Catholic Church

Monroe County, Illinois

This history was extracted from the following book on:

Combined History of Randolph, Monroe and Perry Counties, Illinois

Published by J. L. McDonough & Co.

Philadelphia 1883

Catholic Church

By Rev. J. Eckerle

Tiptown-This part of the county commenced to be settled in 1846 by Irish Catholics. Patrick Lynch, David Donahoe and Tim Duggan were the first pioneers that called many a friend from the first pioneers that called many a friend from St. Louis and Ireland to their new home, to help them clear the forests and to cultivate the fertile land. About 1853 Tiptown was a prosperous Irish settlement. Before 1850 Catholic priests attended Tiptown, partly from St. Louis and partly form Prairie du Long. Service was held at that time in a private house. In 1850 Rev. McAbe bought forty acres of Congress land and built a log church, which was used for service until 1864. From 1852 to 1854 Rev. Pat. Gallagher and Rev. J. Keane visited Tiptown occasionally from Ruma. From 1854 to 1861 Rev. J. W. Gifford, residing at Ruma, had charge of the congregation, and got all the articles necessary for divine service. At his death he willed some money to build a parsonage at Tiptown. From 1861 to 1863, Rev. F. C. Carroll and Rev. Recouvreur attended Tiptown, from Ruma and Prairie du Long. From 1863 to 1869, Rev. John T. Mohr, residing at Red Bud, made the congregation what it is today. In 1864, on the 7th of April, he laid the corner-stone of the present stone church. In 1869 he built at Tiptown the handsomest parsonage in Monroe county, a two story brick building. From 1869 to 1871, Rev. P. Dee was rector. From 1871 to 1877, Rev. James Deneher officiated in that capacity. He improved the church and parsonage to a great extent built a belfry and procured a bell. From 1877 to 1878, Rev. Aug. Brumieve attended the congregation occasionally from Red Bud. In 1878 Rev, F, Stick was appointed rector, and procured many articles for the church and the parsonage. In 1881 he was appointed rector of Pana, Ill. Rev. J. Eckerle succeeded him and is the present rector. He has made about $600.00 worth repairs and improvements on the church property.

Renault. - The congregation in this town was organized in 1880 by Rev. F. Stick, and the following year it succeeded in building a handsome frame church, worth about $1,800. the pews being rented in 1882, the church was found to be too small. Rev. J. Neuhaus is the present rector. This congregation has made great progress since its organization.

Waterloo. This town has the largest Catholic congregation in the county. It numbers at present about two hundred families. Before 1849 the Catholics were visited occasionally by Rev. Cotting, S. J. Rev. McCabe and others, from St. Louis and the neighborhood. In 1849 Rev. M. Prendergast was appointed resident rector of Waterloo. Rev. Prendergast organized a congregation, an in the same year laid the corner-stone of a brick church 40x70. In 1852 this church was dedicated by Rev O'Regan, in honor of St. Peter and St. Paul, Rev. Patrick Gallagher being the rector at the time. In October of the same year a school house was built and a Catholic school commenced. From 1854 to 1856, Rev. P. J. Baltes, now bishop of the diocese, had charge of the congregation. Rev. Baltes finished the church and procured all the articles necessary for divine service. He also bout a graveyard for the Catholics, and established a Rosary society in the congregation. Rev. Fr. Fischer succeeded Rev. P. J. Baltes from 1856 to 1861. Rev. Fischer succeeded in building a two-story brick house for the rector. In 1858 he bought an organ at the cost of $800, and in 1859 enlarged the church. In 1860 he also built a steeple. Since 1861 Rev. P. Limacher has been rector. His labors have made the congregation and church what they are. In 1861 he bought a second bell, and in 1863 built a spire. The same year he established a library society, which has now 700 volumes. In 1865 he built a convent and academy, at the cost of $15,000. The next year he enlarged the old school house for $2, 869. This was to be used for the boys exclusively and the academy for the girls. In 1867 he purchased the Rust property, adjoining the church lots, for the sum of $1, 535. In 1875 he erected a house of worship at a cost of $10,000. In 1876 he procured a magnificent high altar for it, worth $1,500. In 1868 he also established St. Vincent Benevolent Society, for the support of the poor and destitute and for the aid of school children unable to pay. At present it has 70 members. In 1876 he established St. Peter and St. Paul's Mutual Aid Society for cases of sickness and death. Its present membership is 50. St. Aloysius' Young Men's Society, for promoting a virtuous and Christian life amongst the Catholic young men, was established in 1879. It has 60 members. The main building and tower, commenced in 1875, are now (1882) completed, at the cost of $17,500. This church is 131 feet long and 61 feet wide; the tower 150 feet high. The congregation is at present in a most flourishing condition and numbers over 1,000 members. The parish school is attended by 200 children, under the direction of five highly qualified teachers, of the Sisters of St. Joseph. From this we see what a faithful rector can accomplish in the course of twenty years.

