Walsh County, North Dakota

Machovsky, Frank and Josephine (Jedlicka)

Franciscus Xaverius “Frank,” Machovsky was born July 18, 1842, in what is now known as Skrychov u Oparan, in the Tabor District in the Luthern Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, son of Vaclav Machovsky and Veronika Alexa, the middle of five children. His parents had moved to that village a year or two prior to his birth from the neighboring town of Podbori, and he was born in house number six in Skrychov u Oparan.

Josepha “Josephine,” Jedlicka was born July 25, 1849, also in Skrychov u Oparan. She was the daughter of Frantisek Xaverius Jedlicka and Katherina Undus and was the ninth of ten children. At the time of her birth, her father’s family had lived in that village for nearly one hundred years. She was born in house number three, and this is the home she was raised in.

They were united in marriage on November 22, 1864, in Josephine’s home. Frank was 22 years old at the time of marriage and Josephine was only 15. The marriage would have been the talk of the town. The first reason is the most obvious one: Josephine was about half way through her pregnancy at the time of their union. The other one would have been due to their economic differences. Josephine’s father was a “Sedlak,” and Frank and his family were “Domkars.” To simplify, Josephine’s father would have owned the equivalent of 30-45 acres (top of village class system), and Frank’s family would have been so poor that they only had a cottage and small yard (lowest part of the village class system), and would have helped pool money with other community members of their standing so they could tend soil for farming. None of the villagers would have been wealthy, especially by twenty-first century standards, but Frank and Josephine’s marriage was a nineteenth century equivalent of a rich lady marrying a poor man.

Frank and Josephine’s early marriage years were not easy ones by any stretch of the imagination. Poverty was their constant companion. For the six children born in Skrychov u Oparan, Frank is noted as “Domkar” in every single birth/christening record (the family was Roman Catholic). Their third child and second son, Vaclav, died on September 27, 1869, from a convulsion. He was only two months old. Their next child, a daughter, Josefa, lived longer but still passed away too soon at the tender age of four on June 20, 1875, from a burn. Frank was only twenty-seven years old when his mother Veronika passed away four months to the day (and two days after Christmas), after his son Vaclav died at age sixty-one from “lung paralysis.”

Death was an old friend for the couple. Unfortunately, Frank had lost an older brother and a younger brother by the time he was eight years old. Josephine had lost three siblings (two older brothers and a younger sister) in just over a year’s time (March 1852-March 1853).

The family chose to leave behind the only place they had ever called home, and on April 20, 1877, they received their baptismal certificates in preparation for coming to America. They left on or shortly after this date for Bremen, Germany, where the Machovsky’s (along with Josephine’s unmarried older sister Anna, and their brother Vaclav Jedlicka and his family, with Frank’s elderly father in tow), set sail on the ship Nurnberg. They arrived at Balitmore, Maryland, on June 22 of that year. Frank and Josephine had four young children in tow: Rosalie (12), Josef (10), Frantisek “Frank,” (4) and Vaclav (8 months).

They went to Minnesota quickly after their arrival. Anna is recorded as residing in Le Sueur County at the time of her marriage to Thomas Zelenka on June 3, 1878. The family moved from farm to farm, it appears, during their time in this state. The Machovsky’s are recorded during the 1880 U.S. Census (conducted on June 19th) as residing in Cedar Lake Township, Scott County. Just under a month later a son, Charles, was born in the nearby town of New Market (still in Scott County). Another son, John, was then born also in New Market in November of 1882. Evidence indicates time spent in Rice County: daughters Josephine and Mary (born November 1, 1883 and April 5, 1886, respectively). Both have birth certificates recorded in Cedar Lake Township as well as in Wheatland. Further research indicates Josephine was the one born in Cedar Lake and Mary at Veseli. Rosalie, the oldest child of Frank and Josephine, was living in Rice County at the time of her marriage to John Sticha in January 1885. The family was back in Cedar Lake Township by June 1885 (recorded in 1885 State Census ).

Just like in their younger days in the home country, Frank and Josephine experienced sadness in their early years in America. Sons Charles and John were both deceased by the summer of 1885 (absent from that and all other subsequent records). Frank’s father, Vaclav, passed away at Veseli in August of 1884 from causes incident to age.

