They are everywhere.
Lord knows there are plenty of dilapidated homesteads scattered throughout our area in southeast Kansas — people’s past homes. Left lonely and abandoned, many here are hidden by timber, vines and high grass. There, they simply rot away, unnoticed.
But out on the desert floor they stand stark, like headstones commemorating past lives. This one is on the north side of San Luis County Road N6 between the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Colorado Highway 17, just north of Alamosa. In the high, arid environment they decay more slowly.
There are more of these on that valley road but this one always catches our attention when we drive into Alamosa. Maybe it is the position relative to the road, or the texture of the weather-worn siding. In places where you can actually see through the house you can almost hear the voices of a mother or children laughing inside of the sad, north-leaning structure. These old buildings were the center of someone’s life, hopes, and future expectations . . .
. . . until something happened.
Our Lowly "Links" Page Contains Some Important Stuff.
Many websites have a Links page somewhere in the menu structure. Sometimes "Links" are included in the top-level menu bar. Or, Links might be buried farther down where they are difficult to find. It depends on how important the links are to the site developer.
We think ours are pretty important — thus, the "Links" position in our main menu bar .
Why are they important? They reflect the way others see us in the overall history of the region or even their own hometowns and churches. By "Us" I mean the Catholic Osage Mission and the missionaries who served it.
Take a moment and open This LINK to Links. Near the top of the page you will find a list of parish or diocese websites that include content related to us. Note that the first two links are to two different diocese websites — Dodge City and Wichita. Both of these dioceses include churches and/or mission stations that were served by Osage Mission Jesuits . As you scroll down, you find several more church sites that refer to Osage Mission Jesuits as the priests who helped get them going. Quite a few are southeast Kansas parishes, but Dodge City and Larned are both over 250 miles west. These are the church site links we have found so far and their are probably more; but it is another way of appreciating the broad missionary range of the Osage Mission Jesuits (map below, or go to Chapter 7 of OUR STORY, The Missionary Trails ... ).
As you scroll down through the remaining links you will find more information about the mission .... and about us! The "Early work of the Lorettines ..." is an interesting essay that was written by a St. Paul native who was also a historian for the Sisters of Loretto. Beneath that are links to a national and a state non-profit website that include information about us.
I will conclude with a thought about the national website. The Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area commemorates the group of counties, on either side of the Missouri-Kansas line, that were prominent in the Bleeding Kansas border war and the early settlement of this region. The Freedom's Frontier site is only a few mouse clicks from the National Park Service website — one of the most popular tourism websites on earth. Their link to the "Places to See Page" shows their top ten mini-site pages based on website visits. Since our local museum joined the site, about eight years ago, Osage Mission has always been on this list, and is usually in the top five or six positions. On the date of posting we were #2. People care about our story! 
Some Reference Information:
1. On a desktop monitor "Links" is included in the top menu and at the far right end. On smaller monitors it might appear beneath "Thoughts ..." or as "Others." But it is a first level menu link.
2. One of Father Paul Ponziglione's missions evolved into the first church in Wichita, Kansas. As best as we can tell, that early church was located within a few blocks of the present Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
3. The high ranking of the Osage Mission link on the Freedom's Frontier site probably isn't based on local historical displays, programs, etc.. There is relatively little Catholic Mission content around St. Paul. I believe the ranking is based on widespread interest in the Mission itself. If you do a Google search on "Osage Mission"; Freedom's Frontier, the Kansas Sampler or our page are usually near the top of the list*. But there are several other web sources that respond to an Osage Mission query. People know about the mission, are writing about it, and are interested. Imagine what could happen if our local historical content was beefed up!
* Even Google's summary story for the local museum (upper-right screen on a monitor) uses the Freedom's Frontier page link if you click the "Website" box.
Now and then I rediscover a photo on the hard drive that stands out. This photo was donated to the local museum by Bill Richmond of Amarillo, Texas. I am not sure when it was donated but it was scanned in October of 2011, probably for a presentation on Neosho County schools. The original had some damage that I cleaned up for the PowerPoint show.
