Carroll County IAGenWeb


A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement



Transcribed and donated by Marilyn Setzler.




The rural community of Carroll county is largely German or of German descent, and this is especially true of the western section, though the pressure is advancing and now but one tier of townships remains, the eastern row, that has not been essentially Germanized. This invasion has been of slow growth, widening out from a nucleus very small and very weak at the outset. In Kniest township, where in the late sixties (1867), Lambert Kniest, from whom the township takes its name, acquired much of the land and became the author of a colonizing project. Mr. Kniest was from Dubuque, in which county the Germans had already acquired a secure foothold and where there was a tendency among the thrifty population toward newer and cheaper lands. Mr. Kniest's enterprise was only partially successful, but the purpose which he had in mind was fruitful, and around the little Catholic mission at Mt. Carmel there grew up a community of sturdy and prosperous farmers, to whose number were added gradually many new families, some from the eastern part of the state, but many more direct from Germany. The Catholic church at Mt. Carmel was for several years the only one in the county, and Carroll had grown to be a place of some pretensions before it was established as a parish and a church erected. During this period the Carroll communicants worshipped at Mt. Cannel, Sic [Carmel] and for a time William Trowbridge operated a hack line to carry back and forth the people to the Sunday services. Besides the church there was little at Mt. Carmel to distinguish the place from the surrounding farms. There was a small country store and blacksmith shop, and its distance from the railroad put out of the question growth in the urban sense of the word; but in spite of this here was planted the seed of the Germanization of Carroll county, which has fructified and flourished abundantly. The frugality of a German citizenship is well known; and it is also well known that where agricultural industry flourishes in its most profitable development the Germans are often found to be responsible for it. They have the patience to strive and wait. As they have prospered and increased the farms of the county have been brought to the highest state of productivity and the farm improvements have grown from buildings that would barely keep out the storms of winter to large and comfortable homes surrounded with barns bursting with fatness. Instead of one little wooden church far from the centers there are now eighteen Catholic churches in Carroll county. The Mt. Carmel congregation worships in a beautiful edifice, surrounded by schools and the other adjuncts and conveniences which distinguish a religious and God loving community. There are other congregations larger and richer, but none of greater zeal or more persistently devoted to their shrine.

When the congregation outgrew the first small wooden building it was converted into a school, in which service it still continues its usefulness. Not so the more pretentious brick structure which was its successor. This building was struck by lightning and burned when nearing completion. Another and even more costly building followed and after serving its purpose for a time this, too, was burned to the ground. Between that time and the erection of the beautiful church which now dominates the upper Storm Creek valley, two other churches suffered a like fate either from lightning or accidental causes. These losses have been unfortunate and heavy, and the superstitious might believe that some evil genius was wreaking its malice on the good people of the parish. But a more rational explanation may be vouchsafed. The site towers high above the country which it commands, and so conspicuous an object is an inviting target for the bolts which accompany the fierce electric storms of summer.

Among the interesting and effective men of Carroll county, one of the most potent is Rev. Joseph Kuemper, who for many years has served as pastor of SS. Peter and Paul's parish at Carroll. His ministrations have endeared him to his congregation and such have been his energy and activity for good that his relations with the non-Catholic people of Carroll county are intimate and have won him as much regard in that quarter as is found among the Catholic element. He is the Nestor of the local clergy and an untiring worker for the church and its ever widening empire.

His influence was largely responsible for the building of St. Anthony's hospital at Carroll as well as the domestic science school, St. Angela's, an institution as commendable as it is original in the department of women's education.
Father Kuemper has written an article on the subject of the Catholic development of Carroll county of which much use is made in the following pages. Himself one of the pioneer priests and a most active agent in this work his contribution will be found full of instruction and interest.

In 1872 Rev. Heimbucher of Mt. Carmel, said the first mass in Carroll in a house belonging to a devout Catholic family. His successor, Rev. John F. Kempker, organized the congregation two years later. He built a small frame church in the third ward and then transferred his residence to Carroll.

The first service in the new church was held in December, 1874, but within a few years it became evident that the space was too limited and half a block was bought by Rev. F. W. Pape, who had become the second resident pastor. He built a new church and was about to provide a parochial residence when, in December, 1879, he was asked by the bishop of Dubuque to organize a new German parish in that city. His successor was Rev. John Urbany, who completed the priest's house, for which the material of the old church was used. He also built a two-story brick school house, the Franciscan sisters from La Crosse, Wisconsin, building a large convent and taking charge of it.

