SAINT KILIAN: 1856 - 1981

The St. Kilian Parish was established in 1856. A 10 page type-written history was created for the 100th anniversary celebration in 1956. This same document was re-issued (with a forward and and some additional information appended to the end) for the 125th anniversary in 1981. The 1981 document has been reproduced below with several pictures added (most from Bill Zarnstorff).

Tony Hanson
16 April 2007

St. Kilians Church - Photo obtained from Bill Zarnstorff


The date was June 2, 1856, five years before Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States, at which time the parish of St. Kilian was organized under the direction of its first pastor, the Reverend Carl Schraudenbach. On June 12th, ten days later, a meeting was held and the first officers of the parish were elected.

Now, one hundred and twenty five years later, we come together to celebrate those beginnings and the span of years that has brought us to this grand celebration.

The story in this booklet speaks for itself, and what a storey it is. From the days of Abraham Lincoln, from horseback and horse-drawn vehicles, through the invention of electric lights, motorized transportation, air travel, space travel, a man on the moon, the civil war and two world wars and how many more events in between.

But most important of all has been the presence of God in our midst, of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a vineyard to carry on His command to ".teach all nations".

For all of this we give thanks at this very special celebration. Thanks for the faith communities, the priests and people who, for a century and a quarter, have brought us to this day. May their faith, spirit and courage be for us all a beacon to follow, a light of Christ that has illuminated the darkness since 1856.

Fr. William F. Knoernschild

ST. KILIAN: 1856 - 1956:

Southeastern Wisconsin is known for its beauty with its many lakes, streams and rolling countryside. It is in this area four miles east of Lake Geneva and a little better than four miles south of the village of Lyons that St. Killian's Church is located.

It was between 1840 and 1850 that several families from the southern part of Bavaria immigrated to and settled in the southern part of Walworth County some in the township of Hudson (now known as the Township of Lyons) and some in Bloomfield Township.

St. Mary's Burlington was the nearest German speaking parish. A few years later St. Alphonsus New Munster was established but both of these parishes meant traveling quite some distance to assist at Mass. It was a three hour drive and we are told many times people of this area walked to church. During those early years there were few luxuries like buggies. People were forced to travel by horseback on in wagons to fulfill their duties to God.

In 1847 a Catholic Church was built in Lake Geneva. This was an English speaking parish and the pastor had several missions. As a result Mass was not offered every Sunday at St. Francis de Sales Parish. It did not solve the religious problem of the Catholics in Lyons and Bloomfield Townships.

In the year 1856 the Catholics of this area, after several meetings decided that they would like their own church where their language was spoken and one that would be centrally located for them.

The following signed a petition for the church.

Franz Michael Mayer F. Goss Joseph Meyerhofer
Joseph Mayer Anna Goss George Williams
Anton Holzheimer Adolp Holcamp Moriz Neuhaepel
Franz G. Grass L. Nauheisel Andrew Lauser
Bartholomew Homann Nicholas Meyerhofer Martin Vogal
Sabastian Scheuermann Mr. Feser Joseph Krieft
William Scheuermann Peter Schmitt Andrew Helgert
Joseph Helgert Michael Schneider F. Neltner
Sabastian Feser Joseph Held Mary Scheuermann
Eva Helgert Anna Urspring Jacob Bienemann

After raising sufficient money they petitioned the Rt. Rev. John Martin Henni, D.D. Bishop of Milwaukee. He in turn designated the Rev. Carl Schraudenbach of New Munster to organize in and about the town of Hudson a German parish to be know as St. Killian.

The parish was organized June 2, 1856. The land where the church was to be built was donated to the new congregation by Bartholomew and Ottilia Homann (two acres) and George, Barbara and William Scheuermann (one acre).

On June 12th 1856 a meeting was held at the home of Sebastian Scheuermann and the following officers were elected.

President Rev. Carl Schraudenbach
Vice President Sebastian Scheuermann
Treasurer William Scheuermann
Secretary Anton Holzheimer
Trustees L. Nuheisel, Joseph Meyerhofer, Franz Mayer.

