NEGenWeb Project


Rev. James Mary Ryan, Columbus, Nebr.


Rev. Frederick Uhing

West Point, Nebr.


Rev. Columban Valentin, O. F. M.,
Chaplain Lindsay Home Guards


Rev. John H. Bernard
(Fr. Alexius, O. F. M.)


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and the east 1/2 of lot 2, block 127, city of Columbus.

59--512 Rt. Rev. John Henry Tihen to Rt. Rev. Jeremiah J. Harty. Deed dated Dec. 22, 1916, filed Jan. 15, 1917, consideration $1.00. Above 10 acres of land.

69--143 Rt. Rev. Jeremiah J. Harty to William J. Euteneuer, W. D., dated Apr. 28, 1925, filed May 28, 1925; consideration $1,500. Above 10 acres of land.

Compiled by Louis A. Lachnit, Register of Deeds.


At first the dead at Columbus were interred in a cemetery on a hill several miles northwest of town. There a number of California travellers (sic) and gold hunters, who died on the way, are awaiting the Day of Resurrection. A number of pioneers were interred beside them.

The Columbus City Cemetery lies in the southeast part of town. "The Columbus Cemetery Association" was formed Dec. 8, 1864, by C: B. Stillman, J. Rickly, C. A. Spiece, Jacob Ernst, Michael Weaver and F. O. Becher. On Jan. 14, 1865, the association was incorporated by the above and Vincent Kummer, J. C. Wolfel, H. J. Hudson, John Brauner, J. B. Becker, G. W. Stevens and I. N. Taylor. The grounds were enlarged, later, when burials increased.

At first the Catholics seem to have been interred there also. Some people buried their dead near their home. As late as 1879 there were not a few graves in the yards or in front of the houses near St. Mary's hospital. Others were laid to their final rest on their homestead.

Fr. Ryan acquired 10 acres for a cemetery. It was situated about 3 1/2 miles northwest of Columbus on the former Sheldon farm (near Senecal's). The following bodies among others were interred at Fr. Ryan's cemetery and were removed before 1925 when it was sold by Father Charles:

Adam Smith, killed in the Looking Glass massacre (A. D. Aug. 17, 1864), by Arapahoe Indians.

Peter Smith, died 1867.

Michael Smith, one of the founders of Columbus, 1870.

Michael Kelley, died 1875.

Thomas Welch, died 1876.

James Haney, died 1876.

Wm. and Mary Lamb, died 1874.

M. J. Mullen, killed by train April, 1880.

Rudolph and Mary Kornbrink, died 1876.

John Welch, died 1880.

John Regan, died 1881.

Bridget Murray, wife of Patrick Murray, died 1892 heroine of the Looking Glass Massacre


From Plat recorded at the court house.

S. E. Quarter, S. W. Quarter, S. W. Quarter 2-17-1 W. 10 acres, Book D-18, United States to Michael Welch, patent dated July 10, 1868, filed Dec. 2, 1868. Above and other land.

F-4l1 Michael Welch to Hugh Compton, W. D., dated Febr. 16, 1874, filed Febr. 16, 1874, consideration $1,280. Above and other land.

F-595 Hugh Compton to Michael Welch, W. D., dated Oct. 12, 1874, filed October 26, 1874, consideration $1,280.

N-b Michael Welch to Rev. James Ryan, W. D., dated May 21, 1874, filed June 16, 1883, consideration $1.00. Above 10 acres of land.

30-381 Rev. James M. Ryan to Rt. Rev. Rich. Scannell, W. D., dated Nov. 5, 1891, consideration $1.00. Above 10 acres of land.

Lm--7 Rt. Rev. Richard Scannell to Rt. Rev. John Henry Tihen and Rt. Rev. Patrick A. McGovern or the survivor of them. Last will dated March 17, 1915. Filed May 28, 1925. All my estate.


Besides Columbus "Ole Cap. Ryan" attended a number of stations extending at first from the Elkhorn river to Julesburg, Colorado, and

Cheyenne, Wyoming:  
Cottonwood Springs, Plum Creek


Willow Island
Lone Tree Jackson Siding
Shell Creek Overton
Kearney Station Overton Siding
Kearney City Schuyler
Fort Kearney Clarksville
Wood River Rosco Station
Grand Island Clarks Siding
Fremont Big Springs
Fontenelle Gibbon Station
Brady Island Kearney Junction
North Platte Madison County
Elm Creek

(Battle Creek)

Fort Sedgwick Julesburg, Colo.
Fort McPherson Cheyenne, Wyo.
McPherson Station North Platte, Neb
Ogallala Elm Creek

This means some thirty missions and stations. Fontenelle occurs once in the records, so does Battle Creek.


Columbus--St. John's Church; James Mary Ryan, Pastor; 27 Catholic families; 70 adults; children; Sunday School attended by seven; $150.00 on hand; other stations attended from


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Columbus; Schuyler, Colfax County; Lone Tree, Merrick County; Clarksville, Merrick County; Kearney, Mcpherson, Grand Island, Julesburg, Colo.

