BOHEMIAN SETTLEMENT in WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP
Ringgold County, Iowa
Written by Jerry J. ZARUBA, 1935
The first Bohemian pioneers and settlers in Ringgold County were Joseph TOMAN, Sr., age forty; his wife, Vorsila, and
two sons, Joseph and Eustrachius, and Vaclav JEZEK (Vencel YASHACK) in 1857.
They left their native village "Klasterec" in 1856 and on
arriving in America they stopped in Wisconsin and Illinois. The price of land being too high and not having any too much purchasing
means, they came to Iowa in 1857 and on arriving in Ringgold County they camped in the forest near Grand River in Washington
Township and right there on the spot they located land that still is in possession of TOMAN'S descendants.
Vaclav JEZEK (Vencel YASHAK), single, aged 35, worked in the neighborhood here and there until the year 1860 when he married Dorothy
(DENHART) BEAL, and located on a farm near Crooked Creek, which land is in possession of his George, and a present
farmed by George's son, Clarence.
In 1865, three families arrived from Bohemia, Anton KRECHKY, aged 41, his wife
Albina, and two daughters, Barbara and Mary.
Barbara married Frank JEZEK, son of Anton JEZEK, Sr., in 1881, and Mary
married Joseph SOBOTKA in 1884. These two couples are still living (1935).
Peregrin KODYTEK, aged 34, his wife, Josephine,
and four children. Six more were born in Ringgold County. This family moved to Kansas in 1878.
Frank MILNAR, age 30,
wife Carolina and four children. Six more were born here. The family moved to Nebraska in 1884.
In 1866, seven families
arrived from overseas, Anton JEZEK, Sr., aged 46, his wife Petronila, two sons, Anton and Frank, and daughter
This family brought with them about a gallon of spring rye for seed purposes. After harvesting their first crop
of this grain they roasted kernels and used it for beverage instead of coffee. Also about a half gallon of flax seed for
weaving cloth from the fibre and numerous tools of all kinds. Their daughter, Frances, married Peter DOLECHECK, Jr. in 1878.
Leopole DOLECEK, age 29, wife Josephine and four children. Moved to Kansas in 1878.
Vit DOLECEK, age 34, wife Anna and
three children. Moved to Kansas in 1878.
Peter DOLECEK, Sr., age 45, wife Anna and two sons, Frank and Peter, Jr. Their
son Frank died in 1867 at the age of nineteen years of age. Second son, Peter, Jr., married Frances JEZEK in 1873, and
later became one of the influential citizens of the county. He was always interested in good improvements, having one
of the best improved farms in the neighborhood. He supervised the erection of the new church which was located on his
land. He was always interested in maintaining a high standard of social conditions in his community and has done much to
advance the educational interests of the community. For a number of years he taught the younger generation of the
settlement their native language during the summer months. He departed this life at his home near Diagonal in 1918.
John ZISKA, age 40, wife Frances and four children. Nine more were born in Washington Township. The whole family moved
to Nebraska in 1885.
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
Joseph DOLECEK, Sr., age 29, wife Mary and one daughter. Two sons, Joseph Jr. and John, and
daughter Anna were born here. Son Joseph, Jr. married Anna A. ZARUBA in 1894, and son John married Anna M. DOLECEK, daughter
of Peter DOLECEK, Jr. in 1894. Mr. DOLECEK, Sr., died at the age of 79 years and his wife died in 1922, being 91 years of
Joseph KAFKA, Sr., single, aged 24, carpenter and cabinet maker by trade. Married in the county and raised a family
of seven children. He moved to Lenox, Iowa, in 1874, but later moved to Diagonal, where he died in 1919 at the age of
The following names of families located and settled in the community from time to time:
Joseph PACHA, Sr., age 47, wife Barbara and six children arrived in 1870. The oldest son, Frank, moved to Nebraska in
Joseph ROUBINEK and family came in 1878. Moved to Minnesota in 1908.
