(source-Exponent, Thursday, July 13, 1989 front page, pg. 2)
article title: Early Czechs, Slovaks 'pledged' dollars, wheat
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[some names were misspelled, duplicated or missing in this article, they have been corrected]
Co-chairmen of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church Centennial with Mrs. (Amos) Kotrba, were Frances Fanfulik and Gary Pulkrabek. Others on the committee were Bernice Holy, Rae Ann Pulkrabek, Rozalie Brda and Rev. Timothy Noah, church pastor.
While the centennial events climaxed with the Friday and Saturday activities -- a potluck dinner and dance on Friday and a joint parade with Holy Trinity Lutheran plus a centennial mass, catered centennial supper and another dance on Saturday, the observance actually began with the first of several monthly events in January.
The January observance featured a Papal blessing. The February event included a display of wedding and anniversary pictures. The March event was a display of family treasures and heirlooms. In April, the observance was an old fashioned worship service that included both Latin and Czechoslovakian parts. In May, a Memorial Service was held and last month there was a display of family trees. The monthly events were organized by Mrs. (Donald) Holy and Mrs. (Gary) Pulkrabek.
Special guests and features of the weekend activities included performances by the Tabor Czech Singers, who were organized by Henry Vasek and Rozalie Brda; Czech dance music by Al Maves and the Swinging Laendler Band of Hayfield, Minn., and a Centennial Choir that included both current and former members of church choirs.
Bishop Victor Balke, Crookston; Rev. John Merth, a former parish priest; Rev. Duane Pribula, whose mother grew up in the parish; Rev. Dan Noah, Euclid, and a number of other priests attended the Centennial Mass.
A centennial history book, researched and written by Ellen Kotrba, was published by a committee including Jeanne and Ellen Kotrba and Bonnie Olson. The "Book of Minutes" of the church notes that at the first meeting of the parish it was decided "that each member give $1 to get this parish organized" and that 19 members made such a donation.
Then, on Nov. 13, 1889, the minutes, which were recorded in Czechoslovakian, note that "parishioners met and all those belonging in this area of the church are to bring one bushel of wheat on a certain day, but if they couldn't come that day they were still obligated to bring one bushel of wheat. This wheat was as a donation to the parish."
In the group that made the decision to build the church were: Vaclav Novotny, Tomas Trefny, Frantisek Svoboda, Frank Kovar, Thomas Ovsak, Martin Kotrba, Jakub Novak, Frantisek Zejdlik, Vaclav Holub, Frank Gust, Matej Judovsky, Joseph Eidelbes and Vaclav Dusek.
There had been one earlier attempt to build, however. Minnesota had been only 40 years old when settlers such as Frank Kovar (1880), Joseph Trefny (1881) and Jacob Gust (1884) arrived at Tabor, which was named for a town in western Czechoslovakia. They, of course, found no church. There was only a Father Pribyl, who would come from Montgomery, Minn., as early as 1882 to serve the religious needs of the area. When in the area, he would serve mass at the home of Kovar and Gust.
Around 1888, Father Slatinsky, Vesselyville, N.D., first encouraged the settlers to build a mission church and dedicate it to St. Wenceslaus. James Vaclav Novotny advanced $200 to purchase 40 acres of land, from the St. Paul, Minneapolis, Manitoba Railway Co., for the church. In 1886, over much disagreement, pioneers met and decided to construct a more permanent place of worship on the Eidelbes pasture land, a mile south of Tabor. The rest of the land was parceled out to people for cultivation and the proceeds were to go to a building fund. Those who did not help in any way were to donate $3 each. But the green-wood chapel that resulted was destroyed by a tornado while still in the rafter stage.
A loan of $400 provided by Jakub Novak, who mortgaged his farm inspired the early settlers to each donate $50 (equaling $600) to raise the funds necessary for a second attempt at building a church. That's when the "Protokolni Kniha" (book of minutes) on Nov. 13, 1889, noted the decision to build a new church where the present church is now located.
With contractor Mertha of St. Paul, each pioneer donated six days of work and those who worked longer were paid $1.59 a day in "overtime." Father Slatinsky did not stay to see the church finished and left its undertaking in the hands of Father Lager, who stayed with Jakub Novak while in Tabor. The church was completed in 1890. On Nov. 16, 1892, Father Slatinsky, with permission from Bishop McGolrick, and assistance from Father Lager blessed the first church bell.
