REV. WILLIAM FUTTERER, pastor of St. Peter's Catholic church at Petersburg, was born in Mattoon, Coles county, Illinois, his parents being Charles and Mary (Zeller) Futterer, who emigrated to America from Baden, Germany, in 1849 and settled in Coles county upon a farm, which the father cultivated for some time and then removed to Mattoon, where he engaged in the grocery business. He followed that pursuit until some time in the '70s, when he retired from active business life. He was a cooper by trade but gave his attention to other business interests in the new world, and acquired a substantial competence. In his family were two children, the elder being Lena, the widow of Henry Ritter and a resident of Mattoon. She has five children.
Rev. Futterer acquired his early education in the parochial and public schools of Mattoon, completing the high school course. He then worked at cigar manufacturing for a year, when deciding to equip himself for the work of the priesthood he entered Teutopolis St. Joseph's College, completing the classical course by graduation. Immediately afterward he took up the study of philosophy in Le Grande Seminary, in Montreal, Canada, and completed a course of five and a half years by graduation with the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy. Having been ordained to the priesthood, he spent five years in St. Gertrude's parish, at Grantforks, and was afterward transferred to Pierson, Bond county, where he erected a house of worship, serving as pastor of the church there for about three months. He was then sent to the Catholic University of America and after a two years' course in dogmatic theology and canon law, he received his degree. He next took charge of St. Mary's parish, at Washington, D.C., serving there for a year during the absence of the regular pastor, after which he went to Europe. Following a second trip to Europe Cardinal Gibbons offered him a parish in Washington, D.C., but the bishop refused to transfer him on account of his connection with the diocese of Alton, Illinois, and he had to obtain permission from Bishop Ryan before he could be released. He was then sent to Petersburg, where he arrived on the 16th of October, 1897, and since that time he has taken an interest in everything pertaining to the upbuilding and progress of the town as well as the advancement of his church.
Prior to 1868 the spiritual needs of the Catholics of this locality were met by the church in Springfield, and by priests who occasionally visited Petersburg. On the 4th of May, 1868, the first resident pastor took charge-the Rev. William Cluse, the present vicar general of the Belleville diocese. He was succeeded by Father Theodore Wegmann, in 1872, and he in turn by Rev. August J. Sauer in 1873. Then came Bernard W. Ahne in 1877, followed by Owen O'Hare, and in 1879 Father M. Hogan became pastor. He died January 12, 1884, and by request his remains were taken to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for burial. William J. Merscher, his successor, remained but a short time, after which he built a church in Ashland, Cass county, and was followed in Petersburg, in 1884, by Rev. B. Haase, who through the careful handling of the church finances and his untiring efforts, succeeded in discharging a large church indebtedness in a short time and at the end of his pastorate left a handsome surplus in the treasury. Father John McGraw next had charge of the parish during the absence of Rev. Haase in Europe and until the present pastor arrived. Under the direction of Father Futterer the work of the church has been promoted along various lines and attended with good results, and he has won the respect and confidence of many people of other churches as well as of his own parishioners.