The Annual After Harvest Czech Festival in Wilson, KS is not simply a day for feasting upon jaternice, dumplings with dill gravy, sauerkraut, kolaces, and all things Czechoslovakian. It also provides an opportunity to search for the long, lost relatives who migrated to the area from the Old Country in the late 19th Century.
Such did we find ourselves leaving Wilson last Saturday afternoon and heading toward Hynes Cemetery in far southwest Lincoln County. My Great-Grandfather, Joseph Vondracek, had lived about eight years in the Highland Township of the county with an uncle and his family, surnamed Feleman, who had also immigrated to the area from Czechoslovakia. My great grandfather met his future bride, Anna Ptacek (also a daughter of immigrants), in the before they eloped and were married in Amorita, Oklahoma in 1901.
Along the way to the cemetery, my wife discovered that one in a set of four knitting needles was missing. Unfortunately for me, I was the last one to pick up the bag containing the yarn and needles following the Czech fest parade downtown Wilson earlier that morning. Subsequently, she was none too happy with me. Her search in the satchel and car yielded no result.
My search for ancestors at Hynes Cemetery proved to be fruitless. There were only five or six marked graves and none were Felemans. With a little persuasion, I convinced my wife to let me drive on up the road to nearby Sylvan Grove, where I knew another distant ancestor had once lived. The great thing about small towns is that you can stop in the middle of the road and ask the closest person walking by where something is, and they’ll usually know. That’s how we found the Sylvan Grove cemetery.
When we arrived at the cemetery—with dark skies to the north and thunder in the distance—a couple of men were mowing the grounds. After I explained about my quest, both were soon walking along with me, helping to look for my long, lost ancestors. Again, the search yielded no results
So, we headed back to downtown Wilson. My wife wanted to search for her lost knitting needle on the slim chance that it might be located. After a brief search, she found the needle beneath the wooden bench where we had earlier sat and watched the parade. I, likewise, hope to have a happy ending one day as I find the graves or death dates for the long lost relatives of Lincoln County.