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Fullerton's First 100 Years (1879-1979)

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   After the ground was purchased for use as a cemetery in 1907, the first person to be laid to rest was Louis Schomburg, a carpenter who had worked on the church building; but who did not live to see it completed. Heinrich J. Hellbusch is the oldest person buried there. He was born at Oldenburg, Germany, on December 21, 1829, and was the father of Henry, C. D. and George Hellbusch. At the time, family lots of six grave sites cost $5, and single grave sites cost $1. The gate, placed in the late 1940's, still marks the cemetery entrance.


   The earliest history of what later became the Parish of St. Peter at Fullerton is hidden in obscurity. The first Missionary known to have labored in the Timber Creek area, northwest of Fullerton, as early as 1884 was a Franciscan Father from Columbus, by the name of Father Boniface. He was succeeded by Father Devoes from Spalding. After him came Father Hayes and Father O'Reilly from Albion. Other priests who ministered to Catholics in Nance county were Fathers Geary, Vermeulen, Mulligan, Lordemann and Nepper, to mention a few.
   A small mission church was erected in 1887 at Fullerton, under the guidance of Father Geary of Central City. No records are available to estimate the cost of construction of this frame structure which served the Fullerton congregation until 1923.
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First Catholic Mission Church 1887.
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   In 1913, Father Paul Wiese was named the first resident pastor at Fullerton, thus establishing: St. Peter's as a Canonical Parish. In that same year, Father Wiese guided the construction of the first rectory, a two-story frame building, which was completed in 1914 at a cost of approximately $5,000. The structure still stands on the church grounds today.
   In September 1915, Father Wiese was succeeded by Father John S. Palubicki, who remained until August of 1918. Father Felix Gebauer then became pastor and remained until September 1920 when he was succeeded by Father Virgil Walkowiak.
   Under Father Walkowiak's pastorate, it became evident that the Mission Church could no longer accommodate the growing Parish; thus, in 1923, plans were completed and the cornerstone for the present church was laid by Archbishop Harty. The church was built at a cost of $80,000, and was reputed to be one of the most beautiful churches in Central Nebraska.
   Father Frank Kubiszewski was assigned as pastor in September 1936. Upon arrival, he found that due to crop failures and other circumstances the Parish was $40,000 in debt. Under "Father Frank's" guidance, a Cow Club was organized through the men of the Parish and various activities were conducted to reduce the debt and save the Parish from failure.
   Through help in 1939 of the late James and Leona Rice, a Parish Hall was built on the north edge of the church grounds. The building was used for various fund raising activities in the Parish and the community to reduce the church debt. Some years later, the Parish Hall was moved to church property, across the street east from the church square. The building was eventually sold at auction and moved to the Mike Chmiel farm northeast of town.
   All but the first pastor of the Parish joined parishioners in September of 1938 to recall the pioneer work and sacrifices of the previous 25 years at a three-day celebration of the silver anniversary of the establishment of the Parish. When "Father Frank" left the Parish at the end of 1946, the financial debt had been reduced to $13,800. The Parish by then had acquired the entire square block of property, between Esther and Ida Streets and North 3rd and North 4th Streets.
   Assigned as pastor for the Parish in January of 1947 was Father Stanley F. Pieczonka. He immediately stirred up interest to pay off the remaining debt, and on September 23, 1947, a mortgage-burning ceremoney (sic) was held.
   With all effort turned toward the eradication of the Parish debt in previous years, it was now time to begin repairs and improvements to the church property. A new heating system was installed in the church, the exterior was thoroughly renovated in 1949 and in 1950 new art glass windows were installed. Also in 1950, a massive interior decorating project was begun. In 1951, the Parish plant was converted to natural gas heating. A new electric organ was purchased in 1952 and the following year new asphalt tile was placed on the floors of the church and padded cushion kneelers were installed.
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Improvements also were made to the rectory during that period.
   Assigned as the seventh pastor at St. Peter's on September 23, 1956, was Father John S. Michalak. With the buildings of the Parish all in good repair, a building fund was inaugurated and efforts were turned toward the goal of a Parochial School. After considerable study and meetings to discuss the project, a decision was reached to proceed with the construction of a new school and rectory. In early 1958, an architectural firm was engaged to draw plans for the improvements. On September 28, 1959, ground was broken for the $127,906 construction project. Laying the cornerstone for the school in a ceremony on December 28, 1958, was Father Virgil Walkowiak, the oldest living former pastor of the Parish.
   The one-story brick and masonary (sic) school is situated between the church and the old rectory. It contained six classrooms, a lobby, offices, waiting room, supply rooms, lavatories and a boiler room. The new rectory, also a one-story structure, connects to the church from the north by a glassed-in passageway. The old rectory was converted into a Convent to house the Sisters of the Resurrection, whose headquarters are in Chicago, who staffed the school. The doors of the new school were opened to 134 children in grades 1-8 on August 31, 1959. A dedication of the new school and rectory was
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St. Peter's Church


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held on October 11, 1959. The school was closed in the summer of 1976 when the Sisters could no longer be obtained to staff it. The school since has been used for Parish CCD instruction and remodeled into a Renewal Center for use for social functions in the Parish and community.
   Father Richard Wolbach was assigned as pastor for the congregation in 1966, replacing Father Michalak. Father Wolbach served until December of 1971.
   In January of 1971, Father Richard Ciurej became the pastor of St. Peter's Parish. It was during Father Ciurej's tenure that another massive redecorating and improvement project took place in the church. New altars and sanctuary lighting were installed as was aisle and sanctuary carpeting. The interior of the church also was repainted.
   Coming in June of 1979 to replace Father Ciurej as pastor was Father Thomas J. Sellentin. He remained until June of 1980 when he was placed (sic) by Father Nelson Newman.
   At this writing, the Parish has over 900 souls. It is continuing to grow and be a viable part of the community.


   Early information about the beginnings of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish at Krakow is very meager. The little that is known is derived in large part from the memoirs of those who were associated more or less closely with the Parish during its early years.
   The following is from some records from St. Stanislaus Parish at Duncan, Nebraska.
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First Church, 1894, and Sisters' Convent, 1895.
   The first Polish settlers of this district (Duncan) arrived directly from Europe as early as 1869. The first Mass was said in the Duncan Church on Christmas of 1882 by Father Anastasius Czech, O. F. M. From this was created a new Parish at Krakow, two miles south and west of Genoa, Nebraska. About 69 families were cut off from the Duncan Parish in 1893. On July 4, 1893, Father Czech had a meeting at the Vitalis Borowiak farm, with 69 family heads being
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present. A site on the John Szatkowski (Shotkoski) farm was selected for the church and two acres on the Simon Czarnik farm was selected for a cemetery. The name of the new church is to be Sts. Peter and Paul - Krakow.
   On June 11, 1895, Father Czech was given permission to borrow $1,000 for erection of a Sisters' house at Krakow. Since the Parish was not incorporated, the pastor signed the notes, and at a meeting on June 20, 1895, the Parish agreed to build the Sisters' house and consented to the loan. On September 26, 1895, a meeting was held at the residence of Rt. Rev. Richard Scanell, Bishop of Omaha, for the purpose of incorporating Sts. Peter and Paul Church of Nance County, Nebraska under the provisions of the laws of the State. Trustees for the Parish at that time were Stanislaus Szymowica and John Podraza.
   Although several of the families who had settled in this vicinity had come from Krakow, Poland, a greater number, according to reports, had come from Tarnov. Because there already was a place in Nebraska called Tarnov, the new settlers of this territory decided to call the place Krakow (Cracow) after the large city of Krakow in Poland.
   Since no church was erected until 1894, Sunday Mass was celebrated in the home of Martin Borowiak, who resided northeast of the present church. Here, too, in 1893, in the Borowiak home, the Sacrament of Baptism was administered by Father Czech to four infants: Steve Czuba, John Czarnik (Tarnick), Anastasius Borowiak and Benedict Szatkowski. The first wedding of the Parish, that of Mike Sock and Eva Szymowicz was performed by Father Czech in the home of Vitalis Borowiak, southwest of the Martin Borowiak home.
   In 1894, the first church was erected just east of where the present school is located on the Parish grounds. One of the first additions to the church was a reed organ. About a year later, an addition was made to the rear of the church building which served as living quarters for Father Wegrzynowski, from November of 1895 until June of 1897.
   Just south of the first church, a convent for Sisters was erected in 1895; but since there were no Sisters, as yet, the building was used as a boarding house for the lay teacher and the children who attended the school.
   In 1898, the Franciscan priests relinquished the Parish to the diocese. Father Augustyn became the first (diocesan) pastor.
   In 1901, construction of a new church was begun. The site for this new building was to the south of the first church. The new church was dedicated in 1902.