Meeker was located in western Neosho County, a few miles north of Galesburg. This is a classic old school photo. The thing that caught my eye was the list of names on the back. Of the fifteen students, there appears to be about six families represented (not counting the ?'s). The country schools served farm families, and when you recognize the names you know about where the family farm houses were—within a couple of miles of the school. 
1. If you can match the names to the number of students, you did better than me. I came up with fourteen names or ? for fifteen faces.
We traveled to Larned Last weekend for our oldest grandson's high school graduation. The graduation weekend also included recognition of some of the seniors at 10:30 Mass on Sunday morning.
Every time I enter Sacred Heart Catholic Church I have to pause and look at the large mural on the back wall of the nave. It depicts religious figures who brought Catholicism into the central Kansas and Larned area. The brown-robed figure in the center is Franciscan Friar Juan de Padilla as he erects the first cross in Kansas in 1541, near Larned. The tall, black-robed Jesuit steadying the cross is Father Philip Colleton who served a missionary station at Fort Larned during the 1860's and 70’s. Father Colleton traveled more than 250 miles, from Osage Mission to Fort Larned, for the soldiers and rail workers at and near the fort — and he did it on a fairly regular basis.
I am also reminded of several Catholic churches in southern Kansas that discuss our Osage Mission Jesuits on the history page of their websites. It is odd that so few people here, at their missionary headquarters, seem to know who they were. A better local understanding of their role in the settlement of Kansas could certainly provide a cultural and even an economic benefit to our community.
So, there you go ... some Thoughts and Things!
Some Reference Information.
Father Philip is the missionary Jesuit who started many of the parishes in southeast Kansas, and inspired the W.W. Graves book "The Legend of Greenbush."
On April 28, 1847, a small procession of ox-drawn wagons rolled onto the grounds of a newly built mission schools campus. The location was a remote eminence one mile north of the juncture of Flat Rock Creek with the Neosho River in present Neosho County, Kansas . Five weary men climbed down from the carts and were quickly surrounded by an enthusiastic group of Osage who had come to greet the Tapuska-Watanka (priest lords). The wagons carried furniture, equipment and supplies to start the new mission and sustain it for a few months.
The men were Jesuit Missionaries Father John Schoenmakers, his young assistant Father John Bax and three coadjutor brothers: John Sheehan, John De Bruyn and Thomas Coglan (Brother Thomas O’Donnell joined them in 1848). All of the men were immigrants to the United States. All would spend the rest of their lives here. One of them, Father Bax, lived slightly more than five years after his arrival. He might have worked himself to death trying to help his beloved Osage through the Black Measles epidemic of the early 50's. All of the founding Jesuits are buried in St. Francis Cemetery just one-quarter mile east of the mission site.
The Catholic Osage Mission served two purposes. It was an Osage Indian school operated by the Jesuits, with the Sisters of Loretto, under contract with the United States Government. It also served as the Jesuit headquarters for missionary activity south of the Santa Fe Trail.
1. Was the Mission Successful?
From the following, you can certainly sense frustration expressed by an Italian nobleman turned missionary.
"It is difficult at this Mission among the Osage to write annual letters for there are but few things worthy of notice. From the very beginning of this mission in 1847 to the present very little was accomplished among the aborigines and there is little hope of accomplishing anything in the future."
There were reasons to be discouraged — and many reasons to be proud.
1. The Osage Mission and Schools:
In spite of constant funding issues, the mission school was successful. The Jesuits and Lorettos found the young Osage to be smart, attentive and enthusiastic students. In fact, some Osage Mission students and their offspring did well in later life. Conversion to Catholicism met with mixed success. Among the half-breed Osage were some French Canadians who had been baptized young and showed cooperation with the priests — but many of them knew little about the faith. Some of the full-blood Osage were religious and, when treated fairly, were submissive to authority and the teachings of the church. But the mission's main drawback was time. Given the twenty-three year lifespan of the mission, early language barriers, constant funding issues, and the nomadic nature of the flock, there was not enough time to fully influence a people who already had deep religious beliefs. Today, many Osage embrace a strong Catholic faith that is blended with their early religious culture.
