The History of St. John The Baptist
1841-April 19, twenty-five pioneers left Ersingen, Germany for New World. Arrived at Piopolis on August 21, 1841.
1843-Additional setters came form Germany, including Tobias Brummer. First Mass and first Baptism performed by Fr. Elisha Durbin from Morganfield, KY at log cabin of Nicholas Engel.
1844-A 40-acre tract of land bought by Cajetan Aydt from Thomas Whiteaker and later deeded to Bishop William Quarters, Catholic Bishop of Chicago. This tract became Piopolis Church property.
1846-First log church completed and first Mass celebrated on Ash Wednesday.
1954-Cajetan Aydt, who was instrumental in getting the early German settlers to migrate to Piopolis, left with two brothers to establish a new parish and settlement in Minnesota.
1857-A new frame church building, 25 X 50 feet, started by architect Tobias Brummer destroyed by a windstorm before completion.
1860-Frame church completed with some help from migrants from Clinton Co. Bishop Juncker of Alton came for Confirmation.
1861-A small rectory, four rooms, two 12-feet square and two smaller. Some parishioners left for the Civil War.
1864-Rectory completed and first pastor, Fr. Edw. Harriman arrived on Jan. 20 and left Dec. 8 of the same year. William Karcher entered the study for the Priesthood.
1865-End of Civil War. The second resident pastor, Fr. Blas? Winterhalter, was installed and also ministered by horseback at McLeansboro, Enfield, Carmi and Mt. Vernon. Marellus Zachman was hired as lay teacher and with Bishop Juncker was instrumental in getting Precious Blood Sisters of Burwell, Germany to locate their convent here.
1870-A two-story Motherhouse and school frame building was completed at a cost of $3,000.00. Bishop Juncker donated $500.00. On Feb.28, nine nun from Gurtwell, Germany arrived by wagon after coming by boat to Shawneetown. They immediately took over the teaching at the school and continued until 1964. Fr. Winterhalter transferred to Calhoun Co. and Fr. Rustemeyer came but stayed only ten days. Two administrators, Fr. Jansen and Fr. Brumleve were held for a short period.
1871-The third pastor, Fr. John Neuhaus, was installed. Three sisters from Piopolis were sent to Springfield to teach. Sr. Emile died July 11, and buried at St. John?s.
1876- Some sisters left Piopolis to start a new Motherhouse at O?Fallon, MO in new province. The remaining sisters departed by train from Delafield for a new location at Ruma, which was to become their permanent Motherhouse. Fr. Neuhaus transferred to Edwardsville and later became Chaplain for the nuns at Ruma. Fr. John N. Enzilberger became the fourth resident pastor, coming from Vandalia.
1877- 13 acres of church property was laid out into 50 lots to become a small village named Piopolis for Pope Pius IX who was celebrating his 50 years as Bishop.
1879- Sixteen orphan girls were sent to Piopolis for two years to be taken care of by the nuns. Plans were drawn up for a new church and half-million bricks were baked for this first brick church.
1880-foundation was laid for the new church after the frame church was moved aside. Mt. Vernon builds new church; McLeansboro, Dahlgren and other church were no longer mission of Piopolis.
1881- Cornerstore of the brick church laid on May 4, but a storm demolished the west wall on August 6, while under construction.
1882- Storm damage repaired and church completed by the end of 1882, at a cost of $12,000.00. First couple married in the new church was John and Henrica Reyling, parents of Fr. August Reyling.
1884- Dedication of new brick church, Oct. 1, 1884. Due to illness of Bishop Baltes, Fr. John Neuhaus, former pastor, was celebrant.
1892- Fr. Albert J. Karcher, son of the parish, was ordained a priest, July 26 1892, after competing studies in Switzerland. His first Mass at Piopolis was in 1892. New rectory was built at a cost of $2,200.00.
1902-Fr. Enzilberger transferred and Fr. Bernard Reusch was installed as fifth resident pastor.
1910-New altars were installed (which are the present day altars) in the first brick church. Old altars were given to Dahlgren.
1913- Bricks for a new school were purchased from Albion.
1914- New two-story sisters? house was built for $4,000.00. It is the present day rectory.
1924- The present school building was completed and dedicated by Bishop Henry Althoff.
1927- Fr. Eckerman started St. John?s Annual Picnic, which continued over 3 decades.
1929- Furnace heat installed in church and sisters? house, as well as electrical and water systems. Also a two-year high school was started.
1930- All the windows were replaced with stained glass. Banks of McLeansboro and Dahlgren closed due to bankruptcy. Depression hit rural America.
1931- Pavement between McLeansboro and Mt. Vernon poured.
1932-Church steeple renovated. Pavement between Wayne City & McLeansboro completed.
1933- High school discontinued for lack of students.
1934- Gravel road from Piopolis to pavement completed, making the first all weather road between Piopolis and McLeansboro.
1939-Fr. Eckerman celebrated his silver jubilee at Piopolis. He was presented a new automobile.
1941-Piopolis celebrated its centennial year (1841-1941).
1941-1945 World War II years.
1948-A new stocker furnace installed in school building.
1953-on June 13, a severe storm damaged the brick church to the extent that is was torn down and replaced.
