1844 - It Started
1845 - First Log Church
1846 - First Pastor
1847 - Father Salzmann/St. Francis Provisional Seminary
1851 - Father Paulhuber/Third Church Building
1861 - Father Strickner-Foeckler-Gamber/Fourth Church Building
1866 - Sister of St. Francis of Assissi Arrive
1868 - Stone Church Completed
1886 - Church Incorporated
1889 - First School Building
1895 - Golden Jubilee
The Milwaukee Diocese was established on paper in the year 1843. Reverend Father John Martin Henni, born 16 June 1805 in Upper Saxony, Canton Graubunden, Switzerland, began his studies in St. Gallen and Luzereb and upon graduation proceeded to Rome and studied there, with among others, Martin Kundig. In early 1829 he and Martin left Rome and arrived in Baltimore. They proceeded to the seminary in Bardstown, Kentucky and there they were ordained 3 February 1829. Among other early assignments Father Henni became vicar general of the Cincinnati Diocese and editor of the Cincinnati Wahrheitsfreund, a German Catholic Journal. Father Henni was appointed Bishop of Milwaukee in the year 1843 on the fourth Sunday after Easter (14 May) and confirmed by Papal bull in December of that same year. On 19 March 1844 he was consecrated bishop by Bishop Purcell of Nashville assisted by Bishop O'Connor of Pittsburgh and Bishop Miles of Nashville.
In the late evening of 3 May 1844, possibly the early morning of the next day, Bishop John Martin Henni and Reverend Father Michael Heiss arrived in the village of Milwaukee. It and the surrounding area contained less than 2,000 Catholics and the number in the entire diocese was not much greater than 8,000. The Milwaukee Diocese was roughly the size of the then Wisconsin Territory. This would be the area which today comprises the State of Wisconsin and the land in the State of Minnesota east of the Mississippi Rider and east of a line directly north of the Mississippi's head waters. Prior to this time the area was the responsibility of the Diocese of Detroit (1833), before the Diocese of Cincinnati (1821), and before the Diocese of Bardstown (Louisville, Kentucky 1808), and firstly the Diocese of Quebec (1674). Wisconsin Territory then numbered seven priests. Bishop Henni was 39 years of age. He will be remembered for his untiring efforts to establish a special seminary for young men of German extraction made familiar with the English language and trained for the priesthood. After Bishop Henni arrived in Milwaukee, the Catholic Church there was referred to as the Roman Catholic German Congregation Church. St. Luke Church was enlarged and renamed the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle.
Reverend Father Michael Heiss, born in Pfaldord, Barvaria on 12 April 1818, ordained at Nymphenburg near Munich on 18 October 1840, came to Covington, Kentucky in 1842. He would be coadjutor, along with Reverend Father Martin Kundig who would be vicar-general, and they operated out of St Peter's later known as the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Milwaukee. Father Heiss notes his first exploratory trip in the area was to Goldenthal and Hubertus on 27 May 1844. There he met up with Father Kundig who had visited several Irish parishes (O'Connelsville) and both returned to Milwaukee. He frequented the area where he encouraged religious activity, performed baptisms, and offered Mass; baptized John George Schuster (16 August) and Kunigunda Merkel (2 September). During this time services were held at individual's homes, specifically, Johannes Knetzger, John Greulich, and George Regenfuss. At least one area marriage was conducted by Father Heiss in Milwaukee that of Peter Joseph Schulteis and Anna Maria Merkel in October, 1845. St. Boniface was one of Father Heiss' mission churches.
In the fall of 1845, Johannes and Katherine (Hoffman) Knetzger donated two acres of land to the Milwaukee Diocese, and a small 20' by 30' log cabin chapel-residence was erected under the direction of Father Heiss by the Goldenthal settlers at a location in Town 9, Washington County, Wisconsin Territory. Father Dr. Salzmann later reported the walls, both inside and out, were painted white. The recording of this land transfer did not take place until 1 January 1847. Once the chapel-residence was built, Father Heiss used it as his northern home away from home, to provide services, and go on to other locations in the northwest Milwaukee area. As time went on, Father Heiss in 1868 would become Bishop in La Crosse and later in 1881, Archbishop in Milwaukee replacing Bishop Henni who had died that same year.
The exact location of the church land was at the southwest corner of the southwest 1/4, of the southeast 1/4, of section 17, town 9 north, range 20 east, Germantown Township, Washington County. The land was situated for 528 feet east and 165 feet north along the south section line of what was then called Town Road now Freistadt Road. The southwest corner of the log church was situated 50 feet east of the west boundary and 60 feet north of Town Road. The cemetery was located directly east of the church. In the writer's younger days this was Kolvenbach land. Several months later, John George and Anna (Gebhard) Merkel donated one acre of land contiguous to the Knetzger two acres on its west. In the 1950s this had been Theine land. By today's reckoning, the location is 1/2 mile west of the intersection Maple and Freistadt Roads or 1/2 mile east of Goldendale and Freistadt Roads.
James Knetzger, 2rd great-grandson of Johannes, remembers the old Knetzger homestead log house and its mantel which was held special to the family and only cherished heirlooms were allowed to be placed there. Family tradition had this mantel used by Father Heiss to hold the Ciborium when he came to the area to provide religious services. Somehow the word of Father's presence reached the settlers in the area and the families would come to the log house where Father Heiss would then say Mass.
