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Our Church

The History of St. John The Baptist 

1841-April 19, twenty-five pioneers left Ersingen, Germany for New World.  Arrived at Piopolis on August 21, 1841.

1843-Additional setters came form Germany, including Tobias Brummer.  First Mass and first Baptism performed by Fr. Elisha Durbin from Morganfield, KY at log cabin of Nicholas Engel.

1844-A 40-acre tract of land bought by Cajetan Aydt from Thomas Whiteaker and later deeded to Bishop William Quarters, Catholic Bishop of Chicago.  This tract became Piopolis Church property.


1846-First log church completed and first Mass celebrated on Ash Wednesday.


1954-Cajetan Aydt, who was instrumental in getting the early German settlers to migrate to Piopolis, left with two brothers to establish a new parish and settlement in Minnesota.


1857-A new frame church building, 25 X 50 feet, started by architect Tobias Brummer destroyed by a windstorm before completion.


1860-Frame church completed with some help from migrants from Clinton Co.  Bishop Juncker of Alton came for Confirmation.


1861-A small rectory, four rooms, two 12-feet square and two smaller.  Some parishioners left for the Civil War.


1864-Rectory completed and first pastor, Fr. Edw. Harriman arrived on Jan. 20 and left Dec. 8 of the same year. William Karcher entered the study for the Priesthood.


1865-End of Civil War. The second resident pastor, Fr. Blas? Winterhalter, was installed and also ministered by horseback at McLeansboro, Enfield, Carmi and Mt. Vernon.  Marellus Zachman was hired as lay teacher and with Bishop Juncker was instrumental in getting Precious Blood Sisters of Burwell, Germany to locate their convent here.


1870-A two-story Motherhouse and school frame building was completed at a cost of $3,000.00. Bishop Juncker donated $500.00. On Feb.28, nine nun from Gurtwell, Germany arrived by wagon after coming by boat to Shawneetown. They immediately took over the teaching at the school and continued until 1964.  Fr. Winterhalter transferred to Calhoun Co. and Fr. Rustemeyer came but stayed only ten days.  Two administrators, Fr. Jansen and Fr. Brumleve were held for a short period.


1871-The third pastor, Fr. John Neuhaus, was installed.  Three sisters from Piopolis were sent to Springfield to teach. Sr. Emile died July 11, and buried at St. John?s.


1876- Some sisters left Piopolis to start a new Motherhouse at O?Fallon, MO in new province. The  remaining sisters departed by train from Delafield for a new location at Ruma, which was to become their permanent Motherhouse.  Fr. Neuhaus transferred to Edwardsville and later became Chaplain for the nuns at Ruma. Fr. John N. Enzilberger became the fourth resident pastor, coming from Vandalia.


1877- 13 acres of church property was laid out into 50 lots to become a small village named Piopolis for Pope Pius IX who was celebrating his 50 years as Bishop.


1879- Sixteen orphan girls were sent to Piopolis for two years to be taken care of by the nuns. Plans were drawn up for a new church and half-million bricks were baked for this first brick church.


1880-foundation was laid for the new church after the frame church was moved aside. Mt. Vernon builds new church; McLeansboro, Dahlgren and other church were no longer mission of Piopolis.


1881- Cornerstore of the brick church laid on May 4, but a storm demolished the west wall on August 6, while under construction.


1882- Storm damage repaired and church completed by the end of 1882, at a cost of $12,000.00.  First couple married in the new church was John and Henrica Reyling, parents of Fr. August Reyling.


1884- Dedication of new brick church, Oct. 1, 1884. Due to illness of Bishop Baltes, Fr. John Neuhaus, former pastor, was celebrant.


1892- Fr. Albert J. Karcher, son of the parish, was ordained a priest, July 26 1892, after competing studies in Switzerland. His first Mass at Piopolis was in 1892.  New rectory was built at a cost of $2,200.00.


1902-Fr. Enzilberger transferred and Fr. Bernard Reusch was installed as fifth resident pastor.


1910-New altars were installed (which are the present day altars) in the first brick church. Old altars were given to Dahlgren.


1913- Bricks for a new school were purchased from Albion.


1914- New two-story sisters? house was built for $4,000.00.  It is the present day rectory.


1924- The present school building was completed and dedicated by Bishop Henry Althoff.


1927- Fr. Eckerman started St. John?s  Annual Picnic, which continued over 3 decades.


