The tiny town of Greenbush, Kansas, has done a remarkable job of keeping their story alive. In doing so, they have kept a part of our Osage Mission story going.
A few weeks ago our daughter gave Rosie a couple of books for her birthday. One of them was Marion Amberg's Monuments, Marvels, and Miracles; a Traveler's Guide to Catholic America. Stacy knew it would be used because we tend to gravitate toward old churches and missions in our travels.
The Table of Contents of the 479 page book is arranged in seven main sections, each covering a geographical area: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Mountain West, Southwest and Pacific West. Each section includes a map of the geographical region, and individual maps of each of the states in that region. State maps have numbered travel symbols that correspond with articles about churches, missions or other Catholic locations in the state.
In addition to the numbered symbols and articles, each state chapter also has an unnumbered sidebar article titled "Finding Faith." These are special sites with stories that are unique to their state. Each state has only one Finding Faith article (except New York and Texas).
The Finding Faith article for Kansas is about — Greenbush! If the page shot at right doesn't enlarge well on a phone, it says:
How long is a promise? Forever, in Greenbush! In 1869 Father Phillip Colleton, SJ, was riding his horse on the prairie when he got caught in a fierce thunderstorm with pounding hail. Taking refuge under his saddle in some bushes, he promised to erect a church on that spot if he lived. In 1871, a small wooden St. Aloysius Church went up. The promise doesn't end there.
When an 1877 storm destroyed the church, a second church was built in 1881. A third and larger church was dedicated in 1907, and the 1881 church became a hall. When the third church burned in 1982, the 1881 church — the second church — was renovated and became the fourth church. When the fourth church closed in 1993, folks banded together to preserve the structure, now called St. Aloysius Historic Site, and to keep Father Colleton's promise alive."
Plan your visit: saintaloysius.weebly.com.
947 W. Highway 47, Girard, KS 66743"
Other Finding Faith Examples:
Were we surprised that Greenbush was selected for a special article? Yes - but no one had to pick us up off of the floor. They have always done a good job of beating their drum, so to speak. They have an active, incorporated historical society with a large number of members. They also have an attractive, well laid out website. But more than that, they have a strong community following; and their "community" seems to stretch across the country. The St. Aloysius Historical Society keeps Father Colleton's story alive, and also maintains their historic cemetery and church ruins. They, and the Southeast Kansas Education Support Center, complement one another well, and their annual celebrations attract hundreds of people! It is no wonder they were featured in the recent regional Kansas Samplers Foundation Big Kansas Road Trip.
But! When we looked through the book for Finding Faith comparisons in other states, we were very impressed. Greenbush is in very good company:
Some Reference Information:
1. Monuments, Marvels and Miracles, A Travelers Guide to CATHOLIC AMERICA, by Marion Amberg, copyright 2021, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company, Huntington, Indiana. The book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several catholic book outlets.
As we begin our Memorial Day weekend, and attention is focused on the graves of our family members, we should look around. We have been blessed with two beautiful and remarkably historic Cemeteries.
St. Francis Catholic Cemetery.
Located about 3/8 of a mile east of St. Paul, the cemetery was started by Father John Schoenmakers in about 1868. But the cemetery includes graves that were relocated from the original old mission cemetery that date back to 1852. In 1871, as the town of Osage Mission was growing rapidly, Father Schoenmakers urged settlers to move their family graves from the older graveyard to St. Francis. The original mission cemetery was located in the east part of the existing Miles Field football field, and the residential neighborhood just east of there. 
As harsh as it sounds today, Protestant settlers were not allowed to be buried in St. Francis Cemetery. For a few years, non-Catholic settlers were buried in small cemeteries scattered around the area or at family homes. In 1874, Hope Cemetery was established one mile north of St. Francis Catholic Church. Over time, many graves were relocated from smaller graveyards or home plots. Like St. Francis, Hope tombstones represent many stories from the early Kansas frontier and the Civil War period. 
Click for links to cemetery information:
1. St. Francis Parish Cemetery, St. Paul, Neosho County Kansas, 1852~2008, Viola Anne Gouvion. This 670+ page book is a local treasure for historians, geologists or general family information. In addition to cemetery records, the book contains some history of the original mission cemetery; the transition to St. Francis Catholic Cemetery; and some general information about our church and parish. It it available from the Osage Mission - Neosho County Museum in St. Paul.
