St. Peter's Catholic Church
Frenchtown (city of Oconto)
Oconto County, Wisconsin
"The History of the Catholic Church in Wisconsin"
published 1895 - 1898
St Peters School is at the left rear, the convent or the rectory is to the right.
This original church building was replaced in 1895.
A number of French Canadians
established a settlement in the vicinity of Oconto, Oconto County,
in or about the year 1844. With these people for a nucleus, they being
nearly all Catholics, the Rev. Father Bonduel formed a congregation at
the time of his first visit to them in the year 1852. This church was
in honor of St. Peter, by which name the parish is still
years later, another priest, whose name is not forthcoming, took up the
work which Father Bonduel had carried on up to that time, visiting the
people at Oconto and neighboring Missions until 1857. From
until March, 1857, the Rev. B. Smedding held services in this parish
every month, preceding which time, however, the Rev. Father Perrodin
visits to Oconto, where in 1856 the land for a cemetery had been
to the congregation by Peter Picard (Pecor)
for that purpose, as well as for the site of a church. This church was
erected in June, 1857, and has the distinction of being the first
building erected in Oconto County. It still stands (1898)
a monument to the zeal and energy of the early settlers of this
although its exterior appearance has been much changed by improvements
which have been made from time to time.
As successor to Father
Smedding came the Rev. A. Mignault, who remained at Oconto from
1860, to July 1862 Mignault, who remained at Oconto
1860, to July, 1862. Then followed successively the Rev. Fathers E. Van
Steenwick from 1862 to March, 1863; Bonaventura De Goey, O. S. F., from
March, 1863, to January, 1864; Egbert Spierings until the time of his
which occurred at Oconto in August, 1868; G. A. Spierings from August
September, 1868; A. Mazaud from September, 1868, to August, 1869; P.
from August, 1869, to December, 1869; M. Schwebach from December, 1869,
to April, 1870; A. Yermare, April, 1870, to November, 1883, and F.
the present pastor, who took charge of the congregation in December,
The parish of St. Peter's now comprises some twelve hundred souls. The parochial school connected with it was built in 1886, although it was not opened for the reception of scholars until spring of the following year. There are now two hundred and eighty pupils in regular attendance, who are in charge of Sisters of St. Joseph, from St. Louis, Mo. Of Catholic societies in St. Peter's congregation, there are a branch of the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin; Guard of Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, erected canonically August, 1894; Holy Rosary Confraternity, erected canonically October, 1893; St. Aloysius Sodality; Young Ladies' Sodality, and Holy Angels' Sodality for little girls, and Infant Jesus Sodality for little boys.
The Rev. F. Vaillant was born in Trevoux Ain, near Lyons, France, on October 23, 1854, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1878. After ordination he was appointed maitre de chapelle in the Cathedral of Belley, Ain. In September, 1880, he came to America, his first appointment being as pastor at Rosiere in the Diocese of Green Bay, of which he took charge December, 1880. He was appointed to his present charge at Oconto, December 1883.
Photo taken 1899 in the snow.
Catholic Church - city of
In 1895 this building replaced the original structure built in 1857. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Photo taken 1993