Tabor, MN History

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(source-Grand Forks Herald, Monday, March 8, 1999 page 2B
article title: Community of the Week: Tabor, Minn.
Compiled by Darrel Koehler, Herald staff writer and based on interviews with Tabor residents.
Information on Elvern Vanyo was obtained from "Our Northland Diocese" dated Feb. 4
and published by the Diocese of Crookston.
Tabor historian Jeanne Kotrba contributed to this report

Location: Tabor, Minn., an unincorporated village is about 20 miles northeast of East Grand Forks in Tabor Township, Polk County. To reach Tabor, take Minnesota Highway 220 north of East Grand Forks to Polk County 23, then east. Tabor has never been served by a railroad.



Why Tabor has been in the news lately: For 53 years, Elvern Vanyo has been the organist at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Even if she had accompanied the congregation for only one Eucharistic celebration per week, that would amount to 3,000 liturgies. Not included are weddings, funerals, confirmations, first communions and other church events.

Name: Tabor was named for a city located 70 miles south of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The Czech Tabor is about the size of Grand Forks. Many of the early settlers in Polk County were originally from the Tabor area of the province of South Bohemia. Others came from Slovakia, the eastern part of the former Czechoslovakia.

What some Tabor residents say about their community:
Jeanne Kotrba, longtime Polk County resident and Tabor historian: "The people of Tabor have always been willing to work together to get things done. While I live on a farm, I've always enjoyed small communities such as Tabor."
Tim Martine, who with his wife, Lauri, operates Tabor Prairie Nursery, the only business remaining: "We really enjoy living in Tabor. The people are so friendly and very honest. You couldn't ask for a better community."

History: The first settlers in the Tabor area are believed to have arrived in 1877. They were drawn by either free or inexpensive farmland. The area around Tabor had originally been granted to the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, which built through Angus, Minn. Among the first settlers in the Tabor area were Frank Kovar in 1880, Joseph Trefny in 1881 and Jacob Gust in 1884.

The first post office was established four miles south of the present village as was the first Catholic Church, which was destroyed by a tornado in 1895. A majority of those of Bohemian descent tended to be Roman Catholic, while the Slovak settlers were of Catholic or Protestant faiths. The result was that later there would be one Catholic and two Protestant churches in the community.

The Catholic church maintains a cemetery at the original site, which includes the graves of many of the first settlers. The church, which celebrated its centennial in 1989, was first believed to have been named St. Wenceslaus, after a former king of Bohemia who gained sainthood. Later the name was changed to Holy Trinity.

A wooden church was located at the site and it was later torn down when a brick structure was constructed. That church was dedicated April 1, 1954. A parish house was built adjacent to the church. The church has a special creche, or nativity scene, which is put up each Christmas season. It was made and purchased in the former Czechoslovakia and shipped to Tabor years ago.

Because of the shortage of priests in the Diocese of Crookston, there no longer is a resident priest in Tabor. The church lost that distinction more than a decade ago. It was first served by Sacred Heart Parish in East Grand Forks. The Warren, Minn., parish now provides that service. The Rev. Mike Sullivan is the priest.

Beginning in 1976, Tabor observed Czech Days. What was a religious celebration also included a parade, dance and traditional Czech and Slovak food, including potato dumplings, Czech sausage and lots of sauerkraut. There were lots of kolaches with prune, apricot and poppyseed filling. The Czech Days celebration ended a few years ago, however.

The Catholic church is still an important social center for the community. The Holy Trinity activity committee is sponsoring a fish fry following the 4p.m. Mass March 20. Serving will be from 5 to 8pm. The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) is sponsoring a ham dinner after the 9 a.m. Mass March 28, with serving starting about 10:30 a.m. Six church groups rotate and offer monthly breakfasts the second Sunday of each month. Masses are at 4 p.m. the first, third, and fifth Saturdays of the month and at 9 a.m. the second, and fourth Sundays of the month.

The Lutheran church, also named Holy Trinity, was formed in 1884 and continued without a sanctuary until 1898, when the church was built and dedicated. The church, a wood-frame structure, is on the west edge of town. It is part of a joint parish that includes Bethany Lutheran, north of East Grand Forks.

