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Forest Bor - real history through the eyes of periodicals, part 2 (1876-1900)

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In the previous article we described the events in the Bor forest from the periodical Budivoj. The second part of the article will deal with the events of the following years.

I will repeat again that the content of this article is not myths or superstitions, but factual data recorded by journalists during the years 1865-1914.

Thanks to Mr. Jaromír Jindro from České Budějovice, who took the trouble to put the attached articles together, we can, perhaps for the first time, get a glimpse of the real objective history of the Bor Forest and remind ourselves of what this place was all about during the fifty years before the first shots of the Great War, also known today as the First World War.

In today's article we will focus on other periodicals besides Budivoj - Českobudějovické Listy, Jihočeské Listy and Jihočeský Dělník.

The Black Chronicle gives us a room until 1880. Until then, a bunch of more or less interesting articles describing the interesting features of the place and the time that paid attention to the events in question were published about the Bor forest.

The year 1876 is a peaceful one for the Forest of Bor in the eyes of the contemporary publications. Only three columns mention it on 22 June, 25 June and 29 June. They all concern a large expedition of the Bohemian gymnasium (and the public) which started well and sunny, but ended in a heavy downpour which muddied the roads and made it difficult to get back to town.

Also on 7 May 1877, the students of the Czech Gymnasium planned a trip to the Bor forest with a cultural programme. Budivoj mentions another similar event a month later, on 5 July of the same year. In this column there is also a mention of a kind of camping ground where "eight thousand souls could take their places in one day".

In the issue of July 26 of the same year, the periodical again mentions a trip to be held in two days, at which the school year would end with "the services of God and the Ambrosian hymn."

(shooting range Branišov, one of the objects mentioned in the reports)

A longer column from 12 August 1877 informs the reader of a military target shooting exercise. The winners (the best shooters) were rewarded and one Pástor in particular, originally from Hungary, is said to "still, many years later, will be telling his countrymen what honours he once received here."

On November 8, 1877, a brief mention was made in the newspapers that "nice red strawberries" had been found in the Bor forest the previous Sunday.

In the summer of 1878 the first article about Bor in Budivoj appeared on 16 June. Again it is about the expedition and the advertising part is interesting: 'The innkeeper Mr. Sláma will have tables and benches set up at the place of entertainment. He asks us to announce that he will provide food and drink cheaper than is usual on trips." It is apparently to this trip that Budivoj returns on 23 June 1878, where the public interest in such events is evident. Literally, "...the return procession stretched from Bor to almost to the town" (the town did not then start Máj) gives a hint that the number of people interested in trips to the forest was counted at least not in tens, but rather in hundreds.

I will mention the other trips of 1878 only in passing. The periodical reports on them on 27 June (two are even mentioned on that day), while readers are informed of the details on 4 July of the same year. Another expedition, this time to the so-called Peter's Meadow (which was rented by four innkeepers), is read by readers on 7 July 1878. However, this apparently did not take place, as the dates of the event are postponed on 14 July, 18 July and 21 July (apparently due to bad weather). It is only on 25 July that Budivoj can report that last Sunday's event was successful and so lively that it was "reminiscent of a national festival".

(aerial map of the Bor forest from 1946 before the construction of the Máj housing estate)

8 June 1879 and 15 June 1879 is dedicated - as it has become a tradition - to a trip of Czech gymnasts to the Pine Forest. The Catholic journeymen follow with an expedition, which Budivoj mentions on 19 June 1879. Its realisation falls on 22 June. Sokol must not be left behind either, as it is organising its expedition at the end of July (the magazine mentions it on 27 July) with a note that there will be beer. Little does he know, however, that the weather is once again bad and the event will be postponed to early August, as the column of 10 August 1879 reports.

With the end of another school year, the paper again reports on the traditional trip to Bor, to be held the following Thursday from the date of the article (the article appears on 27 July 1879).

The year 1879 ends with a short report on the Bor forest on 30 November; it states that 'the hunting ground in the Bor forest has been leased for six years to Mr. ad. Haas for 101 zlotys. per year'.

This marks the end of an era of calm and cheerful news from the Bor forest, and the year 1880 begins with not one, but two tragic reports connected with this place.

Budivoj, 25 April 1880:

At the target - On Thursday afternoon a detachment of the 28th Regiment fired at a target in the Bor forest. During one of the shots, a bullet flew into a channel in the protective wall near the target itself, which is used to signal the success of the shot. And it hit the soldier behind the embankment and against that wire hole standing so unluckily in the head that he died soon afterwards.  This soldier who was shot was named Krch, and was a tailor by profession from Radošovice near Vlašim. He served in the 8th Hundredth.

(the rest of the target facility at the former shooting range)

It is difficult to say whether any tragic events have occurred in Bor since the discovery of the corpse in 1873 (we wrote about it in our last article). If so, the press may not have paid attention to it.  If we go by the local periodicals, the seven years up to 25 April 1880 give us the era of Bor as a purely excursion place, where at most there may have been some accidental minor injury, but probably not a death or murder.

