The Father Wigger Years
The Most Rev. Archbishop, having been informed that the Moselle congregation wished to become a parish instead of a mission as heretofore, and His Grace being a newcomer to St. Louis, dispatched the Rev. Anthony Wigger, to Moselle to look the situation over. He was assistant at St. Augustine’s church, St. Louis. Unannounced, Father Wigger came on Monday, June 24, 1905, to Moselle. Mr. Henry Hanneken called the “Meramec” Hanneken, who lived at the Moselle town, harnessed two of his sturdy Missouri mules to his buggy and took Father Wigger to the church site. No one was there, except Misss Weber, who lived with her aged parents in the teacher’s residence, to give the Rev. gentleman any information about the place and Father Wigger left again without making any mention of his intentions. But he had a chance to see the beautiful country around; the buildings of the congregation all poor but well kept up, and seemed very satisfied.
Mr. Hanneken, the former teacher, had written to Very Rev. Hoog, the successor of Father Muhlsiepen as Vicar General of the Archbishop, that it was the earnest wish of the members of the mission to become an independent parish. Father Fabry had two years previous already mentioned to the congregation that it would become a parish. The people had often said, “We have been a mission here for 25 years are still a mission and there seems no prospect of ever getting ahead this way”. The trustees and other prominent members of the congregation were invited by letter during the week of Father Wigger’s visit to attend a general meeting of the congregation on the following Monday, July 31, 1905.
This invitation aroused the hopes of the members that they would soon have a resident pastor in their midst. Mr. Henry Lindemann, a former trustee who was first taken to his home, where dinner was served, and where the former and well deserving teacher, Mr. Henry Hanneken, was present. The necessity of a residing priest was emphasized, or the small congregation would entirely dissolve. Father Wigger and his host then went to the church where the other members were already assembled. There were present: the three trustees, Messrs. John Hagedorn, Ed Breitenbach and Wm. Vondera and the trustee of the school. Messrs. Math. Vondra and Henry Lindemann. Father Wigger contemplated with these gentlemen at length whether or not the congregation would be able to exist independently. The members of the congregation were unanimously of the opinion that it was and finally Father Wigger promised to be there for services on the following Sunday, August 6. but now the great difficulty arose: Where is the pastor to live? The teacher’s residence was not suitable for a rectory. It would be best; therefore, that the pastor should continue to live in St. Louis until a new rectory would be built. This Father Wigger declined to do, as he wanted himself to be present at the erection of the rectory and would be willing to put up at the teacher’s house until the new house would be ready. Miss Weber, therefore, had to move to Mrs. Otten’s house for the time being. Father Wigger came with his sister who was to be his housekeeper, during the week. On Sunday, August 6, 1905 everybody, large and small came to mass and the little old frame church was filled to overflowing. High Mass began, the “Veni Creator” was sung and the people wondered what the new pastor would say to them. However, he was a man of few words and spoke in short as follows:
“My dear people of St. Mary’s parish! The Most Rev. Archbishop has sent me here to be your pastor. The Blessed Mother of our Lord is the Patroness of this church. May she assist me to be a blessing to you all. That I may show you the right way to heaven, than you may walk this right way and that all of you will be united with God and His good time. Usually a new pastor delivers an inaugural sermon. I shall abstain from this usage. I am a man of few words. I presume you all are sensible people. So am I. Therefore, I cannot see why we could not get along well together. I did not see a better place. I am yet a young man and possess the energy – and you shall find out that I do possess it – to make this mission a flourishing independent parish. THAT I SHALL DO, and for that I came here. Now, if you want the same result then shall we, with God’s help, with the intercession of our benign patroness “Mary of the Perpetual Help”, get along satisfactorily.”
After this short introduction, Father Wigger started his sermon and astonished the congregation by his eloquence, which did not think a man of so exceptional talent would be sent by the Archbishop to a straggling parish like St. Mary’s at Moselle. The people feared very much that their new pastor was sent only for a short time to help them on their feet and that he soon would be called to a larger and more fruitful field.
