The Liberty County Historical Commission held an unveiling of the historical marker at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Dayton Saturday. For more than 100 years, St. Anne’s Catholic Church has been a part of the Eastgate community in Dayton.
Established in 1910s by Czech families who settled in the Dayton area, Eastgate was known as the “easternmost Czech settlement in Texas.” The church was established by the Janacek, Vyoral, Fisher, Kovalcik, Hajovsky, Kolarik, Buchta, Jarma, Smykal, Beran and Krajca families, the 11 charter members of St. Anne’s Mission.
“The community requested a priest and mass was first offered on June 1, 1915, at the Janacek home. Mass was held several times a year until 1917 when Father Isidor Tresch led an effort to build a church,” the marker reads. “St. Anne’s was organized Oct. 20, 1918, and Adolph Janacek’s widow, Anna, donated two acres on Jan. 13, 1919, for the church site. The Catholic Church Extension sent $500 in financial aid, a gift of vestments, linens and accessories. Parishioners furnished the balance, along with pews and other furnishings.”
The first church was a 58 X 28-foot wood-frame structure that was constructed at a cost of $1,665 by Joe Krajca, his sons and parishioners. That building was used until 1948 when the mission family built a bigger sanctuary.
“In 1948, the mission family decided to build a larger church. M.F. and Vlasta Janacek donated 2 1/4-acres near the first church, designing and supervising the new construction. The church was completed in 1949 at a cost of $20,000. Bishop Christopher E. Byrne dedicated the 300-seat brick building on Oct. 16, 1949. The old church was converted into the parish hall,” the marker reads.
HISTORICAL COMMISSION WORKING ON MORE MARKERS
The Liberty County Historical Commission has several other historical markers in the works in the coming months, including designations for Annie E. Colbert Rosenwald School in Dayton, Henrietta “Yettie” Kersting (for whom the original hospital in Liberty was named), Wells Cemetery in Cleveland, Oak Shade Cemetery in Tarkington, Ryan Cemetery in Tarkington, Lovett House in Liberty, W.C. Abbott (an early lawyer and pioneer) and Liberty County Bank in Liberty (which is also known as the Zbranek building). St. Anne’s Catholic Church’s marker is a LCHC marker, not a state marker.
The Annie E. Colbert Rosenwald School, Yettie Kersting and W.C. Abbott markers are subject markers through the Texas Historical Commission. Wells, Oak Shade and Ryan cemeteries have been approved for Historical Texas Cemetery markers through the Texas Historical Commission. Ryan Cemetery also qualified for a subject marker. Lovett House and the Liberty County Bank building are Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks.
“The Texas Historical Commission only approves 160 markers on average per year. I am very thankful that we have as many approved as we do. Thus far, we have never been rejected,” said Linda Jamison, Liberty County Historical Commission Chair. “They look at how much documentation is provided on the subject matter. Each year, they also have a list of subjects they believe need to be highlighted. A Recorded Texas Historic Landmark immediately receives more points in the grading system.”
Jamison said the LCHC routinely sends 5-10 page narratives on the history of a landmark or subject they believe deserves a designation. From that, the Texas Historical Commission extracts a 230-word condensed version of the history that will be placed on the markers.
“Our county marker program was designed to fill in the gaps and highlights more local history. The state likes subjects that are more regional in appeal. The Texas Historical Commission recommended that we create our local marker program in order to recognize more local history,” she said.
With Liberty County’s rich history, there is much work to be done by the Commission, which operates as a non-profit with a small budget overseen by the Liberty County Commissioners Court. Jamison said one of her goals is to have young people engaged in the county’s history.
“There are a lot of ways to help the Liberty County Historical Commission for people looking to volunteer. We need people to form teams to clean up some of our abandoned cemeteries. We get a small allocation from the County and don’t have funds to pay for cemetery cleanups,” Jamison said. “Volunteers are also needed to do small jobs in research at the library or online.”
Anyone with an interest in helping the Commission is asked to contact Jamison at email@example.com.