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History of the Diocese of Fond du Lac and Its Several Congregations

By A. Parker Curtiss

Fond du Lac: P.B. Haber Printing Co., 1925.

Fond du Lac: St. Paul's Cathedral Church

The first Church services held in Fond du Lac were in 1842 by the Rev. R. Cadle who occasionally officiated at what was known as Taycheedah.

In 1845 Bishop Kemper and the Rev. F. R. Haff visited the place; then a thriving village of 400 inhabitants; and conducted services at the residence of Gov. Tallmadge, arranging for regular services at such times as the Bishop might be able to provide.

In 1849 the Rev. Joshua Sweet entered upon his missionary work. It would seem that from that time until the present, regular services have been maintained. There being no church building, the small flock gathered in an empty room over a wagon shop, removing after a while to a room in the village hotel known today as the Windsor House, and later on to what was known as Darling's Hall. Old St. Paul's Church was erected in 1851, the first service in the new church being held on Christmas Eve of that year.

The Church however was not completed until the following spring. It was consecrated on July 8th, 1852 by Bishop Kemper who was attended and assisted by the following clergy, viz: Rev. Franklin H. Haff, of Green Bay and Rev. Mr. Callaghan of Oshkosh, and the Priest in charge.

In 1854 Mr. Sweet resigned and was succeeded by the Rev. Geo. B. Eastman. In 1855 the rectory, which afterward became the home of the Cathedral Choir School was built. The pastorate of Mr. Eastman extended up to Nov., 1866. On Christmas Day of the year 1866, the stone building known as New St. Paul's, on the corner of West Division and Sophia was opened. For some months subsequent to its opening the Rev. H. M. Thompson officiated as priest-in-charge, Dr. Beers becoming rector in 1867--rlurine his rectorship the parish school building, now known as St. Ambrose Hall, was erected.

In 1869 Rev. William Dafter succeeded Dr. Beers, remaining until 1875. It was during this year that the Diocese of Fond du Lac was formed from the northeast portion of the Diocese of Wisconsin. Dr. John Henry Hobart Brown, rector of St. John's Cohoes, in the Diocese of Albany, state of New York, was elected its first Bishop. His consecration took place in his own parish church at Cohoes on Dec. 15th, 1875.

In 1876 by vote of the corporation of St. Paul's Parish, the property of said parish was transferred to the Bishop for Cathedral purposes, the vestry electing him their Rector with the understanding that he should be Dean.

[32] The Rev. John Townsend entered upon his duties as the Bishop's assistant; with pastoral charge of the Cathedral congregation in the summer of the same year. The first Baptism entered by him in the Register occurs under date of June 7th, 1876.

Mr. Townsend severed his connection with the Cathedral in the spring of 1878 and it would appear from the parish register that the Bishop was without a regular assistant until the arrival of Dr. Jewel in the early part of 1879, whose duties seem to have been principally with the parish school.

Mr. N. D. Stanley having been admitted to the order of deacons, assisted the Bishop in the work of the parish.

In 1881 the Rev. Geo. W. Harrod, rector of Green Bay took charge of the Cathedral congregation and the Rev. E. C. Alcorn took up the work of the school.

Mr. Harrod remained until 1882 when he was succeeded by the Rev. J. H. Smith, of Grace Church, Oshkosh. Mr. Alcorn and family also left about this time and the parish school was closed.

On the Sunday following the Feast of the Purification, Feb. 2nd, 1883, the Rev. Th. S. Richey of Nova Scotia, preached morning and evening and at the very general desire of the congregation he was requested by the Bishop to assume charge of the pastoral work with the title of Senior Canon. Upon his acceptance a day of Institution was appointed and with appropriate services, Bishop Brown instituted Mr. Richey, Senior Canon and the Rev. J. H. Smith, Junior Canon.

On the 25th day of January, 1884, being the Feast of St. Paul, the Cathedral was discovered at a very early hour in the morning, to be on fire. The pevton had built very heavy fires in both furnaces about 2 o'clock in the morning to get the building warm for the services of the day, in which a number of the clergy were to participate. The weather was intensely cold and despite every effort to extinguish the flames, it was evident that the buildine: was doomed to destruction. An altar was quickly erected in the old school building and at the appointed hour the service was held. This building continued to be used for services until the new Cathedral was completed.

The work of rebuilding the Cathedral was begun on Monday, Oct. 5th, when the Bishop held a special out-door service in connection with the turning of the first sod for the new structure. The first sod was turned by the Rev. Geo. B. Eastman a venerable Priest and a former rector of the Parish.

