Church of St. Anthony, Effingham County, Illinois

Established in 1858

Present Pastor: Right Reverend Ludavicus W. Lammert, R.D.

The history of St. Anthony church begins with the year 1858. Prior to 1854 the Catholics residing in Effingham and its vicinity were obliged to go to Teutopolis or Green Creek to worship, where at an early date, as early as 1840 in Teutopolis, log churches had been erected and resident pastors were in charge. Many were the hardships, which the pioneer Catholics of Effingham underwent in order to fulfill their religious duties.

In 1854 a log house was built near Third and E. Jefferson streets, back of the present Chester Knitting Mill building. Gerhard Osthoff donated the logs and the carpenter work was done by Anton Schleper, Casper and Frederic Mindrup. On Sundays this building served as church and on weekdays as a schoolhouse. Reverend Thomas Frauenhofer, then stationed at Green Creek, occasionally said Mass here until 1858. Gradually the number of Catholic families in this Effingham vicinity increased until in 1856 the number had reached forty.

Since from the beginning the log church had been too small, Father Frauenhofer immediately encouraged the building a substantial brick church and rectory. Accordingly, in 1856, the farmers set to work cutting the cordwood which would be needed the following year in making the brick. Stone and sand were hauled by the farmers. Every one now took an active interest in the work. In the meantime plans had been drawn up, submitted to the Bishop, and on receiving his approval, subscriptions were immediately taken up. Apparently J. Mette, H. Willenborg, Henry Haarmann and Gerhard H. Ostohoff composed the building committee.

A building subscription, realizing $4,234, was taken up, forty families contributing almost $100 each. It is interesting to note that when the church and parsonage were completed, the congregation had not one cent of indebtedness.

The block, bounded by Second and Third streets, St. Louis and St. Paul streets, on which this first brick church was erected and which is now used as the parish hall, was donated by Messrs. David Alexander and Samuel Little. In the spring of 1858 Reverend B. Bartels, rector of the congregation at Teutopolis, laid the corner stone of the new edifice, which progressed rapidly to completion.

In September 1858, probably the 23rd of that month, the Franciscan Fathers took charge of the congregation at Teutopolis where a monastery was built. From this monastery the several Catholic congregations of the neighborhood were attended as missions by the Fathers. Among others also that of St. Anthony was given to their charge. At the suggestion of Gerhard H. Osthoff, who had donated a beautiful oil painting of St. Anthony to the church, the congregation chose this saint as their patron. On Christmas morning, 1858, Reverend P. Capistran, O.F.M., celebrated Mass for the first time in the new church and together with Reverend P. Servatius Altmicks, O.F.M., the first rector of St. Anthony's, opened a mission at which 120 received sacraments.

February 2nd, 1859, the first baptism was administered; the recipient was Joseph, son of Ferdinand Braun and Angela Braun nee Steinke.T. Marineau and Mary Racicot were the first to be united in the holy bonds of matrimony, the wedding taking place July 11, 1859.

On June 3, 1860, Trinity Sunday, the Bishop of Alton, Henry Damien Juncker, administered the sacrament of Confirmation to 33 children: also the same day solemnly blessed the church and consecrated the one and only bell in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A large oak, which stood near the church, served as belfry or campanile. The following day, June 4, the Bishop consecrated the cemetery. William Althoff gave the ground for the cemetery and was the first to be buried therein. (Church Records p. 212-213)

In the sixties, during Father Ferdinand Bergmeyer's rectorship, the congregation purchased their first pipe organ.

The following Franciscan Fathers served as rectors of St. Anthony's congregation: P. Servatius Altmicks, P. Ferdinand Bergmeyer, P. Killian Schloesser, P. Raynerius Dickneite, P. Heribert Hoffmans. and P. Alardus Andrescheck.

In 1869 P. Alardus, O.F.M., bought the piece of property, half a block in depth, and a block in length, on the west side of Third street, and extending from St. Louis and St. Paul Streets, the property on which the church and rectory now stand. The log house standing on this property served as the parochial residence until 1869, at which time a new parsonage was erected.

