St. Joseph, Erie Michigan
St Joseph, Erie, Michigan
St Joseph, Erie, Michigan

“...The first white men, Hyacinth Bernard (now Benore) and Louis Mominy settled on Bay Creek in 1797. They were soon followed by three more Canadians, Ambrose Drouillard, known as Charlo, Joseph Jobin and Joseph Robidot. The Bay Settlement, now Erie Township, owes its origin to these five families. Their dwellings were located on the north side of Bay Creek in section 16. The location today is between Bay Creek Rd. and I-75 on the north side of Bay Creek. In 1819 a log church was built, also on the north side of Bay Creek about half way between what is now Bay Creek Rd. and I-75. The church was approximately 25 X 30 ft. with high walls and a ceiling.

The log church served the purpose until 1826, when a frame church was built by the little congregation and used by them for nearly thirty years. This church was located on the south side of the creek near Knaggs Corners which today is the intersection of Vienna and Bay Creek Roads. The first cemetery was located on the south side of Bay Creek about half way between Bay Creek and I-75.

The old log church in the meantime for two years between 1826-1828 was used as a school. The school was taught by a Sister, Madamoiselle Schane, as she was familiarly called, coming here from a Detroit convent. The school was discontinued in the following Spring of 1828. The log church had unknowingly been built, as were the dwellings of many early settlers, upon lands set aside by an act of Congress for school purposes, the subsequent rent or sale of which would largely make up the school fund for the State. The trustees appointed to take charge of these lands were: Jas. Cornell, Francois Cousineau and Daniel Duval. The old log church was subsequently rented to a newly arrived settler, Salmon Keeney and his family who made it their dwelling.

By 1822 the little mission parish of St. Joseph Sur La Baie had grown to fifty-eight families. From the year 1819, when the church was organized it was occasionally visited by Fr. Gabriel Richard of Detroit and seldom by any other priest until 1825. (Fr. Gaui’lh, a missionary, baptized 27 children April 22, 1822). From 1825 to 1828 the church was ministered by Fr. Jean Bellamy, missionary assistant from St. Antoine’s, Monroe. From March 17, 1828 it was served by Fr. Stephen Theodore Badin, Vicar-General of Bardstown, Kentucky who occasionally visited the mission on horseback, (also by Francis Badin, missionary, who baptized 22 children in March and April, 1828) until 1831 when he relinquished his duties to T. C. Carabin, missionary. Fr. J. DeBruyn became the first resident pastor in 1833, the second resident pastor, J. F. Tervooren 1835-1836.

The Rev. Peter Warlop became the third resident pastor 1836-1852. During his 16-year tenure as shepherd, Fr. Warlop saw his little mission flock grow into a thriving congregation. He witnessed more marriages and baptized more children than all his predecessors combined. The parish had outgrown the little frame church at Knaggs Corners (Vienna and Bay Creek Rd.). There was a need for a new church. Fr. Warlop culminated his pastorate by his crowning achievement, the building and the consecration of this venerable edifice.

The new church was built during 1850-1852 on a more accessible site on higher ground in the village of Erie (sometimes called Vienna) on a choice 20-acre plot of land donated by Francois Cousineau, one of the earliest settlers. The church was consecrated by Bishop Peter Paul LeFevre, October 24, 1852…"

Quoted from The St. Joseph Church, Erie, Michigan, 150th anniversary, an historical and biographical review, 1819-1969