Progress Notes



Joe Pryor - News Tribune Article Monday, June 04, 2007


Monday, April 20, 2009

Progress Notes

Most of the early settlers in Miller County were descendents of immigrants who originally came from the British Isles or Germany. However, once in a while other areas of Europe were represented by the new arrivals to Miller County during the middle of the 19th century. One of these was Louis Dusheke who, as was his wife Matilda Philomena Sestak, was from Czechoslovakia (photo 01).

01 Louis and Matilda Sestak Dusheke - 1904
01 Louis and Matilda Sestak Dusheke - 1904

Louis and Matilda came into Miller County sometime in the late 1800’s settling in the Mary’s Home area about a mile to the south east of town. Louis came to our attention recently when we were rearranging the farm display and found an iron stone mason’s tool with a short handle. We made a stand alone display of it (photo 02).

02 Mr. and Mrs. Louis Dusheke and Stone Cutter
02 Mr. and Mrs. Louis Dusheke and Stone Cutter
Click image for larger view

The accession records state the following:

“Stone Mason’s Tool belonging to Louis Dushek (Note: see spelling variation explanation below), area stone mason and farmer of Mary’s Home. This tool was used by Louis in building various stone foundations in and around the Mary’s Home area. These include the Tellman Store and the St. Mary’s of the Snows Church  both of which were built in 1907. The name of the church was changed to Our Lady of the Snows Church in 1939 by Father John Knoebber. Received for the Miller County Historical Society by Mary Bea Hays.”

Here is a photo taken on June 14, 1995 when the stone mason’s tool officially was given by Leonard’s daughter, Sharon Dusheke Thomas to the museum and received by Mary Bea Hays (photo 03):

03 Sharon Dusheke Thomas donating stone mallet to Mary Bea Hays
03 Sharon Dusheke Thomas donating stone mallet to Mary Bea Hays

Further investigation revealed we also had received some other tools of Louisís including a kraut cutter (photo 03a) which we have on display in our dog trot house kitchen. We also have a boot jack made by Albert Dusheke, son of Louis (photo 03b).

03a Kraut Cutter made by Louis Dusheke
03a Kraut Cutter made by Louis Dusheke

03b Boot Jack made by Albert Dusheke
03b Boot Jack made by Albert Dusheke

Nancy Thompson, our museum director, after some investigation, discovered that Louis Dusheke’s grandson, Leonard, lived in Jefferson City (photo 04).

04 Leonard Dusheke
04 Leonard Dusheke

So we thought it would be wonderful if we could find out some more about the family as well as copy some pictures of Louis Dusheke, the original immigrant member of the family to come to Miller County.

So the other day I called the Dushekes’ and made an appointment to come and see them. The first thing I wanted to establish was which spelling of the surname was used by the family. Mrs. Dusheke told me that the original Czech spelling was Dusek. But when the family arrived as immigrants back East, a mix-up occurred and the spelling was accidently changed to Dushek. It stayed that way until quite a few years later, after Louis and his wife, Matilda, had moved into the Mary’s Home area, the name spelling was accidentally changed again to Dusheke by the staff at the Fulton State Hospital for one of the Dushekes’ sons, who was a resident at the hospital for a speech and hearing impairment. Being somewhat easily intimidated because of their language barrier the family decided to assume the new spelling for the entire family so as not endanger the eligibility of their son to stay at the Hospital. This may sound strange to us but Mrs. Dusheke confirmed that life wasn’t easy in those days for some immigrants who were from areas of the world which were not frequently represented here.

Note: I talked recently to Cyrilla Tellman Doerhoff, who was raised in the Mary’s Home area and she told me that growing up the pronunciation of Dusheke did not include sounding the “e” at the end. It was pronounced as if it were spelled “Dushek.”

