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Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Tom Lutz (View posts)
Posted: 1120509745000
Classification: Query
Much has been posted on this bulletin board about the Fessler's who settled around St.Nazianz, WI in Sheboygan and Manitowoc County. Does anyone know how the historic priest Joseph Fessler relates to either Anton or Oswald Fessler who came from Oberhausen, Baden in the 1850s and settled around St.Nazianz? Joseph Fessler was a most historic figure. He also came from the same part of Baden, was the first priest to be ordained at St.Nazianz (just after the Civil War), founded a number of historic churches around this part of WI including an order of nuns, and eventually served at Sublimity, OR where he became involved there in what was left of the infamous "Albrecht colony". I suspect he is a brother or cousin of the other two but can't confirm that. If anyone knows please contact me. Thank you.

Re: Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Ann (View posts)
Posted: 1134342119000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Fessler
Is Fr. Joseph Fessler, the same Priest that founded Silver Lake College?
When I was small child, my father, Roy Fessler and I visited Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. He told me a Great Uncle of his, who was a Priest founded the college.
Could this be the Father Fessler you are looking for?
My Grandfather is George Fessler.


This is a bio. sketch from "History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin"
by Dr. L. Falge, 1911-1912, v.2, p.473-474.

George Fessler is a photographer of St. Nazianz whose careful study of the
processes of photography is evidenced in the excellent work of his studio.
He also has other business interests, including agricultural affairs. He
was born at Silver Lake, Wisconsin, October 14, 1882, and is therefore yet
a comparatively young man. His father, Anton Fessler, is a native of
Oberhausen, Germany, and is now residing at Schoolhill, Wisconsin, at the
age of sixty years. He came to America when twenty-five years of age and
settled at St. Nazianz with his father, Oswald Fessler. Having arrived at
years of maturity, Anton Fessler married Lutrina Kratzinger, who was born
in Germany and is now fifty-two years of age. She was a little child of but
two years when brought to America by her parents, who settled at Milwaukee
but afterward removed to St. Nazianz, where her father carried on farming.
Mr. and Mrs. Anton Fessler became the parents of five sons and four
daughters: Mary, who is the wife of Frank Sakowski, of Pigeon Lake,
Wisconsin; Sophia, who is the wife of John Reinhardt, also of Pigeon Lake;
Tony, who is proprietor of a saloon in St. Nazianz; Carl, who is a farmer
near St. Nazianz; George, of this review; Joseph and Frank, both at home;
Rosa, the wife of Peter Brust; and Mathilda, the wife of Joseph Brust.
No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life
for George Fessler in his boyhood and youth, his time being divided between
the work of the fields and the duties of the schoolroom. He afterward took
up the machinists trade, which he followed continuously until 1906, when
he turned his attention to photography, finding employment in a gallery in
St. Nazianz. The succeeding six years were devoted to mastering the art in
the employ of others and in 1912 he purchased the gallery of which he is
now proprietor. It is well appointed and his work is artistic in design and
thoroughly modern in finish. He employs the latest processes of the
photographic art and is greatly interested in all that suggests improvement
in his chosen life work. He makes a study of his subject, that pose and
expression may be natural, and has succeeded in producing excellent
On the 8th of May, 1912, Mr. Fessler was married to Miss Ella Rauthman,
who was born in Schleswig township, this county, in 1894, a daughter of
Julius Rauthman, a farmer and early settler of this part of the state. Mr.
Fessler was reared in the Catholic faith, to which he adheres. In matters
relative to the public welfare he is deeply interested, as is shown by his
support of various projects for the public good. Wherever known he wins
friends and he holds friendship inviolable.

Re: Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Tom Lutz (View posts)
Posted: 1134350762000
Classification: Query
I wish you could tell me. I suspect so, but I have no proof, as I know nothing of Silver Lake College. If it's founder is the same Fr.Fessler who was the first priest ordained at St.Nazianz, and a follower of Fr.Osswalt, the founder of St.Nazianz, than it would appear so. Your great great uncle seems to be the same age as St.Nazianz's famed and historic Fr.Fessler. Let me know what you think. My own research on the Fessler's is limited.

