep over the edge and fell into the river, which as mentioned above was full of floating ice. By some maneuver he managed to get a hold of the nearby wheel of the boat, held to one of the paddles, and cried for help. Finally the cook appeared with a lantern, but demanded five dollars to help him out, and being at his mercy there was nothing to do but pay him what he demanded.
"The thief who had cut open his coat and taken the book doubtless thought he was getting father's purse; but, fortunately, father had taken every precaution and fastened the money on his body, keeping out only such as I have just mentioned, this reduced his expense money quite considerably, although he did manage in some way to reach Cairo with what he had allowed himself. From Cairo he took a train to East St Louis and from there home...
"I then shouldered my box, containing my clothing and also about half a peck of pecans and started for home, and upon reaching Tenth and Soulard Street I deposited the box at the corner of grocery store and went to look for the house where my parents lived, but to my surprise I could not find it. I remembered that the house was on an incline north of Soulard Street, but I could not locate it, which was not surprising after I learned the reason. While I was away Tenth Street had been graded, and when I came back the house looked like a two story house, the basement being the first floor. As I was standing there, bewildered, a girl came out of the basement door, and I inquired of here if she knew where my parents lived. 'Oh,' she said, 'you are the boy from the South. Your mother has almost grieved herself to death for you, as your family thought must have met the same fate as your father, because they had heard nothing from you.' Then she took me to my mother, and Oh! what a fond and loving embrace I received from her. We both cried for joy, and then mother told me what had happened to father on his way home. Upon her refusal to go down South, father had written me to come home, but having received no reply he wrote again and again, none of which letters I had received. Naturally they concluded that some ill fate must have befallen me, and that I was lost to them forever. However, the trouble was at the post office where all the mail between the North and South had been confiscated by the secessionists...
"...In the meantime my father joined the Home Guards...(He) was helping to build forts on the outskirts of the town to prevent General Price from capturing the Arsenal, which was loaded with ammunition, and for this work father received fifty cents a day...
"A few months later I became ill with typhoid fever, and within a few days both my mother and my youngest sister had contracted the same illness. My older sister nursed us but we had no doctor. It happened that a doctor by the name of Veter (Polish) came to St Louis from Europe and was living in the Czech section on Tenth and Soulard. Someone called his attention to our case, and when he came to see us I was in a very critical condition. After examining me he wrote a prescription and handed it to my sister to have it filled at the drug store. 'But I have no money,' she replied. 'What! you have no money?' He was surprised and, taking the slip, he wrote upon it and told her to take it to Malt's Drug Store, which she did and returned with the medicine. This doctor being a stranger in the community and therefore not established, had plenty of time at his disposal and would call to see us three or four times a day, and often as late a ten o'clock at night. He was very solicitous about us, rendering every possible assistance in his power. After some weeks the doctor realized that most of the people had no money and that it would be useless to try to establish an office there, and after giving my sister explicit instructions on how to care for us- my mother was recovering very nicely, although there seemed to be little hope for me- he decided to enlist in the army as a first class physician...
"...In October, 1863, a man by the name of Charles Alis, started a Czech weekly newspaper in St Louis, called 'Pozor'. In distributing sample copies he came to us, speaking with father about it, and leaving a copy on the table. I picked up the paper and read it. 'Ah,' said Mr Alis, 'does your boy read the Czech language? He is just the boy I am looking for- an apprentice in my office to learn the printing business.' He pictured in glowing terms the progress which printing was making in this country and predicted a great future for me if I would learn the printing business. Father being very fond of reading, was naturally in favor of newspapers, and furthermore, he thought this would be a good opportunity for me to rid myself of my companions at the trunk factory so he consented to my apprenticeship for three years...".
2 US Census 1860, Missouri MO08637927. 1860, KLOBASA, ANTON, St. Lewis (sic) County, MO, 732, 2 W. St.Louis, Federal Population Schedule, MO 1860 Federal Census, Index, MO08637927, Ancestry.com 19 Jul 2000 Database: Missouri Census, 1830-70.
3 St Louis City Directory, 1865-1873. 1865: Anton KLOBASA Woodsawyer 74 Soulard=Jr
1865-1869: Anthony KLOBASA Printer, 78 Soulard=Sr
1869-1873: Anthony KLOBASA r912/914 Soulard.
1870: Anthony KLOBASA Printer/Foreman, r912 Soulard. 1872: Anthony KLOBASA Printer/Foreman, r912 Soulard.
1873: Anthony KLOBASA Printer/Foreman- H & GA Rauth.
1874: Anna KLOBASA, Widow.
4 Missouri Death Certificate, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health,
, 1910, Registered No 1973. Caroline Hanish...Widowed...Age 67yr 4mo 23da...Father Anton Klobasa, Bohemia, Mother Anna Kaplan, Bohemia, Informant Leo A Hannish (sic)...Date of Death 27 Mar 1910...