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St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad brings settlers to the area --

Friday, November 5, 2021/Categories: History

The St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad, now owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company, was built in 1870. This surely would have made the trip into Nemaha County a much more acceptable trip than going by buckboard or covered wagon. In 1878 and 1879 Father Emmanuel Hartig, O.S.B. advertised the Wild Cat area largely by sending out articles to different Catholic papers. At that time, he could advertise that the community was growing, the land was fertile, and in Wild Cat, Kansas there was a Catholic school, to which, children could attend. His efforts were well blessed. People responded to his call and at the beginning of 1880 the parish had increased in size to nearly 60 families. Unfortunately, the second church was then too small to hold the growing congregation. A third church, measuring 40 feet by 90 feet was constructed. It was presumed at the time that this church indeed would last for some generations. The Seneca newspaper on January 16, 1880 said: "Messrs. Pat Byrne, Michael Rogers and John Koch were in town Wednesday soliciting aid for a new Catholic church on the Wild Cat. It is to cost $3,000.00 and will be done by August 15."

 When the new church was finished by Father Emmanuel, the congregation purchased a bell which weighed 1,850 pounds from H. Stuckstede of St. Louis, Missouri. This bell was a beauty, indeed, for the congregation, especially so because it surpassed the Seneca bell in size. The rivalry between Sts. Peter and Paul church in Seneca and St. Mary’s church in St. Benedict seems to have begun as soon as the two were both established. (From St. Mary’s Catholc Parish 1859 – 2009, “Faith Moves Us Forward”).


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