- - - Sacred Heart Catholic Church - - -

Photo courtesy of John & Doris Yetzer
Shelby Settlement Church -
The Cradle of Many Churches, and One of the Pioneers of Ohio
The congregation of the Shelby Settlement that has "The Church in the Woods",
ranks among the pioneer congregations of the state. It dates it's origins from 1833,
when Father Henni, the late Archbishop of Milwaukee, visited this place for the
first time and gathered around him a few scattered Catholics living in and about
the settlement. His little flock then numbered about sixteen families and in the
following year increased to thirty four.
Among the pioneer members of the parish were S. and P. Medsker,
(Simon and Pius Metzger), Charles Sutter, J. Rietschlein, F. and J. Gosser,
(Fridolin and ? Gosser), August Fisher, J. Sheely, P. Stein, (Peter Stein),
J. Yager (John Yager) and others.
In 1834, forty acres of land were purchsed from the goverment for
the exclusive use and benefit of the church. Still, as in the years
previous to this, so also the following two years, mass was said in
private houses by the several priests who sometimes amid hardships
and difficulties peculiar to those times, visited this mission then
considered among the backwoods.
Noteworthy among these zealous self sacrificing pioneer missionaries
were besides the above named Father Henni, Fathers Fregang and
Techenhens, and the saintly Francis Salesius Brunner, Superior of
the Order of the Precious Blood.
In 1836 under the pastorate of Rev. 'Tschenhens, the first church,
a neat structure of logs, as was the custom of those times, was
commenced and completed the following year. It was placed under the
patronage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This venerable structure, the
cradle of religion for the settlement and surrounding country, is
still in the memory of some of the readers of this sketch (1902), as it
stood in modest simplicity, near the northern limits of the present
cemetery amid the tombs and monuments that today recall it's
presence to the minds of the present generation.
From this humble beginning the various congregations of the
neighborhood arose, one by one, such as Crestline, Shelby,
Galion, Mansfield, Bucyrus and others. Being attended by this
in their infancy, their mother church, until such time as they
had developed into independent congregations, most of them
in later years surpassing the original settlement in extent
and nember of their members.
The Rev. F. J. Hopp is the present pastor.
The above article appeared in the August 5th, 1902 edition
of the Shelby Daily Globe.
The second church structure was built in 1853 under the guidnce of
Father Peter Kreusch who came to serve this church in 1852.
The third church building and the one that is standing today was started in the Spring of 1891
and in 1892 there was a ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone. In December of 1892
the top half of the east tower came down and required extensive reconstruction, however in
late Fall of 1895 the church was dedicated.
Sacred Heart Church
photo c. 1908

Current Views of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Interior


Current photos - courtesy of John & Doris Yetzer

Sacred Heart School
In 1837, not long after the first church was constructed on the forty acres purchased from the government
a simple one room log structure was built near the church to serve as a school. This was the first parochial
school in use in this part of Ohio. The log school house was used until late 1867 when a new frame one room
school house was constructed. In 1885 due to increased enrollment a second room was added to
this frame building.
Courtesy of John & Doris Yetzer
The Brick Church / School
When the current church building was completed in 1895 the old brick church stood empty and used for
storage, etc. until in 1899 it was decided to convert that building for use as the school.
Courtesy of John & Doris Yetzer
It was used as a school for almost another quarter century.

Modular Two Room School House
The brick church building/school was used until 1923 when it was deemed "unsafe" and a modular two room
school was purchased and erected to serve as a school during the period from 1923 until 1952.

Sacred Heart School (September 2007)
Work on the construction of the existing school was begun in 1950 with the corner stone being laid in 1951. This
school house has served the Bethlehem Church Community well over these succeeding years.

New Publication!
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish is celebrating their 175th anniversary this year (2008). Steven Metzger wrote a fine
book in celebration of the Parish's 150th anniversary in 1983 and now with the help of Mrs. Kathleen Biglin Gosser,
Sacred Heart Historian, he has revised and updated the material and has produced a wonderful account of the Sacred
Heart Parish history with much new information and many added photographs (old and new).
If you are interested in the history of this parish, this will be a great aid in your research.
Steven's book sells for $8.00 plus shipping.

(cover painting by Muriel Grove)


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