HISTORY of BOHEMIAN SETTLERS in RINGGOLD COUNTY
Written by David JEZEK, 1977
The high spots of the many years since the first settlers came to this county
are assembled from the cemetery record as revised and recorded in the burial records, which were so very ably kept by the late
Jerry J. ZARUBA, and the memory of some of the remaining children of the first settlers, whose grandchildren by the way, are
now regarded as old-timers.
The first known Bohemian settlers to come to the
Diagonal vicinity were the Joseph TOMAN family. They came to America and Ringgold County in 1856, and his wife, Vorsila, was
the first person buried in the Bohemian Cemetery. The following is a quote from the burial record (or obituary):
"Vorsila (JEZEK) TOMAN was born in Zamberk, Bohemia, on April 18, 1811, and died at her home in Washington Township,
Ringgold County, Iowa, _____ 1866.
She was united in marriage to Joseph TOMAN, Sr. To this union two sons were born,
Joseph Jr. and Eustachius. In 1856 the family moved from Bohemia to America; they chose Ringgold County as their future home
and located near the Grand River in Washington Township."
About 1868 the widowed husband married again to Miss Anna TREYTNAR, also of
Zamberk, Bohemia. There were no children from this union. Joseph TOMAN, Jr. and his family moved to Pine county, Minnesota,
on February 27, 1909.
Eustachius TOMAN continued to reside on the home place.
He was married November 25, 1884, to Barbara PACHA and they had nine children: Marie, who died in infancy; John; Mary;
David, who died at age two; Paulina; David Sylvester; Charles, Victor and Edward, all continuing to live around and
in Ringgold County, all deceased as of this date, except Victor.
Also in 1856 Vaclav (James) JEZEK came to Ringgold County with the TOMAN's. He being a single man, he soon found himself a
future mate in the person of Mrs. Corthy (DENHART) BEAL, a widow. They were married in 1860. To this union were born four
children: Matilda, Cora, William, and George.
The name JEZEK being hard to
pronounce for some of the American, he had it legally changed to what was to be an easier spelling, YASHACK, and that
accounts for the two different versions of the name.
While there might have
been some others that came in the 1850's there is no record of who they night have been. A good many of those that followed
came right after the Civil War.
In 1865 Anton KRECHKY, his wife Albina, and two
daughters, Barbora and Marie, came to America and located in Washinton Township, Ringgold County. They had been Old-Country friends
of the Joseph TOMAN's, Sr., and stayed the first year or so with the TOMAN's, later moving to their own home about 2 miles
east, or about the center of Washington Township.
In the early days most of
the social gatherings were held in the KRECHKY home, as the log house in which they lived was one of the largest in the
The first Bohemian church, a log cabin, was built on the
northeast corner of their farm, just west across the road from what is now the Bohemian Cemetery.
This shrine of worship stood and served its purpose for many years, until the settlers built a new building across the
road on the edge of the cemetery on part of the Peter DOLCHECK farm. (At that time that was a much used road with 7
houses on that one and one-half miles. In about 1920 the road was closed and only the south on-half of a mile is
maintained to the cemetery.)
While there is no mention of the year when the new
church was built, some recall that Mary JEZEK (Mrs. Joe SLAVIK), was the last child baptized in the old church and mary
SOBOTKA (Mrs. Lewis SLAVIK), was the first to be baptized in the new church, which would place the date at approximately 1888.
Mrs. KRECHKY gave of her time in caring for the sick and officiated as mid-wife
at the birth of a large share of the children born in the community, not only of the Bohemians, but Americans as well. Barbora
was married July 11, 1881, to Frnk JEZEK and Marie was married to Joseph SOBOTAK on April 22, 1884. We will come back
to them later.
The John ZISKA famly also came to Ringgold County in 1865, but
they moved to Holt County, Nebraska, in 1884.