1954-the second brick church cornerstone laid in March and building finished and had first Mass said on Christmas Day.
1955-Fr. Eckerman became ill and was replaced with Fr. Edmund Schumacher as administrator until Fr. Ekerman?s death in 1962.
1961-Fr. Edmund Schumacher celebrated his 25th anniversary on June 4, 1961. Lake was constructed on church property.
1962-Fr. Eckerman died and was interred in St. Johns Cemetery. Fr. Schumacher became the seventh pastor. Restrooms were added to the school building.
1963-New gas furnace installed in church.
1964-Precious Blood nuns discontinued teaching at St. John, after having taught since 1870.
1965-After the nuns left, the sisters? house was converted to rectory. The old rectory was dismantled in March. Fr. Eugene Kreher celebrated his First Mass at Piopolis on May 2. Fr. Schumacher died August 30. Funeral Mass here but he was interred at San Francis, Aviston. Fr. Harry Schumacher was assigned temporarily as administrator during his Uncle Edmund Schumacher?s illness and death from February to October. Fr. Meinrad Dunn assigned as eighth pastor at St. John?s in October.
1968-Ballpark was built so that young and old could enjoy ballgames, day or night.
1970-Fr. Dunn celebrated his 25th anniversary and received a gift of a new car.
1972-Fr. Dunn left St. Johns and was assigned to Hecker in February. Fr. Albert Jerome, ninth pastor, succeeded him.
1973-Public school closed in Piopolis.
1974-Air conditioning was added to the church.
1975-Parish Council was established, with various organizations being represented.
1976-Fr. Jerome was transferred on May 30 to St. Phillips in East Louis. Fr. James Van Oss was installed as tenth pastor.
1977-Fr. George Mauck ordained in May. Mass of Thanksgiving at Piopolis on July 24.
1978-Fr. August Reyling celebrated his Golden Jubilee on July 3. Fr. Van Oss established the birthday calendar.
1977-1978- Kitchen in school building remodeled with new gas ranges and new lighting.
1981-Parish Council voted to redecorate church, removing communion rails, new carpeting, painting, plus refinishing the altars, statues and pews. Ministers of the Eucharist started.
1982-Farewell for Fr. Van Oss in June. Fr. Emil Maziarz installed as eleventh pastor on July 6.
1983-In June, Fr. Maziarz was assigned to the Chancery Office and Fr. Joseph A. Lawler becomes the twelfth pastor on July 10.
1984-Fr. August Reyling passed away in September. He is well remembered for having translated the original Piopolis history from German to English and for bringing the books and records to date. Fr. James P. Keleher of Mundelin was named the sixth Bishop of Belleville in October.
1986-Fr. Lawler celebrated his 25th anniversary with a festive day, including a Mass of Thanksgiving with parishioners, fellow priests, friends, relatives, delicious food, gifts and helicopter rides.
1987-Harvest Blessing held at Clarence and Wilma Karcher Farm. Bishop Keleher enjoyed the restored log cabin setting. Dioceses of Belleville celebrated the diocesan centennial. St. Johns joined in the Heritage Festival held at the DuQuion State Fair Grounds on September 27 by setting up displays, recalling the faith of our ancestors. The 4-H Club re-enacted the arrival of the Precious Blood nuns in 1870.
1989-The men of the parish constructed about 275 grave markers of concrete and imprinted named for those graves without markers or those that had been destroyed.
1990-Fr. Eugene Kreher celebrated his 25th anniversary with a Mass and Dinner on August 19. Fr. Lawler, with help of parish volunteers installed a new furnace boiler in the school basement.
1991-The parish is planning to celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Parish with various activities including a photo directory, a history of the parish, a re-enactment of the arrival of the first immigrants to Piopolis and other observances.
1991-February saw the beginning of the Sesquicentennial celebrations. The crafts, the games the displays, the German food, the German Band and Homecoming Day will long be remembered. Over one thousand people enjoyed the noon day meal and 1,500 attended the Reenactment of the settlers coming for the first time in wagons and by horseback. The sesquicentennial cookbooks were indeed treasured. Bishop James P. Keleher attended the Mass and dinner. All three parishes in Hamilton County met to Plan for the Future. The History niche was built in church. Our history book is certainly a work that will be appreciated for years to come. Mr. Edwin Frey collected most of the facts.
1992-The history book was reprinted. On June 28th, we celebrated the one hundred fifty one years of being a parish, with a Mass and Basket Dinner. The cluster group met to plan for a Mission that would include all three parishes. Prayers were offered in 1992 for the repose of the souls of the five Adorers of the Blood of Christ that were murdered in Liberia, which included a schoolmate of Fr. Lawler, Sr. Kathleen McGuire. The others were St. Agnes Mueller, Sr. Barbar Muttra, Sr. Shirley Kolmer and Sr. Mary J. Kolmer. The Wicks organ was refurbished in the choir of St. John?s. Mr. Jerry Crystal and family did the work with funds provided by the Clara Emma Karcher family.