1929- Furnace heat installed in church and sisters? house, as well as electrical and water systems. Also a two-year high school was started.


1930- All the windows were replaced with stained glass. Banks of McLeansboro and Dahlgren closed due to bankruptcy.  Depression hit rural America.


1931- Pavement between McLeansboro and Mt. Vernon poured.


1932-Church steeple renovated. Pavement between Wayne City & McLeansboro completed.


1933- High school discontinued for lack of students.


1934- Gravel road from Piopolis to pavement completed, making the first all weather road between Piopolis and McLeansboro.


1939-Fr. Eckerman celebrated his silver jubilee at Piopolis. He was presented a new automobile.


1941-Piopolis celebrated its centennial year (1841-1941).


1941-1945 World War II years.


1948-A new stocker furnace installed in school building.


1953-on June 13, a severe storm damaged the brick church to the extent that is was torn down and replaced.


1954-the second brick church cornerstone laid in March and building finished and had first Mass said on Christmas Day.


1955-Fr. Eckerman became ill and was replaced with Fr. Edmund Schumacher as  administrator until Fr. Ekerman?s death in 1962.


1961-Fr. Edmund Schumacher celebrated his 25th anniversary on June 4, 1961. Lake was constructed on church property.


1962-Fr. Eckerman died and was interred in St. Johns Cemetery.  Fr. Schumacher became the seventh pastor.  Restrooms were added to the school building.


1963-New gas furnace installed in church.


1964-Precious Blood nuns discontinued teaching at St. John, after having taught since 1870.


1965-After the nuns left, the sisters? house was converted to rectory.  The old rectory was dismantled in March. Fr. Eugene Kreher celebrated his First Mass at Piopolis on May 2. Fr. Schumacher died August 30.  Funeral Mass here but he was interred at San Francis, Aviston. Fr. Harry Schumacher was assigned temporarily as administrator during his Uncle Edmund Schumacher?s illness and death from February to October.  Fr. Meinrad Dunn assigned as eighth pastor at St. John?s in October.


1968-Ballpark was built so that young and old could enjoy ballgames, day or night.


1970-Fr. Dunn celebrated his 25th anniversary and received a gift of a new car.


1972-Fr. Dunn left St. Johns and was assigned to Hecker in February. Fr. Albert Jerome, ninth pastor, succeeded him.


1973-Public school closed in Piopolis.


1974-Air conditioning was added to the church.


1975-Parish Council was established, with various organizations being represented.


1976-Fr. Jerome was transferred on May 30 to St. Phillips in East Louis. Fr. James Van Oss was installed as tenth pastor.


1977-Fr. George Mauck ordained in May. Mass of Thanksgiving at Piopolis on July 24.


1978-Fr. August Reyling celebrated his Golden Jubilee on  July 3. Fr. Van Oss established the birthday calendar.


1977-1978- Kitchen in school building remodeled with new gas ranges and new lighting.


1981-Parish Council voted to redecorate church, removing communion rails, new carpeting, painting, plus refinishing the altars, statues and pews. Ministers of the Eucharist started.


1982-Farewell for Fr. Van Oss in June.  Fr. Emil Maziarz installed as eleventh pastor on July 6.


1983-In June, Fr. Maziarz was assigned to the Chancery Office and Fr. Joseph A. Lawler becomes the twelfth pastor on July 10.


1984-Fr. August Reyling passed away in September.  He is well remembered for having translated the original Piopolis history from German to English and for bringing the books and records to date.  Fr. James P. Keleher of Mundelin was named the sixth Bishop of Belleville in October.


1986-Fr. Lawler celebrated his 25th anniversary with a festive day, including a Mass of Thanksgiving with parishioners, fellow priests, friends, relatives, delicious food, gifts and helicopter rides.


1987-Harvest Blessing held at Clarence and Wilma Karcher Farm.  Bishop Keleher enjoyed the restored log cabin setting. Dioceses of Belleville celebrated the diocesan centennial.  St. Johns joined in the Heritage Festival held at the DuQuion State Fair Grounds on September 27 by setting up displays, recalling the faith of our ancestors. The 4-H Club re-enacted the arrival of the Precious Blood nuns in 1870.


1989-The men of the parish constructed about 275 grave markers of concrete and imprinted named for those graves without markers or those that had been destroyed.


1990-Fr. Eugene Kreher celebrated his 25th anniversary with a Mass and Dinner on August 19.  Fr. Lawler, with help of parish volunteers installed a new furnace boiler in the school basement.


1991-The parish is planning to celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Parish with various activities including a photo directory, a history of the parish, a re-enactment of the arrival of the first immigrants to Piopolis and other observances.


1991-February saw the beginning of the Sesquicentennial celebrations.  The crafts, the games the displays, the German food, the German Band and Homecoming Day will long be remembered.  Over one thousand people enjoyed the noon day meal and 1,500 attended the Reenactment of the settlers coming for the first time in wagons and by horseback.  The sesquicentennial cookbooks were indeed treasured.  Bishop James P. Keleher attended the Mass and dinner.  All three parishes in Hamilton County met to Plan for the Future.   The History niche was built in church.  Our history book is certainly a work that will be appreciated for years to come.  Mr. Edwin Frey collected most of the facts.


1992-The history book was reprinted.  On June 28th, we celebrated the one hundred fifty one years of being a parish, with a Mass and Basket Dinner.  The cluster group met to plan for a Mission that would include all three parishes.  Prayers were offered in 1992 for the repose of the souls of the five Adorers of the Blood of Christ that were murdered in Liberia, which included a schoolmate of Fr. Lawler, Sr. Kathleen McGuire.  The others were St. Agnes Mueller, Sr. Barbar Muttra, Sr. Shirley Kolmer and Sr. Mary J. Kolmer. The Wicks organ was refurbished in the choir of St. John?s.  Mr. Jerry Crystal and family did the work with funds provided by the Clara Emma Karcher family.


1993-The Holy Name Shooting Match was held October 10th.  A Mission was held at St. John the Baptist, Piopolis on Nov. 6-11.  Fr. Lawler and a crew from the Holy Name installed the new furnace in the school basement.  The Cluster members of the county met and are attempting to invite all high school members to one religious class.


1994-The parish of St. Johns welcomed 92 members of The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of OFallon, Missouri with a mass on August 10th.  A priest accompanied them as they traveled on two buses to Piopolis.  They consider Piopolis their foundation roots in America.  They decorated the grave of Sr. Emilie.  The parish welcomed the news that Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory was appointed as Bishop of Belleville.


1995-Fr. Lawler traveled to attend the National CYO Convention in the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  New sidewalks were poured.  Silicone was applied to the exterior of the church.  The Sisters of OFallon, Missouri were instructors at Vacation Bible School from July 24-28th.  They stayed at the ?Piopolis Hilton? and Fr. Lawler stayed on the farm in Ridgway.  The CYO undertook the task of cleaning the stained glass rose window that had been in the tower of the church built in 1884.  The window had been saved in three major pieces when the church was dismantled in 1953.  On St. Johns Day, June 25th, a quilt show for older people and a pedal tractor pull was held.


1996-A tornado hit the church and many of the neighbor? barns and grain bins on Friday evening, April 19th at about 9:00 p.m. For the church properties, it did over $100,000.00 damage. No fatalities, praise the Lord.  Fifty panes of glass were blown out of the school; a front dormer of the roof of the school was removed.  Fr. Lawler hung on to an iron radiator as seven windows were completely blown out.  A good roofing crew put a new roof on the garage, house, school and one-half of the church.  New bulbs were installed in the pole lights at the ball field.  A new concession stand was built.


1997-The ladies of the parish purchased new carpeting for the rectory.  On April 19th, 17 young people made their Confirmation.  Bishop Francis George OMI was installed as Archbishop of the Chicago Archdiocese, on May 17, 1997.  Fr. Lawler, along with his mother, sister Lucy Zilch and nephew, Sean Zilch, visited relatives in Ireland.  An Inquiry class was held in the spring of 1997.  On November 1st, Mark Reyling was ordained to the Deaconate.  He could now preach, teach, baptize, bury the dead, witness marriages and serve the needs of the Church.  The two towns of Ersingen and Belfingen in Baden, Germany were celebrating their 800th Birthday with a three day celebration on October 3rd, 4th and 5th.


1998-Fr. Mark Reyling was ordained to the priesthood at St. John the Baptist, Piopolis on June 6, 1998, in a big, historic celebration.  All parishioners were asked to be included in the campaign named ?A Future Full of Hope.?  The collection is for needs in the Catholic Diocese of Belleville.  Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis, Missouri this fall and nine parishioners from Piopolis had tickets to attend.


