Thursday, May 10, 2012

John and Katherine Peketz

The story of John and Katherine Peketz is one of opportunity and upward mobility in America. An immigrant from Slovenia, John Peketz is listed as a laborer in the 1905 edition of the Denver city directory, but by 1911 he is recorded as working as a bartender at John Predovich's saloon. In 1915, Peketz opens his own tavern at 4511 Washington Street.
Before Prohibition (Colorado went dry in 1916, four years before the rest of the nation) immigrant saloons operated as banks, social clubs and clearinghouses for newcomers where a recent arrival could get a drink, a good meal, news from the Old Country, a place to stay, a loan, and advice concerning jobs and meeting other young and single people from home. Tavern owners like Peketz knew everyone and everything happening in Globeville.
By Globeville's standards Peketz was prosperous, owning his own home and operating a successful business, but he never forgot his humble beginnings. Peketz helped found the Western Slavonic Association (WSA), a fraternal organization that provided financial help to families in case of sickness or injury. Katherine Peketz then formed a women's branch of the association, Holy Rosary Lodge, Number 7, which focused on service to the community. Using their business and fraternal connections, the couple then worked to raise money to build Holy Rosary Church in 1919. Their lives and contributions can be remembered in two windows in the church that feature St. Catherine and St. John the Baptist.
Top photo: John and Katherine Peketz in their grocery store. After Colorado went dry in 1916, many former taverns became grocery stores. Photo used with written permission from Don Snider
Second photo: 4511 Washington, site of the Peketz Saloon
Third photo: Location of Western Slavonic Hall, today the McDonald's on Washington Street. Photo used with written permission from Joe Sadar
Bottom photo: Peketz windows in Holy Rosary Church.

Western Slavonic Association
Holy Rosary Church

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