On the 28th of October of the same year, being the Feast of S. Simon and Jude, the corner stone was laid. The Bishop of Milwaukee, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Welles, with several of his clergy was in attendance. At 10:30 the Holy Eucharist was offered by the visiting Bishop.

[33] On Easter Day, April 10th, 1887 the first service was held in the present Cathedral. A class of thirty was presented for Confirmation and the offering amounted to $2200. From Easter to June the services were again held in the school building. The Council convened in June and held its meetings in the Cathedral, since which time the services have been continuous. Easter of '88 has always been looked upon as the parish's first Easter in the Cathedral, as the previous year had seen only a part of the building used.

There was an immense congregation completely filling the church at the chief service of the day.

Seventy made their Communions at the seven o'clock Eucharist.

Twenty were presented for Confirmation at the 10:30 service, the preacher being the Rev. Canon Richey. His text was St. John 20:15. The offering was $1400.00 and was increased to $2500.00 on the following day by the arrival of $1100.00 from Mrs. H. Rose for a memorial window to her father, the late A. J. Ruggles. In the afternoon the Knights Templar attended in a body. In the evening the children of the Sunday School held a special service, the Bishop addressing them. This was the last public utterance of Bishop Brown from the pulpit of his Cathedral. On Monday, April 23rd, he was brought home from Janesville where he had been taken with violent chills while administering Confirmation for Bishop Welles. On Wednesday, May 2nd, at 1 A. M. the good Bishop passed away. He was buried on Tuesday the 8th, surrounded by a multitude who loved him dearly.

On Saturday, Dec. 15th, 1888, being the 13th anniversary of Bishop Brown's consecration the memorial porch erected by his cousin Mrs. Waterbury was offered to God by a solemn Benediction service at which Bishop McLaren officiated.

On S. Mark's Day, April 25th, the Rt. Rev. C. C. Grafton was consecrated Bishop of Fond du Lac in this Cathedral Church.

The stone pulpit was put in its place on Friday, Nov. 15th, 1889, being a gift of Mrs. E. C. Davis of Boston. The rood Screen was completed by addition of figures on Dec. 24th, 1890.

After serving the Cathedral faithfully for eight years Canon Richey severed his connection with the parish on Easter Monday, March 30th, 1891.

The Rev. A. G. E. Jenner assisted with the services from that time until August 1st, when the Rev. F. W. Merrill took charge awaiting the arrival of the newly appointed Senior Canon the Rev. E. B. Taylor.

Canon Taylor continued as Senior Canon until '97 when he accepted a call to Westminster, Maryland. Since that time various Priests have supplied at different times, until in March [33/34] 1898, the Rev. Walter Gardner Blossom was appointed by the Bishop and elected by the chapter to take up the pastoral work of the parish. During the summer of '98 the old school building was moved back to the river bank and connected with the Cathedral by a beautiful stone cloister costing $2400.00. A new organ was placed in the Cathedral in 1899.

The Rev. J. G. H. Barry, now rector of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York City, became senior Canon in 1901, continuing his work until 1906, when he resigned to become Dean of Nashotah. Following him was Rev. F. A. Sanborn, 1907 to 1913. In 1914, Rev. Bernard I. Bell, now president of St. Stephens College, became the first Dean of the Cathedral, and carried on the work energetically until he left on Nov. 2, 1917, to become naval chanlain at Great Lakes, resigning his deanship on May 6, 1918. Rev. Elliot White, late rector of St. Mark's Church. Philadelphia, was Dean from 1920 to 1922, and Rev. E. W. Averill the present incumbent succeeded him Nov. 1, 1923.

Rev. N. D. Stanley has been in residence as Honorary Canon, since 1920 and is also Chaplain of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity, and Rev. Charles Winfred Douglas one of the editors of our new Church Hymnal is still a Canon, though he has not been in residence for some years.

A choir school was maintained for a period of ten years, closing in 1900. Grafton Hall, a Church school for girls with about seventy-five boarding and day pupils adjoins the Cathedral grounds, and its pupils and teachers are regular attendants at the daily and Sunday services of the Cathedral. Rev. B. Talbot Rogers, Warden of Grafton Hall from 1890 to 1914 took an active part in all parochial affairs and ministered regularly in the Cathedral during the entire period of his residence.

Fond du Lac Children's Home, a diocesan institution, passed from the hands of Church to the control of a local board of Directors of which, however the Bishop of Fond du Lac is head. The matron is a Churchwoman, and most of the children attend the Cathedral.

The Mother House of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity is situated in Fond du Lac. About twenty-five sisters and novices are in residence. They are regular attendants at the services and workers among the poor of the parish. Their work and prayers are of much spiritual influence.

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