The History of Our Cradle Land
by Thomas H. Kinsella

Transcribed by Sean Furniss

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Pope Pius VII sat in the chair of Peter at the time Father de la Croix passed this way on his first visit to the Osage tribe in 1822; Napoleon I had died the previous year, May 5, 1821.

Pope Leo XII was in office when Father Van Quickenborne, S.J., journeyed through this section on his way to the same tribe in 1827.

Pope Pius VIII was reigning during his visit in 1830.

Pope Gregory XVI was Pope at the time of his visit to the Miamis on the Marais des Cygnes river in 1835. It was under this Pope that Father Aelen, S.J, first preached the Gospel to the Peorias, where Paola now stands, in 1839.

Pope Pius IX was head of the Church when Father Schoenmakers, S.J., came in 1847; also when Father Ponziglione, S.J., came in 1851, and Father Schacht in 1858. Then followed the regular line of pastors to our own day.

Pope Leo XIII reigned from 1878 to 1903.

Pope Pius X from 1903 to 1914, and the present Pope, Benedict XIV, followed. It can thus be seen that eight Popes have reigned since the Missions in Kansas began in 1922.


First Bishop--Most Rev. Louis William Valentine Dubourg, Archbishop of the Cardinalatial See of Besancon; consecrated in Rome, Sept. 24, 1815; Bishop of Louisiana, Upper and Lower, took his first residential seat in St. Louis, January 6, 1818. On July 24, 1826, the Diocese of Louisiana was divided and the Sees of St. Louis and New Orleans erected. Bishop Dubourg, having resigned the See of Louisiana, was transferred to the Diocese of Montauban in France, August 13, 1826, and made Archbishop of the Cardinalatial See of Besancon, February 15, 1833, where he died December 12 of the same year.

Second Bishop--Rt. Rev. Joseph Rosati, C.M., Bishop of St. Louis; consecrated Bishop of the titular See of Tenagra and constituted Coadjutor of Bishop Dubourg of Louisiana at Donaldsonville, La., March 25, 1824. When the See of Louisiana was divided Bishop Rosati was made Bishop of St. Louis and Administrator of New Orleans. He died while on business in Rome on September 25, 1843.

Most Rev. Peter Richard Kenrick, D.D., Archbishop of St. Louis, cons. November 30, 1841, Bishop of Drasa and Coadjutor of Rt. Rev. Bishop Rosati; Bishop of St. Louis, 1843; Archbishop, 1847; Titular Archbishop of Marcianopolis, May 21, 1895, died March 4, 1896.

The first bishop to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation within the confines of what is now known as Kansas was the Right Rev. Peter Richard Kenrick of St. Louis, who officiated at Sugar Creek Mission, Linn County, on June 19, 1842. He confirmed 300 Indians.

Bishop Barron,* acting for the Right Rev. Bishop Kenrick, visited the same Mission on December 17, 1845. He remained two weeks and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to eighty Indians.

*Right Rev. Edward Barron, D.D., Bishop of Upper and Lower Guinea, Africa, on his return to the United States, where he had formerly resided, visited Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis.

Right Rev. John Baptist Miege, S.J., the first bishop to reside in the section of country now known as Kansas, arrived soon after March 25, 1851, the date of his Consecration at St. Louis, Mo. He established his home at Leavenworth in August 1855. Up to this date he resided at St. Mary's College, Kansas.

Right Rev. Louis Mary Fink, O.S.B., his immediate successor and long his co-worker, was consecrated in Chicago on June 11, 1874.

Bishop Miege resigned in 1874 and Bishop Fink filled the office until May 22, 1877 as Bishop of Eucarpia, when he became the first Bishop of Leavenworth with Kansas exclusively has his diocese. In 1887 this immense diocese was divided, and Concordia and Wichita were erected into independent Sees.

Bishop Fink died on the 17th of March, 1904, after thirty-three years of strenuous but most successful labor for the upbuilding of the church of Kansas.

