history.gif (1327 bytes) A Historical Sketch of St. Mark's Parish


The early history of St. Mark's is meager as we endeavor to trace it back to the primitive settlers.  The church records recall that the first settlers to invade the thickly wooded hills and dales of this vicinity arrived in 1847.  Up to this time it remained the wild life that nature provided.  The first immigrants to settle in this section were Henry Bockhold, Ferdinand Fromm and John G. Wessling (1847).  Other settlers arrived as follows:  John G. Litkenhus 1849; John Zeller and Henry Daming 1850; Gerhard Biever '53; Anton Bruggeman '54; Henry Brinksneader, Theodore Hanloh '58; Casper Asbrook, John G. Kleaving, Stephen Graetzer '60; Henry Theis, John Lutgring '64; Henry Harpenau '68; Bernard Vollmer '69; Martin Schwartz '70; Henry Broeker, John Eigul '75; James Peter '78.    James Peter came from Belgium; Stephen Graetzer from Switzerland; George Ettensohn and John Zeller from Bavaria; Joseph Winter from Baden and the remainder were natives of Westphalia.

The history of the parish begins with the year 1860, when Father Michael Morenndt pastor of Cannelton, bought a 20x30 'box frame' grocery store with one acre of ground for catholic school purposes.  This building was located a few yards north of where the present St. Mark's Church stands.  School was taught by a catholic layman for three years.  Up unto this time the pioneers of St. Mark's formed a portion of the catholic parish of Troy.

In June of 1863, Father Ferdinand Hunt of Troy converted the school into a church and offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St. Mark's for the first time.  Thereafter, Father Hunt visited St. Mark's twice a month during the week.  In the same year, John Hagedorn gave an adjoining acre of ground for a cemetery, where Anton Bruggeman was the first to be buried.  Successively, St. Mark's was attended from Troy, St. Meinrad, Cannelton and Tell City.

On June 5, 1867 Father Michael Morendt discussed with the congregation the proposition of a new church.  With only eighteen families and pioneer conditions it was a gigantic undertaking.  However with undaunted faith, determination and under inspiring leadership the small parish began the building of a free-stone church 36x65 in the fall of the same year.  The energetic members quarried the rock, hewed the timbers and gratuitously offered their services in every way.   April 25, 1868 the corner stone was layed for the new church called by order of Most Reverend Bishop De. St. Palais, St. Mark.  The church was erected under the direction of Father Andrew Michael, pastor of Tell City in '68 and used for Divine Services for the first time on Christmas.  On April 25, 1869 the new church and a new bell were blessed by Father Martin Marty, Prior of St. Meinrad.  Besides the generous donations of labor and materials, the necessary expenditures of about one thousand dollars were soon paid by subscriptions so that the church was free of debt.

The newly created mission grew to thirty-three families by 1877 and deemed worthy of a resident pastor.  Reverend John B. Unversaght was appointed pastor July 21, 1877.  Plans for a residence immediately formulated.   Meanwhile the pastor boarded with neighboring families.  An acre of ground was acquired opposite the church lot where the rectory was built and completed December 20, of the same year.  Other necessary additions were rapidly made and the church supplied with everything that was required.

The church was enlarged in the year 1887 -- adding the sanctuary and sacristy by Reverend J. J. Zoghman.

In 1900 Reverend Peter Baron Frescoed the church and built the second story to the residence.

In 1904 Reverend N. J. Forve replaced the plain windows with art glass windows; replaced the side altars with the present ones and reroofed the church.

During the years of 1909 and 1910 Rev. Francis Schaub prepared the way and made possible the erection of a school by taking up a liberal subscription.  He likewise built the laundry and barn.

The school was built by Rev. mathias Weiland in the years of 1913 and '14.  The school consists of two school rooms on the first floor, convent on the second floor and parish hall in the basement.  During the years of '15 and '16 school was taught by a lay teacher, Miss Josephine Ray; then the services of the Sister of St. Benedict, Ferdinand, Indiana were secured, Sister Jerome being the first superior.  For a few years, it was conducted as a parochial school, but ever since 1924 has received state aid.

In 1919 an electric lighting system was installed by Rev. Karl Kabey.

In 1926 the rectory was modernized by Rev. George Zeimer. 

During the present administration, the interior of the church was decorated by J. H. Wickstead of Louisville, Ky., the sanctuary enlarged, communion rail built it, and floors with inlaid linoleum in the church at a cost of $1,2000.00; a furnace was replaced in the church, an imitation brick shingle building erected to care for the comfort and utilities of the school, light plant and batteries replaced, all properties painted, a 35,000 gallon cistern built, a refrigerator added to the house furnishings and concrete walks laid to school, sacristy, and cemetery at a cost of $2,000.00.  Meanwhile an indebtedness of $3,500.00 has been paid off and an improvement fund of $2,000.00 established.