Station Shell Creek attended to from Columbus; 77 Catholic families; 190 adults; 225 children.

St. Mary's, Wood River, Hall County; attended from 'Columbus; 38 Catholic families; 84 adults; 20 children; 55 Paschal Communions; Sunday School, 2 pupils.

Grand Island, Hall County; 75 families; 150 adults; children __ ; 56 Paschal Communions; Sunday School attended by 30 pupils.

J. M. Ryan, Pastor; John Flood, Assistant.


Rev. Patrick S. Lynch, about September, 1874, to February, 1875. Rev. John M. J. Smyth, about October, 1876, to May, 1877. Rev. John T. Smith, about August, 1877, to September, 1877. Rev. M. F. Cassidy, October, 1878, to February, 1879 (Nov. 19, 1879). Rev. John Flood, November, 1879, to May, 1880. Rev. Owen Geary, July and August, 1881.

Fr. Ryan according to his own report to the Bishop April 18, erected a church at Wood River (1868), Grand Island (1868). The latter was blown down by a storm. He also erected a church in Kearney Junction which he did not turn over to others. (Report about April, 1879). Since 1875-1879 he had nearly completed three more.


For the first time, by the Rt. Rev. Vicar Apostolic, James O'Gorman, on July 17, 1869, the following eight persons: Martin Regan, Cilda Senecal, Thos. Francis Bolan, Midis Joseph Senecal, Mary E. Senecal, Mary Seraphine Senecal, Honora Mary Deneen, and Mary Sullivan.

On June 15, 1873, the Rt. Rev. Bishop O'connor confirmed 21 persons, and on May 2, 1877, he confirmed a class of 99 at Columbus. On May 3, 1877, 19 persons were confirmed at Lone Tree, and on May 4, 1877, a class of 30 was confirmed at Wood River.

Signed--Rev. J. M. Ryan, Rector Missionis.


A Holy Mission was preached at St. John's, Columbus, by Jesuit Fathers of Chicago, Sept. 3-10, 1879.


Rev. James Mary Ryan, or "Ole' Cap. Ryan", also known as "The Chaplain of the Union Pacific Railroad", was a native of the Emerald Isle, which has given so many priests to the church of God. He first saw the light in 1821. James labored in England from 1841 to 1848. He seems, however, to have felt a call to the priesthood and about 1848, he came to the diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After teaching school for some time, he continued his studies at Notre Dame, Indiana, for three years, and at St. Mary's of the Lake University, at Chicago, 1852-1853; also at the Benedictine College at Atchison, Kansas. For a time he kept a store at Chicago, to earn the money needed to complete his studies for the priesthood. The late Father Fitzgerald told how Father Ryan, when called by the Rt. Rev. J. O'Gorman, D. D., in May, 1860, brought along a large sum of money ($4,000) to Omaha and deposited it in a bank. But when he wanted to draw the interest, he was refused, because he had not mentioned the fact of making a time deposit. J. M. Ryan was raised to the dignity of the priesthood on July 19, 1860, before the usual course of studies had been completed, as happened often enough in pioneer days, when the death of priests in the Lord's Vineyard made early ordinations imperative.


"My first mission was around Omaha and Council Bluffs for a few months," he writes in answer to the Rt. Rev. Bishop's questionaire (sic) (dated April 5, 1879). "I was then given charge of St. John's, (Franklin now Jackson), near Sioux City, Iowa-and around it-also Dakota Territory-west and all missions to Fort Randall, St. Helena, in fact all to the vicinity of Omaha. As there was no other priest in the state outside of Omaha, I had a scattered life for five years. In the year 1866, at my own request, I was transferred to Columbus, arriving there October 6, 1866", while the Rev. Phillip J. Erlach remained pastor till December 10, 1866. The entries in the Baptismal Record of St. John's parish at Columbus by Father Ryan begin with December 23, 1866. For one year, his territory extended along the railroad from the Elkhorn river near Omaha to Julesburg, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, the priest following generally the railroad workers' camps along the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1867 his territory was cut down and a priest, the Rev. Wm. Kelley, was sent to Cheyenne. When this was done, Father Ryan, according to Rt. Rev. Msgr. M. A. Colaneri, protested that his parish was being ruined. Great were the hardships of those days. Fr. J. Ryan visited his scattered flock on the hand car propelled by section men, on a buggy, on horseback, by railroad and on foot, as the case might be. Many a time he slept in sod-houses, in section houses, in railroad workers' or Indian


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camps or on the open prairie. On one occasion he baptized a baby on the train between Columbus and Grand Island. Father Ryan also at times attended St. Patrick's, Shell Creek, and was once called up to Battle Creek.