Sharon Dusheke Thomas, mentioned above, gave me some additional biographical history about the Dusheke family. First, she said in regard to the family name that in the Czech language, Dusek means “soul” in English. Also, she pointed out to me that many years ago Czechoslovakia was known as Bohemia, and that is why Mrs. Matilda Dusheke often referred to the family’s country of origin as Bohemia rather than Czechoslovakia. Sharon also said that Louis travelled quite a bit before coming to Miller County. He was known to have spent some time in South America as well as Chicago where many Czechs lived after coming to the U.S. Matilda Sestak, Louis’s wife, did not meet Louis until he came to the Mary’s Home area since her parents had moved to the area years earlier living on a farm just across the Cole County line. In fact, Sharon says that Louis and Matilda purposefully for fun stood astraddle of the Miller/ Cole County line during their wedding ceremony. Louis had owned his farm near Mary’s Home for two years before he married Matilda.

According to records researched by Sharon, Louis’s farm was homesteaded by Robertson Jenkins. The second owner was Hugh Roark, and the third was John Levitt. Louis bought the farm from John in 1879 paying three hundred dollars for eighty acres. Later, Louis added other properties ending up with one hundred sixty acres total. The farm home was nestled behind a hill such that the family couldn’t hear the bell ring at the Catholic Church in Mary’s Home which caused them sometimes to miss the Mass, especially since at that time the Priest was not there every Sunday. The farm just to the south of the Dusheke’s was owned by John Arens, whose daughter later married Edward Dusheke, Leonard’s father.  Here is an old 1905 plat map showing both farms (photo 05):

05 Plat Map - 1905
05 Plat Map - 1905
Click image for larger view

You will notice that the Dusheke farm is located in the northeast corner of section 22 and extends over into section 23. The Arens farm is located in the south part of section 22 and extends south into section 27. You can also observe that both farms are south and slightly east of Mary’s Home.  For comparison, here is a plat map of the year 2003 (photo 06):

06 Plat Map - 2003
06 Plat Map - 2003
Click image for larger view

You can see that all the old names are pretty much absent. Land seems to always turn over every couple of generations to new owners and names.

Leonard Dusheke, who is the grandson of Louis, the original Miller County Dusheke immigrant to Miller County, was raised in Jefferson City since his father, Edward Dusheke, decided to leave the farm to work in Jefferson City. As noted above, Edward had married neighbor John Aren’s daughter, Rosa Arens (photo 07).

07 Edward and Rosa Dusheke - Parents of Leonard Dusheke
07 Edward and Rosa Dusheke - Parents of Leonard Dusheke

However, Leonard had some interesting photos of the early life experienced by the Dusheke’s in the Mary’s Home area. Here is an older photo of the Church which Louis helped build (photo 08):

08 Mary's Home Church
08 Mary's Home Church

The Tellman store which he helped build was owned by Henry Tellman, brother to Herman and uncle to Charles Tellman who was the father of Cyrilla Tellman Doerhoff, one of our society members. Cyrilla told me the other day during a telephone conversation that her Uncle Henry’s store no longer is present but was located near where the bank is now.

Leonard’s grandmother, Matilda, wife of Louis Dusheke, hand wrote a short biography of herself and included a list of their children (photos 09 and 10).

09 Louis Dusheke History
09 Louis Dusheke History
Click image for larger view

10 Children of Louis
10 Children of Louis
Click image for larger view

According to records kept by the family, Louis was born in 1851 and died in 1908. Matilda was born in 1864 and died in 1926. The early records indicate that in those days the land where they were born was called “Bohemia”; however, later on the family referred to the birth country as Czechoslovakia. Here is a photo of some of Louis’s sons (photo 11):

11 Sons of Louis
11 Sons of Louis

Here are some photos taken in the very early part of the last century at the original Louis Dusheke home (photos 12, 12a and 13).

12 Dusheke Home Place - Mary's Home
12 Dusheke Home Place - Mary's Home

12a Dancing at Dusheke Home
12a Dancing at Dusheke Home

13 Music at Dusheke Home
13 Music at Dusheke Home

And here is a photo of an old threshing machine (photo 14) run by John Arens, Edward’s father in law who, as noted before, had a neighboring farm to the Louis Dusheke place (photo 15).

