A brief history of St. Joseph's Parish

(All information taken from "A Proud People, A Proud Heritage; A History of Clarion County's Knox Township Area".)

"The first Saint Joseph church was built in 1846,and perhaps the parish chose its name at that time. [It] was deeded April 29, 1846,, to the Right Rev. Michael O'Conner, Bishop of Pittsburgh, by John and Magdalena Vogelbacher for the sum of one dollar. The parish numbered thirty-five families. In 1850, the first church burned down. The steep hill where it had stood was leveled and more gently sloped in preparation for the second church, which bas built six years later." (pg. 81)
"The second church was built in 1856 of brick, made in a local kiln, and measured 39 by 70 feet." Unfortunately, the second church did not last long. "On February 3, 1860, the church and the parish house were destroyed by fire. It was thought that someone had deliberately started the fire." (pg. 81)
"The third church was built in 1860 with the same dimensions that the second one had. During the 1860's, the wood frame school was built. Lessons in the parish school were taught in German, and the Irish Catholic students had to learn German in order to attend. Father Koch employed lay teachers for the first ten years, then in the summer of 1876, went to Saint Marys to ask for sisters for the fall term. The sisters stayed in the living quarters of the school building. In order to provide a proper home for the sisters, the present St. Joseph convent was built in 1877. A new rectory was started in 1888, and was finished in 1889."(pg. 82)
"The fourth church was started in 1893, completed in 1895, and is the church that stands today. It was built around the third church; and as the work progressed the old church was dismantled and thrown out the window and door openings of the new one. The fourth church stands 37 feet from the floor to the center of the ceiling in the nave and 132 feet to the main spire cross. The tall stained glass windows cost $40 each and the rose windows were $100 each. They are inscribed with the names of those who paid for them. On Sunday, October 13, 1895, the new church was dedicated at 9:30AM at a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Tobias Mullen, who was assisted by many visiting priests." (pg. 83)
"In 1913, Father John Heibel was named pastor. He made improvements in the church and the convent. It was during this time that electricity was used for the first time in parish buildings. He also added the high school in 1923. The first parish picnics were held in August in the early 1930's near Groner's Spring in Huefner. Booths and seating areas were erected among the trees, and a large platform was built for serving dinners during the day and for dancing in the evenings. Since 1939, the picnics have taken place on July 4th on church grounds." (pg. 83)
"In 1950, St. Joseph Hall was built. The interior of the church and the statues were repainted. The last high school class graduated in June, 1976, Seventh and eight grade classes were discontinued in 1978. The grounds on the east side of the church were made into a cemetery in 1976. Electronic chimes were installed in the church belfry. From 1984 to 1988, the lay ministry program was greatly expanded, and major renovations were made to all parish buildings. In 1987, the renovation of the school building was started and this would be the first time a parish building required some interior demolishment before new work could begin. In 1988, the school renovation was completed." (pg. 83)
"On October 1, 1907, Father Hasse reported that the church building was worth $35,000, English and German were taught in the school and his salary was $1,000. Parish members totaled 941, and there were 227 students in school. Father Heibel reported 1,032 souls and 202 families in 1925. In 1988, there were over 400 families and 1,750 parishioners." (pg. 83)