Clark County Wisconsin
Colby Churches

Transcribed by Marla Zwakman unless otherwise noted

Colby – St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (Parsonage Erected -1906)
Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 13 Sept. 1906

* The congregation of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran church is erecting a parsonage on the lots back of their church, facing on Third street. The main building is 30x30 with an addition 14x19, basement under the whole building. Perschke Bros., the contractors, are in charge.

Colby – St. Killian’s Name Change (1904)
Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wisconsin) Thursday, 28 July 1904

Church Notes.
* The name of the new Catholic church has been changed from St. Killian to St. Mary.

Yesterday the contract for the stained windows was awarded to the Milwaukee Mirror & Art Glass Co.

Last Sunday the banes were published in St. Killian’s of Walter Frelix, of Rhinelander, and Clara Lukowicz, of *** Note: The rest of the article was cut off and was not available at the time of transcription.

Colby: St. Mary’s Catholic Church 75th Anniversary (1953)
Source: Marathon County Register (Unity, Marathon County, Wis.) date unknown; contributed by Ron Flink & transcribed by Marla Zwakman

St. Mary’s to Observe Its 75th Anniversary
St. Mary's Catholic church of Colby will observe its 75th anniversary or diamond jubilee Saturday, Nov. 14, 1953, when the following program will be presented:

9:30 A. M. solemn pontificial high mass with the following taking part: His Excellency, The Most Rev. John Patrick Treacy, D. D., bishop of La Crosse, Rev. Leo Lang of Fountain City, Rev. Nicolas Beschta of La Crosse, Very Rev. William Daniels of Chippewa Falls, Rev. John Neises of Marshfield, Rev. John McGinley of Stevens Point, The Very Rev. James Finucan, Rev. Raymond Schulz of Abbotsford, Rev. Norbert King of Loyal, Rev. John McMahon of Spencer, The Very Rev. Hugh Deeny of Marshfield.

11:15, His Excellency will administer the sacrament of confirmation.
12:00, jubilee banquet.
2:30, Pagent—As The Angels Know it by Sister M. Johnetta presented by the school children under the direction of Sister M. Clemetine.

Rev. Nicholas July of Stevens Point was the first missionary priest to visit Colby. He held mass in homes until 1877 when an old school building, which had become too small, was purchased and converted into a church. Rev. Schaller was succeeded by the following in order named: Rev. Ignatz Lager, Rev. J. F. Ritz, Rev. J. A. Jorres, Rev. Charles Weikmann. The first resident pastor was Rev. A. J. Capellan who was succeeded by the following in the order named: Rev. Adolph Miller, Rev. Gerhard Vadder, Rev. William Reding, Rev. John Schramm, Rev. H. J. Schramm, Rev. H. J. Artman, Rev. H. J. Lachnit, Rev. L. J. Lang, Rev. N. Beschta, Rev. Frank Brickl.

The congregation has always been noted for the fine church choir. It used to be a male choir consisting of Paul Firnstahl, John Grimes, Conrad Steder, Matt Hinkes, Arno Knebel, C. J. Kraus, L. J. Schommer, Casper Schommer, Otto Firnstahl, I. M. Firnstahl, Gorman Firnstahl, Conrad Niggeman, Phil Kohl, Leo Apfelbeck, Virgil Frane, Jack Frane, Norman Orth and George Sterzinger. The present choir consists of Mrs. A. Gabriel, organist, Mrs. Mary Hildebrandt, Mrs. Douglas Rifleman, Miss Wolff, Leo Sterzinger, Norman Orth, John Frane, Joe Stieber, C. J. Kraus and I. M. Firnstahl.

Other church organizations include the Women's Order of Foresters, the Men's Order of Foresters, the Christian Mothers, The Sodality, The Holy Name Society, St. Mary's Cemetery Association, Foresters and Boy Rangers. Present officers of these organizations follow:

Catholic Order of Foresters—
Wilbur Becker, chaif ranger; Alois Beyerl, vice chief ranger; Ervin Meyer, past chief ranger; Albert Weix, recording secretary; Edward Feit, financial secretary; Francis Zassenhaus, treasurer; C. J. Kraus, speaker; Ed Brill, juvenile director; Dr. F. A. Weix, Peter Apfelbeck, William Hackel, trustees; Paul A. Umhoefer, Clarence Hebert, conductors; Norbert Wolf, Francis Beyerl,

Women's Catholic Order of Foresters —
Nola Dessloch, chief ranger; Marie Allmann, vice chief ranger; Gertrude Schemmer, recording secretary; Marie Weix, financial secretary; Larina Gierl, treasurer; Anna Schlimm, Anna Baumgart, Elizabeth Tesmer, trustee; Francis Zukowski, juvenile director; Bertha Schommer, Evelyn Young, conductors; Anita Schuh, Ruby Olson, sentinels; Bernadette Gabriel, musician.