In 1884 Rev. P. J. O'Connor was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Father Urbany. The next year the German speaking members organized a new parish, and built what is now SS. Peter and Paul's church. In 1887 Rev. B. H. Fendrich became its first pastor. He died the 15th of September, 1887. One month later Rev. J. C. Nacke was appointed his successor. During his administration a brick school house was erected in 1889. In September of the same year the school was opened by the above named religious order. Soon all the four rooms had to be used. The congregation grew beyond all expectations, so that in 1898 the church had to be enlarged. Now the rooms of the schools could no longer accommodate all the children, so a fifth room was rented in the convent, in October, 1901, Rev. J. C. Nacke, who had so long presided over the congregation, desired to have a more quiet place. With the consent of the Most Rev. Archbishop Keane, of Dubuque, he exchanged with Rev. Jos. Kuemper, of Sherrill, Iowa. The latter, with the help of his people, doubled the capacity of the school, and moved and enlarged the parochial residence.

In 1903 the Franciscan sisters commenced the erection of St. Anthony's hospital which was opened on the 15th of June, 1905. From the first it enjoyed a large patronage. It occupies a hill from which a fine view can be had from all sides. The scenery is admirable, and the hospital is the pride of the people of Carroll and vicinity, irrespective of creed or nationality. Non-Catholic friends were from the beginning deeply interested, and great praise is due them for the substantial aid they gave the sisters. In the parish work Rev. Kuemper at the time was assisted by Rev. Ed Jangblut. Together they organized a new congregation at Maple River Junction, and the congregation has within the past year completed a fine church building. The new parish is proving a prosperous and growing one. Rev. Jangblut is in charge as priest.

The latest and one of the most praiseworthy of the enterprises of the Franciscan sisters—a fit companion piece for St. Anthony's hospital—is St. Angela's Domestic Science school, the first class of which was graduated in the spring of 1910. The school has its home in a beautiful brick structure, erected at a cost of $100,000, almost a block in length, and consisting of three floors and many rooms. The building is equipped with all kinds of sanitary conveniences and comforts and is neatly and substantially furnished for the use to which it has been consecrated. It is surrounded by pleasant lawns and shrubbery and is within a couple of blocks of both churches, though it is a ward of SS. Peter and Paul's parish. The hospital is near by.

The purpose of the school is exactly what its name indicates—a domestic science school for girls. The course of study covers the subject of cookery in all of its ramifications. Needlework in all of its forms is another of the branches. The students are taught how to care for the sick, how to dress and make their own clothes, how to serve as well as cook, and in fact are led into all of the arts of the home and home life. It is supposed that students who enter these courses have arrived at an age where they have received a good English education, and therefore the academic instruction provided for St. Angela's has not been made important. It has a department devoted to art, and another to music, where these branches are taught very thoroughly. It has also a business department for young women, where instruction is given in stenography and typewriting, but these departments are subsidiary to the main purpose of the school, which is to teach young women the science of taking care of a home with an intelligent understanding of all of the principles and reasons connected with a domestic establishment. Thus, food values and dietetics are carefully taught along with the chemistry of cookery. The girls practice as well as study the science. An understanding of the simpler remedies and sanitary precautions in taking care of the sick is drilled into the students, and it goes without saying that the graduates of St. Angela's are finished products in all of the intimate and useful services of the home.

The school was undertaken as an experiment. The course is two years, and this possibly at some future time may be extended to three years. No effort has been made by any other school anywhere in America or Europe to specialize in a single branch of a young woman's education in so prolonged a course of study. Other schools have gone no further than to make domestic science a part of their curriculum. Here it is the whole purpose, and in this respect the school is experimental. While it is not claimed by the sisters in charge that the experiment is the success they hope to have it become in later years, it has, now, after less than two years of operation, all of the students that can be comfortably accommodated. They have realized, however, that there is a demand for such an institution and they have ambitious dreams for its future.

When the German speaking Catholics of Carroll organized SS. Peter and Paul's congregation, the English speaking Catholics continued at the old stand, presided over as before by Rev. P. J. O'Connor. In 1892 he built the present stone church, a most beautiful and substantial structure. After eighteen years of hard work Father O'Connor was offered by the archbishop of Dubuque the important St. Joseph's parish in Sioux City. When Father O'Connor accepted, Rev. T. Tracy came to Carroll from Sioux City. After a few months the latter exchanged with Rev. P. J. Farrelly, dean of Sheldon, who is now the zealous pastor of the good people of St. Joseph parish.
 In 1863 Mr. Lambert Kniest and Mr. Henry Baumhover came from Dubuque, Iowa, to commence a settlement of what is now Kniest township, Carroll county. In the following spring a number of settlers arrived among whom were Messrs. Kleiner, Gundermann, Roth, Gietz, Pudenz, Frank and Anthony Heim, Bruch, Neumeier, Koelker, Ludwig, Timmerman, Goecke, Riecke and Vonnahme. During the summer a small frame house was built. On July 18th the first mass was celebrated by Rev. Heimbucher, the first resident priest who came to Mt. Carmel, as the new village was called, from Lyons, Iowa. Mr. Christ Loeffelholz served mass, and acted as sacristan for several years.

