The first Czech in America, Augustine Heřman arrived in New Amsterdam, now New York, in 1640.
One of the first permanent settlers of Czech descent in America, he traded tobacco and furs, quickly becoming the largest exporter of tobacco in America.
He became wealthy quickly and soon became the owner of considerable real estate.
By 1644, Heřman was a permanent resident of New Amsterdam (New York) and an agent of Peter Gabry and Sons, a leading Dutch firm.
Heřman was born in Bohemia (Now the Czech Republic) in 1621. He was conversant in several languages and skilled at sketching and drawing. Also a talented cartographer, Heřman made a proposition to Lord Baltimore, offering to make an accurate map of the entire province of the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay regions in exchange for a piece of territory in Maryland. Lord Baltimore accepted this offer and in 1660 Heřman received a patent for a large stretch of land from Lord Baltimore as a compensation for his service in drawing up a map of the country.
The land, which Heřman named Bohemia Mannor after his birthplace, was over twenty thousand acres large and spanned two states. Located primarily in present day Maryland and partially in Delaware, the estate was situated at the junction of the Bohemia and the Elk River.
His property was later increased by the addition of new lands granted to him. His estate eventually expanded to over twenty five thousand acres, making him one of the largest landowners in America during the 17th century.
A film is planned about his life. Augustine – the story of a corsair is inspired by the fates of authentic historical figures. It takes place in the mid-1600s when Europe was in the final phase of the Thirty Years’ War and refugees were moving between countries.
You may watch a preview or support the film here.