The fateful year of 1880, however, held another tragic event for Bor less than two months later. Mr. Jaromír Jindra adds to this article that it does not refer directly to the forest of Bor, but to the nearby village of Branišov.

Budivoj on 13 June 1880

Misfortune. - On Friday morning Hynek was driving from Budějovice to Branšov. When a wagon passed near this village, he came to a plain where a group of gypsies had their camp. The horse got scared by the tarpaulin on the gypsy wagon and spooked. Hynek wanted to jump out of the wagon, but he got entangled in the horse's harness and the frightened animal dragged him a considerable distance to the village. Hynek was seriously injured all over his body and died the same day.

After these two events came again a flood of articles by Budivoje about the trips, whether made or planned. On 20 June 1880, information about the planned Sokol expedition to Bor appeared. On 24 June 1880, readers are informed about a trip to the same forest made by the students of the ck. Czech Gymnasium.

(water reservoir belonging to the former military area in the Bor forest)

On the same day - 24 June - the upcoming Sokol trip to the Pine Forest is commemorated again. Finally, on 27 June 1880, the editor reports on the expedition that is to take place today, but the sentence about the possible postponement of the whole event is still relevant. The next article then confirms the fears, as Sokol again reports on 1 July 1880 with an expedition in the past tense, where the author of the article mentions the very cold weather, because of which not many participants came and the innkeepers did not make money on those who came.

The next excursion the newspaper discusses took place on 29 July 1880 and was arranged by students from the still well-known School Matice.

In the cold season of March 31, 1881, Bor was briefly in Budivoje because of a man's injury:

Budivoj on 31 March 1881:

Accident. - In the forest of Bor while trimming tree branches, a man employed on March 21 fell off a ladder and broke his leg.

(remains of a possible guardhouse, now completely demolished)

On May 22, 1881, the next excursion season starts for the deaf and dumb. These children "were generously treated to bread, butter and beer by the generous Mr. Čeněk Pašek, a member of the directorate and economic supervisor of the deaf and dumb institution."

Another expedition (described in Budivoj on 23 June 1881) held by the Czech gymnasium is mentioned by Budivoj as a great success. Thousands of people took turns at the place of entertainment. What the older dancers lost in numbers was said to have been made up by the young ones.

In the editions of 23 June 1881 and 30 June 1881, the newspaper again devotes attention to the Sokol expedition. And, as last time, the editor laments the unpleasant weather (the Sokol was simply unlucky). The column says verbatim that "Sunday's trip of the Budějovice Sokol was in a word: wet.


The next mention of Bor - again in the context of the trip - is in Budivoj on 11 June 1882, 7 June 1883 and 14 June 1883. All of them refer to the Bohemian Gymnasium. The columns here remind us that trips to this forest enjoyed a good reputation.

On 28 June 1883, as part of its year-long operation, the Crafts and Business Beseda in České Budějovice planned a trip to Bor together with the Sokol. In case of bad weather conditions, it is announced in advance that the event will be postponed to the following Sunday. On July 5, the entire course of the trip is then reported on extensively. Not to mention the fact that according to Budivoj there were over 4000 people in the forest! An interesting feature of this column is the division of the population into Czech and German, and one can read between the lines, quite unconcealed, that there was at least political rivalry between these two groups...

We come to the first article about Bor, published in a different newspaper than Budivoj.  Although it does not speak directly about death, it is definitely about life.

Českobudějovické Listy, 3 December 1892:

Public poisoning. - In the brickyard of Mr. Taussig near the forest of Bor in the district of the village of Čtyř Dvorů, 60 workers are employed and these poor people are forced to drink unclean and spoiled water from puddles and ditches, as there is no well or spring on the site or nearby. The water they drink is downright poisonous, covered with green poisonous scum. We have already been told from many quarters that the local trade inspectorate is very lax in its management compared with the industrial plants and imposes safety measures that go into unnecessary detail. How is it, then, that he has overlooked such a mischief and is leaving the poor fellows in danger of their lives? In a case like this, the health of the workers, who are actually putting their lives on the line for a rather meagre wage, is at stake, and here we hope that the circles called upon will intervene immediately and firmly, for it does not serve our administrative institutions any credit when so many people are systematically poisoning themselves almost before their very eyes.

The very next article on Bor, concerns the crime of...

Českobudějovické Listy, April 1, 1893:

Factory worker J. Janoušek, living in Č. Budějovice, Česká Street No. 35 went with more boys to the forest Bor. While running around the forest they found a silver gilded chalice, 12 silver spoons, 5 forks made of tin steel, 6 forks and 6 knives with brass blades, a silver soup ladle, a black woolen woman's headcloth, 2 skirts, a red and a black yuppie. The loot is stored at the police office. The perpetrator, Antonín Peroutka, is in custody at the C.C. Regional Court. On 26 December 1892 he was arrested by Constable Vinter in Budejovice while selling various things.

