Wildflowers and Country Churches Tour - March 19, 2016

by Mary Brown

Our group at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Chappell Hill.

March 19th turned out to be a beautiful day to look at spring flowers and country churches. We started our tour by looking at the patchwork of wildflowers along highway 290.

Larry, our guide, was very knowledgeable of the territory we were covering - it seems he was raised in the area. Larry pointed out and named the different wildflowers as we drove by the fields. He knew just the spot to use for the bluebonnet pictures you see. Then we were on our way to see the churches.

The first church we visited was St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Chappell Hill. This is a Polish Catholic Church.

The original church built on this site in 1894 was a wood structure that did not survive the 1900 hurricane. That was not the only tragic loss for this church. In December of 1921 the second church structure burned. The third church was built on the site in 1924. This is the one we visited. This church was built in the Spanish mission style with that being said this church holds strongly to its Polish heritage so much so its present Pastor is from Poland. The group could not help but marvel at the pristine manner in which the church was maintained. We are a curious group - many of us went into the choir loft and one even pulled the bell ropes to hear it ring (which we all enjoyed). However, the ringing of the bell was not expected by the priest next door and he came to see if there was a problem. We forgot we were in the country and the ringing of the bell either meant mass was beginning or there was a problem in the community.

After this visit we proceeded to the Antique Rose Emporium.

A few of us disembarked the bus for a stroll around the gardens. The gardens became a maze for one of our guest and I had to find her and bring her back to the bus. There was no yellow brick road. By now it was a little after 1 pm and I think everyone had food on the mind. We had a change in plans on the restaurant. We went to the Chappell Hill Deli and Bakery. If you are ever on Hwy 290 I would highly recommend the restaurant. It not only serves great B-B-Q, it has kolaches, a meet market and of course Bluebell Ice Cream, YUM!!

Our next stop was Plantersville at St Mary's Catholic Church. The Priest at the church was quick to point out that this church was built by German immigrants. He made the distinction between the German and Polish immigrants by saying that the Germans came over as land owners and the Polish as tenement farmers. He also stated that the Germans and the Polish people did not get along in their home land and that not much had changed when they arrived in the United States. When the first church was built in 1894 the early mass was in German and the later mass was in Polish. Remember how hot it can get in Texas during the summer. If you had to stand outside in the heat until the German mass was over, how long would it take you before you built your own church?

The answer: in 1909 St. Joseph's Catholic Church was built in Stoneham, a Polish speaking church. Father Ed Kucera pointed to about 3 objects in the church that were original to the first church structure. He explained that the original church burned in 1917. He felt that sometime during the 1920's an artist had come through the area and painted the church with German writing in the style of the painted churches of the Schulenburg area.

However, during WWII he surmised that this was all painted over. So, for several years now he has hired an artist from Houston to scrape the paint off the walls to reveal the stenciling and writing, then redo them to their former grandeur. She has also been repairing and repainting the statuary, whether it was original to the 1917 church or bought off eBay. Father Ed is very innovative. When he did not have enough room in the church, he had the sanctuary cut away and moved forward in order to add 20 more rows of pews. This is a very active church community. It has a B-B-Q pit that Rudy's would envy. Father had 3 events that the church was hosting and wanted to encourage everyone to come to: Quilt Show 4/29 & 4/30, St. Mary's Homecoming Bazaar 9/4 and St. Mary's Annual Gigantic Rummage Sale 11/5. Several of us were thinking ROAD TRIP!

If you were not able to make the trip I encourage you to go see the spring wildflowers before the summer heat wilts them away.

Attendees: Lawson & Kay Cook, George Wolf, Lola Schellhaas with her brother, Tino Solis and her sister, Isabel Solis, Hilda Nanez and her mother, Elida Gonzales, Diane Murray, Fermina & Tom Sutter, Joan Robertson and her sisters, Linda and Joyce, DeAnn Thomas, Gurrette Roep was joined by two friends Pat and Sandra, Tulie & Gi Ba Dang, Theresa Nguyen, Mary Brown was joined by six friends from Del Webb, Bonnie Woods, Cindy Pillsbury, Anne Pratka,Patty Rose, LiLa Robertson and Martha Stewart.

Be sure to join us for one of our upcoming day trips or club events. You will be sure to have a good time.

Copyright TI Houston Alumni Association 2016, All Rights Reserved.

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