   Frank Zaucha, who accepted the teaching position at the school, apparently, also took over the cooking and housekeeping for the pastor. He retained this position for about three years. Following him, during the pastorate of Father Augustyn, was another lay teacher, Frances Trybanska. She taught at Krakow for about two years. Following her, three Franciscan Sisters from Lafayette, taught
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in the school. Their tenure is not certain. In 1908, the Sisters of the Resurrection from Chicago came to staff the school. The first Sisters assigned were Sister Theodore Kierpowski, the first Superior and organist; Sister Michaline Graczyk and Sister Petra.
   From the beginning of the Parish, various pastors served comparatively short terms. In 1907, a young energetic priest, Father Edward Soliwoski, was appointed pastor. Joe Shotkoski and others moved him by team and wagon from Elba. Since there was no rectory, Father Soliwoski lived in the church sacristy, as did his predecessors.
   A rectory was constructed in 1909.
   Father Ed also was appointed to serve the mission church at Silver Creek. He made his trip every Sunday to say Mass at Silver Creek, from 1907 to 1918, by horse and buggy.
   An ice house was built on the Parish grounds to store food for the pastor and Sisters in 1912 or 1913.
   In 1922, a new school, boarding house, Sisters living quarters and chapel were constructed. The first church, which up to this time had served as a school, was torn down.
   In 1923, a basement was excavated under the church, and a heating plant was installed in the basement. A large barn was built on the grounds in 1925 to house teams of horses, driven to services by Parishioners. These buildings were dismantled in the mid-1950's.
   In 1927, a new addition was made to the church. It was extended to the north to provide a larger choir loft and vestibule. Two steeples were constructed on the church to replace the single one.
   During the years of the depression, very little had been done in the way of improvements to the church property. In the late 1940's and early 1950's, members of the Parish organized fund drives and raised over $20,000 which was used for various interior and exterior improvements and repairs to the buildings and grounds as well as to the cemetery. A Delco system, which had been used to generate electric power to the buildings, was replaced in 1948 by commercial electric power. Some of the improvements were made through memorial donations from families of longtime members of the Parish.
   Father Soliwoski died in March of 1956, at the age of 86 after serving the Parish for nearly 50 years.
   On April 5, 1956, Father Stefan Flisiak succeeded Father Soliwoski as pastor for the Parish. Father Flisiak continued with improvements and renovation plans in the church, school, Sisters' home and rectory. Two school buses were purchased in 1963 to transport pupils to classes, new playground equipment and other school furnishings also were purchased. Since pupils no longer boarded at the school, the dormitories were remodeled into living quarters for the Sisters. The school basement was transformed into a dining room, with kitchen, to accommodate social functions. New wells were dug on the grounds and numerous other improvements were carried out.
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With the approach of the Diamond Jubilee of the Parish in 1968, it was decided to build some outstanding structures as a token of gratitude for the 75 years of the existence of the Parish. Erection of a new rectory and social hall was completed between May and October of 1967. The Diamond Jubilee of the Parish was held on August 18, 1968.
   Due to the lack of Sisters to staff the school, it was closed at the end of the 1977-78 term.
   As of December 31, 1979, the Parish contained 80 families. Its picturesque setting in quiet rural surroundings is a tribute to the agriculture community which it serves. The church is one of only a few which today can be found with ornate altars and other church furnishings which were installed at the time of construction at the turn of the century. Pastors serving the congregation:
   Father Anastasius Czech, O. F. M. (Founder in 1893)
   Father Ladislaus Czech, O. F. M.
   Father Rembert Stanowski, O. F. M.
   Father Marcellinus Kollmeyer, O. F. M. (Parish was incorporated on September 26, 1895)
   Father Wegrzynowski, O. F. M. (First resident pastor - November, 1895, to June, 1897)
   Father Remigius Berendt, O. F. M. (July, 1897 to September, 1897, and December, 1897 to October, 1898)
   Father B. Radka (September, 1897 to December, 1897)
   Father Augustyn (diocesan priest) (November, 1898 to March, 1906)
   When Father Augustyn left, in March, 1906, again the Franciscan Fathers took over the parish to July, 1907. During this time the following Fathers were at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Krakow: Father Marian Glahn. Father Theobald Kalamaja, Father Rembert Stanowski, Father Ladislaus Czech, Father Cyrill Mitera, and Father Dionisius Czech.
   Father Paul Knappek (diocesan priest) (became pastor in July, 1907 and served the parish to September 1907)
   Father Edward Soliwoski (diocesan priest) (September, 1907 to March, 1956)
   Father Stefan Flisiak (diocesan priest) (April, 1956 to the present time)
   This congregation was first known as the Fullerton Evangelical Church, later the United Evangelical Church and still later the Evangelical United Brethren (E. U. B.) Church.
   The Fullerton Mission was organized and made a part of the Platte River Conference held at Blue Springs, Nebraska, in 1900. Rev. L. G. Brooker, Conference Evangelist, held the first tent meeting in the 700 Block of South Broadway, resulting in a class of nine members. When the weather was too cold, the class was permitted to meet in the court house. Rev. Brooker was assisted in the early days by Brother Stimson and Sister Mary V. Hall.
   Under the pastorate of A. Essley, a church was built in Fullerton and dedicated on July 8, 1900. The Morning Star Church was built about two miles southwest of Fullerton on the Loup Valley road, and was dedicated on February 10, 1901. Bishop Dobbs was

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the presiding officer at both dedications. Bishop Dobbs later was one of the missionaries to China. W. L. Dillow took charge of the Mission for nearly two years following the resignation of Rev. Easley. During those early years, numerous revival services were held to attract new members to the two churches.
   In 1903, Rev. E. E. McVicker became pastor for the two Mission churches. Rev. Charles Beller became pastor in 1904 resigning in December 1905 due to ill health. Rev. T.L.C. Suhr, who was soon to become a Missionary to China, replaced Rev. Beller. It was at this time that the Morning Star Church was closed. Rev. Lohr came to serve the congregation in 1906. During his pastorate he also had services in the Plum Creek School. Rev. T. M. Evans served the church from 1909 to 1912.
   Rev. Lohr returned in 1912 to serve until 1917. He no longer conducted services at the Plum Creek School, but instead went to the Mason schoolhouse, located southwest of town on the south side of the Loup River. In 1916, a new South Side Evangelical Church was dedicated by Bishop Swengel. It was constructed near the Otis Nesbitt farm for a cost of about $2,500 and was paid for entirely by the time of its dedication. Rev. Heiwitt was pastor for the churches from 1917 to 1918.
   When Rev. Lohr returned in 1918, membership in the church was 187, and $3,000 was raised to pay off the last debt. He served until 1922, when Rev. Garries became pastor. It was that year the church merged with the Evangelical Association. F. C. Ebinger was assigned as pastor in 1929. A small house next to the church had been purchased some years earlier for $1,300. It and the old
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Evangelical Church, Fullerton, Ne.


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parsonage were auctioned off for $265 and $250 respectively, and a new 8-room parsonage was built near the church. Mrs. Nye held a $700 mortgage at 3% on the indebtedness of the new parsonage.
   Rev. James Arnold served the church from 1931 to 1933. Wood cutting projects were held to provide fuel during the depression years so that money was available for church repairs and to pay the debt on the furnace. Serving from 1933 to 1935 was Rev. Marchand. Rev. Ahlers came to serve the church in 1935, but stayed only a short time because the climate did not agree with Mrs. Ahlers and they moved to California. Rev. Breaw came from North Dakota to fill the pastorate.
   In 1937, Rev. Milford Vance was assigned to the Fullerton and Fairview churches and served until 1944. The Fairview Church soon closed, and Rev. Vance held services at the North Star Church instead. A piano and chairs from the Fairview Church were brought to the Fullerton church to use in Sunday School work and for the Youth Fellowship. The South Side Church had already closed, but Rev. Longnecker, who formerly was in the ministry and resided in that area, continued to preach there. Mrs. Vance organized a large youth choir with the assistance of the Misses Ysobel and Janice Ridell. Mrs. Vance died of Addison's disease while residing in Fullerton, and Ysobel Ridell died about two years later from cancer. Janice Ridell later became a college teacher in California.
   Rev. F. C. Weber served the Fullerton and North Star churches in 1944 and 1945. He also served the Presbyterian congregation at Fullerton which was without a minister. During Rev. Weber's stay in Fullerton, a son was killed in World War II action in Germany. Many improvements were made at the Fullerton church and parsonage during Rev. Weber's pastorate. Leo Aldis Galloway donated a large Bible to the church.
   From 1945 to 1948, Rev. Thomas served the congregations. Many improvements continued. Special donations were made by Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Cunningham and the Louis Burger family. Rev. Swanson served the congregations for a short time during 1948. In October, of 1948, Richard Urbach, a student at York College, held weekend services at the two churches. Two more students, Jack Atkinson and Edgar Shrader, served the churches from 1951 to 1953.