Half the money necessary to build the church was donated immediately the other half was donated November 1, 1856.

St. Kilians Church - Photo obtained from Bill Zarnstorff

St. Kilians remained a Mission to New Munster for several years. For a time St. Kilians was cared for from Lake Geneva. No separate records of Baptism, Weddings and the like were kept but were simply entered with the regular records of St. Alphonsus or St. Francis de Sales parishes.

In 1870 a Catholic parish was organized at the village of Lyons but it was not until fourteen years later that St. Kilians became attached permanently to St. Joseph's Parrish as a Mission. Since being attached to St. Josephs Lyons the following priests have served faithfully at St. Kilians.

1884 - 1888 Rev. August Gardhause
1888 - 1890 Rev. Carl Drees
1890 - 1892 Rev. Wm. Latte of Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota
1892 - 1894 Rev. Cyril Kufner, O.F.M. Cap.
1894 - 1897 Rev. John Diebold
1897 - 1902 Rev. J. Korfage
1902 - 1903 ev. Cassianus O.F.M. Cap.
1903 - 1913 Rev. F.J. Hillenbrand
1913 - 1935 Rev. A.C. Biwer
1935 - 1939 Rev. Oswald Krusing
1939 - 1945 Rev. Henry A. Maurer
1945 - Rev. Francis Tenpenny

St. Kilians Cemetery - Photo by Tony Hanson

Today the bodies of many of the pioneers of St. Killian's parish rest in the beautiful little cemetery adjoining the Church. As we happily recall their faith and sacrifices one hundred years later our sincere prayer is that they have been found worthy of the promises of Christ and are enjoying with our Patron St. Killian the eternal vision of God in heaven.

Some interesting notes of the past one hundred years.

