KNOX COUNTY INDIANA
The first regular
priest of St. Francis Xavier’s church was Father Mermet. The date of his
arrival is set forth in a letter written from Kaskaskia, November 9, 1712,
by Father Marest, in which he writes: “The French having lately established
a post on the Wabash, demanded a missionary, and Father Mermet was sent
theni.” Father Senate was the pastor in charge in 1736. He accompanied
Morgan de Vinsenne on his expedition against the Chickasaws in that year,
and with the gallant commander was burned at the stake by the Indians in an
Arkansas wilderness. From 1736 the church was without a regular pastor until
1749, when Father Sabastian Louis Meurin, a Jesuit priest, came to take
The first record of his administration is dated April 21, 1749, which was the occasion of the marriage of Julien Troittier, of Montreal, Canada, and Josette Marie, daughter of a Frenchman and an Indian woman. The last act he performed in the discharge of his priestly duties was to ofiiciate at the burial of the wife of a corporal of the garrison, March 17, 1753. Louis Vivier was the immediate successor of Father Meurin, who had been called to labor in a more extensive field, and was here from 1753 to 1756. The church records disclose that his first ofiicial act was the performance of a marriage ceremony, May 20, 1753, and four days later he performed the burial services over the body of Pierre Leonardy, the lieutenant who accompanied Juchereau to Vincennes in 1702, and who was ofiicer of the garrison at the time of his death. The date of the last entry of Father Vivier in the records is August 28, 1756. Father Julien du Jauny was pastor from 1756 until 1763, and during an interval, extending from the date last named until 1770, the parish was without a priest, authority having been vested in a Frenchman named Philibert dit Orleans, a notary public, who had the custody of the records and was permitted to administer baptism.
Father Jauny was the last Jesuit in charge of the pastorate of St. Xavier’s. Father Gibault came for the first time in 1770, and, during intervals, was in charge from that year until 1778. His later visits were in 1784, 1786, his last appearance being in 1792, when he installed Pierre Mallet, a layman, to guard the church and property until the arrival of Rev. M. Flaget, who came during that year, remaining only a short time, when he was succeeded by Father Levadoux, and the latter by Rev. John Francis Rivet, who died in 1804, his death being the first to occur among the priesthood. Father Donatian Olivier, who was pastor of the church at Prairie du Rocher, made pastoral visits to St. Xavier’s in 1804. In 1805 he took up his pastoral residence here, but was relieved for a short time in 1806, by Father Charles Nerinckz, and by Father Urban Guillet, a monk, in 1808. In 1809 Father Olivier returned and stayed until 1810, when he was succeeded by Father Etienne Badin, who came in 1810. In 1813 Father Olivier again returned, and in 1814 Bishop Flaget paid two visits to Vincennes, when the pastor in charge was Rev. Ignatius Chabrat. Rev. Joseph Rosati came from Louisiana in 1817 and ofiiciated as pastor of St. Xavier’s. In June, 1818, Rev. Augustus Jeanjean and Rev. Anthony Blanc, came to Vincennes, the former for the purpose of founding a college and the latter to assume the duties of parish priest. Father Jeanjean performed his first oflice June 21, 1818, in the baptism of a convert, and on January 11, 1819, as his last ofiicial act, he did a similar service.
Rev. John Aquaroni baptised an infant at St. Xavier’s on April 12, 1818, and his last ofiicial act was a baptism on the 19th day of the same month. Rev. Andrew Ferrari was the parish priest in 1819-20; Rev. Francis Xavier Dahmon, 1820-21 ; Father Champomier, 1823-31; Rev. Elisha J. Durbin, 1826; Revs. Simon Fouché and Robt. A. Abel, 1829; Rev. Louis Picot, 1831-33; Rev. Nicholas Petit, 1833-34; Rev. Felix Matthew Ruff, 1831-33; Rev. John Claude Francois, 1835; Rev. Stanislaus Buteaux, 1836; Revs. Julian Benoit and Anthony Deydier, 1837; Revs. Maurice Berrel and Anthony Perret, 1838; Rev. August M. Martin, 1840; Revs. Julian Delaune and John J. Corbe, 184041; Rev. A. Couljault, until 1846; Rev. Ernest Audran, until 1869; Rev. John Coutin, 1869-I876; Rev. John Gueguen, 1876-79; Rev. Hugh Peythieu, 1879-90; Rev. Jas. Stremler, March to November, 1890. Rev. Louis Gueguen, who celebrated his golden jubilee in December, 1909, was pastor from 1890 until 1907. Rev. Andrew Oster, who was one of Father John Gueguen’s assistants in 1876-79, is the priest of the parish at present, assisted by Rev. Father Jas. Gregoire. The congregation of St. Francis Xavier’s consists of more than five hundred families, embracing over fifteen hundred members.