When the pay-car came, Father Ryan also put in his appearance and wanted his share, which might otherwise be spent largely on liquor, or in gambling. Some interesting anecdotes are told. On one occasion when he was collecting from the railroad men, one who worked on a higher ledge shouted at his comrades not to give the priest anything; "Let him make an honest living like other folks." The ire of the Irishman was up at once, and Fr. Ryan rolled up his sleeves, saying: "I never give and I never take any sauce," and something might have happened, had not the foreman ordered the offender to keep his peace. On another occasion, Fr. Ryan came to a Fort to collect from the officers and men. The officers were gambling in another room. The priest went in and asked one of the higher officers: "What will you give today?" The person queried, pointed to a pile of money on the table, saying: "If I win this, you can have it." He did win and Fr. Ryan pocketed the whole amount. If the good pioneer priest had one fault, it was a certain weakness for collecting money.

Of his great strength--Fr. Ryan was a tall, sturdy man--the late Fr. Fitzgerald tells us the following: On one occasion, the Bishop and Fr. Ryan were driving to a certain town. After riding up the hill, they found an awfully steep descent. The Bishop thought it impossible to go down such a grade and proposed to go back to take a longer route. Not so Fr. Ryan. Giving the reins to the prelate, he got out and with his body supported the horses, going down the steep hill and saved a circuitous route of many miles. On another occasion, Fr. Ryan had failed to get a new railroad pass. When the conductor came around to collect the fare, he informed the sturdy Irish priest that he must pay cash since his pass of the past year was invalid. Father Ryan retorted: "What, I, the chaplain of the U. P. R. R. pay fare? I never did and I never will." The conductor then threatened to put his Reverence off the train. Father Ryan, big and strong, rolled up his sleeves and dared the conductor to do it. The priest rode without paying.

Father Ryan, having so many missions to attend, it would happen that people called at Columbus in vain and had to return several times. Thus Mr. John Kyle from near Duncan had come already two or three times to have his daughter Marie baptized. He was

now asked, why he did not bring the sponsors along. The reply was that he had called several times and could not be expected to bring the sponsors along each time. Thereupon Father Ryan acted as sponsor, while the assistant baptized the child.


The number of Catholics at Columbus was not very large and the second church erected by Fr. William Kelly (as far as we could ascertain), though having only two windows, was sufficient for a number of years. When the Franciscans came, the pioneer pastor had to make more improvements and, in 1879 or 1881, he enlarged and brick-veneered his little church. A mission was given by some eloquent Jesuit Father from Chicago in 1880. Father Ryan also commemorated the silver jubilee of his ordination, probably in July, 1886.

The Franciscans at first seemed to be welcome, but soon Fr. J. Ryan felt that the people were attracted to them and he sought to keep the people away from "The Pettycoats". One time Father Ambrose was sitting at the depot, waiting for a train, when along came a drummer, who curiously eyed the Franciscan in his habit and came to Fr. Ryan to ask him, "Who is that strangely dressed man?" Fr. Ryan bantered him: "What, a man traveling up and down the road so many years and you do not know who that man is?" "Well, who is it?" retorted the drummer. Father Ryan, laughing heartily, said: "Why don't you know Sitting Bull?" The drummer eyed Fr. Ambrose again. 'He wears beads, but I did not know that these heathen Indians also wear a crucifix."


Gradually the strenuous labors in the missions as well as old age made themselves felt. Also prompt service and the splendor of divine worship at St. Bonaventures attracted a number of Irish people to the Franciscan Church, though, it was primarily intended for the Germans and Poles. Hence the number of Irish parishioners at Columbus itself, never too numerous, probably thirty or forty families at best, dwindled more and more and the Rt. Rev. Bishop at last combined St. John's and St. Bonaventure's parishes. But Fr. Ryan refused to accede to the regulation and kept on residing at Columbus. He had established his residence for some time east of the church, then some blocks from the church; finally he purchased a residence east of the Grand Pacific Hotel. At last (1893 or 1894) a year or two according to some, or a few months before his death,


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according to others, Father Ryan retired to St. Joseph's Hospital at Omaha and passed away soon after.


(From the Omaha Bee, March, 1894).

"Preparations for the Easter services at St. Philomena's Cathedral were marred sadly by death, Saturday night. Rev. Father Ryan, who was to act as deacon of honor at the early mass, was suddenly stricken and his spirit passed away a few hours before dawn of Easter morning. The Rt. Rev. Bishop Scannell, Father Regan, Mathery, Glauber and Rev. Mr. Johnson met at the Cathedral residence Saturday evening, to remain over night, as is customary, preceding early high mass. Father Ryan appeared in good health and spirits and noticeably entertaining, recalling and relating incidents of pioneer missionary life in Nebraska. At about eleven o'clock, he suddenly left the room, where he was conversing with Bishop Scannell. Returning a few minutes later, he was complaining of feeling unwell. A severe attack of chills set in. Remedies were applied and a doctor was called. All efforts to check the approach of death were futile. At 2:30 a. m. Father Ryan passed away surrounded by his fellow laborers in the Lord's Vineyard."

Fr. Ryan was about 72 or 73 years old. The obsequies were held from St. Philomena's Cathedral and interment was in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery.


Physically a tall man and robust, he did valuable missionary work in those pioneer days, while as resident pastor he was less successful. His classical education had been defective and he was unable to recite the Latin Breviary. When the Bishop insisted that, he, too, must recite the Devine Office like other priests, Father Ryan, holding up his rosary replied: "That has done for me so far, and will also take me up there," pointing to heaven. But the Prelate insisted and directed Father Ryan to stay in Omaha for some time and to take instructions from the Jesuit Fathers and from the late Father John Mueller, to learn the recitation of the Breviary. "Father Ryan's language was that of the rude pioneers among whom he lived and labored. He had to speak to them in the uncouth way of theirs to be understood, Tradition says that he drove home many a truth to them quite forcibly and in a few words without much effort to polish or tone down his discourse. His listeners never mistook the meaning of his words." Thus at Clarks, when he was about to baptize two converts, he motioned to them back in the chapel or room and shouted: 'Come here, Mr. Stone and Mr. N. N., that I may drive the divil out of you." And that a case of a married man with a family!


The True Voice of Omaha (February 18, 1921), writes about Father P. Lynch:

"The little band of priests in Nebraska whose years of service date back to pioneer days, is pitifully small. Only three or four priests are now left in the state, who labored here in the seventies of the last century. One by one they drop from view as the last summons calls them from the scene of their earthly labors. A member of that devoted little band passed away last week when Father Lynch of Wood River answered the final call. He was the last survivor of the band of priests who labored under Bishop O'Gorman, the first Vicar Apostolic of Nebraska. He came to the Vicariate of Nebraska forty-seven years ago, and at the time of his death he was the oldest priest in the state in point of service.

"When Father Lynch began his labors in Nebraska, under the late Bishop O'Gorman, the Vicariate included all of Nebraska and Wyoming and parts of Dakota and Montana (Sioux City and Council Bluffs being attended by Nebraska priests). The work of development had just begun. New parishes were being founded to care for the increasing population. It was Father Lynch's work to break ground for parishes at Grand Island, North Platte, Plattsmouth and Wood River. He endured the inconveniences and hardships of pioneer days and he did his work well wherever he was sent. His simple earnest piety and kindly manner won him friends in every community he visited. He was a true priest of God, and he was recognized as such by all who knew him.

"For the past thirty-six years Father Lynch was pastor of Wood River. In the first years of the parish, this meant strenuous labor. In later years the position was one that allowed some respite from toil. But Father Lynch was always faithful to parish duties under every condition. His name will be held in loving memory by the pioneer companions of his early labors, and in the parish of Wood River, where he labored so long and so well, his memory will be in benediction. May God grant eternal rest to his soul!"

NB.: Father Lynch had been assistant to Rev. J. Ryan at Columbus.


Fr. Gannon, in the Special Edition (Dec., 1928) of "The True Voice", says of them: "The pioneer priests of early Nebraska were men of


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strong character and indomitable will. In the face of many discouragements they went forward and built better than they knew. The early settlers of Nebraska were for the most part poor. With them their priests endured hardships and privations as the ordinary condition of existence. In times of crop failure and in times of the grasshopper visitation of the seventies they literally starved with their people. They have left a heritage of vigorous faith in this section that is full of promise for the future. Religion today in Nebraska is flourishing. Seventy years ago it was but a puny plant in the wilderness. The growth and prosperity today is due to a large extent to the labors and sacrifices of our pioneer priests. To them let credit and honor be given."


We must not forget to mention that the rogatory process for the beatification of a daughter of St. Francis of the Second Order has been begun, we speak of Mother Mary Magdalen Bentivoglio, who founded the Poor Clare monastery at Omaha and was the first superior for many years. She was born of a noble Roman family in 1834, joined the Poor Clares at Rome in 1864, a year after her Sister Constance, was sent with her Sister in 1875, when the Italian government began to persecute the religious, by the Franciscan general to the United States, to establish the Poor Clares there. They landed in New York in August and attempted a foundation at Cleveland, where they were joined by Poor Clares from Holland, respectively from Germany. The two Sisters Bentivoglio left Cleveland and made several more attempts to establish their order. Being a contemplative order, many Bishops did not favor the idea. Finally the Rt. Rev. Vicar Apostolic James O'Connor invited them into his vicariate that they might pray for those, who do not pray or not sufficiently. This was in 1878. The first home was on Seventeenth and Burt Streets. Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Creighton erected a new monastery for them in 1880; but in May it was badly damaged and in June following, when just finished, totally destroyed by another windstorm. Mr. Creighton then had the present monastery erected. In 1881 the nuns moved into their new home. Mother Mary Magdalen was elected the first superior and reelected abbess repeatedly. In 1885 she left Omaha for eight months, to establish a foundation of her order at New Orleans. In 1897 she went to Evanston, to found another monastery for Poor Clares. There she passed away August 18, 1905.

