Goodbye, Beautiful Lady

This beautiful church was recently demolished. So many were so sad to see it go, however the memories of the families worshiping, the weddings, and the funerals celebrating lives will always remain.

In May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed The Homestead Act into law. It was a way for settlers to attain land. Settlers could claim 160 acres of public land and only pay a filing fee. If they wanted to retain the title of the land, they could either live on the property for five constant years, grow crops and build a house, then they could file for the deed. The other option was after six months once they built a home and started crops, they could purchase the land directly from the government for $1.25 per acre. The law was amended in 1864, allowing soldiers who served the country for two years to obtain land after a year of residency. 80 million acres of public land was distributed due to The Homestead Act. The first farmers began to arrive in 1869-1870.

In 1871, Moravian and Bohemian immigrants traveled on horseback, wagons, and even on foot to Colfax, Nebraska to claim farmland. German and Czech immigrants were encouraged to travel to the state of Nebraska. Railroad employees even referred to Nebraska as the Garden of Eden.

Several of the Czech immigrants were Roman Catholics. Without an actual church, they gathered in their sod houses and dugouts to worship. Mission priests sometimes visited as they traveled. After ten years, they congregated in a school. Due to distance, and road conditions proved traveling to other churches difficult.

13 German and 20 Czech families decided to build a small church in Wilson Precinct in 1882. Father Hovorka from Abie joined in 1883. The church was first called Mary Pomocnice Kresťanů (Mary, Help of Christians), and eventually called Panna Maria Ustavičné Pomoci (Our Lady of Perpetual Help). The church is known to most as Wilson church.

The congregation became overcrowded in 1917, and began to build a larger church. The church steeple was topped with a Celtic Cross, and the words on the cemetery gate and the cornerstone were written in Czech.

Eventually, the population dwindled. August, 1977,  the pastor from Schuyler, stopped driving out for weekly services. On Memorial Day, an annual Mass was still celebrated.  In 1982, Our Lady of Perpetual Help church was listed on the National Register of Historic Properties.

A tornado swept through the area damaging the church in 1999. The undamaged stained glass windows were added into St. Patrick Catholic  Church in Fremont.

The church was in the movie, O Pioneers, which was based on the novel by Willa Cather.

Annual pout celebration at original Wilson church, May 9, 1915

The photo above from clarksonhistory | Stories about Clarkson, Nebraska (wordpress.com)

Consecration of the new St. Mary’s Church at Wilson, August 27, 1918
Consecration of new St. Mary’s Church at Wilson, August 27, 1918
Main and side altars of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church at Wilson
Consecration of new St. Mary’s Church at Wilson, August 27, 1918

The photo above from clarksonhistory | Stories about Clarkson, Nebraska (wordpress.com)

https://www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/nebraska/colfax/CX00-024_Our_Lady_Ch_Cem.pdf

Trish Eklund’s first book, Abandoned Nebraska: Echoes of Our Past, was released in November of 2018. Her second photography book, Abandoned Farmhouses and Homesteads of Nebraska: Decaying in the Heartland was released on February 22, 2021. She is currently finishing up her third book; Abandoned Farmhouses and Homesteads of Kansas: Home is Where the Heart is. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, Raw Abandoned, ListVerse, Nature Takes Over, Grime Scene Investigators, and Pocket Abandoned. She has a photo on the cover of: Fine Lines Summer 2020: Volume 29 Issue 2. She is the owner and creator of the photography website, Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed. Trish has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz, and another essay in another anthology: Voices of the Plains Volume III by Nebraska Writer’s Guild and Julie Haase. Her writing has been featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Plus, Making Midlife Matter, and Her View From Home. She owns, moderates, and writes for the blog: Trigger Warning: Surviving Abuse. She has written four young adult novels and is hard at work on her first adult novel.

Categories: Abandoned Buildings, Abandoned Church, Abandoned Nebraska, Abandoned PLaces, Demolished, NE, Nebraska, Photography, Rural Nebraska, Trish EklundTags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply