"His name was Father Paul Ponziglione who is remembered as laying the foundation of many parishes in this area during those early years."
Page 5 of the October 18, 2019 Catholic Advance includes a half-page article on the history of Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Eureka. The article, by Wichita Diocesan Historian, Father Michael Peltzer, tells a story that has a familiar ring across southern Kansas, Missouri and northern Oklahoma:
"The first Mass in the Eureka community was celebrated in 1872 in a stone house on the corner of Seventh and Elm streets, a block north of the present parish site, by a Jesuit missionary from the Osage mission, now St. Paul, in Southeast Kansas. His name was Father Paul Ponziglione who is remembered as laying the foundation of many parishes in this area during those early days."
Father Ponziglione was the most prolific 'mission founder' among the Osage Mission Jesuits. But if you insert names like: Fathers Colleton, Schoenmakers, Bax and others, there are similar stories about more than 150 mission stations in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. There was even one railroad worker's mission in Pueblo. Did all mission stations become churches? No, but many did . 
Click on the image above to open a PDF copy of Father Peltzer's article. You can also open the entire October 18 issue of the Catholic Advance HERE.
Some Reference Information:
1. Here are a couple of links that might help you understand the scope of the wide-ranging missionary work done from Osage Catholic Mission:
We came across these photos on our hard drive today. The date stamp is January 19, 2009 and that is probably close.
It was an exciting day here in St. Paul. Saterlee Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning brought in one of their signature helicopters to install the HVAC equipment on the roof of the new High School. The sound of the rotors and the flying debris added to the excitement. But even more, we knew the long-awaited High School Building was getting very close to completion. A few months later we would dedicate a building that was our long-time dream.
For those with a general knowledge of "The Legend of Greenbush" the meaning behind the pilgrimage between Greenbush and Osage Mission - St. Paul is pretty clear. But the symbolism that compares it with the Jesuit missionary work in Southeast Kansas goes deeper.
The first — hopefully of many — Pilgrimage on the Plains is scheduled for tomorrow, September 14. Being scheduled the day before Greenbush Days might be a coincidence. If so it is a well timed coincidence. The Greenbush Historical Society has done a remarkable job of preserving their local history and these two events, together, seems like pretty good planning.
The Legend of Greenbush is the title of a book copyrighted by W. W. Graves in 1937. in his words it is "The story of how a hail storm catching a missionary priest alone on the prairie caused him to make a vow that if his life was spared, he would erect a church on the spot, and also how that became the beginning of one of the best country churches in Kansas."
Graves' book begins with the story of how Jesuit Father Philip Colleton kept his vow and built St. Aloysius Catholic Church. It goes on to tell much of the story of the Greenbush church and that community up until Graves published his book.
That story continues.
Those of us familiar with Greenbush realize there is much more to this tiny town than the row of houses (mostly O'Toole's) north of Highway 47; the Education Support Center  and historic buildings across the street. The Greenbush "community" is broadly dispersed among rural friends, education center employees, and an enthusiastic group of former residents that stretches across the nation. The Friends and Followers of Greenbush, Kansas, Are a Family.  If There is any doubt, come to the Greenbush Days celebration on Sunday, the 15th.
Symbolism Behind the Pilgrimage?
Greenbush (Hickory Creek) was only one of Father Colleton's mission stations. During his nine years at Osage Mission (1867 - 1876) he established at least thirty-five mission stations in an area bounded by Mount Vernon, Missouri, west to Pueblo, Colorado; and the Santa Fe Trail, south into northwest Arkansas. However, most of his work was done in the mining camps, small communities and railroad yards in southeast Kansas. Many of his mission stations grew into churches. Several of the churches sprouted Catholic schools.
Father Colleton wasn't the only one. Fathers Paul Ponziglione, Schoenmakers, John Bax, Philip Colleton and others served a very broad area with much of their work in the historical nine-county southeast county region. A few of their stations are listed here: 
When you think about it, the Pilgrimage on the Plains could represent many of the Osage Mission Jesuit trips into area settlements.
Some Reference Information:
1. Greenbush is the home of the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center. The center serves students and educators not only in southeast Kansas but statewide. Follow THIS LINK for more information.
2. It has occurred to us that expansion of Graves "Legend of Greenbush" might be a good project for a Historic Society. A new book, based on his original text, could pick up from where he left off in '37. The addition of the school, startup and growth of the Education Support Center, the cemetery, church and local community would be a valuable story for locals, former locals and historians in general. Might be a pretty good fund raiser too. Printing is expensive but e-books - not so much.
3. I received the photo of Father Philip from Tim Wenzl, archivist of the Dodge City Diocese. He received it from the Jesuit Archives, St. Louis.
4. In several cases the community listed does have a Catholic Church that was started several years after the Jesuit mission station.
5. For more information about Father Philip Colleton, follow THIS link. For more information about the wide-spread Jesuit missionary work done from Osage Mission, Kansas, follow THIS link.
It Recently Occurred to Us That This Might Be the Longest Period of Time That Our Town Hasn't Had a "Watering Hole."
