Friday, February 24, 2006

Bohemian Hill

From a genealogy website (
...The first Bohemians arriving in St. Louis settled in what was then called Frenchtown. This section of St. Louis was later referred to as Bohemian Hill and today is called Soulard. The boundaries of this area on the near south side of the city are Lafayette Ave., 7th Street, Russell Blvd., and 18th Street. At the time, this part of St. Louis was known as "Bohemian Hill" and was a very active settlement with a highly regarded library.

In 1855, the early Bohemian immigrants were able to build their own church in St. Louis, St. John Nepomuk. The Lucash family often traveled from Freeburg to St. John's to attend services and sing in the church choir. This was the first Bohemian church in America.

It was not until the revolution of 1848, when the anticlerical and freethinkers revolted in Bohemia, that any significant number of Bohemians emigrated. They arrived in St. Louis traveling up the Mississippi River from the port of New Orleans. The Bohemian immigration occurred in two waves: 1848-1870 and 1870-1920. The first wave tended to settle in St. Louis and the surrounding area. The second wave used St. Louis as a jumping off place to Chicago and other parts of the Midwest.

There existed two sets of parallel Bohemian institutions in St. Louis as well as the rest of the United States: Roman Catholic and Protestant (Hussite). The two groups did not associate or intermingle.

See my article Photos of Saint John Nepomuk. It is now a chapel, available for weddings and funerals. I'm told that Fr. Rodis, who was a longtime priest of the Indult Latin Mass in Saint Louis, occassionally holds services here. I don't have a schedule, though.

Click here for a map of the area.

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