Welcome To Elkport Garber Iowa Where the Rivers Run Wild

Elkport Catholic His

This is Michael's work.

Keep the Spirit of Aloha alive!
Michael F. O'Brien, son of Charlotte Amling O'Brien and grandson of Francis Joseph Amling, Sr. and Anna Louise Seibert Amling  of  Elkport,Iowa

Michael F. O'Brien
PO Box 384899
Waikoloa, HI 96738-4899
Tel: 808-883-8002





" Around 1850 a priest managed to arrive about four times a year to say Mass for all Catholics in the area. This priest had a territory that ran from below Holy Cross to around Clermont, with all the little villages from the Mississippi River to that northwestern point to be seen to. The priest would arrive as best he could, then messengers would take the word around that there would be Mass the next day. The meeting place was in someone’s home, a very simple log cabin. About 15 families became members of this quite informal parish. For all 11 years it was like this, then a priest from the Guttenberg area came more often. About this time a Mr. Archie, who was not a Catholic himself, offered the Catholic parish one lot in Elkport if they would buy a second one. They did this, but could not get enough money together to build on it. Then in 1863, the middle of the Civil War years, John Schornagle built a small frame building at his own expense. Finally in 1866 the church became known at the Elkport Catholic Church and was served by an Elkader priest. "


July 6, 1871



The cornerstone for the new Catholic Church was laid by Rev. J. J. Quigley, assisted by our worthy young pastor, Rev. Ed. Gaul and Ver. W. J. Coughlan. Considering the season of the year a great many were present at the ceremonies, and listened with attention to the explanation of the beautiful prayer by which the church blesses the cornerstone. (Prayer was in Latin.) (The complete story will appear in the special Churches section later.)




The following Letter to the Editor was published in Clayton County Journal

Laying of Corner Stone of the New Catholic Church at Elkport.

Elkport, July 6th, 1871

Editor Clayton County Journal:

Dear Sir:--An event has taken place here to-day which may be interesting to many readers of the JOURNAL. The Catholics of Elkport and vicinity, finding their poor little frame building entirely inadequate to the wants of the congregation, are busily engaged in erecting a much larger and more commodious building. This is a rather difficult undertaking for our poor people; but when we consider the improvements that have been made in Elkader within the past three years we feel it our duty to our religion, to ourselves, and to our children, to imitate the generosity of our neighbors, and we doubt not that God will bless our efforts.

To-day was laid the corner stone of our new church by Rev. J. J. Quigley, assisted by our worthy young pastor, Rev. Ed. Gaul, and Rev. W. J. Coughlan. Considering the season of the year, a great many were present at the ceremonies, and listened, with attention to the explanations of the beautiful prayer by which he church blesses the corner stone. The following is the translation of the prayer:

"In the faith of Jesus Christ we place this corner stone in this foundation, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that the true faith, the fear of God and brotherly love may flourish here and this place devoted to prayer and the invocation and praise of the same Jesus Christ."


Although an advertisement for stone masons and the laying of the cornerstone both took place in 1871, the church was not entirely done until 1879.



Father E. Gaul was the priest in charge when building was begun. He also commenced the building of a rectory. The first entirely resident pastor was his successor, Father Michael Quirk, who completed the rectory. Father Coyle came next and saw to the completion of the church, doing much of the hardest labor himself. He stayed from 1875 to ’82.

In the cornerstone were placed the latest number of the Clayton County Journal, New York Freeman’s Journal, Boston Pilot, and Dubuque Herald. An accompanying letter said, "For the greater glory of God and the propagation of the Catholic faith in this part of America, this church is erected under the invocation of the Archangel St. Michael. July 6, 1871, in the 26th year of Pius IX, Rt. Rev. John Hennessy, Archbishop, and

U. S. Grant, President of the United States."






There are three church organizations in Elkport, the Catholic, the Lutheran and the German Methodist.





There are three church organizations in Elkport, the Catholic, the Lutheran and the German Methodist.

St. Immanuel Church and congregation was organized as a society at an early date by Frederick Hartage, Mr. Waterman, Mr. Ritter and others. The first services of the denomination in this neighborhood were held at the old Elkport school-house, and afterward in a small building erected for the purpose. The following have officiated as pastors of the Congregation: Rev. J. Hoerlein, 1867-‘9; Rev. G. Oehlert, 1869-’71; Rev. J. Schulenberg, 1872-‘4; Rev. J. Vollmar, 1974-‘7; Rev. H. W. Tiemeier, 1877-‘9; Philip J. Doensief, 1879. The present house of worship was erected in 1875, as a cost of $2000. The present officers of the church are W. Hohmann, G. Dauskardt, and William Oehmann. The membership is forty-two. There is also a Sunday-school in the winter season, conducted by the pastor. The present membership is twenty-seven.

The Catholic Church of Elkport was organized by Father Michael Lynch, of Dubuque, who came to hold services only four time a year. Among the first members ere: Mathew Kaffer, Peter McHan, Michael and Timothy Callahan, Edward and Thos. Flaherty, Ernest Hoffman, Thomas Lawler, Patrick Costigan, John and Joseph Putz, James Hayes, George, Herman and Michael Burns. The first services were held at different private homes, in turn. Among the pastors have been Father O’Bryne, Father Schult, Father Stephen Maasjost. Father Michael Gaul was the first regularly stationed minister of the church. He remained six years. Then Father M. J. Quick served for four years, and Father B. W. Coyle has been pastor for the past seven years. Revivals have been successfully held in 1868 and 1874. The frame building now used as a school was built for a church in 1858. The present house of worship was erected in 1874. It is forty by fifty-six feet, of stone which cost $4,000. A neat and commodious parsonage is attached, which cost $2,000. There is a Sunday-school connected with the church, and it meets on alternate Sundays. About fifty families are not connected with the church.



Mch 30, 1899 "The Catholic church as this place has just received an elegant new altar from Dubuque Altar Co. It consists of one main and two side altars. Father Minogue is making many improvements."


July 30, 1903 The recent water wrought considerable damage to the Catholic Church property in Elkport. The water reached to the depth of three feet in the parochial residence, the church furnace was partially destroyed and the floor which only very recently had been put down was badly damaged. There is much talk among the Catholics of building a new church, and should this be agreed upon, the probability is that East Elkport will be chosen as the most secure and convenient location in which to select a site for a new church. Handsome subscriptions are already in sight should this work be undertaken. The property at present owned by the congregation will eventually have to be abandoned. The floods of the past sixteen months have undone most of the improvements of the past seven years and any further expenditure in this direction would seem to be rather a risky investment by those who are directly concerned.




"Archbishop Keane of Dubuque confirmed a class of 50 at the Catholic Church Tuesday," This would include young people from Littleport, Edgewood, and Colesburg as well as locals Elkport and Garber .



July/August ?, 1916


Albert Matt, who has had charge of the soliciting for a new Catholic Church at Garber, stated that enough money had been pledged to build the church. He is making a special effort to secure enough funds to build a large handsome church, a parsonage and enough property for the site of a Catholic church to be built later on.




Sept. 21, 1916 "The St. Michael’s Catholic Church has purchased five lots of henry Schnepf for $250 and will begin the erecting of a new church at once. This will be a decided improvement for the Garber town."

Oct. 12, 1916 "The men of the Catholic Church stated hauling rock for the foundation of the new church to be erected as soon as possible. The work will be rushed and as much done this fall as possible."




Aug. 16, 1917 "On August 30 the ladies of St. Michael/s parish will serve dinner on the church grounds in Garber."

"On Tuesday Sept. 4, 1917, the blessing and laying of the cornerstone of the new St. Michael’s Church at Garber will take place. Archbishop Keane of Dubuque or his representative will present services and people from surrounding territory will be present. Everyone is invited. "




Nov. 19, 1917 "Rev. Minogue has moved his household goods to Garber, where he will now make his home." The parish house or parsonage or rectory was one he home of Henry Schnepf and was probably sold to the Catholic Church at the same time as the church site was.



Sept. 26, 1918 "Tuesday was a big day for Garber, when the new Catholic Church was dedicated, there being a large attendance." Actually the first Mass in the new St. Michael’s Church of Garber was said on Christmas Eve, 1917.

on Christmas Eve, 1917.




Aug. 24, 1921 "Thor Fisko and crew are putting a cement basement in the Garber Catholic Church this week.




Feb. 11, 1922 - DUBUQUE TIMES-JOURNAL …Volunteers were busy climbing from one roof and another putting out fires with had started from flying embers. The Catholic Church was threatened as well as the priest’s residence. Embers were carried a distance of a mile and a one half…



Jan. 18, 1923 "Albert Zapf had purchased the old Catholic church property at Elkport and will tear the building down to use the rock in his new buildings to be put up this Spring."



Aug. 2, 1923 "New doors have been placed in St. Michael’s new Catholic Church in Garber. (Evidently the church started out using doors salvaged from the abandoned church in Elkport.)

"Messrs. Walter and Sommers of Dubuque have completed the interior decoration of St. Michael’s Church. The work is very artistic and add greatly to the beauty of the interior."



Oct. 9, 1924 "Rev. F. W. Goetzinger of Ina will be the next resident parish priest for St. Michael’s Church in Garber."



In my mother's collection of things was A SCRAPBOOK OF ELKPORT-GARBER HISTORY 1832-1994. I have gone through it, but am not, yet, finished typing out any information on Amlings, Schornagles, St. Michael's Catholic Church, the Elkport School, Dr. Kriebs (the family doctor and the man who encouraged my mother to attend the University of Iowa's School of Nursing - Class of '32.) and any other items of specific interest to our family. See Attachment.

Demolition of Elkport started last week.

St. Michael's Catholic Church Time Line

(Not all church information in this history jives! MFO)

The Schornagles were mentioned in early entries.

1863 - John Schornagle builds small frame church at his own expense.

1866 - Church becomes known as Elkport Catholic Church

1871 - July 6 - cornerstone laid for the new Catholic Church

1879 - Church finished

1892 - Old front of church being torn out to be replaced with a modern style by Guttenberg masons.

1897 - October 1 - Arrangement made to build a steeple on church and gallery added

1899 - March 30 - Church received elegant new altar from Dubuque Altar Company.

1903 - July 20 - Recent water wrought considerable damage to church. Water reached three feet in depth in the church residence

1906 - Work to begin to raise Catholic parsonage.

1908 - October 28 - New art class windows for Church will be here in a couple of weeks donated my eight members of congregation.

1916 - September 21 - Church purchased five lots in Garber for new church

1916 - October 12 - Church men start hauling rock for foundation of new church

1917 - September 4 - Blessing and laying of cornerstone

1917 - December 24 - First Mass on Christmas Eve in new church

1918 - September 26 - Church dedicated

1921 - August 24 - Church receives a cement basement

1922 - February 11 - Garber fire threatened church and parsonage

1923 - January 18 - Albert Zapf purchased old church to us stone in his new buildings

1923 - August 2 - New doors placed in St. Michael's Church

1924 - May 2 - Father Minogue killed in tragic train accident. Has served parish for twenty-five years.

2003 - St. Michael's closed for good on September 14.

Please use it, Helen. I have added a short explanation as to who I am in relation to Mom & her parents.

Keep the Spirit of Aloha alive!

Michael F. O'Brien
PO Box 384899
Waikoloa, HI 96738-4899
Tel: 808-883-8002