| On August 15, 1833, a number of German immigrant families arrived at Baltimore, Maryland aboard the ship, the Weser. The majority of these families had been from Großwallstadt, Bavaria, Germany and wished to take up land together in the New World and form a new community. Among the ten or so families who formed the community of Neuwaldstadt in Highland Township, Franklin County was that of Michael Ripperger, Henry William Geis, Ignatz Ripberger, Mathias Fussner, Franz Alois Bauer, and Conrad Weiler.
Father John A. Kohlman in his 1919 Directory of St.Peter Church  described Neuwaldstadt: "In those days the entire region was a vast stretch of wild, virgin forest, into which, as it appeared, only a casual settler here and there found his way. However, these brave and courageous young men, undaunted and undismayed at the hazardous undertaking of attempting to establish their homes and seek their fortunes in the heart of an immense forest, where probably only beasts of prey had hitherto trodden, and where the axe of the 'invader' had not yet left its mark, forthwith assumed the arduous task which a guiding Providence has outlined for them."
The new settlers, having purchased government lands, went about the task of building single room log cabins. As these first homes were being constructed, additional families from the Old World were already arriving to take their place along with the first Neuwaldstadters.
In the midst of this, the people of Neuwaldstadt turned their attention to their spiritual wellbeing. Having been accustomed to the availability of both Catholic Church and priest in their Old World homes, they found the forests of Indiana in this regard severely lacking. In the spring of 1834, two German Catholics, Mr. John Heimburger of Yorkridge and Mr. Ripperger of Neuwaldstadt were met by Father Joseph Ferneding,"The Apostle of the Germans." It seems their meeting took place by chance as the two gentlemen were on their way to a mill on the Whitewater River. Looking across the river, the men saw a man on horseback who they thought looked like a priest. Hearing the men speaking German, Father Ferneding asked if there were any Catholics in the vicinity. The men informed him of Catholics in the surrounding areas and the noble Father promised to go back with them. The next day he celebrated Mass at the home of Mr. Heimburger with the promise that in the future he would return to the same village and also pay a visit to the Catholics at Neuwaldstadt.
In the meantime, the Neuwaldstadters decorated a large, hollow tree with various icons and religious emblems and fastened a large portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary within. The tree acted as sacred place where the people could gather to pray and sing. These devotions were usually directed by Michael Ripperger. In addition to this, the people also made pilgrimages to New Alsace in order to attend Mass at the church in that location.
As early as the summer of 1834, Father Ferneding visited Neuwaldstadt and said Mass in the homes of William Geis and Adam Ripberger. Father promised to return and encouraged the congregation to commence the building of a house of worship. In 1835 the erection of a simple log church was begun. Land for the church was deeded to Bishop Bruté by Michael and Margaret Ripperger, Regina Ripberger and son John, and Margaret Geis and sons. On October 23, 1836, Ignatz Ripberger, one of the original founders, died. He was buried beside the church in what was to become St.Peter's Cemetery. In July, 1838, Bishop Bruté blessed the completed church and dedicated it to St. Peter. The new church having been named St. Peter caused the surrounding community to be known by the same.
With the new church in place, Father Ferneding increased the regularity of his visits and came once a month from 1839 until February 1842. After Father Ferneding left the service of the diocese, Father Michael O'Rourke of Dover assisted until 1844. Father Charles Oppermann celebrated Mass occasionally at St. Peter until Father William Engeln was appointed the first resident pastor of St. Peter in 1844. In 1852, Father began collecting funds for the building of a new brick church. In 1853, the present church was completed and dedicated by Bishop de Saint Palais. Upon the departure of Father Engelnin October of 1855 the church became a mission of the other local parishes. The priests which administered to St. Peter at that time included Father Joseph Rudolph, Father Weber, Father Beerschneider, Father Henry Köring, and Father Januarius Weisenberger.
In 1859 Father Leo Osrenkar, O.F.M., was appointed as the second resident pastor. Father Leo did much to enhance the beauty of the church by purchasing two bells, a high altar, and a fresco painting. In 1875, Father provided for the educational needs of St. Peter's youngsters by building a new school house and soliciting the teaching skills of the Sisters of St. Francis at Oldenburg, Indiana. The Sisters stayed as teachers until 1971 when the school was closed. After twenty-three years as pastor of St. Peter, Father Leo died in May, 1882. He is buried in St. Peter Cemetery among the many who he shepherded.
