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Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year

[Rosalie Parnell's book on Somerset, Wisconsin],   pp. 11-64 PDF (24.6 MB)

Page 25

In the year of 1875, there arose in the quiet peaceful little
parish of Saint Vincent de Paul at the Pointe de la Pomme de Terre
a serious question. It concerned the moving of the church to the
center of the Catholic populated areas. This included the village
north of the Apple River towards Farmington, Osceola, and along
the road into the village and towards New Richmond, Erin Prairie,
Clear Lake, Wagon Landing and on the south towards Hudson (Buena
Vista), a Dutch settlement, and Dakota, meaning Stillwater, and
from the Minnesota side across the Saint Croix River.
There was much debating and much resentment. These pioneers
had sacrificed much to attain this, and they aimed to keep the
rewards of it all in their midst.   In the course of time it
materialized. It was all moved to the village. The place agreed
upon was the hill north of the village -- the site of our present
beautiful edifice of worship.
Berlin's residence of today belonged to a Mr. Hubert Germain
first. All the south portion of the present house was his. He
owned a small grocery store. (later the M. C. LeVesque store. He
operated this until the death of his wife, Mrs. LeVesque, they
also had a millinery shop upstairs). He owned the land across the
road, the present church property except for the location of the
school, sisters' home and playgrounds. The burial grounds, much
enlarged today, also were his. He donated a piece of property
large enough for the church, priest's house, etc. and the burial
grounds, perhaps during the year 1874, as the first priests'
house was built then.
The first church of the Saint Anne Parish was built in 1875
and was not completely finished until 1882 when the belfry or
steeple (toothpick fashion) was completed.   It was built by
Theophile Rivard and Isadore Belisle during Father Keller's
pastorate. The bell was christened "Anne" and blessed in November
of the year 1882. There were additions from time to time as need
requited. Two wings were added on each side of the building.
Then in a few years two long balconies were extended all along
the sides and connected to the front on the wings and to the organ
loft in the back. The choir loft also had many pews and a belfry.
Occupants had to be careful in there when the bell was rung as
the rope passing through would catch their clothes.   With all
these "build-ons" much more room was available but, oh my,  what
an ideal firetrap it all was! Parishioners had to wander towards
the back to get to the winding back stairs leading to the narrow
box-like exit which in turn led to the front door of the church.
Beautiful altars were placed in the church at different times
through donations.   These were preserved and are still in use
today in our new church.   This church was used continually till
1916. Meanwhile the quaint little church of Saint Vincent de Paul
remained idle.   The parishioners who would at times gather for
prayers did not want to give it up. But in 1888 or 1889 Reverend
F. Wirtz had the church demolished, salvaging all usable lumber to

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