Ponziglione, Paul M., one of the early Catholic missionaries in Kansas, was born on Feb. 11, 1818, in the city of Cherasco, Piedmont, Italy. He was of noble descent, his father having been Count Felice Ponziglione di Borge d'Ales, and his mother Countess Terrero Castelnuoro. After his preliminary education he attended the Royal College of Novara and subsequently the College of Nobles at Turin, both Jesuit institutions, taking his degree at Turin. He then studied law for over a year, but seemed to turn naturally to the priesthood, and in 1839, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Chieri, near Turin, where he received the usual training. In 1848 he was connected with the Jesuit college at Genoa, during a period of disturbance in Italy, and at one time eighteen of the priests in the college were arrested by one of the political factions. They were sent to Spenzia but managed to escape to Modena, where most of them took to the mountains. Father Paul determined to go to Rome and thence to the United States. He reached Rome, where he was ordained priest on March 25, 1848, and soon after that came to the United States. From New York he went to St. Xavier's College at Cincinnati for a short time, but before leaving Italy he had made up his mind to spend his life as a missionary among the Indians. Following out his resolve he offered himself to Rev. Anthony Elet, the superior of the western Jesuits of the United States, and was assigned to the Missouri mission. For two years he worked in Missouri and Kentucky, and then returned to St. Louis. In March, 1851, he left St. Louis for the region west of the Missouri river. While his home was to be at the Osage mission and that tribe his special charge, his labors extended from Fremont Peak, Wyo., to Fort Sill, I. T. For twenty years Father Paul's work was with the Osages, and this was one of the brightest periods in the history of the tribe. He was an honored guest among the Indians, baptized and taught their children, and ministered alike to bodily and spiritual needs. The particular scope of his work in Kansas was from Cherokee county north to Miami, then west to Fort Larned, Pawnee county, along the southern border of the state. He also penetrated the wild regions of the Indian Territory and established mission stations at the Indian agencies and military posts. Within forty years he established over 100 missions87 in Kansas and 21 in the Indian Territory. In 1870 the Osages withdrew from Kansas, but Father Paul still watched over them, making the trip by wagon from the old mission to their new home in the Indian Territory. The beautiful church at the Osage mission, known as St. Francis, next to the cathedral at Leavenworth, is the finest in the state. It was built through the efforts of Father Paul and dedicated on May 11, 1884. In 1889 he was asked to go as a peacemaker to the Crow Indians in Montana and did not return to Kansas. The next year he became historian of St. Ignatius' College in Chicago, Ill., and assistant pastor of the Jesuit church. His sympathies were so broad that he also became chaplain of St. Joseph's home for deaf mutes. He died in Chicago on March 28, 1900.Pages 488-489 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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