Now they went to work with a will. The plans were well prepared and at a parish meeting it was resolved that all male communicants should put in five day labor to complete the work. The congregation was poor, money scarce and times were comparatively hard. On October 23, 1905 when farm work was mostly ended, the felling of trees on the church property was begun. Mr. John Strubberg sawed them into boards at the price of 45 cents per hundred feet.
First of all, a stable was built. Father Wigger directed the work himself and Mr. Henry Hanneken, who had been a clogmaker in the old country, together with Mr. Finder, assisted him. Everyone helped who could handle a saw or a hatchet and on the 15th of December the spacious stable was finished.
While this building was going up, stone was quarried from the farm of Ben Hanneken near the church to be used in the foundation of the rectory. Mr. Hermann Kopsieker was employed as the mason for making the foundation and on the first day of February, 1906 the contractors for the carpenter work, D. Lambeth & Co., began their work. Under the able supervision of the pastor, the framework of the new rectory was soon completed. The brother of the pastor, Rev. Peter Wigger of the Holy Cross Church in North St. Louis had made and donated the plans.
During the entire winter, which was an exceptionally mild one, the work was continued and at the same time the necessary repairs on the older old smokehouse, as the cellar under the same was full of water continually. The smokehouse was raised a foot and a new roof put on. The vibration of the bell had injured the old frame church and an independent belfry was erected outside.
In May 1906 the new rectory was ready to be plastered. The contract for this work was given to Mr. Henry Eckelkamp of Washington, Mo., at the price of eighteen cents per square foot for three coatings. While the plastering was going on the old paper was removed which had been used to stop up the crevices in the church; the cracks were closed with plaster and the whole church building twice whitewashed at an expense of $7.00.
A chicken-house and other necessary outhouses were built at the same time. In all these works, the Rev. Pastor not only directed the men, but also helped himself with manual labor. After the painters, G.Lewis & Co. had completed their work the pastor moved into the new rectory on July 4, 1906. On the following Sunday he also blessed the building in the following Sunday he also blessed the building in the presence of the entire congregation. All the members came in and expressed their delight with the handsome residence of their now truly resident pastor.
Miss Weber moved back into the teacher’s home that had just been vacated by Father Wigger. All the new buildings and the repairs made on the old buildings cost about $2,500.00. The pastor was happy to be able to say in his annual report in January next year that of the sum expended, $1,500.00 had already been paid.
During the summer of 1906 no more work was done for the parish, but in the fall the cistern had to be dug and walled for the priest’s residence, which was done by Mr. Henry Vondera for $80.00. Being on the knoll it had to be expected that Mr. V. would have to work through rock, which began to show at three feet below the surgace. Many charges of powder were necessary to make a cistern of fifteen feet depth.
No bishop had ever come to the small parish of St. Mary’s of Moselle. To be confirmed, the members had to go to St. Johns or to Pacific. Now, however, Father Wigger invited His Grave Archbishop Glennon to visit. A good impression was to be made on the visitor and it was therefore necessary to straighten the altogether too crooked road through the church property. It took a few days of hard work to do this and the road was laid straight along the line of telephone posts. The road was topped with gravel. Mr. Henry Vondrera was asked to lay cement walks around the rectory. If needed many a load of sand and gravel and many bushels of cement, but the job was complete in two weeks time. The 30th of October arrived; the day set for the visit of the Ordinary. As many as could go went on horseback to the Moselle station to receive the visitor and accompany him to the church. There were about 80 horsemen, marshaled by Mr. Martin Hobelmann to receive His Grace and as many again in the evening to take him back to the railroad station. The Archbishop appeared very much pleased with the reception. He was taken in the barouche of Mr. Wm. Nebur, to which two splendid white horses were hitched.
Up until now, green wood had always been used to heat church and school. This was to be changed. Mr. Henry Hanneken was asked to build a woodshed, sufficiently ample to contain all the firewood for church, school, rectory and teacher’s house. The lumber left over from the building of the rectory was sufficient for this purpose of erecting a woodshed, and within a week the building was ready. The school children especially were glad that no more green wood need be put in the stoves.
