From: History of Holy Trinity Parish, published in the Parish Messenger (Holy Trinity) by Francis L. Auer., ci. 1930s.
LOCATION: In the early Forties of the last century many new suburbs were founded around the city of St. Louis. This was due to the great and ever increasing number of immigrants that were streaming into the city and also because property was cheaper on the outskirts of the city. One of these suburban towns, which was organized to the north of the city, was that called New Bremen, which was to become the territory, the location of the early Holy Trinity Parish. This town received its name, New Bremen, from the fact that very many of the immigrants that settled in this territory were people who came to this country from Bremen, Germany. Even to this day this part of North St. Louis is called and known by this name, Bremen. We have remnants that remind us of this fact, for example, we have the Bremen Bank, the Bremen Branch Post Office, Bremen street, etc.
This little town of New Bremen was incorporated on the 6th day of April in 1845, by Messrs. George Buchanan, E. C. Angelrodt, N. N. Destrehan and Emil Mallinckrodt. (The four streets running due east and west through the town were named in honor of them). New Bremen was an independent community, having its own police and carrying on its own municipal affairs. It lived as an independent town until December 5, 1855, when the official existence of the town of New Bremen came to an end, when, due to the rapid growth of the city of St. Louis, the citizens of New Bremen voted that their little town be annexed to and made a part of the city of St. Louis. Such in brief is the history of the territory which soon was to become the location of Holy Trinity Parish.
NEED OF A CHURCH IN NEW BREMEN: in last month’s issue, of the Parish Messenger we wrote about the Location of our Parish and of the establishment of a little town to the north of the city of St. Louis, called New Bremen. In this issue we continue our little history. No sooner was New Bremen established when people began to stream into the town. The population grew by leaps and bounds. And the ever increasing number of Catholics, living in the newly established town of New Bremen, were obliged to fulfill their religious duties at St. Joseph’s Church, at 11th and Biddle Streets, which at that time was quite some distance from New Bremen and it was quite some difficulty, especially if we are reminded of the fact that at that time there were no street cars and even sidewalks as we have today, and that the roads were sometimes almost impassible. Due to these circumstances it was practically an impossibility for the Catholic children of New Bremen to attend St. Joseph’s Parochial School.
From all this it becomes self-evident to us that a Catholic Church and School was a necessity at New Bremen. Hence the next step in the History of Catholicity in New Bremen is one that is but natural to follow, one to be expected, and that is the fact that the initial steps be taken to procure and attain a Parish, a Church and School of their own.
To us this task seems to have been an impossibility, especially when we relize the fact that at that time the number of inhabitants of New Bremen, though increasing daily in number, was quite small and that they were not wealthy people but on the contrary, practically all of them were poor people of the laboring class. However they received encouragement from two gentlemen who owned most of the property in the neighborhood, Messrs. Mallinckrodt and Farrar, who promised to help them in their endeavor, and then, too, they thought that by building a Church and School and establishing a Parish in New Bremen other Catholic families would be drawn into the town, thus having more people to help them in their work.
FIRST STEP TOWARD ESTABLISHING A PARISH IN NEW BREMEN: Such then being the state of affairs, in the Spring of 1848, six men of New Bremen met to discuss the possibility of a Church of their own and then proceeded to draw up the first plans of building this Church and of establishing this Parish in their neighborhood. The names of these men, who turned out to be the foundation stones of the first Holy Trinity Church, were: Messrs. Bueter, Fischer, Hannert, Hellmann, Herkenhoff and Withaubt.