1999-St. Johns Piopolis collected items for special needs of the victims of the hurricane in the area of the Diocese of Jalapa, Guatemala.  We also collected for the Crisis Closet in McLeansboro during Lent.  The quilters had stitched a handmade quilt for the youth of the parish.  On September 12th, all three parishes held a special pre-millennium Saturday celebration, in preparation for the year 2000.  An outdoor Mass was held at Piopolis around a new outdoor altar made with Bedford limestone, which was built by Fr. Lawler. A meal followed the Mass.  Fr. Roland Jacques, OMI led us in German songs.  In November, the Piopolis CYO won the Deanery volleyball tournament at Ridgway.  Many people are preparing for January 1, 2000.  The media suggested having food stored and supplies available in case of a blackout of electricity.


2000-The New Year came in with a lot of people thankful that there were no glitches.  A new Parish Directory was planned.  Pictures were taken April 6th, 7th, 8th and 25th.  A big Thank-You is given to the picture committee who has compiled this book.


2001-Fr. Joseph Lawler celebrated his 40th year in the priesthood on Pentecost Sunday with new red vestments, a meal for approx. 500, all Hamilton county parishes were there, with music and helicopter rides for approximately 100 people.


2002-Through the generosity of a parishioner named David Karcher, we have an outdoor pavilion for picnic style meals and new vesting cabinetry which was installed in the server?s sacristy.


2003-new air conditioners were installed in the St. John the Baptist church through the generosity of John & Lucille Karcher Legacy.  Bishop Wilton D. Gregory confirmed the Sacrament of Confirmation on June 3,


2003 and visited the parish. The belltower on the church was restored.


2004-We got 3 new stoves in kitchen area in the hall.  The Holy Name Society bought one and two new cook stoves was bought with the legacy from William Reyling, former trustee. We poured concrete in front of the school and a handicap area through the generosity of a donation from Polly Kaufman.


2005-We installed two new water boiler furnaces in the body of the church at
St. John the Baptist church Piopolis, donated by Haas legacy. We put on new wooden entrance doors donated by Richard Family and the Quilters from McLeansboro.


2006-furnace in school building went to 100 percent corn fuel.


2007-St. John the Baptist will host the Farm Blessing on April 26th, 2007.


2009- May 22nd, Fr. Slawomir Ptak, from Poland became our Associate Pastor to St. John the Baptist, Piopolis, St. Clement, McLeansboro, and St. John Nepomucene.


2011- Fr. Joseph Lawler retired in July 12, 2011.


2011- Fr. Slawomir Ptak became our 13th Pastor.

The History of St. John Nepomucene 

Railroads brought change to the Midwest in the late nineteenth century.  Such was the case when the St. Louis and Southeastern Railway began to plan its line across southern Illinois.  Most of the citizens of Lovilla, a small community located on the old stage line moved several miles north and west to the square mile section where the depot would be located.  There they could take advantage of the new artery of commerce in their region.

The citizens originally called their little piece of heaven Cottonwood. When the Louisville & Nashville Railway bought out the St. Louis and Southeastern it was decided to rename the growing village Dahlgren in honor of one of the company’s Vice Presidents, John Dahlgren.  Dahlgren, whose wife was a Catholic, was an Admiral in the Union Navy during the Civil War.

Charles Aydt and his four brothers, Thomas, Joseph, Solomon and Alphonse moved from Piopolis and were joined by other pioneers, trading farm produce for staples and hardware goods. A hotel was built near the railway station to accommodate the many salespeople who peddled their wares all over this part of Southern Illinois.

St. John Nepomucene as we know it today was part of the St. John the Baptist Parish in Piopolis until 1893 when its first church building was erected on West Main Street in Dahlgren under the direction of Rev. Johann Nepomuk Enzelberger.  It may be that the Church chose its patron in honor of their priest.  Father Henry Keuth, who had resided with Father Enzelberger for two years to attend to the needs of the parishes of McLeansboro and Dahlgren, became the first resident pastor by living in Dahlgren in a one story frame house built there in 1896. The first rectory was destroyed by fire on January 17th, 1936.  In 1942 a new rectory was built by the parishioners under the direction of Fr. Joseph Frey.