2. Jesuit Missionary Work:
As a missionary headquarters, the mission was very successful. In fact, the Osage Mission Jesuits played an important part in the settlement of southern Kansas, southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas and northern Oklahoma. In addition to spreading and nurturing their faith; the missionary priests gave several fledgling settlements an important component for growth — a church. In some cases they also started schools. To date we have accounted for more than 150 mission stations in the four states listed above and Father Philip Colleton traveled as far as Pueblo, Colorado. Some stations were temporary but many evolved into churches. Father Paul Ponziglione said the first Mass in Wichita at a location only blocks from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
As part of his missionary work, Father Schoenmakers served as a counselor to the Osage in matters of legal and government affairs as well as spiritual needs. In this capacity, Father John's word was often final. His influence with the Osage and the government played an important part in the settlement of treaty disputes among the government, the Osage and the settlers. His intervention into the controversial Sturgis Treaty negotiations likely prevented a serious disservice to the tribe, the southern Kansas settlers and the state of Kansas.
Overall, the mission and it's missionaries left a pretty important mark on the Osage people and the state of Kansas.
Some Reference Information.
Looking east, we are watching our neighbor Girard proudly celebrate their sesquicentennial year with several interesting events. Newspaper articles and television reports tell us Girard was founded in the spring of 1868. Looking closer to home, it is our sesquicentennial year too!
We, here in St. Paul, usually think of our founding date as April 28, 1847 . That is the date the Jesuits arrived at the Catholic Osage Mission. But the Catholic Mission was not a town. The mission was a U.S. Government Indian school operated under a contract with the Jesuits, with the a great deal of assistance from the Sisters of Loretto.
The Town of Osage Mission, now St. Paul, was also founded in the spring of 1868. The formal transfer of property occurred when Father John Schoenmakers deeded some of the land he received from the Osages to the Osage Mission Town Company. Father Schoenmakers' town company was made up of Gen. C. W. Blair, Geo. A. Crawford, S. A. Williams, Benjamin McDonald, John Naudier, the Mill Company and himself. The date of founding is generally considered to be the date of the deed that transferred land to the Town Company — March 21, 1868.
The highlighted portion of the Abstract of Title book shows two separate transactions: First, the receipt of Osage Lands by Father John Schoenmakers under terms of the Treaty of 1865. That transfer occurred, via a land patent between the U.S. Government and Father Schoenmakers on January 10, 1868. The second transaction was a warranty deed, transferring part of the land to the Osage Mission Town Company on March 21, 1868.
During the next year, the town was laid out with lots and streets. Plans were made to dedicate a portion of the property sales to a very unique school system. On April 10, 1869, the first meeting of the trustees of the Osage Mission Town Company was held. When Father Schoenmakers was satisfied that his mission town was in good hands, he backed away to devote his energy to the new schools and a church. 
It is also noted that eighteen days after the first trustees meeting, they met again for their first "Special Meeting". They approved two saloon licenses. The first "Irrigating Fountain" in the new town of Osage Mission was established by Joseph Roycroft as "Master of Ceremonies." Our Irish and German ancestors had some priorities.
Another date we need to remember is April 28, 2022. We are also going to have to practice saying "Dodransbicentennial" — 175 Years!
Some Reference Information:
1. Saint Paul celebrated their sesquicentennial in 1997 — commemorating 150 years from the date the Jesuits arrived at the Catholic Mission and opened the boy's department of the Osage Manual labor school.
2. It is also likely that Father Schoenmakers withdrew from the town company to avoid involvement with any business issues or improprieties that might have occurred during startup of the town.