14 Threshing Machine used byJ ohn Arens
14 Threshing Machine used byJ ohn Arens

15 John Peter Arens and Maria Christina Thora Arens - Parents of Rosa Elizabeth - Wife of Edward Dusheke
15 John Peter Arens and Maria Christina Thora Arens
Parents of Rosa Elizabeth the wife of Edward Dusheke

And here is a photo of the John Arens home (photo 16):

16 Home of John and Christina Arens
16 Home of John and Christina Arens

One other portrait owned by the Dushekes’ which hangs on their wall is a charcoal hand drawn picture of Martin Sestak, brother to Matilda Sestak Dusheke, grandmother of Leonard Dusheke (photo 17).

17 Martin Sestak - Brother of Matildao who married Louis Dusheke
17 Martin Sestak - Brother of Matilda who married Louis Dusheke

This is a very old portrait of which the Dushekes’ are very proud to possess.

Finally, here are the tombstones of Louis and Matilda Dusheke located in the Mary’s Home cemetery (photo 18):

18 Dusheke Tombstones
18 Dusheke Tombstones

I thought this week while we were on the subject of the Dusheke family of Mary’s Home and the part Louis Dusheke played in the building of the stone church there it would be interesting to delve further into the history of the church as well as Mary’s Home itself. I wrote a short narrative about Mary’s Home on the Progress Notes of October 29, 2007 when I was discussing the Schell family general stores.

A very interesting history of the Church in Mary’s Home as well as the Mary’s Home community was donated to our museum library by Mr. and Mrs. Andy Lepper several years ago. The book was written and published in 1983 by members of the local community in honor of the Centennial Celebration of the Mary’s Home Parish. Since the book was written more than twenty years ago some of the buildings mentioned no longer are present. However, one store is very active, the old Schell store (photo 19) now owned and operated by Sandy Millard (photo 20).

19 Old Schell Store Today
19 Old Schell Store Today

20 Sandra Millard
20 Sandra Millard

Actually, many names have been associated with this store including the first owner, Peter Sanning, whose name still can be seen above the entrance. Here is a lithograph of the store when it was run by the Sannings (photo 21).

21 Sanning Store - Early 1900's
21 Sanning Store - Early 1900's

If you haven’t been to Mary’s Home, a visit to this store, the Church, and the beautiful surrounding scenery is very worthwhile. But for sure don’t miss the Mary’s Home parish picnic, which is traditionally held on the first Sunday in September. It traditionally is known to consistently serve the best food of any gathering around!

The following is from the history of the Centennial Celebration of Mary’s Home Parish:

Our Lady of the Snows Church

(photo 22)

22 Our Lady of the Snows Church
22 Our Lady of the Snows Church

Nestled between Jefferson City and the Lake of the Ozarks, Mary’s Home still retains the beauty of atmosphere that only a small town can afford. The majority of the present residents have lived in this quiet community close to the Osage River all of their lives. There is closeness in Mary’s Home that has been present for the past one hundred years and can only be described as a neighborhood spirit. This same spirit has allowed the people to feel they are bound together as one large family.

The town of Mary’s home was originally to be given the name “Morgan” when, in the 1880’s, early settlers in the area were petitioning the government for a post office. Robert Morgan (photo 23), a local tavern proprietor and land owner, was honored by this suggestion, however Father Cosmas Seeberger (photo 24), priest of the parish, was outraged at such an idea.

23 Robert Morgan
23 Robert Morgan

24 Father Robert Seeburger
24 Father Robert Seeburger

In his sermon Father Seeberger stated: “I founded this place; there was nothing here before I came. And now, without so much as a whisper to me, your pastor, you have taken this matter into your own hands and named this post office after a Protestant, a Yankee, a saloon keeper, while a founder of the place, I have the right to give it its name. This town belongs to the Mother of God, and its name shall not be “Morgan,” but “Mary’s Home.” What, do you imagine, does your mother think of this act of infidelity? See to it that this wrong is righted at once.”

Needless to say, the name on the petition was immediately changed and the town officially became known as Mary’s Home.