Towards the end of the year, 1869, a residence was established at Effingham by the Franciscan Gathers. P. Servatius was the first superior of the house and at the same time pastor of St. Anthony. His assistant was P. Ambrosius Janssen, O.F.M., who also attended Sigel. This Franciscan house was of short duration, because the Fathers found it more advantageous to serve the various missions from Teutopolis, from whence they continued to attend St. Anthony until September 1871. IN the meantime the congregation grew so rapidly, that by 1858, the church had become too small to accommodate the faithful. On May 17, 1870, Right Reverend Peter Joseph Baltes, Bishop of Alton, was in Effingham for his first time and that day confirmed a class of 63 people.

In September 1871, the parish was placed in charge of secular priests, with Very Reverend Dean Michael Weis as first diocesan rector. Soon after his arrival, seeing that many were unable to assist at Mass on Sundays, Father Weis began preparations for the erection of a larger and more beautiful church. In the beginning he met with much opposition. The farmers had had poor crops for a number of years and felt that they could not take upon themselves such a heavy burden. Realizing, however, the necessity of a larger church, and placing their trust in God, they, finally, went to work with a right good will. Subscriptions were again taken up and every on responded according to his or her means. A beginning being once made, work was hurriedly carried to completion.

We quote the following from the History of Effingham, 1883:

"The magnificent building as it now stands, was finished in 1875. Solemn blessing of the new church took place on the 13th of June of the same year by the Right Reverend Peter J. Baltes, Bishop of Alton, to whose diocese St. Anthony belongs. The church is an ornament to the city and an honor to the Catholic inhabitants. Its cost was about $40,000; its size is 66x165 feet; steeple 181 feet without cross or vane."

The same day the Bishop confirmed fifty. On August 3rd, 1874, delegated by the Right Reverend Bishop, P. Mauritius Klostermann, O.F.M., consecrated two more bells for St. Anthony; the greater bell in honor of St. Gabriel and the lesser in honor of St. Aloysius.

Father Weis, however, did not remain long at St. Anthony to enjoy the fruits of his endeavors and the practical co-operation of his parishioners, for on March 23, 1877, very Reverend Dean Herman J. Jungmann succeeded him. Father Jungmann was a zealous, tireless worker. Under his pastorate in the year 1885, the frame parochial residence was replaced by a modern brick home.

On October 21, 188, Right Reverend James Ryan, Bishop of Alton, made his initial appearance in Effingham and confirmed 153 children. Father Jungmann, in 1893, built our present school building at a cost of approximately $8,500. Then in that same year, Death, the Grim Reaper, came and cut short his activities. Here we may cite an appreciatory passage, which appeared in the Effingham Democrat on the occasion of his death:

"The members of St. Anthony's congregation are sensible of the great work done by Father Jungmann, their priest and pastor, whose ministrations towards his flock were ever full of that holy fervor and zeal which characterized his life as a faithful and devoted priest and which earned and maintained the love and respect of all in the communities in which he labored. Father Jungmann will be long remembered in Effingham. The material monuments which speak of his eighteen years of labor in this community may crumble into dust, but the influence of his zealous, self sacrificing work will endure. Fearless in the pulpit, tireless in labor, he was the adviser, teacher and model of his flock…. Never in the history of this city has there been a more largely attended funeral, the concourse being estimated at 2,500. Father Jungmann had earned the love and respect of all classes."

After the death of Father Jungmann Right Reverend Bishop Ryan requested Reverend P. Hugoline Storff, O.F.M., at that time rector of St. Joseph's College, Teutopolis, to take charge of the congregation until a successor should be appointed. In June of the same year Reverend Frederick Metzger of Pittsfield, Illinois, was asked to take charge of the St. Anthony Congregation. Owing to his poor health he accepted on condition that he should have an assistant and receive a few months vacation. His stay in German, however, whither he had gone to regain his health did not benefit him, and he died there October 25, 1895.

Father Wand who came in 1895 as assistant to Father Metzer, was succeeded that same year by Reverend Simon Peter Hoffman.

On January 1, 1896, the present rector, Right Reverend Dean Louis W. Lammert took charge of the congregation. Father Hoffman assisted Father Hoffman assisted Father Lammert until 1898-also attending Shumway and Stewardson, at this time missions of St. Anthony. From 1898 to 1899, Reverend Francis Frederick Formaz was assistant, followed b Reverend Francis J. Ostendorf who remained until 1903. On July 2, 1901, Father Lammert celebrated his silver sacerdotal jubilee. After Father Ostendorft's departure, Reverend William L. Quatman assisted for several months and then was relieved by Father Hoffman who had been here previously. In the year 1911 Reverend Charles Flori succeeded him. From November 1913 to July 1, 1922, Reverend George Nell was Father Lammert's assistant. Reverend Francis Clemet Schlepphorst is the present assistant.

