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History Snippets…

At the time the Diocese of Vincennes was formed, in 1834, Catholics were spread all over, but they obviously tended to settle (like everyone else) near the main centers, namely Cincinnati and Saint Louis.

The earliest settlements appeared in a number of areas, but Dearborn County Indiana was one of the earliest. All Saints parish which is made up of four early parishes included St. Paul, New Alsace, Saint Martin, Yorkville, St. Joseph, Saint Leon and St. John, Dover.

We recently ran across an article in the Boston Pilot from November 25, 1848. The article talked about the Bishop of Cincinnati coming over the border from Ohio to Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. Of course, by this time, these parishes were all part of the Diocese of Vincennes, but apparently Bishop J.B. Purcell of Cincinnati came over to help out.

The Boston Pilot wrote:

The Church.

Diocese of Vincennes. The Church of St. Jobn Baptist, in Dover, Dearborn Co., Ind., was dedicated, last Sunday, by the Bishop of Cincinnati, assisted hy Rev. Mr. Bennett, Pastor of the congregation, Rev. Mr. Ferneding of St. Mary’s Cincinnati, and Rev. Mr. Stahl. The Church is of brick, sixty-five by forty feet, a plain, substantial structure. There were about seventy persons confirmed. In the afternoon, there were one hundred and five confirmed in St. Paul’s Church, New Alsace, three miles from Dover, under the pastoral care of Rev. Mr. Stahl. The following morning, ninety-six were confirmed in St. Peter’s Church, seven miles from N. Alsace, of which place Rev. Mr. Engeln is Pastor. The new Church of Oldenburg , and the Church of Lawrenceburgh, not being finished, neither was visited. They will both be ready for dedication in a few weeks. The increase of Catholics in this neighborhood is truly astounding. There are now twelve Churches in an area of twenty miles, where there was only a small log Chapel when Rev. Mr, Ferneding began bis mission in Dearborn and Franklin counties about fifteen years ago.

The deportment of the candidates for Confirmation proved how carefully they had been instructed and how well they had profited by instruction; while the order and fervor of all engaged in the procession, | which conducted the Bishop to the Church of St. Peter (Blue Creek) showed that the example of the congregation was a powerful auxiliary to the pastor in the formation of the religious character of the youth. 1

Part of the attraction, was due to the Panic of 1837. “Immigrants were attracted to regions like the Whitewater Valley where cheap farm lands were still available and the provision of canal and railroad transportation facilities seemed imminent.” Dover was known, back then, as “McKenzie Settlement” and it had a large number of Irish immigrants. Schroeder says that “By 1847 eleven churches had been established in Dearborn, Franklin and Ripley counties…2

  1. Boston Pilot (1838-1857), Volume XI, Number 48, 25 November 1848[]
  2. SCHROEDER, Mary Carol. 1946. The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Vincennes, 1847-1877. A dissertation, etc. Washington: Catholic University of America Press. p.25[]

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