A Friend of Vojta Naprstek

7-8 2007 Ostatní English
obálka čísla

Alois Kares belongs to that group of many Czechs, who were by destiny compelled to find their new residence abroad far from their homeland. Nonetheless, they stayed very faithful to the latter, because due to the unwilling mission, they did their utmost to honor the good name of their home country by their activity Kares´ ancestry has it origin in a small village Dolsko, which is nowadays a part of a larger town, Nahorany, located in the northeastern portion of Bohemia.

This countryman settled in the northwestern part of Germany in Bremen. There he and his friend founded the reknowned patriotic firm KARES & STOCKY in 1850. This firm was authorized to act as fitter of steam boats and shipping agent representing the North German LLOYDS´ steam shipping company? Later on, his firm was very proud of showing its presence on the market by the following designation: "Czechoslovak enterprise taking care of travellers´ transportation by fabulous express steam boats to America as well as to other parts of the world, including in America: in New York Baltimore, Chicago and in Pittsburg." Into the bargain, his firm was at the same time proud of taking care of all the formalities, pertaining to emigration of their clients

All these activities gained in its importance, when the situation became especially difficult. That is to say, many persons were due, to their views and/or conviction, coerced into leaving their home country under great pressure. The writer S. Kodym bears such witness about Kares´ helping many people in his book, "House at Halanek". An expect from it reads as follows:

"Alois Kares from Bremen, owner of the Emigration and Transportation Office, was arranging for those countrymen, who were under pressure, by losing their foothold at home because of political or any other reasons, to transport them secretly to Holland and/or to the United States of America. He did so on the recommendation of Mr. Naprstek.

Mr. J. Korensky bears witness about the intricacy of that period and the help to his countrymen in his book: entitled "The Trip Around the World", as indicated hereunder in an excerpt: "As for the emigration to America, it was at that time constantly and greatly increasing, so that the boats of the North German LLOYD were to more capable of confronting such high demands. In 1867, the wave of emigration was at its highest level "because 57,000 persons were registered who were transported by sailing or by steam boats from Bremen to New York".

Kares was keeping up a deeply felt friendship with Vojtech Naprstek. As is generally known. Naprstek was a famous undertaker patron of arts and founder of the ethnographic museum. An extra correspondence bears witness to the friendship bond between these two men. This and other materials can be found from Naprstek.

Contacts of these friends could have been rather comprehensive indeed. In the revolutionary year of 1848 a warrant of arrest for Naprstek was issued. Accordingly, Naprstek decided immediately to emigrate to America, where he had feverishly devoted his actions to patriotic activities. As soon as it was possible for him to return to his country, he was particularly endeavoring to stimulate a Women´s Movement which was then fighting for equal rights for Czech women and girls. In doing so, he initiated the founding of the American Ladies Club in Prague. Its residence was in Prague´s Bethlehem Square, where it was known as "At Halanek´s" house. In reality, it became a centre of social life, where American Czechs met currently?

On the basis of the abovesaid example of American women, new analogical organizations were created to serve charitable purposes. In order to acquire financial means, they applied various actions to that effect. Kares was one of those, who had contributed to one of such actions by sending them, among other things, several big turtles for exhibiting purposes.

Actually, it was not a sporadic activity of this patrion. S. Kodym wrote about him thus:

"Mr. Naprstek mentioned in front of Al. Kares at one time in Prague, there was not a zoological garden. In reality, there was not either start or interest to establish one. It had not been a long time, before this countryman of ours from Bremen sent us a complete collection of abeout forty exotic birds as e. g. Australian ducks, African geese, golden pheasant, poultry from Dutch colonies a pair of pelicans. Mr. Naprstek offered all this to the Prague Community? However, he had not met with corresponding enthusiasm. All these animals were placed in Prague in a park´s small pond, located in front of the railroad station. Nevertheless, it was necessary to feed all these fowls which required a financial expenditure. Besides, this meant an additional work for the park workers?"

Despite the fact that Naprstek contributed a substantial amount of money to cover the outlays for their feeding the final outcome of such an action was that all these exotic birds were gradually pilfered. Unfortunately, due to the complete lack of interest of the City Hall this was how the first attempt of founding a zoological garden in Prague came to naught?

