The Bohemian immigration to North America began to pick up in the 1840's. Social unrest and economic hardship left few jobs for the occupied people of the once great country. Leadership and rule had been in the hands of other nations for centuries and Bohemia was used as a source of agriculture income in foreign coffers and manpower for the army of other nations. There was no effective local government or legislature of the Bohemian people. For generations their safety and future was in the hands of others. Jobs were often scarce, so income was almost always limited; not including for the ownership of land or the finances to move. The advent of more available means of travel in the 1800's brought with it some opportunity for new prospects, even for those with small resources.
Most who came to Oconto County were from agricultural backgrounds. It was not unusual for a man to immigrate first, earning the money which brought his family to him, in small groups, over the following years. While settling homesteads, often in close knit communities, the men and older boys added to the family income with work in the woods for lumber companies and in the local saw mills. Many men and women would be described as "Jack-of-all-trades" in their approaches to life. They built their own homes, cleared their own fields, brought their produce to market, sewed their clothing and often for others as extra income, worked as "handymen" when that opportunity for employment presented itself, black smithed to maintain and repair their hard earned equipment, were skilled at preparing foods for winter storage, hunted for table meat, pelts and market, raised families and helped each other. Whatever skill was needed in everyday life and for income, they learned and used it. Life had always meant hard work, but here they had the opportunity for employment, to own land and make their life's decisions.
The original inhabitants of what became Bohemia were known as the "Boii". These people were a tribe of the ancient Celts who lived in small groups throughout central Europe. Their culture has been found at archaeological site as far back as 3000 B.C. Hunter/gatherer forms of existence for these early Bohemians had been gradually replaced by farming which began it's spread from the "futile triangle" of the middle east some 10,000 years ago. Agriculture brought with it crops, domesticated food animals for food sources and horses as well as a settlement way of life that replaced the nomadic following of wild animal migration. Settling land brought with it developing the skills necessary to protect these settlements and the earliest Bohemians excelled as warriors on foot, on horseback, and eventually using chariots.
Over the following centuries B.C. Germanic tribes and powerful Slavic Cechove tribes (now Czechs) moved into the area after battles or during regular migration. Many of the original Celts were pushed westward, yet others integrated into these newer tribes. The high spirited Celt traditions found their way as part of the Bohemian population of the time.
As with many nations in Europe, Bohemia has had a long history of fighting for it's independence against other neighboring countries. The area became part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of that dynasty in about 400 A.D., Moravia, then Poland took turns as rulers. The Bohemian people became part of the Holy Roman Empire (Germanic rulers) in the 900's A.D. and became a partially independent Duchy of Bohemia ruled by a Dukes and became a formal kingdom in 1212.
King Wenceslaus I was originally crowned as co-ruler of the Kingdom of Bohemia with his father Ottokar I in 1228 and became sole ruler after the death of his father. His first main concern was the threat to the country's independence by Frederick II, Duke of Austria. Once that threat was settled with the help of Bavaria, the next major threat came from the east. An estimated 20,000 Mongols, lead by Baidar, Kadan and Orda Khan (grandsons of the famous Mongolian Gingus Khan) attacked and devastated several European nations during their ruthless raids. The Bohemian people felt the attacks and Wenceslaus I, after several setbacks, the Bohemian cavalry was able to repel the forces of the two Mongol brothers Baidar and Kadan, who turned south in 1241 to meet their brother's forces and invade Hungary. Next, Ottokar II, his own son, lead a revolt that he crushed. Wenceslaus then led a successful invasion of Austria, let his son Ottokad II out of prison and placed him as regent of Moravia to keep him occupied.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Wenceslaus was bringing the then modern Gothic lifestyle and culture to Bohemia. Stone replaced wood in major structures, education, poetry and music were enjoyed and practiced by the general population. Craftsmanship, trade and urban development took a strong hold in the traditionally farming Bohemian culture. Bohemian government was reorganized and made one of the strongest in Europe during that time.
King Ottokar II (known as The Great and The Iron and Golden King) who ruled over Austria and added neighboring duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola also inherited Bohemia from his father Wenceslaus II. However, during his reign, Austria was restored to independence and Ottokar II had to give up the neighboring Duchies, leaving him only Bohemia and Moravia. He attempted to takeover of his lost lands two years later. He was defeated and killed during battle in 1278. However, Bohemia maintained a strong independence for nearly 300 years until it was incorporated into the Hapsburg lands in 1526. It saw the rampages and destruction of the religious 30 Years War starting in 1618 and the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 as part of the Austrian Empire. From 1867, it was part of Austria-Hungary. The independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, made up of Bohemia, Moravia and part of Czech Silesia. at the end of World War I (1918) . Bohemia became part of the Soviet Union after World War II and increasing dissatisfaction with the Communist government led to revolt and a clamp down by government. With the collapse of the Soviet Union , in 1993 Bohemia went from being part of Czechoslovakia to part of present day Czech Republic along with Moravia.
Born in Oconto County
1870 Census for Oconto County
Oconto , born
Other Bohemian Born Surnames In Oconto County
Stefls, Stefels. Steffels