THE JOHN & FRANCIS ZISKA FAMILY
Font Row: Ed ZISKA, Frances TAZLER ZISKA, Matilda ZISKA OLSON, John ZISKA Jr., Frank ZISKA, Fred ZISKA
Back Row: Barbara ZISKA HUNT, Mary ZIKA MLINAR, Joseph ZISKA, Anna ZISKA, John ZISKA, Francis ZISKA FREOF, Anton ZISKA
In 1866 there were seven more
families that came to America and joined these earlier settlers. My Grandfather, Antone JEZEK Sr., who was a brother of Vaclav
(James) YASHAK (Mentioned earlier), his wife and children. Antone JEZEK Jr., who was my father, Frank, and Frances,
who on November 22, 1873, was married to Peter DOLECHECK Jr. They had four children: Anna, who married John DOLECEK on
October 29, 1894; David Danial, who married Marie FOGEL on August 6, 1902; Chas. married PELICAN on April 25, 1905;
and, Sylvia, who married Frank KLEJCH on December 6, 1932. Sylvia and Frank were the last couple who were both of Bohemian
descent to be married. Sylvia served for many years in teaching and later as County Superintendent. David, or D. D., as
everyone knew him, had a general store for the most part of his adult life. He and Marie had four children: Bernard, Louise (
Mrs. Robert DANA), Irene (Mrs. Burl CUNNING), and Robert.
Anna and John had
five children: Agnes, George who died at 2 years of age, Frank, Paul, and Emil who died at age 17 of a ruptured appendix.
In those days that was a serious operation.
My grandfather, Antone JEZEK Sr.,
Peter DOLECHECK Sr., and Antone KRECHKY owned adjoining farms with their home sites less that 1/4 mile apart. Antone
JEZEK Jr. was 15 years old when they came to America in 1874. He was married to Marie LANA, a native of rural Elsworth,
Kansas. To this union three children were born: Joseph who died at the age of three years, Fernand (Fred) who married
Bessie FOGLE (They had one son ERWIN), and Frances (who never married). Marie, my father's first wife, died the 17th
of July, 1892. In April of 1893 he was married to Barbora TOBYSCK. To this union two children were born: Anna,
who was married October 20, 1915, to Adolph SKROK of Cainsville, Mo.; and Myself, David. I was married January 20, 1924,
to Matilda SOBOTKA and we have one son Earl and a daughter Mary Margaret (Mrs. Phillip STAMPER). They have 4 sons: Wayne,
Gary, Bruce, and Carl. Earl married Shirley DESPECKER and they have a daughter, Linda, who is a nationally known swimmer. As
of this date, 1977, she is the holder of the American record in both the 100 and 200 m backstroke. They also have a son,
Barbora also had a son, Joe W., whom they adopted. He was married
March 2, 1916, to Agustina SEDLICEK. They have seven daughters: Rose (Mrs. Glenn HOWER); Goergie (Mrs. Hadley REYNDOLDS);
Marie Margoretta, who died February 2, 1965; Violet, who died at age 7, food poisoning; Irene (Mrs. Glenn HENDRICKS);
Helen (Mrs. Millard MAXWELL); and Louise (Mrs. Calvin RAINEY). Joe W. moved to central Iowa (Maxwell) in 1946. Fred and
Bessie resided in this same area, their son Erwin was an agricultural engineer in the U.S. Dept. of Agrigulture for many
years, now retired. We, Matilda and I, resided on the same farm until 1959, when we retired to a home in Diagonal.
Frank JEZEK was married July 11, 1881, to Barbora KRECHKY and to this union
were born six children: Joseph (married to Matilda SKROH. They had one boy, Joe Jr.), Matilda (Mrs. Jerry ZARUBA Jr. They
had a girl Irene, Mrs. Don HILLIARD) and Lawrence (marrie Louise DORFF), Marie (Mrs. Joe SLAVIK. They had 7 children:
Richard, Louise (Mrs. Arnold KESSLER), Rosalie (Mrs. Edgar RUGY), a daughter still-born, Raymond, Earl, and Irma (Mrs. Kenneth
FINE), Rose (married Edd RICKER and they had one son, Eldon), Lillian (married Jerry KLEJCH. They had two sons, Laverne
and Norman), and Albena (married Otto SOBOTKA and they had three sons and one daughter: Robert (the oldest, married Shirley
LOUDON, they had a son James and a daughter Sharon), Dorothy (single as of this date, 1977), Marvin (married
Margaret YASHACK, they adopted one son, Rex), and Carol (married Roberta Arlen BUTT and they had three sons and two
daughters: Randy, Gary, Pamela, Shelly, and Douglas).