  1. The lumber and material for the Church was purchased at Racine, Wisconsin by Sebastian Scheuermann and Anton Holzheimer and was shipped by freight to Lyons. Each family of the parish helped bring the building material from Lyons to the parish grounds.
  2. The first financial report is most interesting. The treasurer tells us the "hol" amount collected was $235.00 and the "hol" amount in the treasurer's hands at the end of the period was five cents. Three hundred dollars had been borrowed and a neat 10% was charged as interest.
  3. On April 25, 1859, the deeds for St. Kilians parish grounds were recorded. They read as follows - Bartholomew and Ottilia Homann to the Catholic Bishop of Milwaukee for the sum of $40.00 land on the North West corner of his farm 20 rods from North to South 16 rods from East to West. Witnesses - Joseph Meyerhofer - Joseph Helgert.
  4. William Scheuermann and his wife to the Catholic Bishop of Milwaukee for the sum of $20.00 land on the North East corner of his farm 20 rods from North to South and 8 rods from East to West.
  5. Several articles for the church were donated by Father Carl Schraudenbach under whose supervision the parish was organized.
  6. In 1891 the statue of St. Joseph was purchased in Italy for $42.00. The freight from New York to Chicago was $2.38 and from Chicago to Lake Geneva $.77 and permit of import cost $.25.
  7. In the year 1899 the Parish was incorporated under the law of the State of Wisconsin.
  8. The large painting of St. Killian was imported from Bavaria at a cost of $500.00 and was donated by the Meyerhofer family.
  9. The church linens were donated by and cared for over a period of many years by Miss Dora Meyerhofer, Mrs. Laurence Helgert and her daughter Anna Helgert.
  10. In April 1904 the little school now used as a parish hall was built. Sisters never taught the school but Catholic lay teachers did. Years later the children who could not attend St. Joseph's School were given religious instruction during the summer months.
  11. The Feser family donated the lumber for a barn which was built at Lyons for the pastor's horses and buggy. Later the barn which was torn down and a garage built which sometime later burned down.
  12. In 1905 the Feser children, Mrs. Anna Meyerhofer, Jacob and Anna Feser gave $400.00 to build the entry and steeple at St. Kilians.
  13. The High Alter, which was recently replaced, was donated by St. Francis de Sales Parish Lake Geneva in 1905.
  14. Signs of the times: in 1860 the pastor's salary was $100.15 in 1913 the pastor's salary was $300.00 in 1956 it is $500.00.
  15. George Scheuermann played the organ and directed the choir for many years. In recent years Mrs. George Born and Judith Baumeister have generously given of their talents.
  16. In 1928 lightening rods were put on the church.
  17. Only one son of the parish has become a priest during the first one hundred years Father Herman J. Mayer son of Joseph and Caroline Mayer. Father Mayer made his classical studies at St. Lawrence College Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin and studied philosophy and theology at St. Francis Seminary. He was ordained a priest April 10, 1917 at Kansas City Missouri and offered his first Solemn Mass at St. Kilians April 15, 1917. Father Mayer is at present the pastor of St. Lawrence Church at St. Elisabeth Missouri.
  18. Sister Maxima O.S.F. daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Anton Erhart is the only one of the parish to enter religious live. She is a religious of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and is presently stationed at St. Francis Major Seminary.
  19. There are four daughters and sons of the founders of St. Kilians who are present members of the parish: Miss Anna Helgert, Mrs. Mary Roesser, Nicholas Meyerhofer and Thomas Helgert.
  20. Mrs. Mary Meyerhofer served as president of the Solidarity for many years. In 1936 Father Krusing reorganized the Solidarity under the patronage of St. Rita. The first officers elected were Josephine Shermen prefect and Katherine Mangold as secretary and treasurer. Since 1936 most members have served in one capacity or another. At present the officers are Prefect Katherine Mangold, Marion Adams Vice Prefect, Mildred Mangold Secretary, Eugenia Meyerhofer Treasurer. The officers for the coming year will be Marion Adams, Mary Adams, Loretta Vogt and Loretta Baumeister.
  21. The Holy Name Society of St. Kilians is joined to the Society at St. Josephs. Herbert Ehlen served as president this year and Donald Adams has been elected vice president for the new year.
  22. Three veterans of World War one have come to rest in St. Kilians Cemetery: Charles J. Rice, Oscar Heitkemper, and Joseph Vogt.
  23. Nine men of St. Kilians answered the call of their Country in World War Two. Ambrose Roesser, Bernard Roesser, Edward Hegeman, Edward Helgert, Thomas Reich, Clement Germann, Marvin Roanhouse, James Meyerhofer, Jerome Vogt. Since World War Two these men have served their country: John Leahy, Charles Ingram, William Holzheimer, Robert Meyerhofer, Edward Raduenz, Earl Rittman, Lloyd Wilger, and James Ehlen.
  24. In recent years many sacrifices have been made to improve and repair St. Kilians. The exterior of the church was painted by the members in one day with about thirty men and women taking part.
  25. New windows have been installed, the steeple has been repaired, new alters have been purchased and a tile floor has been laid. Very recently a new heating system, which replaced the old furnace that at times grudgingly served its purpose for fifty years was installed and finally our little Cathedral of the country has been fittingly decorated for the hundred anniversary.
  26. May your pastor express his sincere thanks to Mrs. Louis Roesser for the work she did in gathering the information contained in this little story of St. Kilians. May he add it has been a privilege to serve as your pastor during the last eleven years. May you always remain the simple God-loving - friendly - kindly people you are.

We have no record to indicate that the members of St. Kilians celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the parish in 1991. The records do show new names on the parish list was as follows: Members of the parish at the 25th year were:

Lorenz Helgert John Voelkering Anton Holzheimer
Michael Feser John Wagner John Brever
William Scheuermann Joseph Meyerhofer John Hake
Jacob Germann Joseph Mayer Anton Gerken
George Biennemann Nicholas Helgert Joseph Sobbe

Several members of St. Kilians still happily recall the golden jubilee of the parish held in 1906. The following priests were present to help the members of the parish to say thank you to God for his many blessings:

Father F.J. Hillenbrand - Pastor
Rev. Alberts - Waterford
Rev. Eugene Reilly - Lake Geneva
Rev. Edward Schiefen - Kansasville
Rev. Joseph Lamotte - Marquette, Michigan