Christian Mothers — Mrs. Wilbur Becker, president; Mrs. Bernard Tennis, vice president; Mrs. Rudolph Weix, secretary; Mrs. Lawrence Allmann, treasurer.

The Sodality — Edward Brill, president; Cella Wolf, vice president; Rita Brill, seereary; Kathleen Kaiser, treasurer; Mrs. Leland Brunker, adviser.

Holy Name Society — Dale McCutcheon, president; Mike Stieber, vice president; Joseph Brill, secretary; Leland Brunker, treasurer.

St. Mary's Cemetery — C. J. Kraus, president; Norbert Wolf, secretary, Russell Meyer, treasurer.

Present trustees are Paul A. Umhoefer and Ray Gries. Others who served in that capacity in the past were John Orth, Sr., Paul Firnstahl, Peter Happle, Chas. Kessler, A. X. Umhoefer, John Schlimm, A. R. Hemmy and Ed Becker.

Ushers are Leo Hilber, Francis Hebert, Wilbur Becker, Ed Brill, Arnie McKernon, Ralph Andrew, John Ohlinger, Ed Allmann, Fred Zassenhaus, Ray Gries, Paul Umhoefer, Mike Stieber, Manuel Firnstahl, Ervin Meyers, Alois Gabriel, Angus Lamont, Jr., Joe Butler, Alois Beyerl, Joe Fechhelm, Marcellus Foster, Dr. F. A. Weix, Clarence Hebert, Robert Hemmy, Clyde Hubing, Way
Weis, William Rose.

The present church was built in 1904 and the present school and gymnasium was built in 1937.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church – 75th Anniversary - History of Church (1953)
Source: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood County, Wis.) Thursday, 12 Nov. 1953) contributed by Ron Flink & transcribed by Marla Zwakman

COLBY – St. Mary’s Catholic Church here will be the scene of a diamond jubilee celebration on Saturday, Nov. 14, when the congregation marks the 75th anniversary of its founding.

The Most Rev. John P. Treacy, D. D., Bishop of La Crosse, will be celebrant at the 9:30 a. m. Solemn Pontifical High Mass, and will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation at 11:15 a. m.

Former pastors and neighboring priests will assist the Bishop at the altar. The Very Rev. Hugh J. Deeny, pastor of St. John's Catholic Church, Marshfield, will deliver the jubilee sermon.

A banquet at noon, sponsored by the Confraternity of Christian Mothers, and an afternoon pageant by the school children under the direction of Sister M. Clementine, will help mark the jubilee celebration. The pageant will be repeated Sunday afternoon.

There is no living person whose membership in the parish matches the long history of St. Mary's, but many parishioners participating in Saturday's celebration will be remembering the work of pastors who contributed much to the development of the parish.

A history book has been compiled for the jubilee and it tells the story of the growth of St. Mary's from the distant past, through trials and tribulations, down to the present time.

The first church was an old schoolhouse moved to a site purchased from the railroad company. It was built of the roughest kind of lumber, unpainted and unfurnished, but it served the purpose in those pioneer days.

Colby was a mission of Medford until 1886, but in that year it took its place in the official roster of parishes. The Rev. A. J. Jorres became the first resident pastor, and in 1888 the parish incorporated under the name of St. Kilian's Congregation, in honor of the Most Rev. Bishop Flasch, whose first name was Kilian.

A building contract was let in June, 1888, for a new church to cost $2,000, and construction progressed far enough to permit services in the church on Dec. 9. Dedication ceremonies were held the following May. During his pastorate the Rev. Fr. Jorres also erected a parsonage.

In 1891 the Rev. Fr. Jorres was transferred to La Crosse and the Rev. Charles B. Weikman took up the duties of the parish. It was about that time that Colby became a city. The new pastor turned his attention to the building of a school which was dedicated Oct. 25, 1894, and opened on Nov. 5 with an attendance of 50 pupils under the care of three Sisters of St. Francis.

The Rev. Fr. Weikman moved to Medford in 1895 and his successor for the ensuing year was the Rev. A. S. Cappellan. When the Rev. Fr. Cappellan was transferred to Thorp in 1896 he was succeeded by the Rev. Adolph Miller. The Rev. Fr. Miller went to Bloomer in 1898 but returned to Colby as pastor in 1901 and remained until 1903. In the meantime the Rev. Gerhardt Vadder handled the parish duties.

