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.