Father William Kemper succeeded Father Leo and was responsible for building the present rectory in 1883. He remained until July, 1886, when Father Ferdinand Hundt took charge. The pastorate of Father Hundt marks a turbulent time in the history of St. Peter parish. Father Hundt had a disagreement with members of the St. Peter school board and a petition was circulated asking for his removal. In response, the Bishop removed Father Hundt and officially closed St. Peter's from Easter 1889 to November 1891. During this time the parishioners went to church at Oak Forest, St. Mary-of-the-Rock and St. Leon. The children were likewise schooled at these locations. In time St. Peter reopened and has since been a vital parish. The succeeding pastors of St. Peter have been:
|Father Joseph Fleischmann, 1891-1908||Father Charles Wagner, 1908-1912|
|Father William Wack, 1912-1917||Father John Kohlman, 1917-1938|
|Father William Knapp, 1938-1941||Father Sylvester Bloemke, 1941-1950|
|Father Joseph Laugel, 1950-1962||Father Louis Schumacher, 1962-1968|
|Father George Saum, 1868-1975||Father David Senefeld, 1975-unknown.|
Record of Contributors for the St. Peter Church Building Fund, 1853-1860:
|Franz AMBERGER||Phillipp ARIENS||Simon BATH|
|Aloys BAUER||Felix BAUER||Franz A. BAUER|
|Valentine BAUER||Georg BECKER||Paul BERNINGER|
|Matheas BUN||Franze BUSALD||Catherine BUSHALD|
|Amos CRIST||Valentine DIILL||Valentine DIILL|
|Heinerich DILL||Heinerich DILL||Joseph DIRKHIISING|
|Maria DIRKHIISING||Rudolph DIRKHIISING||Joseph EISEMANN|
|Joseph EISEMANN, Jr.||Nicolaus EISEMANN||Wendel EISENMANN|
|Christian ELLERICH||Rev. Father John ENGELN||John EPPICH|
|Klara & Katherine EPPICH||Martin FAUST||Augustin FECHER|
|Peter FECHER||Joseph FEHLINGER||Michael FRIES|
|Michael FRIES||Joannes FRIOHL||Anna Maria FUSSNER|
|Joannes FUSSNER||Joannes FUSSNER||John FUSSNER, Jr.|
|John J. FUSSNER||Margaretha FUSSNER||Matheas FUSSNER|
|Sussanna FUSSNER||Adam GEHRICH||Steffan GEIGER|
|Ignatz GEIGERICH||Georg GEIS||Ignatz GEIS|
|J. Adam GEIS||Matheus GEIS||Michael GEIS|
|Frederick GLASER||Michael GROSS||Johan HENZLER|
|Peter HERGENROTHER||George HILBERT||Gerhard HILBERT|
|Heinerich HILBERT||Heinerich HILBERT||Maria HILBERT|
|William HOFMAN||Matheas JACKLE||Peter JACOB|
|Joannes JOHLER||Sussans JUNG||Joseph KLOTZ|
|Franz KNECHT||Joannes KNECHT||Ignatz KOHLER|
|Adam KRAUS||Aloys KRAUS||Joanes KRAUS|
|Joannes A. KRAUS||Jacob KUNTZ||Adam & Phillipp KUNZ|
|Nicolaus KUNZ||William LINDER||August MESSERSCHMITT|
|Fridolin MESSMER||Ida MESSMER||Georg METZ|
|Stefan METZ||Andreas MEYER||Anton MEYER|
|Anton MULLER||Joannes MULLER||Jacob NUSZBAUM|
|Janson PARRONS (?)||Heinerich PETER||Anton PFLUM|
|Margaretha & Walburga PFLUM||H. RAUCH||Louis RIESELMANN|
|John RIPBERGER||John Adam RIPBERGER||Peter RIPBERGER|
|Adam RIPPERGER||Aloys RIPPERGER||Georg RIPPERGER|
|Isador RIPPERGER||Michael RIPPERGER||Michael RIPPERGER|
|Herman ROSFELD||Adam SAM||J. SAM|
|Adam SCHMITT (J. SENEFELD)||Maria Anna SCHMITT||Stephan SCHMITT|
|Elizabeth & Francesca SCHNEIDER||Gregor SCHNEIDER||Jacob SCHNEIDER|
|Markus SCHNEIDER||Magdalena SCHUCK||Theodor SCHUCK|
|Theodor SCHUCK, Jr.||H. H. SCHURBRUCK||Georg SEFERIN|
|Godfried SEIBEL||Nicolaus SEIDER||Balthazar SELM|
|Franz J. SELM (Katherine WAGNER)||Franz Joseph SELM||Antonius SIEFERT|
|Franz STADELMAN||Andrew STALLMAN||Maria STALLMAN|
|Aloysius STEHLIN||Anton STOLL||Michael STOLL|
|Konrad STRASSBURGER||Joseph STULB||Meinhard & Wilhelm STURWOLD|
|Blassius TEGLE||Pauline TEGLE||Nicolaus WAGNER|
|Conrad WEILER||Michael WEILER||Michael WIPPEL|
|Adam WISSEL||Conrad WISSEL||Joannes WISSEL|
|Sebastian WISSEL||Franz WITTMAN||Heinerich WITTMAN|
|Sibilla WOLFERT||August ZERFES||Joseph ZIX (ZIN)|
Those individuals who desire more information onthe history of St. Peter or who believe their families attended this parish are encouraged to contact David J Endres
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