Parish History Chapter 3

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    1946 - The Second Century
    1948 - Second School Building
    1953 - Description Church Interior
    1954 - The Church Fire
    1964 - Goldendale Becomes Germantown
    1975 - The Bell Tower
    1995 - Sesquicentenial

The Second Century

On Corpus Christi Sundays, a procession was made to honor/remember fellow parishioners who had departed this world. It followed a route from the church in a straight line just west of the school to the altar located between the 1850 and 1893 cemeteries where prayers were then said. The procession turned east to the service road, then south and back into church.. Leading the procession were three altar boys, the center boy holding a crucifix, and the side two boys a candle. Following were young girls dressed in white or light colored dress carrying flower petals which they distributed to the ground. They in turn were followed by the priest with two altar boys, one on each side. Following the priest was the congregation. Song/chant was sung throughout the procession.

Reverend Father Anthony Beyer followed Father Risch for a few months in 1945. He was born 12 February 1911 in Milwaukee, ordained 22 May 1937, died 1983 and is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, St. Francis. Father left to join the faculty of St. Francis Minor Seminary. In December of 1945, Reverend Father Alois J. Klas (1945-1951) arrived from St. Rose in Brodhead as his sixth assignment. He was born 16 April 1903 in Fredonia, ordained 11 June 1933, died in 1990, and is buried in St. Mary Cemetery, Port Washington.


Second School Building

In 1948-1949, a four room brick school house was constructed. The existing wooden school house situated directly south was removed. The northeast room was used as convent for the School Sisters. Separating the upstairs rooms from the basement, the hallway had a metal ceiling high fence which was used to secure the area after school hours. The school basement could be used as a hall and kitchen facilities were included. Father Klas maintained a very large garden with bee hives and was affectionately known as "the gardener". His housekeeper Mrs. Gaden and the school sisters can attest to his expertise in composting and growing of vegetables. I can remember Mrs. Gaden from my school days as a kindly lady with grey hair.

At this time the school's playground was situated between the church and the school, in what is now a parking lot, and west of the soon to be parish center building and where the gymnasium is to be built. It contained a merry-go-round located south and west of the Sister House and swings located half way between the school and the rectory and located east-west. To the west of the swing area was an open grass field containing a small softball diamond with home base positioned at the northeast corner. On the west edge running along Goldendale Road was a row of cedar trees. The second and larger baseball diamond for the older children was located on the west side of the school between it and Goldendale Road and between the first cemetery and the parking lot where the school's addition now stands. Home base was located centered on the north side. Sister Edista loved to play ball and every once in a while she would roll up her selves and grab a bat; could she hit!

During this time it was the practice of the parish to toll the large bell upon a parishioners death, one toll for each year of the persons life. The hand rung toll could be heard from as far away as Germantown.

Reverend Father William Huemmer arrived in December of 1951 from St. Franics Xavier in Brighton. He was born 15 December 1901, ordained 15 June 1935, died in 1972 two years after his retirement and is buried in Resurrection Cemetery, Madison. Shortly after Father arrived, the interior of the church was redecorated. In 1953, a separate brick convent building for the teaching sisters was constructed and all rooms in the school then were dedicated to education. The convent building was removed in 1999 to make room for a parish center. In 1954, there were 138 children in school.

Father Huemmer owned two black and rust/brown Doberman Pinchers who resided with him in the rectory. The dogs would scare the dickens out of the children when they were sent to the rectory to pass information on from the sisters or to ask for his assistance at the school. After ringing the door bell, the dogs would crash into the back storm door and the children prayed that it would hold, and it did.


Description Church Interior

Based on a picture taken in 1953 and personal observation by the writer, the interior of the St. Boniface Church can be described as follows:

The church was situated on the southern edge of the property in an east-west direction with the entrance on the west side and the altar on the east. Proceeding to the church from Goldendale Road, you immediately encountered some ten concrete up steps, then a flat concrete walkway of about thirty feet. There was a round tubular metal handrail on the right side. This brought you to the base of the steps leading into the church. On either side of the nine steps was a round tubular metal hand railing. At the top of the steps and several feet back were two large 2" thick solid hardwood doors. Once through the doors you were in the vestibule, the size of the steeple, for you were standing in the steeple's base. To the right was a door leading outside with steps, but seldom used. To the left was a window allowing light into the area. At this point you encountered two wooden doors centered and opening into the church proper.

Above for about 15' running the width of the church was the wooden choir loft. There were steps on either side winding up. The choir loft had a pipe organ at its center and located against the back west wall. Around the organ was open floor for choir members. On either side were three rows of pews for choir members and for overflow crowds such as on Midnight Mass at Christmas. Entrance to the bell tower was from the loft.

Back on the main floor, centered, was an aisle with wooden pews on either side each side holding 10 people. There was a narrow aisle along the outer left and right walls. The pews contained roll up wooden kneeler and later in the 1940s, a cushioned kneeling pad was added. On the back side of the pews were metal clips which could be used to hang a purse or a hat. It seems that the same families sat in the same seats each Sunday for Masses held at 8:00 and 10:00 am. This was because the families paid "pew rent" and at one time, each family was assigned to sitting in the same pew. The pews were numbered with small metal numbers affixed on their center aisle side. Up to and including 1944 pew rent was collected. Starting in 1945 it was called church dues.

Down the center aisle were electric lights hanging from the ceiling but higher than the previous lights. The front of the church contained the sanctuary in the center recessed about 20 feet and on either side was a room. On the left looking from the back forward was the sacristy. On the right was a room for the servers and contained their garments in several sizes along with instruments and supplies to light candles, the incense burner, incense, a five foot metal cross and two tall candle stands used for funerals, and other such supplies. There was a door to the outside, east side, from each of these rooms. To begin services, four boy servers would go through the sanctuary to the sacristy where the priest had put on his vestments for Mass. When it was time to begin the service, the first server out the sacristy archway would pull a chain on his left which rang three small brass metal bells. When the bells rang, the congregation stood. The four servers would precede the priest to the base of the altar, the servers would genuflect, the priest bow, and Mass begin. At this time mass was said in Latin.

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti ...

There was a cadre of servers opened to boys upon reaching the third grade. The sisters assigned specific individuals to a serving group and each particular group was assigned to serve on a given Sunday Mass each month such as the 8:00 am Mass on the second Sunday. Months containing a fifth Sunday would have that Sunday assigned special as two groups would serve twice that month. When it was discovered that servers were missing, that is, after the mass started, boys attending mass but not assigned that day would fill in. One particular group was composed of Oliver Schulteis Jr., Ardell Wolf, Raymond Roskopf, and the writer.

The center sanctuary contained an ornate altar along the back east church wall. The altar contained five statues, Boniface in the upper left and Mary in the upper right. Above and centered was Christ on the cross with a statue on either side. There were side altars, closer to the congregation on the congregation side of the sacristy and server preparation room west walls. The right side altar, looking to the sanctuary, contained a statue of St. Joseph (new) while the left altar contained a statue of Mary (original, also seen on the c: 1909 picture). Separating the congregation from the sacristy was an ivory colored wood decorative communion railing opening at its center.

The communion railing was a low railing with a top six inch wide banister. It was called a communion railing for those receiving communion would kneel side by side along the railing and the priest, starting with the left most individual, provide the host and move to his right. A server accompanied the priest on his right holding a gold plated paten under the persons chin to catch a dropped host. When the right of the railing was reached, the priest and server would walk back to the left and start again. As a person received the host, the individual would return to his or her seat and the next person in line would take their place kneeling at the railing. At the center of the railing was positioned two gates, one swinging to the left and one to the right allowing the priest to directly enter the body of the church or allow individuals in the church body to enter the sanctuary without having to go around the railing at the side alters. These gates were generally closed during service but were opened during funerals and weddings.

On the far end on both sides of this railing were statues of an angel with arm held high holding a light fixture containing six candle like bulbs in a circular pattern with a single larger candle bulb at the center.

Stations of the cross plaques were affixed to the left and right side walls between beautiful stained glass windows. Each of the eight windows contained a small opening vent at their bottom base to allow for ventilation in hot summer months.

The sanctuary's red light, signifying God's presence, hung on a 6' brass chain on the right sanctuary wall. There was a statue on a pedestal, the Pieta (original), about six foot tall along the side wall in front of the right side altar. In a photograph in the 1945 centennial parish booklet, there was an ornate wooden lectern in the sanctuary on the left side positioned by the communion railing.

Every Christmas season a Bethlehem crib was constructed in front of the St. Joseph (right side) altar. The scene was large some 6' square and 4' tall. At its center was a wooden crib 2' by 2' containing 10" statues of Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus, animals (cow, donkey, camels, and sheep), the Magi, shepherds, with an angel with wings outstretched hovering over the roof top. This crib tradition continues today. In front of the crib was a small coin box with an angel situated on its top where one could place offerings. When a coin was deposited, the angel bowed its head in thanks.


The Church Fire

In 1954 a calamity struck the parish in the afternoon of Thursday, March 4. The church caught fire. Smoke was discovered by Lester Gettelman who was sent to the church to unlock the door in preparation for confession that day. Even though the Germantown Fire Department with assistance from the Richfield Fire Department tried diligently to extinguish the flames, the structure was too large for the equipment available, but even so, the fire had progressed too far by the time the departments arrived for them to do much good. The fire departments concentrated their efforts to save the nearby rectory, school, and Lone Star Tavern, the oldest building in the immediate area. All that could be done by the people at hand and the school children was silently say a prayer. It was suspected by the fire department, as reported in the book Germantown, Wisconsin Volunteer Fire Company by L.E. "Butch" Walterlin, that the fire began in the furnace area beneath the sanctuary portion of the building or possibly by an electrical spark and proceeded on up between the two roofs to the front entrance and bell tower.

Some of the older parishioners believe the starting of the fire had something to do with candles or incense used in the service that day. Whatever caused the fire, the stone walls, the steeple roof, some roof rafters primarily from the original roof, and the buildings front facade is all that remained.

The smaller of the three church bells remained in the tower while the larger two had fallen and laid exposed at the entrance door. None of the beautiful side colored stained glass windows or statues survived. The fire had completely gutted the inside of the structure. Until a new church could be built, services were held in the school basement.

The remains of the church were removed and buried west on Goldendale Road south of the railroad tracks at a low and wet spot. To better place the location, it became the back yard of what was to become Reverend Father Baertlein's retirement home.

Within one year and a few months, in October of 1955, the people of the parish had a new church where a church had stood for 94 years. This enormous task was undertaken by Father William J. Huemmer, Pastor, Walter Neu, Treasurer, and Herman Wolf, Secretary. The Building Committee was composed of William Fleischmann, Gerald Kleinman, Peter Kohl, Norman Merkel, John Roskopf, Oliver Schulteis, Lawrence Stephan, Ewrin "Erve" Theisen, and Le Roy Walterlin. The writer remember many times his father took him along to the construction site, at least once a week towards the end, to see how much progress had being made and verify the "quality of the work."

The church was dedicated on Sunday, 16 October 1955 by the Most Reverend Albert Gregory Meyer, S.T.D., S.S.L., Archbishop of Milwaukee presiding in Cappa Magna and preaching the sermon. The building was designed by Fladd Architects of Madison, Wisconsin. It was located on the same area as the previous building and had a similar floor design. It was a rectangle building with ashlar Lannon stone quarried in near by Lannon. The building was situated east west, as was the old building, 54' wide, 135.5' long and 26' high at the peak.

Four years later in 1958, the parish added five rooms to the school, one being an office.

St. Boniface Parish is now 120 years old. The last 40 years (1930-1965) saw a transformation of the physical St. Boniface. No building on the property, with the exception of the rectory built in 1931, was older than 10 years. The foresight of the parish was such that no new building or expansion would be needed for over 30 years even though the number of families would increased by some 300%.

Father Louis Schmidt (1960-1982) born 26 June 1912, ordained on 22 May 1937 arrived at the parish in 1959 from St. Mary in Cascade. Father was born 26 June 1912 in Appleton, ordained 22 May 1937, and died shortly after his retirement in 1983 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Milwaukee. Father was pastor of St. Boniface for 23 years, the longest of any parish pastor.

In 1962 Trustees were John Kohl and Lloyd Vanderheiden. In 1963 the parish consisted of 245 families, 1,225 individuals and 265 children were in school.


Godendale Becomes Germantown

Come 1964 with the Village of Germantown incorporating most of the Town of Germantown, the community name Goldendale became history and the area was from then on referred to as Germantown. In this year additional land to the east was acquired for cemetery #4.

The year 1965 saw the alter moved to the center of the sanctuary.

In 1972, Trustees were Billy Newburg and Leonard Staab. The parish consisted of 236 families, 1,111 people, and 186 children in school. In 1973, James M. Justensen replaced Leonard Staab.

On 3 August 1982, Reverend Father Leonard J. Andre (1982-1992) arrived from St. Mary in Belgium. Father Andre was ordained 22 May 1937 and remained pastor of the parish for 10 years when he then retired. David Poch and Rory Wolf were Trustees. Kenneth Wolf was Deacon. There were 339 families, 1,040 people and 136 children in school.

In 1977 James Justesen was elected Secretary and Bill R. Newberg continued the position of Treasurer.

On 25 June 1978 a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated to commemorate Kenneth Wolf's Permanent Diaconate conferred by Archbishop Rembert Weakland on 11 June previous at St. John's Cathedral in Milwaukee.

In 1985 Trustees were Roy A. Wolf as Secretary and David A. Poch as Treasurer.

Two additional school rooms were added and a school library was established in 1988. During Father Andre's tenure, the parish saw new carpeting in the sanctuary, a large stain glass window added in the church (west wall) and the Baptistry was remodeled to use as a reconciliation room and vesting room for the priest on Sundays, and a brides room for weddings.

Reverend Father Bernard (Bernie) Sylvester Sippel arrived in June of 1992 from St. Mathias in Milwaukee and a change enveloped the parish. Now began the new vision where the church was the people. In 1993, Trustees were Robert Bates and Ellen Fagan. Kenneth Wolf was Deacon. The parish consisted of 669 families, 1,896 individuals and 144 children were in school.


St. Boniface Church w/Bell Tower, Summer 1998
St. Boniface Church w/Bell Tower
Summer, 1998

The Bell Tower

As happened in circa 1860, in 1972 and in 1975, lightning struck for the fourth time and cracked the church bell tower. Local building codes required it to be dismantled. For several years, the three bells were stored on the ground on the south side of the rectory.

In 1995 the Stout family donated a new metal bell tower in the name of Reverend Father Arthur (Art) Baertlein who died 4 January 1994. The larger of the three bells broke when it fell in the 1954 church fire so the remaining two bells were placed in the tower and a third and fourth (bells 4 & 5) smaller bells added. The third bell, the cracked and largest bell was positioned as part of the tower's base. The bell tower can be seen on the welcome page.



St. Boniface Congregation celebrated its Sesquicentennial in 1995. The committee which oversaw this celebration and published the historical booklet was composed of Father Bernie, Andrea Ballweg, Irene Blau, Jean Dhein, Jennie Jaeger, Charlene Malson, Gloria New, Ethel Stephan, Clara Thine, and Sister Delores Thine. The parish had grown to 700 families. The Parish Council consisted of Father Bernie (Chairperson), Bob Bates (Trustee), Randy Lambrecht (Trustee), Bob Auxier, Ralph Benson, Sandy Erdman, Marion Fassbender, Chuck Jaeger, Dan Lloyd, Kay Prepodnik, Liz Serchen, and Kathy Whittaker. Liturgy Planning Committee Members were Joann Benson, Ann Lambert, Clara Theine, and Mary Lynn Zimmer. The Choir Director -Mary Lynn Zimmer, Parish Administrative Assistant - Jennie Jaeger, and Sanctuary Decorator - Joann Benson.


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