On May 11, 2019, our 'New' St. Francis Catholic Church building turned 135 years old! But our parish is several years older and there was an earlier building.
St. Francis Catholic Church, St. Paul, Kansas, was dedicated on May 11, 1884. After nearly thirteen years of anticipation and slow construction the dedication was a triumphant moment — but tears were probably shed too. The church's champion and Osage Mission founder, Father John Schoenmakers, had passed away on July 28, 1883, only months before completion. It would take another 18 - 20 years to put the finishing touches on the Southeast Kansas landmark, but overall, May 11 was a good day.
The Parish Was Older and There Was An Earlier Church.
Our parish was established in April of 1847 when Fathers Schoenmakers and Bax and three Jesuit brothers arrived at the mission. During early months one of the government-built Osage Mission school buildings was used as a church. In a sense, St. Francis Parish was, itself, a mission station within a mission because a proper church wasn't available. In 1848 the Jesuits built a log church described as 35' wide by 30' long with a 16' roof peak. This building was expanded twice to a final size of 35' x 90'. 
When Osage land cessions began in the mid-1860's, settlers flowed into the area. Father Schoenmakers' new mission town  was located near the eastern edge of the frontier. It's existing church and schools were attractive to many Catholics seeking new opportunities. Father John knew a larger church building was needed. The June 1871 issue of the People's Advocate newspaper announced: "The Catholics met at St. Francis Hall Sunday, June 25 and voted to commence operation at once on the foundation of a new stone church to be 160 x 74 feet and to cost $75,000."
Below is a brief pictorial overview of the church buildings and their history. Also, follow THIS LINK for a description of the original church fund-raising and construction project and more recent upgrades.
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Some Reference Information.
1. Dimensions of the original Log Church vary from 30' x 30' to 35' square, depending on source. The original church and it's first expansion were of log construction. The final expansion was frame construction and the entire building was covered with clapboard. In its final configuration the 'little log church' wasn't that small. It was 90' long and depending on width it was as large as 3,150 square feet (if 35' x 90'). More about the little log church in a later post.
2. Follow THIS LINK for more information about Father Schoenmakers' new mission town of Osage Mission.
3. For more information about the basement chapel added during the 1909 - 1910 foundation repair, follow THIS LINK.
4. For more information about the historic 1930 reinterment of the seventeen Pioneer Sisters of Loretto, follow THIS LINK.
5. The life-sized crucifix was donated to the church by the family of Michael Balfay. When the Balfay family was moving from Chetopa to Osage Mission in 1884, their wagon was caught in river current at Trotters Ford. While trying to save his team, wagon and family Mr. Balfay promised that if our Lord spared them he would make a lasting gift to the church. Michael's family was spared but before he could fulfill his promise he died suddenly. His family filled his promise in 1889.
Southern Kansas and the Four-State Region Began to Change That Day.
On April 28, 1847, several ox-drawn carts lumbered into the grounds of a newly constructed mission-yard. 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 missionaries included 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 missionaries had already immigrated to a new land when they came to America, but the Mission site might have seemed alien. Father Bax’s impression of their arrival was embodied in a letter to Father Pierre Jean De Smet:
“It would be impossible to paint for you the enthusiasm with which we were received … At first sight of these savages … I could not suppress the pain I felt … The adults had only a slight covering over the middle of the body; the little children, even as old as six or seven years, were wholly destitute of clothing. Half serious, half jesting, I thought that a truly savage portion of the Lord’s vineyard had been given to me to cultivate.”
These men were the first missionaries to staff the government's Osage Mission Indian boy's school. A group of four Loretto Sisters opened the girl's school the following October. More would follow.
The mission was so remote and foreboding that government contractors rushed through construction of the mission buildings so they could return to civilization. As a result the missionaries dealt with leaks, a fireplace chimney collapse and structural problems for years. But the schools thrived, as best as they could, with inadequate funding; and through famine, epidemics, a Civil War and deaths.
