History of St. Patrick's Church
Vine Creek, Kansas

The text below is transcribed from a booklet published in 1994 Two Early Irish-Catholic Parishes. (Vine Creek and Niles) .  The history was put together by Fr. John Lahey, Pastor of the Immaculate Conception Parish at Solomon, Kansas.  He was assisted by Robert Aylward, Solomon, Kansas, … and Margaret Riley, a granddaughter of William and Ann Foye, original residents Vine Creek community.  Margaret was born in Salina and resided in Salina and Tucson at the time of her death in 2008.

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Just as Jesus came to serve, so also the Church's primary mission is to serve the People of God and provide centers of worship consistent with the growth and development of the "faith followers."  At times, of course, this also involves contraction as the number of members decrease.  Availability of transportation and ease of movement and the availability of clergy are also important factors in the establishment or closure of churches.

 The early Catholic missionary, Father Louis Dumortier, developed an impressive network of Catholic missions as the settlers came to central Kansas after the Civil War (early 1860's.) Through the work of Father Dumortier and his successors, and because of its strategic location on the early route of settlers moving west and later building of the railroad (1876), the Solomon parish became one of the first Catholic parishes in the area. Even with the untimely death of Father Dumortier in 1867 from cholera, the work continued and expanded. (See history of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Solomon, Kansas.)

As the better "bottom land" around Solomon was purchased by settlers the early immigrants moved farther out from the rivers to find places to settle and raise their families. Since transportation was still primitive, it was soon decided that additional churches would be needed. To the northwest of Solomon a number of Irish Catholic families had established homes. Many of these people were children of the Solomon families and chose to remain as close to their relatives as they could.

And so, as early as 1880, even before the Solomon church was
dedicated the need for additional churches became apparent.

St. Patrick's mission, Vine Creek, began in 1880 as another Irish Catholic Community. Located in the southeastern part of Ottawa County, approximately fifteen miles northwest of Solomon.

The spiritual needs of these people were first met by a priest from Abilene, and later by Father John O'Leary and Father Bernard J. Hayden from Solomon, who made this mission a part of their itinerary.

At first, Mass was offered in the homes of the settlers. Later, Mass was offered in the schoolhouse. Father Hayden served the Vine Creek Church from Solomon from February, 1887 to 1905.

As other immigrants joined those already there, a small frame church was erected. The church was dedicated to St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. A destructive tornado destroyed the building in the early spring of 1890, but these people, undaunted by the elements, built another church. Soon a railroad branch ran from Abilene through Vine Creek to Minneapolis, so the priests from Minneapolis began to serve Vine Creek as a mission.

The Curry, Berry and Foye families had come from Ireland in 1885 and settled in Vine Creek and the surrounding farming community.

Margaret Carney came from Mayo, County Cork, Ireland, in 1885 and worked in Abilene as a domestic until her marriage to William Curry. They established their home in Vine Creek where two children were born. Their small daughter died in infancy and Mr. Curry died soon afterward. Mrs. Curry then sent for her sister, Mary, who came and lived with her for a short time. Mary married John Kirby, who settled on a farm several miles south of Vine Creek.

A short time later, a post office was established in Vine Creek and Mrs. Curry became postmistress, a position she held almost as long as there was postal service available in Vine Creek. The office was in her home, were she sold groceries, candies and cigars.

The Kirby family of four boys settled south of Vine Creek, and were also a part of the St. Patrick's parish. John married Mary Carney; George and James never married. William married Anna Meehan from the Solomon vicinity.

The William Foyes had seven children, all born in Ireland.

In later years families came and remained a few years, then left for other communities. The names of the families who made up the backbone of the parish will never be forgotten. Some of these names recalled are: Kelly, Hughes, Berry, Dulohery, Sager, Neaderhiser, Kehl, Bingham, Riley, Rice, Haefling, McCue, McBeth, Beardsley, Wallace, Yonnally and McDade. There may be more names which have been inadvertently omitted.

Eany Kelly was the local peddler. He took his wares to the settlers using a horse and cart as means of transportation. Later, he established the Vine Creek Store, which was active and thriving for many years.

In 1887 Vine Creek was incorporated and during the late 1890's and early 1900's proved to be a prospering community. Several houses and businesses were raised. The population swelled to between 40 and 50 persons.

Among the businesses listed in the old records included:
A Blacksmith Shop run by Mr. Kilgour

The Creamery was operated by:Mr. Myers and K.D. Sherman
A Livery Stable
A Pool Hall operated by John Foye
An Ice House
The "Phone Office" staffed by Mrs. Claude Smith
Real Estate and Notary Public by J.S. Winans
The Stock Yard Northeast of town along the railroad.
 

A grade school, District # 42,was built just Southeast of the town for the local children. The early teachers included Kate Curran, A. Walters and Mrs. Duffy. It is to be noted that Vine Creek had no jail!

The railroad came to Vine Creek in 1888 with a branch line running from Abilene through Minneapolis to Beloit. It provided easier transportation between Solomon and Vine Creek than the more common mode of transportation in those days.

Although separated by many miles the people of these two communities shared many social gatherings in the early 1900's, (dances, ball games, family gatherings, etc.)

Four descendants of the P J Berry family joined religious orders.

The Rev. Martin Berry, a grandson of P.J Berry was a Redemptorist priest.  Rev. M. Berry was born, November 15, 1902 and made profession of his faith, August 2,1930. He was ordained, June 28, 1935.
The Rev. Berry, C.SS.R. died, August 7, 1959.

Three granddaughters of P J Berry: Bridget, Margaret and Catherine became nuns. The girls joined the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas.

Bridget and Margaret were twins and they attended St. Mary's Academy in Leavenworth before the entered the Community.

Margaret Berry: Sister Rose Mary entered the community August 14,1888. She was a teacher and served in this capacity in Colorado, Montana and Kansas. Sister Rose Mary died at the age of 92 on March 9, 1962 at St. John's Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Bridget Berry: Sister Vincent Marie entered the Community in 1889. Sister Vincent Marie also taught school, but mostly high school at the St. Mary's Academy. In July 1913, Sister Vincent Marie was elected assistant to the Mother Superior, and served continuously in the General Council. In 1934, Sister Vincent Marie was elected to be the Treasurer-General, a position she held until her death in 1943. Sister Vincent Marie was 74 years of age and had spent 40 of her 54 years at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Catherine Berry the youngest sister of Sister Rose Mary and
Sister Vincent Marie, was born near Abilene
, Kansas on May 8, 1872. Catherine was also educated at St. Mary's Academy in Leavenworth.
 

Sister Angela entered the Community in 1893. She taught school in Montana and Kansas. However, most of her religious life was lived in Montana and Colorado where she devoted herself to the care of orphans at the St. Joseph's Home in Helena, Montana and at St. Vincent's Home in Denver, Colorado. She was also devoted to the care of the physically handicapped children at the St. Vincent Hospital School in Billings, Montana.

Sister Angela died on October 22,1993 in Denver, Colorado at the age of 72 years. Sister Angela had been a Sister of Charity for 52 years.

 Decline Begins

The land in the Vine Creek area is primarily hilly grass land that does not lend itself to intense farming (ie.: wheat, row crops, etc.) Therefore the population did not grow very much before it began to decline. There was never enough settlers to sustain a community (stores, churches, schools, etc.) Today the farms are widely scattered (less than one per square mile.) And so in March, 1945 (actually March 17th!), Bishop Thill and the Diocesan Board of Consultors made the difficult decision that the mission station at Vine Creek should be closed. By then the number of Catholic families in the area was down to 6 or 7. The Bishop referred to a then church requirement that at least 30 or more persons had to be present in order for a person to fulfill the Sunday obligation of attending Mass. Father Thomas Lonergan was serving Vine Creek at the time, as a mission from Minneapolis. As part of the closing process, he contacted the remaining families and asked them to register at a neighboring parish. Most chose Minneapolis since it was their regular shopping center, although they lived close to Niles. The Catholic families living there at that time were the Binghams, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Haefling, M. Meade, Jim and Pat Riley families and John Curry.

Father Lonergan rendered a very detail report of the closing  including the disposition of the windows and lumber from the closed church.

All that is left of St. Patrick's today (1994) to remind us that Vine Creek once was a thriving, lively Catholic community, is the foundation of the church and the cemetery.  The cemetery is now cared for by the Cemetery Board of the Solomon parish.