3. For more information about the founding of the town of Osage Mission follow THIS LINK. For more information about the treaty negotiations that resulted in Father Schoenmakers receiving land from the Osages, follow THIS LINK.
4. Illustration. The source of the Abstract of Title page, above, is the Neosho County, Register of Deeds office, Erie, Kansas. Photo editing was done by the writer.
In 1934 William Whites Graves published his original Annals of Osage Mission with the idea of furnishing available, compact data for writers; and for the general information of the public. When the Graves Memorial Library prepared the book for reprinting, in 1987, they substantially improved it as a research too.
John H. Scott published the first issue of The Osage Mission Journal on August 5, 1868. That issue started one of the longer-running Kansas frontier newspapers. In fact, his Journal continued sixty-six years past the the town of Osage Mission's name change to St. Paul.  When W. W. Graves published the Annals of Osage Mission his intent was to compile excerpts from the Journal's frontier period stories up to July 4, 1895 — the date of the town's name change.
in 1987 the Graves Memorial Public Library staff decided to reprint Graves' Annals. Before they printed, they compiled a very detailed index. In doing so, Helen Schoenhofer Coomes and Wendell Shaw transformed Graves' original work into an even more valuable research tool. The structure of the book is simple:
Not Just For Locals.
The town of Osage Mission was within the first block of land ceded by the Osage Tribe under the Canville Treaty (1865). The rest of the Osage reserve was released for settlement in 1870. We got about a five-year head start with settlement, compared to the western counties. As a result, quite a few families stopped at Osage Mission, participated in the initial building boom, lived here for awhile, and then moved on. When I look through the index there are many familiar names. But there are many more names, and stories, that are unfamiliar. The offspring of these families are scattered by now, but might be curious about their origins.
During the period of 2009 through 2014 alone, I am aware of researchers who came to St. Paul from California, Canada, New York and several other locations to do family or general historical research. Museum research staff have also responded to emails from across the United States, Ireland, Netherlands, France and other locations. These are from people who have ties to the Osage Catholic Mission and the town of Osage Mission - St. Paul. Bottom Line — if your family passed through Osage Mission, or the Neosho County area, during the mid to late 1800's, they might well have left tracks in this book. The same might be true of frontier era lodges, businesses or organizations such as the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
Description and Sources.
The 1987 printing of the book is in 5-3/8" x 7-3/8" format, hard-bound with blue cover and gold backbone lettering. Contents are discussed above; 622 pages including the index.
New copies of the book are available from The Osage Mission, Neosho County Historical Society or The Graves Memorial Public Library, both in St. Paul. At last check, the price was still $16 at both locations. 
Mail orders are best processed through the historical society who will add a $4 book mailing fee:
Osage Mission - Neosho County Historical Society
203 Washington St, St Paul, KS 66771
Phone: (620) 449-2320 (un-attended during closed hours)*
Email: email@example.com (best contact method)
* See website for current hours: www.osagemission.org.
The Graves Memorial Public Library Phone Number is: (620) 449-2001
This gallery will give you an idea of format and index content.
Some Reference Information.
1. The "Journal" had three names during its ninety-three year life (1868 - 1961). John Scott started it as the Osage Mission Journal. It was also published as the Neosho County Journal and St. Paul Journal. There were several editors and owners, and at least one shift in politics, but the same business lineage was retained during its lifespan. W. W. Graves was the longest-term editor/owner.
2. The Osage Reserve was a fifty mile wide strip (north-south) that extended from just east of the Neosho-Labette County lines, west to near Dodge City. When the Canville treaty was ratified in 1865, the Osage ceded land roughly equivalent to Neosho and Labette Counties, plus a strip across the northern edge of their reserve. Osage Mission was in the east part of the Canville land cession and was also close to the Missouri Line. Quite a few settlers stopped first at new settlements, such as Osage Mission, then move on later to pursue other opportunities. For more information about the departure of the Osage and land cession treaties follow THIS LINK.