Through it's trials, the missionaries witnessed the birth of civilization in southern Kansas. They watched barren prairies transform into a landscape of homesteads and small towns and the Jesuits assisted with the founding of several settlements. With Osage Mission serving as the Catholic missionary headquarters, south of the Santa Fe Trail, they established more than 150 mission stations in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado.
The mission and it's schools eventually evolved into the town and schools we enjoy today. The schools on the lots west of the present St. Francis Catholic Church have provided continuous, quality education for 172 years — They have never missed a term!
The following link from the St. Francis Catholic Church website is an abridged version of the Osage Mission Story:For the entire 15 chapter Osage Mission story, follow THIS LINK. 
Some Reference Information:
1. The Saint Francis Catholic Church history page does not include Chapter 14 of the A Catholic Mission "Our Story" page (The Anti-Horse Thief Association).
An earlier article mentioned the community self-awareness that existed in the 1960's. It was passed along by a group of local leaders who believed that St. Paul's heart and soul would always be it's extraordinary history. As long as that story was preserved and promoted, we would be OK.
This photo article was from a June, 1957 issue of the Parsons Sun. Shown is a group of twenty-four St. Paul residents who were traveling south to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to attend an Osage celebration. They weren't just dropping in. They had been invited by the Osage Tribal Council. Scroll on down for some information about our own large, elaborate Centennial Celebration that occurred ten years earlier. You will see some of the same names there.
Our Centennial Celebration - 1947.
It can be said that the 1947 Centennial Celebration was our first 'Mission Days.' It was probably larger and more elaborate than any celebration before or since; with the 1997 Sesquicentennial Celebration being the closest comparison.
This photo shows a group of St. Paul community leaders with Katy Railroad and Osage officials. The occasion was our formal invitation to "The Entire Osage People" to attend our May 14 - 17 Osage Mission Centennial Celebration. The photo was probably taken in Pawhuska. Quite a few of our Osage friends  accepted the invitation and came up for the party.
A Large Celebration!
The Centennial was a very large, well organized event, with four themed days, that attracted many people including several dignitaries. Folks traveled to St. Paul from across Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Special trains brought people from St. Louis, Oklahoma towns and other locations.
The Centennial Flyer:
The Advance Register Article of May 23, 1947:
These are large files and might take a moment to load. There is space between pages 1 and 2 in the PDF version.
As you read through the Flyer it should be evident that the Centennial Celebration was a large, well orchestrated event. It required a lot of local cooperation and teamwork to pull together the politicians, religious figures, our Osage brothers, four days of carnival rides, bands, parade entries and other elements that showcased the pride our community had in itself and our heritage. It is not hard to imagine that local cash registers were ringing loud and often during those four days of fun and revelry.
Speaking of Dignitaries:
Here is a photo of two participants of the 1947 Centennial Celebration. It includes The Principal Chief of the Osage Nation, Chief Fred Lookout  and a local dignitary. Does anyone know who she is?
By the way, we should probably start learning to say the word above (I can't). There are some alternative words including "Terquasquicentennial" and "Quartoseptcentennial" and even more. 
The spring of 2022 will mark our 175th anniversary. One hundred and seventy-five years is a very long time when accounting for Kansas history. Our area showed the earliest signs of civilization, commerce, education and religion in southern Kansas. Osage Mission - St. Paul, and its remarkable cast of characters, left an indelible mark on the story of Kansas!
Some Reference Information:
1. At the time of the Centennial Celebration, St. Paul enjoyed a very strong relationship with our Osage benefactors. We knew that without them, St. Paul would not exist. They led missionaries into this area. They also gifted the land our town is built on.
2. In addition to the Governor's message, the Centennial Book also included recognition and messages from:
3. Chief Lookout was in traditional dress for the celebration. He was an elected official who carried a lot of responsibility for his people. The Osage Nation, including chief, congress and local agencies, operate as a microcosm of the U.S. Government.
4. If you are inclined to start researching words that mean "175th anniversary," you can start HERE.
From the July 17, 1961 issue of the St. Paul, Journal:*
Over around St. Paul the other day a Highway Patrol Trooper spied a lime truck cruising along at a sports car clip and stopped it. The following conversation resulted.