Joseph FAVODNIK and family came in 1878;
moved to Kansas in 1885.
Frank KLEJCH, Sr., aged 35, wife Mary and three children arrived in 1881. Five more children
were born here. Son Joseph married Helen ELICK in 1931 and son Jerry married Lillian JEZEK, the daughter of Frank JEZEK in
Jerry ZARUBA, Sr., aged 30, was born in Braslavice, Bohemia, and came to America with his parents in 1867 at the
age of 15 years. His wife Anna was born in Pizen, Bohemia and came to this country with her parents in 1867 at the age
of 10 years. They were married in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1873. Their two children were son Jerry, Jr. and
daughter Anna. In 1883 they came to Goshen, Iowa, where Mr. ZARUBA started in the merchantile business. In 1885, the
family moved on a farm in Washington Township. Three children were born in Ringgold County,
daughter Rose in Goshen in 1883, daughter Marie on the farm in 1885, and son Charles in Diagonal in 1894. Mr.
ZARUBA was in the harness business in Diagonal for some years but returned to the farm again. In later years he
retired and moved to Diagonal where he passed away in 1918. His widowed wife died in the year 1925. Son Jerry, Jr.
married Matilda JEZEK in 1904.
Anton LANGR, age 28, wife Anna, and two children came in 1885. In 1893 his wife Anna
died and later he married again and to this union eight children were born.
Jim KARSKY, age 26, and family came in
Frank PRIHODA, age 30, single, arrived in 1889 but after a few years returned to Bohemia for a visit where he
was married and he then brought his wife to Ringgold County. They moved to Minnesota in 1915.
Frank OSMAN and family
came in 1888; moved to Minnesota in 1901.
Frank FOGLE, Sr., aged 38, came in 1890, but later moved to Guthrie County,
Iowa in 1891.
Charles OSMAN, aged 63, wife Barbara and two children arrived in 1890.
Frank FOGLE, son of Frank FOGLE, Sr.,
came to America in 1890 at the age of 15 years with Charles OSMAN family. He married Miss Marie ZARUBA in 1903, and was
in the hardware business in Diagonal and in 1932 was elected auditor of Ringgold County and is serving his second term at
the present time .
Frank RICKER, single, age 21, came in 1890.
Frank RYCHNOVSKY, wife Libby, came in 1890; was
in the merchantile business in Diagonal and lives on a farm near Benton.
Emanuel SOBOTKA, age 31, came to Diagonal in
1890, and was in the merchantile business. He died in the year 1925.
Joseph MIHULKA and family came in 1892; moved to Arkansas
Joseph LANGR and family came in 1893; moved to Arkansas in 1896.
Fred KOKES, wife and daughter settled in
Washington Township in about 1903. He married Anna KLEJCH in 1899. Anna died in 1922. His daughter Pauline was married to
Truman BURDETTE. Mr. KOKES married again to Mrs. Pearl McCALL. They operate a farm and also an implement business in
Frank SLAVIK, Sr., age 34, wife Catharine and five children came in 1893. One more child was born in
Frank KARSKY, age 29, and family came in 1894; moved to Minnesota in 1916.
Edward FINGER, age 28,
and family came in 1901; moved to Minnesota in 1916.
David RICKER, Sr. and wife and three sons came in 1901. Son Edward
married Rose JEZEK in 1914, and son Wilhelm married Anna SOBOTA in 1915.
Anton FRIEMEL and family came about 1904; moved
to Chicago, Illinois in 1921.
Frank STEJSKAL, age 36 and family came in 1907; moved to Indiana in 1934.
single, age 25, came in 1910 and married Frances OTT at Chicago in 1914. They reside on a farm  southwest of
Joseph SRSEN, age 61, wife Rosalie and daughter Mary FRIEMEL, wife of Anto FRIEMEL, came in 1914. They
returned to Bohemia in 1923.
Joseph PACHA, Jr. and family moved to Minnesota in 1920.