St. Kilians Elders - Photo obtained from Bill Zarnstorff

Following the Mass of Jubilee a family picnic was held in Erharts woods. The parish roster in 1906 read as follows:

Henry Bracker Andrew Keller John Scheuermann
Joseph Bruckner George Keller J. Streff
Fredolin Dorn Matthew Kiefer Mrs. William Schulz
Anton Erhart Joseph Mayer Simon Schulz
Laurence Helgert Joseph Meyerhofer Joseph Vogt
Nicholas Helgert Dorothea Meyerhofer Richard Vogt
Bartholomew Homann J. Maurer Mrs. Elisabeth Urspring
August Germann J. Mangold William Roanhouse
John Holzheimer George Reuss Mrs. Katherine Holzheime
J Kaudi George Scheuermann  

St. Killianís Diamond Jubilee Mass card - Image obtained from Bill Zarnstorff

On June 2, 1931 St. Kilians parish celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a Solemn High Mass in thanksgiving. Present on this happy day were:

His Excellency The Most Rev. Samuel A. Stritch assisting in Cappa Magna
Celebrant Rev. Herman J. Mayer of St. Elisabeth, Missouri
Deacon Rev. Edward Schiefen, Kansasville, Wisconsin
Sub-Deacon Rev. Henry Mauer, Burlington, Wis.
Master of Ceremonies Rev. Harland Kuehn, Burlington Wis.
Sermon Ref. F.J. Hillenbrand, Burlington, Wis.

The following priests were present:

The Very Rev. Joseph Van Treek, Burlington, Wisconsin
  Rev. J. Perrion, Waterford, Wisconsin
  Rev. Joseph Wurm, New Munster, Wisconsin
  Rev. Joseph Smith, Lake Geneva
  Rev. John Stehling, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
  Rev. H. Schmitt, Delevan, Wisconsin
  Rev. Joseph Keller, Brighton, Wisconsin
  Rev. Charles Lehwald, Paris, Wisconsin
  Rev. Joseph Ritger, East Troy, Wisconsin
  Rev. A.C. Biwer, Pastor of St. Kilians

The parish had again undergone some changes as is evident from the parish roster of 1931.

George Amborn Doric Forbes
Andrew Brever Mrs. August Germann
Mrs. H. Brever Peter Germann
Frank Brever Reinhard Germann
Leo Brecer Clement Germann
Charles Curran James Grady
Anton Erhart Jr, Mary Grady
Alvin Forbes Oscar Heidkemper
Anna Helgert Julia Martin
Mrs. Mary Helgert Val Reich
Thomas Helgert Richard Rice
Mrs. William Kaddatz Joseph Rice
Dorothy Kaddatz Rittmann Brothers
George Howe Louis Roesser
Leo Holzheimer Fred Schara
Mrs. Felix Meyerhofer Fred Scheuermann
Andrew Meyerhofer Schulz Family
Nicholas Meyerhofer Frank Vogt
Urban Meyerhofer Charles Vogt
Joseph Mayer Peter Wilger
Joseph Mangold John Erhart


On a beautiful summer day, Sunday, July 8, 1956, St. Kilian's parish celebrated its centennial with a Solemn High Mass at 10 o'clock in the morning. The Mass was attended by Archbishop Albert G. Meyer. The Mass was celebrated by Father Owsald Krusing, deacon, and Father Henry Maurer. Father James Manley, pastor of St. Francis de Sales, Lake Geneva, was sub-deacon.

Following the mass a noon dinner was served at St. Joseph's Hall in Lyons. An Open House was held at St. Kilian's Hall from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Father F.J. Tenpenny was pastor at St. Kilians for this celebration.

The "little cathedral of the country", St. Kilian's, is celebrating its 125th anniversary on June 28, 1981. St. Kilian's stands waiting for Mass every Sunday morning as the mission church of St. Joseph's. Father William Knoerschild now serves as pastor. Some of the present members of the parish are descendants of the original families who petitioned the Bishop of Milwaukee to establish the church in 1856. The parish and friends will celebrate the 125th anniversary with Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who will be assisted by former priests of the parish.