3. I have seen this book offered from on-line booksellers including Amazon and Abe Books in the $80 - $90 range, used. A couple of years ago a copy showed up from a Missouri Abe Books seller for $275.
4. We have no personal financial interest in the sales of this book.
Osage historian and author Louis Burns credited the Osage Mission missionaries with being the main line of defense between his people and extinction:
"The Jesuits and Sisters of Osage Mission, probably more than any other outside factor, were responsible for the survival of the Osage people. It is no small wonder that eighty percent of the Osages are still Catholic today. These dedicated souls accomplished more than they lived to realize. Their Influence on the souls and aspirations of the Osage people is still present today.”
Louis Burns — A History of the Osage People, 1989
The missionaries educated the Osage children; they supported their spiritual needs; they treated their illness during the horrible epidemics of the 1850's and Father John Bax died with them. Father Schoenmakers served as their business, and legal as well as spiritual adviser.
The advertisement at right has been posted to the Osage Nation and Osage Cultural Center pages several times recently. The picture is of St. Francis Church, Monastery and Academy in the middle 1880's. It should not be a surprise that Friday's Osage Book Club meeting discussed pages from W. W. Graves' "Life and Letters of Father Ponziglione, Schoenmakers, and Other Early Jesuits of Osage Mission."
Their time in Kansas was not pleasant. But the Osages still know that our Jesuit and Loretto Missionaries helped them get through it.
They haven't forgotten us.
For more information about the tragedies and triumphs of the Osages time here, follow THIS LINK.
Stuff that catches your eye around the edges of a microfilm viewer screen ....
There was a breed of early newspaper editors who believed that squeaky wheels attracted subscriptions. News stories need to be "beefed up." Confrontational editorials were targeted at local businesses, politicians, labor leaders, private citizens or even competing editors. A healthy dose of vitriolic rhetoric might sell papers; and consequences occasionally spilled out into the street as loud yelling-matches and an occasional fist-fight.
Uhhhhh ... Maybe not so serious.
The April 15 issue of the Journal doesn't say what the authorities thought about this "Ghastly" little squabble. I suspect they weren't amused.
I don't know much about the "tabernacle meetings" in Girard, other than that they were fairly frequent at the time. Also, the Girard Independent News appears to have closed in 1909. I was looking though St. Paul Journal articles, about another subject, and got a giggle from this.
I came across this while looking though microfilm. It is from the February 12, 1873 issue of the Neosho County Journal . The directions — about eight miles east of this city (Osage Mission) — seem odd until you realize there were no real roads at that time.
"A NEW TOWN — A town company has been organized and a charter applied for to start a town on the line of the M, K & T Railroad, about eight miles east of this city and one mile west of Walnut Station, on the farm of J. M. Mudd. The location is a good one for a town, it being surrounded by a number of the best improved farms in Southern Kansas. Mr. Jno (?) Burke, who is a member of the company, informs us that arrangements have been made with the railroad company to put in a side track and the Town Company have agreed to build a depot and store house. About forty acres will be laid out into lots as soon as the weather will permit. The neat little Catholic Church, which was built by Father Colleton about two years ago, will be upon the town site, also a good school house. These two institutions are exceedingly good things to start a town with. The name of the new place has not yet been fully decided upon, but Walnut will probably be the name."
The timing seems right because it is recorded that Osage Mission Jesuit missionary Philip Colleton started a mission station at Walnut (Station) in Crawford County during 1869. The station was initially started at Mr. Clements home for railroad workers and white settlers. He later built a Church of St. Ann's.
1. The Neosho County Journal is one of three names held by a long-running pioneer newspaper. The paper started in 1868 as the Osage Mission Journal. Later the name was changed to the Neosho County Journal for broader appeal. It ended its ninety-three year run in 1961 as the St. Paul Journal. Not bad in an era when newspaper life-spans were often decided by local elections.