On 1 July of the same year, Bor is mentioned in the České Budějovice Listy because of a lost umbrella, which a traveler is looking for and asks to be handed over to him.

Jihočeské Listy of 29 April 1896 talks about the Bor forest in connection with a tragic event during a military exercise...

Jihočeské Listy, 29 April 1896:

A soldier shot during an exercise. - On Monday morning a deplorable accident occurred at the military firing range in the forest of Bor, which is to be attributed solely to the carelessness of the commanding authorities and the carelessness with which target practice is arranged. The 7th Hundredth Regiment, No. 11, were practising their marksmanship. Private Prokopec dropped a cartridge on the ground, he stooped to pick it up, but in the meantime another private was aiming at the target over him and fired a shot just as Prokopec was getting up from the ground. The wound struck Prokopec in the shoulder and neck. The private's wound is very severe, perhaps fatal. An inquiry is in progress as to who is actually to blame for this misfortune, but by all means caution should be greatly increased in the exercise, for this is not the only misfortune.

(remains of the shooting range photographed in 2016)

The Jihočeské Listy on 5 August 1896 deals with a trip to Bor, where a quarrel between Czechs and Germans took place. The Germans (who organized the trip) were bothered by the Czech singing (because the Czechs had voluntarily joined the trip), which they forbade, and when the order was not obeyed, they called the gendarmes to the place.The article goes on to say, "Well, it belongs to those Czechs who don't know their place...".

The newspaper reported another tragedy, when another human life was extinguished in Bor on 6 January 1897.

Jihočeské Listy, 6 January 1897:

Disaster during felling of logs.- Václav Peterka, a 27-year-old mason's helper from Branšov, was helping to cut down trees in the forest of Bor, which belongs to the municipality of Budějovice, on 2 January, when he suffered a cruel accident.  One of the falling trees took a completely different direction than the workers wanted and fell directly on them.They all jumped away in time, but only Peterka was caught by a strong branch and knocked to the ground, whereupon the whole weight of the trunk fell on him. It shattered his right leg in the thigh. The poor fellow, who was the sole support of his aged mother, was taken to the local general hospital, where he succumbed to his severe injuries on Monday.

Jihočeské Listy of 10 November 1897 preserved interesting data on the number of game caught during one hunt: '98 hares, 2 roe deer, 8 pheasants, 3 owls and 1 marten'.

The periodical Jihočeský Dělník, 9 July 1898, calls for workers to participate in a trip at the end of the month.  The editor's wish is only one: a large turnout.

On 22 March 1899, we are informed through the Jihočeské Listy about the fire that struck the Bor forest - thanks to a classic children's game with matches...

Jihočeské Listy, March 22, 1899:

Forest fire.- A fire broke out in the forest of Bor on Saturday afternoon through the imprudence of three boys who built a fire. Dry grass and brushwood were burnt over a total area of 40 square metres, which also caused damage to young trees. The fire was extinguished by forest staff and random students present.

(remnants of human activity are still visible in the forest today)

The issue of June 10, 1899, reports a fight during a metalworkers' trip. It is briefly reported in the Jihočeský Dělník.

On the other hand, Jihočeské Listy of 5 July 1899 reports that the red banner of the social-democratic association Budoucnost was confiscated during a trip to Bor. The reason for the confiscation of the banner was said to be an order from the district governorate.

On 29 June 1900, the South Bohemian Worker published an invitation to a trip to Bor, which is interesting because it had already taken place on 8 June that year. So if you are a time traveller, you can take part in the trip after reading it. And if, God forbid, the weather is bad on June 8, the trip will be moved closer to the present, to June 15. (However, we should add here that the editors apparently kept the rate from the last issue, which the printer added to the new issue and nobody realized that the event had taken place in the meantime...)

On August 10, 1900, Jihočeský Dělník again claimed the floor with an expedition to Bor.

We will end today's article with a report from the Jihočeský Listy of 27 October 1900. Again it is a summary of the game caught during the hunt. "130 hares, 14 pheasants, 4 roe deer and more forest birds were shot".

This brings us to the end of the 19th century in the mapping of Bor history through periodicals, and next time we will enter the 20th century in the last part.

At that time, Austria-Hungary was ruled by Franz Joseph I. The world was experiencing a boom in industrialisation and states were beginning to race to arm themselves. In just a quarter of a century, society learns its first lesson for this development, pitting modern technology against each other... in World War I.

author of the article: Ondřej Bezouška
selection from contemporary periodicals: Jaromír Jindra
Corrections by Kateřina Běhanová, Jaromír Jindra
Historical pictures: Historical Budějovice