 Final Report of Vine Creek Parish by Fr. Thomas Lonergan
Immaculate Conception Rectory, Minneapolis, Kansas

Feb. 19,1945

Most Rev. F. A. Thill D.D. Episcopal Residence Concordia, Kansas

Your Excellency:

In reply to your letter of Feb. 15th, I will submit a detailed report of the Mission of Vine Creek, St. Patrick's.

Mass is said at Vine Creek 18 miles from Minneapolis twice a month.

Parishioners:

Mr. & Mrs. Frank Haefling
Mr. John Riley (wife and son now living in Salina)
Mr. & Mrs. Pat Riley (moving to Salina, March 1st)
Mr. M. Meade (bachelor)
Jim Riley (never attends Mass at Vine-always at Minneapolis)
 Bingham Family (3 old maidens and 1 bachelor)
John Curry (bachelor)

The largest number of Catholics attending Mass at anyone time is six.

Total Pew Rent and Plate Collections for 1944  $200.76
Total Mileage for 1944  900 Miles
Total Expenditures for 1944:
Pastor's Mileage $45.00
Pastor's Maintenance 146.40

In my judgment, the suppression of this Mission will not disturb the Catholic life of the Catholics in this Mission. As far as I can ascertain, none of these people are likely to discontinue practicing their faith. The three Bingham maidens from Vine Creek would be the only persons not in favor of closing the Mission. However I am quite sure that the suppression of the Mission would not hinder them from practicing their faith.

With every good wish, I am

Sincerely in Christ,
(signed) Rev. Thomas F. Lonergan
 

Priests who served St. Patrick's at Vine Creek
 as a mission from Solomon and/or Minneapolis


Fr. Bernard Fitzpatrick         1888          Minneapolis

Fr. Bernard ]. Hayden          1895-1905  Solomon
Fr. Dan Horgan                   1905          Solomon

Fr. J.C. Regan                    1905          Minneapolis
Fr. J. G. Mc Kenna              1908

Fr. Peter J. Hayden             1910

Fr. John Hennesey              1910
Fr. J.C. Volke                     1912            Minneapolis

Fr. ].T. McGuiness              1913-1914     Minneapolis
Fr. J. Linz                          1914            Minneapolis

Fr. Samuel Fraser               1914-1921    Minneapolis
Fr .August Koerprich           1922-1929    Minneapolis

Fr. Patrick ]. Cronin            1923-1929    Minneapolis
Fr. John H. Lenaghan          1929-1933    Minneapolis

Fr .John Koerprich               1933-1939    Minneapolis
Fr. John Kelly Jackson         1940-1944    Minneapolis

Fr. C. J. Brown                   1944            Minneapolis
Fr. Tom Lonergan               1944-1945    Minneapolis

 

Historical Sketch of Vine Creek, St. Patrick's Parish
 by Monsignor R. M. Menard, Editor of NWK Register

In 1939, Minneapolis had three missions cared for by the Rev. John Koerperich. They were along Route 197 and extended from Barnard to Vine Creek, an approximate distance of 50 miles.

The Fr. Thomas Lonergan was assigned to the Minneapolis parish, sometime about 1944. Before too long he had closed the missions at Barnard and Ada. Shortly Vine Creek met the same fate. Most of the residents in these three small parishes were of Irish descent. They had came to the area, I believe, as railroad workers. Then they branched out into farming and ranching. Ranching was the particular industry in the area of Vine Creek, located east of Minneapolis about 20 miles.
About 1943, Fr. Lonergan asked me to supply for him while I was chaplain of the St. Joseph
Hospital in Concordia. I thought that he meant I should supply at Minneapolis for a funeral. Then I found out it was to be in Vine Creek.

Proceeding to Vine Creek I found quite a congregation including the Wallaces, Rileys, Whites and others. They were there not only for the funeral but because this would be the last Mass in the Vine Creek church.
The cemetery was to the rear of the church which consisted of a couple of acres. Tom Wallace, about 75, had walked fourteen miles that morning to attend the last Mass. He had walked from Manchester, Kansas.
It was a real sad occasion. Now that the parishes are closed I don't believe there are more than half a dozen Catholics in anyone of the three areas.
The churches have been torn down and for a long time the Vine
Creek church windows were stored in the Minneapolis garage. Only the dead symbols, cemeteries, now remain where once there were Catholic communities, small though they might have been.

 

(Editor's Note:   The following excerpt from the 1973 history of Immaculate Conception Parish, Minneapolis, Kansas is a short history of St. Patrick's, Vine Creek.  It became the basis of the preceding history published in 1994, but amplified by facts furnished by Margaret Riley, who grew up in Vine Creek.)

CHAPTER VI   ST. PATRICK'S MISSION

St Patrick's mission, Vine Creek, was settled in 1880 as an Irish Catholic Community. Located in the east central part of Ottawa County, the spiritual needs of these people were first met by a priest from Abilene and later by Father O'Leary from Solomon, who made this mission a part of his itinerary. At first, Mass was offered in the homes of the settlers. Later, Mass was offered in the schoolhouse.

As other immigrants joined those already there, a small frame church was erected. The church was dedicated to St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. A destructive tornado destroyed the building in the early spring of 1890, but these people, undaunted by the ele­ments, built another church.

The Curry, Berry and Foye families came from Ireland in 1885 and settled in Vine Creek and the surrounding farming community. Margaret Carney came from Mayo, County Cork, Ireland, in 1885 and worked in Abilene as a domestic until her marriage 1D William Curry. They established their home in Vine Creek where their two children were born. The small daughter died in infancy and Mr. Curry died soon afterward. Mrs. Curry sent for her sister, Mary, who came and lived with her for a short time. Mary was married to John Kirby, who settled on a farm several miles south of Vine Creek

After the railroad was built through Vine Creek a post office was established and Mrs. Curry became postmistress, a position she held almost as long as there was postal service to Vine Creek. The office was in her home, where she also sold groceries, candies and cigars.

The Kirby family of four boys settled south of Vine Creek, but were a part of the St. Patrick's parish. John was married to Mary Carney. George and James never married. William married Anna Meehan from the Solomon vicinity.

The William Foyes had seven children, all born in Ireland.

In later years families came and remained a few short years, then left for other communities. The names of the families who made up the backbone of the parish will never be forgotten. Some of these names recalled are: Kelly, Hughes, Dulohery, Sager, Neaderhiser, Kehl, Bingham, Riley, Rice, Haefling, McCue, McBeth, Beardsley, Wallace, Yonally, and McDade. There may be more names which have been omitted through loss of records.

Eany Kelly was the peddler. He took his wares to the settlers using a horse and cart as means of transportation. Later, he estab­lished the Vine Creek Store, which was active and thriving for many years.

Three descendants of the P. J. Berry family joined religious orders. The Rev. Martin Berry, a grandson of P. J. Berry, is a Re­demptorist priest. Twogranddaughters became nuns. A grandson of Tom Curry will be ordained to the priesthood in June, 1973.

At the turn of the century a much needed, larger church building was erected and served for many years. In the spring of 1945, during the pastorate of Father Lonergan, the church was closed. In the fall of 1945 the church was dismantled. Some of the material was used to enlarge another church and the pews were used in the church in Minneapolis. When the church was dismantled, the parish was divided. Some of the families became part of the Sacred Heart parish at Niles and other families joined the Immaculate Conception parish at Minneapolis. The Charles Nunn family are the only Catholics in the community today

All that is left of St. Patrick's to remind us that Vine Creek once was a thriving, lively Catholic community, is the cemetery on a rise near a country road. Records show burials in St. Patrick's cemetery to be the following:

Berry, Mr. and Mrs. John
Berry, Mr. and Mrs. Martin
Bouhan, Leonard Peter
Cox, Michael
Curry, Mr. and Mrs. Wm
      baby daughter and son John

Foye, Anna E.
Foye, Mr. and Mrs. Michael J.
Foye, Mr. and Mrs. Michael
Foye, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. J.

Gabhart, Bridget
Garcio, Aurelia
Hersh, Cecilia and baby son
Kelly, Mr. and Mrs. Eany

Kirby, George.
Kirby, Harry J.
Kirby, James
Kirby, John Francis
Kirby, Mr. and Mrs. John
Kirby, Rose

McDade, Mr. and Mrs. John and infant
Meade, Morrison Leroy
Rice, Mary Bridget, son Nicholas,
     baby son Dennis
Riley, Mr. and Mrs. Edward,
     little son Mike
Riley, Francis Eugene
Riley, James J.
Riley, Michael Joseph
Wallace, Joseph
Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick, Sr.
Wallace, Patrick
Wallace, Thomas
Wolfe, Caroline

Mrs. Hannahan (ed not: should be Halligan), mother of Mrs. Wm. Foye, was the first burial in St. Patrick's cemetery.

 

 Excerpts from The Immaculate Conception Church, Minneapolis, Kansas  relevant to the history of St. Patrick's Church, Vine Creek

p. 16  During Msgr. Fraser's pastorate (1914 - 1921)  the Church at Minneapolis and its missions grew into the largest combined congregation ever served by the Minneapolis pastors.  St. Patrick's, the mission at Vine Creek, was the largest of Msgr. Fraser's missions, and it had the most active congregation.

p. 16  Msgr. Fraser told of going by train to Vine Creek on Easter Saturday, April 3, 1920.  He was to say Mass at St. Patrick's Easter morning and return to Minneapolis for a later Mass at the Immaculate Conception 'church.  The pastor usually spent Saturday night, and was often a Sunday dinner guest, in the different homes.  On this particular day, the Eany Kelly family were hosts.  When he arrived at the station great feathery flakes of snow were falling and by mid-afternoon the storm had reached blizzard proportions.  By nightfall neither man nor east was wise to venture outside.  In the early evening a young man came to the Kelly home and Monsignor said it was a miracle that he had found his way.  The world outside was a wall of blinding snow.  The storm raged on through the night and the temperature reached zero.  By noon on Easter Sunday, the storm had blown itself out.  Hugh drifts were everywhere, all landmarks were obliterated.

However, time does not stand still.  The snow plow for the railroad started to open the tracks to Manchester soon after the storm abated.  A crew of railroad men and farmers labored through 24 hours of back-breaking shoveling to open the road.  By Monday afternoon, Msgr. Fraser was able to return to Minneapolis.  This was one Easter Day that Mass was not offered in any of the Missions! 

p. 19   Msgr C. J. Brown (1944) laughingly recalled one of his Mission trips to Vine Creek. He had a four-wheel drive Nash.  He left Minneapolis, arrived at St. Patrick's, said Mass and started the return trip to Minneapolis, when he suddenly ran onto muddy roads.  To keep the car from going into the roadside ditch he put the car in gear, got out and walked alongside pushing the car toward the center of the road.  Suddenly, the wheels struck a dry patch of ground and the car took off.  Msgr. Brown was young and a good sprinter.  He caught up with the run-away car.  He arrived in Minneapolis mud-splattered and his dignity "deflated".

p. 21  Father Thomas Lonergan served the parish for the next six years (1944 - 1950).  During his pastorate many changes took place.  Many of the residents of Vine Creek, Ada, and Barnard congregations left farms and moved to more populous settlements and the churches were no longer used.  Soon the buildings were dismantled and again put into use enlarging or remodeling other churches.  Some of the families of the missions became a part of the Immaculate Conception parish and other families transferred to parishes nearer their own homes.

 

Sources:

Two Early Irish-Catholic Parishes — St. Patrick's, Vine Creek, Kansas (1880-1945) and Sacred Heart Church, Niles, Kansas (1903-1990)  Author Fr John Lahey, Pastor of the Immaculate Conception Parish at Solomon, Kansas, assisted by Robert Aylward, former member of the Niles parish, and Margaret Riley, Arizona and Salina, a former resident of the Vine Creek community. Published circa 1994

The Immaculate Conception Church, Minneapolis, Kansas A History from Missionary Days to the Present, 1885 - 1973.  Prepared and written by Mrs. Rugh Krisher and Mrs. Ivan Gros.

These booklets were received by Marilyn Maloney Wasylk from Margaret Riley August 1996. and loaned to Richard Foy on occasion of his visit to Kansas October 2008.

Photos copied from first booklet or else taken by Richard Foy during his trip to Kansas October 2008.

most recent revision:   October 27, 2008.

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