On the second Sunday of January, 1907 the pastor invited the people to a meeting to be held following the high-mass. “What is going on now?” everyone asked. No one could answer. Father Wigger at the well-attended meeting, told the people that the old log building, heretofore used as their school building, was ready to collapse. They well knew, he said that the old frame church was entirely too small for the growing congregation.
He proposed that the old church be changed into a schoolhouse and that a new and substantial church be built. The work was to extend over several years in order that the members of the congregation could do most of the work necessary themselves and thereby save the outlay of much cash money. Father Anton Wigger said that his brother, Father Peter had donated his plans and specifications of a large stone building and that this was just what St. Mary’s congregation needed.
He put the plan before the January 1907 meeting, in way of a motion, which was voted upon and passed by 65 against 5 votes. It was also resolved to start with the work at once. Again each communicant of the congregation should devote five working days for the church building to quarry the rock, which came from the farm of Mr. Ed Breitenbach near the church. Mr. Henry Vondera was the overseer of the work of quarrying the rock. A derrick being needed to load the rock on the wagons, Messrs. Adolph Unnerstall and Ed. Eckelkamp went to work and made one in eight day’s time, the material costing $75.00.
In February 1907 Mr. Henry Hanneken was asked to build a new fence around the cemetery. He applied himself to this at once and on the flowing Sunday, the members of the congregation could admire the graceful wire fence that Mr. Hanneken had built with the assistance of a few neighbors. Also, at this time Mr. Hermann Finder painted the old frame church, which had not seen any paint applied for some time, at a cost to the congregation of $13.50. The wood lot north of the road had not been cleaned for a long time, if ever, and Mr. Wm. Finder undertook it to make the lot a pretty, if only small, forest or park. The school children helped in their free time to burn up the rash.
The Easter collection of 1906 amounted to $51.75, the offertory collection to $12.51, a total of $64.26 which the Rev. Pastor donated to the parish. A collection at the end of the same year netted about $165.00 and was used to pay off current expenses. A total of 380 working days were donated by members of the congregation for the erection of the new church. As mentioned, each member was expected to donate 5 working days. Those with teams received a credit of two working day for each day applied and those who could not work themselves were released of their obligation by giving $1.00 for every day. March 5, 1907 was the last working day at the quarry.
The Easter collections of the next five years were as follows:
Envelope Basket Total
Father Wigger left the congregation on May 1, 1907 to take a five-month trip with his Rev. brother to visit their aged mother in Germany. For the first two month of his absence, the Redemptorist Father of St. Joseph’s College, Kirkwood, attended to the congregation, then a younger brother of the pastor Rev. P. Joseph Wigger, took charge. Two picnics were held during Father Wigger’s absence, one on July 4th and the other on August 28th, both “beerless”. Shortly before the pastor returned from his trip Mr. Henry Vondera put up a cement platform in front of the old church which greatly improved the access to the building.
Father Wigger was to return on September 27th. The congregation, joyful to have him in their midst again, turned out in full force on horseback receiving him at the Moselle station. The pastor was not a little surprised and pleased over this unexpected reception. Upon arrival at the church place, Father Wigger gave a humorous account of his voyage, shook hands with everyone and received another surprise when the people handed his a purse with $26.25, made up in very short time, as a token of their joy. Father Wigger in turn donated the collection for the church building fund.
In the fall of 1907, Miss Rosalie Bechtold took over the school. She boarded at the rectory, and the teacher’s residence was now vacant, it was changed into a school. The only purpose of the now abandoned old log schoolhouse was that of a assembly hall for the congregation before they entered church on Sundays for services. On January 8, 1907 telephone service was installed in the rectory. In the following month, Mr. Wm. Finder planted cedar trees around the cemetery, the seedlings having been dug on the farm of his son George. During the vacation days of 1908 new toilets were put in for the school children near the woodshed. The shed was also weather boarded. The entire expense for both, including the cement work on the closets, amounted to about $50.00.
