We often hear from visitors that they are surprised such a beautiful space exists and that they never knew it was here.

I love the hidden gem/secret spot feel we have but it certainly isn’t because we are some newly built barn or ballroom. History has been being made here for hundreds of years and our family is thrilled to be but a chapter in a very long tale of Wisconsin history that also pre dates the existence of a state called Wisconsin. Whether it being near a centuries old meeting point of Native Americans for trading or across the street of an important stagecoach stop on a road that would become the first east west road connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans known as The Yellowstone Trail, our property has been the meeting place for generations.

For a more specific history of our space, here is a copy of the historic information included in a newsletter that was put together by Father Kraus in 1948 that covered 100 years of our property’s history at that point in time. Incredibly fascinating for us albeit a long read. We hope this brings you even a fraction of the joy and fascination that it did for us.

Historical Data: 1848-1948
SS. Peter and Paul Parish
Nenno, Wisconsin

In the spring of the year 1844 the first Catholic settlers came to this vicinity. They were of German and Irish Origin. In the years that followed, many friends and relatives of these settlers, moved by their favorable reports, augments the number appreciably. The Germans then attended services at St. Lawrence and the Irish at Theresa. Hence the earliest records of SS. Peter and Paul are preserved in Theresa and St. Lawrence (some are at Barton), just as the early records of St. Bridget’s of Wayne are registered here. Nenno received its name from an early Justice of the Peace who lived here.

Missionary priests, inspired by the divine mandate, “preach the gospel to every creature,” came to give spiritual consolation to the ancestors of the parishioners who now comprise SS. Peter and Paul Congregation. And even after pastors had been appointed, the activities of the missionaries are woven like a golden thread into the wool and fibre of the religious life of the people.

Toward the middle of the 1840-1850 decade, one of the first to labor here was one who later became Archbishop of Milwaukee. It was the Most Reverend Michael Heiss, not to be confused with his nephew, the Reverend John Michael Heiss, who later became the first resident pastor of SS. Peter and Paul, Archbishop Michael Heiss was born April 2, 1818, in Pfahldorf, Bavaria, and came to Milwaukee, May 3, 1844. He labored in an area comprising some fifty-six miles north and west of Milwaukee. He became Bishop of La Crosse, September 6, 1868, coadjutor of Archbishop Henni in 1880, and in the following year, Archbishop of Milwaukee. The Congregation of SS. Peter and Paul is deeply indebted to this saintly man, who labored indefatigably n the remotest corners of the Lord’s vineyard and was practically the first to come to this vicinity. The year was about 1845.
In 1848, Father Charles Schraudenbach organized the congregation of what is now SS. Peter and Paul and built the first church. He was at the time pastor- in fact, the first pastor- of St. Lawrence. He had been at St. Augustine’s, Chilton, from which place he went to St. Charles Borromco at Charlesburg, Wis., to be its first pastor. A certain Mr. McCoon (McCune?) presented the infant congregation five acres of land. Archbishop Henni approved the gift, and under Father Schraudenbach’s direction a small log church was built and he and succeeding pastors of St. Lawrence (and Barton) ministered to the spiritual needs of the people. Among them was the Reverend Farther Michael Beiter, who in 1852 enlarged the church. It is interesting to note that a mission was conducted in this same year by the Jesuit Father, the Reverend F. X. Wenninger.
Father Casper Rehrl, pastor at St. Lawrence, made the first entry in the baptismal register November 25, 1855. It was a record of the baptism of Cornelius Dwyer, father of Michael, Edward, Dennis and Agnes. Father Rehrl left St. Lawrence in 1856 and went to Barton. From there he continued to labor for SS. Peter and Paul until December 1859.

Father John Michael Heiss, the first resident pastor, signed himself “missionary,” and apparently conscious of the historical importance of the occasion, wrote with a flourish: “Ingressus sum, Jan 1, 1860” – “I took up my duties January the first, 1860!” He remained = not quite a year. The congregation, through its pastor, purchased the first chalice.

Father Casper Rehrl came back without any fanfare whatever at the end of 1860 and remained until the fall of 1865. Father Rehrl, a profound student of Arabian, Chaldeau, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Syrian, was likewise a Doctor of Divinity, a degree received at Salzburg University. He was ordained September 20, 1835. Ten years later he labored as a missionary in the United States, beginning at New Orleans and going upward to Wisconsin where he worked for the salvation of souls until his death in 1881. “Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord. From henceforth now with the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow them. “(Apoe, XIV, 13.)