The Osage Catholic Mission was founded just over 172 years ago in April of 1847. By the late '60's the Osage were leaving Kansas, the original government mission was winding down and Father John Schoenmakers was starting a new endeavor; his "Mission Town" known as Osage Mission.
In March of 1868 Father John started the Mission Town Company comprised of himself and a group of trusted businessmen. By April of 1869 the town was platted with a central business district and residential areas. On April 10, 1869, the trustees of the Osage Mission Town conducted its first meeting and started the process of being incorporated under Kansas law.
Eleven days later, on April 21, 1868, a special meeting of the trustees was called to review and approve two petitions requesting licenses to operate dram houses, or Saloons, within the new city. Both were approved.
It cannot be said that the mostly immigrant settlers of Osage Mission didn't have their priorities. 
We Are Missing Something.
This spring, as we are watching the "Dugout" bar transition into the "Refuge Patio and Grill" it occurs to us that this might be the longest period of time that our fair city has been without a watering hole. Thanks to Melinda and Perry O'Brien for keeping some brews flowing, with a friendly visiting spot, along with their delicious chicken and barbecue dinners. But their store is .... well ... too well lit and a little small for a pool table — and maybe too darned neat .... and orderly ... and quiet.
St. Paul really needs to get a proper Dram Shop going again!
Some Reference Information:
1. A review of the Annals of Osage Mission suggests there was an earlier saloon here. On April 2, 1867, the first county license to operate a saloon was issued with John M. Roycroft as master of ceremonies. Roycroft was a local farmer, businessman and real estate man.
2. For more information about the earliest days of the town of Osage Mission, follow THIS LINK.
3. In looking though David O'Bryan's Annals of St. Paul, The Swan Song* there seems to be no shortage of pool halls and bars here during the 20th century. "Boots", "Bradshaw Recreation Parlor", "Mac & Boots", "McAtee Recreation Parlor" and "Pastime" are mentioned. And these do not include "Ben's Pool Hall" or the VFW that many of us remember.
William Whites Graves was a brilliant, hard-working man. Had he decided to be a newspaperman and printer, a historian, a publisher, a civic leader, an entrepreneurial business man or a law enforcement official he would have done well — but he did all of those and he did them quite well!
The W. W. Graves' story is of a life well lived. He was a passionate supporter of his hometown of St. Paul, Kansas; but the effects of his labors spread across Kansas and many other states. His accomplishments were formally recognized on May 31, 1952, when a diverse group of 240 people honored him with a banquet in the St. Francis School Gymnasium in St. Paul. The group included a bishop, the Chief of the Osage Nation, farmers, businessmen, state officials, college presidents, Kansas Press Association executives, the president of the Kansas State Historical Society, pressmen from across southeast Kansas, Graves’ friends from St. Paul and his wife, Susie. Among the accolades bestowed on him that evening were a rare Vatican Knighthood and an Honorary Osage Tribal Chief's status.
One of his last projects started on June 29, 1950, with a column in his St. Paul Journal. He challenged his town to get a library program going. He seeded the project with $500, books and a bookcase from his own collection. He also injected some urgency into his project by telling his readers:
“Now is the time. Not next year. The Journal man may not be on earth then, hence do not delay too long."
As part of his challenge he enlisted the formidable resources of the local Women's Home Demonstration Units to see the project to completion and they did not fail him. Over the next few years the women's group raised money for their first facility and accumulated more than 1,000 books. In 1953 members of the Home Demonstration team transitioned into the library board. Working with the city council, the board moved into a temporary facility in a public school building in May of 1955. The new library was named. "The Graves Memorial Public Library."
Graves had died suddenly, from a heart attack, on July 22, 1952. His death came only seven weeks after his honors banquet; and barely two years after he issued his challenge. At the time he issued his challenge, in 1950, he knew his right foot would be amputated in a couple of weeks. He knew exactly what he was doing when he entrusted his library to a capable women's project team.
Spaceships and Astronauts?
One has to wonder what Bill Graves would think about the "A Universe of Stories" Summer Reading Program in his library. He passed away five years before Sputnik and more than seventeen years before the Apollo 11 moon landing. As a voracious reader and journalist he had probably been exposed to science fiction space fantasies but other things were probably more important.
But today there is an fully-suited astronaut at the front door of his library and other images inside that are based on space technology that we have taken for granted for years. What would he do if suddenly exposed to technology not dreamed of in his day? I have to think he would be surprised, then intrigued. He would probably start reading everything he could get his hands on and then put his trusty Royal typewriter to work.
To learn more about this remarkable man follow THIS LINK to the Characters page of our website.
Some Background Information:
The Graves Memorial Public Library "A Universe of Stories" Summer Reading Program runs from June June 4 through July 16. The space themed program is shared by other regional libraries. The program schedule includes:
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.
This slideshow should advance at nine second intervals. Hover your mouse over the frame for controls that will pause, allow manual advance or play. If viewed on a phone landscape orientation is suggested.
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: email@example.com.
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.
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.