Another comparatively cheap job, which was executed in connection with the latter work, was the putting up of galvanized iron gutters and spouts on the north side of the church. The downspouts were connected with the toilets to flush them with every rain; a sewer pipe bringing in the waste about 30 feet further down in the open field. All of this cost only $11.00. Mr. Henry Vondera and Mr. H. H. Hanneken did the carpenter and cement work, Mr. Hermann Finder the painting and Busch Bros. Of Union, MO. The guttering.
When school opened that fall, the children were given a treat by being allowed to tear down the old stable, which impeded the view. This stable had, in fact, been the first schoolhouse of the congregation. It had been built next to Mr. Wm. Finder’s house and was removed in 1880 to the church property, where it served as a schoolhouse unil the log house was erected. Formerly, the children in school sat on long benches. In August 1908 Mr. H.H. Hanneken put up a wainscoting along the walls of the room, cut up the benches and made them into individual desks, a change very much appreciated by the children.
Toward the end of 1908, after the entire farm work was completed, the Rev. pastor asked his congregation to again go to work on the new church. The first work necessary was the leveling of the building lot. With their teams and scrapers, the members completed this work in three days time. The earth from this excavation was used to heighten and fill up the road leading through the church property.
On November 24 Mr. Joseph Conradi, an architect from St. Louis, arrived to lay out the foundation of the building which was to be made of concrete. The gravel necessary for the concrete work was taken from the Bourbeuse River near Shawneetown Ford and the congregation stated hauling the gravel on December 9th. By the 20th of that month, 340 loads of gravel had been brought to the place of building. Six hundred bags of cement were bought in St. Louis at thirty cent per bag, which arrived on December 28th. Twenty of our farmer wagons hauled the cement from the station to St. Mary’s where the bags were stored in the old log school. As the weather was very favorable the lying of the foundation was started at once and completed by united efforts of the members within five days.
Every man and young man was asked in a meeting held on January 3 1909, to donate to the church another two days work. Not until the foundation had been laid and had settled did the first snow fall on January 11th a good two-foot snow. Meanwhile, a wagon water tank had been purchased from A. J. Child & Son of St. Louis at an expense of about $10.00 to haul the water necessary for the building.
Also, the Haberberger Brothers of St. John’s had set up their saw mill close to the new building on the property of Mr. Henry Hanneken, to cut the lumber for the building. When they were not busy with this they executed orders from the farmers in the vicinity to saw lumber for them. Those who had trees for lumber paid fifty cents per one hundred feet for the sawing others who had no trees paid $1.65 per one hundred feet for the boards, a price, which was then considered high.
We must mention that the leveling of the foundation had been done until the workers came to the natural rock. Upon this rock, the concrete foundation had been made, and now everything was ready to have the rock walls go up. As there was no experienced mason in all the country around, Father Wigger went to St. Louis to engage the services of one who could put up the walls in a proper and scientific manner. He contracted with Mr. Peter A Schwab to do the work for $2500.00, material and scaffoldling to be furnished by the congregation.
Mr. Schwab started on the work on July 12, 1909. His nephew Vincent Schwab assisted him, and he engaged Mr. Henry Vondera of our congregation as a helper. It truly was hard work for them during the hot summer months. Cement and sand were used for mortar, the sand being hauled from the river, on the confluence of the Meramec with the Bourbeuse, the property of Mr. Ed Breitenbach near the clubhouse. Members of the congregation excavated, within the basement of the church a space for the heating plant. Work had to be done with wheelbarrows and cost $31.00. A further expense of $41.25 was incurred to dig out the trenches along the middle of the church in which the concrete foundation was laid for the wall holding the joists.
