Details for K.J.T. St. Wenceslaus Society No. 40 (Atlas Number 5507013652)

Historical Marker — Atlas Number 5507013652


Marker Number 13652
Atlas Number 5507013652
Marker Title K.J.T. St. Wenceslaus Society No. 40
Index Entry K.J.T. St. Wenceslaus Society No. 40
Address 839 Church St
City East Bernard
County Wharton
UTM Zone 14
UTM Easting 784131
UTM Northing 3270201
Subject Codes fraternal organizations; Czech immigrants/immigration; Roman Catholic denomination
Marker Year 2006
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark No
Private Property No
Marker Location 839 Church Street
Marker Condition In Situ
Marker Size 27" x 42"
Marker Text Beginning in the 1880s, Czech settlers came to this area, contributing to the development of East Bernard. To supprt Texas Czechs of the Catholic faith, residents of Bluff (Hostyn) established the Katolická Jednota Texasská, or Czech Catholic Union of Texas, in 1889. Known as the K.J.T., the group provided insurance and other member benefits. In 1905, men of East Bernard's Holy Cross Catholic parish organized a local chapter, K.J.T. St. Wenceslaus Society No. 40. Charter members were August E. Morris, R.W. Brandl, Frank Toman, John J. Vacek, Frank Polak, John Skalicky and John Slovak. By 1913, the group constructed a large hall at this site. It became a social center, with activities including conventions, bazaars and other events. The hall burned in 1939, and the members purchased Riverside Hall, built in 1925 east of town on the east bank of the San Bernard River. The large round structure had a tall central pole that helped support the circular ceiling and large roof beams. Over the next decades, Riverside Hall drew crowds to see acts that ranged from big band and polka musical acts to country and western and rock and roll performers. Thousands of people attended the klobase-kolache festivals held at the site in the late 1970s. In 1986, a fire destroyed the Riverside building. The K.J.T. built a new hall in 1987, and the group remains a social force in East Bernard, with more than 500 members. Now open to both men and women for membership, it offers insurance and clergy retirement benefits, youth activities and scholarships, and a host of other services. (2006)