Father Michael Wenker followed Father Rehrl in 1865 and became the third resident pastor. He also had charge of the missions of St. Bridget’s, Wayne, and St. Anthony’s, Allenton.
Incidentally, the first church of St. Anthony’s mission was built in 1855. The pastors of St. Lawrence had charge of this mission until Father Wenker’s pastorate when it became affiliated with SS. Peter and Paul of Nenno in 1866. June 13, 1873, the cornerstone for a new church was laid. During St. Anthony’s short-lived independence (see note in connection with Father Schleier’s pastorate) it had its mission St. Mathias of Nabob (organized in 1848 by Father Charles Schraudenbach; thus the mission daughter was older than the mother church), until 1917, when Sacred Hart Parish in Allenton was founded by Father Anthony Lauer, and St. Mathias became a mission to the Allenton Church.

During Father Wenker’s pastorate plans were laid to build a more impressive church and rectory. These plans materialized in 1867 when the building of the church and rectory was begun. The cost was $13,000.00. A well was dug in 1866. For the Church Father Wenker purchased a high-altar, benches, a statue of the Blessed Virgin and various other articles. He likewise procured some necessary furniture, etc. for the rectory. He left in the spring of 1869.

The fourth resident pastor, Father W. Engeln came in the summer of 1869 and remained until the spring of 1873. During his pastorate he purchased for the church, a pulpit, a way of the cross and a statue of St. Joseph.
The fifth resident pastor, Father John Mehlmann, took charge in April, 1873, and left in October of the same year.

In November, 1873, the Reverend Father Frank Spath, a missionary, held fort until
The sixth resident pastor, the Reverend Father Joesph Nicholas Moes arrived to take charge. He also signed himself “missionary.” He came in January, 1874 and remained only a few months.
Reverend Father John Wernich assumed his pastoral duties in 1874 and remained until October, 1878. With great zeal he began to organize the St. Ann’s Society and the Young Ladies Sodality. For the church he purchased a pipe organ, two bells, an oil painting of SS> Peter and Paul for the high alter (note: this is now in the school winter –chapel) and banners. He enlarged the cemetery, and began to improve the physical appearance of the SS. Peter and Paul property. He finally built the combination school and convent. The parish was in deep debt when he resigned in October 1878.
The either resident pastor, Father Hubert Jansen, put in his appearance in October, 1878. He was appalled by the debts of the parish and worked in fear and trembling exactly two years.
The parish owes a great deal of gratitude to the ninth pastor, the Reverend Father John Decker, who came in November, 1880, and remained until the summer of 1888, after which he went to St. Charles Borromoo in Charlesburg, Wis. Then he was successively pastor at St. Ashton, Lomira, Lost Lake, Marytown, and Belgium. He was born in Germany, May 2, 1856, came to America in 1873 and settled in Milwaukee. He was educated at St. Francis Seminary and was ordained in 1879 by Archbishop Henni. He died February 27, 1911. He cleared the Parish of all indebtedness. He also put a foundation under the church building. (Note: From November, 1944 to the spring of 1945, the parishioners dug out the dirt and built a beautiful church basement, with fluorescent lighting, an adequate number of tables and chairs, a new large furnace, a completely equipped kitchen, and with a tunnel connecting this and the school basement.

June 19, 1888, a marriage was performed by the Reverend Father Michael Ruckengruber.
June 24, 1888, baptism was administered by the Reverend Father Nicholas August Thill.
After so interregnum came the tenth pastor, the Reverend Father August F. Salick, who arrived in July 1888 and remained exactly two years. During his pastorate several necessary repairs were made in the rectory. Father Salick became pastor of St. Ann’s, Milwaukee, and a Domestic Prelate.

The eleventh pastor, the Reverend Father Pancratius August Schleier, set a record of remaining over nine years. Up to that time the shortest pastorate had been that of the Reverend Father John Dehlmann. For the church Father Schleier had the roof shingled (note: a new roof was put on the church in the summer of 1947), remodeled the pipe organ, purchased during the pastorate of the Reverend Father John Wernich (1874-1878) (note: incidentally, this organ finally gave up the ghost seventy years later and a new organ was purchased in 1948 with the voluntary donations of SS. Peter and Paul parishioners) and induced the St. Ann’s Society to donate a new banner. Also during his pastorate the School Sisters of St. Francis, Layton Boulevard, Milwaukee, replaced the St. Agnes Sisters of Fond du Lac.