In consequence of the continued heat without relief by rain during July and August, Mr. Schwab took sick on August 20th and had to quit work. But the building went ahead, anyhow, as Mr. Henry H. Hanneken, with other men who know something of carpenter work, began laying the joists. While Mr. Schwab lay sick in town, his nephew continued the work, hewing the rock and also setting up the stone. That he is no means an artisan, the front wall of the church is testimony of, which he completed by himself. Mr. Schwab was able to return to work on September 13, 1909 and engaged the help of Mess. Joseph Eckelkamp and John Hobelmann. When the walls of the sacristy and sanctuary were about twelve feet high scaffolding was necessary to be put up. Mr. John Eckelkamp donated thirty-five slender oak trees from his farm, each about thirty-five feet high, which were felled, hauled to the building and set up as props for the scaffolding. Six hundred bags of cement had been used for the concrete foundation. Three hundred twenty bags of cement were used for the mason work thus far, but many more would be needed for the completion of the work. The Rev. pastor bought another lot of six hundred bags, which when they arrived at the railroad station, were hauled to St. Mary’s by the young men of the congregation as the other before had been. As all of the young people had worked so faithful, Father Wigger permitted them to have a dance on October 4th and to use the ready joists for a dancing floor. It turned out to be a great and pleasurable event for the youth of the congregation.
Father Wigger read a report of the first Sunday in November showing that up to that date $1,349.00 had been expended on the new church that $1,550.00 had been received for the building fund and that, consequently, there was $201.00 on hand. All the rock previously quarried having been used up, the congregation resoved to quarry a quantity more to keep the masons at work in the fair weather then prevailing. But the masons had to quit their work for the winter on December 7th, as cold weather made further progress impossible. The continued fully up to March 1, 1910. Work, however that could be done by its members continued. On the Sunday after New Years, the congregation had a general meeting where it was resolved unanimously that each male communicant should donate another ten days for the building of the new church. The quarrying, successful done on Mrs. Breitenbach’s farm the year before, was repeated with equal success. Within a very short time another three hundred loads of rock were hauled to the building. Mrs. Breitenbach’s quarry now being exhausted; the men looked around for another to furnish rock suitable for the church. None was found quite suitable so the men tried at another point of Mrs. Breitenbach’s farm and really were rewarded for their efforts. For the window and doorsills, a softer and more easily hewn rock, called cotton rock was used which was found on the farm of Mrs. J. H. Hanneken. As the winter had left for good, Mr. Schwab returned to his work on March 8th. Work on the west side of the sacristy was so far advanced that the large windows could be put in on March 12th. During the Easter week, the masons were able to put in their place the ten long and heavy windowsill, five on each side of the church. The men doing the carpenter work were now able to put the roof on the west side of the sacristy, and when this was complete, they put up scaffolding around the sanctuary, which also had been finished to the height of the sacristy. On May 23rd, the five window frames on the eastside were put up and the work continued, although often interrupted by the frequent rains of that summer.
July 4, 1910 had been set as the day for the solemn blessing of the corner stone. The stone, which had been engraved with the words: “In honorem B.Mariac V. Julii 10, 1910”, had with great difficulty been gotten ready in time. The Vicar General, Msgr. O. S. Hoog, had come to bless the cornerstone, he arrived at the Moselle station in company with Revs. Henry Hussmann of St. Henry’s of St. Louis, Fr. Howeck of St. Francis de Sales, St. Louis, Franz Howeck of St. Mary of Perpetual Help, St. Louis, Peter Wigger of Holy Cross, St. Louis and P. Joseph Wigger of Osage Bend Mo., both being brothers of the pastor and August Von Brunn of Flint Hill, Mo. They were fetched by buggy from the station to St. Mary’s. Hoog performed the blessing at 10:30a.m. Rev. Hussmann, who as pastor of Sullivan had formerly attended to the congregation, preached an eloquent and touching sermon. This being over, the congregation had the annual 4th of July picnic on the knoll opposite the church.
The supplies of cement became exhausted again in August. A fresh supply was ordered and came on August 19th. The very hot summer weather delayed the work somewhat, but it was continued as speedily as was possible. In the middle of September, the joists were laid for the organ loft, and by the middle of the following month, the entire front was completed up to the height of the window. At this time also Messes Anthony Hanneken, Ben Vondera and Peter Kindel drove to Union, Mo. To get bricks for the arching of the windows on the inside. They procured two thousand bricks for the price of $16.00, loaded them on their wagons and brought them to the building. On November 9th the west wall had reached to about a foot above the windows and now the work was transferred to the eastside. The arches had just been completed by Thanksgiving, when winter set in and cut short the further progress for the time being.
