Latest News

Old St. Jacobs and its three churches and the “fartherest corner of the yard”

Old St. Jacobs in 1875 was changed to St. Jacob and continued to support three churches and does so even today.

The 1869 Lutheran Church is no longer. But page 67 of the book “St. Jacob 1875-2000”, gives this explanation: “In the history of St. Jacobs, the Lutheran Church was referred to. There is some confusion, as to this Lutheran church… The early Lutheran Congregation was one of German extraction and in Germany the present Evangelical Church, was the Lutheran Church. The official history of the St. Jacob United Church of Christ does not state that it was a Lutheran Church”. (I have in the Highland Home Museum, in the Grantfork framed photos, a photo of the ‘Grantfork Lutheran Church’, which later became the Grantfork Evangelical Church. Maybe this was also what happened in St. Jacob.)

“Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church” also has a photo on Page 67 and has this description: “Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church was located about three miles south of St. Jacobs and was built prior to 1844, in Section 28, on Cedar Road, on the Lindley Farm. This church disbanded in 1928 and the building was later torn down. There is no longer a Baptist congregation in St. Jacob Township.

“St. James Catholic Church, due to the scarcity of Priests, wasn’t started until July 1893, when Sophie Belli, whose parents lived in St. Jacob, offered a furniture store building, located at the south end of Douglas Street, as a temporary church. Sophie Belli in her childhood attended a Catholic School and later became a ‘Sister of Charity’. Father Joseph Meckel, Pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church in Highland, accepted the offer and the services for the 30 families, were held in the temporary store building, while the new church, was under construction.

“Father Meckel purchased 6 lots from Pauline & Leonard Adler for $250… Building of the new frame church started in May 1894 and the church was solemnly dedicated on July 25, 1894. The given name was St. Jacobus Catholic Church, but soon the name was changed to St. James Catholic Church… The original church was built for $1,777.70 and furnishings cost $610.80, for a total of $2,388.50. This 1894 church was replaced on Jan. 26, 1969, with a new brick multi-purpose church and rooms for religious education. This new church cost $66,000. to build and furnishings cost $3,000… (What a bargin, compared to today’s prices and guess who was the Builder? Yes, Ralph Korte Construction Co. of Highland. Larry Korte, one of my weekly volunteers at the Highland Home Museum and Ralph’s brother, was a carpenter on this job and in September of 1968, went into Ralph’s offices, to learn how to be a project manager. These two Church articles was submitted for the St. Jacob book, by Marlin Fohne of St. Jacob.)“

Now to “Days of Yore” by Roy Worstell, “My Genealogy Enthusiast.” Roy Worstell grew up on a farm east of Old Ripley, in Bond County and on the east side of Shoal Creek. Their family of 6 children, lived thru the ‘Depression Days’, days of hard work, muddy roads and small country schools. Roy spent 26 years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, starting in the Korean War; then Viet Nam where he came in contact with Agent Orange; then the South Pacific and the Philippean Islands, before being medically discharged because of his Diabetis and Agent Orange. Roy then worked for another 10 years for the U.S. Government, ‘Commissary and Exchanges’, retiring again in 1993. Roy and his family came to Highland in 1996.

After his retirement, Roy was an early computer man and doing genealogy, for himself and his family, then Churches, Births, Marriages and Deaths; Cemeteries, then for his friends and I was one of those friends. I didn’t have enough time to write my columns, for the Highland News Leader and do my own genealogy, so it was a great relationship.

The Highland Home Board has just expanded the Museum again, by letting the museum use the large closets, that are in the small hallways, leading to the rest rooms, off the large central hall, of the first floor, of the 1912 Building. These closets will be the home of genealogy, church and cemetery information. I have more than 4 plastic hanging file tubs, most of it from Roy, plus many other family genealogy enthusiasts, who will be named, as their genealogies, are added to our museum computer. All of these genealogies will now be in the ‘Highland Home Museum’ and you will be able to purchase copies of the genealogy pages.

Roy Worstell later became a single parent, raised his daughter and now helping with his young grandson, has found a little spare time now and has turned to writing, with his first binder, called, “Days of Yore, Gone but not Forgotten”. All about life on their Farm. His binder is now up to 18 small chapters and still growing. My favorite at the present time, is Chapter 5, “The Outhouse”. I remember our ‘Outhouse’ at Alhamba, well, it was at the fartherist corner of the yard and was in use until 1939. You may prefer, Roy’s story of the “Country School” or the “Saturday Night Bath” or another of his delightful chapters. A synopsis of “The Outhouse” follows:

“Most farmers had a little shanty in the back of the house, called the ‘Outhouse’ or maybe the ‘outback’, or the ‘half moon’ and a few other local names. None called them a ‘Rest Room’ or a ‘Comfort Station’ as this they were not. The ‘Outhouse’ was generally located about a hundred feet from the house but when needed, it always seemed much farther, away. The worst times, was the middle of the night, or during a thunderstorm, or freezing cold.

“The path to the outhouse on our farm, was just a path, those that could afford it, would lay pieces of sawmill lumber to walk on. We waded through the water, mud or snow. Another problem was if there was no moonlight, it was hard to stay on the path, as there were no electric lights or flashlights and not enough time to light a lantern and this could be quite an adventure.

“The front door of the ‘Outhouse’ always needed repair, it needed the broken hinge fixed, or maybe the badly warped door, would not close properly. This left the wind, rain or snow come in, to keep you company. Then there was the trap door or back door, which was needed for the annual cleaning, of the winter waste, it always had a board or two missing, which resulted in a terrible reverse draft, adding to the smells and cooling the bottom of the seat instantly. The seat with the three holes, small, medium and large, was a very cold slab of wood. When I was smaller, I always thought someone was putting ice on the seat, prior to my arrival.

“It was no better in the summer time either, as we did not feel any of those drafts, only the heat, flies, gnats and other insects, that made our outhouse, their home. This outhouse was definitely not a place to linger. I know that I preferred to be sitting alone and it was not a place to sit and hold hands. Remember no lights, no fan, no sink to wash your hands, no deodorizers or sprays, which were badly needed and a very poor quality of toilet paper. Our outhouse was usually well supplied with last years, Spring and Fall issues of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. or Montgomery Ward catalogs. This helped past the time and made excellent reading material, something to interest nearly one but the paper was smooth, slick and stiff, making it very hard for a tenderfoot to use. I had to process this page, just right, taking a page and wadding it up, then roll it around in between your two hands and put it to work.

“Indoor plumbing, out on the farms, was unheard of until after World War II and some even into the 1950’s. It was after World War II, when we received electricity and then came indoor plumbing. The outhouses started to disappear in the 1960’s and they are gone now but not easily forgotten.” Roy Worstell.