Looking east, we are watching our neighbor Girard proudly celebrate their sesquicentennial year with several interesting events. Newspaper articles and television reports tell us Girard was founded in the spring of 1868. Looking closer to home, it is our sesquicentennial year too!
We, here in St. Paul, usually think of our founding date as April 28, 1847 . That is the date the Jesuits arrived at the Catholic Osage Mission. But the Catholic Mission was not a town. The mission was a U.S. Government Indian school operated under a contract with the Jesuits, with the a great deal of assistance from the Sisters of Loretto.
The Town of Osage Mission, now St. Paul, was also founded in the spring of 1868. The formal transfer of property occurred when Father John Schoenmakers deeded some of the land he received from the Osages to the Osage Mission Town Company. Father Schoenmakers' town company was made up of Gen. C. W. Blair, Geo. A. Crawford, S. A. Williams, Benjamin McDonald, John Naudier, the Mill Company and himself. The date of founding is generally considered to be the date of the deed that transferred land to the Town Company — March 21, 1868.
The highlighted portion of the Abstract of Title book shows two separate transactions: First, the receipt of Osage Lands by Father John Schoenmakers under terms of the Treaty of 1865. That transfer occurred, via a land patent between the U.S. Government and Father Schoenmakers on January 10, 1868. The second transaction was a warranty deed, transferring part of the land to the Osage Mission Town Company on March 21, 1868.
During the next year, the town was laid out with lots and streets. Plans were made to dedicate a portion of the property sales to a very unique school system. On April 10, 1869, the first meeting of the trustees of the Osage Mission Town Company was held. When Father Schoenmakers was satisfied that his mission town was in good hands, he backed away to devote his energy to the new schools and a church. 
It is also noted that eighteen days after the first trustees meeting, they met again for their first "Special Meeting". They approved two saloon licenses. The first "Irrigating Fountain" in the new town of Osage Mission was established by Joseph Roycroft as "Master of Ceremonies." Our Irish and German ancestors had some priorities.
Another date we need to remember is April 28, 2022. We are also going to have to practice saying "Dodransbicentennial" — 175 Years!
Some Reference Information:
1. Saint Paul celebrated their sesquicentennial in 1997 — commemorating 150 years from the date the Jesuits arrived at the Catholic Mission and opened the boy's department of the Osage Manual labor school.
2. It is also likely that Father Schoenmakers withdrew from the town company to avoid involvement with any business issues or improprieties that might have occurred during startup of the town.
3. For more information about the founding of the town of Osage Mission follow THIS LINK. For more information about the treaty negotiations that resulted in Father Schoenmakers receiving land from the Osages, follow THIS LINK.
4. Illustration. The source of the Abstract of Title page, above, is the Neosho County, Register of Deeds office, Erie, Kansas. Photo editing was done by the writer.
In 1934 William Whites Graves published his original Annals of Osage Mission with the idea of furnishing available, compact data for writers; and for the general information of the public. When the Graves Memorial Library prepared the book for reprinting, in 1987, they substantially improved it as a research too.
John H. Scott published the first issue of The Osage Mission Journal on August 5, 1868. That issue started one of the longer-running Kansas frontier newspapers. In fact, his Journal continued sixty-six years past the the town of Osage Mission's name change to St. Paul.  When W. W. Graves published the Annals of Osage Mission his intent was to compile excerpts from the Journal's frontier period stories up to July 4, 1895 — the date of the town's name change.
in 1987 the Graves Memorial Public Library staff decided to reprint Graves' Annals. Before they printed, they compiled a very detailed index. In doing so, Helen Schoenhofer Coomes and Wendell Shaw transformed Graves' original work into an even more valuable research tool. The structure of the book is simple:
Not Just For Locals.
