Parish History


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P R O L O G U E:

Matthew 5, 19: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”

In a similar manner that the Lord sought out his Apostles from the men who tended the sea and the land, so they could go forth and find men of faith who would help found, build, support an defend His Church, So also did Peter Springob and Peter Schulte become “modern day” Apostles and sought out men of faith to build a church and a community.

This is a story of how the Parish and the Town actually found its beginnings.

This is the story of ST. PETER the APOSTLE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

It is also the story of the town of Schulte.

Catholicism had extended into Sedgwick County during the years of 1868-1869, when Father Ponziglione established 12 stations or missions in Southwest Kansas, including Wichita. When he first visited the Wichita area in 1869 there were but a few Catholics. A year later in 1870 his Wichita congregation had increased and numbered 60 souls. A missionary station was formed for the white settlers at the house of Mr. Meagher. Elsewhere in the county there were other gatherings of Catholics in scattered small villages.

Wheat farming in Kansas was becoming a very lucrative venture. As Peter and other farmers acquired ground and broke the sod for planting, they would reap fine crops

Sedgwick County, in the state of Kansas, was formed in 1870, just two years before the arrival of John and Mary Ann (Scholty) [Schulte] Springob and just three years before the arrival of Peter and Catherine (Manning) Schulte. It was the Springob and Schulte families that would bring change to Section 7 in Waco Township. In a few short years there would be a parish called St. Peter the Apostle and a town called Schulte.

The beginning of the Village of Schulte began with the location of a railroad and a community in need of a Church, a school, commerce, social interaction and support.

What follows here is much more than simply a history lesson of the beginning of our Parish. It is it is a story about the early contributors. It is also a lesson in family values, neighborliness, friendships, community spirit, dedication, stewardship and faith.

Peter Schulte [Scholty] came directly to Sedgwick County from Germany in 1873.

Peter was born March 18, 1851 in Biggen, Westphalia, Germany, the son of Peter and Mary Elizabeth (Drexeleus) [Scholty] (Schulte). A sister, Mrs. Mary Ann (married Peter) Springob had preceded him in coming to the United States.

Young Peter was barely twenty when at the urging of his father, he reluctantly set sail from Bremen for New York. He arrived, as did most of the immigrants, penniless. In time he would become a respected and prosperous landowner.

The wedding of Peter and Catherine Schulte was the first wedding performed at St. Mark’s Church.

Peter bought a quarter section of ground in section 13, Illinois Township, on time. He made five annual payments, and the land was his. This land was just west of what would become the town of Schulte.

He would also own the elevator near the railroad tracks and a large frame building. Peter was always active in the Church and in community affairs. He was a 4th degree Knight of Columbus and served on the school board. Politically he could be called an independent.

John Springob, son of Everett and Theresa (Helnar) Springob, was born in Enneft, Pharrei, Westphalia, Germany on May 7, 1833.

John and Mary Ann (Scholty) were married November 22, 1864 in Prussia. Mary was a daughter of Peter and Mary Elizabeth (Drexeleus) {Scholty}, both natives of Prussia.

John and Mary moved to Waco Township, Sedgwick County in the autumn of 1872, where he bought the NW 1/4 of section 7 and as the land was raw prairie it was some time before he had it in first class condition.

John was a stonemason and walked the eight to ten miles into Wichita every day. On his return trip he would bring groceries and other supplies.

Lets see how Peter Schulte, his family and friends joined together to build a Church, establish a Parish and found a Town.

When the first trains crossed the prairies of Kansas in the late 1880’s a new territory was opened and new opportunities were offered to industrious pioneers.

The railroad company proposed to be liberal with their propositions so that few people would have the need to resort to the condemnation court.

A year later, excitement was still in the air, as the checks that people had received from the orient for right of way were appearing in the local Wichita banks.

In Illinois Township the KCMO would pass diagonally through a quarter section of ground owned by Peter Schulte.

As the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad snaked its way across the country it seeded villages along the route. The Railroad established stations every seven miles and these became logical locations for settlements. The settlers who followed to find new hope and freedom, settled near these Railroad stations and seeded their faith along with their seeds of grain and established schools and churches

By 1904, the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient railroad had surveyed a route between San Angelo Texas and Wichita, a total of 900 miles. They would continue their survey until they reached Kansas City.

By this time Peter Schulte had become a successful farmer and also raised cattle. As early as June 1902, Peter had deeded the right of way to the KCMO on ground he owned in Illinois Township, section 13. As the railroad proceeded closer to Wichita, Peter contacted the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad and said he would deed them the right of way in Waco Township, section 7, for $1.00 if they would build a spur for him.

Schulte Station first appeared on a Sedgwick County Kansas land plat map in 1905. Landowner maps of previous years for the county had made no mention of the small town that was to be located in section 7, Waco Township.

The people of the community undoubtedly realized the great opportunity of not only building a church, but the possibility of building a town too. As with other towns that had developed along the railroad as it radiated in all directions from Wichita, it was now time for section 7, of Waco Township to have a town. The KCMO Railroad provided that opportunity to the soon-to-be-town of Schulte.

The Orient line progressed slowly but steadily. It was not until February 1903 that the line approached the Illinois and Waco Townships of Sedgwick County. Graders, trucks, track layers and pile drivers had been laboring for the past two years. News would soon be spread that land had been acquired, contract let and dirt would be “flying” as the line approached Schulte.

By the fall of 1904 the Railroad was close to connecting Wichita to that total track. The work had progressed to where the final miles between Milton, Ks. and a point just east of Schulte by the Cowskin creek were being completed. The Railroad built the spur, constructed a station and named it “Schulte”.

This was significant for the development of Schulte and points west, because up to that time, all traveling was done on foot or by horse and buggy, including going to school and church.

As was mentioned earlier, as the settlers arrived there came a need to build schools and churches. Early schooling for the folks near the future site of Schulte could be at any of many schools that were established throughout the county.

Peter and Catherine Schulte, their children and all of the Catholic families in the territory had few options available to them to attend mass. They could travel, by horse and buggy to a family’s home that was able to host a missionary priest or to:

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, at Second St. and St. Francis in Wichita, founded on November 24, 1872, a distance of 12½ miles, St Aloysius was soon designated as the pro-Cathedral. or they could go to, St. Mark, founded in 1875, a distance of 13 miles,

or to the original St. John the Evangelist in Clonmel, founded in 1878, a distance of more than 10 miles, The current Church built in 1906 was about 8 miles away.

As each settlement prospered and built a Church, the options and opportunities for the Catholic pioneers became more plentiful and more accessible.

Peter Schulte had visited with the Bishop and asked if it were possible for a priest to come to their home and have mass for the Catholics in the area. Each Saturday a couple of the “Schulte boys” would hitch up the wagon and go to Wichita to get a priest and then after mass on Sunday would take him back. The boys would pick up the priest, drive out to Clonmel and say Mass. They would then return to Peter and Catherine’s home to say Mass, spend the night and would return to Wichita the following day.

Albert Thomas Schulte, one of Peter’s sons, hitched up the horse and buggy for Peter. Then for the better part of two years, everyday, Peter would then be gone from dawn to dusk soliciting money for the new Church. Eventually he was able to help raise $3,425.00 for the church. The town of Schulte was platted on 40 acres and 5 acres was deeded to Bishop Hennessy for the Church.

The Schulte community was growing and it became apparent to Peter and the area Catholics that it was time for them to build a church. Now that these pioneers and devout Catholics had established their farms and a growing town, they turned their thoughts to plans for still another need. They needed a suitable place for worship, their own Church.

The years between 1900 and 1905 were the era of specific community development with these 15 courageous families. The catalyst that fueled the fires was the arrival of the Orient Railroad. With those factors in place, it became natural for the desires of a church, a school and a town to become a reality.

