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LIEBENTHAL, on Big Timber Creek, Rush County, Kansas, is the oldest of the settlements founded by the emigrants from the Lower Volga district of Russia. Its founders included the families of Jacob Herrmann, Peter Herrmann, John Schaefer, Martin Goetz, Peter Beil, Andrew Weber, Adam Kreutzer of Liebenthal, Russia, and Henry Bieker, John Bieker, Frank Waldschmidt, John Joseph Bieker, Nicholas Bieker, William Bieker, Philip Wolf and John Zimmerman of Neu-Obermonjour, Russia.
These families were part of the large band of emigrants which left Saratov, Russia, on October 24, 1875. After spending the greater part of the winter in Topeka, they arrived at Hays on February 21, 1876. The following morning they moved to the present site of Liebenthal, Section 21, Township 16, Range 18 West, in Rush County. A certain Mr. Roedelheimer, a land agent, had directed them to this spot.
Starting to work at once, most of the newcomers had their simple sod houses completed before dark. That same night a blizzard swept over the country, adding additional hardships to the already trying lot of the newcomers, for they nearly lost what little cattle they had brought with them.
A second group of emigrants arrived at Liebenthal on August 14, 1876. They were all from Schoenchen, Russia, and had come to America in company with the founders of Munjor. This party was made up of the following families: Henry Depperschmidt, Peter Depperschmidt, John Jacob Schoenthaler, Karl Herrklotz, Helen Herrklotz, Jacob Munsch, Joseph Munsch, Michael Schmidt, Simon Schoenthaler, Joseph Schuckmann, Frederic Werth, Louis Werth and Jacob Zimmerman. In September they were followed by, a number of families from Neu-Obermonjour: Adam Bieker, Frank Dreher, John Dreher, Konrad Dreher, Philip Dreher, Frederic Graf, Joseph Rumbach and Joseph Zimmermann.
Scarcely had the third band of immigrants settled in Liebenthal, when a disagreement arose among the inhabitants concerning the permanent site of the town. The tract of land in Section 21 on which the village was situated contained but forty acres, and was poorly supplied with water. These causes induced the members of the second group of settlers, those from Schoenchen, Russia, to come to an agreement with the founders to move the colony to the east half of Section 16, which was better supplied with water. A number of families had already built their homes on the new location when John Schaefer, apparently contrary to the agreement, deeded four acres of land in Section 21 to Rt. Rev. Louis Fink, 0.S.B., Bishop of Leavenworth, on which a church was to be erected.
This action split the colony in two. The settlers from Neu-Obermonjour with the exception of the families of Henry Depperschmidt, Peter Depperschmidt and John Jacob Schoenthaler, removed to Ellis County, Section 28, Township 15 South, Range 18 West, and founded the town of Schoenchen. The others remained at Liebenthal and devoted all their energy to building a church on the land donated.
Building operations were begun in 1877 and the edifice was completed in October of the following year. The complete church measured 48x28 feet, with a sacrist of 15x15 feet on the west side, all of native stone. This first church was later used as a school.
In the fall of 1889 a parish house was erected at a cost of about $800.00, and in the year 1897 the first parochial school, measuring 6Ox3O feet, was built. In the fall of the same year the church was enlarged. The corner stone of the present imposing church was laid on Thanksgiving Day, 1902, and the dedication, by Rt. Rev. J. J. Hennessy, took place on May 28, 1905. V. Klutho of St. Louis designed the edifice, and Rev. R. Stollenwerk, the pastor, directed the building operations. The latter, who still watches over the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants, has, during the past twenty-seven years, built up a model parish.
The first priest to hold services was Rev. Adolf Wibbert, who visited the town in 1876. The following year Rev. Valentine Sommereisen said Mass there several times. In 1878 the Capuchin Fathers replaced Father Sommereisen, and remained in charge of the parish until 1884, when Rev. Joseph Hardes, a secular priest, was appointed resident pastor. Since then the secular clergy have labored there uninterruptedly. The following list contains the names of all the priests who have ministered to the spiritual needs of the inhabitants of the oldest German-Russian settlement in Kansas: Rev. Adolf Wibbert, 1876; Rev. Valentine Sommereisen, 1877; Rev. Anastasius Mueller, O.M. Cap., 1878; Rev. James Muench, O.M. Cap., 1881; Rev. Andrew Eisenhut, O.M. Cap., 1883; Rev. Joseph Hardes, 1884; Rev. Ph. Brockard, 1885; Rev. W. Bitter, Nov., 1885; Rev. K. T. Withopf, 1887; Rev. Joseph B. Disselkamp, 1888; Rev. F. J. Hartmann, 1889; Rev. John M. Sklenar, 1891; Rev. A. J. Abel, 1893; Rev. B. Schroeder, 1895; Rev. Rudolf Stollenwerk, 1899.