The town of Osage Mission was within the first block of land ceded by the Osage Tribe under the Canville Treaty (1865). The rest of the Osage reserve was released for settlement in 1870. We got about a five-year head start with settlement, compared to the western counties. As a result, quite a few families stopped at Osage Mission, participated in the initial building boom, lived here for awhile, and then moved on. When I look through the index there are many familiar names. But there are many more names, and stories, that are unfamiliar. The offspring of these families are scattered by now, but might be curious about their origins.
During the period of 2009 through 2014 alone, I am aware of researchers who came to St. Paul from California, Canada, New York and several other locations to do family or general historical research. Museum research staff have also responded to emails from across the United States, Ireland, Netherlands, France and other locations. These are from people who have ties to the Osage Catholic Mission and the town of Osage Mission - St. Paul. Bottom Line — if your family passed through Osage Mission, or the Neosho County area, during the mid to late 1800's, they might well have left tracks in this book. The same might be true of frontier era lodges, businesses or organizations such as the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
Description and Sources.
The 1987 printing of the book is in 5-3/8" x 7-3/8" format, hard-bound with blue cover and gold backbone lettering. Contents are discussed above; 622 pages including the index.
New copies of the book are available from The Osage Mission, Neosho County Historical Society or The Graves Memorial Public Library, both in St. Paul. At last check, the price was still $16 at both locations. 
Mail orders are best processed through the historical society who will add a $4 book mailing fee:
Osage Mission - Neosho County Historical Society
203 Washington St, St Paul, KS 66771
Phone: (620) 449-2320 (un-attended during closed hours)*
Email: email@example.com (best contact method)
* See website for current hours: www.osagemission.org.
The Graves Memorial Public Library Phone Number is: (620) 449-2001
This gallery will give you an idea of format and index content.
Some Reference Information.
1. The "Journal" had three names during its ninety-three year life (1868 - 1961). John Scott started it as the Osage Mission Journal. It was also published as the Neosho County Journal and St. Paul Journal. There were several editors and owners, and at least one shift in politics, but the same business lineage was retained during its lifespan. W. W. Graves was the longest-term editor/owner.
2. The Osage Reserve was a fifty mile wide strip (north-south) that extended from just east of the Neosho-Labette County lines, west to near Dodge City. When the Canville treaty was ratified in 1865, the Osage ceded land roughly equivalent to Neosho and Labette Counties, plus a strip across the northern edge of their reserve. Osage Mission was in the east part of the Canville land cession and was also close to the Missouri Line. Quite a few settlers stopped first at new settlements, such as Osage Mission, then move on later to pursue other opportunities. For more information about the departure of the Osage and land cession treaties follow THIS LINK.
3. I have seen this book offered from on-line booksellers including Amazon and Abe Books in the $80 - $90 range, used. A couple of years ago a copy showed up from a Missouri Abe Books seller for $275.
4. We have no personal financial interest in the sales of this book.
Osage historian and author Louis Burns credited the Osage Mission missionaries with being the main line of defense between his people and extinction:
"The Jesuits and Sisters of Osage Mission, probably more than any other outside factor, were responsible for the survival of the Osage people. It is no small wonder that eighty percent of the Osages are still Catholic today. These dedicated souls accomplished more than they lived to realize. Their Influence on the souls and aspirations of the Osage people is still present today.”
Louis Burns — A History of the Osage People, 1989
The missionaries educated the Osage children; they supported their spiritual needs; they treated their illness during the horrible epidemics of the 1850's and Father John Bax died with them. Father Schoenmakers served as their business, and legal as well as spiritual adviser.
The advertisement at right has been posted to the Osage Nation and Osage Cultural Center pages several times recently. The picture is of St. Francis Church, Monastery and Academy in the middle 1880's. It should not be a surprise that Friday's Osage Book Club meeting discussed pages from W. W. Graves' "Life and Letters of Father Ponziglione, Schoenmakers, and Other Early Jesuits of Osage Mission."
Their time in Kansas was not pleasant. But the Osages still know that our Jesuit and Loretto Missionaries helped them get through it.
They haven't forgotten us.
For more information about the tragedies and triumphs of the Osages time here, follow THIS LINK.