When Father Seeberger first ventured into Miller County in the early 1880’s, he found a rough, wooded region that was sparsely settled by people of predominantly German background. Few fields had been cleared and the roads were little more than muddy cow and mule paths. The early settlers that Father Seeberger encountered traveled solely by foot, by mule, or by boat on the Osage River.

Some of the early settlers in the area were John and Anna Wilburs, Henry and Elizabeth Schulte, Henry and Anna Eichholz, Charlie and Christine Frank, Henry and Theresa Evers, William and Helen Berendzen (photo 25), Franciscus and Sophia Lepper, John and Marie Hake, Anton and Margaret Lepper, August and Elizabeth Schulte, Herman and Mary Tellman (photo 26), John and Gertrude Mertens, John and Margaret Arens, and Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Roels.

25 William and Helen Berendzen
25 William and Helen Berendzen

26 Herman and Mary Ann Tellman
26 Herman and Mary Ann Tellman

The Osage River divided the existing “parish” into two parts. Father Seeberger would say mass at St. Elizabeth and the families west of the river would attend when possible. The location of the church in St. Elizabeth caused an inconvenience for those families, especially during times of flood. It was deemed necessary to establish a parish west of the Osage River in what is now the community of St. Mary’s Home. Father Seeberger was now busy travelling between St. Elizabeth and Mary’s Home to say mass. Although services were held in a church at St. Elizabeth, the members west of the river, as yet, had no church to call their own. For a little over two years Herman Tellman and William Berendzen volunteered the use of their homes for Father Seeberger to celebrate mass in (photo 27).

27 Tellman Home
27 Tellman Home

Eventually Father Seeberger and his parishioners saw the need for a permanent church. A dispute then arose over where the new church would be located, each farmer demanding it be built close to his farm. When Father saw no happy end to the discussion, he chose a spot where two of the main roads in the area met.

On November 16, 1882, five acres of land were purchased by the parish from John and Nancy Henley for the amount of $30.00. Henry Schulte and Herman Tellman acted as trustees for the Mary’s Home church in this transaction. On two later occasions land was purchased in order to extend the parish grounds. On May 26, 1888, 1 ½ acres were purchased from Robert and Mary Morgan for the sum of $25.00. Trustees representing the Mary’s Home church were listed as J.H. Hake, Frank Sanning, Herman Bruening, and John Arens. Again, on January 29, 1889, Robert and Mary Morgan sold ½ acre of land to the church. This time the purchase was listed as $50.00.

On August 5, 1885, Bishop J. Hogan (photo 28) of Kansas City dedicated the first church in honor of St. Mary.

28 Bishop John Hogan
28 Bishop John Hogan

The original church was a 30’ X 30’ wood frame building erected at a cost of approximately $2000 (photo 29).

29 Original Wood Frame Church
29 Original Wood Frame Church

The wooden floors and plastered walls were a result of hours of effort put forth by volunteers. Each parishioner was also responsible for providing wood for the pot bellied stove that supplied the heat for the church during the winter months (photo 30).

30 Inside of Original Wood Church
30 Inside of Original Wood Church

Apparently, the stove did not supply sufficient heat for the entire church. Sister Christine Wierschem and Sister Casimir Gawronski, of the Order of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, recorded in their files that the stove sat in the middle of the church. Those who sat near it roasted on one side and froze on the other. It was sometimes so cold that the wine cruet had to be set near the stove until Offertory to keep the wine from freezing.

With the organization of the new parish came added duties for the priest. Father Seeberger’s schedule was so hectic that after two masses each Sunday, he many times was not able to eat his first meal until 4:00 p.m. Parishioners arriving early for mass were instructed to say the rosary and sing hymns until Father arrived.

With the new parish also came new citizens to Mary’s Home. This influx produced a need for merchants to provide necessary items to a growing community. Peter Kaullen, R.L. Morgan, and Martin Tremain were considered the “pioneer merchants.” Between 1886 and 1887, Peter Kaullen built a general store. Another general store/saloon was built and this store is today operated by Frieda Hart (Note: This store is no longer present) (photo 31 of Schulte’s General Store).