A two acre cemetery plot which is located a quarter of a mile west of the Parish Church was purchased in 1900. Previous to that time the deceased were buried in Piopolis.

In the year 1903, the Pastor, Rev. Henry Muenster, built the thirty five by fifty foot two story brick structure which provided four classrooms on the main floor and living quarters for the Nuns in the upper story.  The bricks for the building were made in a kiln in Dahlgren and were laid by parishioners who dedicated themselves to the project.

In 1952 Rev. William Brandmeyer made plans for the construction of a parish hall. Again, many interested parishioners sacrificed their time and labor to complete this project.       Ground was broken for the present Church on August 24, 1958 by Msgr. Meinrad Dunn. Built with blocks and bricks in a contemporary modified Gothic design, measuring forty two by one hundred and thirteen feet, the church will seat three hundred and eighty. The open tower in the southwest corner houses the bell salvaged from the original church. The interior of the Church is furnished in a random pattern of St. Meinrad’s sandstone. The Altar and Communion rail are of St. Genevieve rose marble and Ozark rouge.  The two inch yellow pine decking of the roof is supported by graceful laminated pine arches.

The bulk of the masonry and carpentry work was done by William Rapp and his four sons, Lawrence, Harold, Phillip and William Jr. Other parishioners worked on the project as well, including John Rapp, Robert Rapp and Ed Kreher as well as Linus and Wendell Kiefer who installed the low voltage switching and electrical fixtures.

Near the confessional is found a beautiful shrine in honor of the Saint chosen by the parish family as their patron, St. John Nepomucene, martyr and patron of confessors.  This holy man was martyred in 1393 by the King of Prague, Czechoslovakia because he had refused to reveal the contents of the Queen’s sacramental confession.  In one hand he holds a cross, the finger of his right hand crossed over his lips, ever a reminder of the secrecy and the unbroken seal of confession.

The spectacular stained glass windows which grace the main body of the church, came to us through the Sisters of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Belleville.  Originally installed in their chapel in 1914, the windows were created by Emil Frei and Company of St. Louis. The company’s work adorns such famous structures as the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  These windows were refurbished and squared off with cobalt blue to fit the more modern structure.

With color and artistry these windows tell stories of our faith with many pictures relating to St. Francis of Assissi and St. Clare and the work of the Third Order of St. Francis. How many people have gained strength from these images through the many years?

The parish school was opened in 1903 and maintained until 1931 with the Benedictine Sister from Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 1931 the Adorers o the Most Precious Blood took charge of the school until 1965, when a CCD Center was established. This center then moved to Carmi, then back to McLeansboro.


The Parish Family is proud of the vocations to the Religious Life that sprang from their midst.  These include: Rev. Henry Aydt, ordained June 22, 1920, Sr. Colletta Aydt, ASC, Sr. M. Irma Aydt, ASC, Sr. Irma Ewald,ASC, Sr. Mary Rapp, OSB and Mary Louise Degenhart, A.S.C; Sr. Theresa Kiefer, ASC.


The religious traditions of the Parish Family of St. John Nepomucene are expressed in its mission statement that “with a strong pattern of remembering and celebrating its beginnings, while continuing to respond to present and future goals for Eternal Redemption of all its members as well as new converts, may all focus their efforts be to the greater Honor and Glory of Almighty God.”

The History of St. Clements Catholic Church

McLeansboro, Illinois
Veronica Voss

The first Catholic services in the McLeansboro area were in 1846 in the home of James and Mahalia McGilley.  Mr. McGilley immigrated from Ireland and located west of McLeansboro in 1840.  The McGilley’s home was a large log house located near where the city reservoir now stands.

Father Elisha Durbin was the first priest to say Mass in this part of Illinois.  He was born in 1800, ordained to the priesthood in 1822.  He administered to small groups, and journeyed as far north as Taylorville, St. Elmo, and Olney, from his home mission at St. Vincent, Kentucky.  He rode horseback, holding services not only in McLeansboro, but Carmi, Belle Prairie, Piopolis, and Enfield.  To many he was known as affectionately as “Daddy Durbin,” but also called “The Apostle of West Kuntucky,” and “Patriarchal Priest of Kentucky.”   His missionary career of over 60 years is hardly paralleled in the United States.  He rode a total of 500,000 miles on horseback.  He would stop at farmer’s homes and hear confessions all morning.  Often his only food was cornbread, salt pork, and water.

