ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHOLIC CHURCH


Witten, in the early days, was a mission out of Winner, SD, although the earliest priest to say mass in the Witten area was Father Gueasen from Gregory. He said mass at a pool hall in Red Hill, South Dakota early in 1910. The schoolhouse was also used for services before the church was built.

The church in Old Witten was built in 1912. It was 24x40 feet and was located across the road north of the George Worcester home. There was also a parsonage and the Catholic cemetery near the church.

The church wasn't furnished inside at first and the parishioners sat on planks laid on nail kegs and there was very little hear. Father Novak was the mission priest until 1914, when Father Virnig became resident priest in Winner and served Witten also.

Witten ceased to be a mission out of Winner with the appointment of Father Kelly in 1920 as the pastor. In 1921 Father Kelly was transferred to Faith, South Dakota and returned in 1923. In the interims Witten was served by Father Quilgan and Father J.J. McColl.

After Father Kelly returned to Witten the mission's at Jordan and Carter were closed and the churches were moved to Witten. The Jordan Church was later sold and moved to Wood to be used by the Wood Parish.

In 1929 when the buildings from Old Witten were moved to New Witten, the church and parsonage were moved and placed in the southwest corner of town. Soon after being moved, the church burned down. The congregation purchased the Carter Baptist Church that had been moved to Witten and converted into a hall, was reconverted back into a church.

Father Kelly was transferred in 1933. Priests serving in succession were: Rev. N. McNamera, Austin H. Bonner, Wm J. Boat, H.McDonald, George M. Huep, Cecil R. Folkins, James Tunnisen, Jas. A. Vorman, Gerald Scherer, Wm. Diskin, F.F. Kruswicki and R.O. Burger.

While Father Scherer was serving Witten, a mission church from twenty miles northeast of Witten, just off Highway 183, was moved to Witten and placed adjacent to the Witten Church. The floor from a mission church at Iona was then moved in and placed between the two and was permanently joined to both buildings to form an L-shaped hall on; the west side of the present church; thus the church and hall were the combination of three churches.

After serving Witten and surrounding area the Catholic Church closed its doors in the late 1990's. Mike Weathermon purchased the church building. The main altar and large crucifix went to St. Ann's Church in Keyapaha, South Dakota.

Picture and information courtesy of the
Tripp County Historical Society Archives


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