The Story of Dubina, Lavaca County,Texas
The small community of Dubina, Texas is situated near and east of Navidad, about four miles on the left side of the paved highway from Schulenburg to Weimar, Texas. This community is 100% Czech-Moravian-Catholic. It is the only parish in the state that was founded and settled strictly by people ALL coming from Moravia in Europe.
The history of this parish is best known from a lecture by August Haidusek, given by him at a special parish celebration on the 4th of November, 1906 in memory of the founding of this Czech-Moravian community west of the Colorado River of Texas. "It was in the beginning of the month of August 1856 when my father, living in the small village of "Mysi" at the foot of a small mountain in Kasnicova, between Frenstat and Pribor in northern Moravia, emigrated to settle somewhere in America. At the same time, from the same village emigrated with us Ignac Pustejovsky and Valentine Holub. We travel by a wagon to Bohumin where we met other families also moving to America. In Bohumin we boarded a train for Bremen. There we rested for a few days and then were loaded onto a small barge that took us to Bremenhaven by the river.
In Bremenhaven we took an ocean going sail boat to Galveston, Texas. The boat was about 100 feet long with two masts. Barely a little tub compared to the ocean liners of today. The first night out we ran into a severe storm and we were tossed about like a little stick of wood. I will never forget to the end of my life - the difficulties, sickness, etc. of all the travelers, but especially by the women and the children. The storm lasted a night and a day. Thereafter the trip was practically uneventful up to Galveston, where we landed after fourteen weeks of ocean travel. The next day my father, with some more men, myself included, oared to the Galveston Harbor and we returned in a small steamer (probably a tug boat) which pulled us closer to a large steamer they loaded all our baggage and passengers and this boat took us by way of the Buffalo Bayou (now Houston Channel) all the way to Houston. Here we landed the morning of All Saints Day.
In the group were Konstantine Chovanec, Joseph Janda from Trojanovice. Benjamin Klimicek, Ignac Sramek, Joseph Kalic, Ignac Musny, Joseph Peter and Francis Marak from Ticha, Francis Sugarek from Klokocov, Ignac Pustejovsky, Valentine Holub and my father Valentine Haidusek from "Mysi" and Francis Kosa from Sklenkov - also a single young man John Konvicka. Miss Johana Broz, Miss Rosalie Holub and two more single girls from Frenstat; all from Moravia.
Upon arrival in Houston, early next day, we set out on a journey in wagons pulled by 5 pair of oxen. After six days we arrived in Cat Spring in Austin County. Here we spent the night in a small forest. Here a man by the name of Matusik came and talked to us and spoke in such an unfavorable way about Texas that some families decided to return to Galveston and go to the state of Iowa, where lived one of our countrymen, a Mr. Holub. A little later another Czech came around and he again talked in favor of Texas and to change our minds and stay in Texas.
He reasoned that we would arrive in Iowa in the dead of winter, which season of the year was just as severe if not even worse than in our homeland in Europe. So we all decided to stay and we rested in Cat Springs for about two weeks. In the meantime my father with Joseph Peter, Joseph Lalich and Frank Marak went out to scout the country. When they returned they could not find enough words in praise of Fayette county, they said it was a fertile and beautiful country and had already leased for themselves some lands.
With them came two wagons, so we loaded up and started for La Grange. It was at the end of November when all these wagons brought us here and unloaded us under "Live Oaks" - all year green oaks. It was on a property that then was owned by a Mr. Holub. This was early in the afternoon, with a strong norther and a good bit of sleet. We had no cover except the oaks, so we were soaked through and through. For miles around there was no settler anywhere. We all felt miserable and forsaken, all alone. We built a large fire for the night, no one slept for it was very cold and rained hard. Next day the sun came out very bright, so everyone was able to work had to help out with work - by nightfall we had built on our property a crude but substantial home.
We lived in this home for the next six months. It was snug and fairly comfortable. It was a very primitive structure. In the morning, my father found very near two large oak trees, close to each other. We cut some long limbs, making two long beams, logs. We placed these down one end on the ground and the other ends were leaned on the two trees at an angle and we tied these with grape vines. Thus we had formed rafters. While men were doing this work, the women cut grass and tied it into bundles, (the grass was several feet high) which bundles I hauled on a horse to the construction site. The roof was covered with these bundles of grass. And we lived here for six months. Even the strongest rain storms were held off by the grass. The inside was warm and dry. After this Joseph Peter built a similar hut and we were all happy and glad. There was no friction among the people at any time. We stayed in our hut until 1867, when my father sold the farm and bought another one some three miles west of Schulenburg. Hynek, my brother, still lives on that farm today.
When huts were built for all, we started to clear and till the land. We made rails (for fences) and before planting time came we each had several acres fenced in. We planted corn about a foot apart, leaving three to four shoots in a group, thinking that this way we would be able to reap a greater harvest. Also cotton we planted into rather thick rows about a foot apart. When corn was about to bloom a Mr. John Frude came and pulled out corn stalks, thinning out the rows as corn should be. Of course we did not like his destroying our crops. He talked and explained as he worked - as no one of us understood English, we did not know what he was saying. At harvest time the rows of corn thinned out by Mr. Frude had large and full ears of corn and the rows not thinned out held only a bundle of shucks. All of the six families together made only a small bale of cotton. We loaded it on a sled and hauled it to La Grange to sell.
The first year was very bad for all of us, just about everyone had taken sick about the same time with chills and fever. It was very difficult to get over the illness. I did not get sick at all, perhaps because I was hardheaded and mean - so the sickness did not touch me at all. By this time I had learned some words in English, so I went for the doctor and when necessary acted as interpreter for him. I also acted as a nurse, bringing water and giving it to the patients and also administered medicine. By this time we had all dug wells for drinking water.
The year after this one was even worse - although we were all well now - we had nothing to eat and all the moneys brought from Europe were spent by now. But we could not go hungry and die. We went to a German merchant in La Grange who was a miller and we bought some corn from him, we paid two dollars a bushel. For flour we paid $20.00 per 196 pound barrel. Meat however was very cheap. For a doctor we had to go to Bluff, Texas, for Doctor Meyenger. The following year we knew a little more about farming. The younger ones could also speak some English. The natives came from far and near to take a look at us immigrants. They were very kind to us. They did teach us how to do our farm work. The next year we had cleared a very good crop of corn and also cotton. Thus it was better and better for us each year from then on. Soon we forgot the hard difficult beginnings.
About four years later some more families immigrated and came to our midst. They were lost in wonder and awe at the sight of our homes. Some families did stop to remain here - the family of Valentine Gallia, my father's classmate. When he inspected our home and living quarters he said, "My friends! I had a much better pig sty at home". My father answered, "Yes, you did, that is true - but I would rather live in this hut as an American than in the palaces of the European rich and labor as a slave for the Austrian government".
We were the first czechomoravian family settled on the west side of the Colorado River. Of those that settled here with us, still living here today are Valentine Holub, Francis Kosa, Mrs. Johana Janak and Mrs. Syzink. Others died or moved away and left us here. One day we will go and will our place to others".
Thus far quoted from the lecture of Mr. Haidusek. Here he had truly described the hard times, sorrows and self-denials of the first immigrants - not only of those that came with us and lived around Dubina, but also of all here and elsewhere no matter where they lived. These were the words of Mr. Haidusek to Mr. Gallia, "We all had gladly suffered these hardships and cruel self-denials than go to do slave labor under the Austrian rule".
The first settlers around Dubina, though the times had made living easier and much pleasant, were still not fully satisfied with their lives, their mode of living. In their old country they had been accustomed to serve their God and fulfill their religious obligations faithfully. They were missing their CHURCH and their PRIESTS. In due time Father Gury, a Frenchman by birth, visited this colony coming some sixty miles from Frelsburg, Texas. He said Holy Mass here in the home of one of the parishioners. Thereafter Father Gury came about three times a year. All had gathered around him for these special occasions.
More settlers came year by year and in 1877 they built a small but neat frame church building and dedicated it to SS. Cyril and Methodius. At this time Father Rohosinsky would come from Praha, Texas a number of times a year. He did this until 1876 when Father Brucklin took over the parish and its responsibilities. Some time later Father Jerome Leagleder, a Bavarian by birth, became the first resident pastor.
In 1895 the first Czech priest Father Francis Just was appointed to Weimar, Texas as pastor with Dubina as a mission. He was followed by Father Karel Benes coming here from Bluff, Texas.
By 1900 the farming community had erected a church building, mill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop, store and post office. A 1909 storm and a 1912 fire caused extensive damage from which the town never recovered. As the first settlement in Texas to be founded by Czech Moravians, Dubina remains an important part of the state's regional and cultural history.
The Czechs who settled in Dubina were not the first Czechs in Texas. There were many who preceded them; but all of these Czechs settled in existing towns. The group of Czechs who found shelter from the elements under a gigantic oak tree in November, 1856 were the first in Texas who started their own town.
Today the Czechs are among the larger ethnic groups in the state and Czech is the third most popular language spoken in Texas.--From the DeWitt County View