Cherry Mound - Established by
Tappist Monks of St. Melleray in 1855 Near Wexford
by Florence A. Clark
The Trappist monks of St. Melleray near Dubuque
had hopes of establishing a monastery at Wexford in
Allamakee county, and in the early 1850's a group
came from the St. Melleray Abbey and built a hall at
Wexford to house the brethren. The venture did not
turn out as they had hoped, and the monks returned to
St. Melleray - all but the Rev. Francis Walsh, who at
his request was dispensed from his monastic vows so
that he might stay and serve the Wexford parish. He
remained at Wexford as priest two years, and then
rejoined the Trappist order.
Father Walsh in 1855 directed the erection of Cherry
Mound church a few miles from Wexford. The pastoral
name St. Pius was given the church, but the parish
had come to be commonly known as Cherry Mound because
of the large number of wild cherry trees growing on
the mound chosen by the pioneers as the site for
their church and cemetery. After 95 years the church
is still "Cherry Mound" church.
The first church was a small frame building with only
rough benches for seats. By 1875 this original
structure had become too small for the growing
congregation, and the present larger one was built. A
novel way was used to dispose of the old church.
Chances were sold on it, and it was raffled off at a
dance and was won by a non-Catholic, who razed it.
The church at Cherry Mound was a mission church until
1891, when it received its first resident pastor. The
church is in Linton township of Allamakee county. the
fine parish house, situated just across the road, is
in Paint Creek township. The white frame church,
rising as it does from a knoll in the heart of a fine
farming section, can be seen from several miles away
by travelers of state highway 13. The present pastor
 is the Rev. Francis Cassidy.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 4, 1950
~transcribed by S. Ferrall
Foundation Remnants Remain of Original St. Pius
by Madonna Storla
The St. Pius parish began in the early 1850's and
no one is sure of the exact date. It is the oldest
Catholic parish in the area except the one located at
Wexford. The first church was made of logs with the
original foundation laid by Louis Manderfield, Peter
Ryder and Mr. Bradshaw. Foundation remnants are still
visible inside the cemetery to the left of the gate.
A large cross was moved from the center of the
cemetery to the old church site where the altar
stood. The foundation is an historical marker and a
stone altar was erected on a concrete slab.
Wooden benches served as pews and Mass was held about
once a month whenever the priest from Wexford was
able to make the trip. This was a 15 mile trek. News
was spread by word of mouth so people would know when
the service would be held. Parishioners walked, rode
horseback or in wagons. The priest came through the
timber on horseback or with an ox team and wagon.
People endured hardships to get to church. They often
crossed streams to get there. Everyone was on an
equal economic basis. They all had log homes which
were located near water supply, and lived on small
farms, usually about 40 acres.
The fathers worked on the railroad or on other jobs.
The mother cared for the crops, the gardens and the
children. When the father came home, he often tried
to improve the farms by clearing more land and
building rail fences. Wood was cut and sold for fuel.
Few Indians inhabited the area, but they were
friendly. Everyone helped each other. Coffins were
made of lumber cut from nearby trees.
The first parish priest was Father Horsfield, and
this was his first parish. The recorded date was
1891. There was no parish house. In 1874 it was
decided that the church was too small to accommodate
the congregation, so a new building was in the
offing. Some wanted to build on highway 13 and some
had a spot 3/4 mile from the cemetery chosen. The
majority ruled and the edifice should be built a few
hundred feet from the site of the old church. Frank
McGeough and his son, Mike, who were stonemasons,
built the wall for the foundation.
Mary Brennan (Mayme) Hart was the first baby baptized
and her name is inscribed on the back of the altar.
The new building was heated by 2 round heating
stoves. Fires were started by someone living close to
the church. Huge chunks of wood provided the fuel.
The stoves got red-hot and sometimes clothing was
scorched when people stood too close to the stove.
Many were not in favor of furnaces, but later on, one
was installed. Money for operating expenses was
raised by raffles, parish dinners, bazaars and other
events which were often held under the shade trees.
There was always an abundance of food and the parish
ladies cooked it all on old cook stoves. Tableware
and dishes were brough to use for the occasions. In
case of rain all was lost.
Popcorn and lemonade were available. Water was hauled
in tanks from the spring to use in cooking and
dishwashing. Horseshoe and other games provided the
entertainment. Seven members of the Cahalan family
provided music for dancing. In later years, 3-day
bazaars were held in the Woodman Hall in Waterville.
Oyster stews were another source of income. the cost
was 40 cents for a quart and the stew sold for 25
cents a bowl. Farmers furnished the milk and butter.
After the arrival of Father Horsfield, plans were
made to build a parish house. People from Pleasant
Ridge in Clayton County came to Cherry Mound across
Yellow River and up through the timber at a distance
of 7 or 8 miles. They came there instead of going to
McGregor because they felt they were not well dressed
enough to go to church in town.
In 1920 when roads were bad, the Waterville people
rode the train to a spot within 3 miles of the
church. After services, they walked back to the train
for a ride home. If they were late, the train waited
In 1958, the Rossville School was purchased and
converted into a hall. It is used for parish
functions as well as other activities. In 1960, the
road between the church and the rectory was rebuilt.
Lawns and a parking lot was made. The church was
redecorated and the furnace replaced in 1960. New
pews were installed and a Celtic cross was put up. In
1961 a kitchen 12X36 was added along with a new water
system. The church recory is located in Paint Creek
while the church is in Linton Township.
The parish was named Cherry Mound because of the vast
number of wild cherry trees near the parish site. It
has been known as Cherry Mound parish ever since.
~Postville Herald, July 23, 1986
~transcribed by S. Ferrall