As St. Francis Borgia Parish approaches its 175th anniversary (1844-2019), we will share some short articles about our congregation’s growth through the 1800s into the present. Thanks to Marty Moore for his diligent research for these articles.
St. Francis Borgia Congregation began as a mission church under guidance of priests from Milwaukee. As our Irish “Newland” community grew, so too did another Irish community about seven miles to the north near Cedar Creek Rd.
Erecting a log cabin church of their own in 1852 (around the same time as the St. Francis Borgia community was moving into our new frame church on Pioneer Rd.), this small Irish group dedicated their church to their Irish patron, St. Bridget. Served by the priests of St. Francis Borgia, the St. Bridget congregation acted as a “daughter church” to St. Francis Borgia from 1852 to around 1860.
St. Bridget was located in a swampy area and travel was often difficult, especially in wet weather. Having outgrown their log church, the congregation made plans to build a new, larger church in a different location to the north, at Highway M and Pleasant Valley Rd. in the town of Jackson.
There they erected a new brick church structure, naming it St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, but it was more commonly called “St. Mary’s Jackson.” St. Bridget ceased operation around 1860 when the new St. Mary’s site opened.
With the rise of the automobile, there was better access to remote locations and St. Mary’s operated from 1860 to around 1923. The church and property of this last “daughter parish” of St. Francis Borgia were sold during the Depression in 1933. The funds from the sale were allocated to maintain St. Mary’s Cemetery.
In a way, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception still exists. It was dismantled, brick by brick, and the bricks were used to build a home that rests on the same site as St. Mary’s Church once stood – just west of the church’s cemetery. The dedication stone that was embedded in the front wall of the church was removed and now sits at the entrance of the cemetery, a reminder of our parish’s heritage.