During her life Mother Mary Magdalen was distinguished for her prudence and zeal, her constancy under trials and great difficulties and her unfailing trust in God. As early as 1911 the diocesan authorities of Indianapolis, Indiana, were petitioned to inquire into her heroic sanctity. But only in 1928 was her cause actively taken up by the appointment of the Very Rev. Albert Kleber, O. S. B., of St. Meinrad, Indiana, as Vice Postulator by the Very Rev. G. Santarelli, Postulator General of the Franciscan Order for causes of beatification and canonization. On June 25, 1929, the cause was opened at Omaha, with Very Rev. James Stenson, V. General, Joseph Boshek, of Crofton, and Rev. P. W. Burke, of Gretna, as judges, and Rev. O. C. Gannon as Promoter of the Faith (popularly styled the Devil's Advocate).


In 1854, according to Bishop Miege's report to the "Catholic Almanac and Laity Directory," the Catholic population scattered over the upper country now called Nebraska, did not fall short of 3,000. "It is our earnest wish to visit the Indian villages, forts and trading posts as soon as possible." In the following year he visited Omaha and Nebraska City, to see what prospects there were for Catholic missions. Rev. John Cavanaugh, pastor of St. Mary's, Omaha, in October, 1856, also attended Nebraska City in November of that year. In August, 1857, the famous Augustine Wirth, O. S. B., officiated at Omaha and Nebraska City, and again, in March, 1858. Rev. Hugh Kenny had charge in August, 1858, to November 30, 1858, at Nebraska City. The Benedictines of (Doniphan) Atchison, Kansas, were the first priests to make regular visits. Fr. Francis Cannon, O. S. B., ordained 1858, after attending from Omaha, the missions of Plattsmouth and Nebraska City, until May, 1859, when the Bishop O'Gorman arrived at Omaha, retired to Nebraska City and attended Falls City, Brownsville, Plattsmouth and Rulo till 1859. His successors were Fathers Casimir Seitz, O. S. B., and Phillip Vogg, O. S. B. The latter, in fall 1860, made Nebraska City his headquarters and began to erect St. Benedict's brick church on Kearney Heights. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop J. O. O'Gorman in September, 1860. On July 10, 1861, Fr. Emmanuel Hartig, O. S. B., succeeded him. He completed the church, attended the existing missions including Dawson's Mill and founded new ones at Tecumseh, Palmyra, Salt Creek (now Lincoln), Aspinwall, Douglas, Elwood, Turkey Creek (now Steinauer), Auburn and Arago. Since 1861 the pastors of Columbus, A. Fourmont, P. J. Erlach, Wm. Kelly and J. M. Ryan,


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(1) Cathedral of St. Teresa, Lincoln; (2) Episcopal residence, Lincoln; (3) St. Thomas' Orphanage, Lincoln; (4) The Bonacum Institute, to be erected at Lincoln; (5) Very Rev. M. A. Shine, Priest-Historian; (6) Sacred Heart Church, Shelby, Polk Co., Nebraska; (7) St. Mary Magdalene's Church, Omaha; (0) St. Mary's Church, Grand Island; (5) Rev. Nicholas Wegener, Vice-Chancellor of Omaha Diocese; (10) Rev. Jos. H. Ostdick. School Director for the Diocese of Omaha; (11) Very Rev. James Stenson, V. G. of The Omaha Diocese; (12) Good Shepherd Convent, Fortieth and Jackson, Omaha; (13) Rev. M. Gluba, pastor of St. Francis of Assissi Church, South Omaha.


John Creighton, Benefactor
of St. Bonaventure's

occasionally visited Ft. Kearney and Cottonwood Springs, south of the Platte river. Fr. Emmanuel Hartig, O. S. B., of Nebraska City, was the first priest to attend the Catholics at Lincoln. On August 18, 1861, he baptized in the Salt Creek vicinity, Catherine McDonald and Mary Dee. In 1863, Fr. Fourmont was stationed at Rulo, where he tried to erect a basilica, but when the same was up to the watertable, he could not pay the workmen and was dismissed by the Bishop and soon after returned to France. In fall, 1863, Fr. John Daxacher was stationed at Plattsmouth in charge of the neighboring missions. Fr. Kelly succeeded Fr. Fourmont at Rulo and erected a frame church. In April, 1867, Fr. Fred Uhing took up his residence at Arago. In 1868, Fr. Lonergan, of Fremont, established missions at Mead and Sand Creek in Saunders county.

About twenty years before Lincoln was chosen as the site for the new capitol of Nebraska Territory, the vicinity began to be settled and the number of settlers increased every year. Among them were the following Catholics: James Moran, John Dee, Michael Shea, Daniel Harrington, Patrick Harrington, Michael McDonald, Jere Dee, Edward Galvin and Denis Dowd, Austin Riley and Robert McDivitt. When the site for the capitol had been chosen, many flocked thither, also Catholics.