Prairie du Long This is about the oldest congregation in the county. In the last century Catholic Frenchmen settled here and gave the place its name. In the beginning of this century a large immigration of English Catholics followed, and Prairie du Long had a good-sized Catholic congregation. Priests, however, being very scarce at that time, it was attended only occasionally by a missionary priest. The first church records we find in 1828. In this year the Catholics took up a subscription and built a church, which was consecrated in 1838 by Rt. Rev. Joseph Rosati, of St. Louis, Rev. John Kenning being the first resident rector of the place. Having a poor foundation, the church soon became dilapidated. Rev. B. McCabe rebuilt it in 1845, and procured all the articles necessary for divine service. From 1849 until 1861 Revs. J. Keane and J. W. Gifford attended Prairie du Long, as other duties permitted. From 1861 until 1867, Revs. F. C. Caroll, J. Mohr, J. Turk, and Fr Mueller were the rectors successively. Rev. Mr. Caroll built the first parsonage. In 1867 Rev. John Berlage was appointed rector, and has charge of the congregation at present. He paid off all the debts yet incumbent on the church, and improved the organization. The same year he established a parish school, and commenced to build a two-story brick parsonage. In 1872 he added a steeple to the church and procured some bells for it. To his labors the present well-improved condition of the church property is due.

Madonnaville. Divine service was celebrated for the first time in the vicinity of this place in the year 1790, by Rev. Mr. Olivier, S. J., and next by Rt. Rev. Du Bourge, who visited the Catholic along the Mississippi from New Orleans in 1819. From this year until 1839 no priests are recorded to have visited Madonnaville. The number of Catholics, however, increasing by large immigrations from Germany, Mr. James succeeded in having priests from Cahokia and St. Louis to visit them occasionally. In 1841 the first church was built by a part of the Catholics. This church, however, being too remote for a greater portion of the congregation, a second building was started in 1844 on the place where the present rock church stands, and was finished in 1850 by Rev. Mr. McCabe of Prairie du Long. Regular service was now held once a month by Revs. Pentegrass, Gallagher and Masterson, from Waterloo. In 1855 Rev. P. J. Balties (now bishop of the diocese), having charge of the congregation, took up a subscription to build a stone church and had all ready to start. Being removed, however, to Belleville, Rev. Mr. Fisher completed the church, and attended Madonnaville until 1861 from Waterloo. 1861-1866, Rev. L. Hinssen was the resident rector of the congregation. The first year he built a two-story parsonage of rock, and in 1862 started a parish school in his own house. In 1864 he built a steeple. Adam Dehm having donated a bell. 1866-1868, Franciscan priests, Revs. Berlage and Limacher, attended the congregation, Rev. Mr. Hinssen having been removed. 1868-1872, Rev. F. Stick took charge of it, improved its organization, and procured many articles for divine service. 1872-1875, Rev. H. Hesse was appointed rector, but, having poor health, could not work much. 1875-1878, Rev. B. Ahne succeeded him. His main work was the building of a two-story school house of stone; ill health, however, compelled him to give up the charge of the congregation. Rev. B. Claus was his successor from 1878 to 1882. He worked hard to reduce the debt incumbent on the church property, and shortly before his removal had the church decorated with fresco painting. In the beginning o f1882, Rev. L. Quitter was appointed his successor, and has charge of the congregation at present. He works successfully in the congregation, and raised $600.00 the first year to make improvements and pay off the church debt.

Columbia. Before 1847 service was held in a private house by priests who visited the place from the neighborhood. In 1846 Mr. McQuaid donated a lot for the building of a church, and the following year a small church building of rock was erected. From 1847 to 1853 Revs. H. Luermann (of Centreville) and J. Gallagher held regular service once a month, and procured the necessary articles for it. 1853-1855, Rev. P. J. Baltes attended Columbia from Waterloo, and established a parish school. 1855-1856 Rev. H. Luermann attended the parish again and bought a school house for $600. 1856-1858 Revs. Messrs. Fisher and Th Raphael had charge pf this congregation. In this period the church was improved and a cemetery procured. 1858-1860, Re. A. Pinkers was appointed resident rector of Columbia. He organized the congregation well and built a two-story parsonage for $1600. 1861-1864, Rev. W. Koenig succeeded Rev. A. Pinkers. This rector worked faithfully for the congregation. He bought a lot for a new church, built a steeple, and procured three large bells. In 1864 he died at Columbia of consumption. In 1865, Rev. Julius Maurer was appointed his successor, and has charge of the congregation at present. He paid off all the old debts of the congregation. In 1867 he built a new, spacious church for $2300. In 1873 he enlarged the old church for a school, and called the Ursuline Sisters from Louisvville, Ky., to take charge of the parish school. Rev. Mr. Maurer has succeeded in bringing the congregation to a flourishing condition in every respect, and can look with pride on his work of the past seventeen years at Columbia.