Stuff that catches your eye around the edges of a microfilm viewer screen ....
There was a breed of early newspaper editors who believed that squeaky wheels attracted subscriptions. News stories need to be "beefed up." Confrontational editorials were targeted at local businesses, politicians, labor leaders, private citizens or even competing editors. A healthy dose of vitriolic rhetoric might sell papers; and consequences occasionally spilled out into the street as loud yelling-matches and an occasional fist-fight.
Uhhhhh ... Maybe not so serious.
The April 15 issue of the Journal doesn't say what the authorities thought about this "Ghastly" little squabble. I suspect they weren't amused.
I don't know much about the "tabernacle meetings" in Girard, other than that they were fairly frequent at the time. Also, the Girard Independent News appears to have closed in 1909. I was looking though St. Paul Journal articles, about another subject, and got a giggle from this.
I came across this while looking though microfilm. It is from the February 12, 1873 issue of the Neosho County Journal . The directions — about eight miles east of this city (Osage Mission) — seem odd until you realize there were no real roads at that time.
"A NEW TOWN — A town company has been organized and a charter applied for to start a town on the line of the M, K & T Railroad, about eight miles east of this city and one mile west of Walnut Station, on the farm of J. M. Mudd. The location is a good one for a town, it being surrounded by a number of the best improved farms in Southern Kansas. Mr. Jno (?) Burke, who is a member of the company, informs us that arrangements have been made with the railroad company to put in a side track and the Town Company have agreed to build a depot and store house. About forty acres will be laid out into lots as soon as the weather will permit. The neat little Catholic Church, which was built by Father Colleton about two years ago, will be upon the town site, also a good school house. These two institutions are exceedingly good things to start a town with. The name of the new place has not yet been fully decided upon, but Walnut will probably be the name."
The timing seems right because it is recorded that Osage Mission Jesuit missionary Philip Colleton started a mission station at Walnut (Station) in Crawford County during 1869. The station was initially started at Mr. Clements home for railroad workers and white settlers. He later built a Church of St. Ann's.
1. The Neosho County Journal is one of three names held by a long-running pioneer newspaper. The paper started in 1868 as the Osage Mission Journal. Later the name was changed to the Neosho County Journal for broader appeal. It ended its ninety-three year run in 1961 as the St. Paul Journal. Not bad in an era when newspaper life-spans were often decided by local elections.
Today Kansas is 157 Years Old!
But relatively speaking, Kansas is a pup — We will turn 171 years old this year. When the Jesuit Missionaries arrived at Osage Mission, on April 28, 1847, Kansas wasn't even a territory. The mission was one of few civilized spots in Kansas south of the Santa Fe Trail. And civilized is also is also a relative term.
From the December 8, 1874 issue of The Neosho County Journal:
"About 100 men on horseback called on Justice of Peace M. A. Patterson, at Jacksonville, and gave him thirty minutes to rescind a fine assessed against Andrew Olsen. Olsen had been arrested and convicted of participating in the attempt to eject N. F. Garlinghouse from his claim. The complaint was filed by John Sylvester."
According to the Journal "The fine was rescinded."
Some Reference Information:
“The flimsy frame structures grouped on a slight eminence northeast of the Neosho River and west of Flat Rock Creek were known as Catholic Osage Mission. Much was connoted in the name, although the indifferent exterior of the buildings gave no indication of the potential power within. That power was the dynamic energy which Jesuit missionaries and the Sisters of Loretto expended first on full-blood and half-breed children, then on Indian adults, and later, on the pioneer white settlers of southeastern Kansas.” -- Fitzgerald, Introduction to Beacon on the Plains.
Published in 1939, Beacon on the Plains was one of the early books to tell the most interesting and beautiful story of southern Kansas. The author, Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald of St. Mary’s College , did a masterful job of pulling together a large body of information into a compact, well-documented book about Osage Mission and the effect it had on the settlement of a large part of Kansas .