The Rev. Fr. Gerhard, a young priest who studied in Rome found the rectory needed immediate attention. On May 29 the old building was moved across the street. Work started on a new building the early part of July, 1900, and was completed the following December. The Rev. William Reding was assigned to Colby in 1903 and immediately began preparations for a new church to accommodate the expanding parish. In December of that year the congregation voted to build a church to be called St. Mary's. With the building of the church proper attention could not be given to the school, so the building was closed and rented to the city for use as a public school.

The new church was completed at a cost of $20,000 and the first services were held on Feb. 26, 1905. The building was dedicated in May and the record indicates that "the largest crowd ever assembled in Colby up to that time, arrived for the ceremonies. Special trains came from Athens and Marshfield."

The Rev. Fr. Reding was transferred to Wisconsin Rapids in 1907 and was followed by the Rev. John Schramm, who reopened the school in 1909 with the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, in charge.

In 1910 the Rev. H. J. Artman arrived. A number of improvements were made during his term. A class room and a chapel were added to the school, and several lots adjoining the school property were purchased for a playground.

In the spring of 1917 the Rev. Fr. Artman was transferred to Durand and the Rev. Henry J. Lachnit of Cashton replaced him. His term as pastor extended over a longer period of time than any pastor before or since his time. The remaining debt of about $4,000 was cleared and improvements were made to the rectory and convent.

In April, 1932, the Rev. Leo J. Lang of Rozellville was sent to Colby as pastor. A new convent was built and the church basement was remodeled. The interior of the church was renovated and "touched up." On Aug. 2, 3, 4 and 5, 1936, the 50th anniversary of the coming of the first resident pastor was observed. The event was a homecoming affair for former parishioners.

In 1937 the long awaited and much needed school was built. The Rev. Fr. Lang's term as pastor ended in 1944 and for several months Colby had no resident pastor other than the Rev. Bienkowsky, a missionary, who stayed until the Rev. Nicholas Beschta arrived in 1945.

In 1950 the church was completely redecorated, new confessionals were built, a modern lighting system was installed, and the floor covered with tile. Work to repair, paint and point up the exterior of the church was begun in 1952. The Rev. Fr. Beschta was transferred before the work was completed and his successor, the Rev. Frank Brickl carried on the program. New steps and a railing were built in front of the church, the rectory was modernized and the church property landscaped.

The Rev. Fr. Brickl has organized a parent-teacher group and reorganized the Holy Name Society. A new young people's society also is in process of organization.

The present trustees of St. Mary's Parish are Paul A. Umhoefer Sr., and Roy Gries. Others who have served in that capacity in the past are John Orth Sr., Paul Firnstahl, Peter Happle, Charles Kessler, Anton Umhoefer, John Schlimm, A. R. Hemmy and Ed Becker.

St. Mary's has never given a native boy to the priesthood, although the parish claims the late Rt. Rev. Msgr. Hugo Meisekothen, who lived in Colby for a time and entered the seminary from his home here.

The following from St. Mary's Parish entered religious orders: Community of Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart—Sister M. Gertrude (Rieschel), deceased 1897; Sister M. Leopoldina (Rieschel), Franciscan Province of Sacred Heart — Brother Reinhold (Rieschel), deceased 1948; Brother Samuel (Rieschel), Holy Family Convent — Sister M. Rosina (Beyerl); Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration — Sister M. Clarone (Brill), Sister M. Jolita (Brill) Sister M. Theoline (Brill), Sister M. Odilia (Budde), Sister M. Fina (Engeldinger), Sister M. Kathleen (Frane), Sister M. Francila (Jordan), Sister M. Laurentine (Jordan), Sister M. Boromea (Klumpyan) and Sister M. Lurita (Weix).

Organizations affiliated with St. Mary's Parish include St. Kilians Court, Catholic Order of Foresters and Boy Rangers, The Confratstenity of Christian Mothers, The Young Ladies Sodality, The Women's Catholic Order of Foresters and Juveniles, The Holy Name Society, The Christian Home and School Association, The Catholic Family Life Insurance and St. Mary's Choir. The parish school with an enrollment of 150 pupils is staffed by five Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

Early settlers among the founders of the parish, whose descendants are listed on today’s membership record of St. Mary's included the families of Orth, Beyerl, Umhoefer, Firnstahl, Gierl, Sterzinger, Brill, Frane, Weix, Phillppi, Apfelbeck, Schmidt, Ohlinger, and Kesler. The present parish membership totals 900 persons, and about 225 families.