Father Durbin passed away in March, 1887, and is buried in St. Louis Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

During the interim, the parish of Piopolis became a reality; and in 1864 the Rev. Edward Herman came there, but did not remain long.  He was followed by the Rev. J. Blase Winterhalter-he too riding horseback, ministering to Catholics within a radius of 30 miles, which included McLeansboro.  He left Piopolis in 1870.

In 1871 Father John B. Neuhaus came, celebrating Mass at a number of small parishes, riding horseback on his faithful horse named “Brownie.”  He journeyed to Mt. Vernon, Carmi, Fairfield, Flora, and at times served at St. Patrick’s at Enfield.

In 1876 Father John N. Enzelberger came to Piopolis, and it is presumed he still served McLeansboro.

In 1880 the Bishop commissioned a church to be built at Mt. Vernon, Illinois with McLeansboro to be its mission, at which time McLeansboro was separated from the services of Piopolis priests.  In 1880 the Rev. L. Hanseen came to Mt. Vernon, followed in 1881 by Rev. Henry Becker.  He came to McLeansboro saying Mass in the Lawrence Paul home every fourth Sunday.  He came by way of the L&N Railway on Saturday, returning to Mt. Vernon on Sunday.

In November of 1880 the ground where the St. Clements’ parish church was to be built was purchased from Richard W. Townshend and wife.

The first recorded baptism at St. Clement’s was January 7, 1881, administered to Mary Scarbroug Pentecost.  Mary Pentecost was later married to James McGilley’s son, James Jr.

In doing the history of Father Elisha Durbin, it was learned that one of the present members of St. Clements parish is a direct descendant of the family of Father Durbin, namely Carl Rexing.

Father Henry Hagen replaced Father Becker in 1882, and at this time the decision was made to build a church.  The Hyatt Lumber Company was contracted to build a church with members donating labor.  At first it consisted of the main body, with the choir loft at the rear of the building.  The original building cost was $2,914, completed in 1884 with a seating capacity of 100.  The sacristy was added in 1888 at a cost of $865.

The church was dedicated by the Right Rev. Bishop P. T. Baltes, D.D., of Alton on October 2, 1884.  He then went to Piopolis to dedicate their church on the same day.

Each month when services were held in the church, the Lawrence Paul family loaded the organ in a wagon and brought it to the church for use during services.  The confessional was located behind the altar.  The pastor and altar boys changed vestments there also.

The altar itself, was a small wooden one, painted white.  The first stove was a big box type with the opening at one end, and it burned wood.  Later a big pot-bellied grocery store-type stove was installed.  It too burned wood.

The stained glass windows in the Sanctuary and the first organ were donated by Dr. and Mrs. A.S. DeFoe.  Felix Campbell gave the bell.  The church was covered with plain white weather boarding, and a white picket fence surrounded the front yard.

On the first windows, donors names were placed at the bottom of each window were…Campbell, Poss, Graf, Mitchell, McGilley Brothers, and Paul.

As time went by, the altar of white wood was replaced with one of ornate design, with statues occupying prominent places in the altar.

Some of the first families mentioned as members of St. Clement’s in its early days were:  Lawrence and John Paul; Wolfgang Poss; Anton Graf; John Hagarty; Morris Campbell; Felix Campbell; George Greasely; Thomas Friel; Ruben Dale; James, Charles, Thomas, Henry, Edward, and Mahalia McGilley; Charles McLafferty; James Grace; Herman Vorderbrueggen; John Mercer; Martin Kohl; and Frank and Lawrence Unfried.

Later came Mary A. Devoy and family, John Dale and family, Henry Vorderbrueggen and family, John and Kate Aydt, the James Hassett family, and the Caleb Smith family.  The Aydts were always known as “Aunt Kate and Uncle John,” and Anna Devoy as “Miss Anna,” custodian of the old church for many years.


On November 23, 1934, St. Clement’s held a celebration of its golden anniversary.  The church was established and constructed in 1884 when Rev. Father Hagan was pastor.

