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Our Lady of Seven Dolors
Early History

this site was last updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Photo of Early Church
Beginnings of Our Lady of Seven Dolors
Our Lady of Seven Dolors is the only parish in the Archdiocese of Dubuque to originate as an Indian mission. It was the first parish in the Archdiocese with the exception of the Dubuque cathedral, to have a resident pastor.

In 1840 the U.S. government built Fort Akinson and moved the Winnebago Indians there. Pressure from white settlers forced their move from the Yellow River area north of

McGregor. Rev. Joseph Cretin of Dubuque had ministered to the Catholic Winnebagoes (converts of Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli’s) at Yellow River and soon visited them at the fort. He persuaded Bishop Loras to send young Fr. Remigius Petiot, a seminarian from France, as a resident missionary chaplain. He was warmly welcomed by the Indians and the white Catholics attached to the Indian agency, but not by the Rev. David Lowrey, Presbyterian missionary and official Indian agent. Rev. Lowrey did all he could to prevent Father Petiot from ministering to the Indians and finally sent a company of dragoons to demolish his crude shelter. After three months Father Petiot returned to Dubuque. He had baptized 14 Indian children during his stay.

The next year, 1843, Father Cretin came from Prairie du Chien at regular intervals. A rough log chapel was built by Catholic soldiers, Indians, and traders. This became known as “Old Mission” and it was by this name the early Festina parish was known. Father Cretin, however, named it “Notre Dame du Desert”—Our Lady of the Wilderness. Because of the hardships endured by him in establishing the mission parish, he changed the name to “Notre Dame des Sept Doleurs”—Our Lady of the Seven Dolors, the name that has endured to the present. The Catholic Almanac for 1846 lists the parish—“Winnebagoe Mission, Our Blessed Lady of the Seven Dolors—Very Rev. Joseph Cretin. He has to bear every kind of opposition, even from the Government, which forbid him to keep any schools.”

By 1848 and 1849 the Indians and troops were moved from the Fort Atkinson reservation to Minnesota, opening up the Neutral Grounds for settlement. Pioneer families from Oldenburg, Indiana, came in 1849, and purchased the abandoned buildings at the mission farm. The largest log building was dismantled and reassembled on the site where the Smallest Church stands today. They kept the name Our Lady of the Seven Dolors. Frank and Mary Huber donated 20 acres to the diocese for the Church. It was the first church in Winneshiek County. Bishop Loras sent Rev. G. H. Plathe to conduct services there every three months. As membership increased, he came every month, followed by Rev. M. Lentner in 1851, Rev. M. Remsen in 1852, Rev. L. Schwaiger, and Rev. W. Emonds in 1853.

Between Christmas and New Years, the small church burned and arson was suspected. Unfortunately, all church records were lost in the fire. To prevent this from happening again and also because of frequent floods, a new log church was erected in Twin Springs (Festina), where a majority of the settlers lived. The land was donated by Andrew and Rachel Meyer, Wm. and Maria Kabeisman, and Clemens and Caroline Funke. This was recorded in the Catholic Almanac of 1856—“Old Mission—Seven Dolors of the B. V. (German) Rev. Philip Laurent, a good school. This church was burned in 1854 by incendiaries; it has been rebuilt on 100 acres of land, twice as large, and ever since Catholicity has grown at such a rate that in one year the following four churches were erected in the neighborhood:
St. Clement—two miles above Fort Atkinson (German) 55 acres of land attended from Old Mission.
St. Luke—(German) log church 40 acres of land attended from Old Mission eight miles distant.
St. Terence—Fayette County, 80 acres of land attended from Old Mission.
St. Rose—Chickasaw County, 80 acres of land attended from Old Mission.”

Rev. Philip Laurent was the first resident pastor. Since he was the only one in the wide area, “Our Lady” became the “mother church.” Rev. Louis Decailly was the next pastor, 1856, followed by Rev. M. Flammang, 1857, Rev. Henry Fedderman, 1858, and Rev. Frederick Hannasch, 1861. Entries in the parish records range from as far north as Fillmore County in Minn, to the Volga area in the south. Rev. Conrad Schulte came in 1867 and stayed till 1870 when Rev. Urbany took charge. Rev. August Sauter came in March 1877. Under his direction the parish celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of “Our Lady’s” location in Festina. To commemorate this event, Rev. Sauter wrote a jubilee book printed in the German language.