I tell people that Beacon on the Plains is “Osage Mission 101.” Reading through the 297-page book is like a self-directed course in the earliest history of Kansas and our hometown of St. Paul. In addition to a well-organized body, the book includes a wealth of reference information. Besides being an interesting read, it is one of the best starting points for individuals or groups who want to learn more about their Kansas origins. The Osage Mission story has the making of a national historical story.
Description, Contents & Sources.
The book is hardbound in 5-1/2" x 7-1/2" format with 297 pages plus a 7-page unnumbered index. Illustrations include historical drawings and photos, and a fold out map of the Kansas missions. The last 68 pages include appendices and a very detailed bibliography section. The book is available from several on-line and local retail or library sources (See Note 1, below).
Acknowledgments and short author bio.
Foreword by former Bishop of Leavenworth, Paul C. Schulte.
Introduction that expands the headline at the top of this page.
Part I – The Osage in Kansas. A three-chapter discussion of the story of the Osage in Kansas and the beginnings of the Osage relationship with the Jesuits.
Part V – Osage Mission in Retrospect. Further expansion on “successful failure” with a discussion of the mission’s alternative role as the missionary headquarters for the area south of the Santa Fe Trail. Also the work of re-tooling the Osage schools into public and boarding schools for Father Schoenmakers' new “mission town” — the town of Osage Mission, now St. Paul.
Appendices. Eight appendices lay out the first part of the 68 page reference information that backs the author’s story. This section includes: a discussion of the Osage in Missouri before moving into Kansas; a copy of the Osage Mission contract; lists of names including missionaries, Indian commissioners, etc.. This section concludes with Appendix H — a list of 110 Kansas missions arranged by county, date, settlement (town) and the name of the credited Jesuit missionary [4)
Bibliography including Bibliographical Note – This sections does two things: 1) substantiates the extensive depth of the author’s research; 2) provides a treasure chest of information and research sources for the reader of researcher. It includes dozens of libraries, historical societies, and books. But, peeled down another layer, it references more than 170 individual documents, reports, research papers, organizations, etc. The book also includes an index.
* " ... the Osage Mission rendered a signal service. White men and their families residing at trading posts were visited regularly by the Fathers from the Mission during their circuits of the Osage villages or those of neighboring tribes. In the fifties, the Mission was something of a beacon light to the few scouts, weary teamsters, or perplexed travelers who stopped for rest, refreshment and supplies for which they customarily paid nothing." -- Excerpt from Chapter XI
Some Reference Information:
1. Sources for Beacon on The Plains. I have seen used copies, from several internet sources, in the $10 to $40 price range. But, the easiest way to purchase an unused copy of the book is through the museum in St. Paul. At last check the price was $16 plus a small book-mail fee (about $4). Locals can stop and buy one from a museum volunteer. The museum website, including hours and email address, is at: www.osagemission.org. It is also available, for loan, from the Graves Memorial Public Library in St. Paul. The book is available in some other southeast Kansas libraries.
2. About the Author. Beacon on the Plains was Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald’s doctoral thesis, when she completed studies at St. Louis University. Sister Fitzgerald was a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth and was associated with St. Mary’s College, Leavenworth, for thirty years as Professor and Chairperson of the Department of History. She was also Vice-President of the College from 1949 to 1957. The depth of her research, evident in Beacon on the Plains, likely led to her advancement in the St. Mary’s Department of History. Sister Fitzgerald died of cancer on April 16, 1952, only weeks after completing her manuscript on the life of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Miege, S.J., Vicar-Apostolic of the Indian Territory. That voluminous work remains unpublished but is on file in the Kansas Catholic Historical Society archives at Benedictine College, Atchison. Kansas.
3. “Beacon” deals, primarily, with the Osage Mission influence in southern Kansas. But that influence covered a much larger area. The Jesuit missionary work, headquartered in Osage Mission, covered parts of southern Kansas, northern Oklahoma, southwest Missouri, the northeastern corner of Arkansas and as far west as Pueblo. Follow THIS LINK for more information about the wide-spread Jesuit missionary activity.
