During the late 1830's to the 1850's, several families settled in the German Catholic village of Oldenburg, Ray Township in Franklin Co., Indiana. The Bachel, Gaertner, Duclos, Huber, Meier, Myers/Meyer, Rausch, Spielman, Stathel and Wesling families became neighbors and friends.
In 1848, Johann Gaertner, George Bachel and Anton Stathel traveled to Old Mission in Winneshiek Co., Iowa, to explore the farming opportunities there. They returned to Oldenburg and during that winter, George and Anton sold their farms. Frank Spielman, Jacob Rausch and Andrew Meier and Frank J. Huber decided to join them in their move to Old Mission. They also sold their farms, and in March of 1849, they began the long journey. John Rausch was born February 13th and at the age of two weeks, was the youngest member of the group. They arrived in Old Mission on May 13. They purchased several log buildings that had been abandoned when the Indians were moved, and these became their living quarters until they were able to purchase land from the U.S. Government on patents. Soon, Casper Andrew Meyer and John Wesling, along with their families joined their former neighbors in the new settlement.
St. Lucas, Fayette Co., Iowa
A Perspective of St. Lucas History
by Ken H. Winter
Millard Fillmore was president of the United States. Henry Clay introduced the Compromise of 1850 settling western territorialdisputes. The Erie Railroad reached Dunkirk, on Lake Erie, being the first railway to make connections with the Lakes. Iowa became
a state in 1846.
On February 11, 1847, Michael Zimmer, a soldier in the army,received 160 acres of land from the government after his discharge. In 1851, he sold this property that later would include St. Lucas to Mathias Duclos.
In 1848 and 1849, the Indians and troops were being gradually removed from Ft. Atkinson in Iowa to Minnesota. During these years, settlers from Oldenburg, Indiana, began to settle on the
banks of the Turkey River, partly in Fayette County and partly in Winneshiek County. Their intention was to organize a Catholic Colony. In 1852, the town on the western edge of this property
received its first name, Stathel Town, after Anthony Stathel who was the brother-in-law of Mathias Duclos. Stathel donated 20 acres and Duclos 15 acres to the Catholic Church. Three parish
churches were planned -- one at Stathel Town, one at Twin Springs, now Festina, and another at Spillville. Festina was the first to have a church. In 1854, Stathel Town was renamed Old Mission.
Stathel Town Catholics finally built their church in 1855 where the community center stands today.
The first mass was held there on October 18, 1855, the feast of St. Luke. The 28 parish families agreed that he would be a good patron and St. Luke's Parish and the name St. Lucas became
reality. In 1855, the total cost of the church including furnishings was $96.63. Previous to the present church dedicated on July 7, 1915, a church was built in 1870 and an addition in 1883.
Anton Stathel built the first place of business in the area -- a small grocery store in his home, and in 1851 a postal service where mail was delivered by stage coach every three to four weeks. The post office went through several changes and finally Theodore Perry brought it to St. Lucas with the official sign, St. Lucas Post Office. The first grocery store and saloon in St. Lucas were built by Henry H. Kuennen. At the time, the town sported a hotel, while J.C. Mihm started a barber shop, Theodore Reicks, a blacksmith shop and Barney Meyer, a creamery.
In 1855, there were 15 pupils in school under the schoolmaster, Henry H. Kuennen. In 1905, Father F. X. Boeding built the first school which burned down in 1911. The school that stands yet today was then built in that same year. Following, in 1914, the church was built across the street from the school. Reverend F. L. Schuh pushed to improve upon the school following the death of Father Boeding. By 1940, the twelfth grade was added to the high school and St. Luke's School became accredited in 1941.
A recreation center added to the school in 1950, was given by William Henry Regnery, a Chicago publisher who lived in the parish as a boy. In 1967, due to financial difficulties, the high school closed. St. Lucas high school students became part of the Turkey Valley School District with a few students attending North Fayette Schools and South Winneshiek Schools. When the Catholic elementary closed in 1997, the school had completed 142 years of educating the youth of the community.