And now we must get
back to the rest of the folks that came in that same group in 1866. We have the JEZEKS, the Peter DOLECHECKS Sr. Then
there were his two brothers, Vet and Leopold, along with their widowed mother. Vet and Leopold moved to Kansas in 1878, and
now again I go to the obituary of Peter DOLECHECK Sr.:
"In the year of 1866 Peter DOLECHECK Sr. and his brothers, Vet and Leopold and families and several related families of
theirs, started on a long journey to America where they arrived the same year. At that time it took six weeks
to cross the Atlantic Ocean. They all settled in Washington Township about nine miles northwest of Mt. Ayr. Peter
DOLECHECK's Sr. made their permanent home in Washington Township and after their arrival in America. Peter DOLECHECK Sr.
conducted the services in the Bohemian Church for about twnety-five years. The services in the beginning and for
many years after, were held in a log cabin but later on when the settlers were better situated financially, they
build a new church on the cemetery grounds. It was located on a part of the Peter DOLECHECK farm."
Peter DOLECHECK Sr. had two sons: Frank who died soon after coming to America and Peter Jr. whose family history was given
In the same group that came in 1866 were Joseph DOLECHECK Sr. (
not closely related to the other DOLECHECKS in the inthe party.) He followed Peter DOLECHECK Sr. in the Lay ministry of
the church and conducted the services faithfully until about one year before his death in 1916. He was a devout and
sincere servant of the Lord, giving of his time without any thought of financial recompense, and the same could be said of
Peter DOLECHECK Sr. also.
Joseph DOLECHECK Sr. had two sons and two daughters:
John (who married Anna DOLECHECK and whose family history was written earlier), and Joseph M. (who married Anna ZARUBA on
January 31, 1894. To that union were born two daughters: Rose and Amelia (Mrs. Cloyd DRAKE), daughter Anna (married Frank
RICKER. They had Marie who died in infancy, Joseph, Frank who died at 4 years, and Charley), and Marie (married Vaclav
(James) KARSKY; they had Marie, Fernand (Fred), Charley, Anna, and John.) Then Vaclav died in 1898. In 1900 she married
John SIMEK and they had Matilda and Joseph. In September 1904 SIMEK died and on December 28, 1904, she married Jas. PACHA; they
had one daughter Martha, who married Frank HUTSON.
Left to Right: Vaclav KARSKY, Marie DOLECEK, Jan Evangelist SIMEK
NOTE: Vaclav KARKSY arrived in New York City aboard the ship "Suevia" in 1881 at the age of twenty. He married Marie DOLECEK on February 22, 1887, Diagonal, Iowa.
Marie married second to Jan Evangelist SIMEK on September 4, 1900.
NOTE: On January 18, 2009, Bernard F. Shimek writes:
"Jan Simek immigrated from Jenisovice, district of Chrudim, Bohemia in 1878 at the age of 24 to a farm near Cainsville, Missouri. He worked on this farm owned by Frantisek and Katerina (Simkova) Mlika until he moved to Diagonal, Iowa in 1900 to get married. Katerina was Jan's sister."
The other members of the
group moved to other parts of the country. Perigrin KODYTEK, Vet and Leopold DOLECHECK, to Barton County, Kansas, in 1878;
Joe KAFKA to Lenox in 1874 but 27years later KAFKA moved back to Ringgold County where he lived till death. In 1870 came
Joseph PACHA Sr. & family. They were his wife Barbora, the children Frank (married to Josefine MLINAR. They moved to Holt
County, Nebraska in 1884), Anna (never married, died in 1932), Antone and Marie (neither married), and Joseph Jr. (married
to Marie OSMAN in 1891. She died in 1898. They had three children: Marie (married Dwight CARSON), Alfred (married
Avis BENSON, they had four daughters: Margaret Louise (married Raymond SWANK), Dorthy Maxine (married Robert
KELLER), Phyllis (married Clyde HOUGE), and Mary Ann (married Dean GARDNER). Joseph Jr.'s third child was Lewis
(married in Minnesota.). After his wife Marie died in 1898, Joe Jr. married Marie SIMEK in 1904 and they had one
daughter Martha, who married Frank HUTSON.
In 1878 the Joseph ROUBINEK family
came, then moved to Pine City, Minnesota, in 1908.
In 1881 Frank KLEJCH
Sr. and family came and all stayed in the county. They were his wife Marie and their nine children: Frances who died at six
years of age; Anna who married Fred KOKESH (they had one daughter Pauline married to Truman BURDETTE); Blanch who never
married; Joseph who married Helen JILEK (they had one son Joe Jr.); Frank who married Sylvia DOLECHECK (no children); Fred
who never married; Alois died at age 21; Marie died at age 3; and Jerry who married Lillian JEZEK (they had 2 sons: Laverne
who married Betty McNUTT, and Norman who married Doris PRATT).
In 1883 Jerry
ZARUBA Sr. moved here from Allegheny City, Pennsylvania with his wife Anna and six children: Jerry Jr. who married
Matilda JEZEK (see family record Frank JEZEK's. They had 2 children.); Anna Amelia who married Joseph M. DOLECHECK (they
had 2 daughters, Rose and Ameila (Mrs. Cloyd DRAKE); Frank who died at 6 months of age before they moved here; Rose (Mrs.
Joseph NECHANICKY. No children); Marie (Mrs. Frank FOGLE. They had two sons, Leonard who married Velma WOODS (they had one
son Richard); and Marlin who married Dorothy GRAHAM (They had three children: Stephen who married Lillian McNEMAR in 1959,
Frederick who married Edith "Susie" FULLER in 1959, and Karen.).
had moved from the community after college, he always kept up his ties to the land of his birth. he moved and lived in West
Orange, new Jersey, where he has a thriving business. Marlin was the one who, in 1969, suggested that we start a Trust
Fund for the Bohemian Cemetery, and it was largely through his generosity that it was established. That and the cooperation
of all the lot owners, we give our thanks.
And the Charles PETER family came,
he married Cleopatra TISHER. They had one daughter Lorene (Mrs. Don GIDDINGS).
Three other families also came in 1883; they were Bohemil ZARUBA, Frank MILNAR, and Frank PACHA. They all moved on in 1884.
Antone LANGER Sr. came in 1885 with his wife Anna and two children: Anna who
married David RICKER (They had 6 children: Theodore (Ted) married Margaret DRISKELL; Ernest; Edwin; Bernard who married
Donna ROSENGRANT; Raymond who married Marie STERMOLE; and Eleonor who married Ernie EGELAND.); and Antone Jr. who married
Antone LANTER Sr.'s wife Anna died in 1893 and in 1894 he was
marrie to Josefina KODYTEK, and to this union 8 children were born: Marie, Joseph, Veronika, Hedrika, Ludmila, Frances,
Bessie, and Wilhelmina.
Vaclav (James) KARSKY moved here from Cainesville, Missouri,
in 1887, and moved back in 1888.
Joseph SOBOTKA Jr. moved to Ringgold County
in 1883 from Cainesville, Harrison County, Missouri, on April 22, 1884. He was married to Marie KRECHKY, to this union
nine children were born: Albina (Mrs. John RYCHNOVSKY. They had Joseph, Andrew, Agnes, Albert, and Francis.); Anna (Mrs.
Will RICKER. They had three daughters; Esther, Bertha, and Helen.); Mary (Mrs. Lewis SLAVIK, no children); Fredrick (married
Ruth KENDALL, they had Melvin, Leo, Eldson, Marilyn, and Franklin who died at one year of age. Ruth the mother died January of
1936, and in June of 1937 Fred was married to Rhoda CABARET. They had one daughter, Martha Bell.); Edward who in 1919 was
married to Beulah ROUDYBUSH (They had three children; Donald, Leonard, and Norma Jean (Mrs. Roy LUMBARD) Beulah died in
1929 and in 1932 Edd was married to Frances CABARET. (To this unon were born two boys, David and Ivan,); Andrew who married
Eva DRISKELL on February 14, 1923 (They had 8 children: Margaret (Mrs. Darlin McGINNIS), Mary Maxine (Mrs. Wm. MYERS),
Bernard, Walter Joe, Charles, Wallace, Albert Lee, and Sheryl (Mrs. Carol STRANGE.); Matilda who married David JEZEK
(We had two children; Earl and Mary Margaret, who married Phillip STAMPER (mentioned earlier)); Zofia, and Rose who died
when less than one year of age. Zofia died in 1892 and Rose in 1904.