What's your name? Bob O'Brien
Where do you work? O'Brien Rock Crusher
Whose truck is this? Joe O'Brien
Who are you taking this load to? Ed O'Bryan
Who is your father? Joe O'Brien
Well, you take this ticket and go see John O'Brien
From John O'Brien, Justice of the Peace, Bob O'Brien learned that it costs $15 to drive Joe O'Brien's truck too fast from O'Brien's Rock Crusher to Ed O'Bryan's. The trooper's name was neither O'Brien nor O'Bryan, but White. It's a wonder the Irish let him into the affair.
* This article, from page 454, is among many Journal excerpts captured in David O'Bryan's Annals of St. Paul: The Swan Song for the St, Paul Journal, July 2, 1936 - November 16, 1961.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy, follow THIS LINK. Profits from the sale of this book will help fund St. Paul School Scholarships.
Angelus to Xavier, Catholic Place Names in Kansas.
Tim Wenzl is a writer, a historian and a Catholic. From his book: "In 1984, following his mother's advice to "get a job with an established company" he began working for the Church." Since then he has worked as the archivist for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, served as the editor of the Diocese newspaper, Southwest Kansas Register, and has done freelance writing. His freelance work includes writing books for parishes celebrating centennials. One of his larger, personal projects was Priests on the Prairie, which tells the stories of 317 priests and bishops who served the 28 county area that is now the Diocese of Dodge City. Interestingly, two of those priests were Osage Mission Fathers, Paul Ponziglione and Philip Colleton. They traveled from southeast Kansas to Fort Larned, Fort Dodge and beyond to minister to soldiers and railroad workers who were converting the Santa Fe Trail into a modern means of transportation.
Tim's twenty-first book is a compact guide that documents the names of communities, geographic locations and characters across the state that have Catholic meaning. Angelus to Xavier, Catholic Place Names in Kansas, Obvious & Obscure includes saints, popes, a cardinal, bishops, priests, monks, missionaries, religious sisters, explorers, frontiersmen and ordinary Catholics. In reading though the volume the reader will understand the role that the Catholic Church, Catholic Immigrants and Catholic Missionaries played in the Settlement of Kansas.
Osage Mission Played a Significant Part in Frontier Settlement.
The book is 6" x 9" format, 145 pages plus front matter (5 pg). Some pages include six to eight topics or places — others one or two. But three southeast Kansas locations, or characters, rated more than ten pages. In addition to three full pages on Osage Mission and St. Paul; Father Ponziglione's section includes an overview of his life and the probable role he played in naming the city of Paola. Tim also mentions Sam Gilmore's Gilmore Town and Castle Thunder. Greenbush has a full page article with photo. The St. Mary's, Sugar Creek Mission site and Mound City story is told with five pages.  Also, as you read about several churches and communities that were settled during the 1800's you see the names of Osage Mission missionaries who helped them get started. Fathers Ponziglione and Colleton are discussed frequently. We say time-and-again, in this website, our little town has exerted a lot of influence during it's 170+ years.
Another Local Influence.
There is another name in the book will tug at a few local heart-strings. In addition to family, Tim has dedicated the book to St. Paul native Sister Denise Sevart. In addition to teaching, Sister Sevart served as the librarian at St. Mary's of the Plains College at Dodge City. Later she was diocesan archivist for both the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. She also helped with early archive work at the Osage Mission-Neosho County Museum in St. Paul. Sister Denise passed away on June 13, 2017
At the risk of spilling some beans, here is a brief preview (read fast!):
Notes and Reference Information:
1. The book is available through the usual book outlets including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The retail price is around $28 and will vary. It is also available, wholesale, to qualified non-profits such as churches museums or libraries for about $15 (depending on quantity).
The book has also been donated to St. Francis Catholic Church; The Graves Memorial Public Library; and The Osage Mission - Neosho County Museum all in St Paul. The Saint Aloysius Historical Society of Greenbush also received a copy.
2. Castle Thunder and Gilmore Town were the first business and settlement within the present city limits of St. Paul. Follow THIS LINK for more information.