The first baptisms were recorded on Nov. 13, 1889: Thomas Gust, Wenceslaus Gust, Joseph Gust, Mary Bizek, Mary Dvorak, Elizabeth Jirovsky, Petronella Jirovsky, Elizabeth Sery and Rose Duchek.
The 34 by 85-foot church was dedicated to St. Wenceslaus in 1893. Mrs. Joseph Trefny walked around the community asking for donations -- individual contributions were perhaps 5,10,25 cents -- to fund the altars, which still grace the church today. From 1893 to 1899 missionaries came and went in rapid succession. They include Ignatius Lager, Patrick Henrick, M. Sengis, C.J. Augustinsky, M. Miklaszewski, T.L. Rabsteinek, and L. Naturski. In 1900, Father John Rech became the first resident pastor. He rented the house which later became the property of Frank Holub, Sr. In May of 1900, he planned and supervised the first parish rectory, built by August Kelly of East Grand Forks.
On May 17, 1900, Father Rech had the parish incorporated under the title, "The Holy Trinity Congregation of Tabor". Signing this document were Bishop James McGolrick, Duluth; Father Joseph Buh, vicar general; Father John Rech, and the two parish trustees, Joseph Stengl and Frantisek Zejdlik.
Father Joseph Gaydousek, who served the parish from 1902-1905, performed the first marriage on record -- Francis Miska and Mary Duseky. William Vanek and Emma Kopecky were witnesses.
Three priests followed in rapid succession. They were Joseph Gregor (1905), John Marshalek (1906), John Vanicek (1907). Father F. Simonik arrived on March 23, 1909 and served the parish a little less than three years. He donated a small bell which still hangs in the steeple and bears his name. In 1911, Father W. Koerner took over and was followed a year later by Father F.J. Just.
On May 26, 1913, Father John Berger, having just arrived from Bohemia, became pastor of Holy Trinity. His pastorate covered a record period of 16 years. Father Berger is responsible for enlarging the old church (1914), construction of a greenhouse, and numerous improvements in the rectory. he is buried in the parish cemetery.
Father Berger was succeeded by Father Carrel Gross, a native of Moravia, who served from 1929 to 1933. While Father Gross was visiting his homeland, Holy Trinity was served by Father William Klinkhammer of East Grand Forks.
Father F.B. Tomanek, who succeeded Gross in 1933, gained the reputation as a man of action and as a builder. His wish was to build a suitable meeting place for children and adults for social and educational purposes and to provide a place for clean entertainment, and he is the person responsible for convincing the parish to do just that.
The Parish Hall, was designed by DeRemer & Son and built by Stavig & Loen, all of Grand Forks. The hall is 36 by 100 feet with an addition of 16 by 36 feet. It cost approximately $6,000 and was dedicated July 22-23, 1934, amidst elaborate festivities.
Father Tomanek, a military chaplain, organized the young people into a society and established Sunday School in Holy Trinity. In those years there was a 12-member parish band, a 26-member parish orchestra and a 34-member choir.
Father August L. Zellekens replaced Father Tomanek in 1940. He was not anxious to come to Tabor but with strong parish support he quickly went into action. A debt of $2,300 and an additional loan of $4,000 (used to build a new parish rectory in 1941) were soon paid off and in 1945, a building fund was started to replace the old church with a fire-resistant structure. Slowly the funds and hopes grew and in 1951 Father Zellekens spoke with the men of the church and asked them to survey the members to see if they favored building and to solidify financial support.
The men who undertook this project were: Robert Henrickson, Albert J. Kovar, William Kresl, Harold Kasprick, Emil Pribula, William Stengl, Mike Ovsak, Paul Pribula, Stephen Vanyo Sr., John A. Kuzel and Frank Novak Jr. Pledges were recorded from parishioners and plans proceeded toward the building of the new church. On Jan. 15, 1953, the construction contract was awarded.
