By Lillian Hassemer

In 1883, the Thomas Yakesh family and the John Pecha family together immigrated to the United States from Brloh Czechoslovakia. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Yakesh had eight children: Peter, John, Jacob, Kate, Mary Barbara, Thomas Jr. and Albert. Mr. And Mr. John Pecha had two daughters: Mary and Anna.

The Thomas Yakesh's settled on an 80 acre farm which their daughter and her husband had spoken for them about six miles southeast of Bloomer, Wisconsin. However, the farm wasn't very productive as the soil was sandy and had many rocks. Consequently, they were on the lookout for a better farm. Peter Yakesh, after he was married to Agnes Boehm, lived with his parents on this farm. No records were found in the church books as to when Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Yakesh passed away. There are headstones in the South Catholic Cemetery Bloomer) but no dates are inscribed. The rest of the family all went working out. In the summer they went shocking oats in the Dakotas. The Peter Yakesh family had four children: Minnie, (Mrs. Ed Zweifelhofer), Edward, Richard and James. Subsequently, Peter sold the farm to the Werner's of Bloomer and bought a better farm about three miles southwest of the Cooks Valley Church. Agnes had a terrible accident when she was hauling corn with horses. In going over a ditch, she fell off the wagon and the horses drove over her killing her. Peter died in 1923 and is buried in the Cooks Valley Catholic Cemetery. Edward was married in 1919 to Pauline Zweifelhofer. Richard married Agatha Calkin's in 1928. They had four children. Richard died in 1962. The Ed Zweifelhofer's (Minnie) had three children: Normon, Laverne, and Jeanette.

John Yakesh was born in June 1865 in Czechoslovakia and was married on October 25, 1895 at St. Paul's Catholic Church, Bloomer, to Anna Pecha. She was the daughter of the John Pecha's and lived just across the field from them. Jacob Yakesh and Mary Pecha were the attendants. They had seven children: John. Jr., Kate, Mary, Felix, Vern, George, and Lillian.

John Jr. was born August 7, 1896 and grew up on the farm that John Yakesh Sr. purchase in Cooks Valley about a mile from the other two farms. When he was 20 years old, he enlisted in the Army at the outbreak of World War One. He enlisted April 16, 1916 and June 16 left for Europe. He didn't receive much training as they were short of soldiers. In April 1917, he was mustard-gassed getting burned badly. He was also hit by shrapnel. He was later burned by gas two more times, being in the hospital three times in all. He left the hospital in October 1918. He was then transferred to the regimental U.S. Band where he played the clarinet. He died November 10, 1918 and the folks didn't receive word about his death until January 1919. They were told that he probably died of blood-poisoning. The parish had a memorial Mass at Cooks Valley in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church with a large crowd attending. John Jr. received word just before his death that he would be given a good job, which resulted from his taking a correspondence course relative to Civil Service. He was to have been on a train on mail delivery service between Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Superior, Wisconsin. He is buried in Verdum France in Meuse-Argonne Military Cemetery.

Kate was born on April 2, 1898 and attended school in Cooks Valley. After graduation from eight grade, she took a dressmakers course in Eau Claire. She then took sewing at home, staying there until she finished. She also took up music, playing the piano. She sometimes played the organ at Cooks Valley Church. She married William Stoffel in 1923 and lived on a farm in Cooks Valley close to the Stoffel home farm. In 1926 they moved to Popple Creek (Colfax) and farmed there until 1935. They subsequently moved to the farm Rosemary Clements lives on now in Cooks Valley. They had five children, Wolmar, who married Ida Latimer, now lives in New York and has four children, Rosemary married John Clement's and lives on the farm. They have five children. Helen now lives in Bloomer, after being divorced from her husband, Ronald Stevens. They had four children. George Stoffel was born prematurely in February 1928 and died at birth. Sylvia Stoffel, a blue baby, died at about three months of age in 1939, and is buried at Cooks Valley Catholic Cemetery near George. William Stoffel passed away on December 22, 1968 arid is buried in St. John's Catholic Church Cemetery in Cooks Valley.

Mary Yakesh was born March 3, 1900 in Cooks Wisconsin. After graduation from grade school, she did mostly housework as work was very hard to get and money scarce. In 1938 she got work at Cullen's dime and clothing store in Bloomer. She worked until 1950 when she married Peter Cullen. Mary was killed on October 15, 1971 when she was struck by a car almost in front of the Catholic Rectory. The accident occurred at night as she was returning home after church services. It was an awful accident and we had to sit and wait about two hours before a doctor came. They were all out of town. She is buried in Bloomer North Catholic Cemetery. Peter Cullen passed away in 1965 in Florida. After his death, Mary moved back to Bloomer where she lived until her death.