Right Rev. Thomas Francis Lillis, D.D., succeeded Bishop Fink on December 27, 1904, and was transferred to the See of Kansas City, March 4, 1910.

Right Rev. John Ward, D.D., was appointed to succeed Bishop Lillis November 24, 1910, and was consecrated February 22, 1911.


Churches and Pastors of Paola.

The first Catholic Church at this point was erected by the Indians and was in existence in 1846. The second, "the old stone church," was begun in 1859 and completed in 1866. The third, or brick church was begun in 1880 and was, unfortunately, destroyed by fire on the 14th of January, 1906. The corner stone of the fourth or present church was laid May 27, 1906, and was dedicated April 1, 1907, by Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Lillis, bishop of Leavenworth.

The priests who were appointed pastors of Holy Trinity Church and the Missions in all of Miami and Linn Counties were the Reverend Fathers Ivo Schacht from 1858 to 1862, Favre from 1862 to 1865, Francis J. Wattron from 1865 to March, 1874, Anthony Joseph Abel from March, 1874 to August, 1877, Daniel J. Hurley from August, 1877 to March, 1883, Aloysius Carius from April, 1883, to August, 1885, M. J. Gleason from August, 1885 to April, 1889, J. J. O'Connor from April, 1889, to February, 1891, Nicholas Neusius from March, 1891 to August, 1891, Thomas Quick from September, 1891 to September, 1892, T. E. Madden from September, 1892, to September, 1893, Maurice Burk from October, 1893, to October, 1894, Anthony Dornseifer from October, 1894, to July, 1895, Francis Taton from July, 1895, to August, 1903, Maurice Burk from August, 1903, to December, 1914, Thomas H. Kinsella from December 4, 1912 to April 14, 1919. At this time Osawatomie was raised to the dignity of parish and Paola stood alone as the parish of Holy Trinity with Very Rev. Adolph J. Domann as pastor.



Reverend Ivo Schacht, a Belgian priest, "a man full of zeal and spirituality," was appointed Ecclesiastical Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Nashville, Tenn. When the Sisters, at the invitation of Bishop Miege, moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1858, Father Schacht visited them, and while in Kansas he exercised his remarkable missionary zeal by going out on horse-back to visit the scattered people of the plains. Kansas was still a territory, and the on-rush of new settlers was very marked at this time. There were many Catholics amongst the first settlers. In some places regular settlements were formed, but a vast number picked up claims wherever an opportunity offered. It was this class that kept the horse-back missionary continually in the saddle.

Father Schacht passed through Miami County at the end of December, 1855. Paola was nothing but a cluster of humble dwellings then. It was not incorporated nor had it any modern improvements whatever. Baptiste Peoria, the Indian Chief, was the most important personage of the place as he owned all the land on which the town was built. Father Schacht was the first secular priest to say Mass in Paola. The date is presumed to be the 30th of December, 1858, as on that day he "baptized solemnly in domo paterne, Richard, born Sept. 28, son of Thomas Lafontain and Mary Beck." There are six records of baptism over his name in the old Indian book of records, the last being dated the 10th of April, 1861.

Paola was a Catholic center from the earliest missionary days and was especially beloved by Father Ponziglione.

Father Schacht's visit to Paola and his continued interest in the place led the settlers of the surrounding country to plan the erection of a church either at the latter place or at Osawatomie. It seems that Osawatomie was chosen for the site and the rock was hauled there for the foundation but on account of defect in title to property, the church was never built and the stone disposed of for other purposes. It is supposed too that the atmosphere of the place was hostile, as Osawatomie, like Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan and other towns, was founded by New Englanders of the old school.

Soon afterwards, Father Schacht called a meeting of the Catholic settlers at Paola, the chief, Baptiste Peoria, was present. After the Father had explained the object of the meeting the chief arose and said: "We must have a church. I will give the place for it and I will give three hundred dollars; the new people will give some, also. Our old church has fallen down; we must build here at Paola where the Blackgowns came long ago, and preached religion to my people."