When Father Heimbucher was removed, Father John F. Kempker took his place, but remained only a short time before taking charge of the new congregation at Carroll. Father John Fendrich succeeded him at Mt. Carmel and administered to the spiritual wants of the growing congregation until 1879. The next year Rev. John Anler, Father Fendrich's successor built a new church of brick, which, however was destroyed by fire May 26, 1883, but was rebuilt the same year.

In September 1887, Rev. Anler was appointed pastor of the congregation at Stacyville, and Rev. Ignatius Rottler came to Mt. Carmel from Sherrill, Dubuque county. During the year 1892 the spire was struck by lightning and the church burned, but, fortunately, was insured for $13,000, which was promptly paid by the several insurance companies; thus the church could be at once rebuilt. When Father Rottler was compelled to resign on account of ill health he was replaced by Rev. G. Luersmann in the year 1892. He finished the new church which is an ornament to Western Iowa. In the year 1898 Father Luersmann erected a parochial residence, having given the former priest's house to the sisters in charge of the parochial school. In 1902 Father Luersmann was appointed to the parish of Breda, and Father Fred Huessmann, of Odebolt, took charge at Mt. Carmel, where he is still the efficient pastor.

Roselle township was settled soon after the first pioneers came to Mt. Cannel, Kniest township. The land on which now stands the village of Roselle was owned by Mr. Hill. Here the stage carrying the United States mail between Boone and Crawford counties had a small post station, Hillsdale, until 1875, when the present name was adopted. The place was occasionally visited by Rev. Heimbucher, then stationed at Mt. Carmel, and, in 1873, when he was succeeded by Rev. John Kempker, the latter attended to the spiritual wants of the people in and around Roselle. In 1875, the frame church was built. Later Rev. F. W. Pape attended the place from Carroll until 1877, when in the person of Rev. Theo. Wegmann, the first resident priest was appointed. The first year he lived in the sacristy, but a year later he was able to move into a new house which the people had erected for their priest. After the death of Father Wegmann, the present pastor, Rev. Ulrich Frey, took charge of the congregation. Under his administration wonderful progress has been made, he at once building a two story brick school and sister house. In 1900 the parochial residence was remodeled and enlarged, and in the spring of 1903 the foundation was laid for a new and substantial church. Two years later the present magnificent temple was dedicated by Bishop Garrigan of Sioux City.

The congregation at Willey, Pleasant Valley township, dates from the year 1882, when Michael Wurzer, Joseph Petersmeyer, and George Balk were especially active in promoting the building of the church. Pastor Werner and Michael Wurzer donated 5 acres each, the church being built on Mr. Werner's land. Until the fall of 1886 Rev. Wegmann, of Roselle, attended to the spiritual wants of the new congregation, as yet too small for a resident priest. In the summer of that year, however, a parochial residence was built and a young priest, Rev. J. P. Hoffman, came to Willey as the first resident priest. The next year Rev. John H. Gahling Sic [Gehling]was sent to take charge of the new parish, Rev. J. P. Hoffman having been transferred to another charge. This zealous priest administered to the wants of the people for fourteen years. Within one year a school was built, which soon flourished under the charge of the Franciscan sisters of La Crosse, Wis. In 1890 an addition became necessary and soon four sisters were occupied with the Christian education of the children. The growing congregation required two successive additions to the church. In 1896 Rev. Gehling sold the five acres donated by Michael Wurzer and bought another five acres adjacent to the property used for the parochial buildings and the cemetery. A chapel in the cemetery was built by the pastor's own hand.

When the pastor left this parish for other fields of labor, in 1901, there were no debts and over $100 in the treasury. For two years Rev. N. Ruemmele continued the work of Rev. Gehling, when Rev. John Hinzlmeier took charge, and in 1904 added to the priest's house. In Willey parish the work of improvement has been carried far. Something over a year ago a costly and commodious brick church was dedicated, the spire of which is the prominent object in the country for miles around. The schools and other accessories of the congregation are of the most extensive and convenient character.

In the year 1877 the North-Western railroad built a northern branch to Mapleton. Mr. Hall, the superintendent, who with his men boarded at the home of John LeDuc, and named the first station Breda, at the suggestion of Mrs. LeDuc, and the little station soon became a town. In 1879 Rev. Wm. Pape, then a resident priest at Carroll, helped to organize a congregation and under his direction the first church was erected, in which he held occasional services.