1993-The Holy Name Shooting Match was held October 10th. A Mission was held at St. John the Baptist, Piopolis on Nov. 6-11. Fr. Lawler and a crew from the Holy Name installed the new furnace in the school basement. The Cluster members of the county met and are attempting to invite all high school members to one religious class.
1994-The parish of St. Johns welcomed 92 members of The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of OFallon, Missouri with a mass on August 10th. A priest accompanied them as they traveled on two buses to Piopolis. They consider Piopolis their foundation roots in America. They decorated the grave of Sr. Emilie. The parish welcomed the news that Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory was appointed as Bishop of Belleville.
1995-Fr. Lawler traveled to attend the National CYO Convention in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. New sidewalks were poured. Silicone was applied to the exterior of the church. The Sisters of OFallon, Missouri were instructors at Vacation Bible School from July 24-28th. They stayed at the ?Piopolis Hilton? and Fr. Lawler stayed on the farm in Ridgway. The CYO undertook the task of cleaning the stained glass rose window that had been in the tower of the church built in 1884. The window had been saved in three major pieces when the church was dismantled in 1953. On St. Johns Day, June 25th, a quilt show for older people and a pedal tractor pull was held.
1996-A tornado hit the church and many of the neighbor? barns and grain bins on Friday evening, April 19th at about 9:00 p.m. For the church properties, it did over $100,000.00 damage. No fatalities, praise the Lord. Fifty panes of glass were blown out of the school; a front dormer of the roof of the school was removed. Fr. Lawler hung on to an iron radiator as seven windows were completely blown out. A good roofing crew put a new roof on the garage, house, school and one-half of the church. New bulbs were installed in the pole lights at the ball field. A new concession stand was built.
1997-The ladies of the parish purchased new carpeting for the rectory. On April 19th, 17 young people made their Confirmation. Bishop Francis George OMI was installed as Archbishop of the Chicago Archdiocese, on May 17, 1997. Fr. Lawler, along with his mother, sister Lucy Zilch and nephew, Sean Zilch, visited relatives in Ireland. An Inquiry class was held in the spring of 1997. On November 1st, Mark Reyling was ordained to the Deaconate. He could now preach, teach, baptize, bury the dead, witness marriages and serve the needs of the Church. The two towns of Ersingen and Belfingen in Baden, Germany were celebrating their 800th Birthday with a three day celebration on October 3rd, 4th and 5th.
1998-Fr. Mark Reyling was ordained to the priesthood at St. John the Baptist, Piopolis on June 6, 1998, in a big, historic celebration. All parishioners were asked to be included in the campaign named ?A Future Full of Hope.? The collection is for needs in the Catholic Diocese of Belleville. Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis, Missouri this fall and nine parishioners from Piopolis had tickets to attend.
1999-St. Johns Piopolis collected items for special needs of the victims of the hurricane in the area of the Diocese of Jalapa, Guatemala. We also collected for the Crisis Closet in McLeansboro during Lent. The quilters had stitched a handmade quilt for the youth of the parish. On September 12th, all three parishes held a special pre-millennium Saturday celebration, in preparation for the year 2000. An outdoor Mass was held at Piopolis around a new outdoor altar made with Bedford limestone, which was built by Fr. Lawler. A meal followed the Mass. Fr. Roland Jacques, OMI led us in German songs. In November, the Piopolis CYO won the Deanery volleyball tournament at Ridgway. Many people are preparing for January 1, 2000. The media suggested having food stored and supplies available in case of a blackout of electricity.
2000-The New Year came in with a lot of people thankful that there were no glitches. A new Parish Directory was planned. Pictures were taken April 6th, 7th, 8th and 25th. A big Thank-You is given to the picture committee who has compiled this book.
2001-Fr. Joseph Lawler celebrated his 40th year in the priesthood on Pentecost Sunday with new red vestments, a meal for approx. 500, all Hamilton county parishes were there, with music and helicopter rides for approximately 100 people.
2002-Through the generosity of a parishioner named David Karcher, we have an outdoor pavilion for picnic style meals and new vesting cabinetry which was installed in the server?s sacristy.
2003-new air conditioners were installed in the St. John the Baptist church through the generosity of John & Lucille Karcher Legacy. Bishop Wilton D. Gregory confirmed the Sacrament of Confirmation on June 3, 2003 and visited the parish. The belltower on the church was restored.
2004-We got 3 new stoves in kitchen area in the hall. The Holy Name Society bought one and two new cook stoves was bought with the legacy from William Reyling, former trustee. We poured concrete in front of the school and a handicap area through the generosity of a donation from Polly Kaufman.
2005-We installed two new water boiler furnaces in the body of the church at
St. John the Baptist church Piopolis, donated by Haas legacy. We put on new wooden entrance doors donated by Richard Family and the Quilters from McLeansboro.
2006-furnace in school building went to 100 percent corn fuel.
2007-St. John the Baptist will host the Farm Blessing on April 26th, 2007.
2009- May 22nd, Fr. Slawomir Ptak, from Poland became our Associate Pastor to St. John the Baptist, Piopolis, St. Clement, McLeansboro, and St. John Nepomucene.
2011- Fr. Joseph Lawler retired in July 12, 2011.
2011- Fr. Slawomir Ptak became our 13th Pastor.