 

OUR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

As early as the spring of 1905, plans were being made for a church of the Catholic families of the Schulte community. As we recall, Peter Schulte had dedicated nearly two years to gathering funds and support for a church. At a meeting at the home of John Springob, it was decided to find a suitable site for the church. In the summer of that year, the promoters of the town, realizing the financial possibilities, bought a tract of land in the area comprising 40 acres in section 7 of Waco Township. It was laid out in lots, townsite fashion, with avenues named after the Schulte and Springob family. Of this plot, five acres were deeded to Bishop John Hennessy, Bishop of the Wichita Diocese, for parish purposes. These five acres were deeded by Peter and Catherine Schulte, John and Mary Springob, and Peter and Susie Springob.

Phase 1 1905-1930 The First 25 Years

The Church was built from plans drawn by an architect by the name of Mr. Terry. The contractor was J.J. Garrety. All labor was supplied by the Parish, a true testament to Stewardship. The bishop and the community named their church St. Peter the Apostle after Peter Schulte and in honor of Peter’s patron saint, St. Peter the Apostle.

At the time of the dedication, St. Peters Parish was comprised of 15 families and 26 souls.

Preparations were finally complete and the day of the dedication had arrived. St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church was dedicated on October 15, 1905. Bishop Hennessy officiated at the dedication after traveling from Wichita to Schulte as it was written, “His Excellency arrived for the dedication in a wonderful new gray automobile.” The Diocese was growing in size and yet, getting closer together, because of the railroads and the automobile. The Bishop was assisted on this auspicious occasion by Monsignor Henry J. Tihen and Reverend Denis Healy and the parish missionary priest, Father William Dowling.

The Bishop’s sermon was on sacrifice and he concluded by congratulating the people on their self-sacrifice and its happy results, saying that they had every reason to be proud of their achievement.

It was a great day for the pioneers and they celebrated with a dinner after the dedication and the first Mass in their church. The dinner was served to more than 400 persons in one of Schulte’s earliest places of business, Dunn’s Mercantile..

At the close of the festivities on the day of the dedication, Bishop Hennessey was seen off for his journey back to Wichita in one of the few automobiles of the day. This was a high-wheeled vehicle owned by Ben McLean, owner and operator of Schulte’s first lumber yard.

It was in 1908, that a small two room house was moved from the south part of Schulte to a location east of the church and just west of the old school. An addition was built on that included 4 rooms, 2 on the ground floor and 2 bedrooms on the second floor. This completed the small house for use as a rectory.

Church gatherings always included the parish family and involved the organization of the parish picnics. One of the earliest picnics that we are sure of, took place on Wednesday, October 20, 1909. There were ball games, races and a dinner at noon. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Tihen, recognized as one of the most eloquent speakers of the county, addressed the parishioners on the subject of “American Citizen.” Supper was served in the evening followed by a Grand Ball.

In 1912, a one-room school was built and started with an enrollment of 21 students. Up until 1912 and during the years when the Schulte School would be closed, the students would attend any of several area schools. Catechism would be taught, at home and by the priests on Sundays.

The early school years were constantly being challenge by economic issues and teacher availability. The school would close and reopen several times during the ensuing years. Each time the school had to close, the parish children would continue their educations at these and other nearby schools.

As the student population slowly grew, a need for more room dictated that a second room be added in 1925.

After World War 1, (1914-1918), the interior of the church was painted and leaded glass windows were imported from Germany and installed to grace the little frame church. The new leaded glass windows were a memorial for those who served in the conflict. Of these windows, following the demolition of the old church, one large window would remain. It is a composite of those earlier windows and was installed above the choir in the east wall of the 1961 church. It has since been moved and installed in the adoration chapel of the 1997 church.

The first convent that St. Peter’s was able to provide for the Dominican Sisters was located just east of the old school. It was quite a building to behold with ample room. It served the Sisters until 1958 when a new convent was built immediately east of the 1905 church. The old convent then became the second rectory.

