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Laying the Cornerstone of the first Assumption Church in Evansville

On August 5, 1840, the cornerstone of the first church in Evansville, Assumption Church was laid by “Charles-Auguste-Marie-Joseph, Count of Forbin-Janson, C.P.M. (3 November 1785 ““ 12 July 1844). He was a French aristocrat and prelate who was a founder of the Fathers of Mercy, established in an effort to re-evangelize the French people. He preached throughout North America, taking an active role in reviving the Catholic populations of the United States and Canada. He was influential in establishing an ultramontane stand in the Catholic Church in French-speaking Canada, an influence which would last for generations.” 1

Forbin-Janson also served as the Bishop of Nancy and Toul, and later was the founder of the Association of the Holy Childhood, which worked to support the Catholic Church in its work on the expanding frontiers of North America. In addition, he is the bishop who consecrated Bishop Celestine de la Hailandiere in Paris, in 1839.

Father Anthony Deydier, who has been mentioned here many times, was the founder of the parish. Bishop Forbin-Janson was visiting Vincennes and Fr. Deydier asked him to come to Evansville and lay the cornerstone. The original Assumption Catholic Church was at 2nd and Sycamore in Evansville.

Here is a little history of the parish taken from the Historic Evansville web site:

Catholicism in Evansville was established when a mission church was formed in 1836, later led by Rev. Father Anthony Deydier. In the latter part of 1838 he made a trip east to raise funds for the erection of a church building, and in 1839 a lot had been bought on Second Street. The cornerstone of a church was laid on August 5, 1840 by the French bishop of Nancy, Monseigneur Forbin Jeanson, and Rev. Stephen Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, preached the sermon. The Church of the Assumption was completed in 1841 with Father Deydier as pastor and Rev. Roman Weinzoepfel as assistant.

Original Assumption Parish

Original Assumption Parish

Assumption Parish was the first Catholic congregation south of Vincennes, and it was the only Catholic church here until the year 1851 when Holy Trinity parish was organized by those Catholics who spoke only German. Assumption held separate services for Germans until that time.

Later a sisters’ home was built on the corner of 2nd and Sycamore (202 u 2nd) and a priest’s home was along Sycamore on the alley where the Grand Opera stood (215 sycamore).

In 1871 the new site of Assumption Church at Seventh and Vine was purchased. The church property on 2nd St was sold to Charles Viele for $50,000, of which $5,000 was due the bishop for the new site. Work began in 1872, and the church moved later that year. The old church was turned into a temperence hall called Viele Hall and was still in use for several years.

It was finally razed c1889 for construction of the Busniess Men’s Association.

In addition, the “Historic Evansville” website has a link to a newspaper article about the parish and Fr. Deydier. They say he walked from Mexico. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but the article makes for some interesting reading.

  2. From “Historic Evansville” –[]

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