A Day in Kansas History — 172 Years Ago
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).
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.