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100+ years of history.

St. Anthony of Padua Church, Fisherville
Established 1897
4699 S. Eleven Mile Rd. (west of Auburn), Williams Twsp., MI

A sturdy and determined lot were the Polish pioneers that settled in Williams Township in Bay County.

With meager savings garnered from hard work at the salt manufacturing and wood mills in Bay City, and later in the coal mines, they set about purchasing small plots of forest and uncultivated land in the area which they worked each to clear and make suitable for farming. Each year they were able to produce more produce to sell in nearby villiages and towns. Evenually, many were able to quit their jobs and devote their full time to working he land.

Many move here from Bay City which was the closest nearby town, and some were new immigrants. Fortunately, the village of Auburn wasn't too far away being just a few miles east of where they settled, and where they could purchase essential provisions saving them from a much longer trip to Bay City or Midland.

Many retained their affiliations with church societies, especially at St. Stanislaus Church in Bay City that was a Polish congregation. Particularly strong in the loyalty of the men were members of the St. Joseph Society, and the Ladies Rosary Society for the women. Most attended Mass at St. Stanislaus, traveling by horse and buggy, on foot, or train on the Battle Creek and Bay City Railway which was evenually acquired by the Michigan Central Railroad.

Their children were initially schooled by a lay teachers who also taught religion classes. Catholic priests from Bay City, Midland and Auburn visited the area to attended to the services where they lived.

When Rev. Fr. Edward J. Kozlowski appointed by the Most Rev. Henry J. Ricter of Grand Rapids, MI to the parish of St. Stanislaus, it turned out to be a siginificant turning point for this Polish community in Williams township. Rev. Fr. Kozlowski was devoted to insuring that Catholics in the area were properly facilitated to meet their religious needs. With his encouragement, support and leadership, these Poles began planning for putting their own church community in place.

On July 3, 1897, two acres of land were donated to the "St. Anton's Polish Roman Catholic Congregation of Fisherville." According to one early account of the parish's history, the donor was Charles Fischer a banker in West Bay City. Another account attributes the donation to George and Frances M. Mark of New York state. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Fr. Kozlowski donated funds to purchase two adjoining acreas. The accounting regarding Mr. and Mrs. Mark also states they sold two acres to the church in 1901 for $80.00. Members of the building committee included Casimer Mrozinski, Martin Wejrowski and Joseph Machelski.

A year later, the number of Polish families was up to fifty, all anxious to get their new church built.

Years later, the church acquired use of an additional 15 acreas from Father Kozlowski that were purchased with his own funds. He later left this to the parish through the administrators of his will: Monsignor John E. Gatzke and Fr. Ladislaus P. Krakowski. Father Kozlowski was auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee at the time of his death in 1914.

The first church building was completed in 1901 with the basement being used for school classes. Cost of this building was $7,000.00. Father Joseph Kaminiski and Father John Gatzke from the St. Stanislaus parish provided for the temporary pulpit needs of the new church.

The formal blessing and dedication of the new church took place on September 7, 1902. Offering the Mass was Bishop Richter, and he was assisted by Father Kozlowski and Father Michael J. Gallager of Grand Rapids, both were to become future bishops. Around 3,000 people attended the cermonial service coming from various areas in the region with most being from Bay City.

A Bay City newspaper gave the following account of the dedication ceremony: was covered by the edication: The following is an "excerpt" from newspaper article published by the :

Bay City Times Press - September 8, 1902

"Seven societies from St. Stanislaus church took part in the exercise marching to the services in a body and assisting the clergymen in charge. The Michigan Central took two crowded excursion trains of seven coaches each from Bay City, containing 800 people, to the dedication. All the rural districts in the vicinity sent large numbers the Polish settlement in Beaver township turning out in mass. The farmers living in the neighborhood, gave a reception to the visitors, treating everybody in most hospitable and generous manner."