Re: Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Ann (View posts)
Posted: 1134391801000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Fessler

A few years ago , I did some reseach and found that there was a Father Fessler that migrated here from Prussia . They had escaped the persecution of the the czar If I remember right he migrated with a group of Priests. He was instrumental in founding Silver Lake College and the Convent.
Like I said it was a few years ago. I will have to go through my research.

Re: Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Ann (View posts)
Posted: 1134432389000
Classification: Query
Surnames: FESSLER
Also have this...........
The Rev. George Fessler, a younger brother to the Rev. Joseph Fessler,
succeeded him in the pastorate at St. Boniface Church in Manitowoc, A Polish congregation. It
seems that there was no Polish priest available at that time to take
charge of Northeim, and for this reason, after vacating St. Boniface
pastorate, he assumed that of Northeim. His name is also listed in "The
Catholic Church in Wisconsin", pp. 460 and 1024.)
** (All these nineteen priests heretofore listed were refugees who
escaped the "Ma'gesetze" of Bismarck in the kingdom of Prussia. They
managed to escape in disguise from the German police and made arrangements
afterwards to reach the United States.)

Re: Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Ann (View posts)
Posted: 1134433087000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Fessler
Hope some of this helps....

t. Nazianz, Wisconsin
ST. NAZIANZ — A Catholic priest who sought refuge for his colony of religious followers carved St. Nazianz, located just south of Valders, of the wilderness.

To this day, there are reminders of the presence of the Rev Ambrose Oschwald. These include the former Salvatorian Seminary and his burial place near the Loretto Shrine that overlooks the burial places of his brother priests.

Oschwald, who is credited with breathing life into the community of St. Nazianz, was born March 14, 1801, in Baden, Germany, and ordained a Catholic priest in 1833. He arrived in America in 1854 along with 114 followers from Baden. Each had a strong religious fervor and a robust work ethic.

Upon arrival in Wisconsin, Oschwald purchased a house, while his followers purchased 3,850 acres of land at $3.50 per acre, according to the "History of Manitowoc County," by Louis Falge.

The first house of worship was built in October 1854 and the community grew as new people arrived from all areas to live near Oschwald’s colony in St. Nazianz.

The colony added both a convent and a Franciscan monastery to the site.

By 1864, the colony, which eventually became the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians), had grown to 56 members, in addition to 48 families who were not members of the colony.

A short-lived orphan asylum for girls and a hospital were built, but no longer existed by the turn of the century.

Oschwald died Feb. 27, 1873, and was originally laid to rest in a sepulcher under the sanctuary of the old Ambrosius Church before being moved to the sepulcher near the Loretto Shrine.

The Rev. Joseph Fessler was the first member of the St. Nazianz Colony to be ordained a priest. He celebrated his first Mass on Nov. 19, 1865, in St. Nazianz. During the first year of his priesthood, Fessler founded the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters. They reside at Holy Family Convent in Alverno, according to a written account of Fessler’s activities.

On Aug. 15, 1896, Archbishop Frederick Katzer of Milwaukee came to St. Nazianz and opened a cloister for the purpose of founding a home for the Salvatorian Fathers, a society that had been founded in 1881 in Rome.

The golden jubilee of the founding of St. Nazianz was observed in September 1904.

In 1907, a new monastery was blessed by Bishop J.J. Fox of Green Bay.

In 1909, the college was opened with nine students. This operated as a college and minor seminary for the Salvatorian order until the mid-1960s when it was closed.

