Born: April 2, 1813 in Jasiona, Prussia (Silesia)
Passed: May 21, 1887 in Clover Bottom, Missouri
Franz was born in the village of Jasiona in Prussia-Silesia. Jasiona [Jaschen in German] lies along the Oder river and the Czech border being about 14 miles south-east of Opole and 3.5 miles east of Krapkowice. He was baptized in the church of St. Mary Magdalena which still stands in Jasiona. His wife, Johanna Labus nee Knopp was born in Gogolin in East Prussia (Silesia) which is about 10.5 miles south-east of Opole and 1.5 miles east of Krapkowice. Her birthplace was thus about 2 miles distant from that of her future husband.
During the Napoleonic wars, Silesia was governed by Prussia and the young men were subject to universal and compulsive military service. This is one of the reasons so many left especially in the 1850s. Along with his wife and five surviving children as well the family of his brother Adam Labus, he moved to the United States in the second wave of immigrants from his home province. He arrived in the sailing ship "Weser" in Galveston, Texas on June 3, 1855 and then trekked overland to Panna Maria, Texas to forge a new homestead. Unfortunately Texas had just begun to suffer a devastating drought which lasted for the next two years of 1855-1856. According to an 1857 Karnes County, Texas, Tax Assessment, Franz owned a horse, two head of cattle, oxen, and a wagon all of which were valued at $85.
In order to escape the drought, the family migrated literally to greener pastures overland following old cattle trails north to Clover Bottom, Missouri. Their home in Clover Bottom had silt-loam soil along several creeks. Due to the creeks overflowing, the village with its school was built on higher grounds. One of the first teachers in the log school was Franz Labus. On October 12, 1866, Franz formally renounced his previously sworn allegiance to the King of Prussia and was granted American citizenship.
In 1867, they purchased 81.44 acres in Franklin County, Missouri for $950. or about $11/acre. But three years later they sold 60 of these acres for $25/acre for a windfall profit of $1,500. Franz attended St. Ann Church in Clover Bottom, Missouri but is buried in St. Gertrude Catholic Cemetery in Krakow, Missouri.
The Commune of Zdzieszowice lies in the eastern Province of Krapkowice [Krappitz in German] in the Administrative District of Opole in Poland. It is in the heart of Silesia and stretches along the Czech border. The Commune itself is at the foot of the Mount St. Anna and the Oder river which is a major travel and shipping lane. It borders the communes of Gogolin, Lesnica, Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Krapkowice, Strzelce Opolskie, Renska Wies and Walce. In administrative composition it includes the town of Zdzieszowice and 6 villages, namely Januszkowice, Jasiona, Krepna, Oleszka, Rozwadza and Zyrowa. The total land area is 57 km2. As per the recent census, the number of inhabitants is 17,800, whereof 13,624 live in the town of Zdzieszowice. The average density of population is 294 persons per km2. Archaeological research indicates that people settled there already in the Neolithic age (c.a. 4000-1800 BC.) possibly migrating along the Oder.
Jasiona (Jesiona) [Jaschen in German] is the oldest village in the commune of Zdzieszowice. In the earliest surviving written records dating from 1285 A.D., it was listed as Jassona. Its name is derived from the word for the ash tree, i.e. “jesion.” However, the first traces of colonization in this area occurred during the period of Roman influence in the first century A.D..
At the crossroad connecting the villages of Oleszka, Jasiona, and Zyrowa, a pilgrimage cross was erected by the parish priest of Jasiona, a Father Franciszek Augustyniok. In the past there was also a small chapel decorated with flowery pistils and with a small picture of the Holy Trinity to commemorate the tragic death of two local brothers. On a turning towards the village, by the crossroad leading from Jasiona to Krepna, there is a small, brick chapel with a picture of God’s Mother as the partron of Czestochowa. The oldest inhabitants of the village tell how it was purposefully situated by the old Baltazar Bochyna so as to keep away evil spirits.
In the center of the village, one could visit the antique, neo-baroque church of St. Mary Magdalene, which is the one of the best examples of antique Gothic architecture in the province of Opolskie Silesia and certainly in the commune of Zdzieszowice. For many years it was the central parish church not only for the inhabitants of Jasiona, Zyrowa, Oleszka, Dabrówka and Zakrzow, but also for Obrowiec, Rozwadza, and Krepna. Although originally constructed in the XIVth century, in recent times it required significant repairs which were undertaken in 1911 by the local parishioners and the nobleman residing in the Zyrowa palace, a Johannes von Francken-Sierstorpff. The remaining dual vaulted ceiling, or bi-civery, in the presbytery dating from the original structure gives testament to its historical roots. Several Gothic multi-colored frescos, also from the 2nd half of the XIVth century, which depict the passion cycle and which were uncovered during the restoration about 1912, have been fully restored and are most striking. Other baroque interior decorations are also worth our attention.
From there we can follow the main road toward Gogolin. On the right side there is a wayside cross with an image of Christ painted on sheet metal. This was raised c.a. 1919 by two friends: the old Bienia and the carpenter Plichta as both a warning and protection against the frequent accidents which occurred at that turning. On leaving the village on the left hand side, a small chapel of St. Theresa with a baby Jesus bids us good-bye. This was raised by a Joseph Namyslo in thanksgiving for a safe return from the horrors of World War I.
If you might wish to rest, you could turn right just opposite the little chapel of St. Theresa, into Polna street and move onto Heliosz street to the newly built Recollections House with a beautiful garden arboretum.