The following lists the names those who donated windows for the church:

    Babinski, Paul
    Gierulski, Frank and Mary
    Kaczinski, Frank and Jan
    Kica, Anna and Maryann
    Kopiska, Francis
    Kosnik, Simon
    Kozuch, Thomas and Agatha

    Latock, Frederick and Maryann
    Mrozinski, Anna
    Mrozinski, Casimer and Frank
    Pryll, Anthony
    Netkowski, Frank and Maryann
    Rytlewski, Isidor
    Wrobel, Joseph

In 1907, a rectory was completed which was desirable to encourage the assignment of a residence pastor to the parish. The first resident paster to use the rectory was Rev. Father Joseph Kaminiski. His stay was very brief. In 1909, Father John. Kaplanowski was appointed to the parish.

In 1910, a new building was complete that served as a school and convent quarters for the Sisters of Dominque from Grand Rapids who taught the students.

During these early years the parish lost many members, and they were buried at the church cemetery a mile or north of the parish's main property. Early internment records list the following burials:

    Filcek, Francis - Oct. 27, 1907, age 4 weeks
    Gierulski, Mariann - Sep. 12, 1906, age 58 years
    Gwizdala, Maximilian - Nov. 18, 1903, age 1 year and 1 month
    Gwizdala, Helen - Sep. 27, 1906, age 15 years and 1 month
    Gwizdala, Susanna - Feb. 13, 1907, age 51 years
    Kozuch, Francis - Oct. 18, 1906, no age given
    Latocki, Matthias - Oct. 11, 1907, age 50 years

    Osinski, Leo - Jul. 17, 1906, age 3 years and 1 month
    Rytlewski, John - Jun. 27, 1905, no age given
    Rytlewski, Sylvester - May 23, 1907, age 5 months
    St. Gross, Anthony - Jul. 17, 1904, age 8 months
    Szudarek, Victoria - May 13, 1906, age 3 weeks
    Wejrowska, Theodora - May 7, 1905, age 3 years
    Wytbrodt, John - May 7, 1906, age 6 days
    Zmich, Anastasia - May 13, 1905, no age given

Eva Pryll was note as the first parishioner to die after a full life of 84 years. She was a Zychlinska by birth name. She was he first person buried by Father Kaminski after being appointed resident pastor.

Those who served as resident paster through 1970 were:

    1908-1919: Fr. John Kaplanowski
    1919-1925: Fr. Leonard Kwasigroch
    1923-1925: Fr. Edward Szturmowski
    1925-1932: Fr. Ladislaus Kuzius
    1932-1970: Fr. Ceslaus Linpinski

Early family surnames of pioneers of the church are:

    Babinski, Bies, Buczek, Cieslinski, Dasky, Dziurka, Filcek, Gwisdala, Kaczynski, Kaczmarek, Kalinowski, Kitts, Kosnik, Kozuch, Latocki, Lobodzinski, Luczak, Lukowski, Machelski, Mrozinski, Nowaczyk, Okon, Prill, Piesik, Piotrowski, Reder, Rytlewski, Sczepanski, Sikorski, Wejrowski, Wittbrodt, Zielinski, Zmich.

Some of the early school teachers were:

    Before the church has it's own building the children were sent to Auburn where Mary Netkowski taught them.

    When the church opened, John Zarembas taught them in the church basement. He was also the church organist and choir director.

    When the school building was completed they were taught by Miss Agnes Kocabka who was a lay person.

    In 1914, Sister M. Natalio and Sister M. Ildeponse, the church's first nun teachers, took over teaching.

St. Anthony pictures:

Present Church Building", "The present church building came into service in 1978. Many items from the original church building were integrated into the design of the new building, such as; statues, stations, tabernacle and stained glass windows.

Monsignor Eugene A. Forbes
Father Forbes has been in service to the St. Anthony church community since 1983. Under his guidance the church has grown and a new gymnasium was constructed in 1990.

"First Church", "An early photo with a horses and wagon in the shadows. The school (left) was built in 1911, the church in 1902 and the rectory (right) in 1907.

St. Anthony Cemetery
The founders of St. Anthony included five acres for this cemetery, a short distance from the church assuring families remained close to departed love ones.

