News and Observations from Wapella, Illinois: Home of the Wildcats.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Help me out here scrutinizing an old history of Wapella Township

The first church house was built by the Christian denomination in 1856. It is a plain frame building, and situated in the little hamlet of Zabriska, in section 22. The church is yet standing and in a fair state of preservation, and the passer-by would conclude that it was built by the Catholics, as the cemetery grounds are situated in the same lot close by the church.

The first justice of the peace elected was John Montgomery Senior. He died only two years ago, a citizen of the town, and was nearly a centenarian at his death.

The second justice was John B. Swearingen, who now resides in Minnesota.

The first post-office was established in 1845, and was kept Abraham Swearingen at his private residence in section 15. In 1849, it was moved to the hamlet of Zabriska, and subsequently to Wapella.


I distinctly recall St. Patrick's Parish celebrating 150 years in the church business sometime before 2006. I also recall historical note in a New Deal spun history that said Catholics in small towns typically don't respond to historical surveys, which strikes me a patronizing, but accurate.

The references to the Swearingen's is gratuitous, as Al Swearingen is my favorite TV Character since Col. Klink (well, maybe Donnie Most as Ralph Malph).



11 comments:

Anonymous said...

My guess would be that the parish existed before the church was built. I believe they were having mass in the early parishoners homes..I could be wrong.

dit

JB Powers said...

Good point DIT. Physical structure does not indicate a Parish, rather a Church.

JBP

ATD said...

DIT, Somewhere in CMT's papers is documentation about the first Mass said in Wapella. It was in a lean-to or a small dwelling.

CMT said that Mass was said in the Ryan house(Irish Row - east if where RJT lives now) and families from all around would come. This was before CMT was born. He tried to document this with his cousin MIL but was unable to. A priest would only come about 3 or 4 times a year.

I have also heard that Wapella was a Mission of either St. Patrick's or St. Mary's in Bloomington.

Most interesting point of our research was the original parish in Wapella was older than present documentation states it is.

Sorry I don't have this documented,CMT and MIL have joined the big parish in the sky.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in the clip files at the Pantagraph should be a couple of stories on the history of St. Pat's Church in Wapella. I did one picture page layout when the church underwent a redecoration using the theme of relating the church to the government.A Heyworth artist did the art work and used a lot of gold leaf to tie the two together. This would be sometime in the late 40's or 50's.
Also Wapella Centennial history book of 1954 had a story on the church and its founding done by Katherine Keating, who was also the book's editor. Warner Library in Clinton should have a copy and there should be copies all over town with some of the older residents because more than 500 copies were sold. George Spray

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the bottom print posted. Is the house pictured, the house that Bill and Janice Ellis live in? I have a vague memory of seeing this print somewhere and thought it was the Ellis home.

JB Powers said...

I'll give you 2:1 that this is Bill Ellis Jr. house.

My father used to call that house the "Doc Jones" house.

It may actually be the same frame on the house, but if I remember, Bill Jr. has remodeled it extensively a few different times.

JBP

Anonymous said...

Not only was that the Doc Jones house at one time, before that it was the funeral home of Roger Brewer.

Jean said...

I regret that I qualify as an older citizen as I do have a copy of 1853-1953 Centennial St Patrick's Church Wapella, Illinois. George's excellent memory recalled correctly that it was written by Katherine A Keating, correspondent for The Register,Peoria.
According to Katie, the first mass was in 1853 in the home of Philip Donnigan celebrated by the Rev. Bernard O'Hara.

Here is an interesting trivia question , name the first couple to renew their marriage vows on their golden wedding anniversay, June 11, 1945?





philip Donnigan

dit said...

Edward & Anna Toohill ?

BEP said...

How far is it from Zabriska to Dallas City?

BEP

Anonymous said...

800 miles give or take

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