Thursday, September 20, 2012

Those Places Thursday: St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Evanston Illinois

Photo of the first church building for St. Nicholas Catholic parish in Evanston, Illinois.  The caption at the bottom roughly translates to "Built in 1897 - Burned 3 February 1898." But the first church was actually built in 1887 - not sure why it's wrong here (printer's error?).  Photo courtesy St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois, and used with permission.
The current  St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois, under construction, 1904-1906.
Photo courtesy the parish and used with permission

St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Evanston, Illinois
today - building begun 1904, completed 1906.
Photo courtesy the parish; used with permission.
St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois, was the home parish of my German immigrant paternal great-grandparents, John (1851-1945) and Gertrude (1859-1919) Kramer Pape, and their seven children.  John appears in the Evanston city directory as early as 1882 (after immigrating in 1880), so he may very well have been one of the founding members.  The Pape family lived at what is now 1043 Sherman Avenue in Evanston for most of the period from 1882 through about 1925, and were members of this parish.  The six oldest of their seven children were baptized at St. Nicholas.  At least the youngest two boys (Otto "Dick" and Walter) attended and graduated from St. Nicholas School (established in 1887, in the basement of the church pictured in the souvenir above).  Daughter Martha was married there in 1921.  At least one of Martha's children, son Jack Bleidt, was baptized there in 1929.  I've found Confirmation records for all seven of John and Gertrude's children, and I'm sure I'll find First Communion records for them as well.

In addition, I have found marriage records for other Pape kin.  John's brother Anton married his second wife, Catherine Hoffman, there in May 1888 - the third marriage listed in the church records.  Anton's son and daughter (from his first marriage to Regina Allers, who died in 1887) were also married there.  Hugo Aloysius Pape (an Evanston alderman in the late 1930s) married Josephine Didier in June 1905, and his sister Emma Genevieve Pape married August Childs in February, 1911.  No doubt I'll find some more Baptisms, First Communions, and Confirmations for their children.

According to information I found in recent parish bulletins (July-September, 2012):

The Morpers, the Didiers, and the Kaspers wanted to belong to a parish in which German-—their first language--was spoken. Going south to St. Henry, at Ridge and Devon, where there were others from Luxembourg, or north to St. Joseph in Wilmette, where Germans from Trier lived, was not easy in the time before automobiles and public transportation. The priests in the parish in Evanston-—then the only parish in Evanston—-St. Mary, insisted that English be learned and practiced. (They knew that the immigrants would never return to Luxembourg, and wanted them to speak English so they wouldn’t be at a perpetual disadvantage.) Then after five months of meeting and organizing, it happened. On Wednesday, July 20, 1887, Patrick Feehan, the archbishop of Chicago, formally established St. Nicholas in south Evanston as a German language parish, without territorial boundaries. (Boundaries were given 40 years later, in 1927, by Cardinal George Mundelein.)...the first Mass (said in Latin, of course) of and in the new, German-language parish of Saint Nicholas was celebrated in Ducat Hall at Chicago Avenue and Main Street on Sunday, August 7, 1887. 

The church is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a number of special events throughout the year running from July 2012 through June 2013.  On October 28, 2012, there will be a bilingual Mass at 1 PM, and a program on "Our Founders from Luxemburg and Germany."  Below is a copy of an article I found in the Lake Shore News (Wilmette, Illinois) of November 21, 1912, about the 25th anniversary of the parish.

image from the Wilmette, Illinois, Public Library online historic newspaper collection.

On Sunday, I'll post some images of the family records (mentioned above) from this church that I have found over the past few years.

This post is for a series on "Doors of Faith" at the Catholic Gene blog.

© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.

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