On Jan. 25, 1953, the parish assembled for the last time in the old church and the next day the men of the parish, with Stanley Stengl as foreman, began dismantling the church. The job was done in record time, finishing on Feb. 7, 1953. The parish saved $1,000 by demolishing the church themselves and realized $1,600 by selling salvaged materials.
Construction began in April. Easter, Pentecost and Christmas were all celebrated in the Parish Hall. The cornerstone ceremony was help on July 19, 1953, with the stone blessed and laid by Bishop Francis J. Schenk. It was lettered: "The Church of the Holy Trinity, 1953"
Eighty truckloads of clay and black soil were hauled to the church to assist in raising the grade of the site. The church was finished in early 1954 and the first mass was held on Septuagesima Sunday. Bishop F.J. Schenk solemnly blessed the new church on April 1, 1954, with Bishop F.L. Dvorschak delivering the sermon. The cost of the structure amounted to approximately $130,000 and the parish had a debt of only $26,000. The parish numbered around 126 families and 607 people.
A 750 pound bell was donated by the ladies of the parish. The bell is in the key of "B" and tuned to the "D" bell. A three-part organ costing $3,855 was donated by the Ladies Aid. The three parts, the processional, the positive organ (with pipes showing) and the swell-box organ are all played from one console in the southeast corner of the church.
The nativity scene, used every Christmas season, was given to the church by Father Zellekens, who ordered the set from the Black Forest region of his native Germany. Figurines for the nativity are painted ceramic with excellent coloring that has not faded through the years.
Following Vatican II, the liturgy was said in English for the first time and mass was said facing the congregation. Father Grundhaus was replaced by Father Arno Gustin in 1975 and served Holy Trinity until 1977. The beautiful pipe organ was installed in the church during this era.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church celebrated the Bicentennial of the American Revolution with the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Aug. 1, 1976. A parade was held with Tillie Myerchin and Andrew Chervenak, both 90 years old, presiding as king and queen of the festivities. Holy Trinity celebrated its Czech and Slovak heritage during this time also. Members of the Bicentennial Committee were: Anne Kasprick, Frances Fanfulik, Irene Miska, Rozalie Brda, Jeanne Kotrba, Janice Taus, Bev Gust, Julie Kovar, Cheryl Novak, Mary Novak, Angela Stengl, Doris Vasek, Rev. Gustin, Rev. Schwab-Stephens, Irene Larson, Ruth Dvorak and Mr. Ray Marek.
Father Clem Cloutier took over in 1977 and was pastor until 1980. There was no resident pastor during 1980-1981 and the parish was served by two area pastors, Father Frank Ringwelski and Father J. Fogerty. Father Timothy Noah has served as resident pastor of Holy Trinity since 1981. Holy Trinity currently serves 70 families.
The Catholic Workman, a Fraternal Life Insurance Association, is completing 75 years covering a span of three generations. Branch, No. 96, St. John the Baptist, was organized Oct. 22, 1905. The charter members are: Rev. Joseph Gregor, John Myerchin, Joseph Novak, Joseph Vanyo, Frank Novak, Jacob Kresl, Frank J. Miska, Joseph Pribula and Joseph Trefny. The organizer of the branch was Rev. Joseph Gregor of Chelsea, Iowa.
Catholic Order of Foresters, St. Wenceslaus Court #2033 of Tabor was organized on Oct. 27, 1946, with the following charter members: Frank J. Brda, Joseph J. Brda, Amos J. Gust, George W. Gust, Joseph A. Gust, John W. Honek Jr., Amos C. Kotrba, Donald F. Kotrba, Jacob E. Kotrba, Ludvik C. Kotrba, Albert J. Kovar, Frank A. Kovar, George A. Kovar, William F. Kresl, Norbert R. Kuzel, Clarence J. Mack, Frank A. Mack, George D. Mack, Melvin J. Marek, Louis a. Novacek, Anthony H. Novak, Ralph G. Novak, Walter J. Novak, William S. Novak, Emil G. Pribula, Paul J. Pribula, Raymond P. Pribula, Stanley G. Stengl, William P. Stengl, Antony J. Vanyo, Stephen D. Vanyo and Frank Wald. The first officers were Amos Gust, chief ranger; Stanley Stengl, vice chief ranger; Raymond Pribula, secretary; and Frank Brda, treasurer.