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Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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St. Peter's Catholic Church
Frenchtown (city of Oconto)
Oconto County, Wisconsin

"The History of the Catholic Church in Wisconsin"
published 1895 - 1898

Built 1857
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.

St. Peter's Catholic Church
Photo Source
Tony Brazeau

A number of French Canadians established a settlement in the vicinity of Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin, 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 dedicated in honor of St. Peter, by which name the parish is still known.  Two 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 that year until March, 1857, the Rev. B. Smedding held services in this parish twice every month, preceding which time, however, the Rev. Father Perrodin paid visits to Oconto, where in 1856 the land for a cemetery had been donated 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 public building erected in Oconto County. It still stands (1898) a monument to the zeal and energy of the early settlers of this section, 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 September 1860, to July 1862 Mignault,  who remained at  Oconto from September, 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 death, which occurred at Oconto in August, 1868; G. A. Spierings from August to September, 1868; A. Mazaud from September, 1868, to August, 1869; P. Pernin from August, 1869, to December, 1869; M. Schwebach from December, 1869, to April, 1870; A. Yermare, April, 1870, to November, 1883, and F. Vaillant, the present pastor, who took charge of the congregation in December, 1883.

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.

Built 1895
Photo taken 1899 in the snow.

St Peter Catholic Church - city of Oconto,

In 1895 this building replaced the original structure built in 1857. 
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Inside  1960's

Photo taken 1993