In the beginning of the year 1880 Rev. J. Norton became the first resident priest. In August of that year the first marriage was solemnized, being that of Frank Lancaster, of Virginia, to Rosa Carey, of Michigan. The first couple of the parish to be married were A. Stork and Theresia Lengeling. The first child baptism was that of Mathilda M. Jacobi, of Odebolt, in the year 1880. The next child baptized was from the parish being John F. Knobbe. In 1882 Rev. Norton was succeeded by Rev. Conrad Schulte, who was the faithful pastor of Breda until 1897. In 1886 he built the parochial residence and in 1888 a fine brick church. The corner stone was laid June 17 and on Christmas day the first service was held in the new church. From this time the old church was held for school purposes. After the death of Rev. Schulte, Rev. John Anler became pastor, and was to erect a brick school when he was given another charge. Rev. G. Leursmann was his successor and is still at the head of St. Bernard parish. The proposed school was built in 1893, and the next year the old frame church built in 1879, was moved and fitted up as a convent for the Franciscan sisters, who were in charge of the school. The new brick school was the pride of the congregation and deserves special mention.

In the spring of 1883 Right Rev. Bishop John Hennessy, of Dubuque, Iowa, commissioned the pastor of St. Joseph church, at State Center, Iowa, Rev. B. A. Schulte, to visit from time to time the new towns established in Carroll county, Iowa, along the recently built line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, viz: Templeton, Manning, Coon Rapids and Dedham, with a nucleus of about three dozen families, scattered in Eden, Roselle and Warren townships. A new parish was founded in Templeton, and holy mass was said or sung at monthly intervals on Sundays in a hall above the hardware store of Messrs. Conrad and Frank Meis (later on owned by Messrs. Seyller & Shoemaker), and a number of times in a large room on the second floor of the Anderson house, known later as the Templeton house. In November of the same year a frame church building, 36x65 feet, which had been put up by the members of the Roselle parish on the farm of John Schlichte (about three miles northwest of Templeton, directly across the road from the Jos. Drees residence), was by general consent taken down in sections and moved to Templeton, where a small addition for sanctuary and sacristy was built to it, and thus it had to serve for a number of years as the parish church of the newly formed congregation, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Shortly after Easter, in April, 1884, Rev. Bern Aloys Schulte was transferred to Templeton, where he took up quarters in the Anderson house until the new parochial residence was finished, some time in the fall. The reverend pastor continued to visit his former charge at State Center, and the two out-missions—Haverhill, in Marshall county, and Guibelt Station, Story county (ten miles north of Ames)—until relieved by a successor in September of the current year. Under the supervision and direction of the pastor of Templeton the new church was also built in Coon Rapids in 1884, likewise in Dedham, under the same management. Lots were procured and a new church was built in the spring of 1892 and dedicated on the 17th day of August as St. Joseph's church. Manning was attended from Templeton since 1883, and divine service was held in different private residences, such as that of Mathias Hoffman, Nic Schling, and J. Martin. In July, 1885, arrangements were made to build a new church there also, when later on in the year, or in the beginning of 1886, Rev. P. J. O'Connor, of Carroll, assumed charge and continued the good work. Meanwhile the Sacred Heart parish in Templeton progressed and increased with remarkable prosperity, and early in 1889 a substantial parochial building of brick and stone, 74x40, two-story and basement, was erected.

From the beginning the sacristy and the enclosed space under the gallery of the church had served as school room so that in 1898 it became urgently necessary either to extend the old church, as some desired, or to build a new one with sufficient capacity to accommodate the faithful, numbering over one hundred and thirty families. After the pastor's trip to the Holy Land and Europe it was decided to build a new church, and definite preparations were made so as to start work early in the spring of 1900.

In November that same year a new Sacred Heart church was created in Gothic design and cathedral-like proportions, 136x57 feet, with central transept and transverse facade, and one lofty central spire 170 feet and four flanking towers about 70 feet high.

The Sacred Heart cemetery is situated very appropriately on a high elevation nearly one-half mile south of the church and in such a manner as to form a T-shaped cross with the "avenue" leading up to the same from the church, the cemetery being the transverse beam and the avenue, lined all the way along on both sides with thrifty apple trees. In the center of this cemetery on a rising knoll is placed a grand crucifixion group, sculptured out of three solid blocks of limestone, leaving the cross with the body of the Savior more than 18 feet high above the rock pedestals while the statues of St. John the Disciple and the Sorrowful Mother are of proportionate size. This truly artistic work executed by a St. Louis firm, is valued at $1,500. The aggregate valuation of the Catholic church property in Templeton may be fairly considered to amount to from $80,000 to $90,000, or well nigh $100,000, all circumstances taken into account.

