St James History

St James History
Information obtained from "History of Rising Sun and St. James Parish by Victor Leahy"

The village of Rising Sun is situated on the highest ridge in Crawford County (elevation, 1283 ft). In the 1840's and early 50's many pioneers came to this region in search of land offered by the government. They were immigrants from the northern and central countries of Europe, mostly from Norway and Ireland, with a few from England and Germany. They came to this region seeking homesteads. All of the Irish people who settled around Rising Sun were Catholic and later founded St. James Parish.

Fr Lucian Galtier a French Missionary came through in 1847 and continued his missionary travels to the region until 1849, when he celebrated Mass in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Finnigan just north of the village. In 1855 even though times were hard and money was scarce, labor and timber were cheap. So Fr. Galtier with the help of the settlers and timber provided by them, built the first church, a small log church located on about 20 acres of land donated by Michael Dolan. This land is located on the west side of the road that is now Highway 27. The log church was built north of the present structure. This log building was used for several years as a place of worship and was the beginning of St. James Parish. Fr. Galtier continued to serve the people on his regular visits to St. James. Fr. Galtier, who may truly be called the Apostle of Crawford County, baptized 1,762 people during his ministry here. 

Fr Arthur O'Connor came to Rising Sun in the spring of 1859 to continue the work of Fr. Galtier. During his tenure many improvements were begun at St. James which included a picket fence to protect the cemetery and the building of a rectory. Many of the records of Fr. O'Connor cannot be read because they are faded by the passage of time. Some records that could be read showed a list of material used for building the rectory. There was lumber, bought and hauled by the people; such items as nails, doors, and windows; and labor, mostly furnished by the parishioners. The whole amount of the building was around $400. In 1862, Fr. O'Connor left Rising Sun and was succeeded by Fr. J. J. Murphy. 

In 1868, Fr. Murphy left and was succeeded by Rev. Montague. In that year, Fr. Montague began the construction of a frame church. It faced southward, and was approximately 32 by 60 feet. The steeple rose 38 feet above, dominating the landscape. This is still the church that is used by the Christian community of St. James today. 

Click HERE to view the St James Parish Centennial Celebration Booklet