Felix was born November 20, 1902 and was the first baby baptized in the new St. Paul's Catholic Church in Bloomer. He attended school in Cooks Valley and worked on the farm. Then in 1926 he decided to take a trip to California. He thought he'd like something other than farming. It was all right but no work and no money. He had to telegraph his dad for money so that he could get home. He then took over the home farm while my father, mother, Vern and I moved about northeast to the farm they bought 160 acres. He married Anna Stoffel and they had six children. Ramona married Ron Zumbrock, John married Rosemarie Tichey, Charlotte married Wally Ager, Irene married Don Burr, Robert married Donna Burr and lived on the home farm, and Barbara married John P. Morgan. Felix Yakesh passed away suddenly in September 1974 of an apparent heart attack. They have 20 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild, i.e. Liz and Roger's son. He is buried at Cooks Valley Catholic Cemetery. Felix also took up music. His dad taught him to play the clarinet.

Vern was born in Cooks Valley on March 29, 1905, went to school in Cooks Valley, and also helped on the farms. In 1935, he married Kathryn Sonnberger from Chippewa Falls. Vern also wanted to do other work than farming. So my dad suggested that he go out to Bellingham, Washington and stay with Aunt Barbara, since her husband passed away in 1934 and they had no children. She agreed to give them her property in return for a lot of care that she needed. She passed away in 1944. They have two children, Donald Yakesh, he is a school counselor in Seattle High School, and Lorene, who married Richard Manderville. They also live near Seattle.

George was born on April 24, 1909 and attended grade school at St. John's Catholic School, Cooks Valley. At age 14, he left for St. Lawrence Seminary for his high school course. In his senior year, he got a nervous spell, couldn't finish but got his diploma. He was home for awhile, then he decided to go to Marquette University. He graduated in 1931 when the depression was at its worse. He stayed home a year and tried to get work but to no avail. He then decided to get his degree in chemistry. He got a little work off and on. In 1938, he got steady work at Freidert Malt Co. in Milwaukee. He worked for the company the rest of his life. He was transferred to the Winona branch to manage the plant. He married Martha Svetlak in 1938. They had seven children; Janice, Ione, Phillip, Steven, Thomas, Frank and Wayne. George passed away suddenly on August 22, 1975. He played in the Marquette band for four years. He was also a musician playing the clarinet and saxophone in various dance bands, and high school bands earlier.

Lillian was born May 5, 1915, went to public grade school for two years and then to the Catholic school in Cooks Valley. She stayed and boarded with the nuns for three winters, as the school was three and one-half miles away and the roads weren't plowed. We frequently went to school on skis. The roads weren't plowed until people bought more cars. My father bought his first Ford in 1915 so you see I was a privileged "baby". I graduated from St. John's School in 1929, stayed home to help mother when she developed a kidney ailment after the birth of her fourth child. I spent quite a lot of time with grandmother Pecha. I used to take supplies up for her and Aunt Mary. They lived together after grandfather passed away in December 1917. He is buried at Cooks Valley Catholic Cemetery. It was about a mile across the field from our farm, so I'd get my skis on and away I'd go. We discussed many things, one being that people that leave this earth are about to give signs to the living on earth. I told her I couldn't quite believe that anyone would have that much power.

At 91 years of age, she had a slight stroke. She never required the services of a doctor or dentist. She was also a good pharmacist, I think because she grew different herbs, dried them and made tea from then for different ailments. On January 15, 1933 she had a stroke, called Dr. Hudek and he thought that she'd live for about a day. My father, mother, Vern and George went up to be with her. I had the flu so I couldn't go. I was sitting in the living room when all of a sudden a calendar fell to the floor with a sharp noise. It had a picture of the baby Jesus on it. Grandmother had one just like it and always adored and kissed it. I went to see what time it was and the clock showed 2:30 p.m. In the meantime, George came home and said she died at exactly 2:30. Aunt Mary passed away in 1941 and is buried at Cooks Valley Cemetery. There were only two daughters of the John Pecha's so grandmother, shortly after they came to the United States, decided to be a midwife. It would be interesting had she kept records of the many babies she helped deliver. Then in 1920, she got a letter from a doctor in Bloomer telling her that if she wanted to keep on with her practice she would have to take a course. Since she couldn't speak English, that was impossible so she quit. Seeing she never lost a baby or a mother, I think she did very well. One neighbor who was expecting one more baby begged grandmother to take care of one more case. She did but "mum" was the word as she didn't want to land in jail. She received very little pay for her services. Sometimes they'd give her meat or vegetables, etc. One man gave her $5.00 and she almost fainted as money was very scarce.