3. The Sugar Creek, St. Mary's Mission historical site was a Pottawatomie Indian mission. Sugar Creek is also where Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne served her last missionary assignment. The mission is about 15 minutes north of Mound City which is the location of Sacred Heart Catholic Church which is also the Shrine of Saint Philippine Duchesne, also.
4. More about Tim's book — THIS IS a LINK to a December 21, 2018 article in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita newspaper The Catholic Advance.
November 16, 1961 Was the End of the Road For One the Longest Running Pioneer Newspapers in Kansas - The St. Paul Journal. Selected Journal Articles are Preserved in a Series of Annals Books, One of Which Was Published in 2009. This Latest Installment May Be Purchased With Proceeds Going to the St Paul Schools Alumni and Friends Association for Local Scholarships. 
The End of The Journal
In November of 1961 the 93 year life span of the pioneer newspaper of Kansas came to a sudden and undignified end. The November 16 issue was released as normal with no announcements or signs of trouble. It even included a reminder of how you could tell when your subscription payment was due by looking at the postal label of that issue. That was the last St. Paul Journal.
The only announcement of the demise of the Journal came in the November 30, 1961 issue of the Parsons News that carried the following story of page 7.
“A Long Life - And a Good One.
1. The Annals of St. Paul: The Swan Song for the St. Paul Journal is the third in a series of Journal excerpts captured in book form. Swan Song is a 517 page, hard-bound book that includes selected St. Paul Journal articles from July 2, 1936 through November 16, 1961. This period includes memories of many St. Paul area residents including those who have moved away.
A strong point of the book is a 55 page index that includes family names, businesses, events, etc.. Articles are grouped by Journal publish dates and provide a direct link to full newspaper articles that are available on microfilm and, in some cases, on-line. It is an excellent tool for genealogy or general historical research.
The book was published by David O'Bryan of St. Paul in 2009. Profits generated from sale of the book will be used to fund scholarships, for St. Paul Students, through the St Paul Schools Alumni and Friends Association. The Alumni Association is a non-profit organization
Books may be purchased for $40, plus $5 for out-of-town purchases. You can order a book, or get more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The St. Paul Journal was also published as the Osage Mission Journal and the Neosho County Journal during it's long life. More on the Journal Annals Trilogy in a later post.
The concept has escaped many of us over the years. Sometimes you can get by with what you have. If you don't have what you need, maybe you can just figure something out.
It has been a trying year at our house—the kind that makes you think. November of last year started with a serious health problem that required a dangerous surgery and prolonged recovery period for Rosie. Later, we lost her brother and his wife within a seven week period. We started to wonder about the things we have, the things we need, and the things that can be passed on or discarded. Where are we headed with the remainder of our lives?
We weren't the only ones. In October Rosie received a call from her remaining, brother. He wanted to give us an old family shotgun. He knew we had a son and grandsons to pass it to and it was important to keep it in the family. He asked us to stop by their house and pick it up when we came up to Kansas City for our sister-in-law's service's. As it turns out, we got more than a shotgun. We also received a handmade heirloom and an important reminder of earlier days when people made do with what they had.
The gun is a Savage Arms, Stevens Model 77D. A date stamp at the aft end of the barrel shows a year-code K, indicating it was manufactured in about 1959. This was only a few years after Rosie's parents, Charlie and Pearl, moved into town from the farm. The gun isn't one of the fancy 'sporting' shotguns with the elaborate engraving and checkered grips that many expect with their guns these days. This old Stevens was a tool that was used to put food on the family table. It has a long, full-choke barrel and it is in good condition. There are some stock dings but the blued metal parts look very good for a gun approaching it's 60th year. Guns like this could reach flying water fowl; they could also take a squirrel out of the top of a tree; or a rabbit at a fairly long shotgun range. But you had to let a quail fly for a moment to avoid obliteration.
