St Patrick Catholic Church, Tipton, IL

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St. Patrick Church Tipton

By:  Erin Limestall

 St. Patrick Church Tipton has a very rich history and an interesting background.  People from Ireland who came to this area built the church in 1850.  They came here because of the potato famine that was going on in Ireland at that time.   The settlers also came here because the area was hilly and rocky, yet green and fertile.  The land reminded them of their old home.  

When they established the community, they called it Tipperary Town after their old home of County Tipperary.  Over time the name just kept being shortened.  Next it was called Tiptown and then Tipton, as it is now known.   Mass was first held in the home of Edward Walsh by Father Patrick McCabe and other priests from Hecker and Waterloo.  That was before the church was built and Father McCabe established Tipton as a Mission of Hecker.  In June 1849, Father McCabe purchased 40 acres of land at $1.00 an acre from the government where the church was built and is currently located (Klein, H. 1967).  From then on, it was known as St. Patrick church christened by the bishop at that time.  Parish records state that the first marriage of the church was that of Ed and Anna Walsh in 1850, and the first baptism was that of Mary Brophy in 1852. 

In 1853 the first church was built at that site.  The church was made of logs and burned down in 1870.  On April 7, 1864, the cornerstone of the new stone church was laid.  That is the church that exists today.  It was built of native sandstone that was quarried by Tipton parishioners.  Said Father A. Pinckers, O.S.B. at the laying of the corner stone "On this day the corner stone of a new church which is to be called St. Patrick church when finished, was laid in this parish, commonly known as Tiptown.  Pope Pius IX at this time occupying the chair of St. Peter in Rome and Abraham Lincoln the President of the northern part of the United States and Jefferson Davis the southern, the whole country being at this time scourged by a most cruel Civil War". (Wojcik, E. 2000).   The architect of the building was Mr. Daniel Cavanough.  The church seated and still does seat 260 people.   

In 1868 Father Mohr started and completed construction of the old eight-room rectory that was later torn down because it was so old.  Father Patrick J. Dee was the first resident pastor of the church.  Father John Van de Reit added the bell tower, sanctuary, and two sacristies in 1873.  In 1901 a parish school was opened.  Class was held in the old parish hall and it was a one-room schoolhouse (Wojcik, 2001).  The teacher was Miss Kate McDermott, and in 1902 Miss Nancy Clifford also taught.  In 1909, the school was closed because on bad weather days it was impossible to get to class.  In 1913 through 1923 the school was reopened and closed again.  On May 23, 1950, the Centennial anniversary of the parish was marked by a complete renovation of the church's interior.  In 1967, Father James Jansen oversaw the building of the present rectory.  Bishop Zuroweste blessed the rectory on October 18, 1976.  In 1996, during the pastorate of Father Gary Gummersheimer, the new Parish Hall was built.  On January 26, 1999, members of St. Patrick's Parish C.Y.O. attended the pastoral visit of Pope John II.  On May 21, 2000, St. Patrick Church Tipton celebrated its 150th anniversary with a service celebrated by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory.

St. Patrick Church Tipton's current pastor is Father John Kizhakedan.  The church's membership has increased over the past few years.  The current membership is about 90 families.    Although St. Patrick is growing it still remains a close-knit community.