category: Place, date: 2011-09-03, by Otto Bochman
Much more than a Czech Celebration
If you're from Bon Homme County, the eastern part of South Dakota, or anywhere in the Midwest for that matter, you've heard of Tabor, famous for Czech Days. Tabor (a Czech word meaning "camp") is located on Hwy 50 about a mile west of the Bon Homme County boundary. It is a community rich with the Czech Heritage and its citizens welcome you.
Tabor, SD has two museums, Vancura and Blachnik, historic churches and schools.
Tabor's first schoolhouse was built in 1873. Timber from near the Missouri River provided the building materials. Josef Zitka was the first teacher and was paid $20 per month. That school now provides a perfect introduction to the Vancura Memorial Park. The main street attraction is owned and managed by the Czech Heritage Preservation Society.
Among the buildings located on the grounds of the Vancura Memorial Park is Saint John the Baptist Church, the First Czech Catholic Church in Dakota Territory. The organ and other artifacts provide a window into 1869 worship. The original Tabor Jail, built in 1901, was constructed of lumber laid flat to discourage escape. The Nikl Jewelry Store of the 1920's to the 1930's represents a village store and Post Office.
Just a few steps from the Vancura Memorial Park stands Blachnik School, 1886, Dist. 26. The school is home to the Blachnik Museum. All of the contents are creations of Emil Blachnik who attended the school which is now just a few feet from the home he built. Emil and Evelyn Beran were gracious hosts at the museum during a recent visit. Evelyn Beran is the daughter of Emil Blachnik and told about the many pieces on display.
As fascinating as the story of Emil Blachnik is (and it is fascinating) so too is the story of Evelyn and Emil Beran. Evelyn Beran is the daughter of Emil Blachnik. She is married to Emil Beran. Two Emils not to be confused with each other. Evelyn was born in the house in which she now lives. It is the house that Emil Blachnik built. When Evelyn married Emil Beran, they farmed southeast of Tabor or west of Yankton, South Dakota. When Evelyn and Emil Beran retired they moved back to Evelyn's childhood home. The Berans are soon to be 97 years young.
Continuing north on Tabor's main street from the museums mentioned earlier, we reach the large brick church built in 1899. A sign on the church describes the historic building and that the bricks were hauled by horse and wagon from Lesterville, South Dakota as that was the closest railroad.
A fitting conclusion to a visit to Tabor may very well be the memorial dedicated to the men and women who served in the military. One more example that this Bon Homme community is Much more than a Czech Celebration. The Tabor Soldier's Memorial was dedicated May 25, 1998.
A special thank you to Dennis Povondra for scheduling this visit. Thank you to Mildred and Leonard Cimpl who took time to describe the museum pieces and the Czech history.
Thank you to Evelyn and Emil Beran for sharing the story of Emil Blachnik. Their own story was equally touching and will not soon be forgotten.