Month April 1857(as in the official records)

Andres Joseph, wife: Dorothea, children: Peter 22, Edward, Wilhelm, Johannes, Joseph, Catherina, Franz 10, Heinrich 8.
Bauhaus Bernard, wife: Christina, children: Johnannes 4, Catharina 2
Bechtel Sebastian, wife: Elisabeth, children: Carolina, George, Anton
Brokamp Herman, wife: Elisabeth, children: Maria 12, Elisabeth 8, Franz, George, Anton
Butman Bernard, wife: Sybilla, children: Angela 2, Maria 4, Bernard 1/2
Bruchna Mathias, wife: Dorothea, children: John 16, Albert 14, Maria 10, Anna 8, Catharina 4, Silvester 1 +
Boing (Schulze) Theodor, wife: Carolina, children
Bromling George, wife: Catharina, children
Balzer Jonn, wife: Maria, children
Kabeiseman Wilhelm, wife: Maria, children: Wilhelm 7
Cremer, Wilhelm, wife: children: Wilhelm, Heinrich, Caroline, Joseph 18
Dress Friederich, wife: Elisabeth, children: Maria 7, Johann 3, Veronica 1/4
Dress Michael, wife: Elisabeth, children: Wilhelm 2 1/2, Maria 1/2
Dimp Theodor, wife: Christina, children: Heinrich 4, Bernard 2
Dorr, Wilhelm, wife: Maria, children: Helena 6, Anna 4, Wilhelm 1
Daldrup E., widower, children: Elisabeth
Dreyel George, wife: Maria
Doyle, Barnard
Eimes Friderich, wife: Maria, children: Maria 3, Wilhelm 1
Eimes Wilhelm, wife: Elisabeth, children: Maria 1/2+
Eppel Andreas, wife: Maria, children: Alexis 16, Therese 14, Chrisostemus 9
Etteldorff Friederick, wife: Maria, children: Catherina 6, Anna Maria, Friderick, Jos. Heinrich
Frerich Herman, wife: Catharina, children: Joh. Herman 3 1/2, Elisabeth 1 1/2
Funke Clemens, wife: Gertrude, children: Heinrich 4, Wilhelm 2, Clemens
Gerleman Wilhelm, wife: Marie Catherina, children: Ebernard 24, Heinrich, Friederich, Carl, Josephina 16
Gallagher Bernard, wife: Susannah, children: John, Catharina, Peter, Lorenz
Gartner Paul, wife children
Gehling H.
1857 April
Giesing Joseph, wife: Elisabeth, children: Maria Catherina 21, Lydia 19, Joseph 12, Anna 9, Frederich 7, Heinrich 5, Theodor 1
Gobet Wenzel, wife
Holthaus B. Wilhelm, wife: Elisabeth, children: Wilhelm 9, Maria 7, Heinrich 5, Elisabeth 3 1/2
Holthaus Herman, wife: Francisca, children: Agnes 1/2
Holthaus Theodor, wife: Elisabeth, children: Theodor 1 1/2, August 1/2
Hess Carl, wife: Margeritha, children: Josephina 9, Wilhelm 7, Helena, Edward, Emil
1857 October
Kinker Bern. Heinrich, wife: Joh. Catharina, children now spelled Huinker
Lensing Johann, wife: Maria, children: Heinrich 8, Bernard 5, Maria 3, Francisca 1 1/2, Helena
Lensing Wenzel, wife: Gertrude, children: Maria 1/2
Leard John
Lone Michael
Lensing Louis, wife
Meyer Andreas, wife: Regina, children: Marianne 11, George 9, Francisca 7, Louis 5, Agnes 31/2, Philipp 2, Catharina 1/2
Miilles Heinrich, wife: Anna
Merric Bernard, wife: Josephina, children: M. Josephine 3, M. Catharina 1/2
Mohr Heinrich, wife: Agnes, children: Rosa
Martineck Thomas, wife: Elisabeth, children: Albert, Maria 7, Joseph 5, Franz 3, Wenzel
McManes Philipp, wife Pieper Heinrich, wife: Elisabeth, children: Bernard 16, Johan 14, Elisabeth 12, Theresa 10, Christina 15
Rademaker Bernard, wife: Lena, children: Bernard 13, Wenzel 9, Heinrich 7, Helene 5 Schneberger George, widower: children: George 18, Anna 16, Johann 11, George 8, Maria 5
Schneberger Michael, wife: Anna, children
Schons Friderick, wife: Margaritha, children: Catharina 10, Peter, Nicolaus, Cath. Elisabeth
Schons Heinrich, wife: Maria, children: Maria 6, Julie, Carolina, Margaretha
Scholbrock Heinrich, wife: Louisa, children: Heinrich 11, Theodor 5, Clemens 1 1/2
Schiissel Peter, wife: Maria, children: George, Peter 16, John, Joseph 14
Sudtelgte Bernard, wife: Maria, children
Spielmann Philipp, wife: Barbara, children
Scheidelmantel Heinrich, wife: Kunigunda, children: Josephina 4, Wilhelm 2, Theodor 1/2
Schupantesh John, wife children
Schneeberger Sophie, Anna
Schreier Herman, wife: Theresia, children
Stripple, wife: children: John and Hienrich
Schmid John, wife
Slone, widower
Unger Friederich, wife: Anna Maria children: Herman, Elisabeth 19, Heinrich 16+ , Fritz 13
Ullenhage Ferdinand, wife: Catharina, children
Wimber Franz, widower + children: Elisabeth 23, Andreas 16
Werner Christian, wife: Walburga, children:
Zweibohmer Herman, wife: Antoinette, children: Herman 1 1/2, Fritz

Photo of Our Lady of Seven Dolors Church

Source: Our Lady of Seven Delors 150 year celebration booklet - Submitted by Linus Cremer

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this page was last updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2021