Colby St. Mary’s School (First Communion – 1910)
Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 16 June 1910

First Holy Communion
* A class of thirty students from St. Mary’s School received their first holy communion at St. Mary’s church, last Sunday, the services being conducted by Rev. J. M. Schramm. The class consisted of the following:

Emil Harry, Frances Firnstahl, Melvin Frasier, Ernest Apfelbeck, Anthony Glenzer, Oscar Bast, Miles Adrians, Frank Hanna, Charles Hanna, Jake Schilling, John Lex, John Reeves, George Rueden, Martin Weix, Allie Ohlinger, Willie Smith, Herbert Kanter.

Adelaide Miller, Verena Weix, Vivian Eder, Rosa Haslbeck, Arline Bast, Carrie Kaiser, Hildegard Ohlinger, Irma Firnstahl, Margaret Klumpjan, Margaret Thorn, Evelyn Frasier, Veronica Beyerl, Elizabeth Hanna.

After the services, which were largely attended by the parents, relatives and admiring friends of the young people, dinner was served in the school room, which was very tastefully decorated by the Sisters in charge of the school.

St. Mary's Catholic Church - First Communion (1932)
Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 26 May 1932

Receive First Communion
* On Sunday, the following received first holy communion at the St. Mary’s Catholic church: Virginia Firnstahl, Rita Gutenberger, Lorrenda Glende, Alvina Glende, Isabelle Glende, Marie Wolf, Helen Kobs, Mae Schilling, Richard Reeves, Louis Butler, Jack Firnstahl, Elroy Kobs, Virgil Van Dreel, Edward Brill, Joseph Apfelbeck, Wymeth Ohlinger, Leland Schuh, Ervin Klumpyan and Kenneth Foster.

Colby - St. Mary’s Catholic Church – Confirmation (1934)
Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 10 May 1934

Confirm Large Class at St. Mary’s – 9 May 1934
* The following were confirmed at St. Mary’s church Wednesday morning by Most Rev. A. J. McGavick, bishop of La Crosse:

Ludmilla Van Dreel, Elizabeth Steinwand, Josephine Leonhard, Genevieve Hebert, Dorothy Schultz, Mrs. Ozilda Hause, Germaine Schommer, Roselyn Vanderhoof, Mildred Wetzel, Mrs. Woodrow Foster, Mrs. Emil Untiedt, Elizabeth Chariton, Mrs. Arthur Schuh, Florence E. Hainzelsperger, Helen Kralcik, Vera Dean Robinson, Clara Martha Brill, Ruth Butler, Edith Adela Munsion, Marie Van Sleet, Verena Van Dreel, Lucille Becker, Ida M. Beyerl, Zona Anna Will, Harietta Van Rooy, Carmen Schmitt, Frances Sukup, Catherine Frane, Marcella Kriplean, Mrs. Theo. Frane, Irene DuVall, Alvina Glende, Gertrude Beyerl, Hazel Reeves, Lorraine Kesler, Isabel Glende, Beatrice O’Connor, Virginia Steinwand, Mary Gerkin, Lenice Schuh, Rita Gerkin, Joan Hein, Henrietta Schmitt, Myrtle Weydert, Catherine Schommer, Naomi Schmitt, Marguerite Brill, Margaret Beyerl, Gertrude Bauer, Regina Bauer, Mrs. Ethel Kriplean, Mrs. Mary DuVall, Isabella Lukowicz, Mrs. Edith Feit, Leona Selby, Genevra Selby, Celia Anna Jordon, Jane Selby, Julia Sukup, Natila Wilma Fuller, William Paul Zastrow, Laurence Untiedt, Robert Amacher, La Verne Vanderwyst, Aloysius Beyerl, William Selby, Maurice Vanderwyst, George Rankel, Leon Apfelbeck. Wenzel Kubs, *** The rest of the article is cut off and not available at the time of transcription.

Colby – St. Mary’s Cornerstone Laid (1904)
Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wisconsin) Thursday, 11 Aug. 1904

Cornerstone in Place.
* The cornerstone of St. Mary’s Catholic church was laid, last Sunday, before a large concourse of people, by Rev. John Eisen of Marshfield. Father Eisen was assisted by Rev. Joehren of Marshfield, Rev. P. Frierweiler of Rozellville, Rev. N. Niederpluem of Wichita, Kan., and Rev. Wm. Reding, the local pastor. Before the ceremony, the pastor celebrated high mass, after which Rev. Frierweiler delivered an eloquent sermon in German. Rev. Reding spoke in English reviewing briefly the history of the parish, which 16 years ago erected a church that was considered among the best in this part of the state at that time.

St. Mary’s new church will be a monument to the energy and untiring efforts of the Catholics of Colby. It will cost when completed $20,000 and will be finished about Dec. 1. The seating capacity will be 640. The stained glass windows have been donated by members of the parish. This will be the third church the parish will have had since its foundation.


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