St. John, Texas

Nestled among the fertile rolling hills in the central region of the state is the community of St. John. This farming and ranching community lies about five miles southwest of Schulenburg, Texas. The earliest settlers in the area of St. John were English speaking American members of the Stephen F. Austin Colony, which was established in 1860. The first small school was erected about 1875.

On the arrival of the German and Czech pioneers in 1870 a Catholic school was deemed necessary to teach the moral and religious, as well as, intellectual culture to the children. In 1882, building of the parochial school began and was completed the same year. The school was built on a grant of land donated by John Klesel, a generous pioneer of the newly established community. The completion of this school was the chief incentive for the beginning of the parish.

In order to be able to fulfill the obligation of hearing Holy Mass on Sundays and of receiving the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion frequently, these pioneers attended mass and other divine services at High Hill. Later Holy Mass was celebrated in the private home of John Klesel. This enabled the St. John settlers to attend Holy Mass in their own community.

Finally the growing love for God and His greater glorification, urged our forefathers to desire a place of worship which they could call their own. Their spiritual director gave them the assurance that they were now ready to build their own church and have a stationary pastor since the number of settlers of the surrounding territory was large enough to act as a self supporting parish. The constructing of the new church began in Jan. 1888 and was dedicated in July of 1888. The land to serve as a cemetery was donated by John Klesel.

The community had a saloon and store combination and a cotton gin which was dismantled around the 1960's.

St. John Church in 1920
St. John Catholic Church, 1920s

Courtesy of Fayette County History Commission
Photo submitted by Carolyn Heinsohn, FCHC member

The St. Joseph's Society in St. John's Parish decided to have their own meeting place, so in the year 1916 they bought 1/2 acre of land and built a hall which they called the St. Joseph's Hall. The hall has been used for meetings, socials, weddings, reunions, and also for Church Picnics.

The new St. John Public School, called Krupala School, was constructed in 1917 about a mile northwest of the church on land donated by Joseph and Johanna Krupala. In 1933 the school was moved near the church and rooms were added on. In the same year the consolidation of the Krupala School and the St. John's Parochial School became the St. John Consolidated School.

In 1961 the St. John's School closed and the students in the area began attending school in Moravia and Schulenburg.

St. John First Public Church
First Public School. Not built by the Parish. It was used for Grades 1-4

Courtesy of Fayette County History Commission
Photo submitted by Carolyn Heinsohn, FCHC member

Major renovation to the outside and inside of the church began in 1985 and in 1987 renovation to the St. John hall started.

Joseph and Caroline Havrda opened Joe's Place about 1931. It was a saloon, grocery store and gas station. After owning the store for 49 years, he sold it to his son, Ervin Havrda in 1981 who in return sold it to Bill Berckenhoff in 1989. The store remained opened for several years before closing.

Kubenka's Welding Works owned by David and Lorine Kubenka, was opened in 1971 and remains open to this day.

St. John School in 1924
St. John's School Built in 1924 -- In 1958 it was moved to St. Rose, Schulenburg, where it was used until 1984

Courtesy of Fayette County History Commission
Photo submitted by Carolyn Heinsohn, FCHC member

The descendants of immigrants who settled the rich farm lands around St. John brought with them not only their love of God but also their love of music, particularly polkas. Soon they were gathering together and music and dancing became part of their lives. As the annual July 4th picnic grew in popularity, a new pavilion for dancing was built in 1988 and in 2008 the pavilion was enlarged.

To this day the July 4th picnic is one of the favorite picnics around. The community does it in grand style beginning with mass in the historic 125 year old church at 9:00 followed by the patriotic flag raising ceremony. Then the famous St. John stew and fried chicken dinner with all the trimming takes place. The day and night is filled with music and dancing by the Shiner Hobo Band, Czech And Then Some, The Dujka Brothers and the Red Ravens. The auction begins at 1:00 with numerous items to compete for. Cake Walk, bingo, country store, ball throw, ring toss, fish pond and train rides are some of the numerous activities for both the young and old. Home-churned ice cream, hamburgers and much more can fill any appetite. Last but not least, ice cold drinks to cool the day's heat.

The tradition and history of St. John's ancestors shows in their ethnic pride, religion, friendship, food, music and dancing. Nowhere is that apparent then in the small community which lies between Schulenburg and Hallettsville on FM 957.

Factual history obtained from St. John The Baptist Catholic Church Memorial Book, 1888-1988 and The Community of St. John, Texas, 1860-2005 by Nancy Rab Pieper.

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