In March, 1865, Mr. James Moran of Salt Creek (Havelock), rode on horseback fifty miles to Omaha, and again fifty miles to Nebraska City, to get a priest for his sick wife, and Fr. Emmanuel Hartig came along on horseback, as there were no railroads in those days. Mass was said next day at Mr. Moran's home and all Catholics within a radius of many miles were notified and those, who were able, attended. A son of Mr. Moran was baptized on this occasion. It is also claimed that Fathers Cannon, Wm. Kelly, etc., visited from Omaha and said Mass. Henceforth Father Hartig came about twice a year and celebrated the Holy Mass at the house of Mrs. Bliss (Ashland), Denis Dowd, John Dee, R. McDivitt, Harrington Bros. and other pioneers.


In 1867 Governor Butler called Fr. Hartig to Lincoln and let him choose three lots (7, 8 and 9 in block 63), at the corner of Thirteenth and M Streets. The first Mass in Lincoln proper, for the Catholics working on the basement of the capitol, was said at the house of John Daly, a blacksmith. His home was near the corner


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of Ninth and S Streets. When funds were on hand, Messrs. James Moran of Salt Creek and Thomas Malloy of Lincoln were appointed a building committee. The lumber was hauled from Nebraska City by ox-teams. The frame church cost about $1,000. Fr. Emmanuel attended Lincoln about once a month until August, 1868. His successors at Lincoln were Fr. Permine Koumly, O. S. B., till February, 1869, and Rev. Michael Hofmayer, O. S. B., who was the first resident pastor and opened the first church register at the capitol city. He also enlarged the church by thirty feet.


Rev. Emmanuel Hartig, O. S. B., was a native of Inchenhofen, Bavaria. His birth occurred on May 1, 1830. His parents were the well-to-do Thomas and Afra Hartig. He received his collegiate training at Munich, came to the United States in September, 1855, continued his studies at St. Vincent's Abbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and since January 6, 1858, at Atchison, Kansas. The Rt. Rev. Vicar Apostolic J. B. Miege raised him to the dignity of the priesthood September 21, 1860. He taught at St. Vincent's College, Atchison, and attended several outlying missions. In July, 1861, he was sent by his prior, the Rev. Augustine Wirth, to Nebraska City, Nebraska, to complete St. Benedict's church (the second brick church in Nebraska), which he did, working like a carpenter, etc. This church had been begun by the Rev. Phillip Vogg, O. S. B., in 1860, and the cornerstone had been laid by Bishop O'Gorman in September of the same year. Besides attending Nebraska City, Fr. Hartig had the care of all the Catholics of Nebraska living south of the Platte river. His many long and wearisome missionary trips he made on horseback in all kinds of weather. From August 5, 1861-December 1, 1861, he visited Plattsmouth, Bellevue, Peru, Salt Creek (now Havelock), Yankee Creek (Johnson County), Turkey Creek (now Steinauer), Forest City (now Gretna), Rulo and Brownville. He continued to visit these places occasionally or also (as they sprang up) Arago, Aspinwall, Auburn, Douglas, Ellwood, Palmyra and Tecumseh, besides making many missionary trips into Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. His breviary once saved "the black gown" from death at the hands of howling Indians. He was arrested as a spy first by Federal soldiers and then by Confederates, but freed, when they found him to be a missionary priest. In 1867 he selected three lots in Lincoln (on the corner of 13th and M Streets. On these donated lots a church 30x50 feet was erected. During its construction Fr. Emmanuel.. celebrated Mass in the home of John Daly, which stood on the present site of the Union Depot. In 1869 Lincoln received a resident pastor. He also built churches in Plattsmouth, 1864; Tecumseh, 1870; Palmyra, 1874; Watson, Missouri, 1878; and Straub's settlement, 1885. From 1875 to 1881 Fr. Emmanuel Hartig labored at Seneca, Kansas. He returned to Nebraska City in 1885 and remained until August, 1908, when he retired. Bishop Bonacum, in recognition of his great services, had appointed him Vicar General of the diocese and Dean of Nebraska City.

REV. WM. KELLY, 1871

In 1871 Fr. Wm. Kelly became pastor of Lincoln and also attended the railroad construction gangs westward on the Burlington railroad. He established the missions at Crete, Exeter, Sutton and Hastings and visited occasionally Seward, Center (Alverno, near David City), Plattsmouth, Butler, York, Aurora, Ashland, Louisville and Greenwood. As far as records go, Father William Kelly said the first Mass in Butler county in spring, 1871. Fr. Ferdinand Lechleitner, in 1873, became pastor at Crete and founded missions at Fairfield, Fairbury, Red Cloud, Orleans, Lowell, Beatrice, Aurora, and Kenesaw. He stated one time that he built more than 40 churches, small and poor, until something better could be put up.

MAY, 1874-JULY, 1875

He also attended the missions of Greenwood, Seward, Rock Creek, (Davey) Ashland, when ill health compelled his resignation. His successor was Rev. Thos. B. Malloy, who, with Rev. John M. J. Smyth as assistant, attended also the Enterprise, Seward, Alverno, Ulysses and Ashland missions until May, 1876.

