THE IRISH IN IOWA
History of St. Patrick's Cedar, Churdan, Greene Co, Iowa
Transcribed by Joan Nugent
Irish Catholics settled the Cedar Creek area in the 1850's. Fr. Marsh from Ft. Dodge said the first Mass at the Myles Fitzpatrick home in June of 1863. Frs. Delaney, Concannon, Barry, McGrath, Mulvehill, O'Farrell, and Quirk, all served as missionary priests. In 1872, Myles Fitzpatrick purchased a farm for his son and donated five acres of land for'the first Catholic Church in Greene County. L. Isaac Ritchie was hired to build the church. Myles Fitzpatrick donated the;native lumber from his sawmill. It was a white frame building with a high bell tower. John and Catherine Fitzpatrick officially donated the land to Bishop Hennessey of the Diocese of Dubuque on July 3, 1875. It was transferred to the Sioux City Diocese on May 19, 1902.
In 1885, Fr. George Costello was appointed pastor of St. Patrick's, Lohrville, and Churdan. St. Patrick's was served by the following priests over the years: Frs. William Cooke, William Shanahan, James Fitzpatrick, Clement Sweeney, Francis McNeil, George Hickey, Dennis Clark, Joseph Schultes, John Hausmann, Leo Shumacher, George O'Brine, George Benjamin, James Shanahan, John Turza, Leo Riesberg, Joses Lisowski, John Schissel, Donald Slaven, Michael Wagner, and Dennis Meinen. Our present pastor is Fr. Steven McLoud.
Religious from the community included Fr. Vincent Hunt, Anastasia and Margaret Connelly, Dorothy Franey, and Carita Carey.
In 1915, a new church was constructed of matt-faced brick and stone in Romanesque Revival mode, designed by William LeBarthe Steele, built by C. F. Mayer of Humbolt, Iowa, and dedicated on November 7,1915, by Rev. P.J. Garrigan, Bishop of Sioux City. The completed cost was $24,000.00. On Sunday, June 15, 1919, the church burned. It was reduced to a brick shell. Using the original brick foundation and walls, the Cedar Catholics hired a Mr. Parker from Iowa City to superintend, and rebuilt their church.
On September 6, 1934, the church property was in receivership. They owed the American Savings Bank of Carroll $2,383.99. A public sale was held at the Greene County Courthouse and purchased by Dennis Hayes; the note was repaid on July 16, 1936, returning the church to the parishioners.
During the depression years, social activities were held and an organization called "Four C's" (Cedar, Churdan Catholic Church), and a baseball team were formed. The first weekly church bulletin was printed.
The first "Cluster" of the Sioux City Diocese was organized with St. Patrick's, St. Columbkille's, St. John's Paton, and St. Bridget's Grand Junction in 1988. In 1995, our cluster was changed to include St. Patrick's, St. Columbkille's, and St. Paul's Scranton.
During the 1970's and 1980's, St. Patrick's had suffered much damage, the roof and gutters leaked and the paint and plaster were falling off the walls. An effort by the parishioners restored the church to more usable state. Joan Nugent nominated St. Patrick's to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. A new roof was installed in 1996, after receipt of a grant from the Historical Resource and Development Program, a part of the R.E.A. P. program of the State Historical Society of Iowa.
We were officially reduced to oratory status in August of 1996, with 30 families remaining in the parish. We are now allowed Mass on St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, our birthday celebration in August, funerals, and special occasions.
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© 2006 Cathy Joynt Labath