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THE story of the settlements of Ellis County, Kansas, would be incomplete without mentioning the great labors performed by the spiritual guides and leaders of the people for 48 years.
It has been stated in the beginning of this volume that Rev. Fr. Hyacinth, 0.M. Cap., who acceded to the request of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Fink to take over the spiritual direction of the newcomers, hesitated; and well he might hesitate to send his men out into the so-called "American desert" to take charge of the people of whose manners, customs and dispositions he knew nothing.
Filled, however, with the spirit of their founder, St. Francis of Asissi, and burning with zeal for the salvation of souls, the Fathers of the Capuchin order undertook the work entrusted to them by Bishop Fink.
The first ones to reach the scene of so much of their future activity were Rev. Mathew Hau, O.M. Cap., and Rev. Anastasius Mueller, O.M. Cap., who arrived at Herzog May 15, 1878. The first named died June 25th and was succeeded July 15th by Rev. Joseph Cal. Mayershofer, O.M. Cap.
Unflinchingly, these men entered upon their work sharing the poverty and privations of their charges; they were not only spiritual advisers and guides, but performed the same services in temporal affairs. Their field was an extensive one, covering not only the six newly founded settlements, but also Hays and Ellis and other outlying missions. This necessitated much travel and many inconveniences, the difficulties of which we, of the automobile days, are prone to underestimate.
The salary, fixed by the Diocesan statutes, were supposed to be paid regularly, but owing to the poverty of their parishioners, this was seldom, if ever, fully collected in the early years.
In time, other fathers of the Capuchin order arrived and today all the Catholic churches in Ellis County, with the exception of two lying south of the Smoky Hill River, are under their jurisdiction.
Their mission was salvation of souls - to this end, they erected churches and schools - humble and poor, indeed, were these first buildings. With the coming of better times for the settlers, these were replaced by more pretentious structures, so that today Ellis County boasts some of the most magnificent church buildings in the State of Kansas.
Untiring and unceasing were the efforts of the Capuchin Fathers on behalf of the parochial school.
For 48 long years they have labored and built and if the descendants of the settlers of 1876 in Ellis County today present unbroken ranks of Catholic faith and solidarity, it is owing to the great work of the Capuchin Fathers.
Transcribed from The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926
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