Karl Jersák, Paměti [Memories] (Bohemia, 1954, William Jersak’s collection in Sulejovice) cited in Edita Štěříková, Země Otců [Land of our Fathers] (Prague: The Society of Exiles in Prague, 1995), 110-113. Translated by Lloyd Jersak.
On February 1, 1803, the first Czech colonists settled in Zelov. Fourteen farmers came from Tábor and thirteen joined them from Erdmansdorf. Among them was Jan Jersák and Jan Stehlík. Eleven families came from Sophienthal and Bachowitz: one of these was also a Jan Jersák and another was a Jiří (George) Jersák.
From 1803-1804, eight of their newborn children were baptized.
Beside the landowners, there were also some poor families who came with the colonists to help with labour. Most of the land was sandy and unproductive, but they began to grow flax. They formed a local government and in 1807, they established a Czech school.
In the same year (1807) the French war entered Zelov life. In June, the boundary was pushed back from the Prussian kingdom. Overnight, the colonists found themselves under new Warsaw governorship. The former Prussian privileges were now overlooked and the Zelov population was forced into labour, building roads and bridges.
The Czechs hoped in a Russian victory. Eventually, their wish was fulfilled. After the end of the war, they became subject to the Russian Czar. Within thirty years of the founding of Zelov (by June 1, 1830) there were 149 properties listed in settlement.
What has been told later about this period, Karl Jersák, the Zelov chronicler and re-immigrant of Nejdku, records in his memoirs:
In 1812, Napoleon moved eastward, which meant he would also be passing through the Zelov community. The people had to hide all their valuable possessions, especially their stores of grain. Napoleon’s army reached Vidavy and the Russians were retreating. The Poles sympathized with Napoleon, while in their hearts, the Czechs were for the Russians but said nothing to anyone.
A certain Pole by the name of Vojciechovski warned everyone: “Watch your throats or you’ll be hanging.” He also came to old Paul Jersák, who was splitting wood in his yard. He stood beside him and said, “Little Jersák, watch your throat or tomorrow you will hang!” But Jersak replied calmly, “Who is going to hang me? Will it be you? If I knew that, I would surely hasten and chop your head off with this axe!”
The next day, the French actually did come. They were acting like pompous gentlemen. However, they were courteous, especially to those with whom they could communicate understandably. Napoleon himself was not in Zelov. He stopped at ‘The Old Post Office,’ about fourteen kilometres from there and for a short while at Křešlov at a big estate.
After the French moved on, things calmed down. Only occasionally did some rear-guards come into Zelov. Life resumed anew. The people returned to their neglected work resulting from the French interruption. The grain wasn’t growing well and the textile industry virtually came to a halt. Workers, who had been hired out for wages, were now going to the forests in neighbouring estates for casual work.
Just before the harvest of the second year (1813), the French began to reappear on their return from Moscow. From those beautiful uniforms remained only tattered rags. And they ate only what they could steal on the way. In their hunger, the French were cutting even unripe grain, trying to thresh it, but it didn’t work. In the process, they ruined a lot of crops.
At Jan Chmeličk’s residence, at the cross-roads, a French unit settled down for a time: one colonel, with his wife and little daughter, and four officers. The Chmeličks also had a little daughter, about twelve years old. And the Colonel’s child really warmed up to Anička (little Annie) so that they even slept together in the same bed.
One evening the Colonel returned very agitated, whispering something privately to his wife, and with the other officers, returned to the barn, where they kept their wagons packed with supplies. Mrs. Chmeličk remembered that she hadn’t fed the cow her hay. She proceeded quietly to the loft for the hay when she noticed a small light and quiet talk at the threshing floor. She moved closer so that she could see everything and was stunned with surprise. Down at the threshing floor, she noticed several oak barrels, each about 50 litres. On one wagon there was a large hewn container, from which the officers were dipping out silver coins and pouring them into these barrels. It was the money which was used to pay the soldiers. Mrs. Chmeličk quietly took the hay to feed her cow. She entered the room and was even more surprised. The Colonel’s wife was preparing for the road. Then the Colonel came and called for little Annie; they met outside and went back into the barn. He ordered little Annie to spread out her little apron. With both hands, he poured money into her apron and sent her back to her mom with the coins. Then the farewells began.
The Colonel’s child did not want to be separated from little Annie. The Chmeličks allowed little Annie to leave with the Colonel’s family up to Buczk with the understanding that she would return home the following morning on foot. Little Annie left but never returned. The parents waited in vain and their new wealth was no comfort to them. Mr. Chmeličk began to drink hard liquor and likely drank away all the money, until in 1825 he died. A year later, his wife also passed away. So it is recorded in the book of the deceased.
After some years, a man named Hemens came and settled three kilometres from Zelov in Bujnách with the idea that he would find a treasure, which his colonel had buried on the land in Rochůvk. Apparently they had left the Chmeličk’s yard, crossed a road, and also a field, then passed through a forest, up to another road, which led to Lask. There they had dug a pit in the middle of a road. On the one side, stood two oak trees. On the other side, one oak, so that they formed a triangle in the center of which had been dug a pit. There the three barrels of money were buried, a big fire was lit, and they left in a hurry so that the Russians would not overtake them. So there where there had been a forest was now a field, which was plowed and seeded for several years by the time Hemens arrived.
Annie Chmeličk returned to Zelov when she was forty years of age. She had enjoyed France. The colonel was well to do and a very good-hearted man. He even found Annie a husband. Annie was married but never stopped longing for home. After the death of her husband, she returned to Zelov and lived to 110 years of age. She had an abundance of visits from adventurers who would have liked to collect the treasure.
In the end, a poor labourer succeeded in excavating the money, whose occupation was buying stumps from landlords of Rochůvk. He happened to come upon the money under a large stump in the course of his work.