Rev. Wm. Byrne was the next pastor of Lincoln, November, 1876, till March, 1879.

Owing to the rapid development of the Catholic Church south of the Platte River, it was deemed advisable to erect a new diocese (23,844 square miles) with the see at Lincoln. This was done on August 21, 1887.


Rt. Rev. Thomas Bonacum was a native of Erin, being born near Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, on January 29, 1847. In his infancy his parents immigrated to St. Louis, Missouri. He made his studies at the Christian Brothers' College, St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Philosophy and Theology he studied at the University of Wuerzburg, Bavaria, where the famous Hergenroether, Dr. Franz Hettinger and Dr. Johann Grimm were, his teachers. His ordina-


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tion to the priesthood occurred on June 18, 1870. For three years he labored at Indian Creek, Monroe County, Missouri, then as pastor at St. Peter's, Kirkwood, and at the Holy Name Church on Grand Avenue, St. Louis. He served as one of the theologians at the council of Baltimore, held in 1884, was appointed to the see of Belleville, Illinois, and when its erection was postponed, he was named first Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. His consecration took place, November 30, 1887, at St. Louis, Missouri.


When the new Bishop took charge, his diocese numbered 29 priests, 29 parishes, 74 missions, 73 churches, 2 academies for young ladies with 197 pupils, 2 parochial schools with 109 pupils, 3 religious orders of women with 24 members and a Catholic population of about 17,000.


Rt. Rev. Msgr. M. A. Colaneri, Chancellor of Omaha Diocese


Rev. Nicholas Horn
West Point, Nebr.


Rev. Joseph Ruesing
and Trustees, West Point

The Bishop set to work at once and in spite of several crop failures and the great financial depression, the diocese made great strides forward. In 1888, an addition was built to the pro-cathedral; St. Francis de Sales parish was organized for German-speaking Catholics; St. Teresa's high school was erected and the Buckstaff residence transformed into the first St. Elizabeth's hospital. In 1893 the Bishop's house was erected in the suburbs of Lincoln. Close by was built St. Thomas' diocesan orphanage and, like St. Elizabeth's hospital, placed in charge of the Franciscan Sisters from Lafayette, Indiana. In 1893 the Cincinnati Franciscan friars were called in to take charge of St. Francis de Sales congregation and St. John Nepomuc's church for the use of the Bohemians was erected and attended at first from Plattsmouth.

Rectors of the Cathedral in the meantime were: Fathers Kennedy, Dunphy, Walsh, Loughran, Fitzgerald, Roche, Nugent, Bradley, Reade and Michael Allen Shine. In 1894 the Catholics acquired the "Church of Christ" property facing the state capitol (14th and K Streets) for $14,000 and remodeled it. It was thereafter known as the Cathedral of St. Mary.

Bishop Bonacum passed away after an attack of pneumonia on February 4, 1911. He was a scholar, a theologian and a zealous worker, but less fortunate in financial and administrative affairs.

THE RT. REV. HENRY TIHEN, D. D., 1911-1917

The successor to the Rt. Rev. Thomas Bonacum in the see of Lincoln was the Rt. Rev. Henry Tihen, a native of Oldenburg, Indiana. He was born July 14, 1861. His education he received at St. Benedict's College, Atchison, Kansas, at St. Francis' Seminary near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and at the Catholic University in Washington, D. C. In 1886 he was raised to the sacerdotal dignity and made assistant at St. John's Church, St. Louis, Missouri. On February 1, 1889, he was appointed pastor of St. Aloysius' pro-cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, and chancellor of the diocese, remaining in this office until 1911. On July 6th, of this year, he was appointed Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska.

On September 18, 1917, Bishop Tihen was appointed to the see of Denver, Colorado. In January, 1931, the aged Bishop resigned and was


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made titular archbishop of Rosanna and remained administrator of the diocese until the appointment of a successor.


Humphrey Democrat, February 9, 1923:

Rt. Rev. Bishop Charles J. O'Reilly died on Sunday, February 4, 1923, at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Lincoln. He became head of the Lincoln diocese in 1919, being transferred in 1918 from the missionary bishopric of Baker City, Eastern Oregon. He succeeded Bishop John Henry Tihen, who was transferred to the Diocese of Denver.


Rt. Rev. Thos. Bonacum, Bishop of Lincoln; Rt. Rev. Chas. O'Reilly. Bishop of Lincoln; Rt. Rev. Hy. Tihen, Bishop of Lincoln.


