Western View No. 246, Alton, KS, celebrates its 100th year anniversary this year. Member Emery Poore submitted this history of the lodge to commemorate this milestone.
by Emery Poore, No. 246, Alton, KS
|Descendants of the charter members of Western View Lodge No. 246, Alton, KS: front - Zane and Addison Poore, middle - Mary Struckhoff and Alan Poore, back - Craig Poore, Larry Lala, Emery Poore and Lavern Potuzak. The back drop is the stage curtain from the 1930’s containing local organizations that donated to the lodge.|
May 1, 1916
Several Bohemian neighbors met at the Fred Schalansky vacant house, one half mile south of the original site of the hall, with the purpose of organizing a Bohemian lodge. Brother Joe Novotny from No. 198, Zurich, KS, was present to assist the meeting. Nineteen members paid two dollars each to finance the new organization. It was decided to meet May 14 to elect officers and invite members.
May 14, 1916
The meeting was called to order at 4 p.m. and a discussion was held on a suitable name for the organization of Western Bohemian Fraternal Association. It was decided to name the lodge "Western View" due to the beautiful view to the west at the time.
Members were prepared for initiation by member Joe Lebol of No. 166, Lucas, KS. He was assisted by Julia Novotny, Joe Slansky (No. 198, Zurich, KS), and John Vecera (No. 19, Munden, KS).
The following 21 members were initiated: Anton and Marie Rehor, James and Barbara Lala, John and Louise Vecera, Joe and Rosa Rehor, Rudolph and May Blecha, Charley and Rosa Schalansky, Jake Janda, Joseph Burian Sr., Mike Janda, Jim Potuzak, Lou Krahl, Frank Nikl, and Fred and Mary Schalansky.
A short speech from the head office was read by Joe Lebol (No. 166) congratulating the Western View No. 246 members. He reminded them that they were the foundation of this great Bohemian fraternal organization. The members were given instructions of their duties by Joe Novotny, and election of the first officers followed. They were President Joe Rehor, Financial Secretary Mary Blecha, Guide John Vecera Jr., Inside Guard Jim Lala, Recording Secretary Jim Potuzak, Treasurer Anton Rehor, Outside Guard, Frank Niki, and Board of Trustees Charley Schlansky (1 year), James Lala (2 year), and Joseph Burian Sr. (3 year).
May 15, 1916
Frank and John Bren joined the lodge at this time. It was voted to meet at the Buffalo Ridge Schoolhouse on the second Sunday of each month at 1 p.m. Local dues were two dollars per year, per member. Later, John Sr. and Anna Vecera transferred from No. 19, to No. 246. Meetings were held at the schoolhouse until the fall of 1934.
The Zurich (Plainville, KS) No. 198 informed us that they would like to merge with No. 246. They had a small building, which was taken apart, loaded onto trailers, and pulled to the building site just east of the schoolhouse. With other new lumber, the present-day lodge was built on this site. The main floor room was made first then later the ends were added. The north end was the kitchen, entry hall, and ticket window. The south end was the stage with painted advertising curtain and an anti-room where the kids were put to sleep during dances. Under the stage there was a basement for storage and the Delco light plant.
Dances have been held throughout the years and it is said that the Western View lodge has the best dance floor in the state. The hall has been used for family reunions, bazaars, funerals, and county, state, and national elections, along with the monthly lodge meetings.
The lodge hall was moved on a trailer.
Our lodge held its 50th anniversary with a State Meeting. In 1970 a replica of the hall was made and put in several parades that year, including Alton, Kirwin, Kensington, and Gaylord.
The largest crowd for a dance was in attendance for The Six Fat Dutchmen, a band from Minnesota. Held in the late 1960's, the floor was packed full of people and enough outside to more than fill the hall again.
A lot of couples first met at these dances and later married. They celebrated their anniversaries with a special time at the hall. Halloween masquerades would be held with prizes and unmasking at the midnight hour.
Time changed and the dances weren't paying. People were going to more modern facilities. Eventually, the lodge wasn't used as much and members began holding meetings in their homes. A group in Alton led by Mt. Ayr Friend's Church Pastor Homer Smuck created the Bohemian Cultural Center Foundation. They approached the lodge to see about moving it to a new location in Alton, KS and turning it into a restaurant. We sold the hall to them for a dollar. They moved the hall 12 miles to Alton in the summer of 2002. A new kitchen and restrooms were added. The restaurant is now run by Homer and Lois Smuck.
Western View No. 246 uses the facilities for their monthly meetings free of charge as was in the agreement when it was purchased.
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