Changing Times, Wabasha County,


On April 6, 2004, an anonymous lady from Hammond, MN, sent me this information:

"Our little city of Hammond is going to be losing a physical landmark real soon. The Catholic Church is going to be burned. I believe the date has been set for a week from this coming Sunday (April 18th). This church has been there longer than I can remember. I am sending some pictures I took last week. The big, beautiful trees were cut down over the weekend, so it already looks so much different. I cannot even imagine driving down into Hammond and not seeing the church."



History of St. Clement's
Precious Memories
The Passing of a Landmark
One of the Flock


The first Catholic settlers in the village of Hammond and vicinity, coming from centers of Christian influence, were not unmindful of the necessary spiritual things in their new homes. In the early days of the settlement the first few Catholic families were favored with occasional visits by the old and venerable pioneer priest, Father Tissot, of Wabasha, and his noble successor, Father James Trobec, who held religious services in the humble log cabins of the faithful. In the fall of 1879, Father Jacobs took charge of this station, having been appointed the first resident pastor at West Albany.

In the spring of 1881 the first church was erected ~ a frame structure 26 by 36 feet, with a sanctuary 12 by 16 feet. The work on the building was done by John Wagner and Nicholas Nei.

Father Boland succeeded Father Jacobs in 1883, and was followed by Fathers Ryan, Fox, Stolz, Shels and Schwartz. Under the pastoral administration of Rev. Fr. Shels, an addition 16 by 26 feet to the main body of the church was built, with a tower 72 feet in height, and a gallery in the interior of the church. Rev. Fr. Schwartz aided in the improvements of the church by frescoing the interior, excavating the basement, and purchasing two fine harmonious ringing bells.

In November, 1900, Fr. Mueller took charge of the Mission, and during his incumbency, which is still in force, various improvements inside and outside of the church have been made. The first settlers of this mission are: Math. Funk, Ed. Riley, W. Sauls, Pat Murray, Edward Kinney and M. McCarthy. What the first pioneers of this mission have done without thought of recompense will be a lasting memory forever. The cold hand of death cannot blot out the record of work they have accomplished as a strong impression upon the minds of the future generations.

Rev. Francis X. Mueller.

From the book
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge and Others
Published Winona, MN by H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920


It was twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday and everytime there was something in between. Going to our church was not a problem or an inconvenience or a misery. It was an adventure for my childish heart.

My first memories are of lying on the pew with mommy's sweater over me, listening to the drone of the minister's voice and watching with drowsy eyes the play of sunshine through the stained-glass windows. Then I would gather a bit of the sweater over my index finger and hold it to my nose while I sucked my favorite thumb. I loved the sweet smell of mommy's deoderant on the sweater. Mommy, Mum and thumb ~ it was bliss!

When I awoke, I liked to escape from mommy and crawl under the pews, intent on finding ladies' shoes with open toes. I just wanted to gootchie-goo their toes! I'm sorry I embarrassed mommy, but now that I've been a mommy, I understand these things and I'm sure the ladies with the open-toed shoes didn't mind too much.

When I was a little older, mommy would quiet me when I grew fidgity by handing me a piece of paper and a few crayons. Oh, how I loved to draw! How I loved to cuddle next to mommy and hear the minister's voice and draw.

I put down my crayons when it was time to sing, though. "Bringing in the Sheaves" "Church in the Wildwood" "Jesus Saves" ~ oh how those beautiful old songs still ring in my ears. I could pick out the voices of every singer near me as they stood and sang with all their hearts. Eunice and Marvin, Thelma, Nina, the Axley brothers and their wives ~ oh, I miss their music.

Before I was old enough to understand that jealousy was a green-eyed monster that must be squashed, I began to fume inside because Carol played the piano for all the services. I was taking piano lessons too, but I was a couple of years younger than she and I had to wait my turn and my time. Carol probably never knew that my envy of her inspired me to practice hard and complete ten years of private lessons, to teach private lessons for 30 years, to go to college and become a band director, and to become the woman who played for weddings, funerals and church services for years afterward.

My church congregation "Sang in the New Year" every December 31st. We'd gather at supper time for a big pot luck. Then the old folks would visit and clean up while we teenagers escaped to the ice rink across the road. We'd have Grand Marches and Crack the Whip. Some of the braver girls tried to twirl like the figure skaters did. For several years, I spent most of the evening being google-eyed over Paul, the preacher's son. At 11:30, everyone gathered back in the sanctuary for songs and prayer.

By this time I had moved on from being in Daily Vacation Bible School to teaching DVBS. All of a sudden, I was a young woman. Now there were baby and wedding showers at the church and cleaning days and Bible studies. The church was the center of our lives from Baptism to Funeral ~ from entering this earthly family to entering the heavenly family.

When the church house started falling down, the elders made arrangement to purchase a plot on the other end of town and build a modest new house. About that time, I had married and moved to another town and then another and another. Years later, I visited the new church house. It was very nice. Many of the people I once knew were still there, but some had passed on. Thankfully, none of the older ladies mentioned the toe-tickling escapades of my youth!

Now I'm a great-grandmother, and my children tell me about their memories. They remember lying with their heads on my lap while I tickled their ears to keep them calm and quiet during the sermon. They remember the Christmas play when their brand-new twin brothers became Jesus and John in the arms of Mary and Joseph. They remember later Christmas plays when all six greatly populated the Nativity scene and their brand-new sister starred as baby Jesus. They remember occasional trips to the parking lot for lessons in manners. They remember the songs, the games, the laughter, the love. They remember dedicating their lives to Jesus.

Theirs were different church houses in different towns, but the memories are the same for us all. Precious Memories!

Copyright April 13, 2004 by Barbara Koska Timm
Do not use without permission


The first set of photographs was taken by Theresa and contributed by Heidi, who writes:

"The building was only a shell. Without a congregation, the Lord had moved out too. It is quite sad, as so many people hold memories of baptisms, marriages, and funerals within these walls. It is unfortunate that no one could have been allowed to make use of the structure. We can't use the "White Catholic Church" in Hammond as a landmark for giving directions anymore!"

Theresa stated that the church building burned in a little over an hour.

Here for Slide Show

The second set of photographs was taken by Bonnie, who writes:

"Today, on Sunday, April 18th, Dan and I arrived at the Catholic Church at approximately 8:17 am, and I made him start shooting immediately. He finished with the last picture at 8:51 am. When we first arrived in the area, the smell was so bad ~ OLD SMELL ~ burning. And the Black Smoke ~ Wow! I have never seen so much black smoke in one place in such a short time. This was so saddening."

Click Here for Slide Show


In Memoriam ~ Timothy Krismer