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Holy Family Parochial School. Three Sisters of Charity — Mary Baptist Carney, Clara Kammer, and Ursula Sebus — from Leavenworth opened the Holy Family School in 1879 in a converted frame building across the street from the first Holy Family Church. Father Pichler taught the first two terms of school. Father Carius followed and taught with Katherine Blechel, a German scholar.

Teachers taught in the German language for several years. 1892 studentsSeveral Lutheran children of the town, among them Lothholz family members, attended the parochial school. An invasion of grasshoppers ruined crops, forcing the school to close for a time because families couldn’t pay tuition. After it reopened, records for 1886 listed 40 pupils. Between 1893 to 1899, the school averaged 60 pupils.

Frank Sommer led the construction on a new school building in 1893 that was completed in 1894. Agnes Dunegan taught the first two school terms in this building, followed by a man from Denver, and later Kate Ginter. Hard times and a drought caused the school to shut down again for a few years.

Ursuline sisters from Paola re-opened the school. But once again, not enough money could be raised and the school closed in 1913. The building was used as a parish hall until 1925.

Under the guidance of Father Joseph Reich, the parish members built a new school in 1925. Benedictine Sisters from Atchison staffed it and lived in the parish house. (The John Hadl residence, southeast of the school, served as the parish house instead. The next year, the sisters rented the Hadl home for $18 a month, and the priest resided in the former school.)

Holy Family sisters houseJohn Schopper said he would donate $1,000 if the congregation would match that amount to build a home for the sisters. After the congregation accepted his proposal, Frank Sommer drew plans for a one-story, four-room, 23-foot by 28-foot house with basement. Workers finished the house, pictured here in the 900 block of Birch Street, in 1932.

Sisters Mary and Patricia, O.S.B.T. taught during this time. The 1935 eighth grade graduating pupils were: Robert Neustifter, Charles Zillner, Bernard Winters, and Albert Hadle.

In 1963, a new Holy Family School building was built north of the Catholic Cemetery between Birch Street and Ash Street. Through time, this school became the Holy Family Church. As for the former school and convent, Ernie Simon, Simon Backhoe, razed them in 1992.

Sancta Maria. In 1985, Jane Govern and Kathleen La’brie, lay members of the Society of Our Lady of Most Holy Trinity, approached Martha Mersmann and Walter Mersmann to introduce the Montessori method to area Catholic children. After discussion with other families and Father Jim Flannagan of Massachusetts, some local Catholic parents, including Roger Fulks and Bernadette (Pyle) Fulks, decided to start a school for children ages three to seven years old in the basement of 1623 Elm Street. For the first two years, Govern taught the primary levels as Marilee Quinn, Lawrence, got her Montessori teaching credentials. After two years, Quinn taught the primary grades and Govern taught older children. The school has averaged about 35 pupils each year. Source: Martha (Grosdidier) Mersmann, co-school founder).

Copyright 2010. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.