St. Boniface is the oldest Catholic parish in Washington County.
In the fall of 1845, in August, Reverend Father Casper Rehrl received his first permanent assignment to a little parish near Lake Winnebago and on his way there, proceeding north on foot, he ran into much difficulty. After losing his way several times he ended up in Germantown, undoubtedly St. Boniface Congregation in Goldenthal, where he ministered to the people, then on to Barton and finally 24 August 1845 arriving in Sheboygan. As will be discovered later, St. Boniface was a stop over point on several noted occasions as its location was a days distance from Milwaukee.
Sometime in early 1846, it is believed the first pastor of St. Boniface arrived and he was named Father Charles Francis Joseph Schroudenback. Father Schroudenback came from Bavaria. There are no records at the parish supporting his tenure. The information was discovered in the book The Catholic Almanac 1846. We find Father Schroudenback at St. Kilian in St. Kilian in 1847.
In June of 1846 Reverend Father Francis Xavier Obermüller, the fourth priest but first "German" priest trained and ordained in the Milwaukee diocese, came to St. Boniface as his first assignment. Father Obermüller was born on 6 October 1810 in Schwarzenberg, village of Voralberg, Austrian Tryol. He administered to the families of the parish as well as Hubertus, Richfield, St. Augustine, Grafton, and outlying areas as far north as St. Lawrence and Holy Cross. Reverend Father Martin Anton Meyer of St. Anthony in Fussville also assisted at St. Boniface during Father Obermüller's circuit riding time. As both priests were just ordained, it is reasonable to believe they cooperatively ministered to this rather large area. In 1848, both priests could be found at Holy Cross.
The Catholic Almanac identifies Fathers Obermüller and Meyer were assigned to St. Boniface and ministered to St. Anthony, St. Hubert, St. Lawrence and two other stations.
The first baptism recorded in the parish was on 14 June of 1846. The individual was George Mehl, son of John Mehl and Margaret Fritzna who lived directly across the road west from the present church. There were two additional baptisms in June: Ann Mary Kiel, daughter of Anton Kiel and Alma Brustnacht who lived five mile west and south in Hubertus (northwest corner Willow Creek and Scenic Roads) and Mary Elizabeth Schulteis, daughter of Peter Joseph Schulteis and Anna Maria Merkel, who lived five miles west and north in Richfield (southeast corner Pioneer and Hillside Roads). In total there were 30 baptisms June to December 1846 and 38 baptisms May to July 1847. Deaths were not of significance to be recorded on other than grave markers, which did not weather the years. In the book Early Catholic Church Property in The Milwaukee Diocese of Milwaukee Wisconsin published in 1941, it is reported that local tradition had seven graves in the first St. Boniface Parish cemetery.
Using the process called Biolocation, the author was able to identify that there may be 10 graves, 2 infant, 2 children, and 6 adult. In the writer's opinion, these three acres should be held special in memory of St. Boniface's beginning, the St. Francis Provisional Seminary located there, and the ten parish members who chose this area as their final resting place.
The first triplets baptized at the parish were Appolonia, Adam, and John born to Frank Krakenberger and Elizabeth Buehmann on 12 January 1847.
It appears the priests may have performed baptisms at families homes for multiple single baptisms were performed on several days within the same week and many not on Sunday. Considering at the time it was relatively difficult to get to church, a new baby, and the never ending amount of work that needed to be done on the farm, it was probably easier for the priest to come to the farm than the farmer to go to the church. The priests also had incentives to make these rounds: home cooked food, lodging, conversation, and the possibility of meeting new people.
In July of 1847 Farther Obermüller left St. Boniface and after several assignments returned to Austria. He came back to America lastly becoming chaplain of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. He died in 1886 in La Crosse and is buried in a crypt beneath the chapel located just to the right of the main entrance.
October 8, 1847, Reverend Father Dr. Joseph Salzmann (1847-1849) born 17 August 1819, ordained 8 August 1842, arrived from Austria and went directly to Bishop Henni in Milwaukee. He remained in Milwaukee for a week acclimating to the environment and taking direction from the Bishop. Immediately after his arrival he received his assignment to St. Boniface. On Thursday, 14 October, Father Heiss came to Saint Boniface and the surrounding area to announce Father Salzmann had been assigned pastor. Father Salzmann came that weekend remaining until June 1849. While at St. Boniface he also took responsibility of St Huberts, St. Augustine, and St. Joseph in Mequon. Later on, St. James, St. Francis Xavier, and Holy Cross were added to his ministration. Registrations at all these parishes, including St. Boniface, are lacking for Father Salzmann.
In his writings, he described the church residence:
"They brought me to a pretty little house. This is the church, the people said. We entered and prayed, and in traveling suit I spoke a few words of greeting and dismissed the good people with my blessing, The log Church measured 12 1/2 by 7 1/2 paces. My Church is so low that I am in danger of touching the roof with the chalice during Elevation. The altar consists of a few timbers stuck into the wall. The tabernacle is a little blue box; a little crucifix on the altar is of glass. The confessional is a rough unpainted box. The pews are old boards nailed to a tree trunk. The sacristy is built to the Church. It contains a little empty bookcase, an old red vestment, two surplices, and that is all. No monstrance, no ciborium, no censer."
