Stephenson County, Illinois Genealogy
St. Mary's Parish
The first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Stephenson County was celebrated by Father Stephen Vincent Baden in Oct., 1827, in the cabin of Simon Brady while the Father was on his way to Galena to minister to the miners in the lead region. The little cabin stood near Kellogg's Grove, in the vicinity of the spot where now stands the monument which marks the battle of the Black Hawk war. The first resident priest in Stephenson County was Father Derwin who was appointed by the Bishop of St. Louis to the parish of New Dublin. The church was built in 1836, of logs 16 x 24, and seven logs high.
In 1848 the Rev. John Cavanaugh, pastor of the church at New Dublin, called together the first congregation that assembled in Freeport, in the parlor of Mrs. Thomas Egan, sister of the Father. A room on the second floor of her house was afterward fitted up as a chapel and here the little congregation continued to meet at intervals for two years, until it outgrew the small chapel. At this time J. K. Brewster, although not a Catholic, very kindly offered the use of his hall which they occupied until, with the few hundred dollars raised, the little frame church was completed nine months later.
In 1852, with the consent of his Bishop, Father Cavanaugh changed his residence from New Dublin to Freeport. In 1854, Father Cavanaugh being removed to Joliet, the Rev. Ferdinand Kavelage was appointed pastor of St. Mary's. During his administration a brick church, a grand building for those times was erected. Father Kavelage remained in charge until 1859 when Father O'Gara succeeded him at St. Mary's. The new pastor converted the old church into a comfortable dwelling, collected funds to purchase the cemetery, and it is stated he procured the fine pipe organ still in use. It was during his administration, in 1862, that the German parish of St. Joseph was organized. In April, 1866, Father O'Gara was succeeded by Father Kennedy and in November of the same year, he in turn was followed by Rev. George Rigby who left the next spring.
Rev. Michael J. Hanly became pastor of St. Mary's in 1867. He was a man of great energy and perseverance. The old frame residence was sold and removed, and a new residence erected on the lot in the rear of the church, fronting on State St., which was purchased for that purpose. Father Hanly accomplished much in a short time.
Rev. P. L. Hendricks became pastor of St. Mary's in September, 1869, and in February, 1870, he was succeeded by Rev. F. J. Murtaugh. The new pastor, by his zealous efforts, succeeded in purchasing the two-story brick school house which stood on the opposite side of the street. He continued as pastor until June, 1871, when Rev. Maurice Stack succeeded him.
Father Stack had the school building repaired and refurnished, and secured the services of the Dominican Sisters, for whom he' vacated his. own residence, nor did he again occupy it until he had built and furnished for the sisters a better house than the pastoral residence. In the meantime he lodged in the attic of the school house and took his meals elsewhere. He purchased the two lots adjoining the school upon one of which he later built St. Mary's convent. In March, 1877, Father Stack was succeeded by Rev. Thomas F. Mangan.
Under the supervision of Father Mangan the cemetery was surveyed, platted and beautified; the church raised and otherwise repaired, and an addition built to the residence. He remained until Oct., 1887, and his successor, Rev. M. Welby, was followed in Feb., 1890, by Rev. William A. Horan.
In January, 1890, Father Horan announced in church that if forty families would contribute $250.00 each they could begin a new church. At a meeting that afternoon he began the work by giving his own check for $250.00, and raised $10,000 that afternoon. Father Horan gave, in all $3,500. In May the building was commenced, August 3rd of that year the cornerstone was laid, and Oct. 28th the new church was opened. The church, which is built of stone in the modern gothic style, 53 x 137 ft, Cayuga county. He was a man of considerable importance in that distant day, and did much to aid in the establishment of the Reformed Dutch church in his community. He served in the war of 1812, and was a sergeant in Captain Carter's company under Colonel Swift. He died in 1820. Anthony Van Etten, Sr., was the fourth child of Jacob and Antje Van Etten, was born at Napenoch, Ulster county, New York, in 1726, was married in 1750, and soon afterwards located in the vicinity of Deer Park. His wife Antje Decker, was the great great granddaughter of Jan Boersen Decker, and granddaughter of Hermanus Van Ingewen, one of the first settlers of Minesink, and both old residents of Manhattan, in the days when it was a colony of Holland. Martin P. Sweet and wife were the parents of five children: Vannette married J. A. Crain, a prominent attorney of Freeport; T. V. E. is the subject of this article; Julia is living in Chicago, where her sister Ella also has her home; Caroline married Charles F. Wells, of Minneapolis.
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