From Bloomer To Brloh, Distance Is All Relative

Printed in the Bloomer Advance Wednesday, March 14, 2001

As Americans, most of us have little knowledge of our family or genealogical history prior to that of our grandfathers or grandmothers, and even less knowledge of the lives of their grandparentís antecedents.

When Robert Yakesh, of Bloomer decided to accompany the Hable family on a tour of the Czech Republic, in 1999, he found a connection to his past, which was totally unexpected.

At a stop in Brloh, Czech Republic, at a dinner hosted for the group, it was discovered that the interpreter for the group, Marie Jakes, was a distant cousin of Robert Yakesh. Yakesh is the Americanization of the surname Jakes.

It was determined that Marie Jakes' father and the father of Robert Yakesh were descended from brothers of three generations past, who lived in the late 19th century.

Marie Jakesí quickly invited Robert to visit her family, which consisted of her father Jan and mother Rozena. Marie Jakes had another surprise for Robert. He had family in the city of Prague as well. The family of Frantisek, Eva, son Pavel and daughter Marketa Jakes were related to Robert Yakesh in the same way as he was related to the Jakes of Brloh.

"Unfortunately, because our tour was on such a tight schedule, I was unable to respond to her kind offer," said Yakesh. "However, we determined to keep in touch via mail and e-mail.

When Yakesh returned to Bloomer, true to his word, he corresponded with Marie and her family and further with Jan, son of Frantisek Jakes.

"I decided to go back and meet I everyone and learn more about my family's history," said Yakesh.

In February of this year, Robert Yakesh, accompanied by his friend Dennis Mickesh flew to Prague and were met there by the Jakes family of Prague. They took the visitors to Brloh, approximately 120 miles from Prague, for the first part of their visit with the Jakes family of Brloh.

"We were so warmly welcomed" said Yakesh. "In our four days with the family, we had a chance to compare our cultures and trace our common heritage."

One of the most interesting events of Yakeshs' stay with his family in Brloh was a tour of the family sawmill, which had been in existence and in the same Jakes family since 1714. "I was told the mill was out of family control for only a relatively short period of time; when the communists were in charge of the country," said Yakesh. Jan Jakes' family, continues to operate the mill today.

Brloh, is a town much like Bloomer. The countryside is dotted with farms and small town life is much the same as in America. Photographs reveal the area to resemble the Chippewa Valley area with a series of hills and valleys. "Everyone treated us with such warmth and kindness," said Yakesh.

"Of course they were curious about us and our country. Chiefly about our schools, education, and elderly. They had a pretty good perception of America," said Yakesh.

After saying good-bye to the Jakes family of Brloh, Robert Yakesh was off, to Prague to visit the Frantisek Jakes family. "Again we were treated so warmly and the visit was an opportunity to discuss with Frantisek Jakes, the common history of our respective families," continued Yakesh.

Frantisek Jakes agreed to try and help and in addition thought it a good idea to exchange information for publication in the local newspapers of Bloomer and Brloh.

Robert Yakesh has already submitted an article to the Brloh newspaper and now hopes to receive an article in return.

In the meantime, the newly extended families will continue to keep in touch by mail and e-mail. Both the American and Czech branches of the family will continue to learn about each other and their respective cultures through exchange of their local newspapers.

Hope fully, the Jakes family will have an opportunity to visit Bloomer and experience the same warmth and kindness Robert Yakesh did in his trip to the Czech Republic.