31 Schulte's General Store
31 Schulte's General Store

Other businesses in Mary’s Home around this time included a lime kiln, a copper shop, a wagon shop, a blacksmith (photo 32 of blacksmith), and a doctor’s office (photo 33 of doctor’s office).

32 Mertens Blacksmith Shop
32 Mertens Blacksmith Shop

33 Doctor's Office
33 Doctor's Office

In 1886, Father Cosmas Seeberger was succeeded by Father Charles Meyer, CPPS, who was followed by Father Salser, CPPS, in 1887, Father Charles Meyer returned to Mary’s Home as the first resident pastor. It was probably during his two year stay that the first parochial residence was erected.

In the spring of 1889, Father Lambert Nipper, CPPS, arrived as pastor in Mary’s Home. He served the parish until 1892, when he was replaced by Father Groth, who was the first diocesan priest assigned to St. Mary’s of the Snows Parish. During Father Nippers’ stay a new frame school was built which set just forward of where the present school building sets (photo 34 of frame school).

34 First School
34 First School

It was also during Father Nipper’s Time in Mary’s Home that an attempt was made to set down some guidelines for the efficient operation and maintenance of the parish and its grounds. In notes taken and signed by H.S. Tellman, Sr. at a parish meeting on January 16, 1889, it was decided that “….in case any building is done in the parish each man shall donate five days of labor each year; if he doesn’t work he shall be assessed $1.00 per day for the five days…” It was also agreed that “…each family shall give three bushels of corn a year to feed the pastor’s horses; if you have no corn, then give a load of good hay and some oats; anyone that does not have corn, hay, or oats must pay $1.50. Anyone who is so hard hearted as to do nothing for the parish shall be “ausgeschlossen” (this is a German word that means locked out, or barred from the church).

In May of 1888, Bishop J. Hogan of Kansas City administered the Sacrament of Confirmation for the first time in Mary’s Home. Awaiting the bishop’s arrival by horse and wagon, the people lined the streets of the small community in hopes of personally greeting him. At any time thereafter, when the bishop came to Mary’s Home, he was met in a similar fashion, for the people felt it was such an honor to receive him in their community.

Between the years of 1892 and 1906, there were several priests who served as pastor in Mary’s Home. These included Father Charles Puetz, Father Fred Bruch, Father Kagerbauer, and Father Joseph Kramer.

Shortly after the church was remodeled in 1906, it burned to the ground on January 1, 1907. Father Francis Kavelage, the pastor at this time, was first alerted to the fire while hunting rabbits. Enjoying his hobby on the Limbach farm, Father happened to notice remnants of burning altar lace in the air. Arriving back in town too late, Father Kavelage and his parishioners watched the church burn. It was believed the fire was caused by incense that was left burning by the altar boys.

Until a new church could be completed, services were held in the school. During 1907, the new stone church measuring 45 by 90 feet, was erected at a cost of $12,000 (photo 35 of new stone church construction).

35 Construction of New Church
35 Construction of New Church

The rock for the church came from the Kurtz farm, and, again, much of the labor was donated by members of the parish. The work progressed smoothly and quickly. The cornerstone for the new church was laid June 20, 1907 (photo 36 of stone laying) and was finished later that year (photo 37 of finished church).

36 Cornerstone New Church
36 Cornerstone laying for the new Church

37 New Church
37 New Church

Dedicated in 1911 by Bishop Thomas Lillis, the church stands on the exact spot that the old frame church stood (photo 38 of stone church dedication).

38 Dedication of New Church
38 Dedication of New Church

In 1916, Father Peter Weber became pastor. He made several improvements to the church, including the installation of a new heating plant, and paid for the remaining debt. Father Weber was succeeded by Father H.J. Breit. During Father Breit’s stay, in 1925, an additional 50 feet of property was obtained just west of the church from P.J. Iven for the sum of $150. This land was to be the site of the new rectory. The old rectory which sat just behind the new church was in need of many repairs. Under the direction of Father Breit the new rectory was built at a cost of $9,300, and two days free labor from every man in the parish. Father Breit moved into the rectory after its completion on April 5, 1926.

