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Volga GermansFort HaysOther Colonies
Schoenchen's story is a little bit different from the other colonies, as it began because of a conflict among the first settlers of Liebenthal, which was settled on Section 21 in Rush County. There was a proposed relocation to Section 16 because it had a better water supply, among other things. Some of the townspeople began building their homes in the new section, when Johann Schaefer donated four acres in Section 21 to be used for building a church. This angered those who had begun building their homes in Section 16, so in April and May of 1877, they moved their residences to the present location of Section 28 in Ellis County. More controversy followed with the founding of the new community. The original name for the town was San Antonio, but settlers (originally from Schoenchen and Neu-Obermonjour) wanted the town named after the villages in Russia from where they had emigrated. The compromise was the village was named Schoenchen and the church was named for the patron saint of the church in Neu-Obermonjour, St. Anthony.One other difference with Schoenchen was that the village cross was not used for religious services like it was in the other Volga colonies. The settlers used homemade wooden crosses on Sundays and Holy days until the priests came to the area. The other villages had a cross in each town at which the congregation gathered around for religious services until the first churches were built.Schoenchen's first church was a very small stone structure that was completed in 1880, but abandoned shortly thereafter due to the foundation settling badly after a heavy rain. It was replaced by a frame structure in 1881. In 1900 they began building the present church, and it was dedicated on June 13, 1901.
St. Anthony Catholic Church
Sanctuary of St. Anthony Church
Sanctuary and Nave of St. Anthony Church
Choir Loft of St. Anthony Church
Forsyth Library Photo Archives
Color pictures taken by Patty Nicholas, archivist
Dreiling, Norbert R. "Official Centennial History of the Volga-German Settlements in Ellis and Rush Counties of Kansas, 1878-1976." Hays, KS: Volga German Centennial Association, 1976.
Dreiling, B. M. "Golden jubilee of the German-Russian settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926." Hays, KS: Hays Daily News, 1926.
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