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In the year 1850, most of Manitowoc County was just getting started. The Town of Cooperstown was growing and the need for a place of worship developed. Land was donated by Frank Wanish, the same parcel of land we use today, and a small church of logs was built. The first priest to serve the community was Father Brunner S.J. St. James, or Holy Family, as our parish was known then, was a mission of Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Manitowoc Rapids. Just how regularly mass was celebrated is unknown. However, records show that a rectory was built in 1854.

In 1858, Reverend Joseph Maly came as a missionary, serving also in Francis Creek, until 1865. The next few years saw Father William Mahoney and Father Eusebius Henzler as pastors. In 1870, Reverend Eusebius Henzler served as a mission priest, and when he passed on, he was buried in our cemetery. Shortly thereafter, Rev. James Gauche arrived.

The need for a larger structure to serve the growing parish arose. Plans were made, and a new church was built. The structure measured 50 feet by 100 feet, and was 44 feet tall at the top of the steeple. The church was dedicated to St. James the Apostle, whose feast day is July 25. The new church was completed in December of 1871 at a contracted cost of $2,599.

Rev. Gauche resigned in 1873, leaving Rev. J.B. Wenning in charge until October 1875. St. James remained without a pastor until Father Augustine Rossochowitz arrived in January of 1876. His assistant, Rev. V. Rinkes, stayed for two months to teach him English. During Father Rossochowitz’s pastorate, many improvements were made including a new stone rectory built at a cost of about $1,800 and, in 1882, remodeling the log church into the first St. James School. On November 30, 1883, St. James Parish was legally incorporated by the State of Wisconsin. Father Rossochowitz returned to his homeland in 1884, and Father Francis Stern took care of St. James.

Reverend F. A. Dueermeyer became pastor and served for 3 years. In 1887, Father J.A. Holznecht assumed the pastorate. During this time, Father Francis X. Steinbrecher, who grew up in St. James Parish, was ordained to the priesthood, and celebrated his first mass at the church. From August until October of 1892, Father Steinbrecher and Rev. Geier were given temporary charge of the parish. During this time, lightning struck and damaged the steeple.

On November 13, 1892, Rev. D. Schwartzmeyer arrived. During his time, renovations to the rectory, school and convent were made. Less than a year later, on July 14, 1893, a tornado struck the church and destroyed the roof and interior of the church. A special meeting was held, and shortly thereafter, the interior and roof were rebuilt.

The next pastor was Rev. Gregory Pellegrin. The 1897 census listed 125 families of whom 56 were Irish, 56 were German, and the rest Polish. About 70 children were enrolled in the school.

In 1898 Reverend Anthony H. Huitink became pastor, and a new organ was purchased in 1899. Father Francis Geier succeeded him, serving from 1902 until 1910.

Reverend John Rollinger was appointed pastor in 1910. The village of Denmark was growing rapidly, and the bishop authorized Father Rohlinger to hold and organizational meeting. Here is was decided to build a church in Denmark on land donated by Father Rohlinger and to dedicated the church to All Saints.

In 1912, Father August Dusold became pastor. He celebrated the first Mass in Denmark in a basement church, which remained a mission of Cooperstown for the next eleven years.

On Saturday, May 9, 1914, disaster struck St. James Parish. Mr. E. C. Klemke, proprietor of a saloon located across from the church, noticed smoke coming from the roof of the church at about 3:00 pm. Father Dusold was quickly summoned, but, before anything could be done, the entire building was engulfed in flames. The Blessed Sacrament, some vestments and a few small articles were saved. Due to the strong winds, the fire quickly spread to the recently completed school, a stone building across from the church known as Wanish’s Store, and a barn owned by Thomas Bradley. The barn, school and church were a complete loss. The school had been completed the winter before and rededicated by Bishop Fox. What began as a small rubbish fire dealt a severe blow to the community of Cooperstown. The following day a meeting was held and plans were made to build a new church and school made of brick.

In January 1920, a meeting was held to discuss the condition of the old stone rectory, which had been saved from the fire. It was decided to tear down the “unsightly, unsanitary and cramped old stone house and build a new one of brick at a cost not to exceed $10,000.” On April 12, 1920, the old structure was razed and construction began.

In 1922, Father Bernard Jacobs came to serve St. James. The 52-year-old pastor met an untimely death when he was killed while changing a tire one and one half miles north of the church.

Father Husslein took over duties until July of 1940. Father Joseph Bartelme became the pastor of St. James in 1940, and was succeeded by Father Walter Williams until July of 1955. In 1955 Father Peter Schroeder was named pastor. During this time a new entrance was built on the northeast corner of the church to eliminate using the front steps. Father Schroeder remained until September 1963, when Father James Geenen arrived at St. James.

During the time Father Geenen was here, the school was closed – mainly due to the high cost of maintenance. The school building was used for many years for religious education classes. Father Geenen remained pastor until a car accident on August 18, 1981. Father Alfred Heitpas was named administrator until January of 1982, when Father John Blaha became pastor. After two and a half years, Father Blaha left and Father Michael Clifford took over the pastorate.

During Father Clifford’s tenure, many improvements were made to the church and rectory including complete redecorating of the church, a new bell system, and remodeling of the rectory. Father Clifford left in September of 1987, and was followed by Father Alfred Ebel who served in the interim until April of 1988, when Father Thomas Stocker took over as pastor.

During this time, the school was torn down and the basement of the church remodeled into classrooms. A new organ was purchased for the church, and we had the honor of seeing two members of the parish, Father William O’Brien and Father Frank Dewane celebrate their first masses. Fathers O’Brien and Dewane joined other sons of the parish including Francis Steinbrecher, Eugene Geimer, Lambert Scanlan, Francis Geimer and Bernard Geimer as priest sons of our parish.

In July 1993, Father Ron Colombo came to St. James. One of the many improvements made to the church was to re-lead the beautiful 85-year-old stained glass windows.

In the year 2000, St. James parish marked its’ sesquicentennial year. Several events marked the celebration. In spring, a special service was held at Manitowoc Rapids at the site of our mother church, Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was followed by a procession back to Cooperstown with a special Mass and dinner. On August 5, we reminisced at the only known reunion for St. James School. Then on August 6, the anniversary was celebrated with a Mass concelebrated by Bishop Banks and then followed by a spectacular picnic on the church grounds. In fall of that year we had a closing Mass which was followed by the burial of a time capsule to be opened in the year 2050. Father Colombo also took on duties that year as pastor of All Saints in Denmark and Holy Trinity Mission at Hwy NN due to the linkage of the three parishes.

In 2006, our parish linkage expanded to include St. Joseph’s Parish in Kellnersville. We were joined by a Pastoral Associate, Sister Gerri Krautkramer in 2007 to help in the ministerial duties. The parish roster had nearly 525 family units.

We can truly be proud of what we have at St. James. May we continue to grow as a parish family for many more years.

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The Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Hail Mary

Hail, Mary! Full of grace, The Lord is with thee, Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen