Odebolt, Iowa - St. Martin's Catholic Church

St. Martin’s Parish

1908 - St. Martin's Parish (click to enlarge)

(Source:  “As Time Goes By”, Odebolt, Iowa 1877-1977,  printed by The Odebolt Chronicle May, 1977, pp. 142-143)

St. Martin’s Parish was founded in 1877, the same year the Chicago and Northwestern Railway built their road into Odebolt.  Prior to that year, church services were held at various times by the Rev. William Pape in the homes of John Konradi Sr., Bernard Bauer, and Jacob Miller.

In 1877, Rev. Thomas Norton of Breda recommended that a church be built in the new town of Odebolt.  A building 36’ x 50’ was erected in 1878 on a lot donated by the Hon. Hiram C. Wheeler.  This church building was the first church erected in the town, and cost $1,300.  Early town settlers who were instrumental in the founding and building of the parish were:  John Konradi Sr., Leonard Schmitz, M. B. Lynch, Valentine Henrich, John Dinges, John N. Schmitz, H. J. Mixen, Pete Roeder, John R. Mattes, and Jacob Miller.

In the spring of 1882, Rev. Ullrigh Frey was assigned to be resident pastor and to look after the members in Lake View and Grant City.   The building of a rectory was begun that summer and completed in October at a cost of $1,500.

In the spring of 1883, Father Frey was succeeded by Rev. Joh Perschong from Stacyville.  During his stay, Father Perschong solicited subscriptions for a new bell.  It weighed 1,800 lbs. and has an E tone.

Father Perschong was succeeded in the fall of 1892 by Rev. John Anler, who was in charge until the fall of 1895.

Early Parochial School
This building which stood on the site of the later school was 
used for many years as the St. Martin's Parochial School. 
It was replaced in 1915 by a brick structure.

In 1895, the Rev. Fred H. Huesmann was assigned to this parish, and a new period of growth developed with his arrival.  The parish added members and in 1900 it was voted to build a new church to replace the one built in 1878 at a cost of $12,000.  The new structure was a 44’ x 90’ building with suitable steeple and the necessary fixtures for the interior.  John McFarland was the contractor.


St. Martin's School and Church
St. Martin's Parochial School (built about 1915) and church.  
Scanned from"Fifty Years of Progress", The Odebolt Chronicle", August 25, 1938.  

The school was closed in 1969, after graduating eight 8th-graders.  All students from St. Martin's Parish then attended the community schools.  The last class to graduate were Jeanette Bengford, Joan Dinges, Diane Klus, Kathy Linster, Thomas Reis, Francis Renze, Thomas Schroeder and Rebecca Veit.

Father Huesmann was succeeded in October 1902 by Rev. Gustave Wienhold, who administered to the parish until his death on July 19, 1912.  He was the first priest to be buried in St. Martin’s Cemetery.

After the death of Father Wienhold, Rev. L. Schenkelberg was assigned to take charge until 1916 when Rev. A. G. Schaefer was assigned to St. Martin’s parish.

Father Schaefer was pastor for 35 years.   During his term many improvements were made.  The church was raised and a hall was built under the structure.  The kellastone finish was replaced by new siding.  The interior of the church was refinished with NuWood tile.  The steeple was also lowered.  After his death in June 1951, Father Schaefer was buried in the parish cemetery.

St. Martin's church and school
The church after renovation.  This building was torn down and replaced by
the present facility in 1976.

In July 1951, Rev. L. J. Greteman was appointed successor to Father Schaefer.   In the spring of 1952, the rectory was dismantled and a new two-story brick rectory measuring 32’ x 36’ was erected on the same location.

In 1953, Mrs. William Schoeberl reorganized the church choir, was appointed director for the children’s choir and organized the grade school band.  In April 1954, she was chosen to receive a Diocesan award for youth leadership.

1962-63, 1st and 2nd grade

1962-63, 3rd and 4th grade

St. Martin’s School was closed in May 1969.  That year marked the eighty-sixth year of Catholic Education in Odebolt, Father John Perschong having built the first St. Martin’s School in the summer of 1883.

Father Greteman was succeeded by:  Rev. Robert Joynt 1955-1959, Rev. Charles Ernst 1959-1961, Rev. L. J. Eisenbacher 1961-1975 and our present [in 1977] pastor, Rev. Victor Kollasch, who came in June 1975.

Over the years some parish members have chosen to serve in the religious life.  Fathers William and Charles Veit, Sister Mary Carola, Sister Mary Caritas and Sister Mary Lisieux of the 6 Grasser nuns are deceased.  The remaining Grasser nuns [in 1977] are Sister Mary Hortense, Sister Mary Joanita and Sister Mary Decascia.  Also from the parish are Sister Mary Clara Veit, Sister Mary Florence Veit, Father Anthony Pudenz, Msgr. Leonard Ziegmann, Sister Janet Taphorn and Sister Shirley Fineran.

The parish continues to have a CCD religious program, the Ladies Society and the Knights of Columbus.

Interior of church
The last wedding performed in the old St. Martins was that of Mary Morkin and Dan Dotson in 
June of 1976.  This shows the irreplaceable beauty of the interior of the church.

Work was started in June of 1976 for the dismantling of St. Martin’s Catholic Church in preparation for the erection of a new church for the parish.  C. I. Hersom Construction Co. of Laurens has the contract for the new church.  The architect’s plan calls for a one story 10,500 square foot building of brick construction.  In addition to the church proper there will be a dining and reception and seven class rooms.  Construction was started in August, 1976, and is to be completed in one year. Members of the building committee are Paul Dinges, Howard Hustedt, Robert Miller, Norman Olberding, Kenneth Pick, Donald Pudenz, Clayton Schroeder, Ambrose Snyder, Robert Tiefenthaler and William Wallace.

St. Martin's Parish Church
Photo by Charles Hanson

St. Martin’s Parish has owned the present site of their church for 98 years [in 1977].

       By Mrs. Norman Olberding

(Transcribed by B. Ekse)

Note:  A booklet, "St. Martin's Parish, Spiritual Memories" in the Odebolt Library, published by the church, has family histories and lineages of the families instrumental in the founding and building the Parish.  Families included are:  Bernard Bauer, Jacob Bauer, John Dinges, Valentine Henrich, J. A. Koehler, Johann Konradi, M. B. Lynch, John R. Mattes, Jacob Miller, H. J. Muxen, Peter Roeder, John M. Schmitz, Leonard Schmitz.


Please help identify the children in this old photo.

It was sent in by Donna Winkel, who said, "I recently received a picture of a group of children on the day of their 1st Communion. I think it is in front of St. Martin's because of old pictures on the web site.  I would like to find out the names of the children. My Grandmother gave me the picture but is not sure which is a relative and there is not a date on the picture. She thinks it is maybe in the 1920's sometime.  Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated."

Contact us at , and we will relay the information to Donna.  Thanks!


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