Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Photos by © Steve Slaughter.
Source: Pamphlet that was located outside the church, 2002.
Transcription abstraction by Candi 2008.
The Peoria Register and North - Western Gazetteer carried the following, on Saturday, August 24, 1839.
Wrote by Samuel H. Davis, editor and publisher:
"At the West end of Kickapoo Town the corner stone of a Catholic Church was laid a few weeks ago, and the building is now in the progress of erection. We understand that the donors felt encouraged to enlarge the design since the work was commended and the building when completed will be most respectable dimensions. We are under the impression that three are very few persons of this religious denomination among the settlers in that township, though we doubt not that the erection of this house of worship will be the means of drawing together a considerable society."
The church referred to by Mr. Davis is St. Patrick's Church, located in St. Patrick's Cemetery, Kickapoo, Illinois. Whether the church was begun in 1937, as many old-timers say or in 1839 as the historical archives record, is still debated. What is debated is that the church was most respectable for its time and it did prove to be the way of gathering a considerable society.
Father John Blaise Raho, the first priest assigned to serve the settlers of the area indicates in his letter that the corner stone was laid on August 4, 1839. Father Raho also gives the church proper historical perspective by the following inscription he placed beneath the corner stone:
"Pope Gregory XVI was reigning as the Successor to St. Peter; Bishop Joseph Rosati was Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which included the Kickapoo territory; Martin Van Buren was President of the united States and Thomas Carlin was Governor of the State of Illinois."
The church ground and the cemetery that surrounds it was donated by William Patrick Mulveny, a native of Dublin, Ireland. His grave lies a few feet South of the church. The church was built by the men and women of Kickapoo. timbers were hand hewed and pegged. the sandstone was quarried near Joliet, Illinois and hauled by oxen cart to Kickapoo. The stone was laid by men and the mortar was mixed by the women.
St. Patrick's Church remained the only Catholic Church in the area until 1861. At that time the German Catholics purchased a former Episcopalian Church in the Village of Kickapoo. this became St. Mary's Church. Mass was offered in both churches until 1921 when the present St. Mary's Church of Kickapoo was built. the two parishes were then combined and Mass was no longer offered in St. Patrick's Church on a regular basis.
St. Patrick's Church was abandoned and allowed to deteriorate until the early 1960's. At that time the Bishop Rosati Council, Knights of Columbus, in cooperation with several other Knights of Columbus Councils in Central Illinois, requested permission from Bishop John Franz, then Bishop of Peoria, to begin a restoration program for the church. Bishop Franz granted permission and the many back breaking hours for the men who volunteered their time and talent began. The restoration program took three years and two months to complete. On the Feast of All Saints, November 1, 1964 a rededication ceremony was held.
Today, the church still stands as a tribute to those who brought the faith to this part of the world and to those who for thirteen decades have preserved the faith for the present generation in the Kickapoo Area.
Perhaps the spirit that moved the pioneers to build the church in the 1830's; which inspired their descendants for many generations to worship in the church and which encouraged the local residents in the early 1960's to restore the church to its original state, best reflected on the stones in the cemetery that surrounds the church. the weather-worn tombstones record the pious sentiments of the bereaved and thoughts of humble resignation and trusting faith. through these messages cut in stone the pioneers speak to us now separated in time by many generations.
From "This House of God - Little St. Patrick's Church in Kickapoo", 1962
Contributed by Steve Slaughter, from Restoration Fund brochure
One of the oldest churches in Illinois Now urgently in need of restoration
It is quiet with a winter mantle of snow or a summer canopy of leaves, set back a bit from an age of wich it is not a part. A few of the tombstones are new. More are weathered and dim and lean gently into the years. The years, 123 of them, have taken their toll of little St. Patrick's Church in Kickapoo.
"I began constructing where it was most necessary -- Kickapoo," the priest wrote his bishop in 1839. Construction came along splendidly. "Not much remains to be done," he wrote in November of that year. "A little bit of stone work, two feet of murals, and a ten foot steeple still remain to be taken care of." But the season slows the work. The cornerstone had been laid in August.
Now the year is 1962. The steeple is gone and so is the corner-stone and much remains to be done to preserve the oldest Catholic Church in the Peoria Diocese and one of the oldest churches in Illinois.
The timbers are handhewed and pegged. The walls are of sandstone, not native to the area, and probably brought from quarries near Joliet the oldtimers told their grandchildren.
The men left Kickapoo for the northern quarries in early or middle summer. They led teams of oxen hauling carts and the oxen were double teamed for the rough hauls. They were gone weeks, sometimes months. They returned, the oldtimers recalled, to a celebration and the news of births, or the sorrow of death.
They built on land donated by an Irish farmer named Mulvaney whose grave today lies south of the church. So very many with whom he rests are children.
Whether construction began in 1837, as the oldtimers say, or 1839 as the historical archives record, St. Patrick's Church was in continuous use until 1920 when the German and Irish congregations in town merged to build the present St. Mary's of Kickapoo.
The first priest was a Vincentian missionary named Father John Blase Raho, C.M., who saw more for the future in Kickapoo than in Peoria. Because his bishop could not attend, he blessed the cornerstone himself "in the presence of a large concourse of people..."
And so it served a large concourse of people until 1920 when St. Patrick's was shuttered and closed. And very nearly forgotten.
Priests Assigned to Kickapoo
The following resided in either LaSalle or Peoria
|Father John Blaise Raho||1837-1845|
|Father John Drew||1845-1847|
|Father William Feely||1847-1848|
|Father Raphael Rainaldi||1848-1851|
|Father Nicholas Stehle||1848-1851|
|Father John C. Brady||1851-1854|
|Father Thomas O'Gara||1855-1856|
|Father Thomas Frauenhofer||1861-1863|
|Father Theordore Van der Poel||1863-1866|
|Father F.J. Oberle||1866-1867|
|Father M. Lyons||1867-1867|
|Father Jeremiah Murphy||1867-1868|
|Father Max Albrecht||1868-1871|
|Father Leonard Schaeffer||1871-1872|
|Father William Schamoni||1872-1876|
|Father William Kuchenbuch||1876-1877|
|Father E. F. Ryan||1877-1880|
(Only St. Patrick's)
|Father Athnony Schmitz||1876-1887|
(St. Mary's until 1880; then both churches)
|Father Leonz Zumbuehl||1887-1892|
|Father A.E. Buchler||1892-1896|
|Father Adolph Geyer||1896-1898|
|Father Charles Steurer||1898-1908|
|Father Benno Blaschke||1908-1909|
|Father Francis S. Hess||1909-1913|
|Father Edward J. Kutter||1913-1931|
|Father John Kleinsorg||1931-1933|
|Father August L. Mey||1933-1972|
|Father Lawrence M. Morrissey||1972-1987|
|Father Lawrence Sepich||1987-1992|
|Father Harry A. Pierjok||1992-1999|
|Msgr. Eric Powell||1999-2002|
|Father Patrick M. Riordan||2002-Present|
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