Bohemia Historical Society

1519 Locust Avenue
Bohemia, NY 11716

In 1854, Jan and Catherine Kratochvil, Jan and Barbara Vavra and Joseph Koula and his wife arrived in the United States from what is now the Czech Republic. They had taken part in the widespread revolutions against autocratic rule that had shaken Europe in 1848 and came seeking a new life in the United States.  Work was hard to come by in New York and the men tried to support themselves as street musicians.  In 1855, Vavra became ill and was told by his doctor to move to the country.  Through an agent, he bought, apparently sight unseen, 5 acres of land from the farm of Alexander Wallis abut 50 miles east of the city in an area of Long Island known as Lakeland.  The purchase was a disappointment, scrub oak and dwarf pine made less inviting by a covering of soot from recent forest fires. The couples nevertheless determined to settle there.

Josef Koula was a carpenter and while the others dug the land and felled the trees, he built the houses. The families soon ran out of money and had to look for work. This they found at 50 cents a day on the estate of Colonel William Ludlow, a few miles away on the shore of the Great South Bay. Koula and his wife eventually moved to Boston, leaving only the two other couples. The first child was born in the settlement on April 1, 1858, Charles Peter, the son of Jan and Catherine In 1854, Jan and Catherine Kratochvil, Jan and Barbara Vavra and Joseph Koula and his wife arrived in the United States from what is now the Czech Republic. They had taken part in the widespread revolutions against autocratic rule that had shaken Europe in 1848 and came seeking a new life in the United States.  Work was hard to come by in New York and the men tried to support themselves as street musicians.  In 1855, Vavra became ill and was told by his doctor to move to the country.  Through an agent, he bought, apparently sight unseen, 5 acres of land from the farm of Alexander Wallis abut 50 miles east of the city in an area of Long Island known as Lakeland.  The purchase was a disappointment, scrub oak and dwarf pine made less inviting by a covering of soot from recent forest fires. The couples nevertheless determined to settle there.

Josef Koula was a carpenter and while the others dug the land and felled the trees, he built the houses. The families soon ran out of money and had to look for work. This they found at 50 cents a day on the estate of Colonel William Ludlow, a few miles away on the shore of the Great South Bay. Koula and his wife eventually moved to Boston, leaving only the two other couples. The first child was born in the settlement on April 1, 1858, Charles Peter, the son of Jan and Catherine Kratochvil.

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