CGSI Quarterly Meeting - September 2008

CGSI held its September 2008 Quarterly Meeting in Cadott, WI

The Bohemian Lodge Hall in Cadott, WI was built in 1907 and restored in 1999.
The ZCBJ hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.

                        One of two stage curtains

                        The second stage curtain
      There are four backdrops available on the stage. Emil Piler painted
     the two stage curtains and the four backdrops in 1931 for $157.37.

Beth Baumeister and husband Carl attended to the registration table.

Darylle Mattatt entertained the audience prior to the meeting

                      Dottie introducing the speakers
Dottie Speidel arranged for the hall and for the speakers

Daniel Necas spoke on The Old Halls: their contribution to immigration life

Daniel was born and raised in Ceske Budejovice. He now works at the Immigration History Research Center at the Univ. of MN. His grandfather came to St. Paul in 1920 where he worked as a Sokol instructor and where he was active as an actor in various plays.

Most immigrants didn’t speak English. They generally settled near other immigrants that spoke their language. The Czech settlers also settled near German speaking settlements since they also knew German. For social gatherings, some people got together in churches while others built Sokol or Fraternal halls. At the halls, they would contribute books from the old country to create a library.

The first Cesko-Slovansky Podporujic i Spolek (CSPS) hall was built in St. Louis to provide a location to help with financial support for members. There they would pool together money to help members in need. This was prior to insurance companies that we know today. The original meetings in St. Louis meet in a brewery with attendees sitting on sacks of malt.

Lodges provided a location for the social life including meetings, dances, concerts, and plays. They organized parades and dressed in kroje from their homeland. There were external and internal guards in the halls to make sure only authorized members could enter. You needed to know a password to get in.

The original CSPS dues were based on age and probability of life expectancy. A group of CSPS members were not happy with the way dues were calculated so they formed Zapadni Cesko-Bratrska Jednota (ZCBJ). ZCBJ was organized in Omaha in the 1890s. Other groups also started with religious groups and with work related gatherings such as butchers.

In 1933 CSPS changed its name to Czechoslovak Society of America (CSA). They moved into a new building in Berwyn, IL. ZCBJ changed its name to Western Fraternal Life (WFL Fraternal Life) in the 1930s.

      JoAnn Parks spoke on the Wisconsin ZCBJ Lodges

ZCBJ was formed in 1897 with premiums determed by age. All members had to take a medical exam. There are 138 active ZCBJ lodges as of today.

The first settler arrived near Cadott, WI in 1898. In 1901 th first CSPS hall #18 was built across the road from the current lodge. The current Bohemian lodge was built in 1907 for $900. Much of the material for the lodge and much of the building labor was donated. The current loft was originally used as a kitchen. After each meeting most of the men stayed to talk and to drink beer. All worked well once the men were on their wagon since the horses knew the way home.

The lodge was remodeled in 1999. Many money making efforts including thrift sales were put on by the local volunteers. A cookbook was published with over 3,000 books sold.

                                    Pat Novak

The Haugen, WI ZCBJ lodge #100 was built in 1910. The lodge members consisted of eight men and three women. A stage and round roof were added to the lodge in 1913. Emil Piler painted the stage curtain. The Bohemian language was originally taught in the hall.

A Czech Heritage Museum, located in an old brick school, is across the street from the lodge.

At one time Haugen consisted of 95% Czech. The first burial took place in the cemetery in 1898.

                Arlene Dremak Gardiner from Racine, WI

Arlene’s maternal grandfather was Andrew Pitlivka. He immigrated to the United States in October 1912 from Rostoka, Saris County, Slovakia. Andrew took the New York Central Railway to Ganister, Blair County, Pennsylvania. Here he worked in a stone quarry.

Andrew joined Russian Greek Catholic Benevolent Society – Holy Blessed Mary Chapter 445 Ganister, Pennsylvania

I am assuming that this Society (Lodge) was connected with St. Mary’s Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church of Ganister, Pennsylvania. This church still has liturgy every Sunday for the 25 – 40 members of Ganister.

Andrew Pitlivka lived in Ganister until February 1926 when he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois. In Chicago, Andrew joined another Lodge.

This lodge was the:
Russian Greek Catholic Brotherhood
Apostles Sts. Peter & Paul
No. 73
Orthodox Church
Established 10 September 1922 in Chicago, Illinois

Grandfather belonged to this lodge until it was dissolved sometime in the mid 1950’s.

Grandpa would go to the lodge meeting once a month to pay his dues which were 50 cents a month during the 1930 & 40’s. It was raised to $1.00 a month in the 1950’s.

The Chicago lodge badge was red, white & blue striped on one side and the reverse side was black. The Ganister lodge badge was yellow and orange on one side and black on the reverse side. Member wore the colored side to their lodge meetings and the black side of the badge to a member’s funeral. The small lapel pins were worn on their suit jackets.

The Lodge book is from Lodge #73, Chicago, Illinois
There are 75 names in the book. The book was started on September 10, 1922. Diploma numbers are listed. All of the people listed in the book became charter members of a Russian Orthodox church started in September 1931 by Rev. Peter Semkoff. My grandfather Andrew Pitlivka and mother Anna Pitlivka Dremak are listed as lodge members.

My grandparents, Andrew and Helen Pitlivka and their 8 children were all charter members of the new church organized in September 1931. This makes me the third generation to belong to St. Peter & St. Paul Orthodox Church. The church was in Chicago from 1931 – April 1996. In 1996, the parish moved to southwestern Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge.