Grafton Remembers
"When Mass was held in Town Ten"

extracted from the New Graphic
June 27, 1996


By Ardell Van Langen

We seldom hear the church being called St. Francis Xavier Church. Our great, great grandparents, of German descent, who were instrumental in building the church in 1867, gave it the Town Ten name because of its location. It is 10 townships north of the Illinois border at the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Maple roads, and thus 54 miles from the border.

The architecture of the church was influenced by one Father HEISS who was the secretary to the first archbishop of Milwaukee. He was only in Milwaukee three weeks when he took a trip out to the beautiful wooded 40 acres of land that the German community purchased for $180. He was from Eichstaett in Bavaria, where the churches had rounded apses and onion shaped towers, with clean cut brick work under the eaves. Hence the church took on that design.

The rectory was built first, east of the church, and had a resident priest from 1850 to 1855 when the church was a log structure. At times nuns occupied the rectory and taught at the public school 1/2 mile west of the church. Today it is a private residence. The church cemetery lies immediately east of the school.

St. Francis Xavier Church was a mission church of St. Joseph's in Grafton. Mass was held every other Sunday after the service at St. Joseph's. I can remember my mother telling me that her father, Ferdinand SCHEER, was one of the parishioners who would drive the priest from Grafton to Town Ten in his horse and buggy.

Different families built the three stone chapels and one frame chapel. The HAHN family built and maintained the stone chapel on the northeast side of the 40 acres where their land joined the church's property. This chapel is still standing in good condition.

The THENNES family constructed a stone chapel on the northwest corner adjacent to land they owned.

The MUNES family constructed a frame chapel about 700 feet east of the church. Their land joined Pleasant Valley Road just across from the chapel. This chapel now stands in Pioneer Village. The SCHEER family constructed the chapel in front and just a little west of the church. It still stands today. The chapels are almost on the corners of the 40 acres.

On Corpus Christi Suinday the chapels and church were decorated with lilac and bridal wreath flowers. A large solemn procession attended by by families from Ozaukee, Washington and Milwaukee counties was held, led by the priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament. He walked under a canopy held by four male members of the church. Little girls, dressed all in white, carrying baskets of flower petals, would strew the petals in front of the priest for him to walk on. I remember the basket my mother made for me. It was a small grape basket covered with white crepe paper with a white reibbon to wear around my neck. We were in awe at this very solemn procession. As we walked to the chapels to pray there was much singing. Prayers were said at the chapels asking God for blessings of the spring plantings for bountiful harvest and blessing of the fields and forests.

The celebration was discontinued during World War I and renewed in 1929. Until 1930, Mass was held eveyr other Sunday. After that time Mass and Corpus Christi processions were held once a year.

In 1943, St. Joseph's congregation sold the 40 acres for $4,500. The new owners gutted the church and used the materials for buildings. Terms of the sale contract were such that the church was to be demolished.

In 1946, Gilbert LIEBENSTEIN bought the acreage there and found a 20 foot hole where the onion tower once stood. It had been taken down and lumber used elsewhere.



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