4. Again, Beacon is focused on Kansas. While the author does mention some of the out-of-state work of the Jesuits, the list of Appendix H only includes the Kansas missions.
On October 10, 1847, four refined, well-educated and resilient women completed a long trip from Nerinx, Kentucky, to a remote Catholic mission located 37 miles west of the Missouri border with the Great American Desert. On the day of their arrival they opened the Osage Manual Labor School for Girls.
When Mother Concordia Henning and Sisters Mary Petronella VanPrather, Vincentia McCool and Bridget Hayden opened the girl's school, the Catholic Osage Mission became fully functional as the first schools here at present St. Paul. The boy's school had opened five months earlier.
Their new home was nothing like the comfortable Loretto Mother House. The log buildings were poorly built by government contractors. Leaks and structural issues became immediately evident. Like the boy's school, the building was woefully undersized for the growing classes of young Osage girls — but the Sisters made it work.
By the time the photo shown above was taken, both school buildings had been enlarged and covered with clapboard siding to provide better weather protection. The precise location of the girl's school is unknown but based on a mapped location of the original log church and other photo information it probably sat just west of the northwest corner of our current church (see illustration below).
For more information about Sister Hayden and her trip to Kansas, follow THIS LINK.
Sometimes research leads you astray. You are staring at a computer screen or a frame of microfilm looking for a specific piece of information. Then, something in the corner of the screen catches your eye — something more interesting than what you were looking for in first place. For a moment your search is interrupted with “OH! Look at that!” I had an "OH!" experience a few years ago while looking at a 137 year old St. Francis Catholic Church logbook entry. The family that was interested in that entry came to St. Paul three times to celebrate their heritage.
It started on April 19, 2011 when Larry Strecker called me. Larry is a Topeka business consultant who was planning a trip to St. Paul. The trip would involve driving from Topeka to Spearville, just north of Dodge City, to pick up his parents Bernard and Eleanor. Then he would drive back across Kansas to visit our museum—and they were coming for a very specific reason. Their branch of the Strecker family tree was formed, by marriage, at Osage Mission during the 1870’s. They were also pretty certain that the marriage of Erick Strecker to Agnes Engles was performed by the prominent Jesuit missionary Father Paul Mary Ponziglione.
We set a visit date of May 10 and Larry asked for a favor. Would I please check marriage records to confirm a wedding date he gave me; and the fact that Father Paul did officiate at the service?
As it turns out, Larry, Bernard and Eleanor were pretty sure that Father Paul had heard the vows of Erick Strecker and Agnes Engles. In fact, the Strecker’s knew a lot about the Kansas Catholic Church in general. Bernard’s first cousin was Archbishop Ignatius Jerome Strecker of Kansas City from 1969 through 1993 . After his retirement he wrote a book about the history of the Church in Kansas . Bishop Strecker's book discusses the history of Osage Mission and specifically includes his family's Osage Mission wedding. It also includes a couple of sketches of Father Paul that are shown here. Also, at the time of his visit, Larry was on the boards of the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas and Christ’s Peace House of Prayer.
The day after our conversation I called the rectory to arrange to see the old marriage books. When I got there Nancy had already found the book. The information I wrote down for the wedding was the 1878 to 1880. We had to search a bit because the actual marriage date was recorded as April 18, 1874—and it was recorded in the beautiful script of Father Ponziglione. I took some photos of the book, thanked Nancy and headed home to clean up the photographs and call Larry with the news.
It was during the photo editing that I had my “OH!” moment. On the line below the Strecker’s was recorded a wedding on April 27, 1874; Charley Cooney and Mary Lucretia Davis. My great grandparents were married by Father Paul just over a week later! I had seen the information in a genealogy study done by Jeanie Van Leeuwen; but to see it in Father Ponziglione’s own writing was pretty neat .
