The following information is from the original 1957 document provided by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Archives with minor editing to accommodate space restraints...
To the pioneers of St. Patrick’s Parish whose initiative and generosity are our inspiration today, this history is respectfully dedicated.
Our Past, 1848 - 1957
As far as can be ascertained, the first service held in Elkhorn was in 1848 in the home of Michael Fahey. Mass was often celebrated in private homes. Father Pendergast’s pastorate extended to 1856 when he was succeeded by Father John Brennan.
During Father Brennan’s time, services were held in the county court house. In order to serve the outlying areas, Mass was said in various places. Squire Stanford, although not of the Catholic faith, offered the use of his carpenter shop. Sometimes rooms over a blacksmith shop in Tibbets (known as the Mike Dooley Place) were put to use.
Fr. Joseph Hanauska 1956-1983
The following history was authored by Father J.F. Hanauska sometime in 1957. Interestingly he opened the St. Patrick timeline with:
“As the people of St. Patrick’s are about to start upon one of the most important building projects of their time, it is interesting to note some of the events that have taken place in this past century.” Remem- ber this was 1957 – and he was referring to the 20 Century. Comments related to dates refer to that year. th
In 1860 an old tannery was bought and moved near where the high school is now located, and this building was converted into a temporary church. A new generation had replaced the Irish settlers who had helped build the parish. Many Germans, as well as other nationalities, had now become mem- bers of St. Patrick’s to aid in the plans for the fu- ture.
The Catholics of Elkhorn were cared for by itiner- ant priests and by the pastors of St. Andrew’s, Delavan. Some of the priests who offered Mass for the Mission were Fathers H.J. Roche, James Morrissey, J.J. Allen and R. Dunphy. This was roughly the period between 1850 and 1871. It was through their tireless efforts, a site was purchased in Elkhorn for a Church and parsonage in 1871.
As early as 1848, the Most Rev. M. Henni, first Bishop of Milwaukee, was sending circuit riders to the distant parts of his diocese. The first of these riders to arrive in the Elkhorn area was Rev. J. Pendergast. For eight years Father Pendergast rode on horseback through the wilderness of this diocese to bring the comfort of their religion to a small and widely scattered group of families.
There was considerable controversy over the site of the new church. Finally and fortunately the committee selected the present location. A parcel of land was bought for the sum of $240. It in- cluded the land upon which the former Masonic Temple now stands.
The first resident priest, Father James Vahey, was assigned to Elkhorn in 1878.