St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church celebrated its Silver Jubilee on October 15, 1930. At that time there were thirty-seven families in the Parish. In commemoration of the event, a Mass was offered for the living and deceased members of the parish. Afterward, there was a chicken dinner, served by the Altar Society, and in the afternoon a bazaar was held with the people of the neighboring parishes invited to attend.

Phase 2 1931-1955 The Second 25 Years

As the parish continued to grow, once again a need was apparent that the students of the parish needed more room. In 1949 a bigger school was built.

A new two room school was built, including a combination gymnasium and community hall. At the rear of the classrooms will be toilet facilities, a utility room and office and room for the heating plant. Included in the community hall would be a modernly equipped kitchen and a spacious stage. The modern new school would be a boon for the parish. In the past there was no place for socials and parish gatherings. The school was staffed by two nuns from the teaching order of the Dominican sisters of Great Bend, Kansas. They entered the 1949 school year with 32 students.

Never ending growth seemed to be the blessing of the parish and Fr. E. Pfirman (1950-1955), added two additional rooms in time for the 1954 school year. The year started with three Dominican nuns spreading their wisdom over 75 students.

By 1958 there were four Dominican nuns teaching 115 students.

The little parish was continuing to grow and by June of 1949 would boast of having 65 families and 268 souls.

In September 1949, St. Peter’s church was extended 14 feet in length and almost completely renovated. Parish crews of volunteer labor went to work, first on the foundation of the church, which was completely rebuilt. An extension was added to the north, allowing the altar to be moved back six feet and the sacristy to be enlarged. The edifice also received a new red-shingled roof and a new cross on the steeple.

The most striking change in the church was the beautiful new sanctuary with its renovated and liturgically designed altar. The base of the original altar was refinished and used for the new part with the addition of wine colored drapes and a new canopy above. A large seven-foot crucifix, donated by Mike Thome, rose from the rear of the altar instead of the usual small-suspended crucifix. The newly refinished altar was placed in a center offset of the sanctuary with walls finished in birch plywood. The side altars were removed to fit in with the main altar.

The sacristy was enlarged with a complete set of built-in vestment cases and was finished in an ivory color. The vestibule of the church was also repainted. A small basement room was added under the church and a new forced-air furnace was installed.

St. Peter’s had now grown to 75 families when the Golden Anniversary Jubilee was celebrated on September 20, 1955. Bishop Mark Carroll, offered a Low Mass and also conferred the sacrament of Confirmation that same evening.

Phase 3 1956-1980 The Third 25 Years

September 7, 1957—St. Peter’s Parish held its 35th annual Labor Day picnic. The woman of the parish would serve a tasty family-style ham and chicken dinner.

A modern one-story brick convent was erected on the parish grounds in 1958, for a cost of $24,000.

The new dwelling had six bedrooms, a community room, a dining and reception room, a chapel and a basement. The new Convent was built as close to the east side of the parish church as possible in order to provide space for the long range program of building a new church just west of the old frame church on ground that Fr. Pfirman had purchased some years earlier as part of the parish expansion plan. The former convent has been turned into a Rectory, The 70 year-old frame Rectory east of the church was removed.

It would very soon become apparent that the young parish was in need of a bigger church. Parishioners decided to replace their frame church with a new brick structure. We can remember the little wooden church as being cold in the winter and hot in the summer as it had limited heating from the pot belly stove and did not have any air-conditioning. We remember the choir loft and pumping on the old manual organ. That organ was eventually replaced by an “electric single set” organ.

The site for the new church was marked off on October 1, 1960. The actual bricklaying started two months later.

The parish had grown from a modest beginning of 15 families in 1905 to 37 families for the Silver anniversary in 1930, and then more than doubling to 75 families for the Golden Anniversary in 1955.

HISTORY OF SCHULTE the TOWN.

The history of the town of Schulte itself runs parallel to that of St. Peter’s Church. The railroad that spawned the town played a great part in its early history. The private citizen had a faster and safer method of commuting. It brought priests to the parishes and small towns. It made the world smaller for all to visit and explore. It brought commerce to Schulte and all towns along its length.

