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Praha in Fayette County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church

 
 
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, September 19, 2022
1. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church Marker
Inscription.  In 1854, Matej (Matthias) Novak (1818-1896), his four children and brother Anton Novak moved to the area and settled along Mulberry Creek in what was then a frontier area known as Hottentot. Other Czech Catholic families began to move to the area and, by 1864, Father Victor Gury from Frelsburg came through periodically to attend to their spiritual needs followed by Father Joseph J. Martiniere. After the Civil War, the parishioners built a small stone chapel, sometimes called a hut and another small cabin for visiting priests one-half mile east of the current site. Father Joseph Bittkowski delivered the first mass at midnight on Christmas Eve 1865 and became the new parish's first resident priest.

With the high influx of Czech Catholic families, attracted to the Fayette County area, the little chapel became the first predominately Czech Catholic church in Texas and soon could not accommodate the growing congregation. In 1866-67, a new wood structure was built closer to the town center, now renamed Praha. Thirty years later, in 1895, the current structure with hand cut, locally quarried stone was erected with much of the labor donated
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by parishioners. Painted frescoes on the vaulted wooden ceilings reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican were masterfully created by Swiss artist Gottfried Flury. The parish's first Catholic school opened in 1896 in a two-story building administered by the Sisters of the Divine Providence and then the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. The parish and its church have stood for more than 150 years not only as a source of hope, strength and faith for the local community, but also as an outward physical symbol of the pride Czech immigrants and their descendants have for their religion, culture and heritage.
 
Erected 2016 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 18361.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionImmigration. A significant historical year for this entry is 1854.
 
Location. 29° 40.169′ N, 97° 3.993′ W. Marker is in Praha, Texas, in Fayette County. Marker is on Farm to Market Road 1295, 0.1 miles north of South Knezek Road, on the left when traveling south. The marker is located on the east side of the main entrance to the church. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 821 FM 1295, Flatonia TX 78941, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The American Doughboy (approx. 2 miles away); Flatonia Methodist Church
The view of the Marker next to St. Mary’s School building image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, September 19, 2022
2. The view of the Marker next to St. Mary’s School building
(approx. 2.6 miles away); Olle Hotel (approx. 2.7 miles away); Mike Schulze Building (approx. 2.7 miles away); Flatonia (approx. 2.8 miles away); Wheeler Building (approx. 2.8 miles away); Novohrad School (approx. 3.9 miles away); SPJST Velehrad Cemetery (approx. 4.6 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  Praha, TX. Texas State Historical Association
Praha, on Farm Road 1295 three miles east of Flatonia in southern Fayette County, was originally known as Mulberry and Hottentot, the latter apparently referring to a band of outlaws. James C. Duff, William Criswell, and Leroy Criswell first settled the area. During the mid-1850s a Bohemian immigrant named Mathias Novak came to the region. After working a short while for the American settlers, he saved enough money to buy 100 acres of land and build a house where early masses were celebrated. Other Bohemian immigrants included John Baca, Joseph Vyvjala, Andreas Gallia, Joseph Hajek, Frank Vacl, and George Morysek. In 1858 the Bohemian settlers changed the town's name to Praha in honor of Prague, the capital of their homeland. In 1865 Joseph Bithowski, a Bernardine father, built a small frame church,
The view of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church and marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, September 19, 2022
3. The view of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church and marker
and at midnight on Christmas Day the first Mass was offered. In 1868 a public school was established, and by the 1880s Praha had three stores, a restaurant, and a new frame church, which served as the mother parish for surrounding towns. A post office started service in 1884, and in 1896 a Czech Catholic school was established.
(Submitted on September 19, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, September 19, 2022
4. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 19, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 19, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 194 times since then and 62 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 19, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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