Re: Fr.Joseph Fessler of St.Nazianz, WI

Tom Lutz (View posts)
Posted: 1134443419000
Classification: Query
Like I mentioned previously, I suspect that these are all the same Fr.Joseph Fesslers, but lack clear evidence that he was the same Fr.Joseph who founded the college in Manitowoc (was this an offshoot of St.Nazianz?). I was aware of the St.Nazianz history you provided (what you attached is not entirely accurate) including that he had a younger brother Fr.George who served at Nordheim. What is little known is that he also was sent to Oregon to "heal" a very bad situation caused by a similar group of Catholic "pietists" that were founded by another priest, named Fr.Joseph Albrecht, who was a friend and admirer of Fr.Osswald (Oschwald) of St.Nazianz. Albrecht's followers were excommunicated from the church for their very independent, unorthodox practices, but Fr.Fessler was able to bring most of them back into the fold in Oregon. It a very historic story that I've spent a few years compiling from many different sources - bits of which can be found on the Internet.
This still doesn't clearly answer the question whether your Fr.Joseph of Manitowoc is the same person as the St.Nazianz Fr.Joseph, but that now seems to be very probable, based on your information. My one remaining question is how a northern Prussian could have become involved with the St.Nazianz colony which was made up of all southern Germans from Baden (Joseph Fessler was ordained in WI not Prussia). My only explanation was that your Fr.Fessler was not a northern Prussian, but was from Hohenzollern, a tiny Prussian-controlled province with a very strange history, bordering Baden in southern Germany - unless you have another explanation. Would you have the name of his village?
If interested I'll try to get you the stories of Fr.Osswalt and Fr. Albrecht, which contain more information about Fr.Fessler.

Add'l info and corrections

Tom Lutz (View posts)
Posted: 1134459786000
Classification: Query
I misunderstood your information about Fr.Joseph Fessler being apart of a group of priests that fled Bismarck's Prussia. I looked further into my notes and went back into the census for Sheboygan and Manitowoc Co's. It's obvious that both Fr.Joseph and his brother Fr.George were from Baden, not Prussia (the former was a priest at St.Nazianz in the 1880 census, the latter a priest in Town Wilson - likely at St.George's, Six Corners - in the same census, both claiming a Baden birthplace). I suspect that Fr.Joseph may have been a seminarian somewhere up in Prussia, and may have had to flee before completing his preparations for the priesthood, something completed under Fr.Oschwald at St.Nazianz. A further correction: I misspoke when I said Fr.Joseph died in Oregon. He went to Sublimity, OR to deal with the "Albrecht" controversay in the 1890s, but I'm not sure if he died there. I'll try to dig into that deeper.
Further, since you claim your Fessler family came from Oberhausen, Baden (I found a village with that name way up in the northwest corner of old Baden), your Fessler's are related somehow to the Anton Fessler born there in 1812 who died at Town Eaton outside of St.Nazianz in 1897 (likely your patriarch Oswald Fessler was a brother or close cousin of that Anton as they are about the same age). Both of these Fessler's also appear related to another Fessler family that settled in both Town Lima near St.George's Six Corners and in Sheboygan proper, becoming quite prominent in the latter. In fact, those Fessler's may be descended from children of the Anton who died at St.Nazianz.
Still further, have you seen the postings on the Fessler website forum posted in Apr 2004 about the Faessler's/Fessler's from Oberhausen who settled in upstate NY, in OH and in IL in the 1840s?
Sounds like you come from a great family saga, only a research step or two away from connecting all these separated branches.
Final comments: Two Anton Fessler's are listed in the Manitowoc Co naturalization records; one born in 1842 who came over in 1860 and another born in 1846 who came over in 1867. I suspect the former is the same Anton Fessler who appears in the 1880 Town Lima, Sheboygan Co census, but could the latter be your gr grandfather? Similar immigration dates should be available on your gr grandfather's 1900 or 1910 census. If he is, then he would not be a part of the original St.Nazianz colonists. That list does include a Joseph Fessler, however, likely the same Fr.Joseph, as well as a Rose Faessler, who I suspect is the same Rose Fessler listed as a sister, b.abt.1836 in Baden, in the 1880 census of the same Anton Fessler of Town Lima.
Many scattered pieces of a disjointed picture, but too many clues not to believe that they are all related.

Re: Add'l info and corrections

Ann (View posts)
Posted: 1134476254000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Fessler
Thank you for all your help.
I wish I had the kind of time to do this project justice.
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