St. Mary's, Port Washington

The following historical descriptions are transcribed from the book, The Catholic Church in Wisconsin, published by the Catholic Historical Publishing Company, T.J. Sullivan, October 9, 1896.

Ozaukee County Churches

St. Mary's Church, Port Washington, Wis.

Some twenty families, comprising the entire Catholic community in and about Port Washington half a century ago, established the congregation of St. Mary's, and built a small frame church - the first in that vicinity - in 1849. Of this congregation the Rev. Father Bradley was the first resident pastor, although he remained at Port Washington for but a short time. There also existed about this time an Irish congreation, St. Stephen's, which, however, was only actively maintained for a period of eight years, that is, from 1852 to 1860. This congregation, be it understood, was attended occasionally by Father PRENDERGAST, Father COLTON and others, who paid occasional visits from their resident pastorates to this mission. The first resident pastor given to St. Stephen's was the Rev. BRADLEY, who ministered to the spiritual requirements of St. Mary's as well as St. Stephen's until 1853, when Father SAILER took charge of the German parish. In or about 1860, when Father FUSEDER succeeded to the pastorate at Port Washington, the Irish discontinued as a separate congregation and joined forces with the Germans at St. Mary's. Father F.X. SAILER was pastor at Port Washington from 1853 to 1857, during which period he built a parsonage and in the year preceding his departure established a parochial school, which was placed in charge of Sisters of Notre Dame. Father SAILER was transferred in 1857 to St. Mary's, at Racine, but returned to Port Washington on September 6, 1862, when he built a new school house. He remained in charge of this parish until October 30, 1867, when he was transferred to Sauk City, Wisconsin. Father SAILER died at Lake Church (Belgium), Wisconsin, October 13, 1877, but was buried in the cemetery of St. Mary's, at Port Washington, where he rests in the vault of the cemetery chapel, beside his revered friend, Father Fabian BERMADINER, who died at Port Washington on July 22, 1863. From 1857 until 1859, the Rev. Father WEIKMANN was pastor of St. Mary's, he being succeeded by the Rev. Father FUSSEDER, who built a new brick church in 1860. He left this charge in 1862, to enter the army as chaplain. After the departure of Father SAILER from Port Washington, in 1867, the Rev. August DURST became pastor of St. Mary's, continuing as such until 1870. Father ETSCHMANN, his successor, remained but two months, giving place to Father WILLMES, now pastor of St. Mary's at Milwaukee, and who built the present Gothic stone church. He left in November, 1891, the present rector, the Rev. B. ELSKAMP, succeeding him. There are about two hundred and forty families in this congregation, nearly all of whom are German.

The parochial school, having five grades, has an average attendance of about three hundred scholars. The St. Francis Xavier's Benevolent and Aid Society, of which Nicholas BLONG is president; John F. THILL, Secretary; J.P. WEYKER, treasurer; Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, John BARTOL, president; N. BODE, vice-president; J. BICHLER, secretary; Jacob SCHUMACHER, treasurer; Catholic Order of Foresters, James COONEY, chief ranger; John HUEBCHEN, vice chief ranger; N. KRICK, recording secretary; F. WELLER, secretary; M. C. GRASSER, treasurer; St. Aloysius Young Men's Society, John BICHLER, president; H. HEMES, vice-president; John BLONG, secretary; T. BODE, treasurer; Family Protection Society, J.P. CARELS, president; F. POCH, secretary; H. BIRER, treasurer; Married Ladies' Altar Society, and Young Ladies' Sodality, of which Miss M. PELT is president; Miss A. EVEN, secretary, and Miss A. VAN ELLS, treasurer, are among the different Catholic societies to which the members of this congregation belong.

The Rev. Bernard ELSKAMP, rector and dean of St. Mary's, was educated and ordained in Westphalia, Germany. He came to America in 1875, and was a professor in the Teachers' Seminary for three years and in the Salesianum at St. Francis for thirteen years. He was also for a short time pastor at Newburg, Wisconsin and has been at St. Mary's since 1891.