ST. JOHN"S GERMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
It was not until the year 1840 that German Catholics began to arrive in Vincennes in noticeable numbers, and being a naturally religious people craved accommodations for the practice of their religion according to their national customs. Appealing to Rt. Rev. Bishop de la Hailandiere, at that time Bishop of Vincennes, and residing therein, he made provision for them by setting apart a special time and a priest who could speak the German language—Rev. Roman Weinzoepfel—who administered to their spiritual wants in St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral. As the number of German families increased the necessity of a separate church edifice naturally presented itself. They repeatedly petitioned Rt. Rev. Bishop de la Hailandiere to allow them the privilege of erecting a church of their own, to which he turned a deaf ear, thinking the small congregation unequal to the struggle. The Bishop finally acceded to their wishes, in so far as he allowed them to plan a small framechurch on Fifth Street in the rear of the lot which now contains what is known as the Bishop’s Block. The corner stone was laid, when work ceased on building, as it was even then apparent that it would not accommodate the rapidly increasing members of the congregation. At different times, from different persons, and by degrees, was purchased the beautiful site on Main street between Eighth and Ninth streets. This block now contains a large and handsome church, a beautiful and commodious rectory, and a fine school building of several rooms with a large hall above. The congregation was poor and a great struggle ensued, but under the guidance of the Rev. Nicolaus Stauber, who was then pastor, inspired by his determination and indomitable perseverance and energy, priest and people working as one man, the plans of the first church, drawn by Mr. Marsille, were accepted. The dimensions of this building were 40 x 80 with a sanctuary 20 feet, the whole surmounted by a lofty steeple, and the corner stone was laid on the 17th day of July, 1851, Rt. Rev. Maurice de St. Palais presiding. The Reverend J. B. Chasse delivered the sermon to a large gathering of various creeds and nationalities. The work continued as rapidly as possible and the building was completed in July, 1852. The trustees at the time were Gerhard Reiter, Henry Soete, Andrew Laugel and Henry Bultman, all of whom have gone to rest from their labors. These faithful German Catholics worshipped in this church for fourteen years, when it was found to be too small to accommodate the congregation. It was therefore decided to enlarge the church by adding a building across the end in the form of a cross, with a Sanctuary, a more spacious Sacristy and an Oratory. These improvements were made in 1866-67 at a cost of $13,554. A few years afterwards, a generous benefactor, Mr. John Ebner, Jr., following in the footsteps of a most generous father—Mr. John Ebner, Sr.—presented the church with a magnificent chime of bells, weighing 4,000 pounds, necessitating a larger and stronger belfry. Plans were made which resulted in the present imposing front containing two large towers, a spacious vestibule and Baptistry. This improvement was completed in 1890 at a cost of $13,673, a bequest of $2,600 left to the church by Theo. Huslage giving an incentive to the project. The first schoolhouse was a small brick building which was replaced by the present handsome structure in 1872. The attendance averages 250 children. In July, 1902, St. John’s celebrated its Golden Jubilee with great pomp and ceremony, and fervent prayers ascended from grateful hearts that the efforts of these faithful people, after years of struggle had been crowned on earth and in heaven. During this time, six pastors, with eight assistants have ministered to the spiritual wants of the congregation. The present Parish Consellors are John Weiler, Charles Scheefers, Anthony Risch, Henry Bergmann, Frank G. Reiter, Anthony Kiefer, John Geschke, Emil Frey. The first person baptized in St. John’sChurch was Herman Henry Bultman. Mr. John F. Miller served the first Mass in the new church. The present statistics show that St. John’s congregation contains 350 families or about 1,500 souls. The present rector is Rev. Meinrad Fleischmann, assisted by Rev. Charles Kaby.
Maria Creek Church
Patoka river in what is now Gibson, then Knox county, Indiana, and Elder James McQuaid from Kentucky, organized Subsequently the following record appears: "John Hansbrough, formerly a member of Flat Rock Church, who was excluded in consequence of information from this church, came forward and related that he hoped the Lord had healed his backsliding, and had loved him with an everlasting love, and with loving kindness had drawn him, which gave unanimous satisfaction and joy. On motion, the clerk directed to inform Flat Rock Church of the happy return of our Brother. "March, 1814. The church is of opinion that any stranger traveling under the character of a Baptist preacher, be not invited to preach unless he brings a certificate from the church where he has his membership, certifying his character, or gives some other satisfaction of his standing in society." on the 20th day of May, 1809. There were thirteen members that entered into that organization, viz: Samuel Allison, Phoebe Allison, Charles Polke, Sen., Charles Polke, Jr., Margaret Polke, Achsah Polke, William Polke, Sally Polke, John Lemen, Polly Lemen, William Bruce. Sally Bruce, and .John Morris, a man of color. Of the above named persons Samuel Allison, Phoebe Allison and John Morris lived on the west side of the Wabash river in Illinois Territory. The foregoing covenant we, in the fear of God, enter into, and have subscribed our names hereunto this 20th day of May, 1809. Being thus constituted they proceed to business by choosing William Polke Church Clerk. Thus was planted, on the then Western frontier, Maria Creek Church. A Church that was destined to have a wide influence; not only in all that part of the country in which she was located, but on many other and far distant places, by the removal, from time to time, of persons who had been received into Her fellowship, and instructed under Her teaching in the truths of the Religion of Christ, and who carried with them the religious teaching, and Christian character thus received in Maria. Creek Church.