My parents and grandparents came to Nebraska in August of 1867. They came away from Bohemia to this country to enjoy a little freedom, which was denied them in the Old Country under the Australian Government. A majority of the Bohemians who came before them after arriving in Chicago, the “jumping off place,” settled in Wisconsin, but about that time the homestead law was passed and pretty well advertised so my folks came west to get homesteads. After the small farms of Bohemia, often less than ten acres, 160 acres of land was a great estate.
They first lived in Dugout, covered with brush and whatever they could find to cover it with. Grandfather bought a team of oxen and hauled cottonwood lumber from Brownville and built a two- room house over the hole they were living in.
There were a few settlers northeast of the folks, the Smiths, Skillets, Tibbets, Nickelsons, and Joe Medford. Father ( Frank Kovanda, Sr.) worked for John and Charles Smith and sometimes for Wm. Skillet, and when he wasn’t working at anything else he dug rock in Charles Smiths stone quarry. With this stone he built a small house, about ten by sixteen feet. In that house I was born Feb. 8, 1872 my mother was Benes, cousin of Edward Benes, father of former President Czechoslovakia, now an exile in our country.
Joseph Werner came here in 1867. Strejc and Wopata came in 1878,and lives with us. We had granary and the old folks lived in that little stone house and we youngsters made our home in the granary.
Father hauled stone from Smith’s every winter when other work was out of the way and in 1877 and ’78 he built the stone house that is on the old homestead now. The big stones in the corners and over and under the window and doorframes were brought from somewhere south of Humboldt. That mound of dirt west of the house where sister Anna was bitten by a rattlesnake was piled up in making the cellar under the new stone house. Later we hauled it away.
Our County Superintendent, Miss Mary Clarke, writes the early records are not complete. They show that Emma Dunn taught District 35 School for 3 months in 1876 at $24.00 per month. Mary Ellen taught for three months in 1877 at $20.00 and Jos. B. Peppoon taught for three months at $30.00 in 1877. No records for 1878 and 1879. In 1880 Sadie M. Henton taught four months at $20.00 per month. The new schoolhouse was built that year and I think Mr. O. D. Howe Sr. was the first teacher at the new school. Harry Boone was right about Lafe Cooper’s trap, but it was not my thumb that got caught. It was my middle finger and I have a scarred finger nail on it yet.