Today, many folks get queasy at the thought of eating wild game. Others, for whatever reasons, oppose hunting altogether. In the days when we grew up game was a meat staple on many tables. Not just because people liked it, but because it was an economic necessity. The meat on the table came at the cost of a shot-shell or two and money was scarce. Much of the shot fell out of the meat during preparation and cooking. Then, you simply chewed lightly, removed the uningested shot from your mouth and placed it on the side of your plate. After the meal, it was scraped into the trash with other scraps. You didn't have to worry about damaging the garbage disposal—there wasn't one.
As the family sons grew older, the necessity of hunting transitioned to sport hunting for all of them. It was then that some of them bought the nicer checkered and engraved firearms. But this old Model 77D stayed put with the family for years.
With the above said, let me say something about the family and the time it was formed. It leads directly to the next subject.
Charlie and Pearl were married in February of 1928—about a year before the start of the Great Depression. Like many families of the day, their grandparents were settlers and some were immigrants. They were working people of modest means who made a good life with what they had or could find. But the realities that Charles and Pearl faced quickly were the tough times that came with the depression. Raising families today is daunting for a lot of young couples. But they cannot imagine the hardships that many faced in the 30's when jobs, money, fuel and food were in painfully short supply. With a large household, figuring things out and making do with what they had were part of surviving.
The Bonus—A Hand-Made Cleaning Rod.
After the shotgun, my brother-in-law gave me the cleaning rod. I'm sure there was a little grin on his face. He knew it was special.
The 35" long rod was hand made from what appears to be red oak. I am a woodworker and I suspect the tools used to make it were: pocket knife, saw, sandpaper, brace & bit and a small wood chisel (or one of the small sharpened screwdrivers that were stored in coffee cans in the family garage).
The rod (below) is about 1/2" in diameter, but is slightly oval-shaped in places. Both ends are flattened very smoothly. The cleaning end is flattened to 5/16", has a 1"x 3/16" slot, and the ends of the slot were likely chiseled square. The other end is flattened to 3/8" and has a small hole, probably meant for hanging. The hanging end flares out to about 5/8" wide and the flat surfaces blend smoothly into the shaft. There is a wide strip of tape about 1/3 of the way from the cleaning end. The Tape is a mystery—it might be a repair or the rod might be made from two pieces of re-purposed wood. The varnish coating and age have given the fabric tape a plastic-like consistency.
I said "re-purposed" for a reason. The slotted, cleaning end has two small holes, about the size of an 18 or 20 gauge nail, and they go all the way through. The hanging end also has what looks like the path of a nail near the hanging hole. I suspect the rod came from the garage scrap pile that held pieces of lumber from earlier projects or disassembled objects. You didn't throw good stuff away. A piece of wood was selected, cut to width, whittled and sanded to shape and tooled at each end. There was no need to fill the holes—it, too, was just a tool.
As I was driving home that weekend and thinking about the rod, the term "folk art" came to mind. When we got home, a quick Google search led to someone else had a similar rod and thought . Later, I got a gun cleaning kit out of the cabinet and took it and the shotgun to the deck to lubricate the action and apply a light coat of oil. I looked down the barrel and it was very clean inside, but I wanted to put a protective coat in there too. I took the metal cleaning rod and a patch out of the kit. Then I paused, and put the modern rod back into the box. I threaded the patch into the slot in my new treasure and It worked like a charm.
With the gun in the gun safe, I found a couple of hooks and hung the wooden rod on our dining room wall. That is where an heirloom belongs.
1. Folk Art?
I noted above that I did a Google search for wooden, handmade gun cleaning rods. I found this one on an auction site. I think the price was about $50 and they were selling it as: "Vintage, Folk Art Gun Cleaning Rod, Handmade, Primitive, Rifle Cleaner, Wood Shaft, Gun Collectible ..."
Ours is a lot nicer looking and it ain't for sale.
We recently received an original copy of the composite class photo for the St. Francis High School Class of 1932. The copy was pretty heavily damaged , with tears through some of the portraits and one photo was about 1/4 gone.
But as we looked we saw that several photos were intact. Others could be cleaned up with a little editing. We also knew that some of these salvageable pictures had family connections with the members of our "The Catholic Osage Mission" Facebook page or other area Facebook Groups. We cropped and cleaned up some of them and researched a little information about the later life of the graduates. (The first one was pretty easy.)
