St. Raymond History

(Page under construction)

Early in the 1850’s the tide of immigration to the US assumed great and vast proportions. In this northern part of Montgomery County where the soil is of superior rich quality, numerous settlers and colonists arrived and located. For the increasing Catholic community to comply with its religious duties was hardly possible since the next and nearest church and priest were in Carlinville and Alton.

The first Catholic family which originally caused St Raymond Parish to organize was that of Frank Poggenpohl who settled in Harvel Township, 5 miles north of Raymond, in 1853. From 1853 to 1857, the Catholics of this new community met alternately at different Catholic homes on Sundays for home devotions which consisted in the recitation of the rosary, the litany, and the reading of the epistles and gospels. In 1857, after their urgent and repeated invitation, Father Schreiber, then pastor of St Mary’s church at Carlinville, came to say mass and administer the sacraments for their community in the “Mt Vernon School” schoolhouse once a month. This arrangement continued until 1866. When, in 1867, St Catherine’s parish of Virden received its first resident rector, Father Schreiber ceased his monthly ministrations, and the community was henceforth looked after by the priests of Virden until 1878.

With the construction of the Wabash Railroad in 1871 dates simultaneously the founding of Raymond; the name of this rising and prosperous town was imposed by the Railroad Company while the post office proper went for many years by the name of “Lula”, so-called after Raymond’s first postmaster Davis’ daughter. Before the advent of the Wabash Railroad, however, when the present postal facilities were not yet known, the nearest post office was that of “Herndon”, located at the home of Mr. J. Todt, 5 miles north of Raymond, of which Mr. Todt acted as postmaster under Johnson’s and Grant’s administrations until 1871 when “Lula” was born.

In 1871, the Catholic farmers from the vicinity of Morrisonville who attended this community’s divine services felt themselves numerically and sufficiently strong to form into a separate congregation under the leadership of Father F. Lohmann, then the resident pastor of St Agnes church in Hillsboro. The example of the Morrisonville people was followed two years later, in 1873, by those now constituting St Isidor’s parish of Brown’s Settlement near Farmersville. They were encouraged in their actions by Father T. Hickey of Virden, who attended that mission till 1877 when it was assigned to Morrisonville till 1883, Father A. Teppe being the pastor.

Undaunted by these reverses of double secession, they continued to assemble as they had for twenty years. Not, however, any longer at the little schoolhouse, but from hence at the home of Mr. B. Beiermann, one-half mile south of Raymond. Here it was that from 1874 to 1877 Father Lohmann conducted divine services. His encouraging and inspiring words soon resulted in the purchase of the present-day St. Raymond Cemetery from J. Lee for $150, and a one-acre piece of property designed as a site for a church. The later purchase, however, was forfeited together with the $240 paid for it, as certain unscrupulous parties who had sold and accepted the price, well knew that on account of an overhanging mortgage no clear title nor release could be given. Yet these founders of St. Raymond’s parish did not lose heart and possessed themselves in 1879 of the present property. For the initiative of building, this congregation is mainly indebted to the services of Father F. Lohmann and Father P. J. Virnisch (the latter succeeded Father Lohmann at Hillsboro in 1877) for what the former inaugurated, the latter completed. To them we owe our todays parochial existence and independence.

When there arose a question of building and permanently locating the presented church, the views and claims of the parishioners seemed somewhat divided on this point. Some, and principally those living father north, advocated for the town of Harvel, while others regarded Raymond as the more advantageous site. Committees and counter-committees journeyed to Alton to plead their case before the bishop who finally decided in favor of Raymond. Unitedly the work building was begun, subscription lists circulated, and the contract let to W. H. Flowers of Shelbyville, IL. A. Druiding of St. Louis drew the plans. This was in the fall of 1880. The three lots on which the church was to be erected were purchased, one of Richard Wm. O’Bannon for $35 and the two others of Jacob E. Houtz & Co. for $50. The total cost of contract could not be learned from the church records; but suffice it to state that when the sacred edifice was ready for its dedication on August 31st, 1881, the sum of $3220 had been expended by the young but virile congregation, leaving an indebtedness of S1100, which money was borrowed that day from Mr. Conrad Weller at 6 per cent interest.

Original St. Raymond church and parish house. Photo taken 1907.
Interior of original St. Raymond church
Current St. Raymond church under construction behind old church and residence.
Church exterior (exact year unknown, taken from book printed in 1924)
Church exterior (exact year unknown, taken from book printed in 1924)
Church interior (year unknown)
Church interior (year unknown)
Church interior (year unknown)
Bishop O’Connor blesses farm equipment outside of St. Raymond’s (circa 1960)