During Right Reverned Dean Lammert's long and fruitful pastorate the following noteworthy events and improvements have taken place in the chronological order herein given.

1902- Church reslated.

1904- Heating plant installed in rectory and church; parsonage connected up with the city sewer and water systems. Interior of the church decorated. The Mother's Society furnished a fine carpet for the sanctuary.

1905- Rectory and church equipped with all electrical conveniences of the time. Stage was added to the old St. Anthony church building and made to serve as entertainment hall: Heating plant installed beneath the state and system extended so as to heat the school which adjoins. Two new side alters presented the church by the Young Men's and Young Ladies' societies, and cement walks laid in front of school property.

1906- New pulpit purchased for the church and statues for the side alters.

1907- State convention of the Catholic Union held at St. Anthony's. Right Reverend Bishop Janssen of Bellville attended and officiated at the opening of the convention.

1909- Congregation celebrated golden jubilee, through one year late. Right Reverend Bishop Ryan pontificated at the church services. The same year a mission was given by the Jesuit Fathers.

1911- crucifix set up in St. Anthony's cemetery.

1912- Beautified stained glass art windows installed in the church.

1918- New convent building for school Sisters at a cost of about $15,000.

1921- Mission conducted by the Conventual Franciscans. Streets around the church property paved at a cost of $6,600.

1923-New electric pipe organ purchased from the Wick Organ Co., of Highland, Illinois, and installed for $4,000. In this year a Christmas Crib was presented the congregation and a new sanctuary carpet purchased.

In May 1923, the state convention of the Catholic Union was held in Effingham. The Right Reverend Albert Semuecker, O.F.M., Bishop of North Shantung, China, sung the High Mass which opened the convention.

1924- Right Reverend James A. Griffin, bishop of Springfield, in Illinois, on May 29, made his first Episcopal visitation, and on this occasion administered the sacrament of Confirmation to a class of one hundred fifty-two.

On October 5th, the same year, the Right Reverend Bishop was again in St. Anthony's, the occasion being the celebration of the golden jubilee of the School Sisters of Notre Dame who had been teaching at St. Anthony's school uninterruptedly for the past half century. The Bishop officiated at the Solemn Pontifical High Mass and preached the sermon to the day.

1926- The pastor, Dean Lammert, celebrated his 50th anniversary in the priesthood. Present on that occasion to show their respect and love for the Venerable Jubilarian, were the Right Reverend James A. Griffin, D.D., many diocesan priests and a large concourse of the laity.

And here we pause to insert a brief history of St. Anthony School. Until about 1868 St. Anthony had not, strictly speaking, its parochial school. The log house of 1854 on Third and East Jefferson streets served as a school for the Catholic children of the city. Here, however, children of other religious denominations also attended. In the order named the following men taught school in this log house: B. H. Wernsing, Joseph Masquelet, Henry Ackersman, Joseph Kabbes and Lorenz Holmes. In 1862 St. Anthony's congregation built a substantial two story brick building just south of, and almost adjoing the present entertainment hall, and continued to teach children of all denominations until about 1868. During the summer months the school was parochial. From 1862-1868 the following served as teachers: Lorenz Holmes, Jos. P. Schwerman, Mr. Royer and Mr. Bonn. In 1868 St. Anthony's became a parochial school and was conducted by the Franciscan Sisters from Joliet until April 1872. In this year Louis Reig, under the principalship of Father Weis, and assisted by Miss Barbara Weis, very ably and successfully conducted St. Anthony's School until July, 1874.

As the new church was sufficiently finished by this time (1874) to conduct services therein, the old church was converted into two large classrooms. Prior to this day, in order to accommodate the number of pupils a third class had been held in one of the rooms of the priest's house, a frame building across the street from the church.

On September 4, 1874, the services of the Venerable School Sisters of Notre Dame were secured for St. Anthony's. They were assisted by Joseph P. Greuel who taught the larger boys. The two Notre Dame Sisters, Josepha Leonissa and Sixta, taught the younger boys and all the girls. The number of pupils at this time was 160. In 1877 Joseph P. Greuel resigned and the duty of teaching all the classes devolved upon the School Sisters. In 1879 the services of Joseph H. Probst were secured, and he taught the boys' higher class until 1912.