On Christmas day, Father Wigger announced that quarrying of stone should be taken up again as soon as possible. The rock gotten from Mrs. Rosa Breitenbach’s farm last, within a hundred paces from the building lot, had proved satisfactory and people went to work on December 27th with a will to quarry all the rock necessary for the completion of the building. As Mr. Ben Hanneken, the carpenter, had just bought the 160 acre Knapp farm and wanted it cleared of timber, the congregation bought from him 112 trees, to be sawed into boards and used for the building of the church. Mr. Schwab came from St. Louis on January 11, 1911 to hew the rock; the weather being exceptionally favorable, he stayed and started with setting stone where he had left off a few weeks before. The west wall was completed on March 29th. The hoisting of the heavy rocks at this height was done by means of a pulley, dragged by a blind mule, which was loaned from Mr. J. Otten. On May 11th, the rosette window was in place in front of the church above the entrance door and on May 16th was completed. This finished the work on the front.
After this, and when the necessary scaffolding was erected, the builder set up the sanctuary arch in brick. On June 22nd, the keystone, 46 feet above the floor, was put in its place. The smokestack, also of brick was the next part to be finished. A proper scaffold having meanwhile been erected, the mason started at the work of repointing the seams. By Saturday, September 2nd, the front wall had been finished. On Monday September 4th, Labor Day, the congregation gave a picnic and the repointing of the rear wall was started on the day following. The entire outside was finished by September 20th.
After this, the carpenters erected the necessary inside scaffolds. None of the men having really learned the carpenter trade, their various ideas of putting on the roof of the church were found impracticable. The trustees finally determined to have the Rev. Pastor ask contractors for bids for the putting up of the roof and for finishing the steeple. Stoner & Lambeth of Villa Ridge, Hull of Moselle, Joe Raaf and Trentmann of Washington were asked to bid for this work. For covering the roof, galvanized shingles were thought to be the best and Fr. Wigger was requested to look around for such.
The four trustees: John Hagedorn, Jacob Gaasch, John Finder and Anthony Hanneken, opened the bids on Saturday, December 24th and awarded the contract for the carpenter work on the roof and steeple to D. Lambeth for $276.00 the other bids running all the way over $400.00. for the galvanized iron shingles and the guttering several bids had been sent. The trustees awarded the work to Mr. Ed Sheerin of Robertsville, as being the best, if not the cheapest. It called for forty-three squares of shingles $376.70 and for guttering $50.00, a total of $417.70. and had been accompanied by samples and a guarantee of the work.
Mr. Lambeth started his work on January 2 1912. The winter’s cold, however became so severe that the work had to stop after the oaken supports had been cut. After a very severe spell of cold during which the thermometer registered as low as 20 degrees below zero, the work was resumed on January 21st. The first truss was set up on January 23rd with the help of six young men of the congregation. The work was again interrupted by a very severe cold spell, moderated early in February, and the next thing done was the finishing of the carpenter work in the steeple. The shingles and guttering having meanwhile arrived, George Otten and Henry Unnerstall started putting same onto the roof of the sacristy.
On March 1st the cross, to crown the steeple was erected in presence of the school children. The oldest inhabitants could not remember a more severe winter than this of 1911-1912. In consequence a heavy snowfall on March 23rd, only eleven people were in church on the following Sunday. Finally carpenters were finished with the roof on April 1st , leaving our own men to put on the shingles and guttering. Mr. Hermann finder gave the top of the steeple a good coating of paint, which he was finished on April 10th, after which the scaffolding could be taken down. The roofing and guttering were finished on April 23rd.
During the summer of 1912, actual work on the church rested. In the fall a concrete pavement was laid in front of the church and the concrete staircase at the entrance made. With gravel and sand hauled from the nearby river and with another 320 bags of cement bought in St. Louis, concrete walks were finally laid around the entire church. The men who had not executing their donation of five labor days each did now work. In January 1913 Father Wigger bought the storm glass for the windows, which was put in after Mr. H. Hanneken had completed the making of air ventilators.