Mat NOVAK, aged 55, and family
moved in from Bolivar, Missouri, in 1915. Later he retired from farming and moved to Diagonal. He died in 1931.
RYCHNOVSKY and family came from Cainsville, Missouri in 1917.
David RICKER, Jr. came to America in his young manhood,
cannot state the time or what year. He married Anna LANGR in 1904, raised a family of five sons and one daughter. At the
age of 61 years in 1935, he still resides on a farm southwest of Diagonal.
John SKARDA, Sr., age 52, and wife came
from Bolivar, Missouri in 1918.
Charles SKARDA, son of John SKARDA, Sr. and wife Helen, and one son came in 1918.
Joseph CACKA and family came in 1918 and moved near Council Bluffs in 1920.
John SKARDA, Jr., age 37, wife Otilie and
three children came from Bolivar, Missouri in 1919. Two more sons were born near Diagonal. They moved to Montana in 1928.
John BATA, aged 47, wife Anna and twelve children came from Oregon in 1921. He died in 1923.
All the immigrants and
pioneers of this Bohemian settlement that settled down and remained, their original holdings of land is still in
possession of their descendants, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Joseph TOMAN, Sr.'s farm is operated by
his grandsons and Vaclav JEZEK'S farm is now  owned by his son George and operated by his grandson, Clarence YASHACK.
The Anton JEZEK, Sr. farm is owned by his grandson, David JEZEK.
Anton KRECHKY'S farm is now  owned by a grandson,
The Joseph PACHA, Sr. farm is now owned by son Anton.
Joseph DOLECEK, Sr. farm is now owned by
his son John.
Jerry ZARUBA, Sr. farm is now owned by a grandson, Lawrence ZARUBA.
Frank JEZEK farm is owned by his son
Joseph and his farm in later years was owned by his daughter, Mrs. Matilda ZARUBA. The parents live with her and her
The pioneers' financial circumstances were very meager as all were very short of funds - some even borrowed enough
money for traveling expenses to come to America, and still, after many privations and all kinds of misery, they all
succeeded and lived in fair circumstances.
There always was compulsory law in Bohemia for children to attend school so in
that respect all the immigrants and pioneers had a fairly good education. The older folks began to learn the English
language mostly from their children after they had been going to American schools and also from the merchants and neighbors
by them naming an article they wanted to purchase.
The living conditions here in the beginning were very, very hard, as
most of them had very small capital and the country was new - wild, all prairie, maiden soil and forest. They left their
native country mostly on account of oppression by the Austrian government and some by bettering their living conditions and
others followed their relatives and friends.
The dwellings and all out-door buildings were built of logs. The log cabin
had a roof covered with clap-boards and the rest of the buildings had thatched roofs.
Soon after the year of 1866, the
pioneers built a church, built of logs on the Anton KRECHKY farm and across the road on Peter DOLECEK'S farm a cemetery was
plotted. In about 1890, they built a new church on Peter DOLECEK'S farm - all donating their share in money and work. The
main caprenter work was done by Joseph TOMAN, Jr., and Jerry ZARUBA, Sr. The altar was builg from plans drawn by J. J. ZARUBA.
Later the community built a schoolhouse for teaching their children the native language and also used as a social center.
The Bohemian settlers are excellent workers, know how to till the soil, love their homes, and of a majority, stay in one
location. They are a home-loving people and some of the finest homes of the county were built. A large share of the
descendants of the pioneers are well-to-do with good homes up-to-date in every way.
LESAN, Mrs. B. M. Early History of Ringgold County: 1844 - 1937 Pp. 92-95. Blair Pub. House. Lamoni IA. 1937.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2010
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 Cemetery, Diagonal, Washington Township, Ringgold County, Iowa.
Bohemian Cemetery Transcript, transcript of burials
at Bohemian Cemetery near Diagonal, Washington Township, Ringgold County, Iowa.
History of Bohemian Settlers in Ringgold County, David JEZEK, 1997