It is hard to talk about the history of St. Lucas and the surrounding townships without combining the strong traditions of the German
culture and the Catholic Church. In a time when government and religion are often considered strange bedfellows, it was the dependency on each other that made St. Lucas grow. From the time of its inception with Mr. Duclos; to the time that Father Boeding made the entire area Catholic and only German was to be spoken in the homes, church and school; to Father Schuh who changed that language to English and promoted the growth of the community as well as the church and school; to the present day St. Lucas, a small, strong-willed community becoming more global and accepting in its attitude to the outside world, we still see a closeness of proud families and great traditions.
One of the log buildings was moved to the banks of the Turkey River and became their church, Saint Marys of Festina, later Our Lady of the Seven Dolors, the first Catholic church in Winneshiek County. The Casper Henry Meyer and Mathias Duclos families arrived about 1852. Around 1853, fire destroyed the little church.
In 1854, Andrew Meier was instrumental in building a new church at Festina, at that time called Twin Springs. Rev. Philip Laurent was the first resident pastor. In the spring and summer of
1855, the families of Statheltown built their own church on land donated by Anton Stathel and Mathias Duclos. The first Mass was celebrated by Father Philip Laurent on October 18, 1855. They changed the name of their town from Statheltown to St. Lucas and names their church Saint Luke's.
The first recorded marriage was on July 17, 1855 when Frederic William Gerleman married Catharine Witte at Festina. They were the parents of the first native priest of the parish, Father John Gerleman.
By 1855 several more families had moved to the area. A church record book contains the names of the contributors to the church in 1855. The pioneers of St. Luke's Parish were: Juliana Duclos, Mathias Duclos, Widow Duclos, Bernard Foreman, Herman Kruse, Gerhart H. Kuennen, H. Henry Kuennen, John Bernard Kuennen, Wenceslaus Kuennen, Gerhart Limke, Casper Meyer, John L. Meyer, John Nieman, John Nieman, Jr., Theodore Rusabeck, Joseph Schabager, Anton Stathel, Francesca Stathel, John Steffes, Lucas Toenjes, John Wesling, Widow Woeler and Michael Wurzer.
The town of Belgium in Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin was originally settled by Catholics from France, Belgium and Luxembourg. In the 1870's the Blong, Budke, Croatt, Nepper, Lusson and Perry families moved from Belgium to St. Lucas.
Rev. Francis X. Boeding was born on September 5, 1853 in Neuenkirchen, Nordheim-Westfalia. He studied at Paderborn and in Montreal, where he was ordained on December 22, 1877. He was assigned to the Guttenburg parish in 1878, and remained there until his assignment to St. Luke's. He arrived on September 22, 1882 and was the pastor of St. Luke's for 46 years.
back row, l-r - Anton Wurzer, Anna (Boeding) Wurzer, Edward Boeding, Elizabeth (Lohman) Boeding,
John Schmitt, Betha (Boeding) Schmitt
front row, l-r - Betha Boeding, Rev. F.X. Boeding, Conrad Boeding, Rev. Arnold Boeding,
Herman Boeding, Mary Elizabeth Boeding
The St. Lucas families met many of the Festina area families. Several owned farms between St. Lucas and Festina. Many of these families became connected to the Festina families through the marriages of their children.
The Festina Families
In 1864, the families of Ferdinand Lippold, Frank Drilling, Joseph Todt, George Nolte and Joseph Bohmer left New York and traveled to St. John's in Lake Co. Indiana. On rented land, they planted seeds. After the harvest, they traveled from St. Johns through Chicago to Winnesheik Co. They arrived in Ossian on 3 November 1864. They bough land and created farms near Festina.
My Grandparents Joseph Konrath and Elizabeth Meyer
Elizabeth Meyer, born 22 August 1874 in St. Lucas, daughter of John Frank Meyer and Franziska Aigner. She died on 3 January 1933 at St. Joseph's Hospital, Alliance, Nebraska She was buried at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Montrose,
The information on these families has been collected from various sources on the internet, census,
newspapers, books and information provided to me by many cousins. I am grateful to Lorraine Bodensteiner Kuennen, Denis Kuennen, Margaret Clark, Carmel and Collette Ameling, Alberta Bouska, Ursula Buchholz, Carol Froode, Doris Harrigan, Diane Smaby, Carolyn Reif, Jane Schrandt, Rev. Terry Tekippe, Joan Williams, and many others. The only families I have personally researched and verified are Aigner and Meyer.
The information provided here is to assist you in researching your family.
If your family is from this area, please contact me as I have many records for other families.