While the area of Pilot Grove was settled in 1820, and the town founded in 1873 by Samuel Roe, St. Joseph’s Parish was not organized until 1893 by Father John Conrad. Almost 10 years later, in 1902 Mother Boniface with the help of Sister Beatrice opened the school. A three-story brick building housed a convent, students who lived far away and held daily classes for local students. By 1905 the school had 35 families.
In 1915 Father Hildebrand Roessler joined the parish with dreams of building a 2 year high school. By that time the school had 100 students, and in 1917 Father Hildebrand’s dreams came true. A high school was built and dedicated by Bishop Thomas F. Lillis. The school was built for $13,483.19 and is still our home today.
The high school remained until it’s closing in 1929 but our elementary school continued to thrive. Father Luke Becker joined our parish in 1939 and worked to start the school’s first hot lunch program in 1942. The first year the program served around 60 children including students who came over from the public school. For just 10 cents students got meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, butter and milk.
St Joseph’s current church and rectory were built by Father Ingoldsby, 1949-1952 turning its previous rectory into housing for the sisters. Then under the direction of Monsignor Hagedorn, 1959-1963, the original church and rectory were taken down making way for a new convent. In 1973 the Sisters left St. Joseph’s parish and the school was staffed with lay teachers. With their efforts, and the support of school and parish boards, our school flourished and the convent was turned into our current Educational Building. Our Educational building is now home to our parish and school office, preschool and kindergarten classrooms, the school library, along with art and technology classrooms.
Our history not only shows where we have been but also inspires us to continue the efforts of those who came before us. Their hard work instills in us a drive to make this world a better place, and what better place to start than in the young hearts and minds in our very own St Joseph School!
Source: St. Joseph's Parish 100th Anniversary History Book