Speaking of the new town, Mr. Schulte said to the Beacon:

We expect to have a good town out there is a short time. We are ten miles from Clearwater, nine from Goddard and nine from Wichita by rail, a nice distance from any town and we expect Schulte to get a good start and grow rapidly. What we are most desirous of having is some good business establishment. We will give a lot to any man who will put up a store with a general merchandise line. The Catholic people in the community now have to go either to St. Mark’s or Wichita to attend church and the first thing we will do is to build a church for them. This with is the depot, the elevator and the stockyards gives us a pretty good start, and we are sure that we can establish a rattling good town which will have quick train service with Wichita through the Orient.

 

Oliver Dunn, a farmer and carpenter, was one of several who responded to Peter Schulte’s standing offer of free ground to any man who would establish a general merchandise store in the new town.

Mr. Dunn owned the Schulte store three years and then sold it to James C. True and Henry Faker Sr. He then moved to Wichita and pursued the real estate business.

The Schulte Train depot was a combination freight and passenger depot. It was the center of activity for the community and town as the citizens made preparations for traveling. Farm products and livestock were delivered to the depot to be transported to other cities and provide farmers with a market for their goods. Pete Schulte had originally requested a spur to be built by the railroad so he could transport his livestock to market. His generosity had provided opportunities for the entire community. One of the farm products he delivered to the depot was cream. An interesting article describes the grading of cream.

In 1938, Schulte lost a landmark when the Depot was torn down.

With the completion of St. Peter’s church and of O.J Dunn’s Mercantile in 1905, Peter Schulte and Mr. Dunn sought to have their prospering community served by the Post Office department. The two men filled out the necessary papers for a post office to be known as “Schulte” and filed the application on June 27, 1905, with Oliver J. Dunn as the first Postmaster.

The Schulte Post Office bowed to progress and was discontinued on January 15, 1934.

The Oatville Rural Telephone Company trustees’ meeting was called to order by President J.P. Royal on April 10, 1905. It was moved and seconded that the lines be extended at once to the town of Schulte and the patrons of that line be notified to begin work. By 1910, the small telephone company serviced 180 customers at the cost of $1.00 per month.

Schulte’s first lumberyard was in operation in 1905 and owned by Ben Mclean. Ben McLean also has some history with the city of Wichita and has a Boulevard named after him.

While the history of the continuity of a lumberyard at Schulte is not entirely known, the following is a more recent history.

In the fall of 1952, John Leland “Duke” Lenhart leased some ground from the railroad for $1.00 per year. In the spring of 1953 he built and started “Lenhart Lumber” on the railroad right of way at the southeast intersection of K-42 and MacArthur.

Otis Melcher bought the lumberyard in the winter of 1956. Otis operated “Melcher Lumber” until he retired in the fall of 1976 and sold the lumberyard to two local brothers.

In 1910, the Fakers took over the Dunn store on Annie Street and renamed it “Farmers Exchange”. As was so typical in those times, they managed and ran it largely on the barter system.

Henry Faker Jr. built an apartment complex in 1952. The apartments were located just south of K-42 and east of Lenhart Lumber.

The Schulte State Bank was chartered February 20, 1917, with H.J. Peltzer of Andale as president, Charles Folkers of Bayneville as vice-president and Paul Bock of Schulte as cashier. The first board of directors included those officers and four Wichita residents; W.D. Jochems, C. W. Ogden, E. L. Neville and Peter Springob.

Shortly after the railroad came through a small wood frame elevator was built by Peter Schulte and some of the early farmers. The elevator would serve Schulte and the nearby farms.

In 1918 a Farmers’ Co-Operative was organized and a new the elevator was built with a capacity of 20,000 bushels.

OIL IS DISCOVERED NEAR SCHULTE!

March 1934—the headlines of the Wichita newspapers reported the discovery of oil just north of Schulte. The excitement of the discovery spread to the members of St. Peter’s as it was located on the north side of Schulte.