Friday, December 17, 2010

PIONEER STORIES; 1872; part 2 of 2

This account was written in 1949 by Mrs. Mary Dostal of Olivia, MN, continued:

On winter evenings, Father would make shoes for us children from cowhide he had tanned himself. He made harnesses, brushes, furniture and even made wagon-wheels.

Mother used to help with the tree-cutting. That was the ever-present, never-ending work. Besides cooking and cleaning, sewing, and child-bearing, Mother would churn butter for market, make cheese, molded candles, cooked soap using lye made from ashes. She would knit for us using yarn she had spun herself out of wool from our own sheep, using a spinning-wheel she would borrow from a neighbor. Neighbors in turn would come to our house to use Mother's sewing-machine which was one of the few of its kind in the neighborhood. We would often pick wild raspberries and take them to Hutchinson and exchange them in the store for calico, kerosene or coffee.

Whenever anyone was sick, the neighbors helped each other. Women knew many home remedies which they were glad to administer in time of need. Many a baby was brought into the world without the assistance of a doctor.

These early settlers enjoyed working together, and would combine fun with work. In the winter they would line their sleds with feather-beds, and bundle up the children and drive to some neighbor to help at a butchering, quilting, or feather-stripping bee. After the work was finished, the floor was cleared and an accordion or a fiddle would furnish the music for their spirited square-dances, polkas and two-steps. Gay Czech songs were sung. There is something about a Bohemian tune that sets the foot to tapping.

The Czechs are proud of their nationality, and in the Silver Lake community it has been kept alive. Their language was spoken in their homes and used in business transactions, and today the majority of the people there are children and grandchildren of the old settlers, who are alive on the old homesteads, and carry on the old traditions. The Czechs, with their ingenuity and hard work, have built one of the most prosperous and progressive communities in Minnesota.