Walsh County, North Dakota

Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church

Lankin, Walsh, ND

Walsh Heritage” Vol 2, pg 1034-1035

In 1905 the Soo Line Railway went through the Lankin territory and the village was founded. The company offered two lots there to the religious community which would build the first church. The Catholics were the first to take advantage of this opportunity and founded a parish in 1906. Clement Zeman and John Courtney were the first trustees.

A church was built in the north part of Lankin. Father Frank Just from Pisek visited the parish and said Mass. In 1909, the parish bought five acres of land for a cemetery. A young priest, Father Alois Gajdusek, was appointed resident pastor. The congregation started to build a parish house. Lots were bought from Clement Zeman in the eastern part of Lankin. The Zeman family donated four lots which made the property 13 acres.

In April of 1911, Father Thomas Rabsteinek came to Lankin and called a parish meeting so that the congregation could decide if it wanted to remain independent. The conogregation decided to get better organized. Father Venceslaus F. Mikolasek arrived in Lankin May 26, 1911. With the help of some parishioners and the Ladies’ Altar Society he collected money to pay for finishing the parish house and the cemetery.

The church was sold for taxes. With the help of the county commissioners, taxes were cancelled and the church was returned to the parish. In 1913, Bishop James O’Reilly approved the intention of Father Mikolasek to move the church next to the parish house. The moving started August 11, 1913. The church was not yet finished. Joe Matejcek, Sr., took collections for a new steeple. In 1915, John Matejcek, Sr., recruited donors for the church stained-glass windows. (See following article). In 1920 a bronze cemetery cross, which cost $700, was raised in the cemetery. The family of Joseph Kuchar donated a woven wire fence around the cemetery.

In 1943 a grotto was built between the church and parish house. It was built by Joseph Vitek of Lomice with the help of parishioners. Father Mikolasek remained pastor of St. Joseph’s Church until his death in 1950. He is buried at Bechyne. He was also pastor of St. Peter and Paul’s Church at Bechyne, a mission church southwest of Lankin. (See following article).

Father Jaroslav Tomanek followed Msgr. V. F. Mikolasek, serving the parish from July 1950 to July 1962. Father L. F. Sventinsky was sent to Lankin as pastor of St. Joseph’s Ch


Father Mikolasek was born in Tenesvar County, Pisek (now Czech Republic), on September 14, 1878. He entered the priest seminary in Budejovice (Budweis) and was ordained a priest on July 21, 1901. He came to the United States September 8, 1904, and went on to Vodnany, South Dakota, remaining there until July of 1909, when he took over the parish for two years at Dante, South Dakota. He was then invited to come to North Dakota, where some Czech parishes needed a Czech priest.

Bishop O’Reilly of Fargo sent him to the parish at Lankin. Father Mikolasek arrived in Lankin May 26, 1911, then served the parish for 39 years. He served the mission church at Bechyne, and later the mission church at Lomice. His holiness, Pope Pius the XII, rewarded him by elevating him to Monsignor. The investiture took place in St. Joseph Church at Lankin on July 21, 1948.

It might be well to mention that Msgr. Mikolasek was a journalist for seven years prior to serving in Lankin. He was editor of a monthly paper, “Hospodarske Listy,” (Farmers Paper), printed in Chicago. He also had many articles published in “Hlas” and “Narod,” Czech papers. Father Mikolasek was interested in political affairs of Czech Catholics in his old country as well as in America.

Msgr. Mikolasek died July 15, 1950, and is buried in the Bechyne Cemetery, about 7 miles southwest of Lankin.


St. Joseph’s Stained Glass Windows

Heritage Village, Grafton, North Dakota

The windows located on the east wall of the Theater Building were donated by the R.F. “Pete” Matejoek family in 1988. These windows were originally purchased and installed into the first St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lankin, North Dakota.

A parish meeting was called on March 7, 1915. John Matejoek, Sr., volunteered to raise funds for windows to be installed in the church. The large windows cost $23 each, and the smaller windows cost $20 each. The families of C. Zeman, Charles Novak and Mrs. Machart each donated one window. The following families donated two to each window: John Matejoek and Ad. Solbolk, Mrs. C. Ruzicka and James Seidal, Joseph and Anton Matejoek, Joseph and John Novak, J. H. Vorachek and F. Helt. Other families and individials donated one window each: Witasek Brothers, S. Rinde, Mayers Brothers, H. Altendorf, F. Tackman, J. Gerstner, A. Novak and The Bachelors. The tower window was donated by Dr. F. Weed and F. Trenda. 1

The St. Joseph’s Catholic Church building was utilized until 1967. Due to the prohibitive cost of updating the original building it was decided to build a new church. Leo Bosh bought the original building for one dollar and donated the cost of moving the building to an empty pasture where it stood for many years. In the following years Leo Bosh held an auction and items from the church, including these windows, were sold. After the items were removed the building was burned. Construction of present-day St. Joseph’s Catholic church was started in October of 1957 and was completed in January of 1968.2

John Matejoek was the first postmaster in Lankin and a prominent citizen of that city. Joseph and Anton Matejoek were John’s brothers. The present day spelling of their surname is “Matejcek.” Ad. Solbolk was a grain buyer for the local elevator. The present-day spelling of his surname is “Sobolik.”


  1. Souvenir of the Golden Jubilee of SS Peter and Paul Parish, with the History of St. Joseph’s Parish, and the New Mission of St. Catherine. (n.d.)

  2. “Walsh Heriatage”, Vol. 4, pg 966 and pg 1543 (1981).

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