St. Anthony Military Band - 1920
Front row: Leo Prill, Pete Glenesee, Frank Biss, John Balwinski, Alex Dzlurka, Tony Kaczynski, Ernest Glazier adn Felix Dziurka.

Back row: Walt Malinowski, Steve Mrozinski, George Kaczynski, Frank Kalinowski, Aloysius Mrozinski, Stanley Bies, Walter Babinski, Conrad Mrozinski and Caper Mrozinski

Father Kaplanowski
Father Kaminski was the first pastor of St. Anthony's. He was followed by Father Kaplanowski (shown here) in 1908 and he served until 1919.

Other early priest of the church were:

  • Father Leonard Kwasigroch, 1919-1923
  • Father Szturmowski, 1923-1925
  • Father Ladislaus Kuzius, 1925-1932
  • Father Ceslaus Linpinski, 1932-1970")

    Church Life
    Scenes depicting the St. Anthony Church community over the years.

  • Sources:
  • St. Anthony's Diamond Jubilee, 1976 pamphlet
  • St. Anthony of Padua, Fisherville - 1897-1997 Centennial Celebrate, 1997 pamphlet
  • St. Anthony of Padua, Fisherville, 2000 directory
  • Trinity Episcopal Menu
    Related Pages:
    Property Deed
    Contributed by Merilyn Williams. - Copy (pdf) of the original land grant deed for St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fisherville with George Marks and wife as Grantors, this is from July 3, 1897.
    People Referenced
    Babinski, Paul
    Filcek, Francis
    Fisher, Charles
    Gallager, Michael J.(Rev.)
    Gierulski, Frank
    Gierulski, Mary
    Gierulski, Mariann
    Gatzke, John E. (Mnsr.)
    Gwizdala, Helen
    Gwizdala, Maximilian
    Gwizdala, Susanna
    Ildeponse, M. (Sister)
    Kaczinski, Frank
    Kaczinski, Jan
    Kaminski, Joseph (Rev.)
    Kaplanowski, John (Rev.)
    Kica, Anna
    Kica, Maryann
    Kocabka, Agnes (Mrs.)
    Kopiska, Simon
    Kozlowski, (Rev.)
    Kozuch, Agatha
    Kozuch, Francis
    Kozuch, Thomas
    Krakowski, Ladislaus P.(Rev.)
    Kuzius, Ladislaus (Rev.)
    Kwasigroch, Leonard (Rev.)
    Latock, Fred & Maryann
    Latocki, Matthias
    Linpinski, Ceslaus (Rev.)
    Machelski, Joseph
    Mark, Francis
    Mark, George
    Mrozinski, Casimer
    Mrozinski, Frank
    Mrozinski, Anna
    Natalio, M. (Sister)
    Netkowski, Frank
    Netkowski, Maryann
    Osinski, Leo
    Pryll, Anthony
    Pryll, Eva (Mrs.)
    Richter, (Bishop)
    Rytlewski, Isidor
    Rytlewski, John
    Rytlewski, Sylvester
    St. Gross, Anthony
    Sztrmowski, Edward (Rev.)
    Szudarek, Victoria
    Wejrowska, Theordora
    Wejrowski, Martin
    Wrobel, Joseph
    Wytbrodt, John
    Zarembas, John
    Zmich, Anastasia
    Zychilinska, Eva
    Subjects Referenced
    Auburn (village)
    Battle Creek & Bay City RR
    Bay City, MI
    Bay City Times Press
    Bay County, MI
    Bishop of Milwaukee
    Coal mines
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Ladies Rosary Society
    Michigan Central RR
    Salt manufacturing
    Sisters of Dominque
    St. Joseph Church
    St. Stanislaus Church
    Wood mills
    Williams Twsp., MI
    Related Notes
    None at this time.
    Internet Resources
  • Bay Co. MIGenBay
    St. Anthony section of St. Stanislaus church's Golden Jubilee 1874-1925 book.

    Contact us if you can add one.
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