A less artistic description can be found in a letter of Father Salzmann written 21 October 1847, in the Volksblatt, published at Linz, Upper Austria by Albert von Pfugl on 12 July 1848, which can be found after the exhibits. Father Salzman wrote the letter one week after arriving at the parish.
Father's first request after being assigned was that a school be established. A school was established immediately and opened the next year with Mr. Michael Bodden as teacher. It is quite likely the log church was initially used as a school. Mr. Bodden followed Father Salzmann to Milwaukee. In his writings Father indicates the Bishop wished for a larger church and the people confirmed this. Father had reported back to the Diocese that a larger church was planned to be built.
With the arrival of Father Salzmann, long term viability of the St Boniface Congregation location was reviewed and a decision made to relocate a short distance 1/2 mile west and across Town Road (south) in section 20. In 1847 Bishop Henni was on an extended trip to Europe, and with Father Salzmann at St. Boniface, the Milwaukee Diocese Provisional Seminary was relocated to Goldenthal continuing either in Section 17 or possibly Section 20 which was then located on the George Regenfuss homestead. This land in Section 20 had originally been purchased by Johannes Knetzger from the Federal Government in November 1843. The book Halcyon Days St. Francis Seminary written in 1956 has the "seminary" located 1 mile east of the present church where a room was added to a two room log cabin. In 1849 a new church property of four acres was recorded as being donated by George Regenfuss and his wife Eva Margaretha (Knetzger) Regenfuss, sister to Johannes Knetzger. Church services were moved to the new property. Actual use of the land was possibly a year previous in 1848. The old log church for a time became the residence of Jochiem Kaupert.
Local tradition reports one possible reason for the parish relocation from section 17 to section 20 was a creek located in the valley flowing between what is now called Freistadt Road and the church property located on the hill above. When the creek grew in size, due to springs rains, it became difficult to approach the church property. This may not have prevented access but certainly made it difficult. The parish looking to the future desired a more suitable location. The exact location of the church property as described in the book entitled Early Catholic Church Property in the Archdiocese Of Milwaukee Wisconsin had this land located south of the creek, between the creek and Town Road. More likely, the sloping land was not considered suitable for building construction. On the other hand, the road or path coming from the north might have been located differently then as we know it to be today.
A second possibility is that the St. Boniface provisional seminary was established in Section 20 and Father Salzmann wanted the church and the seminary to be on the same property. A third possibility, a tradition of the Baertlein family, had Father Salzmann directing a railroad station to be located 1/2 mile north on Goldendale Road to service the seminary and having the seminary closer to this location gave credence to the request. A fourth possibility might be the combination of the above, quite possibly all three. Railroad stations were established by the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad in South Germantown and in Richfield when this section of the railroad line was completed in 1855.
In 1848 Wisconsin became the 30th state and Washington County had now been open for settlement for nine years. There were few amenities and fewer trade people. If you needed something done you did it yourself, or, if the job was too big, neighbors and friends came together to help. Religion was a necessity, for through it, people with similar views shared wants and needs, and as a group/parish/community, addressed the future together.
Father Salzmann reports during his tenure that stones and logs were acquired and building of a larger church commenced. Carl Quickert in his book, A Story of Washington County, reports that the parish completed the construction of a new church, a fair sized framed building built by the parish settlers; actual dimensions are unknown. The construction required two years to complete. The floor was the ground. Undoubtedly it was taller and larger than the original log church.
New information has come to light which changes this picture. Father Paulhuber published a book in 1864 where he relates the content of his first sermon at St. Boniface on 10 August 1851, two days after arriving. More on this later, but for now, Father indicated that the parish was using a log church and that a stone foundation and framing for a new church building had been sitting idle for several years. Father Salzmann reports he built a frame church. What we are sure of is that during Father Salsmann's tenure the parish was relocated. The original log church remained at the Knetzger site. A new church building was constructed at the new site. When Father Paulhuber arrived, this church building was in use and a larger skeleton foundation/frame church had been started. Therefore a church building must have been built closely after Father Salzmann arrived in October-November 1847 or for sure by 1848. St. Boniface would not have attempted to construct two church buildings at the same time.
By 1849 the "St. Boniface Milwaukee Diocese Provisional Seminary" had prepared three priests for ordination by Bishop Henni in Milwaukee: Mathias Gernbauer and Francis Fusseder who had accompanied Father Salzmann from Germany, and Peter De Berge who joined in 1848 (he went on to become assistant professor at St. Francis Seminary). John Conroy was also reported as studying at St. Boniface 1848-1849. This was quite a few people for such a small building. It can be expected that if the initial "seminary" was attached to a two room log cabin in 1847, which the book The Halcyon Days suggests, by 1849 with the presence of four people, the full log building would have been necessary.
It was reported in this same book and in the 1848 Catholic Almanac that Father Kendeler was assigned as assistant in 1848 and relieved Father Salzmann of some of his mission duties.
At this time the Parish received several additional parcels of land:
Father Salzmann administered to what he referred to as his "Little Seminary". He encouraged the formation of St. Hubert's Congregation in Hubertus and St. Augustine Congregation in St. Augustine. With the departure of Father Salzmann to Old St. Mary in Milwaukee in June of 1849, this based on sacramental registrations of Old St. Mary, so to did the "Diocese Seminary" relocate back to Milwaukee. Father Salzmann was instrumental in the development of St. Francis Seminary in St. Francis, Wisconsin just south of Milwaukee becoming its rector before he died 1871. Father is buried in a vault beneath the chapel in the Salesianum.