Both Tabor Churches have teamed up on community projects, such as the bicentennial celebration. Tabor's first church building, the Presbyterian Church, was ready for occupancy in 1891. Later the church moved to Angus, and only the cemetery remains.

About a half-mile south of the Lutheran church is another cemetery - ZCBJ. The letters stand for Czech words "Zapodni Cesko-Bratrska Jednota," which stands for the Fraternal Life Association of Western Bohemia, with Tabor having Lodge No. 218.

Economy: The rich, black earth, broken more than a century ago by Bohemian and Slovak pioneers, still yields a bounty of small grains, including hard red spring wheat and barley, sugar beets, potatoes and dry edible beans. There is one major dairy operation left, operated by Vince and Greg Zak.

Years ago, there were rumors that the former Northern Pacific Railway would build northward from Key West, Minn., located east of East Grand Forks. The line was extended as far north as Sherack, Minn., where it stopped. Rumor has it that James. J. Hill, founder of the Great Northern Railway, owned land north of Sherack and wouldn't allow the NP to advance. So Tabor would always remain without a railroad, with farmers having to haul their produce to Sherack or to Angus, Minn., on the Great Northern's Winnipeg line. Many were forced to walk to Angus to pick up their mail in the early years.

Tabor once boasted two blacksmith shops, a grocery, a general store, a farm implement dealership, a Ford agency, barbershop, bank (which operated in 1917 and closed in 1929), post office, harness shop, dance hall and three beer taverns. Little remains of the business district. The dance hall, which once echoed with old-time music on the east side of town, is in need of repair. There were other dance halls, which are now but memories.

For several years, Ron and elsie Sherack sponsored a Polka Fest on their farm north of the town. The weekend event drew polka bands from around the Midwest and dancers from near and far. The tradition ended several years ago. The Sheracks also once operated The Stables, a nightspot that had a dance hall. It has since closed.

While a priest no longer lives in the parish house, two nuns from Crookston now reside there. They work with migrants and add to Tabor's religious life. More than a decade ago, the town's only grocery and filling station, operated by Joseph and Helen Genereaux, closed. The store was a popular place to stop after Mass to pick up staple food items, a Sunday newspaper or some pop.

The Tabor Prairie Nursery, operated by Tim and Lauri martine, is the only remaining business in Tabor. The Martines have been in business for about 12 years. They raise floral bedding plants and vegetable seedlings. They also sell shade trees, fruit trees and other landscape materials. They provide tree moving and removal services.

General: Tabor students go to classes in either Warren or East Grand Forks. Part of the area is on the East Grand Forks phone exchange, while the village itself is on the Warren exchange.

Some residents choose to live in Tabor and commute to Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, Warren and Thief River Falls, and Grafton.

Population: The unofficial population if believed to be about 12. Whereas the community was once predominantly of Czech and Slovak descent, there now are residents of Scandinavian, German and other descent.

Notable: Elvern Vanyo, a lifelong members of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Tabor, became involved in the parish's music ministry at age 16. Listed among her most memorable celebrations was the dedication of the new church in the early 1950's and the celebration of the parish centennial in the late 1980's.

Vanyo has accompanied Holy Trinity's congregation during the office of four of the six bishops of the Crookston Diocese. The organist said she spends a lot of time reading and going through the hymnals getting ready for each weekend. She tries to coordinate the music with the theme for each liturgy.

Attractions: Tabor is a pastoral community, nestled on the prairie. Among the attractions is the Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery in town. There is a beautiful statuary and, following Central European custom, many of the gravestones have photos of the deceased that have been applied to a hard surface. A good time to visit is late autumn when the leaves are turning, especially the brilliant yellow of the cottonwoods.

Churches: There are two remaining churches - Holy Trinity Catholic and Holy Trinity Lutheran.

Majercin to Myerchin Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery Tabor, MN

Above, are the tombstones of Maria Schust Myerchin, Michael Myerchin and John M Myerchin, Sr. They are located in the Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery, Tabor, Minnesota. Each stone represents the mother, son and father of the same family and each stone has a different spelling of the surname.



Tabor,MN Centennial

Tabor Church Centennials


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