PRIHODA came in 1889 and live here until 1915 when they moved to Pine City, Minnesota.
In 1890 there were five families who came to Ringgold County, namely Frank RICKER, Frank RYCHNOVSKY, Frank FOGLE Sr.,
Charley OSMAN from Bohemia, and Emanual SOBOTKA from Cainesville, Missouri. Emanuel SOBOTKA farmed and also had a general
store in Diagonal. They had four daughters: Albina (Mrs. Lester WILEY); Anna [missing page from the manuscript]
Jerry ZARUBA Jr. was a good musician and he and Frank SLAVIK and a few others were instrumental in organizing a brass band
which was quite good, as I remember. The members of the band, from a picture that was taken at a community picnic in our
(Antone JEZEK's) timber (I and Albena JEZEK were probably 2 years old, so that would be about 1898) were: Jerry ZARUBA -
cornet, Antone LANGER Sr. - trombone, Joe DOLECHECK - alto horn, John DOLECHECK - brass horn, Frank FOGLE - clarinet,
and Jim KARSKY - alto horn. Those were all that were in the picture with their instruments for I and Mary (Joe) SLAVIK
remember others in the band (about 1904) who were Frank SLAVIK - ?, Jose SLAVIK - trumpet, Chas. ZARUBA - trumpet, Antone
FOGLE - who taught band and led the Diagonal band for some time. Later, (1919) he moved to Winterset where he taught band
and lived until his death. Joe A. JEZEK - ocarina, Chas. DOLECHECK - piccolo, Joe W. JEZKE - cornet, Peter OSMAN - bass
drum, and there were probably others we did not remember. Chas. ZARUBA moved to Omaha, Nebraska, in 1914 (he was a barber)
and he played in some of the leading bands there.
While most of the Checks people
were farmers there were several who contributed to the business of the community. The earliest of record was Jerry ZARUBA
Sr. who came to Ringgold County in 1883 and kept a store in Goshen, later moving to a farm S.E. of Diagonal.
Emanuel SOBOTKA came in 1890. He engaged in farming and conducted a general store on the east side of the Main St. in
Diagonal, where the bank and post office now stand. he disposed of the store sometime before 1910 and again
farmed; he later ran the Farmers' Store for several years.
In 1902 David
DOLECHECK and Joe A. KAFKA started a general store in Diagonal, which they conducted until 1909, as DOLECHECK and KAFKA
General Store, when D. D. (as he was known) bought KAFKA out and KAFKA moved to Shambaugh and later to St. Joseph,
Missouri. D.D. operated the store until the early 20's in the same location, when he bought the building just 1 block north
where he continued the business until he sold it to LIGGET's in the 50's.
In the 1890's Jerry ZARUBA Jr. and Frank FOGLE Jr. conducted a harness shop for a short time then Jerry farmed. Frank had a
hardware store on the east side, also a Chevrolet agency in the early 20's. He also served 2 terms as Ringgold County
Pete OSMAN had a shoe repair and harness shop, then in the early
20's a hardware on the east side which he sold to RAKE and it burned.
Inthe 1890's John SOBOTKA, a brother of Joe and Emanuel, lived here a few years and made brooms. He moved from here to
Little Rock and continued his broom making, employing eleven and more people.
In the 1930's Bernard DOLECHECK (son of D.D.) conducted a general store for a few years, and Leonard FOGLE had a
cream and egg buying station & also sold some feed. That was when all farmers raised chickens and milked cows.
Some of those were mentioned eariler, not as fully. In the 1930's and on Fred KOKESH had a Case Machinery business
and later a general repair parts store until he died. His wife Pearl continued in the business.
From 1910 and on the community was not as closely knit any more and with cars, etc., the younger folks drifted away and
the melting pot was working and the Checks were just Americans.
In October 30, 1920, the schoolhouse or Hall was sold at auction to Frank FOGLE who tore it down and built a house
in the west part of Diagonal with the lumber. After 1917 the church building was not used at all except for some
funerals. The last time it was used was Marie PACHA's, who died August 29, 1941, then two years later on December 4,
1943, the church building was sold at auction to Wm. HALM, who moved it to Tingley, iowa, where it was used as a
In 1962 Marlin FOGLE bought 1/2 acre of ground just south
of the cemetery from Inez DOLECHECK and presented it to the cemetery association.
There were several who came after the turn of the century: David RICKER Sr. came in 1901 and they had three sons besides
Frank and David Jr. by his first wife, they were Edd, George, and William.
Edd FINGER family came in 1901. They moved to Pine County, Minnesota, in 1927.
Antone FRIEMOL came early in 1900, and moved to Chicago in 1921.
Frank STEPHKAL in early 1907 and moved to Medaryville, Indiana, in 1934.
Joseph SERSEN in early 1914, moved back to Checko-slovika in 1923.
Mat NOVAK, from Bolivar, Missouri, in 1915.
Wesley JILCK from
Poweshiek County, Iowa, in 1915.
John RYCHNOVSKY from Cainesville, Missouri,
John SKARADA from Bolivar, Missouri, in 1918.
Chas. SKARDA from Bolivar, Missouri, in 1918.
Joseph V. SKARDA from Bolivar, Missouri, in 1919.
John SKARDA Jr. from Bolivar, Missouri, in 1919. Moved to Denton, Montana, 1928.
Jon. BATA from Corallis, Oregon in 1921.
While there might have been others, most did not live here very long.
And now we come to the end of our journey into the past. I have tried to present the factual picture of our ancestors'
lives in Ringgold County and we again give our thanks to Jerry ZARUBA Jr. for not only having kept a complete
record of the cemetery but also for having preserved the life history of each deceased with copies of the
Obituary along with the cemetery record.
I really enjoyed the time
spent in going through those old records and hope you may get as much pleasure from this condensed version.
In the past thirty-three years that I have been the Secretary of the Association I have tried to keep up the
records as he did.
We will make this double spaced and also enclose
two blank sheets so you can bring your own family record up to date as some of the records end with the second or
I hope when someone else takes over the job of
Secretary they will find it equally interesting.-David JEZEK, Secretary
Submission by anonymous, 2007
Farm House of Lawrence FURBURA, Bohemian Farmer, near Diagonal, Iowa
NOTE: From Bernard F. Shimek:
Like many immigrants the spelling of their names was changed to fit the English language. The hácek mark placed over the (Š) is pronounced in the Czech language with a "sh" sound. My grandfather was a peasant in Bohemia and I don't think he knew how to write Czech. Also, he stayed within the Czech community in this country and never learned to speak or write English. So, some of the American documents I reviewed during my genealogy research had his surname spelled (Šimek) and some had it spelled (Shimek). Most of those documents had his first name spelled (John) instead of the correct way (Jan). I believe Jan Šimek is the correct spelling for my grandfather's name. On my fathers Ringgold County birth record his name is spelled (Josef Šimek). According to my father when he started school his teacher insisted that he had to spell his name (Joseph Shimek) in order to conform to proper English spelling. The spelling of our family name was changed permanently to Shimek from that day forward.
In Czech Dolecek has a hácek mark over the (c) that is pronounced like CH in CHURCH. It is spelled(Dolecheck) like it sounds in English. Looking at this one example (Dolecek vs. Dolecheck) listed in the Bohemian Cemetery directory illustrates how some people retained their Czech name and some decided to Americanize it. This is both fascinating and frustrating when trying to do family research.
Thank you so much for this information, Bernard!! It is greatly appreciated!!
Other Ringgold County pages at IAGENWeb that may be of interest are:
Bohemian Pioneers of Washington Township
Bohemian Cemetery, Diagonal, Washington Township, Ringgold County, Iowa.
Bohemian Cemetery Transcript, transcript of burials
at Bohemian Cemetery near Diagonal, Washington Township, Ringgold County, Iowa.