In last month’s issue of the Messenger we closed our little article on the History of our Parish, by setting down the names of six individuals, who got together for the purpose of discussing the possibility of and of drawing up plans for a church and school in New Bremen. We continue—. These six men, in the month of September of the year 1848, went to the Vicar General of the Diocese of St. Louis, the Most Reverend Joseph Melcher (later the bishop of Green Bay, Wis.), and laid their plans before him, but he responded by merely laughing at them and saying, “How can you six families even think of building your own Church and of establishing your own Parish.” This answer however, did not discourage the six gentlemen, but confident that they could carry out their plans, they were determined. Nothing could discourage them in their endeavor. Hence the next step, of going to [a] higher authority. They went to Archbishop Kenrick and presented their plans before him. Here, the Bremen gentlemen received some encouragement, for the Archbishop was very well pleased with their plans and gladly gave them the desired permission for which they asked, provided they could obtain the means necessary to carry out their plans. With God's Benediction and the good wishes of the Archbishop they went back to New Bremen and told the citizens of the community that they had received the necessary permission and that they would start immediately to put their plans into execution.
ESTABLISHING OF HOLY TRINITY PARISH – The above mentioned men began their work by obtaining the necessary medium and God was with them, for from the very start, they were helped in their noble work by a number of gracious and magnanimous men of New Bremen. Mr. Mallinckrodt gave them a 25 foot plot of ground on the present 11th Street near to Salisbury Street. However Mr. Mallinckrodt was opposed to have the new Church built on that site because according to his opinion the surrounding property would not rise in value and only the poorer class of people would locate themselves about the Church. Therefore Mr. B. Farrar gave the congregation a plot of ground 80x180 feet at the corner of the present 14th and Mallinckrodt Streets and took in return the plot of ground that Mr. Mallinckrodt had given them.
Another donor was a certain Mr. McGuire, who gave them $700.00, with which they could buy the necessary building materials for their new church, and as a return for his magnanimous gift he was given in return the life-long privilege to a free seat in the new Church. To these large donations were added smaller ones, which the Catholics of New Bremen according to their means, were able to make. Then too, much of the actual labor of building the Church was donated by the members of the congregation. Thus by July of the same year (1848) the Catholics of New Bremen were ready to build. They had obtained the necessary medium, which the Archbishop had set down as necessary before they could actually begin to build their church.
On July 4, 1848 the deed of the property was made over to the Archbishop. The contract for the building was given to a Mr. Joseph Hartmann of St. Mary’s Church of St. Louis. It was decided to build a Church and also a brick school building.
This latter move of theirs, namely of having a school of their own from the very foundation of their new parish, forcefully teaches us with what high esteem our predecessors looked upon Catholic Education in Parochial Schools and of what great value they regard the Catholic Education of Youth. These holy Catholics knew that if the Parish which they were working so hard to establish and build up was to grow, spread and flourish, it was necessary for them to have the seed of their Holy Faith planted and cultivated in the hearts of their little once, for they were well aware of the fact that the children of today would be the Catholic adults of tomorrow. They realized the fact that the success of the Church in future years would depend not on them so much as upon their children. Hence they deemed it not only useful but necessary that from the very inception of their new parish they have that essential institution, the Catholic Parochial School.
Site of Holy Trinity’s First Church and School. Holy Trinity’s first church, a small stone building, was built on 14th Street, next to the alley between Destrehan and Mallinckrodt Streets. The entrance of the church was on 14th Street. The Parish School was built beside the church, to the north. The plot of ground at that time was a hill, and it was upon this hill that the Church and School were built. Both buildings were put approximately on the same site of the present priest house, a little south of the present church. The School was a two-story building; the two rooms on the upper floor were to serve as the temporary living quarters of the pastor and the lower floor being bade into class rooms for the children.
Corner-stone Laying of Holy Trinity’s First Church. The corner-stone laying of the new church took place in the early Fall of the year 1848. Father Patschowski, S.J., from St. Joseph’s Church, preached the sermon upon this occasion. The new Church, according to the wishes of the Archbishop, was named the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. By the first of the year the Church was built up to the windows and the School was placed under roof.
First Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. In 1849 the Archbishop appointed Rev. Theo. Laurensen as the first Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. He immediately took over the work of managing the parish. Since the school building, which was to serve as the temporary home of the pastor, was not yet completed and ready for use, Father Laurensen stayed with Mr. Frederick Fischer and his family, whose home was located somewhere between the present Broadway, Ninth, Destrehan and Mallinckrodt Streets.
At this time, were are told, the parishioners discovered that the task of building their own church and school cost more than they had expected. But the Archbishop, we are informed, loaned them the necessary money. The work of building was continued in the spring of 1849, as soon as the weather permitted, which in that year was rather early.
First Mass in New Bremen. During Passion Week the School Building was completed far enough so that divine services could be held in the future class rooms. On Palm Sunday (1849) the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated there for the first time and from then on services were conducted regularly. (Consequently, Mass was celebrated at Holy Trinity Church nearly three months earlier than at Sts. Peter and Paul Church.)
Dedication of the First Holy Trinity Church. All the while the work of building the Church was going on, unitl it was suitable for divine services. The plaster work was left to be done at a later date. On Holy Trinity Sunday, the Patronal Day of the New Parish, the Church was dedicated by His Excellency, Archbishop Kenrick. This was a great celebration for the young but fast growing Parish. From the entrance of the Church to the corner of Broadway and Mallinckrodt Streets, there had been built an aisle flanked with green trees, and decorated with flags, which were hung all along the way and which were left hanging the whole day, to flutter in the spring breezes, and mid the booming of many cannon balls. The Archbishop was escorted in solemn fashion from Broadway and Mallinckrodt Streets, whither he had to come in his coach.
The Church itself, too, showed signs of festivity—flowers, green branches and small trees being used to decorate it. The whole celebration was blessed with good weather. The new church was also equipped with a small hand bell, which rang out its joyful sounds to the whole of New Bremen, impressing upon its inhabitants the happy feeling that was hers. (This bell, it is said, was donated by Mr. Mallinckrodt, who had obtained it from an old Methodist Church.)
Services now being conducted in the Church Building itself, the School Building from then on was used for the purpose for which it had been intended, namely, the education of the children. The teacher who opened the first school year was a certain Mr. Putting. There were 13 pupils the first year. What a bad number for superstitious people, but here we find just another example disproving such superstitious beliefs, for from such a beginning our school, as our predecessors prophesied, grew by leaps and bounds and with great success both materially and spiritually.
During this same summer of 1849 Father Laurensen moved into the second floor of the school building, which as you will recall having been noted before was fixed to serve as temporary living quarters of the Pastor.
Father Laurensen scarely got a start, having served our people only for the brief term of nine months, when he was removed to take up another post. Father Joseph Blaarer was appointed to succeed, as second pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. Though Father Laurensen’s stay with us was brief, it being only from April to December of the year 1849, it constituted a successful few months. Beside the building work, Father Laurensen had to his credit, according to our records, 42 baptisms, and 24 christian marriages. Also during those few months Father Laurensen had made himself very useful about the parish in assisting the sick and the dying, especially during the time of the Cholera epidemic, which was raging during the summer months of 1849. He showed himself to have possessed real and true priestly zeal.
In the early months of 1850 Father Blaarer had the Parishioners haul sand, which was to be used to plaster the interior of the Church. This sand could be obtained free of charge, on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Since the school money, derived from the children attending the school, was not sufficient to support the teachers, Father Blaarer established a society, the members of which organization were to see to it that they obtain the salary for the teacher. The newly established society was called the Holy Trinity Building Society. The society however existed only for a short while.
In September, 1850, Father Blaarer was moved by the Archbishop and was succeeded by Father John Anselm, who became the third pastor of Holy Trinity Pastor, which position he held till July, 1856. Father Anselm immediately set to work to finish the plaster work in the interior of the Church and to procure two new stone altars. The altars were consecrated, on the first Sunday of Advent, by Father Simon Sigrist, of Saints of Peter and Paul Parish.