St. Francis Xavier's Catholic Church at Taos, Cole Co., Mo., is a prosperous one. About eighty Catholic families had settled there, and from May 11, 1838, were visited regularly by Rev. Father Ferdinand Helias, a priest of the order of the Jesuits, who was then stationed in Westphalia, in Osage County. At first mass was said in private dwellings, until in 1841 the first house of worship was built of logs. In 1842 Father Helias, with the permission of his superiors, changed his residence from Westphalia, in Osage County, to Taos, in Cole County. In 1843 the congregation had so prospered they were enabled to build a better place of worship, which was a stone building, and is at present used for a school-house, a fine brick edifice, erected in 1883, taking its place as the church. The latter is 125 feet long by 50 wide, and was erected at a cost of about $10,000, and is furnished with a melodeon. Father Helias died August 11, 1874, having had charge of the church up to that time. His successor was Father John Gruender, a secular priest, who remained in the charge until December, 1885, and was then transferred to Loose Creek, Osage Co., Mo., where he still has a charge. In 1881 about eighty families went from this church and established a church for their own use at Wardsville, Cole County. After the removal of Father Gruender, Father Joseph Schmidt assumed charge of the church, and is now the priest. He was born in the Province of Westphalia, Germany, December 16, 1845, and when but fifteen years of age began preparation for the priesthood, receiving orders in the year 1870. He immigrated to America in September, 1869, and first had charge of a congregation at St. Johns, Franklin Co., Mo. He then was transferred to Cape Girardeau, Mo., afterward to River aux Vases, St. Genevieve County, and later to Taos, Cole County, where he is now situated. There is a school in connection with the church, which is doing good work and is thriving; a secular male teacher has charge of it, teaching ten months in the year.
History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries, and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Company (1889).
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