Since the time of Father Wenker (1865-1869) St. Anthony’s; Allenton, R. 1. Wis.; had been a missing to SS. Peter and Paul. During Father Schleier’s time the mission became a self-sustaining parish with the Reverend William Eggers (now Rt. Rev. Msgr. Eggers of St. Bernard’s Parish, Madison) as pastor. However, the independence did not endure. Father Eggers was followed by the Rev. Peter W. Gersbach, now pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Fond du Lac. The Reverend Anthony J. Lauer was the successor of Father Gersbach. It was during his pastorate, in 1917, that the new parish of Sacred Heart in Allenton, Wis., was founded. Then St. Anthony’s went back to Ss. Peter and Paul as a mission in 1918, during the pastorate of the Reverend Joseph H. Gabriels.
The twelfth pastor, the Reverend Father Fred Raess, remained only five months, from June 15, 1899 to November 15, 1899, thus constituting himself the pastor with the shortest term of office.

November 18, 1899, the Reverend Julius Hellweger took charge. Church, school and rectory underwent renovations during his pastorate. Necessary articles were bought for the church, among which were the crucifixion group on the high altar, stained glass windows, a chalice, a ciborium, a white velum and a black cope. Father Hellweger left July, 1901.

The fourteenth resident pastor was the Reverend Father J. M. Herriges during whose tenure of office the church tower was built, the school and rectory remodeled. He installed the two side altars, which harmonize in contour and structure with the high altar. He left in the fall of 1908.

The Reverend Father Leo F. Gabriels came in the winter of 1908 as the fifteenth resident pastor and left five and a half years later in April, 1914. A crib was purchased for the church. A fuel shed was built for the school ($150.75) and in 1914 repairs were made in the rectory to the extent of $607.00. Acetylene lights were installed.

The sixteenth pastor, the Reverend Father Joseph H Gabriels, brother of Father Leo F., made a record of being the longest in office- twenty-one and a half years, from May, 1914, to the winter of 1935. During his pastorate there were purchased: for the church pews, chalice, and censer-stand. For the school desks were bought in 1926. For the cemetery a crucifixion group was purchased in 1918 at a cost of $750.00. Sewerage and water works installed at a cost of $523.00. A well was drilled in 1927 (cost $624.25) and another well in 1931, $750. The church was decorated in 1928 at a cost of $2,000.00. Electric lights were installed in church, School and Rectory.

The Reverend Father George Lochowitz, the seventeenth pastor, came in the winter of 1935 and remained until June 22, 1944- eight and a half years. During his pastorate $529.45 was expended for water installation. For the rectory the following was done: interior painted; an electric hot water heater purchased; water softener; some furniture and curtains; a stoker; an electric range; and bathroom and washroom fixtures.
The eighteenth pastor is the present incumbent, Rev. Francis Kraus, who came June 22, 1944. During his pastorate the following improvements were made: For the church: new basement dug out with kitchen now completely equipped; new furnace; new roof; garage attached to the church; organ; new lighting system; 6 new hanging lights; tunnel connecting school and church basements; flexotile flooring for sanctuary and sacristy. For the school: Interior and exterior painted; a stoker; new roof; slate blackboards; lighting system revamped; a large addition to the school library and playground equipment. For the convent: interior painted; lighting improved; pyrofax stove, electric hot water heater, and chairs. For the rectory: exterior painted; new rugs and refrigerator, auxiliary sewer in basement. Parrish grounds: improved.

SS. Peter and Paul School

The school, begun in 1845, is older than the parish and not less vigorous. The log building was moved and is now, remodeled, the home of Joseph Zwirlein, apiarist and painter. In 1947 the old logs were exposed to view when the clapboards were removed and replaced with new siding.

During the pastorate of the Reverend Father Pancratius Schleier the School Sisters of St. Agnes were replaced by the School Sisters of St. Francis, Latyon Boulevard, Milwaukee. This was in 1895. The sisters now in charge are: Sister M. Calis, O.S.F. Superior; Sister M. Adelphia, O.S. F. Teacher, Organist, Choir Directress; Sister M. Arilda, O.S.F. Home Sister.

The Sisters Superior in charge from 1895 to the present:
1895-1896 Sr. M Gonzaga, O.S.F
1896-1897 Sr. M. Felicitas

If there are any mistakes in this booklet- and I fear that there are many unintentional errors- I regret very much that I cannot lay the blame for them on anyone but myself.

– Father Kraus