Born in a small Moravian town in 1868, they called him ‘pigheaded Jan’.
Jan walked. He walked through Vienna, Geneva and the Balkan. Eventually, his journeys brought him all the way to Siberia. While working on the famous Trans Siberian railway, he decided to walk up north and across Siberia to the Arctic Ocean – on his own, without money or special equipment. He made it even further. On the New Siberian Islands, with a pack of sled dogs, he became the most famous arctic post man, goods trader, Eskimo Chief and Chief of Justice. Zig-zagging the entire Arctic with his dogs, he lived amongst native Eskimo people who named him Moojok Ojaak (the bear eater), but they also called him the White Bismarck or the White Bird.
Crossing from Siberia to Alaska, he eventually made it all the way to the Yukon where he canoed the famous ‘White Horse’ and ‘Five Fingers’ rapids.
In 1924, as Eskimo Chief was on his journey south, his ship ‘Seven Sisters’ sunk near Seattle. He survived, only to find himself being deported to Europe by suspicious American border control. However, after his return to Europe, he found that his country, the Austrian – Hungarian Empire, no longer existed. Eskimo, now sixty years old, packed his bags and left for Arctic again. This time, he made it ‘only’ as far as Dawson City, where he badly injured his back. Never giving up on his wildest dreams, despite his crippling injury, Jan decided to invent a perpentum mobile. Living the lonely life of an inventor in a cabin with his dog, ‘Eskimo’ died at the age of 80 in Dawson City – Canada.
Some believe he never existed, some believe there is a perpentum mobile to be found in Dawson City, but all agree that he was the inspiration for the greatest non-existent Czech man ever – Jara Cimrman. But that’s a whole different story.
There was an email from my granddad the other day. ‘Wishing you luck on your journey in the pathway of Jan ‘Eskimo’ Welzl!’