His Excellency Rt. Rev. F. J.
Beckman, D. D., Bishop of Lincoln


His Excellency Rt. Rev. L. B.
Kucera, Bishop of Lincoln

Born at St. John, New Brunswick, on January 4, 1862, he made his classical studies in St. Joseph's College, Memramcook, New Brunswick, received his degree and soon, with his parents, moved to Portland, Oregon. For some years he was professor in a Catholic college. He completed his higher studies in the Grand Seminary of Montreal, Canada, and was ordained at Portland, Oregon, June 29, 1890. The young priest was given a charge at Tigardville, Oregon. Later on he was promoted to the more important parish of St. Mary's in East Portland. While he was pastor there, he interested himself in temperance and welfare work, gaining distinction as a lecturer. When East Oregon, in 1903, was created a separate diocese, with the see at Baker City, Chas. O'Reilly became its


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first Bishop, in June, 1903, and was consecrated by Archbishop Christie on August 25th, 1903. In recognition of his labors and the esteem in which he was held, he was transferred March 20, 1918, to the diocese of Lincoln. There he devoted his time to developing the Catholic school system. Six new grammar schools were established and ten new parishes were created during his regime. He also introduced the English Capuchins into his diocese and episcopal city. They are in charge of Sacred Heart Church.

RT. REV. F. J. BECKMAN, 1923-1930

His Excellency Most Rev. F. J. L. Beckman was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1875; made his studies at the schools and St. Mary's Seminary there, attended the Universities at Louvain and Rome and obtained the title of Doctor of Divinity.

His ordination to the priesthood occurred on June 20, 1902. After serving as vice-rector of the Provincial Seminary of Mount St. Mary's, of the West, 1908-1913, he was made rector of the institution. On December 23, 1923, he was appointed to the see of Lincoln, Nebraska, and consecrated May 1, 1924. From June 1, 1926, until July 3, 1928, he served as Apostolic Administrator of Omaha. Bishop Beckman is also protector of the Student's Mission Crusade. The founding of the society was in 1918.

After the death of his Excellency, Most Rev. Archbishop J. J. Keane, Bishop Beckman was transferred, January 13, 1930, to the archiepiscopal see of Dubuque, Iowa, and inducted into office May 7, 1930, and received the pallium October 27, 1930.


As the diocese of Lincoln has a strong contingent of Bohemians, the Holy See appointed, in 1930, as the Bishop of that see, the Rev. Louis B. Kucera. He is a native of Minnesota, being born at Wheatland on August 24, 1888. He made his preparatory studies at the Benedictine University, Collegeville, Minnesota, and St. Thomas College at St. Paul, where he was ordained by the Most Rev. Archbishop John Ireland, June 8, 1915. From 1915 till fall, 1916, he served as assistant at Tama, Iowa. Thereupon he was called to Columbia College as professor and disciplinarian. Nine years later he was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Protivin, Howard County, Iowa, as successor to the late Fr. Rudolph Lakomy. Fr. Kucera built the "Rudolphinum" a modern high school of twelve grades, since accredited by the state. "Fr. Kucera is known as a good organizer, a devout priest and a master of languages, and was well beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike". (The Catholic Daily Tribune). Fr. Kucera was consecrated Bishop at Dubuque, October 28, 1930, and installed at Lincoln by the Most Rev. Archbishop of Dubuque. His Excellency Bishop J. Rummel, of Omaha, preached on this solemn occasion at which a number of Archbishops, Bishops, Monsignori and many Priests assisted. The new Bishop has since taken over the direction of the diocesan schools and is laboring quietly but successfully to extend the vineyard of his Divine Master.


Kearney, formerly the see of the present Grand Island Diocese, is situated midway from Boston and San Francisco, about 1733 miles. It covers an area of about four square miles and had a population in 1930 of 8,575. Its altitude is 2,146 feet. Deep wells yield an ample water supply, many improvements attest the civic spirits of its citizens.

The few Catholics of this vicinity, who had settled here since 1865 or 1866, were visited in early days by Fathers A. Fourmont, Wm. Kelly, P. J. Erlach and J. M. Ryan of Columbus, at fairly regular intervals. On March 17, 1867, Fr. Ryan baptized Emily Marks, born October 31, 1866. She was the daughter of J. and Susan Shaw Marks. The sponsors were: M. Moran and B. Mehan. He also baptized Johanna Toblat, born October 15, 1866, Michael and Bridget Casey being the sponsors.

As early as 1876, Mass was said in an old printing shop at Kearney. In 1881, Fr. Boyle erected the first church. The property was conveyed by the South Platte Land Company to the Rt. Rev. J. O'Connor of Omaha. This property was located on Avenue A between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Avenues. In 1883, the pastor built a rectory. In the following year Fr. Hayes acquired new property in the northwest part of town, on Twenty-sixth Avenue. In 1886, the brick rectory adjoining the church, was constructed. In 1905, Fr. P. F. McCarthy acquired the present property. The old Presbyterian church located there was utilized by the Catholics until 1910, when Fr. Haly erected the present St. James church. It is 56x98 feet and seats 600 comfortably. It is built of Avery brick and trimmed with Bedford stone. It was dedicated November 5, 1910, by Rt. Rev. Bishop R. Scannell. The Mass was celebrated by Rev. W, Wolf and the sermon preached by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Keane.

Rev. H. Muenstermann is in charge of the parish since 1911. He erected the beautiful school in 1915. The Dominican Sisters are in


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