It was also during Father Briet’s stay that the large altar in the cemetery was constructed and the annual Mary’s Home picnic was moved to the parish grounds. Before this change the picnic had been held at the Butzer place and Iven Park on an alternating basis.

Between 1938 and 1940, Father John Knoebber served as pastor of Mary’s Home. Though his time in the community was short, he is fondly remembered by his parishioners from that period. Father Knoebber was well known for his woodworking skills. He constructed the present vestment cabinets, a confessional, and a beautiful communion rail. He also taught some of his wood working skills to interested young men in the parish.

Before he left the parish, Father Knoebber made one more mark to be remembered by. Changing the name of the church from St. Marys of the Snows to Our lady of the Snows Church, he wrote the song, “Our Lady of the Snows” which can still be heard on many Sunday mornings.

Father Walt McGrance succeeded Father Knoebber in March, 1940; however by July of the same year he was replaced by Father Cyril Goser. Father Goser served the parish until September 11, 1942, when he died of blood poisoning due to a tooth extraction.

Father Charles Bauer came to Mary’s home following the death of Father Goser. He could see the need of replacing the old frame school and he started the fund to build a new school. He was not able to see the school construction project through to its completion, for in 1948, Father Joseph Lorenz came to replace him.

It was under the direction of Father Lorenz that the new brick school was completed in 1951 (photo 39 of new school).

39 School - 1951
39 School - 1951

The cost of construction was $46,000, with most of the labor donated by the men of the parish. The school was rented and used by the Cole R-V School district as part of the public school system until September, 1954. It was at this time that the Sisters of St. Francis came from Nevada, Mo. to staff the school. The sisters first home was what is now the home of Tillie Schulte. This house was used as a convent until 1958, when construction began on the new convent.

Father Ferdinand Bonn was the resident pastor during the construction of the new convent. The cost of the new building was approximately $7500, with, of course, most labor being donated by the men of the parish. The men of the parish were very busy during Father Bonn’s stay. In addition to the construction of the convent, the erection of the new parish hall was begun in 1959. It was to be used during the annual parish picnic and was also to serve as a recreation center for the parish members. Some of the activities held in the hall included dances, dinners, and roller skating. In May, 1962, two bowling alleys were purchased and installed in the hall. This certainly added to the enjoyment of the hard working parishioners.

The 1960’s were a period of great change for Mary’s Home and the Catholic Church as a whole. In 1963, Father Bonn was replaced by Father Jaworski, who was replaced by Father Sean Smyth in August, 1964. In December of 1964, Father Sean celebrated the first mass in English. There was a mixed reception to this new approach, especially by some of the older parishioners who had attended the Latin mass for many years. Even today there are those who still long to hear just one more Latin mass.

In 1970, Father Smyth left Mary’s Home and was succeeded by Father Henry Reichert. It was during his stay, in 1975, that the school began to be staffed by lay teachers. Father Reichert is remembered by many for his skill in wood working, and also for his great love of the outdoors. He could always be seen mowing the lawn, caring for his roses, shoveling sidewalks, weeding the garden, or out walking his dog.

Father Riechert served the parish for seven years until 1977, when Father Don Antweiler came to take his place. Father Antweiler was with us until August, 1982, when he was succeeded by our present pastor, Father Tom Vaughn. It was Father Antweiler who initiated the planning of the Mary’s Home centennial celebration and the centennial book. Also, Father Vaughn happens to be the great grandson of Robert Morgan, one of the original settlers and merchants of this area, who was almost honored with having the town named after him.

Throughout the past one hundred years the people of Mary’s Home have been concerned with providing a good education for their young people. School in Mary’s Home was taught from 1899 until 1951 in a frame two story building which sat just forward of the present school building.

The German ancestry of the residents of Mary’s Home was reflected in the fact that German was taught in the schools and spoken in many homes until World War I.

In 1899, the mission school was staffed by Sister Christine Wierschern and Sister Casmir Garworski of the Order of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. The sisters taught in the lower rooms of the frame school and lived in the upstairs rooms. Their records show that they had 80 children in their classrooms at that time.

The school was staffed by the Sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ until 1905. When it was no longer possible to obtain nuns to staff the school, lay teachers were hired in their place. Some of the first lay teachers were Louise Krieg, Antonia and Francis Castrup, and finally Anna Schackmann from Chicago. Miss Schackmann (photo 40) is probably the best remembered of the teachers because she stayed approximately fifteen years, and because she was so strict she could keep control of 125 students at one time.

40 Anna Schackmann
40 Anna Schackmann

At the same time that the school in town was taking shape, there were small area schools springing up in different parts of the surrounding community. These were the county schools and some of these were in operation before the town school was built. These schools were especially necessary because not all the students lived close enough to town to attend school in Mary’s Home. These one room school houses were known as Sanning School (photo 41), Pleasant Ball School, Kempker School, and Jim Henry School (photo 42), and several are still standing.

41 Sanning School
41 Sanning School

42 Jim Henry School
42 Jim Henry School

Children attending school around the turn of the century generally walked to school and carried their lunch with them in a paper sack or a syrup bucket. Each school had one teacher for all grades and the teacher usually walked to school also. The school structure usually consisted of one room with a wood stove in the middle. The older boys would take turns adding wood to the fire. In the winter it was often so cold that the lunches would have to be kept near the stove to keep from freezing. Although the teacher didn’t have aides, as many do today, she did not lack for extra help in the classroom. The older students in the classroom were expected to help the younger children with reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic.

In 1924, an attempt was made to consolidate the school district; however, there were not enough votes in favor so the issue failed. During the depression years, the school became a public school supported by the state and again staffed by lay teachers. During this time the public school students would attend “vacation school” in the summer months in Mary’s Home to continue their religious education.

When the new school was built in 1951, it was used by the public school district until 1954, when the Sisters of St. Francis from Nevada, Mo. came to teach in Mary’s Home. Enrollment in the new parochial school averaged about 125 students each year. By this time the students were riding buses to school and the heating system was somewhat better than the old wood stoves used in the old school.

Some of the early memories of the parochial school include the students picking up walnuts as a source of money for the school. The highlight of each school year was the annual Christmas play. Preparations began about four weeks in advance, and under the careful direction of the sisters, skits were rehearsed, songs were learned and relearned, and costumes were prepared. About one week before the play was to be presented, the men of the parish would construct the stage in the parish hall. On the night of the Christmas play the whole parish turned out to see what the children and the sisters had prepared.

The Sister of St. Francis staffed the school until 1975, when it became necessary to hire lay teachers to take their place. Today the school is still in full operation with four lay teachers teaching grades one through eight. The school has approximately 85 students receiving the great benefits of a Catholic education.

Through the years receipts from the annual parish picnic have supported the school along with many donations of time, talent, and money from the parishioners themselves. The first indication that a parish picnic was a possibility came from notes taken at a parish meeting held on January 16, 1899. In these notes signed by Rev. L. Nipper and H.S. Tellman, Sr. it was stated that”…it was decided to pay off the debt on the school by (1) having a picnic and (2) cashing in notes and interest. “On June 9, 1924, further parish notes state that the men proposed to work out a definite plan for each parishioner to work at the picnic. Notes taken at a committee meeting on August 5, 1924, indicated that the plan had worked and that the picnic was a huge success.

As far back as anyone can remember the picnics were held on an alternate basis at Iven Park, where the Senior Villa now stands, and at the Butzer place, below Frieda Hart’s store. In 1925, the picnic was moved to the parish grounds under the direction of Father Breit.

