NEGenWeb Project

Chapter XXIX

St. Boniface Parish, Elgin


By Rev. Father Theo. H. Buelt, pastor.

In the eighties the few Catholic families of the Elgin territory attended divine services at St. Bonaventure's Church, Raeville, Boone County, Nebraska. The Franciscan Fathers came to the Raeville mission at intervals. In 1892 the late Rev. John Mueller was appointed the first resident pastor at Raeville. The Catholic people of Elgin lived at a great distance-ten and fifteen miles and more. Father Mueller, solicitous for the spiritual welfare of his flock, made every effort to assist them in securing a church of their own.

Fr. Mueller, with the encouragement of Monsignor Pape, then of Dyersville, Iowa, and that of the senior members of the present St. Boniface congregation, set about collecting funds for the erection of a new church. In the year 1899 Messrs. Meinolph Meis (surnamed "the Bishop of Elgin" on account of his interest in getting a resident pastor), Jacob Muehl. John Jasper, Frank Ollendick, Anton Geist. John Werning, George Rudolph and Anton Serb carried out the plans of Fr. Mueller. The present block was purchased for the sum of $400 and a small frame church and rectory were built. A year of arduous labor brought them the completion of the little frame church and rectory. On the first day of January, 1902, His Excellency, the Rt. Rev. Richard Scannell, then the Bishop of Omaha, dedicated the church and formally established the parish of Elgin and appointed Fr. Adam Brass, who was then assistant to Fr. Mueller at Raeville, as the first resident pastor at Elgin. In March of the year 1903 he purchased a tract of land consisting of about two acres, three miles north of town. The same was set aside as the resting place for the dead. Having the welfare of the little ones of his flock at heart and knowing the necessity of a Christian education, he made provisions for a school, which was built onto the church in 1904. Regina Schulte, a member of the parish, taught the pupils, as did Miss Guinalda Fangmann, who taught for a year.


On September 11, 1907, the late Rev. Casimir Renner was given charge of the parish. Every effort was made to continue the good work so nobly begun. The parish was extending; Cath-


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olic families were coming in from Dyersville, Remsen and Carroll, Iowa. The school was but a small structure; accommodations were limited. Hence Fr. Renner set about to erect a larger brick structure. The school building was completed in 1908. He invited the Franciscan Sisters of Milwaukee to take charge. Ven. Sr. M. Charity was the first Sister that ever came to Elgin.


What was said of the school was true of the little frame church. It was too small to accommodate the people, particularly at solemnities and at obsequies, when large throngs attended and many were forced to remain outside the church. In 1911 plans were made to build a more commodious and beautiful church. Some were opposed; others by word and deed showed their approval. The plans were made with much diligence and submitted for the Bishop's approval. The noted architect, Mr. Martin Heer, of Dubuque, Iowa, had carefully elaborated and amplified them. On Morch (sic) 15, 1911, the contract for the construction of the new house of God was let to Mr. Anton Kettler, of Omaha, who is rated as a competent and careful builder. In the year 1912 the structure was completed.

Rev. C. Renner passed away July 18, 1924. Rev. Theodore Buelt, a native of Raeville, was now appointed on February 4, 1925, as pastor of St. Boniface's parish, by the Most Rev. J. J. Harty, who urged the new rector to enlarge the school. In June, 1925, the old structure was torn down, with the exception of the exterior walls, and an addition twice the size of the original building was erected. The school at present has an enrollment of more than 200 pupils. The congregation numbers 150 families. In the year 1929 the relatives of the family of N. N. donated a fine tower clock in memory of their deceased husband and father, respectively, thus carrying out the wishes of the departed and adding a valuable ornament to the stately church edifice.

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Chapter XXX

St. Peter and Paul Parish at Krakau


St. Peter and Paul Parish at Krakau (Krakow or Cracow), was founded by the Franciscans in the year 1893. The Rev. Aanastase Czech, O, F. M., who had visited there occasionally, finally undertook the erection of a church.

The original members, to judge from the baptismal records, seem to have been:

1894: Wm. Brown, John Podraza, Vitalis Borowiak, Stanislaus Mrozynski, Jacob Citera, Thomas Murray, Andrew Wojtacek, Stanislaus Szymowicz, John Szotkowski, John Bartusiak, Anton Jarecki, John Czube, Joseph Swalec, Valentine Spis, John Swalik, John Banash, Jan Szpotka, Joseph Knoppig, Frank Joseph Hebda.

1895: Michael Fida, Jedrsey Zaucha, John Augustin, John Dubas, Stanislaus Czuba, Michael Matea, Jacob Kantur, Vitek Borowiak, Stanislaus Augustyn, Jacob Szcsurek, Paul Torczon, Symon Clesorach, Wladeslaus Wojtowicz, Walenty Cuba, Joseph Cubas, Anton Brzces, Kajetan Bertoseck.

St. Peter and Paul's was turned over to the diocese. Rev. J. Augustyn was in charge for some time when the Franciscans of Columbus were again asked to resume its pastorate. Fathers Rembert, Marian and Ladislaus attended it for some years, probably about 1906 to June, 1908. Rev. Edward S. Solowoski has been pastor since and has considerably enlarged the church.

The parochial school was first under the direction of the Franciscan Sisters of Lafayette, Indiana. When these retired, the Resurrection Sisters of Detroit took over the school. There are two classrooms and two teachers for the 32-40 pupils. Sr. M. Josephine is the superior.