The anniversary ceremonies started at 9 a.m. with the celebration of the Mass with Rev. Henry Keuth of Centerville Station as celebrant.  Rev. Joseph Voll of Mt. Carmel served as Deacon, Rev. Theodore Eckermann of Piopolis as SubDeacon, and Rev. Charles Eschmand of Waterloo, who succeeded Rev. Hagan as pastor, delivered the sermon.  Other visiting priests who participated in the Mass were:  Rev. W. Hanagan of Eldorado, Rev. F. Hodatt of Flora, Rev. E. Mitch of Mt. Vernon, Rev. C. W. Collins of Enfield, Rev. Bernard Monohan of Carmi, and Rev. R. Harbaugh of Shawneetown.

At the noon hour a banquet was served in the dining room of the Christian Church to the visiting priests, a number of the members of the church and several invited guests.  Following the banquet, Father Collins, acting as toastmaster, introduced the speakers.  Interesting talks were made by Father Eschman, Judge David J. Underwood, County Supt. M. L. Hunt, and Father Loepker, pastor of St. Clements at the time of the golden anniversary.

Father Eschman spoke of the founding of the church and of the early days of McLeansboro as he recalled them.  He stated that he resided at the home of the late Dr. DeFoe, one of McLeansboro’s pioneer physicians.


When Father Brandmeyer was pastor, the congregation was growing, and a decision was made to start a drive to raise money to build a new church.  The old church was moved to a new location on the northwest corner of the church grounds.  The steeple removed, and the bell mounted at the side of the church.  It was covered with imitation brick siding.  A basement under the back part of the church was excavated, and a furnace installed for heating.  Some repair work was done on the interior at this time.  A console Hammond electric organ had been donated by a member of the parish, replacing the little Estey pump organ used for so many years.

During the years between 1944 and 1962, plans were made to build a new, larger church; but it was not until Father Timothy Foley followed Father Brandmeyer, that work really began to dismantle the old church and build the new one.  The work started in 1962.

In 1962 the architect gave the plans to Father Foley and the two trustees, Joe Swartz and Wes Miller. 

Phillip, William Jr., Harold, and Lawrence Rapp of Dahlgren, Illinois, got the contract to build the church.  All members with trucks, tractors, and other equipment donated their services for the initial work on the grounds which needed to be filled in before the actual work could begin.  Alvin Mayberry did the plumbing.  Donations were pledged for the pews, stations, confessional, and altar railing.

This new church was completed during the time Father Foley was pastor, and the dedicatory Mass was celebrated on June 24, 1964.


The parochial school at Dahlgren was opened in 1903 and maintained until 1931 with the exception of one year when the Benedictine Sisters from Jonesboro, Arkansas were in charge of lay teachers.  In 1931 at the request of Father Bernard Loepker, pastor, the sisters of the Adorers of the Most Precious Blood took charge of the school.  Ever since the organization of the parish of Dahlgren, McLeansboro had been attended from there as a mission.  These same teachers gave religious instructions in McLeansboro which did not have a Catholic School.  They taught during the school year on Saturdays.

These Sisters were Antonilla, Mary Helen, Mary Maxine, and Mary Vita.  In September, 1933, Mother Provincial Mary Stella, made arrangements with Father Loepker to provide for the sisters to give instructions in McLeansboro.  October 7 was their first missionary trip, opening with an enrollment of 15 pupils, grades one to senior in high school.  Vacation school opened June 4, 1935.

On September 28, 1962, they were informed by Father Foley that they would teach catechism each Saturday morning in McLeansboro.  Sister Lucia went to Ruma to make room for those to teach classes here.  In June, 1963, vacation school was organized with 78 children enrolled.  The teachers were Sisters Alena, Celine, and Mary Constance.

In May 1964, the school was closed, as was Piopolis.  In 1964 Sisters Pancratia, Lucia, and Theolinda came to Dahlgren.  In 1965 Our Lady of the Assumption CCD Center at Dahlgren was started.  From 1965 through 1971, the following Sisters worked in Dahlgren and McLeansboro:  Sister Pancratia, M. Gilbert, Michelle, Ceciliana, Callista, Marlyn, Dolores Anselment, M. Flora, and N. Catherine Clark.

In 1971 the Sisters no longer lived at Dahlgren, but commuted from the CCD Center in Carmi, Illinois.  From 1972 through 1977, Sister Dolores Anselment resided in McLeansboro.  In 1977-78 Sisters Carolyn Schilling and Mary Louise Loos came.  In 1979 they were joined by Sister Cheryl Pautler and as of 1981 are residing in McLeansboro, branching out to work with the other parishes.


January 6, 1886.  Real estate purchased for use as St. Clements Cemetery.

