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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SOKOL POLSKI - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SOKOL POLSKI, the Polish Falcons of America, is a cultural and recreational society locally headquartered on Broadway. Similar to the Czech Sokol movement (see SOKOL CLEVELAND), the Polish Falcons began as a movement to foster national pride and patriotism among POLES in Poland in 1867. The first American nest was organized in Chicago in 1887; a national organization was incorporated in 1894. By 1897 a small group was active for largely recreational purposes in Cleveland. There were 42 members in this group when it reorganized in 1899. In 1904 23 members of the group established the first Cleveland nest (Nest 23), formed on the south side. That same year, Nest 50 was established on the east side. In 1909 what became the major local branch, Nest 141, was established by MICHAEL P. KNIOLA† and others. In 1911 the group bought the former United Presbyterian Church building at 7146 Broadway, and in 1912 it became a member of the national Polish Falcons of America.

In addition to gymnastic training and language classes, the Polish Falcons supported efforts to liberate their homeland. As the "Free Poland" movement developed in the U.S., the Sokol group began programs in military training. During World War I, the hall became a recruiting and induction center for Polish army personnel. During the 1920s, the Sokols expanded their activities to include American sports, introducing basketball, baseball, track, and folk dancing in 1923, and boxing in 1927. Among the youngsters in the Sokols' programs in the 1920s was STELLA WALSH†. Nest 141 again helped its homeland in the late 1930s and 1940s, sending clothing and medical supplies and helping Poles displaced by the war. By 2003, Nest 141 had 309 members and was one of 110 Polish Falcons nests across the U.S.

Polish Falcons of America District IV, 42nd Biennial Convention. 40th Biennial Track and Field Meet. 60th Anniversary Nest 141 (1969), WRHS.

Last Modified: 08 Mar 2003 03:10:48 PM

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