Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa

     St. Thomas Parish was established in 1905 by cutting off part of the Assumption Parish, the "mother parish of northwest Iowa." The new parish was to take care of those Catholics who lived in the northern portion of Emmetsburg and those six or eight miles north, east and west of town. The Milwaukee Railroad track, which runs east and west through Emmetsburg, was made the dividing line between the Assumption and the new St. Thomas Parishes.
     Bishop P.J. Garrigan appointed Father Michael McNerney to organize new St. Thomas Parish. Father McNerney had been the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Livermore for 17 years.
     Farther McNerney was born in Ireland and studied theology at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. He had been ordained on June 24, 1888, and adopted for the diocese of Dubuque which at that time included all of the State of Iowa. Shortly afterward Father McNerney arrived in Dubuque and was made assistant pastor of St. Raphael's Cathedral. He remained there only a few months before being appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Church at Livermore in Humboldt county. Father McNerney came to Emmetsburg in March, 1905. By this time, however, the diocese of Sioux City had been formed in 1902 to include all of northwestern Iowa. Bishop P.J. Garrigan had been appointed the first bishop of Sioux City, and it was he who transferred Father McNerney to Emmetsburg. When the new pastor arrived, he had no rectory to live in, so he resided for over a year with Rev. J.J. Smith, V.F., the pastor of Assumption Parish and assisted Father Smith with his parish duties as well as serving as pastor of the new parish.
     There were about 125 families in St. Thomas Parish when it was formed in 1905. Assisting Father McNerney in the organizing of the new parish and erecting the new church was a committee of the following men: Robert Shea, Lot Laughlin, P.V. Nolan, James Dunigan and Thomas J. White.
     The first baptism recorded in the new St. Thomas Parish was that of John Julian Kneer, April 23, 1905. His parents were Francis Kneer and Mary Jensen. This baptism actually took place in the Assumption church because the new St. Thomas church was being built.
     The first baptism that took place in the new church was on September 13, 1906. On that date Ralph Thomas Joynt was baptized. He was the son of Thomas Joynt and Mary McNally. The sponsors were Patrick Joynt and Mrs. Rose Doerning.
     The second child to be baptized in the new church was Agnes Margaret McEvoy. She was baptized the 30th of September, 1906. Her parents were Michael T. McEvoy and Mary Rashford. The sponsors were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Nolan. Margaret McEvoy, wife of the late Lawrence T. Brennan, was 89 years old on September 17, 1995, and continued to reside in Emmetsburg.
     The first marriage recorded in the parish was that between Robert Laughlin, son of John T. Laughlin and Bridget McCabe, and Catherine Agnes Jackman, daughter of Patrick Jackman and Margaret Brennan. The witnesses were Joseph Laughlin and Anna Jackman. This wedding took place October 2, 1905 in the Assumption Church, because the new church had not been completed.
     The first wedding to take place in the new church was between John Joseph Martin and Anna M. Nolan. This was on September 3, 1906. The Martins were in the undertaking business for many years.
     The second wedding in the new church was that of Dr. Thomas S. Hession and Sadie M. Ryan on September 11th, 1906. Sadie Ryan was the half sister of the late Mrs. C.J. Stillman, Sr.

     The first funeral was that of William O'Connell, who was buried on the 17th of September, 1906. The second funeral held in the church was that of John O'Neil, who died in April, 1907. Previous to this, three members of the parish had died. Funeral services for them were held in the Assumption Church. They were Catherine Brennan, who died in June, 1905; John Nolan who died November 20, 1905, and William Hester, who died in August, 1906.
     On October 8, 1905, the first group of children of St. Thomas Parish received their first Holy Communion in Assumption Church. They were: Ray Conway, Valentine Cassidy, Rose Corcoran, William Coonan, Fred Grace, Marie Cassidy, Claudia Laughlin, Nora Bough, Bernard Kelly and William Millea.
     It was not until 1907 that First Communion was held in the new St. Thomas Church. In that year a class of forty made their First Holy Communion. They were: Frederick O'Neil;, Matthew Littleton, John Doyle, Earl Sturgess, James Nolan, Hugh Phillips, Albert Muir, Rolland Dean, Raymond Benda, Thomas Ganley, Basil McEvoy, Thomas Murray, James Fay, Leo McEvoy, James Mehan, Vincent Bigley, Joseph Pratt, Maurice Laughlin, James Frambach, Hugh Carney, John Conway, Ray Lynch, Catherine Corcoran, Josephine Brennan, Anne Bigley, Mary Pratt Donahue (Mary celebrated her 100th birthday October 14, 1995), Ora Bough, Mary Conway, Edith Galloway, Catherine McMahon, Alice Donahue, Anne Nally, Ruth O'Reilly, Alice Conway, Bridget Hickey, Susan Swift, Ethel Doyle, Ellen McNamara and Agatha Hand.
     The Sacrament of Confirmation was administered in St. Thomas Church for the first time in 1908. In that year a class of sixty-five were confirmed by Bishop P.J. Garrigan. They were: Agatha Hand, Thomas Ganley, Mildred Daley, Susan Swift, John Doyle, Matthew Littleton, Joseph Kane, Hugh Conway, Oscar Doyle, Ellen Phillips, Marie Cassidy, Rose Corcoran, Leo McEvoy, Vincent Hand, William Millea, Raymond Benda, Bernard Kelly, Mary Pender, Basil McEvoy, John J. Kane, Frederick O'Neil, James Frambach, William Coonan, Ruth O'Reilly, James Nolan, Francis Littleton, Raymond Conway, Leo Hester, Valentine Cassidy, William Littleton, Genevieve Daly, Lily O'Neil, Catherine Corcoran, Catherine McMahon, Mary Conway, Ellen McNamara, Anna Bigley, Ethel Doyle, Bridget Higley, Josephine Brennan, Alice Donahue, Mary Pratt, Earl Sturgess, Edith Galloway, James Mehan, James Fay, Mary Leahy, Ora Bough, Alice Kane, Joseph Pratt, Claudia Laughlin, Mary Dunigan, John Conway, Hugh L. Phillips, Maurice Laughlin, Vincent Bigley, Edward Kelly, Issac E Drew.