Reverend Father Joseph Sadler born and ordained in Bavaria arrived June 1847. Records at St. Boniface do not confirm the tenure of Father Salzmann nor Father Sadler. Personal records of Father Salzmann confirm his tenure. For Father Sadler, the book The Catholic Church in Wisconsin identifies he became pastor at Holy Trinity Congregation in September 1850, this at the same time the church there was dedicated, therefore, his tenure at St. Boniface was probably up to August of that year. Fathers Salzmann and Sadler while at St. Boniface also ministered to St. Francis Xavier mission in Grafton and it kept early records. Father Sadler is also reported as pastor of St. Anthony in Fussville in January of 1850. He died in Bavaria in 1887.
The second parish cemetery, but the first on its new property, was established at the southeast corner of Goldenthal (Goldendale) and Town (Freistadt) roads. This cemetery is referred to as the 1850 cemetery. First internments occurred in the northwest corner, then proceeding south and east. The first and last identifiable internments were James Wall on 3 June 1850 and Karl Tuchscherer on 23 March 1902. Mary Hayes (1843-1844) is identified on the family stone although it is suspected that this identification was made for posterity purposes.
The Catholic Almanac 1851 reports Reverend Father George Laufhuber as pastor at St. Boniface. Father would have arrived from Holy Cross and left to St. Martin in Franklin. On the other hand he may have ministered to St. Boniface from Holy Cross.
Reverend Father Dr. Francis Xavier Paulhuber (1851-1853) arrived from Ingolstadt, Austria in 1851 and was assigned to St. Boniface as pastor arriving on 7 August. He departed on 1 August of 1853 to St. Mary's in Milwaukee. In the appendices can be found excerpts from Father Paulhuber's book written in 1864. Here he relates information regarding his first sermon given on Sunday August 10. In this sermon he admonishes the parishioners for the state of the parish buildings and the congregation's disunity which he attributed to the prejudices brought with them from Europe. He also related that a new and larger church building had been started under Father Salzmann. The foundation had been set and framing put into place but its construction was not progressed and was only partially paid for.
It has been suggested that the situation at St. Boniface had to do with the differences of opinion in who owned the parish buildings. The parishioners considering that if they built them and paid for them they should own them. On the other hand, church policy would have these building owned by the Bishop. This concept was called "Lay Trusteeism" which flourished in other religions, but did not and never would apply to the Catholic church in the United States. With this belief the parishioners would have been hesitant to fund new buildings or maintain existing ones as was the situation of the parish when Father Paulhuber arrived.
Overcoming this obstacle, Father Paulhuber completed the construction of the 40' by 80' stone church. The building was consecrated by Bishop Henni on All Souls Day 1853. In the writing of Sister Bonaventure Schoeberle of the Sisters of Third Order of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Our Missions From 1864 to 1934, she confirms the construction of a clay (brick) church. Father also reported that St. Boniface consisted of 110 families so it was a rather large congregation both in number of families and geographic area. Father went on to assist Father Heiss at St. Francis Seminary and after several short assignments returned in 1856 to Germany where he wrote several biographical books. In the book A History of Holy Hill by J.M. LeCount published in 1891, it is identified that Father Paulhuber purchased the Holy Hill hill top (50 acres) in May of 1855. The book states when Father Paulhuber visited St. Augustine, he stayed with Joseph Kohler who was living a half mile south of the church.
St. Boniface Congregation records indicate Father Sebastian Seif ministered at the parish and Washington County records confirm this. Father Seif was ordained on 25 September 1851 and immediately assigned to St. John's in Green Bay as an assistant. Sometime in mid 1852 he left Green Bay. Father Seif in December of 1852 performed a marriage at St. Boniface but not as the pastor. It would seem that while at St. Boniface, Father Seif was an assistant under Father Paulhuber.
From 1846 to 1854, Hubertus, St. Augustine, and Richfield areas were ministered by the pastor of St. Boniface.
On 16 February 1854, Reverend Father I. Nicholas Pfeiffer (1854-1857), ordained on 19 February 1853 and pastor of St. Mary's in Racine, replaced Father Paulhuber. This was his second assignment. The Catholic Almanac for 1854 identified Father Maximilian De Beke was assigned as assistant. During Father Pfeiffer's pastorate, based on sacramental registrations, the geographic area serviced by the parish went as far north as Immaculate Conception in West Bend and as far east as St. Joseph in Grafton. During this time Father recorded as many registrations for West Bend, St. Joseph and St. Augustine as he did for St. Boniface. Baptisms were large in number; from 1852-1857 there were in the 60 range for baptisms. This as compared to later years 1860s which averaged 28 per year, 1870s - 28 (only years considered normal were used in the calculation), 1880s - 24, 1890s - 22, and 1900s - 17.
Father Pfeiffer remained at St. Boniface until 23 February 1857. Reverend Father Meauelére arrived from St. John Nepomncene in Little Chute on 8 March 1857 and remained to 2 May 1858 when he transferred to St. Theresa in Theresa.
In 1856 Reverend Father Johann Baptist Haslbauer (1856-1859) born 17 July 1807 in Laaber, Bavaria and ordained 1835 arrived from St. Joseph's in East Bristol at either St. Augustine or St. Hubert assuming responsibility for St. Augustine and St. Hubert. When Father arrived at the parish he signed his name as "Hasselbauer," when departing "Haslbauer." This would be his third assignment. St. Augustine had completed the building of their field stone church in 1855 and began sacramental registration in June 1856. The first recording of a sacramental registration under St. Augustine at St. Boniface was in May of 1854. St. Hubert had been operating out of a log church for two years and Father Haslbauer began his sacramental registrations there in May of 1856. Father Haslbauer relocated to St. Boniface on 22 May 1858. Father remained in the area for four years. In June of 1858 he led a procession from St. Augustine to the top of the hill which was holy, now called Holy Hill but also known as Big Hill, Lapham's Peak, and Hermit Hill, and blessed the oak cross Roman Goetz had hewn from local timbers. He died 17 July 1879 in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Reverend Father John Baptist Weikmann, who was pastor at St. Mary in Port Washington, followed Father Haslbauer at St. Hubert in 1859 remaining one year.
With the transfer of Father Haslbauer from St. Hubert, St. Mary reports responsibility for the Mission Church followed him to St. Boniface in Goldenthal. This is not 100% true. Father Haslebauer did retain responsibility but when Father Hess arrived in January 1860, Father Weikmann ministered to the mission until June and then responsibility for the mission came to St. Boniface. It is at this time that St. Boniface also received responsibility for St. Hubert and St. Augustine. St. Mary's remained a Mission Church of St. Boniface until 1915.
Reverend Father John Michael Heiss Jr. (1860-1861), born 19 August 1833 at Boehmfeld, Bavaria, one of 14 priests ordained by the diocese 16 December 1859 and referred to as the "First Fruits" of St. Francis Seminary, arrived 1 January 1860 as his first assignment replacing Father Haslbauer. Father Heiss remained 18 months to 16 June 1861. It is said that Reverend Michel Heiss, then rector of St. Francis Seminary, came to St. Boniface on 10 June 1860 for unknown reasons and also on 1 July 1861 in order to assist his cousin at confirmation ceremonies to be held the next day. If the latter date is correct, this would mean that J. Michael Heiss Jr. departed the parish after that date. St. Hubert shows registrations for Father Heiss into July. As Father Strickner did not arrive until the middle of July the confirmation date could be correct.
For the first six month of Father Heiss' tenure there are questions as to which parish he resided. SS Peter and Paul Parish in Nenno identifies he was their first resident pastor. Registrations show that he ministered January to October 1860 at SS Peter and Paul and from January thru August 1860 at St. Anthony in Allenton. He also ministered from January 1860 thru June 1861 at St. Mary in Richfield and St. Boniface and from August 1860 thru June 1861 at St. Hubert and St. Augustine. Father J. Michael Heiss died on 25 June 1890 as pastor of St. Andrew Parish in LeRoy, Dodge County, Wisconsin.
It is now 1860. One priest is administering to all four locations. This continued to 1871:
Did the priests reside at St. Boniface these 11 years? Considering the construction of a church and the high regard the Diocese placed on the parish, you could assume the priest resided at St. Boniface. From the priests' perspective, who had the more comfortable parsonage?
Father George Strickner arrived from St. Henry in Watertown on 14 July 1861 as his second assignment. He was born 6 December 1833 in Stadtkemnath, Bavaria and was one of the "First Fruits" of St. Francis Seminary ordained in 1859. Holy Hill records reflect Father Strickner in 1861 sanctioning the building of the log chapel on the hill which was holy.
Construction of the 45' by 100' stone church was begun under Father Strickner in 1861. Sister Bonaventure Schoeberle in her writing Our Missions From 1864 to 1934 reports that St. Boniface church was a spacious structure but built of clay. Lightning had hit the church tower doing considerable damage and parish members feared that sooner or later it would fall decided to construct a more permanent stone structure. They added a temporary addition of boards to the frame church constructed in 1848 and held services there while the stone church was built.
In 1865 the Knetzger land was returned by the Diocese to Sebastian Knetzger, the same year the original log church/building was supposedly raised. It is now believed the building might have been removed earlier. At this time the Merkel one acre was returned to John Merkel. All donated parcels were returned to the original owners with the exception of the Mehl land. This property was returned, possible with the original owner's consent and direction, to the School District in 1875 where later a one room cement and field stone school house was built. The building remains today as an area home.
Father Strickner departed on 3 March 1865 to Mother of Sorrows in Fredonia. After many assignments he returned to Europe and died there on 20 September 1901. Reverend Father Francis Spath, born 30 March 1836 at Hilze, Austria ordained 22 April 1865, arrived in April as his second assignment and departed two months later on 28 May to St. Bruno in the Town of Ottawa. Father died in 1890 while pastor of St. Peter's Schlesingerville (Slinger) and is buried in the cemetery there.
Reverend Father Anton Föckler born 13 September 1838 in Landstuhl, Bavaria and ordained 29 June 1863 arrived in 13 August 1865 from St. Martin in Springfield Corners. This was his third assignment. It would seem possibly because of Father Föckler, Mother Antonia of the Sisters of St. Francis Assissi accepted St. Boniface as a mission. On the other hand, our Father Francis Obermüller was just made chaplain of the Order and possibly he had an influence in the parish's selection. The sisters arrived in December of 1865. Father Föckler went personally to Nojoshing (St. Francis) via the train to escort the sisters to the parish. The sisters reported they had some difficulty in that they missed the train and had to spend an extra night in Milwaukee before arriving at the parish. The sisters were Gertrud Giaetz, Superioress, Agnes Fleckenstein, and a third lady, Raymunda Schumacher, was not able to come for she had contracted Typhoid Fever.
Sister Agnes reported that initially she taught in a Free School [district school] quite some distance from the building in which she lived. [believe this would have been two miles north on Goldendale Road at the northwest corner of Bonniville] The one room school contained several heavy benches, a teacher's desk, a small blackboard, and stove. What impressed her most was not the building nor the distance but losing her shoes in the mud as she traveled in rainy weather. Sister reported the one room log school had the alphabet posted by a previous teacher on the beams that held up the ceiling. All children of the area attended classes not just children of the parish. This was the fourth mission outside of Jefferson and the fifth school supported by the order. Sister Raymunda Schurnmacher who was to have accompanied Sister Agnes and Sister Giaetz did not arrive until January looking feeble and sickly. Father Föckler thought it best that Sister Raymunda return to Nojoshing for he feared she was not completely over the sickness and that it might spread to the parish. Sister Raymunda died on 30 November 1866. Sister Aemeliana Kau came to the parish as winter was almost over. She and Sister Agnes both taught in the same room until Easter of 1866.
Later the sisters taught at the parish. They reported initially one classroom was used for all students. It is said that the building was the church constructed under Father Salzmann. Twice each week, private evening lessons were given to the larger students, primarily boys, who would not study with the little ones; some of the mothers also attended. After the arrival of Sister Kau, two classrooms were used one for the older pupils (Salzmann frame church) and the other for the younger ones, a log church. Sister Agnes also reported that some of the logs from Father Heiss' old log church were used in the parsonage. The original log church on the Knetzger property must have been moved. One can surmise from this that the parishioners dismantled the original log church in section 17 and moved it to the new parish property in section 20. In 1867 the school was reported to have 100 pupils. In 1868 and 1869 it had 130 students.
Sister Agnes reported she studied diligently and prayed feverishly to ensure she successfully passed the examination conducted by Mr. Regenfuss to secure a county teaching certificate. This she did after traveling to West Bend. Sister Agnes did not reveal that much weight was being carried on her shoulders. She was the first sister of her order to have taken such an examination.
It would seem that four sister of this order taught at St. Boniface. In 1869 Sister Agnes was now Directress, Sister Gertrude had left, and a fourth lady, Sister Ludovica (Lousia Keller) joined the teaching staff. What is noteworthy about this is that Sister Ludovica would go on to become the Mother General of the Order. And even more so, Father Francis Xaiver Obermüller, our Father Obermüller, when a priest in Ohio after leaving St. Boniface, encouraged Lousia to follow her desire to become a nun directing her to St. Francis convent in Nojoshing. One of her pupils in her primary class at St. Boniface was named Kilian George Beyer. Father Kilian George Bryer was to become chaplain of the Order after Father Obermüller.
Father Föckler continued with the construction of the stone church completing his assignment on 24 February of 1867 when he transferred to St. Joseph in East Bristol. Father died in Racine on 9 November 1889 while rector there. Reverend Father John Gamber arrived on 18 March. Nothing is known regarding Father Gamber. The stone church was completed under Father Gamber taking then in the order of six to nine years from start to finish.
The church had two chimneys one near the sacristy and the second in the center of the congregation area; wood and later coal was used to heat the building. The church was unusual being constructed of cut block not cement and field stone which had been customary for the time. The church's roof was flat and had a rather large stone steeple base located within the church proper at the rear or entrance side. The top portion was octagon in shape rather the customary square. One wonders who the architect was. Was he familiar with the area? One would assume not considering the heavy snows in the winter. The most unusual, why place the unusual octagon shaped steeple within the main church building for this required considerable floor space for its stone support walls? It is unfortunate that records do not exist of these transactions so one can understand how these practical Germans were convinced to build such an unusual building; very beautiful, but not long-term practical.
Looking at pictures of other churches in Wisconsin constructed at about this time three churches look similar to St. Boniface. The first St. Mary in Milwaukee was constructed in 1847. It had a flat roof, simple lines with an octagon steeple. St. Stanislaus in Milwaukee, constructed in 1872, had a similar steeple. But the most similar, although made out of different materials, was St. Peter in Beaver Dam constructed in 1862. It had the same simple lines, octagon steeple with domed top and front facade almost identical.
An aside, in 1860 to 1863 Holy Cross Parish in Holy Cross built a stone church with steeple affixed to the church roof. This roof was flat and was replaced in 1882 after a tornado toppled the steeple. As did St. Boniface, Holy Cross constructed their new tower at the front of the structure through which was the entrance.
Father Gamber obtained the first bell named Saint Maria. The bell was struck in 1868 in St. Louis by J.G. Stuckstede & Brother. The second bell was purchased by Adam Schoettler of Rockfield and was named St. Catharine. The third bell, unnamed, was added later. In 1868 the parish completed the construction of its first independent rectory building. The old wooden frame church became unoccupied to be used for other purposes.
It is at this time (6 September 1868) Father Michael Heiss was made bishop of the newly established Diocese of La Crosse. Father Heiss had been the spiritual director of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. He put out a call for help and asked the sisters to come home. The sisters at St. Boniface heeded this call and in 1869 departed the parish to the Order's new Mother House in La Cross there assisting Bishop Heiss in the Diocese of La Crosse. St. Boniface Parish would be without teaching sisters for the next 30 years. Father Gamber departed in January 1870.
Reverend Father Anthony Michael arrived at the parish on 19 March 1870 as his third assignment, remained one year to 10 March 1871 when he went on to St. Lawrence in Jefferson. On 26 March 1871, Reverend Father John Gmeiner (1871-1872), born 5 December 1847, ordained in 1870, came from St. Vincent de Paul in Oshkosh as his fourth assignment. Reverend Father B. Henry Korfhage, ordained 29 June 1863, was assigned to St. Hubert that same year. With the exception of the years 1856, 1857, and 1859, it is at this time we see St. Hubert administered independently of St. Boniface.
In the book History of Holy Hill by J.M. LeCount previously identified, "it is stated on the authority of Reverend N.M. Zimmer, that all of the Reverend Fathers mentioned above prior to Reverend John Welter, resided at St. Boniface, and only attended St. Hubert and St. Augustine as out-missions. Reverend John Welter was the first priest to reside at St. Hubert Congregation. Reverend Paulhuber resided at St. Boniface when he purchased the Holy Hill property." While this statement is not 100 percent true, it does lend some credence to where the pastors may have called home.
St. Hubert was responsible for St. Augustine and St. Boniface for St. Mary.
Father Gmeiner remained fifteen months and departed 21 July 1872. Father Gmeiner became a professor at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee and St. Thomas Seminary in St. Paul. Reverend Father Peter Zuber arrived 15 September 1872 from St. Wendel in St. Wendel remaining until 2 March 1873.
Reverend Father Benedict Smeddinck born 1820 in Dülmen (Münster), Germanic Lands arrived 1 March 1873 from St. Alphonse in New Muenster as his sixth assignment remaining 18 months and departing 20 August 1874. He died in Paris, Kenosha County, Wisconsin and is buried in the cemetery there. No sacramental registrations can be found during his tenure. Father Smeddinck was a scholarly person, however he was unable to secure a chair at St. Francis Seminary although he held one in Belgium. He had a bit of an editorial conflict in his editing a review of The Four Gospels, Examined and Vindicated written by Father Heiss in the Romania magazine. His work it was reported was more concerned with spaciousness than with thoroughness there-by coming into conflict with Father Heiss. After Father Heiss left for La Crosse in 1868, Father Smeddinck requested transfer to the Milwaukee Diocese and this was granted.
Father Smeddinck was followed by Reverend Father Theodore Arnold Trottenberg S.A.C. (1874-1875) remaining until 3 January 1875. Father Trottenberg went on to Marquette, Michigan in the Marquette Diocese.
Reverend Father Charles Drees, ordained 1875, arrived 20 March 1875 as his second assignment remaining until 2 July 1878. Years of normalcy during this decade were 1870-1872, 1875, and 1879.
Through the years 1873 to 1878, St. Boniface did have its problems. Prior to this time, the parish was averaging 35 baptisms per year but during these years, the numbers fell to nine with some years almost zero. Infants who normally would have been baptized at St. Boniface may have been taken elsewhere to have the service performed. (reviewing neighboring parish records did not discover these events) The reduction in numbers also showed up in marriages. During this period, St. Mary in Richfield was ministered by the Reverend Father Peter Mutz pastor of St. Peter in Schlesingerville (Slinger). Father Mutz was ordained 18 December 1869. The physical inactivity of the pastors could have been because of illness but probably it was for some other reason. Since the neighboring parishes did not record these registrations, it seems most likely that the baptisms were just not recorded. On the other hand, hearsay of some of the older parish families suggests they went elsewhere to have the baptisms performed. In any event, the time passed.
In the book He Sent Two by Sister Francis Borgia, it was reported that in April of 1874, Reverend Father Anthony Michels, Sister Alexia, Sister Alfons, and Sister Clara with horse and buggy proceeded north from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac Road which had them to go by the parish heading to New Castle in Fond du Lac County. This event was the beginning of what was to become the School Sisters of St. Francis. More than likely they may have stopped by as it would be about noon time if the trip started in the early morning. The time was appropriate to stretch and have lunch either at the rectory or next door at the Regenfuss hotel. This was the same Father Michels who was pastor of St. Boniface four years before.
Reverend Father Stanislaus Bellinger arrive in September of 1878 and the parish returned to "normal". This was Fathers fifth assignment. Father Bellinger remained two years departing in September 1880. Little is known regarding Father Bellinger. Following Father Bellinger came Reverend Father Hubert Jansen in April 1881. Father Jansen was born 1828 in Hechelscheidt, Cologne, ordained 1854 in Luxemburg, and died in 1892 at St. Mathias in Milwaukee. This was his seventh assignment. He departed the parish to St. Mathias in Mlwaukee. Father P. Hayacinth arrived in January 1882. Reverend Father Anselm Sauthner O.S.B. followed on 13 May 1882 from St. John's Abbey in Eden Valley, Minnesota. He was born 1820 in Straubing, Bavaria, ordained 1845 in Augsburg, Germanic Lands and died 1905 in Bavaria. Father Sauthner went on to Belgium, Wisconsin. Reverend Father Pere Nicolaus O.M. Cap., who was born 1843 in Maryling, Bavaria and ordained in 1878, arrived at the parish on 21 May 1883. His birth name was Matthew Metzinger.
Reverend Father Charles Grobschmit arrived at the parish from St. Francis in Cross Plains on 22 January of 1884 as his third assignment. Father Grobschmit was born in Luxemberg, Germany 16 December 1854 and ordained 4 June 1877. Father remained until June 1886. The parish was incorporated in 1886 at which time the church's interior was beautifully frescoed. Prior to this time, the property and buildings were in the name of the Bishop of Milwaukee. After incorporation, the property and buildings were then held by the Corporation of St. Boniface Congregation; president was the Archbishop, vice president was the pastor, with parish members filling the positions of secretary and treasurer and this continues today. The first Trustees were Adam Muenier as Secretary and Adalbart Hartman as Treasurer.
Reverend Father B. Henry Korfhage followed Father Grobschmit arriving from St. Martin's in Ashford in June 1886. Father Korfhage was born at Loeningen, Germany on 25 April 1830 and ordained on 29 June 1863. He went on to Mother of Sorrows in Fredonia.
Reverend Father Henry Blum came in August 1888 as his first assignment. In 1889 Father Blum saw the construction of a painted wooden, four room two story school house/convent/chapel as well as a supporting unpainted out building and wood storage area to its east. The school looked like the duplicate of a school reportedly built at St. Hubert the previous year. The first story contained two school rooms with the west room including the chapel alcove. Grades 1-4 were taught in the west room and grades 5-8 in the east room. The second story contained eight small rooms and was used as convent for the resident teaching sisters from the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.
Some years later a lean-to style addition was added on the school's east side and used by the sisters to prepare food. At this time a second entrance was afforded the second floor through the new addition. It is reported that the removal of the kitchen out of the living area reduced the heat in the sisters' quarters during the hot summer months although this must have had a chilling effect in winter months.
Years later in 1947, as the student population grew, one of the upstairs rooms on the southeast corner was used as a classroom. In 1948 two rooms were used and were located on the southeast and northeast corners.
In 1889 the church reportedly had a membership of 90 families. There were 90 children in regular attendance in school. Trustees were George Merkel and John Braum. The year saw 98 confirmations; 72 at St. Boniface and 26 at Mary.
The entrance to the school was on the south wall centered facing the church. It contained an external vestibule with stairs on the interior leading to the second floor. The wall separating the two lower rooms had blackboards which opened to the side so the east room could view the west alcove chapel. In the winter months daily mass was held in the school rather than the church. Fire evacuation drills were conducted on a periodic basis and in the late 1940s, pupils on the second floor would proceed single file down the stairs with no talking, pushing, or shoving to the outside. In the event fire would prevent escape via the stairs, it was said, but never practiced, that the pupils would evacuate out the second story window, on to the vestibule roof, jump to the flag pole and scoot down the pole as fireman would do. Luckily, this plan was never exercised.
The 1892 the parish consisted of 132 families. A plot map of the area identified a "German Catholic Church and School" where St. Boniface is now located.
A second cemetery equal in size to the first was established in 1893. It was located contiguous to cemetery #1, to its east along Town Road. Internments began in its western section and proceeded east. This section contains an area reserved for babies in the southeast corner. The 1893 cemetery is different from the 1907 cemetery in that mostly individual interments were made. It is unusual to find a family group. The first and last identifiable internments were Margaret Baumgartner in 1890 and Frances Greulich 1988.
Reverend Father William Dejalle born 1863 arriving in America in 1893 gave Father Blum a breather from July to October 1893. He went on to St. Wendel's in St. Wendel.
Reverend Father Joseph H. Wurm born 20 January 1871 in Bilstein, Westphalia, coming to America at age 10, was ordained on 24 June 1893 and arrived at the parish from St. John the Baptist in Muscoda in November 1895. This was his third assignment and second pastorate. Father departed the parish in 1915.
There were others who came to the parish to assist from time to time: Reverend Fathers T. Bekey, Joseph Sabrmann, P. Faivor, Joseph Rainer (professor and Rector St. Francis Seminary), Joseph W. Berg (professor St. Francis Seminary), Joseph Meinard Bürgeler (pastor St. Peter) and others.
In 1895 the parish decided that it would celebrate its golden jubilee in the fall. A committee was appointed consisting of George Greulich, Peter Muller, and Frank Regenfuss. No other information regarding the event was found. The parish also determined that a new parsonage was necessary and a committee was appointed to do this: Georg Greulich, Frank M. Regenfuss, John Bemert, George Betzhold, and George Tuchscherer.
The Congregation is now 50 years old. It had gone from infancy in 1845 to a fully functioning parish in 1895. Parishioners, priests, and sisters had given much to make the parish a success. Initial efforts, although centered on St. Boniface, embraced all the peoples and parishes in the area. The priests who administered to St. Boniface had been the fulcrum which nurtured the beginning of all Catholic parishes in Town 9; Germantown and Richfield Townships.