Lillian helped take care of mother Yakesh as she had high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and a stroke which left her helpless. Mary had a steady job and the other brothers and sisters had families and small babies. She passed away May 30, 1939 and is buried at Cooks Valley Catholic Cemetery.

As to Thomas Yakesh's daughters, Mary Yakesh married Frank Schwartz of Bloomer, Kate Yakesh married Louis Voitl of Chippewa, and Barbara Yakesh married John Legault. The Legault's moved to Bellingham, Washington because of John's health. He had asthma and the climate was more favorable.

Thomas Yakesh, Jr. was born in 1876 in Europe and came over with the family in 1883. In 1893 he was 17 years old and went shocking oats to the Dakotas. While there, he drank some impure water, and had to come home to recuperate from typhoid fever. While home, he walked six miles to church in Bloomer while he was still weak, got very sick and passed away December 16, 1894. He was buried December 18, 1894 in the South Catholic Cemetery, Bloomer. Another Son, Albert, also passed away at about 18 years of age. No records were found to document it.

Jacob Yakesh passed away in 1950. The cause of his death was cancer. John Yakesh, Sr. passed away in 1950 after surgery and is buried in Cooks Valley Catholic Cemetery.

Lillian married Oscar Hassemer in Milwaukee after working there four years. Oscar decided he'd rather farm so he bought a farm near Bloomer in the spring of 1947 where we are living now. We have two sons, John and Don. John is a TV technician and works in Eau Claire. Don is a born farmer, he likes to farm.

(The foregoing historical information was compiled and prepared by Lillian (Yakesh) Hassemer 1975.)

John Yakesh
John was born on June 3, 1864 in Budvia, Czechoslovakia. He was the third eldest of a family of seven children, five boys and two girls. The brothers and sisters in descending order, agewise, were Mary, Pete, Jake, John, Tom, Albert, Barbara, (Mrs. John Legault of Bellingham, Washington) and Kate.

At the age of 18, John along with his parents, brothers and sisters came to the United States settling in central Wisconsin. John was an adventure some man and spent several years of his early life working and roaming in the Western states, primarily the Dakota's before settling down. He was also a good musician. He was an accomplished clarinetist, and played in numerous orchestras and bands. He was also an excellent swimmer and diver, having spent a great deal of time in the water as youth in Czechoslovakia. All through life he enjoyed swimming, even when he was over seventy years of age. He was by nature endowed with a rather easy going disposition, not prone to be easily excited.

John's chosen occupation was farming. Although he did work for a time in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the major portion of his life was spent on his farm in Cooks Valley, Wisconsin. He was very handy with tools and a good carpenter as evidenced by many fine farm buildings on his farms.

He married Ann Pecha, who lived in the same neighborhood and who was also originally from Czechoslovakia, and raised a family of seven Children. Their names were John, Vern, Felix, George, Kathryn, Mary and Lillian.

His eldest son John was killed in action in World War I in France He was buried there. After the war John and his wife Ann visited his grave in France. Vern after marrying Kathryn Sonnenberger of Chippewa Falls, moved to Bellingham, Washington. Felix married Ann Stoffel and remained in Cooks Valley on the home place. George graduated from college as chemist and moved to Milwaukee. Kathryn married William Stoffel remained on a farm near Bloomer, Wisconsin. Mary married Peter J. Collins very late in life and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Lillian married Oscar Hassemer and lived on a farm near Bloomer. 

John died at age 86 on April 27, 1950 of the effects of surgery. He was buried in St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Cooks Valley, Wisconsin. 

Ann Pecha

Ann was born July 1874 in Budvia, Czechoslovakia. She had one sister, Mary, who never married. 

At the age of eight, Ann and her sister were brought by their parents to the United States. The Yakesh and Pecha families came together as a group in the year 1882. They settled in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, which at that time was a rough lumbering town, but later moved to Cooks Valley, Wisconsin. Ann married John Yakesh in 1895 and raised a family of seven children four boys and three girls. (See John Yakesh Biography for names.)

She died on May 30, 1939 and is buried in St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Cooks Valley, Wisconsin.

Her sister, Mary, died in 1946.