Each of the early picnics included many different activities such as serving dinner, a dance, and games. Some of the early games were “Drop the Handkerchief,” “Pitch,” and “Stealing the Base.” These have changed over the years and we now have stands which include Bingo, Hoopla, a country store, a post office, a quilt raffle, and Christmas crafts. Refreshments were available at the early picnics. These included homemade ice cream and lemonade, and bananas which were brought to Eugene on the train. The beef for the dinner was cooked in big black kettles outside, and girls who were too young to wait tables, kept themselves busy fanning flies. In the very early years the cost of the dinner was 25 cents.

Every year the Mary’s Home parish picnic, which is traditionally held on the first Sunday in September, is proclaimed a success. In 1982, a record of 3,479 family style dinners were served. There are numerous hours of planning and three days of hard work which go into the preparation, production, and clean up of the picnic every year. Many hours of careful stitching go into the quilts which are donated and quilted by the ladies of the parish. The picnic always has been and continues to be a time of great cooperation and working together by all the members of the parish working toward a common goal.

Mary’s Home’s appearance remains essentially unchanged over the years. The townspeople still offer a friendly smile and wave to anyone who happens by. Thousands of people still attend the annual picnic to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. One parishioner commented, “Things don’t change that much, but when they do, it’s always for the best.” Mary’s Home has gone through many changes, but that hometown spirit still remains the same.


The origin of the name of Mary’s Home was explained early on in the above narrative. The following narrative also contains an explanation of the derivation of the name of the church, “Our Lady of the Snows Church:” 

Our Lady of the Snows

(photo 43)

43 Our Lady of the Snows
43 Our Lady of the Snows

Veneration of the Blessed Virgin under the title of Our Lady of Snows began in Rome more than 16 centuries ago. According to tradition, a noble couple had prayed a long time for a special intention. On the night of August 4, 352 A.D., the Blessed Mother appeared in a dream to Pope Liberius and to them. She revealed her desire that a church be built on the spot they would find covered with snow. When the people of Rome awoke on August 5, they found the Esquiline Hill covered with snow. The couple fulfilled the Virgin Mary’s request by arranging to have built on the area the first Shrine of Our Lady of the Snow. The church, St. Mary Major, still stands today. The revitalization of this devotion, perhaps the most ancient of Marian observances, took place more than 1600 years later at St. Henry’s Seminary in Belleville, Illinois. In 1958, the Oblate Fathers purchased 80 acres of land on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley. Our Lady of Snows Shrine was built and since then additional devotional facilities have been constructed on the Shrine Ground which now comprise more that 200 acres. The song “Our Lady of Snows” was written by Rev. John Knoebber, pastor of Mary’s Home church when the name of the church was changed from St. Mary’s Church to Our Lady of Snows Church in 1939.


And finally, here is a current photo of Our Lady of the Snows Church taken last year (photo 44).

44 Our Lady of the Snows Church Today
44 Our Lady of the Snows Church Today

Last Saturday I and my wife Judy hosted a display at Columbia College for its annual Community Appreciation Day (photo 45).

45 Joe and Judy at Columbia College Display
45 Joe and Judy at Columbia College Display

The display presented various features of our museum emphasizing especially what has been added over the last year. Especially interesting to visitors were photos of the history of the Tuscumbia bridge over the Osage River. A lot of interest is present nowadays in the bridge since it has had international news exposure having been the first project in the country to receive Stimulus Funds for its construction. Itís always fun to have the opportunity to talk with people at our public displays about the new things we have going on this year at the museum. I am especially grateful to Society member Diane Berkbigler for designing the elaborate display for us to take to this event.

Don’t miss coming to our “Grand Reopening” on Saturday, May 16 beginning at 1:00 p.m. Many activities are planned for the day including a taffy pull, rope making, tie whacking, old time country music by the Joe Jeffries group, weaving demonstrations, and tours of the museum where over the winter we have put in place many new exhibits. Also we will be privileged to present several guest speakers: Representative Rodney Schad, Senator Carl Vogel, U.S. Representative Blaine Leutkemeyer, and County Commissioner Tom Wright.

That's all for this week.

Joe Pryor



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Here We "GROW"




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