St. Augustine parish, Halbur, was organized with fifty-two families, under the charge of the present pastor, the Rev. Father John B. Baumler. The parish of St. Augustine formerly belonged almost exclusively to the parish of Roselle. The latter extended some miles west of Halbur and so a division of the Roselle parish had been desired for years by the people of that territory. When Archbishop Keane came to Dubuque he granted the request of the people and made a division and consequently a new parish at Halbur was created. The archbishop appointed Rev. John B. Baumler, then assistant at St. Joseph's church, at LeMars, Ia., to establish the new parish at Halbur.

The present church property of eight acres was bought at once for $1,066. The parochial school and parsonage were built the same year. The school, a two-story building, cost $4,400, and the parsonage $3,350. The upper story of the school was used as a church for three years until the new church was completed.
In the year 1904, a new brick church was built, costing $13,900. St Augustine parish is the youngest parish with a resident priest in Carroll county, save Maple River Junction.

The new members of the parish have put up the three parochial buildings within three years and four months. The parochial school has an attendance of 114 pupils, who are in charge of the Franciscan sisters, of LaCrosse, Wis.

Rev. Father Baumler was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1867, came to America and made his studies at St. Joseph's College, Dubuque, and St. Francis Seminary, near Milwaukee, where he was ordained, in June. 1897.
One of the first Catholic pioneers coming to St. John's parish, Arcadia, then named Tip Top, was Mr. Frank Happe, who settled on a farm about one mile west of the place, in February, 1872. In the fall of the same year arrived Henry Lampman, Phil Hense and Dennis Fee. The two former opened up the first store, and the latter bought and made his home on a farm in Wheatland township, five miles northeast of the town, which about this time was laid out and called Arcadia, by I. N. Voris, owner of several adjoining sections.

In March, 1873, several German Catholic families came from Dubuque county and for reasons easily divined made this the permanent resting place on their journey west. They were George Terlisner, Joseph Thiemann and J. Weber. About this time also came several Irish Catholic families; James Carroll and Thomas Maher.
Rev. John Kempker said the first mass in a warehouse erected by James Carroll, Dennis Fee acting as server. Father Kempker also said mass in the public schoolhouse. In 1875 he built the first frame church on a couple of lots donated by I. N. Voris, on the south side, where the present brick veneered church stands. In 1876 Rev. F. Pape attended St. John's church from Carroll. He bought a cemetery on F. Happe's section and directed the building of a parsonage, etc. During the years 1880 and 1881 this parish was attended by Rev. John Urbany, also from Carroll, and at this time it counted ninety families.

In the summer of 1881 a resident pastor came in the person of Rev. John B. Fendrick. Father Fendrick bought a few acres of land east of town for a new cemetery, to which the remains of all that were buried in the former cemetery were transferred. He also built an addition to the parsonage.

From May to December, 1866, Father M. C. Lenihan attended St. John's from Vail. Then came Rev. H. J. Hemesath, who remained only a short time (from December, 1886, to October, 1887), during which time he started the building of a schoolhouse. He was succeeded by Rev. Jos. Hellrigi in October, 1887.

Father Hellrigi changed the plan of his predecessor, sold the rock foundation of the new school, moved the church to the southeast corner of the premises and built the new brick veneered church on the site at a cost of $8,555. The old frame school was moved up and joined to the old church for a sisters' dwelling.

On July 5 a powerful thunderstorm blew down the steeple, which held three good-sized bells. The different insurance companies allowed the sum of $1,500 and the temple was rebuilt without delay.

A parochial school had been opened and about 1881 Mr. John Rauch became the first teacher. After him came Miss Anna Middendorf in 1884-5 and Mr. John Schroeder in 1887. The old church having been changed to a schoolhouse, etc., as before stated, Rev. Jos. Hellrigi applied for sisters of the Order of St. Francis, of Dubuque, in 1886. In December, 1893, the present pastor, Rev. J. H. Schulte, was sent by Archbishop Hennessy to take charge of the parish. The membership was then about ninety-five families. Nothing but some necessary repairing was done for the first few years, owing partly to the hard times, but principally to the condition of the church, which was not good from the start and had suffered from the blowing down of the steeple.

In the spring of 1899 the priest's house underwent a thorough overhauling from cellar to chimney and an addition was built on the west side of the main structure, with a small conservatory on the south side.

Since that time many substantial improvements have been made and St. John's parish has grown to be one of the most important in the county.





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