The 100 Year Story of Lake Church
extracted from the Ozaukee Press
By The Rev. Raynor Hausmann
Pastor of St. Mary Parish
The records of St. Mary Parish, Lake Church, Belgium, go back to the year 1848, the same year that Wisconsin became the thirtieth state of the union. The first record in what is called the "Hauptbuch" (the ledger), is of a baptism, conferred November 11, 1848 by the dynamic Austrian Dr. Salzmann, who, among his many noteworthy activities, established St. Francis seminary in 1855. The distinction of being the first child baptised according to the Lake Church records goes to Frank Xavier Keil, who was born October 27, 1848 and was the son of Peter Keil and Margaret Koch. His sponsors were Frank Zavier Hengel and Helen Loosdorf.
The first marriage on record was that of Mathias Bingen, a widower, and Lucy Strup. They were married by Rev. Hubert Laufhuber, also an Austrian, on Sunday, Nov. 19, 1848. The first burial recorded is that of Anna Mary Galles, the wife of Nicholas Kleckner. She was 55 years old and died Wednesday, Dec. 17, 1851, and was buried the following day.
Since Lake Church parish is situated in Ozaukee county it is interesting to quote from "History of Washington and Ozaukee counties" published in 1881. On page 538 of this volume we read: "The town of Belgium forms the northeast boundary of Ozaukee county, and comprises all of township 12, range 22 and a fractional township 12, range 23. It was set off fromt he original town of Port Washington, and incorporated in 1848. Among those who took an active part in the organization were John Weyker, Nicholas Sosley, Anthony Bartol, S. Wilgen, John P. Watry, Bernard Schomer, and Nicholas Langers. The first regular meeting was held at the house of John Weyker, July 11, 1848. John Weyker was appointed moderator, and Samuel Reynolds, clerk of the election. The first school meeting was also held at the house of John Weyker, when the following officers were elected: district No. 1, trustees, Dominique Wolf, Nicholas Reading and Anthony Bartol; collector, John Weyker, District No. 2 was formed in 1849.
The population of Belgium is composed principally of Germans and Luxemburgers, who adhere to the customs of their native countries. Their principal occupation is farming, theproducts of the soil making up the bulk of their resources. Next in importance to agriculture is the manufacture of cheese. There are five large milk and cheese dairies in the town, which are pushed with considerable enterprise, adding materially to the revenue, besides creating a profitiable market for the farmers to dispose of their surplus milk, which otherwise would be of little value to them. While there are no villages in the town, stores are stationed around central points where the farmers are accomodated with a market for their produce. There are two post offices conveniently located; one taking the name of Holy Cross, and the other that of Belgium station, established on the line of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western railroad. The farmers of Belgium are noted for their industry and have, in a remarkable short time, changed what was once a dense forest into well-cultivated farms, each one possessing a good dwelling house and barn. there are two Catholic churches in the town, this being the only denomination represented. The meeting-houses are substantial stone structures and are disignated by the names of Holy Cross and Lake church, the latter being located in the eastern part of the town near the lake and presided over by Rev. George Leetner." (That name would be Rev. Anton Leitner).
The parish records show that the following priests were at Lake Church:
Father Laufhuber, 1848
Father Steiger, 1849
Father Gernbauer, 1849
Father Becke had a baptism on 2-16-1852
Father F. X. Sailer, 1853
Dr. Joseph Salzmann officiatedat a marriage Monday Aug. 20, 1855. The bride and groom were Elizabeth Manz and Joseph Barnich.
There is a notice in the baptismal register that on August 31, 1856, Rev. John Michael Obermueller and his assistant, Rev. Jerome Berckmann took over the care of the parish.
Dr. Joseph Salzmann had baptisms April 12, 13, 1857.
Father Obermueller, 1858
Father B. Deisenrieder, 1858
Father R. D. Rief, 1859
Father J. B. Haselbauer, 1860
Father Francis Fusseder, 1863
Father Anton Rasch, 1864
Father francis Fusseder, 1865
Father H. F. Muckerheide, 1866
Father Deisenrieder, Missionary, 1866.
Father J. F. Friedinger, 1868
Father Welter, 1870.
Father J. P. Zirbes, 1870
Father H. F. Muckerheide, 1870
Father Caspar Schaettin, 1870.
Father Peter Frieden, various baptisms from 1871 to 1876.
Father F. X. Sailer, 1877.
Father Peter Frieden, 1877.
Father Anton Leitner, 1881.
Father Anselm Lauthner, O.S.B., 1883. In 1884, the church was struck by lightning and estroyed. Father Lauthner began building a new church which was completed under Rev. H. T. Stemper. The latter also buildt the present combination school and sisters' house. Father Stempter later was achaplain in the Spanish-American war of 1898. Father Benjamin Blied writes in his "The Catholic story of Wisconsin": "Father Stemper was dispatched to Puerto Rico where he found many wisconsin men among the sick."
Father Oberlinkels, 1892.
Father N. L. Freiman, 1895.
Father Wm. B. Bruecker, 1898.
Father J. F. Decker, 1909.
Father P. W. Gersbach, 1910.
Father J. J. Krieg, 1925.
Father A. J. Kuepper, 1926.
Father J. M. Keller, 1933 till his death, Dec. 18, 1939.
Father Henry T. Stemper, 1885.
Father Louis P. Peschong, 1889.
All three Fathers Peschong were born in Lake Church Parish.
Father Rayner G. Hausmann came January 17, 1940 and was transferred to the pastorate of St. Joseph's Milwaukee, July 10, 1947.
Father John A. Risch was administrator from July 10, 1947 to October 29, 1947 when Father Hausmann returned.
In 1887, the Sisters of St. Domnic of Racine took charge of St. Mary parish and district school having 112 children under their care. There were three sisters to open the mission: sisters Mechtildis, Marina and Marcella. They entered their new home November, 1888. There were only two teachers until Father A. Hueppeer came.
Besides thr three Fathers Peschong, there were other young men entered the pristhood from the parish. They are: Father Michael Groff of Theresa, Fahter John Schiltz who died as pastor of St. Sebastian's parish in Milwaukee, Father Alexander Karrels of St. Savior's Annex in Portage, and Father Sylvester Groff of St. George parish in Kenosha.
The following have become dominican sisters, entering St. Catherine's convent at Racine: sisters M. Joland and M. Natalia Groff, M. Pulcheria and M. Angelica Weiland, M. Fulgence Frantz, M. Theodore Straus M. Borgia and M. Xavier Hemmen, M. Viola Straus, M. Ferriola Kertz, M. Blanche Arendt and M. Nichola Wester.
The following entered the Notre Dame convent: Sisters M. Reginald Lorge and M. Bilhild Tholl. sister M. Mildred Thomas, sister of Mercy entered the convent at St. Louis, Mo.
St. Mary's school at present is being taught by Sister M. Rose Albert as superior and teacher of the 7th and 8th grades, Sister M. Winifred for the 5th and 6th grades, sister Vincent Ferrer for the 3rd and 4th grades and Sister M. Maurice for the 1st and 2nd grades in the district school.
The parish trustees are John Rollinger, who has been acting as secretary ever since 1938 and Nicholas Thomes as treasurer. Mr. Thomes has been acting as trustee of the parish since 1930. The parish consultors are Michael Jacoby, Edward State and Arthur thomas. Besides the parish trustees, the centennial committee is composed of Vincent Dondinger, Nicolas Tholl, Gerald Leifer, Henry Hubing and henry Wester.
The officers of the parish societies are as follows: Holy Name society, Henry Wester, president, Frances Tholl, secretary, Edgar Antoine, treasurer.
St. Theresa's sodality: Geraldine Antoine, prefect, Mary Margaret Wester, secretary, Jeanette Reiter, treasurer.
The Christian Mothers' society: Mrs. Arthur Antoine, president Mrs. Nic Engelbert, vice-president, Mrs. Norbert Peiffer, treasurer, Mrs. John krier, secretary.
The following fraternal societies are represented in the parish: The Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, Nic Didier, president, Rose Wester, Vice-president, Lucille Arendt, secretary, Leona Anzia, treasurer.
The men Foresters: Arnold Lanser, Chief ranger, Ervin Dimmer, vice chief ranger, Vincent dondlinger, financial secretary, Joseph Oberst, treasurer, Henry Wester, recoding secretary.
The Women Foresters: mrs. clara Krier, cheif ranger, Mrs. Viola Wester, vice chief ranger, Evelyn Krier, recording secretary, Joan Croatt, financial secretary, Frances Wester, treasurer.
it was on Memorial day, May 31, 1943, that a tornado struck the church tearing down part ofthe steeple and roof. A new asbestos shingle roof was put on, new cushioned kneelers were added. In 1944,l the interior of the church was cleaned and redecorated and the sisters' house painted. In 1945, a new magnacite floor was kput in the sanctuary, church and bestibule. That same year a pracial modern kitchen was added next to the school hall, the school was equipped with indoor lavatories and a new library room. An additional deep-well pump was also added. In 1946 through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Edward State the parish was given its present excellent organ. That same year a new boiler and stoker were installed in the church. The parish also agreed to contribute $725 to the new heating system in district school #9. In 1947 a new amplifying system was installed in the church. During the past summer the kitchen of the parish house has been entirely remodeled and modernized and the first floor of the rectory is being repainted, as well as the annex and parts of the church.
New white hand-made vestments with a beautiful hand-stitched image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the chasuble will be used for the first time on the occasion of the celebration of the centennial. These vestments cost $1000 and were obtained through the donations of kind parishioners and societies.
The celebration of the parish centennial tiself will takeplace Sunday September 12. It will consist of a solemn high mass at 10:30 a.m. with His Excellency, Archbishop Moses E. Kiley, D.D. of Milwaukee assisting in Cappa Magna. The celbrant of the solemn high mass will be Father Michael J. Groff, a former boy of the parish, who has been a priest over 51 years at Theresa, Wisconsin.
