"St. Patrick’s Corner Stone Laid 50 Years Ago" From the Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, 1 September 1955
Fifty years ago, Aug. 31, 1905, the cornerstone of the present St. Patrick’s Catholic church in Lincoln was laid, and the following report of the event, written at the time of the laying of the corner stone, will be of interest at this time.
The church was built of native limestone rock, and like many other edifices built from the same material throughout this section, it has withstood the vicissitudes of the changing conditions of the Kansas elements, and today stands as imposing as the day it was built.
The narrative of the laying of the corner stone follows:
The laying of the corner stone of the splendid new Catholic church in this city last Thursday, Aug. 31, 1905, was an important event in the history of the Catholic church in Lincoln county.
The Very Reverend Father Maher, of Salina, was in charge of the ceremony and was assisted by Father McConnel of Plainville, Father Flemming of Solomon and Father McNamara, pastor of the local parish. The ceremony was beautiful and impressive in its very simplicity.
The stone itself is a beautiful blue granite and was donated to the church by Henry Sahlman, who also cut and engraved it. The stone bears the simple inscription, “St. Patrick, 1905,” included in the tin box which is securely bedded in the stone are several matters which will be of interest to future generations when for any cause the stone shall be removed and the contents opened up. The contents consist of a copy of each of the Lincoln papers, the Republican and the Sentinel; a history of the bishop and of the dioceses; a history of the old settlers of the congregation, telling of their hard work and hard times of the early days as well as the change [to] present affluence and comparative east; a short sketch of the present form of state and national government, giving the names of the present governor of Kansas and the president and paying tribute to President Roosevelt as the best president since Lincoln; and a short history of our city, estimating our present population at from 1,400 to 1,500.
Father Maher delivered the address of the occasion and made a splendid effort. He traced the history and significance of the corner stone laying through the ages, paying glowing tribute not only to those who have lain corner stones of imposing edifices, but also to the great characters whose lives and teachings have been the corner stones of truth, intelligence and virtue. He traced especially the work of the Catholic church in Kansas from the first appearance of that missionary, who laid down his life on Kansas soil away back in the year 1542 to the present time with the many benevolent and charitable institutions supported by Kansas Catholics. ...
The building itself will be a handsome stone structure with a seating capacity of 300 and is to be completed before cold weather, at a total cost of about $10,000. The stone is bedded in cement up to the water table making a building which should last for centuries, being a monument to the energetic labors of the pastor. Father McNamara, who has been in charge of the church now for almost eight years. Three years ago, he built the parish house and since then has been a resident in Lincoln, having lived in Salina the first five years he was in charge of the church.
The old building which now gives place to the new, erected 28 years ago, when times were hard and money scarce and necessarily correspond with the means and ability of the community, but now that the community has prospered in material things and the individual communicants are well housed and supplied with the good things of this world, Father McNamara was no longer willing that their place of worship should be less imposing, and as his congregation agreed with him, the new church is the result.
The old building will be sold and removed from the block.
Anne Dillon, a long-time member of St. Patrick’s church, and who was present at the corner stone laying, has written an article entitled, “Early Memories of My Church,” in which she recounts many interest incidents. It follows;
Back in the ‘60s the Catholics of Lincoln county were served by priests from Salina. The first I know of was Fr. Temphaus, but that was years before my parents, Mr. and Mrs. James W. Dillon, came to the U.S.A.
Then there was Fr. Adolph Wilbert. He it was who established the first Catholic school in Salina, long before there were any Sisters there. He taught the children himself with the assistance of a lay teacher.
When the Catholics decided to built a church in Lincoln the city very generously gave them a whole block, which is still in possession of the church.
But for years we had no resident pastor, being served by priests from Wilson and Salina, but mostly from Ellsworth.
In 1900 the rectory was built and Fr. John McNamara came to Lincoln, our first resident pastor.
The stone in the new church is all native, having been obtained from quarries four or five miles north of Lincoln. I think the quarry was operated by a man named Van Valkenburg, but I am not sure of that. My father, James W. Dillon, John Whalen and Thomas Corrigan were the committee that assisted Fr. McNamara.
Some, at least, of the stone was brought from the quarry to Lincoln by the parishioners, for my two brothers drew some of it. Our house was about nine miles from the quarry. The roads were mere trails, compared with the present ones and there was no modern machinery to load the heavy stones. Horses provided the power. It was, indeed, an arduous task.
The late Owen Mulloy and Michael Cannon helped with the masonry work and Henry Zink, now deceased, who operated a bakery and restaurant, provided free meals for any of the workers who wished to go there.
Although I mention a few, all helped, included people how were not Catholics, many of whom contributed liberally and helped to make money-making entertainments a success.
I will remember that memorable day how we all sat happily on planks in to the hot August sun watching the ceremonies and listening intently to Fr. Maher’s eloquent sermon. Few are left who were there that day but the beautiful church stands, a monument to their faith, zeal and generosity.