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Mary T. Zvolanek-Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery & Joseph Tonar- St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery

The original St. Joseph’s Church was located three miles north of Bellefont, Ford County, Kansas. A small frame church was built in 1876.

The following year, the church was severely damaged in a storm. The second St. Joseph Church was built on the foundation and completed in 1878. When the congregation outgrew the second church, a stone church was built next to it. The continued influx of German and Irish immigrants to the area led to the need for a larger church.

Unfortunately, a split amongst the parishioners led to the closing of St. Joseph’s Church. A new St. Joseph’s Church, located in Offerle, was built. At the same time, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hodgeman County was established.

It is in Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery you will find the grave of Mary Teresa Zvolanek. She was born in Czechoslovakia in 1846 as well as her husband, Joseph Tonar. The two were married in 1873 and came to America the following year. They were the parents of six children with three dying in infancy.

The Tonar family arrived in 1885. Joseph applied and received land under the Homestead Act. He built his home from native stone from the surrounding area. Unfortunately, Mary contracted tuberculosis and died in 1898. She is buried at Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

The following year Joseph married Mary Anna Volavka. She was also born in Czechoslovakia. Five more children were born to the Tonar family. Joseph passed away in 1910 and is buried alongside his second wife in St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery. Three of his children, Joseph, Charlie, and Carrie Riedlinger are also buried in St. Mary’s.

Mary Teresa’s sister was Frantisca “Francis” Zvolanek. She was born three years after her sister. She came to America with her sister. In 1868, she married Joseph R. Dvorak who had recently emigrated from the Czech Republic. They came to Hodgeman county in 1886. She and Joseph had three children. Francis died in 1912 and is buried in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery alongside her husband Joseph.

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