Fortuneteller's Prediction Came True
The first Jech (yeck) ancestor I am aware of is Vaclav (vahts-Iaff) Jech. He was born on January 21, 1832, in either Bohemia or Moravia, which was part of the Hapsburg Empire.
Although Emperor Joseph II abolished serfdom and proclaimed religious freedom in 1781, many of the reforms were ignored by local authorities. The people began a national revival demanding the use of the Czech, rather than German language, the removal of government control of the churches, and the ability to govern themselves. People who advocated change were hunted down mercilessly. The movement culminated in the revolt of 1848. The Hapsburgs were able to quell the rebellion, but not without granting many concessions, including the reduction of taxes, abolition of censorship and general political amnesty. The reforms were short lived, and the cycle of riot, reform and repression continued into the 20th century.
When Vaclav was a little boy, his father was outspoken against the Catholic Church's involvement in the Austrian government. His father was arrested for his activities and imprisoned for many years. Maybe because of this hardship, Vaclav never received any formal education. When he was released from prison, his father was in poor health; he died a short time later. The experience angered Vaclav to the point that he left the Catholic faith. When he had children, they were christened in the Lutheran church. Later, he also changed his name and that of his son, Vaclav, to Wesley.
Rosalie Vasa was born on November 20, 1844, and lived in Podebrady (puh-dye-brah-dee), a Bohemian village 30 miles east of Prague. The town lies on the river Labe (Elbe) and is noted for its spas, which are particularly effective in treating heart diseases. On the edge of town is a large castle, which was rebuilt during the 16th century Renaissance and again during the baroque period of the 18th century.
Rosalie lived in Podebrady with her parents and at least one sister, Mary. The family had a beautiful home. It was a two-story white stucco with a red tile roof. There were eight to 10 rooms in the house. Connected to one side of the house, also of stucco and tile, was a one-story structure for the livestock. The place was surrounded by a tall picket fence. Directly in front of the house was a carriage gate flanked by tall square stucco pillars. To the left was a small personnel gate. Two small windows on the second story overlooked the gates. Rosalie received a minimal education, attending school for two or three years.
Some time around 1862, a marriage was arranged between Vaclav, who was nearly 30 years old, and Rosalie, who was about 18. At about the same time, Rosalie's sister, Mary, married a young man by the name of Josef Maly. Both young couples moved into the Vasa family home. Vaclav helped them farm.
Over the years, 12 children were born to Vaclav and Rosalie, but it appears that only six survived to adulthood: Mary, 1863; Joseph, 1864; Rosalie, 1869; Vaclav, 1873; Premsyl Fred, 1876; and Anna Ella, 1880.
Everyone in the combined families did their share to earn a living. When the adults and older children went to the fields, the younger children were left at home to watch the toddlers. They were told to look out the second floor windows if anyone came to the gate. They were not to unlock the gates for any strangers, especially gypsies. Young Vaclav recalled that once gypsies did come to the gate.
In 1883, the Jech family left for America. Religious freedom, the threat of war and the promise of more land and space in the new country were probably all contributing factors in their decision. Vaclav, age 51, and Rosalie, age 39, left for New York with their six children. They left the Malys-who followed in the mid-'90s-behind.
The Jech family arrived in America at the port of New York. While there, a fortuneteller approached Rosalie and offered to look into the future for them. Rosalie consented. The fortuneteller saw a wooden casket tied with a rope. She saw nothing else and couldn't explain what she saw. The Jechs were puzzled, but discounted the vision and left for Kansas.
Arriving in Caldwell, Kansas, they stayed with the Sugelas and Lubedellas for a week or so. They bought a place nine miles west of town.
The oldest daughter, Mary, had married Frank Kubic and was expecting a child in the summer of 1886. There were complications, and she died in childbirth at the age of 23. She was placed in a coffin in the parlor and the family sat watch and grieved. The weather was hot that time of year and the body was not embalmed. The body swelled and began to push the wooden casket apart. They tied the coffin with clothesline to secure it enough to transport it for burial. Thus the fortuneteller's gruesome prediction came to pass.
In 1888 or '89 the Jechs sold the Kansas place and bought a claim near Okarche, Oklahoma Territory, in Kingfisher County. They paid $400 for it and moved there with the five remaining children.
The Malys arrived in Oklahoma about 1897. By now they had six children: five boys and a girl, Mary Maria, who was about 12 years old. They settled in Breckenridge, 20 miles east of Enid near Fairmont in Garfield County. They were 60 to 70 miles from the Jechs.
Over the years the older children married and moved out. Joseph married Mary Sixta. Rosalie married Frank Wewerka. Wesly (young Vaclav) married Antoinette SpringIer. On January 23,1898, Vaclav passed away.
By 1900, there was just Rosalie, Premsyl Fred and Anna Ella at home. On July 17, Anna married Frank Benjamin Skarky. Premsyl continued to run the farm and care for his mother, which was expected of the youngest son. On November 26, 1903, Premsyl married Mary Maria Maly, and once again the Jechs and Malys shared a home. Mary was 18 and Premsyl, 27.
Sometime between 1900 and 1920, this branch of the Jechs began to spell their name Yeck to ensure the correct pronunciation. Some of the others continued the original spelling and eventually changed the pronunciation to "jeck."
Rosalie passed away on October 25, 1919, and was buried in Okarche. The following year, Premsyl sold the Okarche place and bought a farm near Banner, Oklahoma. He put $25,000 down on the $40,000 selling price. The canceled check was placed in the frame of their hand-tinted wedding picture and remained there throughout their lives. The picture and check passed on to Marie Jech Lingo.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.