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Chapter XXXI

St. Michael's Church, Albion


1876 respectively 1884-1892

The history of St. Michael's church dates back to the year 1876, when Father John Smith celebrated Mass in the Michael Matthews' house on the 19th day of November of that year. Fr. Smith, then assistant to Fr. Ryan at Columbus, attended Albion for about a year. He was then appointed the resident pastor of St. Patrick's, Shell Creek, to which were attached Albion and several other missions. In 1880, Fr. Smith was


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transferred to O'Connor and Fr. J. Flood succeeded him at St. Patrick's, spring, 1880-January, 1884. Fr. J. Flood purchased two lots, one (1) and two (2) in block two (2). in Clarks, Connelly and Stout's Addition to the town of Albion according to the plat and survey of said addition. Having secured a site, Fr. Flood turned his attention to the erection of a frame building (24x40 feet) in 1881. This church cost $700 and was dedicated to the service of God under the invocation of St. Michael, the Archangel.

Among the pioneer parishioners were: Michael Matthews, John Halligan, Patrick Halligan, John O'Neill, Stephen Thomas, John Raleigh, James Burns, Robt. Cunningham, Archie Cunningham, James Toney, Cornelius Deagan and James Tierney.

Fr. J. Flood was, in January, 1884, appointed chaplain of the Poor Clares at Omaha.


In February, 1884, Fr. Boniface Depmann, O, F. M., took charge of St. Patrick's and some of its missions including Albion*. On September 13, 1884, he purchased a plot of ground, consisting of four acres and situated about 1 1/2 miles from the church to serve as a cemetery. The cost was $40.00. On the sixteenth day of February, 1885, he bought four more acres for the church and paid $250 for them. These are lots 1, 2, 3, 4, in block two (2) in Mark's Addition to the Village of Albion. Said addition was on the northwest quarter of section 21, township 20, north, range 6 west.

*Before August 13th, Fr. Boniface purchased 3 lots (66x132 feet) for $80 apiece, i. e., a total of 198x132 feet of ground in front of the church.


Finding the church too small for the ever increasing congregation of St. Michael's-it had grown from 40 to 60 families in two years, 1884-May, 1886--he built an addition to it and lengthened it, so as to arrange behind the altar a large sacristy and a room, besides two rooms upstairs, to serve as a temporary residence for a secular priest, who would soon be needed for Albion and Raeville (with 45 families) combined, and would find it easier to make his living, if he found a temporary residence, as Fr. Boniface writes in a letter to the Rt. Rev. Bishop, dated May 27, 1886. We subjoin another letter of his:

"Columbus, Neb., May 14, 1884.
"Rt. Rev. James O'Connor, D. D.

   "Rt. Rev, and dear Bishop! 

"There was no confirmation in Albion as yet and some people have grown up to married life without being confirmed. Is there any prospect of your getting up to Greeley this summer, so that you might visit Albion on the way? If so, I am anxious to know the time and to prepare for it.

"Having succeeded in paying off the debt of St. Michael's Church, Albion-$207.90, I intend to have the deed of that church as also that of the graveyard which was made in the names of some members of the congregation, made out on your Lordship's name and like to have a formula by which this may be done properly according to law. Please, let me have one.

--P. Boniface D. O, F. M."

In another letter dated Aug. 1, 1884, Fr. Boniface writes to the Rt. Rev. Bishop:

"Very Dear Sir!

"At your request I have inquired for more church property at Albion, Boone County. At present we own there two lots, each 56 feet wide and 132 feet long. Opposite to this property we can get 4 lots 66x132 at about $75.00 each. These lots would be convenient and cheap, but are rather low and wet at rainy seasons.

"Another property, more convenient to our present church and beautifully situated on the hill side, is that of Mr. Mears who lives in a newly built residence next to the church. He owns 4 lots 50x132 each and a piece of road 60x132 presented to him by the town.

"As the immediate neighborhood of our church seems too objectionable to him, he would like to buy our church property or to sell his house (260x132) and ground to us. He wishes to know what your Lordship would take for the one offer or offer for the other.

"Please, answer before Friday, 8th inst.

--Fr. Boniface Depmann, O, S, F."

Rev. Rudolph Horstmann, O, F. M., 1886-1887, was the next pastor of Platte Center and Albion. He was succeeded by the Rev. Ignatius Reinkemeyer who was soon after called to teach at St. Joseph's College, Teutopolis, Illinois.

Rev. Dr. Vitali then took charge of Albion and Raeville. He lived in rooms back of the sanctuary until the spring of 1888. He was then succeeded by the Franciscan P. Anthony Moll until the spring of 1890.


In spring, 1890, Rev. O'Reilly was sent by Bishop O'Connor to Albion. He experienced no little difficulty in organizing the parish and training the people in the discharge of their duties towards their church and pastor. He erected a fine priest's house (28x28) at a cost of $1,600. It is a two-story building and consists of eight rooms. It was no small task to collect this amount of money from a few poor people in a short period of time and clear the pastoral residence of all debt. Father O'Reilly showed the greatest interest in the spiritual and temporal welfare of all the people committed to his care until the day he left the parish.

Rev. O'Donoghue took charge on October 26, 1895. He made some improvements both inside and outside of the church and house and the premises generally. The temporalities of the parish, however, though of the greatest interest to him, were only secondary compared to the interest he manifested towards the spiritual welfare of the people.

Very Rev. J. J. Crowley, dean of the Albion district, is the present pastor.


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(larger view - legible captions)

A Group of Prominent Columbus Men.


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© 2004 for the NEGenWeb Project by Sherri Brakenhoff, Ted & Carole Miller