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My Great Grandfather

Henry Blazek


Brett Spilde


6th Grade 1996, Tri-County School, Karlstad,Minnesota


2nd Place

Kittson County Historical Society GenealogyContest


My great grandfather was born in Czechoslovakia in 1877. At twelve years of age, he and his parents, two sisters and two brothersimmigrated to America. It took them six weeks to cross the ocean due tostormy weather, plus being sea sick before they reached Maryland. Theylived in Tarbor, MN for a short time then moved to Roseau County in Minnesota. Eventually, Henry homesteaded a quarter of land north of Greenbush in 1901. There was a teacher who came into the homes in the spring and fall onlywhich made his education minimal. He was an avid reader of his Bohemianpaper.

Henry farmed with a team of horses. Times were very toughas the land had a lot of rock and brush. The farm equipment was very limited.

My great grandfather met my great grandmother, Mary Novak,at church. They were married in January of 1903. He was a Christian andattended church regularly which was eleven miles. In the winter time, sodirons were heated and put in the wagon and later in an enclosed caboosewith heavy robes and blankets for warmth.

My great grandfather received his engineer's license sohe could operate steam engines and balers. He and his brother went aroundthe farms threshing grain always leaving his until last. The year my grandmotherwas born he was threshing flax in March. My great grandfather raised chickens,milk cows, pigs, and sold eggs for groceries. Their meat was butcheredlate in the fall and stored in a well house during the winter. Every winter,my great grandfather took wheat to Stephen to be ground for flour. It wasa two day trip. The flour had to last until the following fall.

My grandmother tells about the time my great grandfather'sfirst daughter was born. My great grandfather had gone to his wife's parentswhich was five miles away to get her to help with the delivery. After havinga cup of coffee, she finally asked how Mary was, great grandfather saidshyly, "She's ready to have the baby!" They hurried home, butby the time they got there it was too late, great grandmother already hadthe baby. Seven more children were born to the union: five girls and twoboys. A German mid-wife who lived close to them delivered the rest of thechildren.

During the early years of marriage, great grandmother wouldwalk through the woods to a little store where she would sell eggs. Therewere times my great grandfather would have to rescue her from the wolves.

My great grandfather was one of the first farmers to buya Model T Ford. My grandmother tells of the time they went visiting a familythat was poor, they had a dozen children. The children screamed, chickenswere flying around the yard and the dogs howled as they drove into the yard,because they had never seen a motorized vehicle. It was quite a sight!!

In 1942, they had an auction sale and moved to Thief RiverFalls and lived there for one year. Their three oldest daughters livedin Los Angeles and also one son. They convinced them to move out there wherethey could enjoy the warm weather. Great grandfather never returned toMinnesota. On January 4, 1953, all their children attended their 50th weddinganniversary. In 1963, they were also honored on their 60th anniversary. When they first moved to California, they lived on a ranch. They raisedchickens, and at one time, rabbits. Henry enjoyed sitting out doors crackingwalnuts from their trees and picking a ripe orange and munching.

Henry had several heart attacks starting in 1952, alsocataract surgery. On March 7, 1963, he fell and broke his leg requiringhospitalization and surgery. He then fell and broke his hip in 1963. Fromthen on it was downhill for him. He died April of 1964. He was a man offew words and respected by his family and friends.


I got this information from my Grandmother, Angeline Bothum.

I got this information from my Grandmother, Angeline Bothum.