Here we may note that the entire Liebenthal town site comprising twenty-seven acres in the northwest quarter, and thirteen acres in the northeast quarter of Section 21, was purchased by Jacob Herrmann, John Schaefer and Nicholas Bieker, as representatives of the settlers. These latter received deeds for their individual property from Jacob Herrmann.
Picture: Rev. R. Stollenwerk, Pastor of Liebenthal for the past nineteen years
Picture: View of Liebenthal, Rush County, Kansas
Picture: Group of Immigrant Survivors, Liebenthal, Kansas
Picture: Parsonage, Liebenthal, Kansas
Picture: Parochial School Building, Liebenthal, Kansas
Picture: St. Joseph's Church, Liebenthal, Kansas
Picture: George Suppes, Killed in action in France
Picture: Liebenthal Deceased -
1. Johan Schaeffer, Christina Schaeffer; 2. Philip Dreher and Wife; 3. Philip Dreher, Marin Kath. Dreher, Dorothea Dreher; 4. Philip Dreher, Marin Dreher; 5. John E. Herrman, Elizabeth Herrman; 6. John Bollig, Margaretha Bollig; 7. Peter Herrman, Anna Maria Herrman; 8. Andreas Weber, Marin Kath. Weber; 9. Anna Marg. Legleiter; 10. John Herrman Jr., Theresia Herrman; 11. John Kreutzer, Maria Cath. Kreutzer; 12. Jacob Pfeifer, Elizabeth Pfeifer.
Picture: Liebenthal Deceased -
1. Adam Pfeifer, Margaret Pfeifer; 2. Sr. Victoria Kreutzer; 3. Jacob Herrman, Barbara Herrman; 4. Joseph Diehl, Agatha; 5. Peter Depperschmidt; 6. Henry Depperschmidt, Anna Cath. Depperschmidt; 7. Jos. Schoenberger, Elizabeth Schoenberger; 8. Catharina Depperschmidt; 9. Adam Kreutzer, Elizabeth Kreutzer.
1878 - The first church, 28x48 feet, was built on ground donated by John Schaeffer.
1887 - A steeple was built on this church under the administration of Rev. Father Bitter.
1889 - Rev. Fr. Hartman erected the parish house, now the home of Conrad Schaeffer; cashier of the Liebenthal State Bank.
1890 - Reverend Father Hartman built the first parochial school.
1895 - Rev. Fr. Schroeder added a 20x3O addition to this school.
1901 - February 22 Liebenthal celebrated the 25th anniversary of its foundation.
1902 - November 22 the cornerstone of the new large church, 148x5OO, was laid by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hennesy of Wichita, Kan.
1905 - May 28, Church dedicated by Rt. Rev. Bishop Hennesy.
1910 - A new large stone parish house was erected.
1917 - The present nice school house was built at a cost of approximately $25,000.00.
1917 - The parish house and church destroyed by fire.
1918 - The present parish house rebuilt at a cost of $15,000.00.
1921 - The present church was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Aug. J. Schwertner, Bishop of Wichita.
List of families at Liebenthal, Kansas.
Herrman, John E.
Enslinger, John Peter
Herrman, John E.
Herrman, George A.
Herrman, Martin J.
Herrman, Martin E.
Herrman, Peter F.
Herrman, Mrs. Barbara
Herrman, Martin M.
Herrman, John Peter
Herrman, Mrs. Elizabeth
Herrman, Jacob M.
Herrman, Mrs. Rosa
Herrman, Jacob J.
Herrman, Mrs. Margaretha
Herrman, Mrs. Catharina
Herrman, John L.
Herrman, Peter A.
Herrman, Mrs. Anna
Kreutzer, Mrs. Margaretha
Kreutzer, John H.
Legleiter, John Peter
Legleiter, Christ E.
Schaeffer, John C.
Schaeffer, Mrs. Rosa
Schmidt, John Peter
Schmidt, Mrs. Barbara
Liebenthal had sixty-five families in 1899. The last twenty-six years ninety-three families moved away to western parts of the state, namely to Spearville, Park, Ness City, Marienthal, Hays, Sitka, Wallace and other points.
Picture: Interior of St. Joseph's Church at Liebenthal, Rush County, Kansas
Transcribed from The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926