The deacon and subdeacon of the mass are also former boys of the parish, Father Alexander Karrels, now chaplain of St. Savior's Annex at Portage, who will act as deacon and Father sylvester groff, a nephew of Father Michael Groff and pastor of St. George kparish at Kenosha, will act as subdeacon. Father Wm. Gensler of Saukville will act as master of ceremonies together with Father Joseph Emmenegger, who is vice-chancellor and assistant secretary to the Archbishop. Servers will act as Thrifer, Acolytes, book-bearer, train-bearer and candle-bearer. The sermon will be preached by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Frederick Arnold, one of the diocean consultors and pastor of St. rita's parish at West Allis. An excellent parish choir under the direction of sister M. Winifred will sing the high mass and other appropriate numbers.
The clergy will be served dinner at the school hall immediately after the services. At 1:30 p.m. there will be a parade consisting of a number of floats representing the church choir, the servers, parish societies, etc. One float will represent the church itself. Peter Schmit, the janitor, has spent much time and labor in making this float. through the generosity of Nicholas tholl, the 27 piece Port city band will furnish music. a country-style dinner will be served by the Christian Mothers and young ladies of the parish, each hour on the hour from 3 to 7 p.m. Reservations for dinner can be made at the parish rectory, at A. N. Schanen's at Lake Church or at Ed Hamm's at Belgium. Dinner will be served adults at $1.50 and children under 12 years at 75¢. Refreshments will also be obtainable on the parish grounds.
In gratitude to those good priests, sisters and people who in the past have labored in the Lake Church parish but have since departed this earthly life, a requiem high mass will be offered for the repose of their souls Monday, Sept. 13 at 8 a.m.
The pastor especially is grateful for the plendid cooperation that has been given by the self-sacrificing sisters, the centennial committee, the officers and members of the Christian Mothers' society and St. Theresa's sodality and all others who in any way have heped to prepare for a successful centennial celebration.
The ushers have shown themselves efficient in preserving order in church. The present usher-membership consists of Vincent Dondlinger Chairman; Danald Ansay, Arthur Antoine, Elmer Antoine, Eugene Antoine, Victor Anzia, Alfred Blick, Alois Depies, Erwin Dimmer, Raymond Gantneer, Fred gonwa, Henry Hubing, A. N. krier, Arnold Krier, Gerald Leifer, Joseph Oberst, Wilfred Paradeis, Peter L. Poull, Arthur Remich, Francis and Wilbert Rollinger, James Wellenstein, Walter Wellenstein, Henry Wester and Sylvest Weyker.
A group to which the parish owes much gratitude is the choir. The members of the choir are bringing many sacrifices in the time and effort in order to prepare for the proper singing of the high masses, etc. The following are the present members of the parish choir: Robert Lorge, William Keller, Nicholas Tholl, Felix Yankunas, Harvey Anzia, Aloys Bares, Joseph Ernster, Edward Schmitz, Julius Schommer, Oliver torke, Harriet Croatt, margaret Hommerding, Martha Risch, Therese Schmit, Elaine Weiland, Betty Keller, Bernice and Geraldine Antoine, Monica Weiland, Rances Wester, marian Wetor, Beate Mae Torke, patrical Anzia, Margaret Poull and Catherine Yankunas and Mary Jane Nothem.
Those who are most closely associated with the priest in offering the holy sacrifice of the mass are the servers. Our senior serves are marvin Beach, leRoy bittner, James and Lloyd Croatt, John Kartheister, Emery and Harold Medinger, Ralph Petesch, Richard Wellenstein, Daniel and Norman Wester. Our junior servers are John Antoine, Stanley Demge, Peter Ernster, Wm. Katheiser, Kenneth Schmit, Oliver torke, James Watry, Arnold and Robert Wester, Donald, Howard and Sylvester Weyker and Wm. Keller.
During the first 100 years of the existence of St. Mary parish, Lake church, up to the present writing, Aug. 30, 1948, there have been 2,699 baptisms, 667 marriages, and 1,090 funerals. These numbers alone give us some idea of the work that has been done in the parish for the salvation of the souls of men. The generosity of the members of the parish towards worthy causes is outstanding. This is evident from the charities drive, the society for the propagation of the faith, as well as other special collections.
From the spiritual angle, laboring in the parish is very gratifying, because the people frequent the sacraments very well. The sodality regularly sponsors days of recollection. The people are most thoughful of their deceased relatives and friends. Particularly is this most edifying on All Souls day, nov. 2, when the graves at the cemetery are appropriately decorated and visited by relatives and friends from near and far. The church is filled to overflowing for the special services conducted that afternoon for the faithful departed.
In looking to the future of the parish, we are confident that with god's grace, and under the protection and guidance of God's own Mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, the parish will continue to flourish and prosper in its work for the salvation of immortal souls. The parish is dedicated to our Blessed Lady under the title of her nativity. What is more fitting, than that at the time of this joyful centennial celebration, we join with our Blessed Lady in her hymn of priase as St. Luke records it in his Gospel I, 46-49.
And mary said, "My soul magnifies
the Lord, and my spriit rejoinces in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name."