   Rev. C. R. Anderson served the two churches from 1953 to 1956, and Rev. Bornemeier was the next minister, for a year, 1956-57. He enjoyed woodworking and made an altar for the Fullerton church and an altar and pulpit for the North Star church. In 1957, Rev. Jones was assigned to serve the two churches. Though reaching retirement age in 1962, he continued to serve as superannuated minister with reduced pastoral duties until 1969. Rev. Zemanek, a Methodist minister, became pastor in 1969 and served
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the two churches until reaching retirement age in December of 1970. On February 9, 1971, District Superintendent C. Edwin Murphy presided at a special conference in regard to closing the Fullerton church. A decision was reached that a closing service would be held on February 21, 1971. This was the last service held in the Fullerton Evangelical United Brethren Church. At a later date, all E.U.B. congregations were united with the Methodist churches, and the union became The United Methodist Church.
   The Fullerton church parsonage was sold, and the church and grounds were given to the City of Fullerton for use as a museum. In May 1973, the museum was opened by the Nance County Historical Society and is supported by memberships and donations. The grounds are planted and maintained by members of the Fullerton Flower Belles. An iron fence, formerly on the old Memorial Hospital grounds in the west part of town, was moved by members of the Fullerton Lions Club and erected on the museum grounds. An old school house also has been moved to the museum grounds and restored.
   In 1894, Rev. J. W. Nye took up this appointment and called it the Fullerton Mission. The first class was organized on December 8, 1895, by Rev. T. J. Fink, the Platte River Conference Evangelist. It consisted of 40 members and was called North Star Mission. Rev. L. Lohr was the first pastor. In 1896-97, Rev. Ira McBride served as pastor.
   A church was built and dedicated on January 23, 1898, by Bishop Dubs of Chicago, as The North Star United Evangelical Church of Nance County, Nebraska. In that year, Rev. Fremont Devol was appointed to the mission and also took up another assignment 12 miles north of Fullerton. The parsonage was built during the 1899-1901 pastorate of Rev. George H. Stimson. Rev. Lohr returned to serve 1902-03, and Rev. Henry Wood was pastor from 1904-06. In 1907, Rev. E. L. Case was pastor. In 1908, Rev. Gumm was appointed but did not come to the work and Rev. W. T. Randolph was appointed to take charge. Rev. Randolph was returned to the field in 1909.
   Rev. McBride returned to served from 1910-13. It was during this period that in 1911 North Star Mission was made a Station. In 1912, a class of 35 members was organized as Mt. Zion United Evangelical Church of the North Star charge. A Union Sunday School also was organized at Pleasant Ridge schoolhouse with regular preaching services.
   From 1914 to 1916, Rev. H. C. Farley served the charge. In 1914, a porch was built on the church and a generator was installed

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to provide lights. In 1916, the North Star Mission became self-supporting. During the same year the church was wired for electricity to be supplied from a nearby general store. On August 8, 1917, a severe hail storm broke all the windows on the north side of the church and destroyed crops over an eight mile strip.
   Rev. Lohr returned in 1917. The Mt. Zion class was discontinued. Rev. R. W. Garrison served from 1918-20. In 1919, the Belgrade class (Fairview) was added. Rev. R. S. Welch served from 1921-23, and Rev. C. F. Weidensaul came in September of 1923 to serve nine months. Rev. Lohr returned during 1924-25. In 1924, the garage was built, and in 1925 the church was remodeled at a cost of $2,500. Rev. S. M. Dillow was pastor in 1926. He also served Fairview, Belgrade.
   Serving from 1927-33 was Rev. F. H. Stevens. On October 31, 1928, the church burned to the ground. Services were held in the schoolhouse until a new church was constructed. The new church was dedicated on June 23, 1929, by Bishop M. T. Maze. In 1930, the parsonage was repaired and a new garage was built because of storm damage.
   During the pastorage of Rev. H. E. Kramer, 1934-35, a 36-inch church bell was dedicated on July 4, 1935. Rev. Howard Huddel served during 1936-37. In May of 1937, the Nebraska Conference had united this charge with Fullerton and was served by Rev. M. G. Vance.
   In succeeding years while the North Star congregation was served by pastors from the Fullerton church, numerous events occurred until 1971 when a merge was made to form the United Methodist congregation. In 1945, a 50th anniversary of the North Star church was observed with Bishop Stauffacher and District Superintendent Rembolt as guest leaders. In 1955, the parsonage was sold and the money received was used to remodel the church basement. New chancel furniture was secured and dedicated in May of 1957, and new hymnals were also purchased. On October 11, 1970, a 75th anniversary of the congregation was observed.
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North Star United Methodist Church.


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