Peck flies special flag at Polishville
A special flag is flying at the Polishville Community Center courtesy of the United States government and Bill Peck, president of the Polishville Association Inc.
Peck explained the new 12-by-5-feet United States flag is special because it was flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his 85th birthday on Aug. 29 at the request of Sen. Charles Grassley.
After Charlie Fredericks, the nephew of Polishville Association vice president Caryl Smith, and his family attended the Aug. 11 dance at the center, Fredericks contacted Grassley requesting the flag flown over the Capitol on Aug. 29 be sent to Peck in honor of his 85th birthday.
The flag arrived at the Smith home and was given to Peck late last month, and he raised it over Polishville for the first time Thursday, on the taller flag pole in the middle of three — the Poland flag to the left and Iowa flag to the right.
“It makes it look like a little town,” said Peck. “Without it, it just looks bare.”
Present for the occasion were Smith and Polishville Association secretaries Dan and Hazel Greiner. The treasurer, Thomas Worley, was unable to attend.
Peck plans to fly the special flag whenever events are being held at the center, weather permitting.
The center hosts semimonthly dances, which Peck said are extremely popular events drawing people from far and wide.
The center also hosts bingo games, but those are slowly being phased out, and an annual bazaar every August, which includes a mid-day dinner and a raffle drawing.
Visitors have an opportunity to visit the Esther Johanna Peck Museum, adjacent to the community center.
Peck said his aunt Esther donated the funds for the museum construction, which is why it bears her name.
The little museum, built in 1995, holds items from the history of the St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church and the people of Polishville.
“It’s amazing what came back to be put in the museum; the stuff taken before the church burned,” said Peck, pointing out the big wooden wheel used to ring the church bell, handmade wooden candlesticks, bells from the altar, statues, photos of the church, first communion classes and much more.
The Polishville community got its start in 1878 when 28 families branched out from the German Sts. Peter and Paul parish to start a church in which services would be conducted in their native language. The site for the church, near Germanville, 12 miles northeast of Fairfield, was chosen because the rolling hills reminded them of their native Poland.
A Protestant woman, Mrs. Parks, donated the stone, which members quarried and hauled to lay the foundation, and the native timber became the framework for the church, including its 70-foot-tall bell tower.
The first service at the new church was in October 1882. The parish rectory was completed in 1890, so it had a full-time resident pastor until 1930.
As a mission parish after 1930, Mass was offered twice monthly at the church, but that eventually ended in 1945 and for a time funeral Masses were held there.
As the church was being desecrated, members of the parish took items from the church, and many of those items are what have been returned for the museum.
Peck said the church and rectory, both empty and unused for more than two dozen years, burned to the ground in July 1971.
With the St. Mary Immaculate Conception Cemetery falling into disrepair, the Polishville Cemetery Association was formed in 1977.
The Polishville Association Inc. was formed in 1982. One of the first projects was the Grotto of the Blessed Virgin, built by Tom Spalla of Fairfield.
Peck and Smith pointed out the grotto is built on the entrance step to the old church, and the grotto rock is foundation stones from the church. The colored statue of St. Mary was purchased from New York.
The grotto was dedicated during a centennial celebration in August 1982.
The Polishville Community Center was built in 1988. The original building is today’s “dance hall,” said Peck.
He and Smith laughed as they recalled the original structure didn’t have restrooms, and people had to use an outhouse out behind the center.
But restrooms and a kitchen were added in 1992, and to accommodate the large crowds attending events, the main hall was expanded, and the museum was added at the same time, in 1995.
“Seven acres is now being maintained, with the cemetery and community center nicely mowed and trimmed; a beautiful site,” said Peck. “Polishville is like a little bit of heaven. I can come out and spend hours here.”
For information about Polishville’s community center, cemetery and grotto, contact Peck at 319-694-3495.