German-Speaking People From Bohemia

The Jessie community is home to many people whose ancestors came from Germany, Bavaria, and Bohemia.

Bohemia is former Kingdom of Europe, later a Crown-land of Austria, and after World War 1, a province of Czechoslovakia.

The literary and official language of Bohemia was properly High German, although the speech in the Northern lands was Low German, each comprising a number of dialects.

High German was taught in school.  One afternoon each week the village priest taught the religion class.

Liechtenstein, a wealthy landowner in that area, built the Catholic churches and kept them up.  The churches were always built out of sandstone.

The Church owned the farm on which the priest lived.  The government paid his salary.  The priests, altar boys, and the people of the parish went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine in different towns, twice a year.

Farms were small.  Rye, barley, and potatoes were the main crops.  The cut grain was stored in the barn and threshed later with a flail.  A flail is a whip used when threshing the grain.

When the old folks retired, the oldest son took over the farm.  The younger brother would either learn a trade or find work, but jobs were scarce because the country was over populated.  The young men were obligated to serve two years in the Austrian Army where their pay was seven cents a day.

In later years the United States sent land agents to Europe to find settlers for the land available in the United States.

That slowly started the emigration to America.  Men would come over and work until they earned enough money to go back to their homeland and move the wife and family to America, or they would finance a friend to come to the States.

The first immigrants came West into Wisconsin and southern Minnesota.  In later years they kept moving west to wherever there was work available.  Many found their new homes in the Cooperstown and Jessie area.

Surnames of some of the families to settle in the Jessie area were Zimprich, Wurst, Fiebiger, Pfeifer, Ressler and Heinz.  There are several people still living in Jessie and Cooperstown who came from Bohemia and Austria.  Emil Wurst was twelve years old when he came with his parents and still lives on the family farm with a brother, Frank, and a sister, Emma.  Erna Zimprich came as a young girl and later married William Zimprich (no relation) and still lives in Jessie.  Ernestine Heinz came over as a bride and is presently living in Cooperstown.

Emil, Frank & Emma Wurst

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 46

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