ST. JAMES History
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The first Catholic settlers came to the territory of the present-day Catholic parish of Maine between 1875 and 1882. Initially, Mass was said only one or two times a year in private homes, with priests coming by horse or buggy from Elizabeth, Rush Lake, Fergus Falls, Perham, Wadena and Blue Grass. Gradually, priests came to say Mass about once a month. Records from the 1880’s mention the names of the first parishioners, including Barry, Breitenbach, Burke, Deisch, Dullea, Fogard, Germain, Horan, Kelly, Kneeland, Moore, McManus, McNulty, Murray, Timms, Vogel, and Zimmerman. First Baptism November 22, 1877. First recorded service (Funeral Mass) October 19, 1881. First recorded marriage June 27, 1883. Second recorded marriage July 31, 1884. First list of parishioners compiled June 5, 1884
Desirous of having their own church, the parishioners considered various locations, ultimately accepting a donation of 5 acres from Daniel Moore for the church and another 5 acres from Patrick Moore for the cemetery. A contract for construction of the church was signed. The church (26 x 36 ft.) was built, and it was dedicated by the Most Rev. Otto Zardetti in November, 1893. Money to pay for the pews was collected on the day the church was dedicated. Some facts and figures from those early years include the following: Deed of 5 acres for the church December 17, 1891. Parish legally incorporated February 23, 1900. Deed of 5 acres for the cemetery October 20, 1900. Contract signed for construction of first church April 2, 1891.
Cost for labor to build the first church $ 300.00. Outer structure completed
sometime in 1891. Interior of church furnished sometime in 1893. First church dedicated November 3, 1893. First Baptism in new church December 17, 1893. First assigned non-resident Pastor Father Ignatius Tomazin. Cost of 5 years of fire insurance in 1904 $3.78 for $1,260 in coverage. Initially, priests serving the parish brought all items needed for saying Mass (chalice, Mass book, vestments, altar cloths, candles, etc.) with them, but by 1896, the parish had acquired all necessary items, including an organ. Parish members sat in assigned pews, for which they paid annual rent. Pew seating charts from 1903 and 1904 reveal that the children always sat in the front pews.
In 1911, a bell was purchased and installed in the then vacant church steeple. This very same bell continues to call the faithful to Mass each weekend. As time went by, the size of the congregation grew and the church building became too small. In 1913, the church was enlarged to approximately twice its original size. The enlarged church included a sacristy, along with a small basement for a furnace. Most of the furnishings for the enlarged church were donated by parishioners. In February, 1909, the parish paid $3.90 for a $1,300 fire insurance policy on the church and its contents. The policy provided coverage for a term of five years. A parish census completed in 1915 contained the following information: Adult parish members 32, Children of parish members 22.