In 1893 Very Reverend Dean Jungmann, the pastor, built the large and substantial two-story brick school building immediately north of the entertainment hall. This two-storied six-room structure, which is ever today the St. Anthony School, was erected at a cost of approximately $8,500.

This year (1926) St. Anthony's School, which is conducted on a free parochial basis, has 325 children enrolled, and teaches a complete grammar school course; also the first three years high school course; academic in character. Eight school Sisters of Notre Dame are in charge of the classes. The school also has an extensive library, perhaps the best in the city.

In St. Anthony congregation, the following parish societies are organized: St. Anthony's Men's Society, St. Mary's Mother's Society, St. Aloysius' Young Men's Sodality, St Clare's Young Ladies' Sodality, and St. Anthony's Dramatic Club. The Catholic Knights of America and the Catholic Knights of Illinois are benevolent societies existing in the parish.

The following priests are products of St. Anthony's parish: Reverend Father Dominicus Mersmann, O.M. Cap., Reverend P. Xavier Engbring, O.F.M. Missionary Apostolic in China, and Reverend (Armsted) Herman Catterlin, C.S.S.R.

And here is the roll call of consecrated virgins from St. Anthony's parish serving God in various]ious religious orders: Sisters of Notre Dame-Bernadine Weis, Gwendolin Hoffman, Seraphine Engbring, Fincella Flood, Scholastica Weiler, Sanktina Mussman, Magdala Overbeck, Benedicta Kreke, Ottilda Bussing, Delphina Seitz. Franciscan- Sisters Evangelista Sanders (now laboring in the Chinese Missions), Severa Mussman, Regina Kiefer, Benedicta Mayhaus, and Secundina Osthoff. Good Shepherd-Sister Margaret of the Holy name Osthoff. St. Mary's- sister Clementia Osthoff. St. Francis of Joliet- Sisters Ambrose Osthoff, Franciska Feldhake and Stella Koester.

We find the following priests buried in St. Anthony Cemetery: Very Reverend Dean Herman Jungmann, Fathers Clemens A. Sommer, Joseph Maurer, Simon Peter Hoffman, T. P. Cronin and Reverend Charles W. Becker.

And these Venerable School Sisters of Notre Dame: Sisters Basilia, Frances Regis, Irene, and Sylvester. Sisters of St. Francis (Springfield): Sisters Agnes, Antonia, Regina and Birina.

It is not amiss to state here that the three Franciscan Sisters above-mentioned who died in 1918 were victims of the flu. Ministering to the wants of the many flu patients in their hospital at Effingham, taxed in those day s to the limit of its capacity, these Sisters succumbed to the ravages of the epidemic and were truly martyrs to their duty.

It is with justifiable pride that we submit this history of St. Anthony. The congregation has only increased the original membership of forty families to three hundred and fifty. Having read of the solid deep-rooted faith that animated the breast s of the sturdy pioneer Catholics of Effingham, indicated by the difficulties they overcame and the sacrifices endured, we would expect a larger membership. However, it must be noted that many, especially of the younger generation by reason of local circumstances, were forced to move elsewhere to eke out an existence. Members of St. Anthony are found throughout the length and breadth of the land, and we know, God be praised, that their good example, their practical Christian lives redound to the honor of the parish and the glory of God.

On June 3, 1927, His Holiness Pope Pius XI, on the recommendation of Right Reverend James A. Griffin, conferred upon Reverend Dean Lammert the High honor of Domestic Prelate. The investiture took place in St. Anthony Church, Effingham, August 16, the Right Reverend Bishop officiating in the presence of fifty-two diocesan priests and an overflow congregation of the laity. To be convinced of the great popularity of his appointment, one has only to recall the may congratulatory messages that poured in upon from all quarters, and the joyous enthusiasm manifested by Bishop, priest and people on the occasion of his investiture. The Venerable Monsignor, who all his life has had a pleasant smile and a kind word for everybody, has now passed his fiftieth milestone in the priesthood. It is the sincere wish of all who know him that God, Whom he has so faithfully served in the ministry, may give him many more years to enjoy the new and richly deserved honor which makes him a member of the papal household.


Joseph J. Thompson, editor, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois Diamond Jubilee 1853-1928 (Hartman Printing Company, Springfield, Illinois 1928), pp.294-300 

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