By Don Daniel, son of Helen Kubes Daniel
and grandson of Josef and Filipina Kubes
Josef Kubes and Filipina were married in 1880 in Czechoslovakia and came to the United States that same year to live in Crete, Nebraska. They stayed with Josef’s brother Frank and his family who lived 6 miles north of Crete. They both worked for two different farm families north of Crete. Later Josef and Filipina moved to Crete, where Josef worked his trade in his shoe shop in their home. He learned his trade in Germany. Josef spoke both German and Czechoslovakian. Filipina spoke Czech only. She had two brothers and sisters who remained in Czechoslovakia. Josef had served with the armed forces which was common to all young men in Czechoslovakia at that time.
They had five children who were all born in the United States. The children in order of their birth were: Marcia (Martha) Kubes King married William King, Emma Kubes Dedic married Alois Dedic, Mary Kubes Dedic married Fred Dedic (sisters married brothers) William Kubes married Lillie Aksamit and Helen Kubes Daniel married Thomas Daniel.
Josef and Filipina purchased 80 acres of land north of Crete for $8 per acre (North ½ Southeast ¼ Section 26 Township P in Seward County. There were no buildings on this land. John Daniel, Sr. and his men built the house. They moved to this farm in about 1892. In 1894 there was severe drought-- hot winds blew and no rain. They raised no corn. That year few farmers had any supply of grain on hand and the hay that they did have was stacked by hand. The older daughters went to work as very young girls doing housekeeping work. In 1905, they sold this farm and purchased 160 acres of prairie south of Denton for $35 an acre. This area (Northwest ¼ Section 34 Township Denton) was in Lancaster County. Josef broke sod and sowed oats and planted corn.
Josef and Filipina farmed and reared their family during these years. They raised goats for milk and meat. Some of the grandchildren remember the goats climbing a board that Grandpa Josef would lean against the edge of the roof of the corn crib and the goats would play on the roof. They raised grapes and made wine along with a garden. The vegetables were stored in a pit, and they had a cave for their winter food supply. Some of the later generations have visited the area of the farmstead. A concrete frame, that was the opining to the cave so many years ago, is still in place. Josef also hunted rabbits for food.
Horses were the source of power in those times for the farm. Travel either consisted of walking, riding a horse, or driving a single-horse hitch on a buggy, a team of two horses to a buggy, a spring wagon, or a wagon commonly called a lumber wagon.. For a greater distance the trains offered transportation. Very few people had any great amount of money, so thriftiness was “in.”
Josef had an experience in the 1880’s while living with his brother Frank’s family north of Crete. He had taken a train to Lincoln. On his return to Frank’s home, some 18 miles southwest of Lincoln, he chose to walk. There were no roads to guide him, so he used some trees on the horizon near the Kubes home to provide him a geographic marker as to the direction. It became cloudy and it began to snow. Josef soon became unable to see these trees many miles in the distance. He had traveled about half the distance to his destination (which put him approximately 3 miles south of the town of Pleasant Dale). He found an abandoned cave and he made a fire with branches and sticks in a kettle that he found in the cave. He feared falling asleep during the night and freezing to death, so he walked around, talked to himself and sang until daylight. When morning came, the storm had passed. The sun gave him direction and as he got to high ground, he could see the trees he had previously sighted on. He finished his trip to the Kubes home. But when Filipina and the Kubes family saw him they were startled, he face was blackened from the smoke from the fire.
Josef was an avid hunter of coyotes. Although I’m sure Grandpa Josef enjoyed the sport of hunting coyotes, protecting their animals was important. One less coyote to maim or kill the small farm animals (including the goats) and poultry meant a lot to a family’s survival.
There is an interesting parallel here between our Czech grandpa and the coyote—they both survived and thrived under hardship, oppression, and many changes in their lives. Coyotes were very cunning, but Josef had learned to hunt them. One way in which he had success, was to find tracks and paths in the daylight on which the coyotes traveled. Then he hunted them at night. He hid himself in eroded places in the prairie (blow-outs) or any vantage point. After carefully aiming his shotgun, he would shoot the coyote. A wounded coyote will run as long as it is able, so rather than track it a night. Josef would return at daylight. Often the coyote would have laid down to die by morning.
All five children grew to maturity, married and were farm people. Filipina died in 1933 at the age of 78 years. Josef died in 1934 at the age of 83. Josef was not known to ever have gone to a doctor.
This is but one account to pay tribute to all who came to this (now great) land. They endured and endured—indeed a survival. Essentially every family may know of (or, of course, may not know of) the heroism of so many people that did so much. As for us here in the Denton area as well as this nation, we will be eternally grateful.
Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska