HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ST. ROSE CONGREGATION, ST. ROSE, ILLINOIS
Prepared by Father John Quack on August 30, 1943, the Diamond Jubilee, 75th Anniversary of the Parish.
The town of St. Rose (originally called Blue Mound) and St. Rose Church (originally called St. Boniface Church) are located in the center of St. Rose Township, Clinton County, Illinois.
The first settlers arrived from the Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany, and from Switzerland in the years from 1844 to 1850. Occupying farms to the North-West, they attended church at Highland, Illinois. In the years from 1850 to 1860, a few families from Hanover, now Germantown, established themselves in the center of the Township. Their number was increased by families coming from Mud Creek (St. Libory) and Lively Grove in 1860-1870. They had bought farms to the South and South West.
In the same period some immigrants came directly from the Dioceses of Muenster and Paderborn, Germany; also a few from St. Louis, Missouri, who wished to return to farm life. These latter groups, all so-called Low Germans, belonged to the Mother Church of Clinton County, St. Boniface's at Germantown, a distance of ten miles. When in 1858 St. Dominic's at Breese was founded, they became members of that parish.
Nine years later, in 1867, the total number of families living in the vicinity of St. Rose was estimated to be twenty-five. All of them had in common: extreme poverty, a deep faith, a will to work and to save and, above all, an undaunted determination to succeed. Now they wanted a church and a church they were to get. About twenty in number called a meeting and declared, "If we must payoff debts, why not built our own church and have God in our midst."
THE FOUNDERS – THE CHURCH
The effect was the forming of a committee of nine: Gerhard Bixschlag, Ben Henrichs, Bernard Hillen, Adam Jordan, Heinrich Koerkenmeier, Bernard Nordmann, Daniel Reiss, Gerhard Schumacher, and Heinrich Vosshoeller.
Permission to build was sought from and given by the Bishop of Alton, the Rt. Rev. Henry Damian Juncker, D.D. The first step now was to find and buy a suitable location. Two properties were offered, Blue Mound and the present ten acre tract. That fine elevation, called Blue Mound, most certainly would have been the better choice, both from the view point of drainage and fine approach; but the price was the deciding factor in the purchase of the present property, then belonging to Mr. Philip Maxey, and bought at half price for the sum of $250.
Plans for the new church were drawn by Mr. Dreuden, an architect of St. Louis, Missouri, and the contract let to Bernard Albers, a carpenter from Breese, Illinois. Unfortunately the style of the church is a mixture of Basilica, Romanesque and even Gothic.
The winter of 1867-1868 became a busy one for everybody. Bricks were burnt in Breese and Aviston, stones were quarried locally, logs made and as much material hauled as time and weather permitted.
On August 30, the Feast of St. Rose of Lima, the Corner Stone of the church was laid by the Rev. August Reinecke of Breese, assisted by the people's faithful adviser, Father P. Peters of Highland, Illinois. The parish's birthday, therefore, is August 30, 1868.
A word about the manner of the collection of funds and the cost of the church. One certainly must admire the zeal and the spirit of sacrifice found in these noble founders. On the occasion of the Comer Stone laying a collection was taken up. It amounted to only $37. A small sum as such! It did not reflect on the people's good will, but rather revealed their poverty. The records of 1868 and 1869 give us the names of twenty-five contributors; the sum mentioned is $6,102.94, an average of $244.11 a family. This is a high average, more so when we are told that most of this money was borrowed by the individuals at an interest rate of 10 %. Practically all of the original thirteen contributors gave notes, the amount ranging from $300 to $500. The account of 1870 swells the total number of donors to thirty. The amount offered by the additional five members and all collections from any sources is $1,282.45. The parish debts stood at $3,500. As, of course, there were also incidental expenses, the cost of the church may be estimated at $10,000.
THE FIRST PASTOR-THE FIRST RECTORY
In the spring of 1870 the new church was under roof; but that was all. The walls were not yet plastered. No floor, no pews, no funds and even a debt of $3,500! Services were held occasionally by Father S. Wegener of Collinsville, Illinois, temporarily in charge of the young and small parish.
Under such conditions Bernard Nordmann and Ben Henrichs called on the Rt. Rev. Bishop Baltes on the occasion of Confirmation in St. Paul's, Highland. They were well received and advised to go to O'Fallon, Illinois, and submit their difficulties to the Rev. Father Theodore Kamann, Pastor of St. Clare Congregation. This they did on the Feast of the Ascension. Father Kamann agreed to come to St. Rose on Pentecost Monday, to sing a High Mass and to meet the Congregation.
So well was he impressed by the simple way of dress and manners and the deep faith of the people that he accepted the Pastorate under condition that a rectory should be provided for him. This was promised. A six-room brick rectory was erected during the summer months at a cost of $1640. Father Kamann arrived at St. Rose on August 20, 1870, assuming charge of the new parish.
Father Theodore Kamann was born at Westenfeld-Essen, Diocese of Paderborn, November 4, 1844, and ordained at St. Francis, Wisconsin, January 29, 1868, the year St. Rose Parish was founded. For a few months assistant at St. Boniface's, Quincy, Illinois, he was appointed Pastor of St. Clare Parish, 0'Fallon, Illinois, with the mission at Lebanon in February 1868, and continued in this appointment until August 20, 1870, when he was sent to St. Rose. He presided over St. Rose Congregation until August 20, 1919. He was then seventy-five years old and a priest for over fifty-one years. Hence one can readily understand his honorable retirement as Pastor. He remained, however, in St. Rose until May 1920, when he left for his native city of Westenfeld, where he died on November 15, 1926, in the fifty-ninth year of the priesthood. His remains are buried in the Priest's Lot in the cemetery of Wattenscheid Westenfeld. He was a pious priest, a zealous and devoted pastor, and a great benefactor of the parish. A great benefactor! A statement, dated December 31, 1872, and signed by him, reveals that for two years and four months he had received no salary whatever. He paid additionally for incidentals such as altar wine and, occasionally, the balance due on the lay teacher's salary. A noble priest indeed! How did he do it? The secret may be revealed. He simply wrote home for money until, one day in 1872, he received from his father the following letter: "My son, you are now a priest for almost five years. What are you doing with the money I sent you? It would seem to me that you should be able to stand on your own feet by now." His good stepmother, knowing of the contents of the father's letter and fearing it would hurt the feelings of her son, tried to console him in a subsequent letter, saying: "My dear son, you have a good father, only stay away from his pocket book."
When Father Kamann came to St. Rose, the rectory was not quite finished. So he lived in the one-room school house until the end of October. He then had the school house moved to the south of the present church sidewalk.
THE PARISH SCHOOL
By 1881 the debt of the parish was practically paid and the number of children had increased to such an extent that a larger school became imperative, including rooms for the sisters. Up to this time school was taught by the following Catholic lay teachers: Krukenkamp, Lang, Arens, Husmann, Tewort, and Treutlein.
To serve on the building committee these men were appointed: Bernard Middeke, Bernard Klostermann, Heinrich Koerkenmeier, Heinrich Vosshoeller, Peter Schuette and Heinrich Feldwert.
The new school was to be a two story brick building with two rooms on the first floor and two living rooms for the sisters on the second. The contract was let to Bernard Klostermann and Bernard Middeke for the sum of $3000. Edifying is the truly Christian and unique statement in the contract that: "Should the contractors (both parishioners) be able to erect the school for less than the sum quoted, the balance would revert to the parish." Yes, they worked for the Glory of God, not for profit.
On November 9, 1881, the new school was blessed by the Rev. A. Reineke; the Rev. J. Meckel, Pastor of St. Paul's, Highland, delivered the dedicatory sermon. Present at this joyous occasion were the following priests: Revs. Wm. Cluse, Germantown; Fred. Lohmann, Aviston; Franz Lohmann, Damiansville and Mr. H. J. Hagen, a student of Sacred Theology of Germantown.
Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood of Ruma, Illinois, were to teach from now on. The first teachers were: Srs. Mary Theresia, later Mother Mary, and Philomena. The Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood have had charge of the school ever since.
OTHER IMPROVEMENTS AND RED LETTER DAYS UNDER THE PASTORATE OF FATHER KAMANN
In the fall of 1870 the church had been incorporated under the title: Roman Catholic Church of Blue Mound and as late as October 7, 1873 was dedicated by Bishop Baltes. It was then that Father Kamann chose St. Rose of Lima as Patroness and also changed the name of the town in honor of the Church's Patroness.
Up to 1891 the congregation had but one small bell, which was located in a temporary wooden belfry east of the sacristy. This bell was donated in 1909 to St. Mary's, Harrisburg, when the late Father Anthony Kuhls became the founder of that parish. Used to hearing the fine chimes of their home land, the people at this time asked Father Kamann to buy a harmonious set of three bells. Mrs. Frederica Barth offered to pay for the largest and smallest bells and St. Aloysius Young Men Sodality for the second. The cost of the three was $950. On August 30, 1891. the Very Rev. William Cluse, V.G., blessed them. The largest, weighing 3,000 pounds, was dedicated to St. Joseph; the second, weighing 1,500 pounds, to St. Aloysius; and the third, weighing 1,000 pounds to St. Rose of Lima.
Present on this joyous occasion were Revs. Fred: Lohmann and a close friend of Father Kamann, William Klevinghaus of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, St. Louis, Missouri. Now the parish had fine bells but no tower in which to hang them. The fact that there were no debts urged the building of a tower. Thus meetings again were held, committees appointed and plans made by Mr. August Klutho of Breese, Illinois, for the addition of two more window sections, a sanctuary, two sacristies and a well proportioned tower 150 feet high. The total cost was to be $13,000. The building was under construction in 1893. Stained glass windows at a cost of $850 were installed. The contract of decorating the walls for the sum of $500 was given to Mr. William Kloer. A pulpit, a donation by the same generous lady, Mrs. Frederica Barth, was bought for the sum of $350.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1893, saw the church completed and embellished. One can readily imagine the happiness of the parishioners on entering their fine and large church on this memorable day when Father Kamann sang, a High Mass of Thanksgiving.
The outside measurements are 135 feet by 58 feet; the height of the nave is 48 feet. The present generation owes thanks to Father Kamann and his building committee, Theodore Huelsmann, Theodore Beckmann, Henry Hellmann, Gerhard Hartlage, Joseph Barth, Henry Weisenfeld and Henry Kohlbrecher.
Ten years later, on October 20, 1903, St. Rose Church and a new altar, bought at the price of $1,000, were solemnly consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop John Janssen of Belleville. The Very Rev. William Cluse, V.G. was archpriest Deacon and subdeacon at the Pontifical Mass were the Revs. Otto Meier of Damiansville and Chris. Goelz of Cobden, Illinois. Deacons of Honor to the Bishop were Revs. A. Brefeld of St. Libory and A. Demming of Carlyle. The masters of ceremony were the Rev. Fathers H. J. Hagen of the Cathedral, Belleville, and J. H. Bruns of Centralia. Rev. Father J. N. Enzlberger delivered the festive sermon.
By 1909 the number of school children had increased to such an extent that a third room was necessary, and that meant the evacuation of the sisters from the school house and the building of a special residence for them. The rectory was also too small for the pastor and an assistant. Arguments ensued whether or not to build a new rectory. A house collection brought only $1,800. That decided the issue, for this sum was barely enough to erect the sisters' six room frame building. Father Kamann had brought so many personal sacrifices and had to pay interest practically ever since he was pastor of St. Rose. .These are his own words: "I was tired of paying interest." If, therefore, the costly unsuccessful alterations of the old rectory were to be critized (sic), the blame must not be placed on the venerable old priest. Had the spirit of the founders been prevailing, the collection for a new rectory and sisters' residence would have been larger, and the convent would not have been a frame structure. This is the truth; for the number of families had trebled and poverty among them had vanished. This is said to the honor of Father Kamann. The edifices went up and thus the building activities of Father Kamann had ended.
The picture of Father Kaman (sic) as given in our brief sketch would not be complete were we to omit his social activities. How he enjoyed to be instrumental in buying another farm for his expanding parish or to assist in securing the necessary funds at a reasonable rate of interest! For all this the good people of St. Rose are thankful to him. He did well. His memory is revered.
The land for the cemetery, a two-acre tract, was donated by Mr. Henry Hoeddinghaus. The first adult buried in St. Rose Cemetery was one of the founders of the parish, Mr. Gerhard Schumacher. This occured on September 26, 1870. Three children had been interred before him.
On April 26, 1871, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Baltes consecrated the cemetery, except a small portion in the southwest corner. Rev. Father Bartels deliyered the sermon, Other priests present were the Revs. Sieghart, Reineke, Brefeld and Peters. The large stone cross, a donation by Father Kamann and Mr. Peter Schuette, was erected in 1884 and blessed by Father A. Reineke on the Feast of the Most Precious Blood. This time Father Fred. Lohmann preached the sermon. Rev. Cruse of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was also present. In 1929 the sons of Peter Schuette, Joseph and Frank, paid far the erection of the brick pillars, the massive entrance gate and the hedge plants.
FATHER KAMANN’S ASSISTANTS
When in 1894 Beaver Prairie was attached to St. Rose as a mission, Father Kamann needed an assistant. Here are their names and their respective years in service: Revs. Wendelin Gillen (1894-1896); B. Peters (1896-1906); Joseph Tragesser, who was born in St. Rose, (1907-1912); John Jantzen (1913-1914); Anthony Kiefer (1914-1915); Henry J. Funke (1915); William Fischer (1915-1916); Edmund Niess (1917-August 20, 1919).
Two of these Rev. Assistants became founders of new parishes, Father B. Peters of St. Bernard's Albers, Illinois, in 1908 and Father E. E. Niess of Marydale, Beaver Prairie in 1919. Father William H. Fischer is retired and makes his home at Carlyle. All others are still working in the vineyard of the Lord, except Father Gillen, who retired to his native town of Heisterberg, Diocese of Trier, where in 1939 he died five days after his arrival from the States and shortly before the outbreak of the present war.
FATHER KAMANN RETIRES-APPOINTMENT OF SECOND PASTOR
When the writer of this history came to St. Rose to take charge of the parish on August 20, 1919, it was forty-nine years to the day after Father Kamann had taken residence there. Father Kamann was past seventy five years and in his fifty-second year of the priesthood. He was entitled to enjoy the evening of life in peace; hence the appointment of the Rev. John Quack, then Pastor of Carmi, Illinois, as Administrator of St. Rose.
Father Quack was born at Ottweiler (Saar), Diocese of Trier, Germany, on May 10, 1882. He attended the Imperial Colleges at St. Wendel and Trier from 1892 to 1901; he entered the American College of Louvain, Belgium, in 1901 and was sent by the Rt. Rev. Rector to St. Nicholas, near Antwerp, for his studies of Philosophy. In 1902 he returned to Louvain for his studies of Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of that city.
Ordained for the Diocese of Belleville, July 16, 1905, his first assignment was that of assistant at the Cathedral. He was transferred to St. Boniface's, Germantown, on August 15, 1906, and became the administrator of that parish after Father Enzelberger's death on November 2, 1907, until January 6, 1908, when the Rt. Rev. John Janssen sent him to the mission parish at Carmi, Illinois, with missions at Grayville in Edwards County and St. Sebastian in Wabash County.
On August 20, 1919, began his pastorate of St. Rose Parish by mandate of His Excellency, the Most Rev. Bishop Henry Althoff, D.D. Thus he could celebrate with his beloved flock the Diamond Jubilee as the second Pastor of the parish within seventy-five years in the twenty-fifth year of his appointment as Pastor.
At the present time he is a member of the Diocesan School Board, Building Committee, the Committee of Liturgical Chant, and holds the offices of Diocesan Consultor and Director of the Clergy's Purgatorial Society.
On June 3, 1943, on the occasion of Confirmation, His Excellency, Bishop Althoff; announced his elevation by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, to the dignity of a Papal Chamberlain with the title of Very Rev. Monsignor.