The facts as here stated are given by Michael Cunningham, one of the first settlers who is now over ninety years of age.

In the meantime the Catholics continued to meet in private houses to hear Mass; first at the home of Thomas Hedges situated on ground now occupied by the People's National Bank; then at the house of Baptiste Peoria, a long, low building, which stood about where the Commercial Hotel is built and, finally, as the number of worshippers increased, the use of the Town Hall was obtained. This hall was in the second story of a modest frame building which stood at the corner of the square on ground now occupied by the Miami County Bank.

The foundation of the proposed church was laid in 1859 and the building, afterwards known as the "Old Stone Church" was enclosed in 1860. All manner of difficulties arose about this time which prevented the completion of the building for the next five years.

The great drought of 1860, the consequent failure of crops followed by a veritable famine; the chronic unrest and, finally, the great Civil War of 1861 to 1865 were more than sufficient to dampen the zeal of the people and crush the heart of one of the bravest and most unselfish missionary priests that ever labored in Kansas.

The two Ryan brothers were the builders, assisted by the farmers of the surrounding county. A certain Fousaint Cartissere was appointed by Father Schacht to collect money from the Catholics of the surrounding counties for the building of this church and one at Strong City.

The collector disappeared and, it is said, fled to France. the amount collected was never known but the effect of the defalcation was far reaching and added greatly to all the other difficulties that confronted a poor but willing people in their efforts to establish the first Catholic Church in Miami County.

Father Schacht's sentiments were with the South in the great Civil struggle. He left Kansas and returned to his old home in 1861 or possibly 1862. He spent the remainder of his life on the Missions in Kentucky and finally became pastor of St. Stephen's Church, Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1870, and died there on the 10th of April, 1874.

Hon. Ben. J. Webb, in his "Centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky," gives such a faithful and just estimate of Father Schacht's character that we quote his words: "Father Schacht was esteemed in every congregation served by him as a laborious and successful priest. I knew Father Schacht and it is my conviction that a more earnest and faithful priest never labored for the good of souls on the soil of Kentucky." The same may be said of his short sojourn in Kansas from the end of 1858 to 1862. He was destined by Providence to be the link that united the Jesuit Mission period to the present order of things in Miami County and surrounding missions. He was the founder of Holy Trinity Parish, Paola, and thus made this church the inheritor of all labors and traditions of a glorious past.

The venerable J. B. Hobson, a member of the original Town Company, states in his notes on the churches of Paola that, "The church of the Holy Trinity may be considered to be a continuation of the labors of the Jesuits, who established a mission among the Confederate tribes extending out to the New York Indians in 1845, under charge of Father Hoecken.

"In 1859 the Catholics began the erection of a stone church and completed it, with the exception of the floors, doors and windows, in 1860. The first year of the Civil War interfered materially with religious affairs in this part of Kansas, and the unfinished church was used for a stable until 1863 (1865?) when it was finished and used for religious purposes."

The writer visited Father Schacht's grave in the beautiful Catholic cemetery at Owensboro in 1920. He carried home with him to Paola some of the myrtle that grew on the grave and had it planted on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church. The name of this venerable priest is greatly revered in all that country. The name "Ivo" is common in Owensboro now, the church he built there is preserved as a relic and his grave is a place of pilgrimage.


This young Frenchman came in 1862 and at once succeeded Father Schacht in his missionary circuit with headquarters at Lawrence. He traveled through several counties on horseback and suffered untold hardships on account of the winter's cold and the summer's excessive heat but more especially on account of the poverty of the people and the disturbed condition of affairs during the Civil War. He was succeeded by Father Wattron at the end of 1865 and, after some time, retired to Saint Meinrad's Abbey, Indiana, where he died clothed in the habit of the Benedictine order, on September 3rd, 1885.


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