The Second Wave of Immigration (1870s-1890s)
The Second Wave of Immigration is connected with the declaration of the Homestead Act in 1862, which enabled immigrants to obtain 160 acres of wild land and they would become its owners after 5 years of its cultivation. This Homestead Act brought Czech immigrants especially to Nebraska and Kansas.
Many Czechs were convinced to immigrate here (to Nebraska and Kansas) by American railway agents who looked for people to settle along the new railways. To begin farming in Kansas or Nebraska the farmers needed as much as $1,000, which was incredible amount of money at that time. That is why most farmers could not pay off their debt earlier than in 20 years. Families with a lot of children had a big advantage since they had their own free labor and that way could actually save some money from their harvest.
At the beginning of the 20th century Czechs were already a significant group of immigrants in the US (about 500,000 people). Yet they were not looked at as welcomed newcomers and were called “Bohunks” (Bohemians + Hungarians). As the time went, however, the Americans realized that the Czechs enriched the American society and their prejudices ceased.
Early 20th century immigration was aimed mostly at urban areas. Lot of Czech immigrants were skilled workers in various crafts and were very literate (97% could read and write!!). Unlike other Slavic nations Czechs held education in high regard, yet still had problems with obtaining work equal to their qualifications.
For more details go to http://www.czechsinamerica.wz.cz/DPW/3-Diploma%20Work.htm