Rudolph F. "Pete" Matejcek was born February 17, 1909, in Lankin, North Dakota. He was the son of John and Josephine (Kadlec) Matejcek. In 1926, he graduated from Lankin High School and inherited the family farm in 1928 following the death of his father. The farm survived the Great Depression, as Matejcek phrased it, on a "complete poverty level existence."
In 1935, Matejcek was elected to the Lankin School Board, where he served for sixteen years. He also served on the Norton Township Board for twelve years, beginning in 1937. In 1938, he unsuccessfully campaigned for a seat in the North Dakota House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party.
In 1939, Matejcek took an active role in the founding of the Lankin Farmers Union Elevator Company and the Lankin Farmers Union Local no. 1237. Matejcek was secretary to Local No. 1237 into the 1940s, and one of his tasks was to write "all influential personalities" involved with choosing a location of the processing plant for the Rural Electrification Association. In 1945, Matejcek helped found the Rural Fire Department, which served several rural communities surrounding Lankin. He acted as secretary of this organization until 1967, when the Rural Fire Protection District was formed.
Matejcek was also active with St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Lankin, as well as the Knights of Columbus. For his long service to the Knights, he was awarded the Knight of the Year by the North Dakota State Council of the Knights of Columbus in 1975. Matejcek was also active in the Walsh County Historical Society, serving as president and vice-president. He retired from farming in 1976 and helped found the Senior Citizens Club of Lankin in 1977.
R.F. Matejcek married Mayme Schanilec of Veseleyville, North Dakota on June 14, 1937. The couple was wed at St. Luke's Church in Veseleyville. They had three daughters: Catherine Marie, Joan Marie and Mary Lou. Mayme Matejcek died as a result of cancer on September 14, 1976. In 1979, R.F. Matejcek married the former Ella Hewitt Gillham of Forest River. Matejcek died August 7, 2006.
"R.F. 'Pete' Matejcek Family," in Walsh Heritage, Volume Four: 973-975
Social Security Death Index
The R.F. Matejcek Papers consist of materials related to Matejcek's actions as secretary of the Lankin Farmers Union. In 1940, one of his tasks was to write North Dakota politicians and other influential persons regarding the placement and fuel source for a Rural Electrification Association (REA) plant. The Farmers Union felt a plant needed to be built closer to the counties in northeastern North Dakota than the plant being planned for Grand Forks. The group also felt that lignite coal would be an ideal source of cheap energy, as opposed to the diesel plant in Grand Forks. As part of this campaign, Matejcek sent letters to North Dakota senators Gerald P. Nye and Lynn Frazier, as well as to William Lemke and Usher Burdick, North Dakotans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Matejcek also corresponded with Governor John Moses, Henry Slattery of the REA, Charles Vogel, the Democratic National Committeeman for North Dakota, and Glenn Talbott, President of the North Dakota Farmer's Union.
Also included is a 1938 report of the Chippewa Power Cooperative regarding the cooperative's operating costs. The report was created as a result of a meeting of Minnesota cooperatives in November 1938, in Mankato, Minnesota. Finally, there is a newspaper clipping from the Minneapolis Tribune (March 7, 1965). The clipping reports on the possibility of using lignite coal as a means of producing cheap power.