St. Ann's Church, Hochheim Prairie

       The lovely rich farming land west of Yoakum attracted tillers of the soil as early as 1836, and as the years passed, more and more families moved into the region to share the wealth and beauty afforded by the area around Hochheim.

       About twenty-one of the families were Catholics. The priests from Cuero came to say Mass for them occasionally. Since there was no church, the Mass was said in the homes of John Weigelt and Theobald Schwab at Hochheim. Among the first families were: Jacob Poth, Frank Peters, John Onhaiser, John Benys, Joe Adamek, Emil Jiral, Vinc Orsak, George Braden, and John Peters.

       By 1906, however, the number of Catholics had increased to the extent that it was deemed advisable to build a mission church at Hochheim Prairie, about five miles west of Yoakum. This church was erected at a cost of $3300 under the leadership of Father W. Heffernan on five acres of land donated for the purpose by Jacob Poth and was dedicated to
St. Ann.

      
St. Ann's was served by the priests from Yoakum until 1922, when Father C. J. Benes was made the first and only resident pastor. To prepare for the coming of their pastor, the parishioners built a rectory at a cost of $1700 in 1921. After Father Benes' transfer in 1932, St. Ann's again became a mission of Yoakum.

       Twice, in 1920 and again in 1929, the church was severely damaged by storm, but each time it was quickly repaired, and in 1930 it was enlarged and stuccoes at a cost of $8000.

       A celebration was held in October 1957 to commemorate
St. Ann's 50th Anniversary. Bishop S. A. Leven celebrated the Mass which was attended by many priests as well as parishioners. In the evening a turkey supper was served at National Hall.

       In recent years
St. Ann's parishioners have further improved their church by buying new pews, an electric organ and carpeting the Sanctuary and choir loft. A central heating system was added in 1967.

       Exceptionally good roads and other transportation facilities enable the school children of
St. Ann's Parish to attend the (St. Joseph) parochial school in Yoakum so that they may all share the advantages of a Catholic education.

       We've all heard of the little brown church in the vale so
St. Ann's should be called the 'Little White Church on the Hill', because of its beautiful, peaceful setting atop a hill surrounded by large shade trees.

      
This write up of St. Ann's church also had a picture of Rev. Charles J. Benes with the following write-up. 'Rev. Benes, the first and only pastor of St. Ann's at Hochheim, was well known for his literary ability, having produced many translations and some original compositions in both English and Czech. He was a constant contributor to newspapers and publications of this time. Serving as pastor at Weimar from 1897 to 1906, he was transferred to St. Mary's near Halletsville, then to St. Ann's at Hochheim and finally to Nada where he died on July 5th, 1936.'

      I have a copy of a page about 
St. Ann's church but I don't remember what book that I found it in. It might have been a Czech Catholic history of  Texas.


          Roland Beausoleil


St. Ann's Cemetery is "just" on the outside of Yoakum. I have passed it many times and just admire its beauty. The little church and cemetery are well maintained. Most people would say "Yoakum", but... it is on Highway 111 going to Hochheim.

 

Petersville, Texas is four miles west of Yoakum in Dewitt County.