Larry and his parents did visit St. Paul on May 10. Bernard and Eleanor were in their early 80’s and were full of energy and enthusiasm. Another museum volunteer and I gave them information and we learned from them too. They toured the church and St. Francis Cemetery and by late afternoon we all felt like it had been a great day.
During our visit Larry told us his consulting business works with the state of Kansas quite a bit and he was familiar with some of the Kansas tourism folks. On the way to the car he was talking about the incredible story of the Catholic Mission and he asked “Ron, what kind of economic impact does your glorious history have on the local economy?” I had to admit that it really wasn’t much.
In October of 2013 Larry contacted the museum again. Bernard was aging and Larry told his parents he would like to take them on a trip anywhere they wanted to go. Dad said “Osage Mission!” He wanted to come back to St. Paul. When they arrived in mid-October Bernard seemed more frail and both Larry and his mother showed concern. At the time Eleanor and Bernard had been married for 59 years and she seldom left his side. As I recall we made a late-afternoon trip to Chicken Annie’s, Girard, and said goodbye in the parking lot. A short time later Larry let us know that dad had taken a bad fall and was in the hospital. He passed away on November 30.
Several members of the Strecker Family returned to St. Paul in 2014 for a family reunion; but Rosie and I were traveling. We hated to miss it because our memory of the Strecker’s, and the discovery they led us to, will last forever.
Some Reference Information:
 Archbishop Strecker’s service in Kansas City was his second appointment. In April of 1962 he was appointed the second Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri by Pope John XXIII. When Pope John Paul VI later named him to the Kansas City position, at age 51, he was the youngest prelate of that rank in the United States. As noted, he retired in 1993, published his book in about 2000 and passed away on October 16, 2003.
 Archbishop Strecker’s book is: The Church in Kansas, 1850 – 1905, A Family Story. The book contains no publisher information or a publish date and I assume it was self-published. I found our copy on eBay and there were several others available on the internet. The 2000 publish date appeared on some of the internet sites. The sketches shown above are on pages 43 and 44 of the book. I mentioned using the sketches here, with Larry, and he saw no reason why I wouldn’t.
 When I look at the dates in the marriage records a few things came to mind:
For more information about Father Paul Ponziglione follow THIS LINK.
Over the past 170+ years our schools have experienced some serious problems: epidemics, grasshopper famines, the Civil War, the loss of two prestigious boarding schools, structure fires and more recently serious storm damage — but we got through them. So when the Sports Complex construction team realized they had to raise the surface of the earth, a lot, they just got 'er done.
In May of this year work began on the addition of a track to our existing baseball field and sports complex site. The track field part of the project had begun and a future softball field was to begin by the end of the year.
When excavation got started the project hit a snag. The final survey revealed that due to natural drop-off of the terrain, toward Flat Rock Creek, the east portion of the track would have to be raised nine feet to provide a track surface that was level and correct for both training and competition events.
That was no small problem. But local planners and our contractor, Track Renovations of Pittsburg, got together and came up with a solution. The appropriate kind of soil was available from two sources, and one source was very close to the track:
A couple of weeks ago Track Renovations started final construction and now progress can be seen daily. The compacted gravel bed is in place and they are currently laying out and excavating for curbs and the drainage system. When this is done, a semi will show up at the site and the track surface will be installed. This slide show will give you an idea of what is happening (best viewed in landscape on a phone screen).
* If You Would Like to Help With the Project:
As you might expect, the "earth raising" added unexpected expense to the track project. If you would like to support this great 170th-anniversary project, contact Joe Smith at Farmers Bank, St. Paul — 620-449-2800.
If you are considering a tax-deductible contribution from a brokerage account, such as an IRA, it can be made through the St. Paul Schools Alumni and Friends Association. Again, contact Joe Smith for information.
Track Renovations on Facebook:
Track Renovations Inc. is posting occasional updates on the St. Paul project on their Facebook page. You can check them out HERE.
More About Us.
For More Information about our past, including problems and achievements, take a look at OUR STORY.
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.