The Rev. Pastor called a general meeting of the congregation for Sunday, January 26, 1913 to determine if the church, un-plastered and unfinished as it then was should be put into use immediately. Since the resident priest had come to St. Mary’s congregation had wonderfully grown and the old church had become much too small. All but five members agreed that the new church should be used at once.
Contract for furnishing the lumber for flooring was awarded to Mr. James Dalton of Catawissa Mo. He was to get 5000 feet of the best “Star brand” flooring from the South to cost $28.50 per 1000 ft. The flooring came on April 12th and was fetched by members of the congregation from Catawissa. The floor was then laid at once, also the staircase for the choir loft, additional pews and a temporary communion rail made.
On Sunday, April 27th, 1913 the Rev. Pastor gave the church the blessing, the Blessed Sacrament was carried in solemn procession from the old church into the new and the first service held in the new church. Although the new church was not yet plastered the members of the congregation were glad to attend mass and other services in a place of worship where there was room for them all to kneel down.
At the end of May the parochial school closed and the old church was changed into a schoolhouse. The necessary changes were made by Mr. Henry H. Hanneken, a new galvanized iron roof was put on the building, as the old shingles would no longer hold the water and the inside of the building was protected against wind and weather.
Mr. Henry Hanneken and his wife, living in Moselle town, had given the Rev. Pastor $200.00 for another bess; the old bell having done service since 1880. The McShane Company of Baltimore which had furnished the old bell agreed to furnish a new one of 550 lbs., with stand, for $218.00, which offer was accepted. The new bell arrived on September 13, 1913 and was very much admired by all that saw it standing aside the church. It is inscribed as follow: “Through my voice dear man lift up to God your heart and mind.”
The Rev. Pastor bought, during the fall, two new furnaces in St. Louis to heat the church and the school. They were made by the Haynew-Langenberg Front Rank Furnace Co. and cost $300.00 delivered at Moselle station, and $18.00 for setting them up. The Most Rev. Archbishop came on October 27th to bless the new bell and to give confirmation. The weather was very unfavorable at this time and there were only forty young men on horseback to receive him and bring him from Moselle to St. Mary’s.
The congregation was in debt to the amount of $3,000, and it was thought best not to go to the expense of finishing the interior until this debt was wiped out. The Rev. Pastor undertook, in the beginning of May 1914, a trip to Germany, but with the war breaking out, he came back on August 25th. Again as before the congregation gave him a purse on his return and Father Wigger turned same over to the fund for paying off the debt. A collection to buy new desks for the school resulted in $34.50. Fifteen whole and three small rear desks were bought at a cash outlay of $50.95, the balance being made up by the young people and by giving a box supper.
A lady in St. Louis had given Father Peter Wigger, brother of our pastor, $6,000.00 to pay for a new marble high altar in Holy Cross Chruch. Rev. P. Wigger offered to let St. Mary’s near Moselle have their old, but really beautiful high altar, made of wood, for the nominal sum of $200.00. This offer was gladly accepted.
But what should they do with a fine altar in a church not yet plastered? It would be entirely out of place. After long consideration with the trustees, the Rev. Pastor thought it best to have at least the sanctuary plastered, and more so since the debt of $3000.00 had been reduced to $2,250.00 and the plastering of the sanctuary would hardly exceed a cash outlay of $300.00
No plasterer able to do this work could be found in the surrounding country. However, Father Wigger went to St. Louis and prevailed on an art-plasterer, Mr. George Grosch, a yound member of his brother’s parish in Baden to come to Moselle with an assistant and do the work on the sanctuary of the new church. The two St. Louis plasterers came on October 6 1915 and instructed the native mechanics how to help them by lathing, preparing the material. They finished the arch in seven days time. While their wages and railroad fare would have amounted to over $75.00, they only charged $45.00. Mr. Ben Atkinson and his men did the rough plastering. After they had finished same Mr. Grosch and his assistant came again for a couple of days to put on the finishing touch. The entire cost for plastering the sanctuary amounted to $274.05. When the members saw the sanctuary finished, they were very glad and expressed their opinion that St. Mary’s when complete, would be the finest church in Franklin County.
