Celebrate a Century Of Community at Wied Hall
MARKER DEDICATION SET FOR NOV. 9
On Sat., Nov. 9 a Texas historical marker will be placed at Wied Hall as a testament to those honorable men and women who made a livelihood and kept “community” important in this section of Lavaca County. It can be validly stated that there has always been something happening in a hall at Wied since the 1890s. The hall that stands today was built in 1912 and its sheer existence to this day is clearly due to the hardworking families who put countless dedicated hours of their time and resources into its upkeep and operation.
The marker dedication on Nov. 9 will be celebrated with music starting at noon featuring Zach Novak, Shiner Hobo Band, Jade Marie Patek, and Los Kolaches. The dedication ceremony will take place at 3 pm. Barbecue sandwiches, sausage wraps, desserts, soda, and water will be for sale. Historical displays and a silent auction will also be set up. Kenneth Stock, of Shiner, who led the charge for Wied Hall’s historical designation shares some of the community’s history. By the way, when you ask the address of the hall, everyone knows it’s on Highway 90A midway between Hallettsville and Shiner. From an early age, I have many fond memories of family reunions, weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, KJT, KJZT, school and community functions at the hall. My mother’s family has been involved with the hall since 1946 when her father, Matthew Pustka, Sr. of the Wied community, became part of the shareholder group that said, "Yes," to keeping the hall open for future generations.
I’ve always been interested in history and to me stately old dance halls just speak family and community. I’m happy to see the movement in recent years to recognize and preserve historic dance halls in our state. I want to do my part in keeping these full of life.
Committee members who worked on the historical marker project with me under the outstanding guidance of our Lavaca County Historical Commission chairman, Doug Kubicek, are my late Aunt Molly (Pustka) Peters, my Uncle Joe Pustka, my cousin Monica Peters, and my wife’s cousin Rose Mary (Matula) Havlik.
ALL ABOUT COMMUNITY
Wied Hall marked its 100th anniversary in 2012. The hall didn’t have a celebration or event to mark the occasion, but research was being done for a historical marker. The marker application was submitted in November 2017 to the Texas Historical Commission and the marker arrived in May of this year. The next thing to do was plan a date to celebrate this milestone. November seemed the appropriate month since the hall’s first dance was held in November 1912.
The hall did throw a picnic in 1962 celebrating 50 years since it was built. They served a meal for dinner and supper consisting of stew, pork sausage and all trimmings, plus homemade chicken noodle soup. Adults $1 and children under 12, fifty cents. Attractions during the day were bingo and a turkey shoot. They hired the George Machart Orchestra to provide music at night at no charge. The local trail riders were even invited and rode to the event. A special invitation was sent to Tom and Lillie (Kallus) Pesek of Jourdanton, the first couple to dance in the new hall in November 1912 when it was completed.
Lille Kallus was the oldest daughter of Alois J. and Theresa (Migl) of Wied. Mr. Kallus was instrumental in forming a stock company in 1912 to finance the venture of building a “new” hall in the community. The September 3, 1912 edition of the Hallettsville New Era reported that, “Joseph Leopold secured the contract to erect a $1500 dance hall with a stage for theatricals at Wied. The stage in the hall will be used by the Bohemian Theatrical Club of that place to show their histrionic talents, and in every respect the venture will reflect all that is best and cultured of the Bohemian citizenship of the county.”
The Kalluses had seven other daughters besides Lillie and their descendants chuckle to this day that their grandfather built the hall (on property they owned across the road from their house) not only because he wanted the community to have a gathering place for weddings, dances, and community activities but he also wanted to keep a close eye on his daughters’ social lives!
When Mr. Kallus was 77 years old, he and his wife decided they no longer wanted to operate the hall, so they put it up for sale. A group met in January 1946 at the Wied School to discuss the future of this building and its operation. Those who decided to be shareholders pooled their money together and began to discuss next steps. They bought four acres of land off Highway 90A in March 1946 and sometime during the month of May or June 1946 the hipped-roof recreation hall was moved to its present site. The following story about the move has been told numerous times.
“When the hall was to be moved across the highway, the Highway Patrols were present, in order to issue a permit for a fee, which was terribly resented by the shareholders and the mover. The weather turned bad and began to drizzle. The movers decided to quit for the day and left the hall on the north side of the highway on its transporting apparatus to be moved the next day. The mover and the Highway Patrol left the scene. However, the mover returned shortly and moved the hall across the highway without permit. They had a grand-opening celebration at their new site on Sunday, June 30, 1946 with a big beef and mutton barbeque and dance.”
PRIOR TO 1912
The Wied community was not oblivious to having social events prior to 1912. In fact, the precursor to the present Wied Hall was an active shooting club formed by the local citizens of German descent. The Wied Phoenix Schützen Verein existed for 30 years (1891-1911) hosting shooting competitions, May feasts, King feasts, balls, and music entertainment throughout the year at their hall which was located about a mile north from where the current hall sits.
When the group decided to disband and sell the hall in 1911 they sold it Rudolph and Marie Beneš (a couple of Czech decent) who ran it for a year until John Dornák, a land agent, bought it from them and resold it in less than a month to the nearby St. Mary’s Catholic Church. St. Mary’s turned the old schützen verein into a church dedicating it to St. Ludmila. It served as a Catholic church until 1922. Later on in the 1940s that former hall/church was torn down and the lumber was used to build a new residence.
HALL OF MUSIC
It was not until 1918 that records were found in the Shiner Gazette identifying musical performances by local bands and orchestras. In the 1920s it was very common for dances to be held on a Monday. Since the hall was built with a stage for theater, the community enjoyed a number of plays well into the 1940s. The Patek Orchestra of Shiner, Texas was a popular group during the 1930s and early 1940s having performed at the hall the most of any group during that time.
In November 1933 the Wied School held a picnic at the hall serving a meal, and refreshments. Activities included volleyball, basketball, and a game called Beano (Bingo), and good music all day and night. The Katolická Jednota Texaska (K.J.T. - Catholic Union of Texas, a fraternal organization) Wied society No. 43 St. Martin hosted an Armistice Day picnic on November 11, 1937 with a sausage and stew dinner and supper; good music throughout the day; and free dance at night. All ex-service comrades were invited to come and enjoy the day.
In 1952 Adolph Hofner, a popular Texas western swing musician of Czech decent, played at the hall. In April 1957 the shareholders held their first of many turkey and ham shoots. Throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s organizations such as the Lavaca County Farm Bureau, American Legion posts of Shiner and Hallettsville, Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), the K.J.T. Wied Society #43 St. Martin and Katolická Jednota Zen Texaskych (K.J.Z.T.) Wied Society #53 St. Zdislava, held either fund raisers or picnics at the hall.
In the 1960s and 1970s The Moods, The Velvets, and The Legends were popular musical performers. Kross Kountry performed at the hall from the mid-1970s well into the 1980s. The first Fiddler’s Frolics was held at the hall in April 1971 (now held at KC Hall in Hallettsville). The shareholders also hosted several New Year’s Eve dances in the 1980s. The St. Paul High School Athletic Booster Club in Shiner has been hosting an annual turkey and ham shoot at the hall each November continuously since 1971. In the 1960s and 1970s the Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hallettsville used the hall to hold turkey and ham shoots as well as sponsor dances. The hall has been a gathering place for countless wedding dances, family and school reunions, organization and society meetings, fund raisers and benefits.