2. Hope Cemetery Records, August 1869 — August 2000, Osage Mission, now St. Paul, Neosho County, Kansas, Compiled by George M. Paine. The Hope records are now a multi-volume set that covers some history beyond 2000. There is also an addendum that includes cemetery maps. The Hope Cemetery books should be available from the Osage Mission - Neosho County Museum in St. Paul.
3. There is an interesting connection to President Lincoln in each of these cemeteries.
.... our Osage Mission Ancestors Did Not Allow the Symbolic "Cradle of Catholicism" to Decay in a Remote Pasture!
Funny thing about mistakes. They can be recognized and corrected quickly. But sometimes they seem to have an afterlife and just keep showing up. In the case of a certain photograph, and caption, it has haunted us for more than fifty years.
The photo is of a decaying shed in a pasture. It appears to have been of log construction with board siding. But how the conclusion reflected in the caption was reached is beyond me; and I would think, anyone who spent even a moment studying the mission.
In its final configuration, the Osage Mission log church was covered with clapboard. That is where any resemblance with the photo ends. Our original St. Francis de Hieronymo Catholic Church, after its second expansion, was 35 feet wide + 90 feet long, with a roofline of about 16 feet.  The structure had nine side-windows, two chimneys. and two windows above the front door.
Another glaring discrepancy is the depiction of it sitting in an open field with a fence behind it. During its final days, the church was part of the St. Francis Campus, which was made up of: Our "new," stone St. Francis Catholic Church, the 3-1/2 story Jesuit Monastery, and the St. Francis Institute men's boarding college. There is no lack of proof that the church was surrounded by other structures until it's final days. 
The Very Thought!
Mistakes are made, but this error keeps popping back up!  But the very thought that our Osage Mission ancestors would let their original church simply decay away is rather offensive. After all, that building is symbolic of the "Cradle of Catholicism in southern Kansas." It is also the visual focus of the "Beacon on the Plains" In Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald's book of the same title.  I am fairly certain that my great grandparents, Charles and Mary Lucretia Cooney, wouldn't be happy with that caption! They were married in that church, by Father Paul Ponziglione, on April 27, 1874. Father Paul would probably be a little ticked too!
Some Reference Information:
1. Descriptions of the log church vary a little. The width appears in some documents as 30 feet. But many descriptions say it was 35 feet wide. The 90-foot length is pretty constant. The original building was fairly large. All of the photos I have seen are of the side shown above. I don't know if the west side also had nine windows .
2. Our present "new" stone church was built between 1972 and 1884. It was dedicated on May 11 of 1884. During the next four years the original log building was used as a washhouse and playroom for the schools and monastery. The log church was finally torn down in July of 1888 allowing for construction of other buildings on the St. Francis campus. It was the last of the original Catholic Osage Mission buildings to be razed. It is noted that the Jesuit monastery, shown in photos above, is the first monastery on St. Francis grounds. The Jesuit structure was razed in about 1911 allowing construction of the Passionist Monastery that many of us remember today.
3. To the best of my knowledge the original photo, and caption, showed up in an otherwise very nice article in the Catholic Advance newspaper. That article, in the October 16, 1969, issue of the Advance, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first Catholic Mass in Wichita. That mass was celebrated by Osage Mission Jesuit missionary, Father Paul Ponziglione. The article "Catholicism Begins in Kansas" actually goes back to Coronado's arrival in Kansas in 1541 and Franciscan missionary Juan De Padilla's martyrdom. But much of the article is focused on Osage Mission, Fathers Schoenmakers and Ponziglione, and mention of Sister Bridget Hayden.
As noted, it is a nice article except for the photo, and especially the caption (and an incorrect build date of our current church). We have no idea of where the photo came from. But we certainly hope it didn't come from here!
However, in recent years the photo, with caption, has shown up in the history page of a couple of Southeast Kansas church websites. In both cases, we notified the webmasters and provided a picture of the actual log church; and in both cases the photo was removed. Now it has shown up in a museum display.
Oh Well. If you would like to look at the original article, the two-page spread is provided HERE and HERE. Just ignore the photo in the center of the second page.
4. Over the years the tall, lighted, bell tower on our "new" stone church has assumed the title of "Beacon on the Plains." That's OK, but the original mission church was the center of the mission addressed in Sister Fitzgerald's book, when she wrote: "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. Not infrequently the missionaries rescued individuals lost on the plains." I believe Sister Fitzgerald's Book, "Beacon on the Plains" is the best beginner's 'Osage Mission 101' available.
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.