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CAHA, ANTON (1852-1927)

An immigrant to America, a Sooner, and one of the earliest Czech residents of Oklahoma, Anton Caha was born on May 9, 1852, in Moravia (later part of Czechoslovakia and now in the Czech Republic). His father, Josef Caha, a soldier, died in a revolt against the Austrian Habsburg rulers of his homeland. Caha's mother, Maria Dvorak Caha, brought her two sons, Anton and Josef, to the United States ca. 1867 and eventually to Nebraska. They may have lived in a Czech colony in Colfax County. Anton Caha grew to manhood, married Rosalie Carny, a Bavarian immigrant, and went into the creamery business. At some point in the mid-1870s, while living in Fremont, Nebraska, he participated in a militia campaign against Indians. In 1889 he and several of his Czech neighbors agreed to go to Oklahoma and get homesteads in the Unassigned Lands. Caha entered the district early (before noon on April 22, thereby becoming a "Sooner") in order to get prime land before someone else claimed it. When competitors discovered what he had done, they reported him to the authorities, and he served two years in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas. Meanwhile, his wife came to Pottawatomie County after the opening of that area and purchased a homestead near Keokuk Falls. She died while he was in prison. Leaving prison in 1895, he moved onto the homestead, began farming, and later opened a sawmill and cotton gin. A Republican and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Caha fathered five children. He died in 1927 and is buried in the Czech National Cemetery in Prague, Oklahoma.

SEE ALSO: CZECHS, IMMIGRATION AND ETHNICITY, LAND RUN OF 1889, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Karel D. Bicha, The Czechs in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Donald E. Green, "Captain Caha's Mules," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 53 (Summer 1975). Portrait and Biographical Record of Oklahoma (Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co., 1901). Fourteenth Census of the United States, Population, Oklahoma (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Dianna Everett

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