The Machovsky’s chose to move on from Minnesota after a decade or so around 1887. They moved to Walsh County in what is now North Dakota (then known as Dakota Territory). It was in Latona Township that Charles, the eleventh and last child, was born on June 1, 1888. Not long after Charles’ birth the family moved to Eden Township. Frank was able to build himself up financially: he gave William Black $2,700 for the title of ownership for 320 acres of property. This was recognized in the Walsh County Courts in February 1905.

It was a hard time for the Machovsky’s during this time period. They withstood the hardships that many pioneers of that era faced, clearing virgin land and helping to build the first schools, churches and homes in Walsh County. There were good times too: ten years after starting the process, Frank and his family became naturalized citizens on October 13, 1890. They could now be counted as citizens in the country they had toiled and labored in for thirteen years.

Frank and Josephine retired from farming around 1910. They then moved to a village called Lankin, where they purchased a home on Main Street. They left their home of twenty some-odd years into the hands of their son, Vaclav (who went by James “Jim,” at that point), and later sold James and Charles “Charley,” half the farm each for a dollar consideration. LaVerne (Infeld) Miller, great-niece to Jim, described Jim’s property to me from her visits there in the late 1920s and early 1930s (which would have been how Frank and Josephine had it back in the day): “There was a creek that ran through it and they had some of it dammed up to provide water for their cattle. They had huge gardens of vegetables, as I recall.”

The house in Lankin had an upstairs (unfinished attic-type of place) where children and others slept. There was a bedroom downstairs along with a kitchen and living room. It was a Victorian-style home. There were trees and a yard as well. “Kind of big but kind of small at the same time,” great grandson Duane Swartz noted to me.

Different relatives lived with Frank and Josephine in Lankin. From December 1911 to December 1915/early 1916, Charley and his growing family lived with them. The 1925 State Census shows Rosalie and her youngest daughter, Mildred, living with them.

The oldest son, Josef, passed away on Halloween Day in 1920 from complications of diabetes. Five of Frank and Josephine’s children had now predeceased them.

Around 1928, Charley and Bessie moved back in with the elderly Machovsky’s. As Charley’s daughter Marge has noted to different relatives: “They were in bad shape by that point. Someone had to be there to take care of the grandparents,” adding that she never heard them talk much about anything. Though not uncommon for that time period, the home was crowded. By the next year nine people were living in that home, four generations total. There were other discomforts as well. At times Charley could only support the lot of them on wages as meager as ten dollars a month. During the winter months the family would huddle in the kitchen, as that was the only portion of the dwelling they could afford to heat. They were in survival mode.

On or about April 18, 1930, Josephine suffered a paralytic stroke and became unconscious. She never recovered, passing away on April 25 at 10 P.M. at eighty years of age. She was buried the next day at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Lankin. Six of her grandsons were pallbearers (she had 48 grandchildren at the time of her passing, along with 46 great-grandchildren). She and Frank had been married for over 65 years before her death.

Frank remained in the home (which at some point became Charley and Bessie’s), being taken care of by Charley’s parents. The sunset days of his life were shared with me by Duane Swartz: “He was so, so old looking even when I was young. He didn’t talk much at that point. He sat around in his chair mostly. He would drink his coffee and tea. I would go walk around with him outside, made sure that he didn’t fall. He couldn’t walk very well at that point.” Grandson Ernest “Ernie” Machovsky noted how his Grandpa Frank also enjoyed his beer.

There were other health issues as well. Frank got an eye disease at the end of his life and went totally blind. He would ask Duane (in Czechoslovakian presumably), “What do you see when you put your hands over your eyes?” Duane said he saw nothing, and Frank would respond, “That’s how it is for me all the time.”

Frank suffered a fate almost identical to his late wife’s. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage around Christmas Day in 1932. He ended up being paralyzed on the left side of his body due to the hemorrhage. He passed away on December 26, 1932, at 3 P.M. at ninety years old. Underlying causes for the stroke and paralysis included hypertension and myocarditis, along with asthma. He was buried two days later along side his wife. Duane recalled the funeral proceedings. “Back in those days the family took the body to the funeral home,” or wherever the funeral was being held. The pallbearers decided to take care of it themselves and took the body across the street (to St. Joseph’s Church) for the funeral.

Submitted by Josh Machovsky (great great grandson), October 2019

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