Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Town of Silverhill Celebrates Its History

Fairhope, Alabama


Siverhill, Al.
The usually-quiet small town 3 miles east of Fairhope was bustling with activity last weekend commemorating its relatively short history; a tour was given of the partly-restored historic Little Hall located down the street (Pictures/Video below).

Colorful antique tractors stood nearby as an antique engine sputtered loudly; and children rode and petted various farm animals.

Local crafters displayed their wares and there were the usual high-calorie refreshments.

According to local legend, the town got its name when turpentine industry workers had to walk up a hill to be payed silver coins


In 1896, a 'Swedish Colony' was established by immigrants who had been living in Chicago, Ill.; but were looking for land to farm in a more moderate climate. They established a land-holding company and the first families began arriving the next year.

Attracted by advertisements circulated by the Swedes, native Czechoslovakians* soon followed, beginning in 1908: Karl Hanak and Joseph Kulieka being among the first of 108 families of that heritage.

The closely-related Foucal family is also often mentioned in online histories; they moved here from southeast Texas after passing through the port of Galveston.

* Since Czechoslovakia did not exist as a country until 1920, immigrants are often recorded as Bohemians, Moravians, Austrians, or simply Germans before then.

Heritage Day in Silverhill, Al.


Little Bohemian Hall
Mr. Jack George and his wife greeted visitors to the city's nearby Little Hall -- which was heavily damaged by the tornado which struck the city about 2 years ago.

A Czech flag proudly flew out front. (George joked he was the "guy with two first names.")

The building was originally constructed by  Czech immigrants to their 'Bohemian Colony' southwest of the town; but has been moved several times.

(Originally, it was located on Bohemian Hall Road)

Biographers describe Karl Hanak as "well-educated ...  from a prominent Moravian family" -- who wanted to create a "Bohemian town" here, like the one in his home-country called 'Cechie'.

 (This may refer to the current Czech Republic village of Cechy)

Webster's dictionary definition of Bohemian:

a :  a native or inhabitant of Bohemia
b :  the group of Czech dialects used in Bohemia
often not capitalized
a :  vagabondwanderer; especially :  gypsy
b :  a person (as a writer or an artist) living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others
— bohemian adjective often capitalized

Used over time as a public hall, a meeting place for Czech people and a school for farm children,  descendants fondly remember the many parties, weddings and other ceremonies held there.

The PZK Hall in nearby Robertsdale was also built by Czechs.


A Save the Little Hall Committee has been working to restore the 90-year-old building ever since, which was close to being demolished by the city; committee member have been doing most of the work themselves.
Mr. George

It was hoped that it would be ready for a Heritage Day grand re-opening; but sufficient funds could not be raised for materials to complete the project in time, according to Mr. George.

About another $5,000 is needed to construct a ramp outside for wheelchair access, improvements to the kitchen area, restroom, and various other minor expenses.

George said anyone wanting to donate can still do so by sending checks payable to the Town of Silverhill (with a notation Save the Little Hall) to:

 Town of Silverhill;  P.O. Box 309, Silverhill, Al. 36576.

Jack George, Silverhill Al.
Silverhill Al.
Mrs, George


Anonymous said...

i do not see how people from such a freezing place as Sweden ever coped with the heat and humidity here. There are still some northerners today who can not even with the air conditioning.

Anonymous said...

what????? MAKES NO SENSE

Anonymous said...

what makes no sense?

Anonymous said...

Siverhill could be a special place agin if city leaders ever get their act together and spruce up th place up a little. A shame they stole the insurance money on the Little Hall and used it elswhere.