There will be a reception following the Mass at St. Kilian's and at 4 o'clock a dinner at St. Joseph's Hall at Lyons.

The following priests have served this parish since 1956:

Fr. Francis Tenpenny Fr. George Huber Fr. Cajetan Bogdanski
Fr. William Zelly Fr. Franklyn Becker Fr. Rick Niemier
Fr. Richard Walsh Assistant Priests: Fr. Finian Zaucha
Fr. William Knoernschild Fr. Arnold Rzadkiewicz Fr. Warren Rector
Fr. Harold Peight    

The present members of the parish are:

  Mrs. Marion Adams * Miss Kathy Kautz
  Mrs. Donald Adams * Miss Nancy Kautz
  Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Baumeister * Mr. & Mrs. William Kautz
  Mr. & Mrs. Laverne Baumeister   Mrs. Edmund Keefe
  Mrs. Kurt Bayer   Mrs. Lulu Leahy
  Mrs. Kurt Bayer, Jr. * Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Mangold
  Mrs. Arlene Braden * Mrs. Kathryn Mangold
  Mrs. Helene Brever * Miss Ann Meyerhofer
  Mrs. Margie Doll * Mr. & Mrs. Harold Meyerhofer
  Mr. & Mrs. Carl Drews * Miss Lorraine Meyerhofer
  Mr. & Mrs. David Ehlen * Mr. Roger Meyerhofer
  Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Ehlen * Mr. William Meyerhofer
  Mr. & Mrs. John Ehlen   Mrs. Elmira Pious
  Miss Kathy Ehlen   Mr. Carl Podstapka
  Mr. Leonard Ehlen   Mr. & Mrs. Chet Price
* Mr. & Mrs. Shawn Gleason   Mr. Steve Price
* Mrs. Barbara Holder * Mrs. Arthur Raduenz
* Miss Cheryl Holzheimer   Mr. & Mrs. Greg Redmer
* Mr. Jerry Holzheimer   Miss Viola Scott
* Mr. Kenneth Holzheimer   Mrs. Ted Wallace
* Miss Lynn Holzheimer * Miss Rose Erhart
* Mr. & Mrs. William Holzheimer * Mrs. Mary Mayer Roesser
* Mr. Charles Kautz * Mrs. Irene Helgert Uhlenhake

* Descendants of the original families

Many monetary contributions have been graciously given by families and friends to St. Kilian's.

Donations to our parish have been made during the past twenty-five years. The following donations were made:

Many more monetary contributions and gifts have been donated this year for our 125th celebration.

The happenings at St. Kilian's since 1956 have been of great interest and benefit for the people and the parish.

The present church officers are Joseph Mangold and Herbert Ehlien.

The Sodality officers are: Prefect Joan Holzheimer, Vice Prefect Amy Bayer, Secretary Jean Meyerhofer, and Treasurer Dorothy Kautz.

There have been many improvements made to the church such as paneling, a new ceiling, and carpeting. The confessional was added and a new organ.

The outside of the church and the hall have been painted several times. Friends of the parish made contributions to pay for the painting.

Judy Baumeister and Ann Meyerhofer have been organists for the masses.

Mass servers have been Edward and David Ehlen; Gerald and Robert Beyer; John, William, Lester and Timothy Baumeister; Jerry Holzheimer; and William Meyerhofer.

Members of the parish and guests have assisted Father at Mass as Readers.

CCD classes for the grade school children were held after Sunday mass during the school year.

Recently an Outdoor Mass was celebrated every other Memorial Day by the pastor for the memory of our War Veterans of St. Kilian's and St. Joseph's parishes.

The hall has been redecorated several times and electric heaters have been installed the last twenty-five years. The priests, parishioners, and friends have had many pleasant memories of activities held there.

Kenneth, William and John Baumeister; Edward and David Ehlen; William Kautz; Roger Meyerhofer; and Richard Raduenz served their country during this time.

St. Kilian's has many memories of the past 125 years and may our prayers and efforts continue with the "little cathedral in the country" for Love and Peace.

Compiled by:
M.L. Meyerhofer