Bohemian Parishes, Colfax and Saunders Counties
HEUN, COLFAX COUNTY (1878-1882)
Besides Saline, Saunders, Butler and Knox counties, also Colfax county contains a large number of Czech settlers. Maple Creek, near Schuyler, Tabor near Howells, were among the first to be settled by Bohemians, "at a time when there were no roads, no bridges, no money, no provisions, no wells, no trees, but plenty of snakes and wolves." Shell Creek, Dry Creek and the two forks of Maple Creek received many of these Czech immigrants. These first settlers paid $14 for homesteads
or purchased railroad lands for $4.00 to $6.00 per acre. By dint of countless privations, hard work, they laid the foundation of their wealth and now live in modern farm homes, equipped with running water, electric or gas lights, telephone, radio, autos, tractors and trucks.
In 1867, before the completion of the U. P. railroad, Thomas Molacek and John Novotny, of Iowa, came to Colfax county. They took up homesteads at Shell Creek (later at Schuyler) and settled in 1869. Morual and Peshek homesteaded near the present Richland in the spring of 1860. Morual and Kovarik are said to have been the first settlers in the Platte Valley between Columbus and Schuyler. In 1863 came Frank Folda, son of Martin Folda, and first Czech resident of Schuyler. The seven Folda brothers have since become famous as financiers and public-spirited citizens of Colfax county.
The Dry Creek cemetery, four miles south of Heun, adjoining the church was established February 12, 1876. The land, five acres, was donated by Mr. John Kovar.
Twelve miles southwest of Clarkson is the so-called Wilson Catholic Cemetery in Wilson precinct, established in 1888 on Morazek's land belonging to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Perpetual Help church.
The Dry Creek church was built about 1881. Some of the pioneer Bohemian settlers and founders of the Bohemian cemetery were: John Kovar, Frank Polak, Martin Svacina, Jacob Knela, Mateh Dobry, Vaclav Sudek, Felix Sevcik, Joseph Volenta, Joseph Krenek, Martin Palik, John Vobornik, Joseph Hajek, Karel Benes, Frank Dvorak, Frank Cech, Joseph Houfek, Joseph Dvorak, Joseph Krejci, Joseph Coufal, John Nocicka, John Zahradnicek, Cyril Kuzel, Martin Rygel, Anton Votova, John Dvorak, Jacob Mares and Frank Roupetz. In 1879 a division occurred as to religion (Catholic and non-Catholic) and in 1881, when the church was erected, the Catholics being in the majority, obtained control of the cemetery and excluded the non-
Interior of Old Church of the Holy Trinity (Maple Creek), Colfax County
Rev. J. M. J. Smyth
Old Holy Trinity Church, Heun County, Nebraska
Catholics thus also the donor of the cemetery site, John Kovar.--See Rose Rosicky, the Czechs In Nebraska, Heun.
The first Mass said for Czechs in Nebraska was in the home of Joseph Simanek, near Prague, Saunders county, in September, 1871, by Rev. F. Sulak (Shulak), of Chicago. The first resident Bohemian priest in Nebraska was the Rev. Father, later Monsignor, Francis Bobal. He came to Plattsmouth in 1872, resided later at the Omaha cathedral and next at Falls City, doing missionary work among his scattered countrymen alternately with the Rev. Shulak. When his health failed, Fr. Bobal left the state. He died at Chicago, December 20, 1927.
In 1874, the Germans and Czechs at Olean erected a church. Father Shulak visited them in 1875 and 1876. Rev. John A. Blascke, ordained at Chicago, August 17, 1877, took charge of the Olean parish in August, 1877. He left for La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1881, and died there February 15, 1901. Rev. F. Tuerk, S. J., was the next pastor of Olean, Other priests who took charge of the Bohemians in Nebraska in the early days were: Rev. Vaclav Kocarnik, O. S. B., Rev. Cyril Augustinsky, Rev. Francis Pold, S. J. (came 1883 to Colfax county), Rev. Siegfried Klima, O. S. B.--N. B. Olean, now Ohleyen.
The first wholly Czech church in Nebraska was erected at Abie in Butler county, in 1876. It was 24x48 feet. St. Wenceslaus church at Omaha was built in 1877; so were the churches at Appleton and Warsaw. Those at Plasi, Heun and Wahoo were constructed in 1878. The Bohemian church at Dodge was organized in 1884.
In 1871 and 1872, Mass was said in private homes at Heun by Rev. Frederick Uhing, of West Point (St. Charles). Fathers F. Bobal and F. Sulak alternated between 1873 and 1875. Rev. Blaschke attended regularly from August, 1877 to 1879.
ERECTION OF HOLY TRINITY CHURCH AT HEUN
In 1878, John Folda and Wm. Heun each donated five acres of land for church purposes. A church, 30x60 feet, was put up and served by Rev. J. A. Blaschke of Olean. He was succeeded by the Rev. Cyril Augustinsky, O. F. M., who came from Columbus and attended at first once a month.
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH,
HEUN, COLFAX COUNTY, NEBRASKA
We give here the report of Fr. Cyril to the Bishop. It is dated November, 1880.
Maple Creek, Holy Trinity church, Colfax county; attended once a month; distant (from Columbus) 27 miles; 108 Catholic families; 200 above 21 years; non-practical Catholics, 40; attending Sunday school, 30; 196 Paschal communions; 7 first communions; 40 baptisms; 2 marriages; indebtedness on church about $100.00; on residence, $80.00. Societies: St. Peter and Paul Benevolent Society, 36 members; expenses for church $70.00; balance, nothing.
Dry Creek: The church will be built next spring; attended occasionally; distant 23 miles (from Columbus); 40 Catholic families. Balance, $600.00.
In a letter addressed to the Rt. Rev. Bishop and dated June 1, 1881, Father Cyril writes: "The Catholics living in Dry Creek, Colfax county, intend to build their own church about four miles from Holy Trinity church in Maple Creek. They claim to have permission from your Grace communicated through the Rev. Wenceslaus Kocarnik. They also have on hand the lumber and other things necessary for building. On the sixth Sunday after Easter, when I celebrated Mass there, they asked me, to get some priest for laying the cornerstone soon. Since March 25, of the past year, when I received a letter from Your Grace, I do not know the state of affairs regarding this edifice in Dry Creek, and I humbly ask your Excellency what is your decision in this matter."
P. Cyril, O. S. F.
SACRED HEART CHURCH,
CEDAR HILL, SAUNDERS COUNTY, NEBRASKA
The first Czech settlers in Saunders county were Peter Kastl, a former Austrian soldier and a mason by trade, and his friend Anton Hajek. They came about 1867. Hajek settled near Linwood. Many other Bohemians soon followed. Religious services were at first held in a public school building. Rev. Cyril, O. F. M., attended these settlers for a time from Columbus. He called together a committee and planned a church 40x60 feet. The church was dedicated either during the pastorate of Fr. Cyril or during that of Father Wenceslaus Kocarnik, O. S. B. It was erected chiefly through the efforts of Mr. Notaware, a non-Catholic, superintendent of Immigration for the Union Pacific Railroad Company, who lived at Cedar Hill and was a friend of the Bohemians. Mr. Notaware donated 40 acres of land for the erection of the house of God, built and furnished it with the aid of his wife, Mrs. Henriette Coltam Notaware.
Fr. Cyril in November, 1880, reports to the Rt. Rev. Bishop about Cedar Hill:
SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Saunders County: Visited once a month; distant 36 miles
from Columbus; 120 Catholic families; 30 non-practical; 18 attending Sunday school; 100 Paschal communions; 9 first communions; 26 baptisms; 1 marriage. Indebtedness $360 and $60.00 respectively. Church newly built.
This mission was later on attended from Fremont, Abie and Plasi by the Rev. Fathers Wm. Choka, W. Kocarnik, O. S. B., Koutek, Zalud, Stutz, Havorka, Bor and VIek. A hail was erected and the church remodelled by the Rev. Hanicek, of Prague.
REV. REMBERT STANOWSKI, O. F. M.
ORGANIZES THE SILVER CREEK PARISH.
(In the words of the good Father himself).
"I had forgotten that during my stay in Duncan I conceived the plan, and carried it out, of founding a separate congregation for the
St. Lawrence Church, Silver Creek
people living in Silver Creek, about twelve miles west of Duncan. A Mr. Rossiter, banker and Catholic, was a fervent advocate of this plan and he was also the best financial support of the same. The finest lot in the city was bought under hand for this purpose and the work progressed without a hitch so that almost within two months after the conception of the plan the little church was ready for occupancy.
"Since Mr. Rossiter was so active in this campaign, the church was dedicated in honor of his patron saint, St. Lawrence. I had been saying Mass in the private house of Mr. Pollard a few times before the church was finished; we had about 40 mixed families and not a cent of debt.
"I think for two years I used o give them services twice a month. I used to go on Saturday mornings on the train, instruct the children in the afternoon, stay overnight with Mr. John Kula, say Mass early then was brought back to Duncan by livery team, the expense for the same being paid by the families in rotation. If Mass was to be at 11 o'clock, I would say an early Mass at Duncan, then board the morning train for Silver Creek. When late Mass was read there I would instruct the children on Sunday afternoons.
"Mr. John Kula deserves special mention, since he not only contributed towards the building of the church, but also to its support; and for the boarding of the priest, he never charged a cent. Miss Mamie Kula, his daughter, now a Mrs. Larson, was our first organist."
The following letters explain themselves: (see 1).
Silver Creek, Neb., Nov. 8, 1902.
Rev. Stanowski, Duncan, Nebr.
Rev. Father:--I have done much better than I expected in collecting. I have $900.00 and I will be able to get some more. I have let the job and work will begin tomorrow, if I can get the lot. I will phone Mr. Reeder Sunday as I have not heard from him yet. I have let the job for a building 28x40x14 feet posts complete for $987.00. That does not include an altar and pews. I am in hopes that we can raise enough to put them in and have the church free from debt. You had better come up Monday and look the place over.
M. L. Rossiter.
Silver Creek, Duncan, Neb., November 11, '02.,
Rt. Rev. Richard Scannell, D. D., Omaha, Neb.
Rt. Rev. Bishop:--From enclosed notice Your Lordship will see that Mr. Rossiter of Silver Creek has been very active in providing the Catholics of Silver Creek with a church of their own. But since he has made up the plan of the new church himself and given out the contract already, it is too late to ask your permission for the building. So all I can do is to let your Lordship know how things are progressing in Silver Creek.
P. Rembert Stanowski.