From St. Clement’s Parish, those who died for their country:


March 3, 1918–Benjamin M. Kohl, Army.  Place unspecified.  W.W. I.


September 19, 1944–Charles C. Cooney, Army.  Aachen, Germany. W.W. II.


June 21, 1945–Carl Frey.  Pacific area of combat.

April 26, 1967–Allen Lasater, Air Force.  At sea.  Vietnam Conflict.

1930. . .Funds of St. Clements parish to the extent of more than $700 were involved in the closing of the First National Bank of McLeansboro on August 1.  Some of this amount has been recovered in dividends paid by the bank since that time.

The privilege of Holy Mass every Sunday throughout the year has been enjoyed by the parishioners of St. Clements since 1931.  In July of that year a new hard road connecting McLeansboro with Dahlgren was opened, thus overcoming a great difficulty formerly encountered by the pastors of Dahlgren, especially during the winter months.

1936. . .Fire of undetermined origin completely destroyed the rectory of St. John’s Parish, Dahlgren, together with all its contents on January 17 at 1 p.m.  Many of St. Clements’ records also were lost in this fire.

In celebrating 50 years as a diocese, 1888 to 1938, these names are familiar (connected with the Diocese of Belleville).

On the Jubilee Committee, Very Rev. J. R. Voll and Very Rev. R. E. Jantzen.  Other familiar names, Rev. Wm. H. Brandmeyer, Rev. James Burke, and Rev. Theodore Eckerman.  Msgr. Leonard Bauer, Vicar General of the Diocese of Belleville, officiated at the laying of the cornerstone of the new St. Clement’s Church on April 26, 1964.

In April, 1974 in special ceremonies, the mortgage against the new church was burned as the debt for the construction was paid in full.  When the church was dedicated, Father Joseph Trapp was in attendance as subdeacon of the Mass, while holding the post of assistant pastor of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Belleville, never dreaming he would eventually be pastor of St. Clements.  Also present for the burning of the mortgage were former pastors, Rev. Timothy Foley and Rev. Meinard Dunn.

The first young man to become a priest from this parish, George Mauck, was ordained on
May 28, 1977.  He said his first Mass in his home parish on May 29, 1977.

The priests serving St. Clements begin with Father H. Becker in 1881 to FatherHenry Hagen replacing Father Becker in 1882 and staying on until 1889; Father Charles Eschman, 1889-1891; Father Thomas Day, 1891-1893.  At this time St. Clements became a station of Dahlgren, and Father Henry Keuth pastored both parishes from 1893-1901.  Other priests serving St. Clements were Father Henry Muenster, 1901-1915; Rev. Joseph Voll, 1915-1923; Rt. Rev. Rudolph E. Jantzen, 1923-1926; Rev. John Goeiz, 1926-1931; Father Bernard Loepker, 1931-1941; Father Joseph Frey, 1941-1944; Rev. William Brandmeyer, 1944-1955.

Rev. Meinard Dunn was pastor from 1955 until 1962 followed by Father Timothy Foley, 1962-1969.  Father Joseph Trapp, 1969 and still in 1981 still pastor, having been made resident pastor in July of 1975.  He lived in a mobile home until the new rectory across the street from the church was built in 1977.

To celebrate the centennial year several activities were planned throughout the year, beginning in November, 1980 with the opening of the centennial year with a late afternoon Mass and a dinner in the parish hall.  In January the Baptism of Christ was celebrated, as was the first recorded Baptism in the parish.  In February, the annual Wurstmart was held, and was again a huge success.  During March the Parish Renewal was held.  A breakfast and reading of individual members faith history was held in April.  To honor the dead, a memorial Mass was held at the cemetery in May.  In July the parish cookbooks were issued.  All members were asked to contribute their favorite recipes.  During August a parish homecoming was held, and all the Sisters who had formerly served the parish were invited back.  September was observed with a fish fry.  An open house was held in October.  To close the centennial year a closing Mass and dinner was held in November.

The following is a list of priests which we have had over the past years:
1969-1982   Rev. Joseph Trapp
1982-1993   Rev. Thomas Barrett
1993-1998   Rev. Alan Ruppert
1999-2000   Fr. Roland Jacques OMI
2000-2011   Msgr. Joseph A. Lawler
2011-           Fr. Slawomir Ptak became our Pastor. 

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