Shelby and Bethlehem Settlement


 Most Pure Heart of Jesus Church

Settlement Parish 85 Years Old.
October 10, 1918 Crestline Advocate.

History of the church of Sacred Heart is one of progress and devotion to faith-Celebration starts next week with appropriate services.

The Sacred Heart Catholic church of Shelby Settlement, mother of all churches in this section of the state, will this month celebrate its 85th anniversary. Not only is the parish the oldest and most successful in the Catholic history of Northern Ohio, but its establishment and progress is linked with the progressive history of this section of Ohio in a commanding and honorable manner.
Dating way back in 1833 the establishment of the Sacred Heart parish is marked by the hardships but valiant courage of those early pioneers who braved the ravages of wild animals and savage Indians by tramping many miles through the dense forests and dangerous swamps to worship at the shrine of their chosen faith. The religious devotion ands sterling efforts of these earliest settlers has borne rich fruit as the grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren are today worshiping in a magnificent edifice which is one of the beauty spots of the Catholic diocese of Cleveland.
An indication of the courage of the ancestors of the present residents of Shelby Settlement and their supreme efforts in the establishment of a Catholic settlement in the very beginning of their lives in this locality is indicated in a part of the history of Vernon township which follows.- “From 1820 to 1830 the population poured rapidly all of this territory except in the south part of the present “Vernon”. No settler had appeared up to 1830 in this swampy wilderness. It was considered worthless and was rich only in wild animals, rattle snakes and and malaria. The south half of section 21 and 22 and 32 and all sections 27, 28, 38 and 34 were called the “big swamp” “big marsh” or 'the
wilderness” There was and island of about 40 to 69 acres in the north east corner of section 28 and on this would congregate wild animals and venomous reptiles . It was a great resort for Indian hunters in the early days and for white men later. Roads through a great part of this country were not made passable until about 1865 and up to that time much of the country was considered worthless. From 1830 to 1835 some twenty German families located in these swamps . They have made the waste place blossom as a rose. It is equal in fertility and productivity to the richest prairie lands of Illinois and every foot tillable. Three quarters of a century has transformed them from poverty to affluence. Those to the eastern part mostly Catholics and they have built a stone church that would do honor to the largest cities.”
Landolin and Fridolin Gosser, grandfather and uncle, respectfully of F.J. Gosser of Thoman Street Crestline , were among the earliest coming in 1832.

The earliest deed for this land from the United States Government is now in the possession of Mr. F.J. Gosser. It provides for eighty acres and the transfer of the property was mad in the land office in Wooster, Ohio, It is dated the 6th day of August, 1834 and is signed by Andrew Jackson President of the United States, and by A. Donilson as the secretary and commissioner of the Genera Land Office.
The place referred to as “the Island” is now owned by the the Gossers and is as beautiful and fertile as any of the surrounding country. In those early days Mansfield was the nearest trading point west and Sandusky City was the nearest one of consequence. These early settlers were a community of themselves and were completely dependent on their own resources and productions. They could scarcely raise domestic animal in those early days because of the ravages of the wild ones.
It is a long step from the early days of hardship and privations to the comforts and conveniences of the twentieth century, but the Christian faith and the sterling character of those early settlers and their decedents is evidenced in the beautiful country which they control and the excellent Catholic church and settlement which is the fruit of their faith.
A comparative statement of the dates of the establishment of the various Catholic churches of Northern Ohio, with respect to that of the Shelby Settlement will be of interest here. These follow in order of their establishment. 1817 Dungannon, (near Alliance) ; 1820 , Marshallville; 1823 Canton, 1826, Louisville, Wooster and Youngstown; 1827 Doylestown; 1829, Peru, (near Norwalk); 1830 McCutchensville, 1831, Randolph and Tiffin : 1832 Navarre; 1833. Avon New, Riegel and Shelby Settlement 1835, Bucyrus; 1844, Mansfield, 1854, Galion, 1857, Upper Sandusky, 1861, Crestline, 1865, Shelby. Th first Catholic parish was established in Cleveland in 1835, two years after the establishment of the Shelby Settlement. This was St. Mary's, the church long since having been torn down. It was located about a mile south of the square, a location now occupied by factories and lumbar yards.
While the Settlement parish was established in 1833 the first church, a log hut was put up by Father Tschenhens, the resident pastor who remained until 1843. Following this the church was attended by Fr. J.P. Henni, from Puru near Norwalk, about thirty-fice miles away. Later Father Henni. Became Bishop and in turn the Arch Bishop of Milwaukee. Fr. Henni attended the church until 1852 when Fr, P. Kreusch came as the resident pastor and put up the brick church which is still doing service as the school and Chapel. . Following this the priests came in the following order, Rev. S. Sommer in 1854, J. Ringle in 1855, S. Faulk in 1859, V.Arnold in 1862, H.D. Best in 1865, A.J. Abel in 1866, H. Behrens in 1867. Following this Rev J.P. Puetz attended the church from Crestline for some time and was followed by Rev. F.C. Ludwig from May until December of 1869. Rev. G. Drolshagen came in 1870, J.B. Heiland in 1872, D. Zinsmayer in 1877, M. Becker in 2888, F. Schreiber in 1890 , F.J. Hopp in 1898 and Rev. J.F. Kueber , the present pastor came in in 1904. The beautiful church, which the parish now enjoys was erected in 1892, by Fr. Schreiber.
A large number of the families which made up the congregation of the Sacred Heart church are at present direct decedents of the earliest pioneers. Among these can be mentioned the Metzgers, Sutters, Gossers, Biglins, Cateys, Kellers and others. Back as far as fifty or sixty years ago the congregation numbered one hundred families and they were usually large families so it can easily be seen that the parish has always been one of importance. The people of the parish and their excellent pastor are proud of their church and their record as they have a right to be . While Transforming their country from the waste described earlier in the story to the finest land in the county and proving themselves excellent citizens generally, they have preserved the faith and contributed liberally of their means to support as well as to all other worthy undertakings. An indication of their patriotic spirit was given last february when one Sunday morning they contributed over $800 dollars to the Knights of Columbus war fund. Later they gave liberally to the Crestline and Jackson Township War Chest.
The 85th anniversary which commences on Thursday October 17, and lasts until Tuesday evening, October 22, will consist of sermons and special services morning and evening each day in the church. Father Fridolin, well known through out this section, will preach most of the sermons. The public is cordially invited and assured of a sincere welcome to all of these services. -

Abstracted from Crestline Advocate October 10-1918-Crestline Public Library