Here they are (All can be enlarged with a click):
Agnes "Ag" Cooney Brogan. Ag was born on October 12, 1913, and married my father Lawrence E. "Bob" Brogan on July 5 of 1945 at St. Francis Catholic Church, St. Paul. After World War II, they lived in Wichita for a few years before returning to St. Paul. Her grandfather, Charles C. Cooney was one of Osage Mission (St. Paul's) earliest settlers and businessmen. Her father Charles J. Cooney worked at the family carriage factory; and later operated a hardware and a grocery store in St. Paul. Ag and Bob, along with Chuck and Magdalene Norris, continued the grocery tradition with stores in Erie and St. Paul.
Richard "Dick" Fortune. Dick was born September 6, 1912, in Las Vegas New Mexico. At age 2, he moved with his family to a farm northwest of St. Paul and he attended Hilton Grade School. He and Cornelia Elsenratt were married in 1947. Dick was a farmer and stockman for forty-five years retiring from farming in 1976 and he sold his herd in 1991.
Julia "Jude" Moriarty. After graduating from St. Francis, Julia moved to Wichita where she met and married James Joseph Oates. Jude and James had five children: Maureen Oates Kearney, Michael J. Oates, Jim Oates, Terry Oates and Sarah Randolph. Many in St Paul remember her son Jim Oates who graduated with the class of the SPHS class of 1968.
John A. O'Bryan. John was the eleventh, and last, child born to Mr. & Mrs. William Wuytz & Grace Emily O'Bryan, Sr. He graduated from St. Benedict's (now Benedictine) College, Atchison, in 1936. On returning to St. Paul from Atchison, he worked for his father for a while and was later involved with several business ventures in Parsons, Bentonville-Rogers, Arkansas, and Texas. He eventually returned to southeast Kansas. He married Helen Weingart in 1938 and they had eleven children. Helen passed in May of 1970 and John married Gene Ella Washburn in May of 1971.
Alfreda M. Sevart. Alfreda was the second child of Henry & Cecelia (Richard) Sevart. On Nov 7 1933 she married Jim Purdon at St Francis Church. They settled in the Greenbush community. Nine children were born to this blessed union. The 6 youngest graduated from SPHS...Harold 1957, Charles Bernard (Bun) 1959, Kate 1961, Frank 1963, Barbara 1964 and Mary 1966. She was kept busy as a mother, farm wife, gardener and great cook.
Alfreda passed away Jan 1, 1977.
Bertha A. Stanley Coomes. Bertha "Midge" Stanley was born on July 11, 1912. She attended school in St. Paul. On December 26, 1933, Bertha married Adrian Joseph Coomes at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, South Mound, Kansas. In 1942, Adrian and Bertha bought a farm a few miles south of St. Francis Catholic Church which they farmed until 1955. Midge was active with Home Demonstration. She enjoyed gardening and her laying hens.
Raymond "Ray" Treiber. Ray was born on November 1, 1913, at Baxter Springs, Kansas. At age 7 he moved to rural St. Paul with his family. He married Dorothy L. Johnson in September of 1937. He worked for the Katy Railroad and the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant; but many of us remember him as the custodian of our schools. Many here, and at other locations, call Ray "Dad" or "Grandpa."
Lorene Smith VanLeeuwen. Lorene is one of our town's brightest stars; and she is among our best sources for community history. She has assisted teachers and students with her vision of a century of rural and city life around St. Paul. Lorene married Andy VanLeeuwen in 1936 and they raised their three sons on a farm north of St. Paul. Lorene and Andy moved into St. Paul in 1985. Andy passed in July of 1990. In addition to being a farm wife and mother, she was the secretary for St. Paul's schools for several years. Lorene resides at the Prairie Mission Retirement Village in St. Paul where she stays current with world, community and village events.
1. The Composite. As noted above, the class composite we received was pretty heavily damaged. Several of the photos were beyond repair but you can enlarge the full image below by clicking on it.
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.
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.