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PRAHA, TEXAS. Praha, on Farm Road 1295 three miles east of Flatonia in southern Fayette County, was originally known as Mulberry and Hottentot, the latter apparently referring to a band of outlaws. James C. Duff, William Criswell, and Leroy Criswell first settled the area. During the mid-1850s a Bohemian immigrant named Mathias Novak came to the region. After working a short while for the American settlers, he saved enough money to buy 100 acres of land and build a house where early masses were celebrated. Other Bohemian immigrants included John Baca, Joseph Vyvjala, Andreas Gallia, Joseph Hajek, Frank Vacl, and George Morysek. In 1858 the Bohemian settlers changed the town's name to Praha in honor of Prague, the capital of their homeland. In 1865 Joseph Bithowski, a Bernardine father, built a small frame church, and at midnight on Christmas Day the first Mass was offered. In 1868 a public school was established, and by the 1880s Praha had three stores, a restaurant, and a new frame church, which served as the mother parish for surrounding towns. A post office started service in 1884, and in 1896 a Czech Catholic school was established. In 1873, when the Southern Pacific Railroad was built a mile north of town, Flatonia, a new town founded near the tracks, began to draw business away from Praha. During the twentieth century the population of Praha never rose above 100, and in 1906 the post office closed. By 1968 the population had dropped to twenty-five, where it remained in 2000. As of 2010, no new population data is available. In 1973 both the parochial and public schools closed. In the late l980s worshippers still attended masses at the parish church. Since 1855 the community has celebrated the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. The event now attracts more than 5,000 visitors, many of them Czech and Slovak. Mass is celebrated in the historic St. Mary's Church of the Assumption, with its extraordinary interior painted by Godfrey Flury. Czech food is served and Texas Czech bands entertain the crowd. Perhaps the most well-known of Texas's so-called "painted churches," St. Mary's was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The community also holds a yearly Veteran's Day commemoration.
T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). The Czech Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1972). Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1936).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Ed Janecka, "Praha, TX," accessed March 17, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp51.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 20, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.