March 1916 the altar for St. Mary’s arrived at the railway station and was brought to the church on ten wagons. It was set up at once and the Blessed Sacrament placed in its tabernacle on Sunday, March 26th, the celebration being made very solemn.
The Easter collections for the years 1912 – 1916 were as follows:
Envelope Basket Total
In 1916 the Rev. Pastor had the entire rectory painted at an expense of $80.75 and donated the Easter collection of 1916 and 1917 for this purspose.
In September 1916 school was opened with an enrollment of fifty-five children which were rather too many for one teacher. A room was fitted up in the teacher’s residence for the little one and a young lady of the congregation, Miss Anna Finder, employed at a salary of $10.00 per month to teach the lowest grade. As the children in the improvised schoolroom had been rather uncomfortable during the cold of the winter, Mr. Frank Espowe, with the permission of the Rev. Pastor, fitted during the following summer vacation the schoolhouse (the old church) into two rooms. Other members of the congregation gladly helped in this work. Miss Rosa Castrop of Westphalia and Miss Anna Finder opened the school on September 3, 1917.
The following winter was again a very cold one and it was impossible to heat the unplastered church properly. This, and the fact that the debt of the congregation had been reduced to $1235.00 gave the impetus to have the inside of the building finished.
A building committee was selected, consisting of Messrs. John Finder, Jacob Gaasch, Bernard Hanneken, Henry August Hanneken, Bernard Lenak, David Overschmidt and Adolph Unnerstall. Again the men and young men of the congregation agreed to donate at least four days labor each. Thus, only the material and the work of the master plasterers had to be paid for in cash. Messrs. George Grosch and Robert Wilhelm of St. Louis who had plastered the sanctuary and so generously acted in remitting more of their wages, did the arching and Ben Atkinson and George Hobelmann the straight work.
On June 2, 1918 everthing was completed and the scaffold removed and the church showed its natural beautiful interior. The total expense amounted to about $1,240.00. All of this was paid within a short space of time by the sale of the used lumber, and several entertainments and by a special collection which the Rev. Pastor contributed $67.25.
Nothing of importance happened during the year 1919 except that the three families, Henry Finder, Jacob Gaasch and Anna Lindemann each donated one of the stained glass windows. During 1920 new pews were set up in the church and a way of the cross (stations) purchased from the Dubuque Altar Mfg. Co.
The married and unmarried women of the congregation, with the approval of the Rev. Pastor, started an altar society to furnish the necessary linen and the servers cassocks for the church. Mrs. Jacob Gaasch was elected the first president and Mrs. Henry Lindemann secretary. The trustees for 1924 were Messrs. Ben Hanneken, David Overschmidt, Henry August Hanneken and George Otten.
Miss Rosalie Bechtold taught the parochial school from 1912 to 1917; Miss Rosa Castrup taught from 1917- 1918; Miss Julie Sknoria from 1918 to 1923.
On June 10, 1924, the Rev. Pastor Father Wigger celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his ordination. The entire congregation took part in it, and besides many personal gifts he received a purse of $69.25 from the members of the congregation.
At the request of his brother, Rev. Peter Wigger, who became very ill, the Most Reverend Archbishop appointed Rev. Anton Wigger coadjutor pastor of Holy Cross congregation at Baden Station, North St. Louis in the early part of 1925. For several months Father Wigger arranged with the Redemptorist Fathers at Kirkwood to say the Sunday Masses. Father Wigger attended the congregation for the last time on the occasion of First Holy Communion on the first Sunday of May 1925. Rev. Doctor H. P. Schumann of St. John’s Gildehaus and Rev. Tom J. Walsh of Catawissa then attended on Sundays as well as on sick calls and funerals for the parish.
End of Chapter ll