Our Story Begins . . .
The community now known as Josephville began in the early l800s as a mail stop and mercantile known as Schmuckers Store in Allen’s Prairie. The land was ceded through a Federal Grant under President Martin Van Buren by Joseph Allen in about 1837. Allen settled on a farm and, along with a group of other French and English settlers from the Virginias, made improvements to the land, erected buildings, then sold the land and moved on. The majority of permanent settlers were German immigrants who were able to purchase the land for $1.25 per acre.
St. Joseph Church
One of these immigrants was Anton Kersting, who purchased the Allen property. In 1848 a parish began to organize when Kersting held church services in his log home, a home which stands today on Hwy P. It was about this time that the area began to be known as Josephville.
In 1852 Kersting donated 10 acres of farmland to the congregation for a parish. A log church, 26 by 59 feet, was constructed. The first pastor of record was Father John Beotzkes. The first baptism occurred in 1857 with the christening of Gerald Brune, son of Christopher Brune and Katherine Kuhlmann.
Construction of the parish rectory begin 1857, hut the building burned down one Sunday morning during High Mass. Father Conrad Tintrup arrived in 1858 and rebuilt the house, He also constructed a school and a teacher’s home in 1859. The brick school was eventually converted to a Sister’s house.
Father Theodore Krainhardt came to Josephville in 1868, and in 1870 the cornerstone for a new church was laid. Construction continued through 1872.
St. Joseph Church has been referred to as “the oldest homemade church in the area". This is because clay for the bricks was dug from “the brick yard pond,” an area of red clay on the farm located across the road from the church. The bricks were baked “on the spot” on Leonard Rothermich’s farm at a cost of $4 per thousand. Lumber for the church floors and communion rail came from the trees of parishioners’ farms.
to the steeple
Local masons and carpenters performed the work, and on October 6, 1872, the new church was dedicated by Rev. Henry Muehlsiepen, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Father Krainhardt retired in 1899 and died in 1902. He is buried in the church cemetery. Father Anthony Acker was named pastor in 1900 and served St. Joseph Parish for 21 years. During that time the church received its first central heating system. It was also during the time of Father Acker’s service to the parish that one of the most outstanding feats by the parishioners was accomplished. The foundation under the front part of the church had, over the years, begun to weaken and the steeple began to lean. Men of St. Joseph Parish, with supervision from a St Louis firm, but without advanced equipment, literally pushed the steeple back into place and reinforced the foundation at the same time.
In 1922 Father Christian Schlefers was named pastor. He died suddenly in June of 1924. During his administration the present St. Joseph School building was erected and electricity was installed in all the parish buildings.
Father Acker was succeeded for one year by Father Bernard Groner. Father John Lakebrink served as administrator for several months, and that same year Father John Schramm became the 7th St. Joseph pastor. During this time he celebrated his golden and diamond jubilee as a priest. He died in 1950 at the age of 94.
The Celebration of the Centennial
of St. Joseph Church - 1972
Father Julian Meyer came to St. Joseph in 1943 and in May of 1947 the northwest corner of the church was struck by lightning. Six weeks later a tornado struck the same corner. The church was badly damaged and, at first, it was thought that it could not he repaired. After some deliberation, it was decided to proceed with repairs. Once again, lumber was donated from parish farms. At this time, the church was completely redecorated.
Father John Wieberg was the 9th pastor, serving from 1950 to 1961 . Father Richard Gallagher came in 1961 and served as administrator for two years. Father Clarence Krull came to St. Joseph in 1963 and during his service he established the parish quilt club, reintroduced the parish picnic, which had been discontinued, and moved the altars in church forward after Vatican II. The parish celebrated the 100th anniversary of the church building in 1972.