Today Kansas is 157 Years Old!
But relatively speaking, Kansas is a pup — We will turn 171 years old this year. When the Jesuit Missionaries arrived at Osage Mission, on April 28, 1847, Kansas wasn't even a territory. The mission was one of few civilized spots in Kansas south of the Santa Fe Trail. And civilized is also is also a relative term.
From the December 8, 1874 issue of The Neosho County Journal:
"About 100 men on horseback called on Justice of Peace M. A. Patterson, at Jacksonville, and gave him thirty minutes to rescind a fine assessed against Andrew Olsen. Olsen had been arrested and convicted of participating in the attempt to eject N. F. Garlinghouse from his claim. The complaint was filed by John Sylvester."
According to the Journal "The fine was rescinded."
Some Reference Information:
“The flimsy frame structures grouped on a slight eminence northeast of the Neosho River and west of Flat Rock Creek were known as Catholic Osage Mission. Much was connoted in the name, although the indifferent exterior of the buildings gave no indication of the potential power within. That power was the dynamic energy which Jesuit missionaries and the Sisters of Loretto expended first on full-blood and half-breed children, then on Indian adults, and later, on the pioneer white settlers of southeastern Kansas.” -- Fitzgerald, Introduction to Beacon on the Plains.
Published in 1939, Beacon on the Plains was one of the early books to tell the most interesting and beautiful story of southern Kansas. The author, Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald of St. Mary’s College , did a masterful job of pulling together a large body of information into a compact, well-documented book about Osage Mission and the effect it had on the settlement of a large part of Kansas .
I tell people that Beacon on the Plains is “Osage Mission 101.” Reading through the 297-page book is like a self-directed course in the earliest history of Kansas and our hometown of St. Paul. In addition to a well-organized body, the book includes a wealth of reference information. Besides being an interesting read, it is one of the best starting points for individuals or groups who want to learn more about their Kansas origins. The Osage Mission story has the making of a national historical story.
Description, Contents & Sources.
The book is hardbound in 5-1/2" x 7-1/2" format with 297 pages plus a 7-page unnumbered index. Illustrations include historical drawings and photos, and a fold out map of the Kansas missions. The last 68 pages include appendices and a very detailed bibliography section. The book is available from several on-line and local retail or library sources (See Note 1, below).
Acknowledgments and short author bio.
Foreword by former Bishop of Leavenworth, Paul C. Schulte.
Introduction that expands the headline at the top of this page.
Part I – The Osage in Kansas. A three-chapter discussion of the story of the Osage in Kansas and the beginnings of the Osage relationship with the Jesuits.
Part V – Osage Mission in Retrospect. Further expansion on “successful failure” with a discussion of the mission’s alternative role as the missionary headquarters for the area south of the Santa Fe Trail. Also the work of re-tooling the Osage schools into public and boarding schools for Father Schoenmakers' new “mission town” — the town of Osage Mission, now St. Paul.
Appendices. Eight appendices lay out the first part of the 68 page reference information that backs the author’s story. This section includes: a discussion of the Osage in Missouri before moving into Kansas; a copy of the Osage Mission contract; lists of names including missionaries, Indian commissioners, etc.. This section concludes with Appendix H — a list of 110 Kansas missions arranged by county, date, settlement (town) and the name of the credited Jesuit missionary [4)
Bibliography including Bibliographical Note – This sections does two things: 1) substantiates the extensive depth of the author’s research; 2) provides a treasure chest of information and research sources for the reader of researcher. It includes dozens of libraries, historical societies, and books. But, peeled down another layer, it references more than 170 individual documents, reports, research papers, organizations, etc. The book also includes an index.