An Ethnographic Exhibition of Czechoslovakia, which took place in Prague in 1895, had a possibility of showing to the public their extensive exhibits and the meaning of the firm KARES & STOCKY. The latter was presented as chief representative of the steamship company North German LLOYD "and at the same time, as a Czech firm. In their public relations brochure, published to this effect, it is indicated in an excerpt thus: "She/He who wants to have at his/her disposal reliable news regarding travels to any of the world´s parts, and desires to be attended with all possible consideration and care, should turn to this well-known Czech firm, because it is in all respects the main intermediary between the Czech Lands and America."

German LLOYD, which was represented by Kares and his companion, owned in those days 32 express and mail teamships set up for the trips from Germany to America. What is more, 17 of such ships were sailing to Asia and Australia, and additional ships commuted between England ant the western coast of Germany. The most famous and also the biggest one, equipped with utter technical perfection available at that time was the speedship "Havola". Her sailing had been very nicely described by J. Korensky, who undertook a trip in May 1893. In his account, he related this: "She dazzled us by her brilliance and harmony? You should make your trip to the New World only and exclusively with her! "Havola is in her most beautiful age, i. e. graceful from head to foot, and she is fitted out with all kinds of precious finery of the shipbuilding arts. Now, I fully grasp the meaning of Mark Twain´s words, which he once expressed concerning "Havola". He indicated that it was a real pleasure to be in her inside, because it was a comfortable as at home. Should he have an opportunity to write another book, he would love to write it on board "Havola" as long, as it took to finish his job.

Furthermore, he also describes the ship´s devices and her size when compared with other ships. Particularly, he highlighted her capacities as regards foodstuff and beverage supplies, which were needed as provisions for both the crew and the travellers. "Among the latter, Czechs travelling in "Havela" were represented by a fair number, as there were 12 of us who boarded her." He was remembering as well that in 1891 a maritime mail was then established on "Havela" by a special Post Office, where both German and American employees were assorting it.

At an other spot he truthfully described all the preparations for the trip as he said: "?before we could realize it, we were already welcomed in the famously old time town of Bremen by a representative of KARES & STOCKY. Since that time onwards "we were constantly flooded by utter kindness It was quite pleasant to be in the company of our countrymen, employed at the above-mentioned firm."

In his writings, he pays allegiance to both his Czech heritage and his homeland. Moreover, he reports about initiation of the boat´s name. He indicates this in an excerpt thus:"Already the name of "Havola" is imposing, because it reminds me of the woeful fate of the Slavic Community, in those areas? Slavic one and Havola thereafter, she is the river, into which empties a smaller river Spreva. Later on, it widens into a stream at Vrbno and afterwards empties Labe (Elbe). In the course of time, her name was changed by Germans to "Havel". However, in spite of it, the origin of the river cannot be denied? On its banks, the Slavic Veleta tribe had been established there "and was continuously kept up more than one thousand years ago. Their names were Havolans and Storadorans. Those were the Czech Lands, where Kosmas had led Princess Drahomira to Bohemia."

The meaning of Kares´ patriotism is firmly rooted in as much as he had always presented himself to his homeland, not only by words, but also by effective deeds. Withal, he had always helped his countrymen, especially at times of oppression. In such cases, he arranged for them to emigrate to other free countries. In this regard, we quote anew in part the pertaining description made by S. Kodym thus: "Our countryman, Alois Kares, lived for many years in the North by the sea. He was an associate of the firm KARES & STOCKY, an emigration and trasportation office in Bremen. It is very difficult to even estimate, how many of our emigrants were taken care of in his typing offices. In doing so, he enabled whole families along with some of their belongings plus a little money for their subseqvent starting, to be put on board a ship, sailing to the United States of America. Once they arrived at some destination, they comprehended that there would never be a return to the Czech Lands, i. e. to the well-known places of their youth. Upon their short visit in the Czech Lands, they realized that, after all, the USA became their new homeland and consequently, they returned again to the USA.

Even the Travel Publicity Bah, reminiscent as a keepsake of those days, was deposited at the Municipal Museum in Mohelnice, located in Moravia. In this publicity the company KARES & STOCKY was reminding all readers in a printed text that there was in question a Czech expedition of emigrants, travelling on the imperial post speedboats from Bremen to New York. As regards any other reminiscences relating to such trips and/or additional travel companies and their owners, who took care of subsequent travelling subjects, only our countrymen in North America or in other parts of the world might tell us, in which way was created their further life after having left their homeland. It might event happen that some of them could still remember the name of the firm KARES & STOCKY. This, however, would be a subject of additional thorough research.

Traslated by Karel Opatrný

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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