Every piece of property and improvement has been endeared to the faithful members of this parish not only through the sacrifices required to pay for them but by actual gratuitous participation in the erection of them with their own hands.

The history of the parish must deal with the material progress, which is the external expression of the faith, hope and charity of the people.  The hardships and sacrifices that made the present St. Mark's properties a reality were great and many.  The people of St. Mark's were ;never blessed with much of the world's goods but have shown a liberal share of the spiritual gifts of God.

The Rev. Peter Baron gave St. Mark's a worthy tribute to-wit:  "St. Mark's is a model community.  Of every man in the congregation, it may be truly said that he is a hard worker and an honest man.  Every wife is a true helpmate and a faithful companion to her husband.

On the worst Sundays of the year, when women are unable to attend Divine Service, the men, young as well as old, are in the pews.   They have the Faith.  Though they live in the midst of friendly Protestant neighbors, mixed marriages are extremely rare."

During the seventy-five years, the parish registers show a total of eight hundred  and sixty-six baptisms and two hundred and seventy-six marriages.

The parish at present has sixty families with an enumeration of three hundred and ten souls.

The hardships endured by the pastors came more from the missions attached than from the parish itself.  St. Mark's for many years had four missions:

St. Peter's, Rome, distant 12 miles became a mission in 1877.
St. John's, Bristow, distant 9 miles became a mission in 1879.
St. Mary's, Derby, distant 11 miles became a mission in 1888.
St. Joseph's, Ranger, distant 5 miles became a mission in 1891.

These missions were attached to Leopold in 1919 save St. Peter's which was abandoned.  St. John's and St. Joseph's were again attended from St. Mark's since 1930.  In 1935 St. Joh's was given to St. Croix while St. Joseph's is still attended from St. Mark's.

Sons of the Parish elevated to Priesthood:   Reverend Edward Bockhold

Succession of Pastors and dates:

Rev. Ferdinand Hun, 1863-64
Rev. Martin Marty, O.S.B. 1864-65
Rev. Frederick Friedinger, 1865-66
Rev. Michael Morendt, 1866-67
Rev. Andrew Michael, 1867-77
Rev. John B. Unversaght, 1877-79
Rev. Placidus Zarn, O.S.B. 1879-81
Rev. A. Oster, Aug. 1881 - Nov. 1881
Rev. Peter Hemmes, Nov. 1881 - July 1885
Rev. J. M. Zoglman, Aug. 1885 - June 1888
Rev. F. A. Roell, June 1888 - Jan. 1889
Rev. Henry Fein, Jan. 1889 - March 1893
Rev. Lawrence Fichter, March 1893 - Nov. 1894
Rev. Peter Baron, Nov. 1894 - June 1902
Rev. N. J. Ferve, June 1902 - 1905
Rev. John Barthel, Dec. 1905 - Aug. 1906
Rev. Lambert Weishaar, Aug. 1906 - Oct. 1907
Rev. E. J. Serkelbach, Oct. 1907 - Oct. 1907
Rev. C. J. Sprigler, Oct. 1907 - Dec. 1907
Rev. James J. McCool, Dec. ??
Rev. N. A. Hassel, Dec. 1907 - June. 1908
Rev. Francis Schaub, June 1908 - July 1911
Rev. Mathias Weiland, July 1911 - June 1916
Rev. Chas. Kasey, June 1916 - Aug. 1925
Rev. Geo. Zeimer, Aug. 1926 - July 1931
Rev. Edw. Bockhold, July 1931 - Sept. 1938
Rev. F. W. Strange, Sept. 1938 - Sept. 1948
Rev. Paul Ofer, Sept. 1942 - 1949
Rev. Trish Vallmer - Jan. 1949 -

Daughters of the Parish who entered the religious life:

Sister Rosina.  Catherine Hagedoren.   Sisters of Providence, St. Marys of the Woods.
Sister Mary Jerome.  Rose Bockhold.  Sisters of Providence, St. Marys of the Woods.
Sister Mary Veronica.  Margaret Bockhold.  Sisters of Providence, St. Marys of the Woods.
Sister Scholastica.  Clara Harpenau.  Sisters of St. Benedict.
Sister Cunigunda.  Veronica Bruggenschmidet.  Sisters of St. Francis.
Sister Liberata.  Mary  Harpenau.  Ursuline Sisters.
Sister Bonaventure O.S.B., Julia Peter
sister Feliciana O.S.B., Martha Peter

Parish Consulars in 1938 - August Peter, Anthony Kraus, Theodore Schwartz, George Kleaving.

Parishioners of St. Marks - 1938

The families and parishioners of the church today are descendants of the first parishioners except for a few families, and the farms in the area are still owned by the descendants of the first settlers.