* " ... the Osage Mission rendered a signal service. White men and their families residing at trading posts were visited regularly by the Fathers from the Mission during their circuits of the Osage villages or those of neighboring tribes. In the fifties, the Mission was something of a beacon light to the few scouts, weary teamsters, or perplexed travelers who stopped for rest, refreshment and supplies for which they customarily paid nothing." -- Excerpt from Chapter XI
Some Reference Information:
1. Sources for Beacon on The Plains. I have seen used copies, from several internet sources, in the $10 to $40 price range. But, the easiest way to purchase an unused copy of the book is through the museum in St. Paul. At last check the price was $16 plus a small book-mail fee (about $4). Locals can stop and buy one from a museum volunteer. The museum website, including hours and email address, is at: www.osagemission.org. It is also available, for loan, from the Graves Memorial Public Library in St. Paul. The book is available in some other southeast Kansas libraries.
2. About the Author. Beacon on the Plains was Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald’s doctoral thesis, when she completed studies at St. Louis University. Sister Fitzgerald was a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth and was associated with St. Mary’s College, Leavenworth, for thirty years as Professor and Chairperson of the Department of History. She was also Vice-President of the College from 1949 to 1957. The depth of her research, evident in Beacon on the Plains, likely led to her advancement in the St. Mary’s Department of History. Sister Fitzgerald died of cancer on April 16, 1952, only weeks after completing her manuscript on the life of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Miege, S.J., Vicar-Apostolic of the Indian Territory. That voluminous work remains unpublished but is on file in the Kansas Catholic Historical Society archives at Benedictine College, Atchison. Kansas.
3. “Beacon” deals, primarily, with the Osage Mission influence in southern Kansas. But that influence covered a much larger area. The Jesuit missionary work, headquartered in Osage Mission, covered parts of southern Kansas, northern Oklahoma, southwest Missouri, the northeastern corner of Arkansas and as far west as Pueblo. Follow THIS LINK for more information about the wide-spread Jesuit missionary activity.
4. Again, Beacon is focused on Kansas. While the author does mention some of the out-of-state work of the Jesuits, the list of Appendix H only includes the Kansas missions.
On October 10, 1847, four refined, well-educated and resilient women completed a long trip from Nerinx, Kentucky, to a remote Catholic mission located 37 miles west of the Missouri border with the Great American Desert. On the day of their arrival they opened the Osage Manual Labor School for Girls.
When Mother Concordia Henning and Sisters Mary Petronella VanPrather, Vincentia McCool and Bridget Hayden opened the girl's school, the Catholic Osage Mission became fully functional as the first schools here at present St. Paul. The boy's school had opened five months earlier.
Their new home was nothing like the comfortable Loretto Mother House. The log buildings were poorly built by government contractors. Leaks and structural issues became immediately evident. Like the boy's school, the building was woefully undersized for the growing classes of young Osage girls — but the Sisters made it work.
By the time the photo shown above was taken, both school buildings had been enlarged and covered with clapboard siding to provide better weather protection. The precise location of the girl's school is unknown but based on a mapped location of the original log church and other photo information it probably sat just west of the northwest corner of our current church (see illustration below).
For more information about Sister Hayden and her trip to Kansas, follow THIS LINK.
Sometimes research leads you astray. You are staring at a computer screen or a frame of microfilm looking for a specific piece of information. Then, something in the corner of the screen catches your eye — something more interesting than what you were looking for in first place. For a moment your search is interrupted with “OH! Look at that!” I had an "OH!" experience a few years ago while looking at a 137 year old St. Francis Catholic Church logbook entry. The family that was interested in that entry came to St. Paul three times to celebrate their heritage.
It started on April 19, 2011 when Larry Strecker called me. Larry is a Topeka business consultant who was planning a trip to St. Paul. The trip would involve driving from Topeka to Spearville, just north of Dodge City, to pick up his parents Bernard and Eleanor. Then he would drive back across Kansas to visit our museum—and they were coming for a very specific reason. Their branch of the Strecker family tree was formed, by marriage, at Osage Mission during the 1870’s. They were also pretty certain that the marriage of Erick Strecker to Agnes Engles was performed by the prominent Jesuit missionary Father Paul Mary Ponziglione.
We set a visit date of May 10 and Larry asked for a favor. Would I please check marriage records to confirm a wedding date he gave me; and the fact that Father Paul did officiate at the service?
As it turns out, Larry, Bernard and Eleanor were pretty sure that Father Paul had heard the vows of Erick Strecker and Agnes Engles. In fact, the Strecker’s knew a lot about the Kansas Catholic Church in general. Bernard’s first cousin was Archbishop Ignatius Jerome Strecker of Kansas City from 1969 through 1993 . After his retirement he wrote a book about the history of the Church in Kansas . Bishop Strecker's book discusses the history of Osage Mission and specifically includes his family's Osage Mission wedding. It also includes a couple of sketches of Father Paul that are shown here. Also, at the time of his visit, Larry was on the boards of the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas and Christ’s Peace House of Prayer.
The day after our conversation I called the rectory to arrange to see the old marriage books. When I got there Nancy had already found the book. The information I wrote down for the wedding was the 1878 to 1880. We had to search a bit because the actual marriage date was recorded as April 18, 1874—and it was recorded in the beautiful script of Father Ponziglione. I took some photos of the book, thanked Nancy and headed home to clean up the photographs and call Larry with the news.
It was during the photo editing that I had my “OH!” moment. On the line below the Strecker’s was recorded a wedding on April 27, 1874; Charley Cooney and Mary Lucretia Davis. My great grandparents were married by Father Paul just over a week later! I had seen the information in a genealogy study done by Jeanie Van Leeuwen; but to see it in Father Ponziglione’s own writing was pretty neat .
Larry and his parents did visit St. Paul on May 10. Bernard and Eleanor were in their early 80’s and were full of energy and enthusiasm. Another museum volunteer and I gave them information and we learned from them too. They toured the church and St. Francis Cemetery and by late afternoon we all felt like it had been a great day.
During our visit Larry told us his consulting business works with the state of Kansas quite a bit and he was familiar with some of the Kansas tourism folks. On the way to the car he was talking about the incredible story of the Catholic Mission and he asked “Ron, what kind of economic impact does your glorious history have on the local economy?” I had to admit that it really wasn’t much.
In October of 2013 Larry contacted the museum again. Bernard was aging and Larry told his parents he would like to take them on a trip anywhere they wanted to go. Dad said “Osage Mission!” He wanted to come back to St. Paul. When they arrived in mid-October Bernard seemed more frail and both Larry and his mother showed concern. At the time Eleanor and Bernard had been married for 59 years and she seldom left his side. As I recall we made a late-afternoon trip to Chicken Annie’s, Girard, and said goodbye in the parking lot. A short time later Larry let us know that dad had taken a bad fall and was in the hospital. He passed away on November 30.
Several members of the Strecker Family returned to St. Paul in 2014 for a family reunion; but Rosie and I were traveling. We hated to miss it because our memory of the Strecker’s, and the discovery they led us to, will last forever.
Some Reference Information:
 Archbishop Strecker’s service in Kansas City was his second appointment. In April of 1962 he was appointed the second Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri by Pope John XXIII. When Pope John Paul VI later named him to the Kansas City position, at age 51, he was the youngest prelate of that rank in the United States. As noted, he retired in 1993, published his book in about 2000 and passed away on October 16, 2003.
 Archbishop Strecker’s book is: The Church in Kansas, 1850 – 1905, A Family Story. The book contains no publisher information or a publish date and I assume it was self-published. I found our copy on eBay and there were several others available on the internet. The 2000 publish date appeared on some of the internet sites. The sketches shown above are on pages 43 and 44 of the book. I mentioned using the sketches here, with Larry, and he saw no reason why I wouldn’t.
 When I look at the dates in the marriage records a few things came to mind:
For more information about Father Paul Ponziglione follow THIS LINK.
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.