Sublimity from the east

125th Anniversary of Saint Boniface in Sublimity 1879 - 2004

2004 was also the 1250th anniversary of St. Boniface' martyrdom. For that illustrated background, you can see St. Boniface and His Times. Or, closer to home, visit the St. Boniface Community Archives & Museum. But for now, enjoy this fascinating Illustrated History of Sublimity, Oregon by Henry Strobel

Sublimity Historical Outline

This is a single long web page in chronological order. We suggest you first scroll down through the years to sample the color and character and get your bearings. You can always go back with Back Arrow, but don't miss the wonderful old photos farther down!

You can also jump to "chapters" of this page by clicking on one of these: (Use Back Arrow to return here.)

Beginnings  College  Catholics  Benedictines  Fr. Ruettimann  Sisters  

Schools  Church  Fr. Lainck  Church_cont.  Frs. Scherbring  1955 on

This is a popular history drawn from locally gathered photos, notes, church records, state archives, local newspapers, and town historians - with special thanks to Vera Boedigheimer, shown here, and Evangeline Ripp.  Sublimity, The Story of an Oregon Countryside 1951 by the late Mark Schmid OSB, PhD, Librarian at Mt. Angel College, gave us an indispensable overview.

Your additions and corrections are welcome!

Vera Boedigheimer

Westward Wagons

This scene would be typical for early settlers leaving for Sublimity from Missouri in the 1840s. They came by ox train from Indiana in the 50s and by rail from Minnesota in the 70s. The earliest settlers arriving in the Sublimity area via wagon train over the Oregon Trail include several families, for example the Glovers, the Riches, and the Hunts, described through their diaries. Too lengthy to include here, you can read them at St. Boniface Community Archives & Museum

Sublimity Historical Outline - In The Beginning

Sublimity, Oregon is a rural residential community about 15 miles east of Salem. It is situated on the western low foothills of the Oregon Cascades, on a plateau, amid gently rolling hills dropping down all around into grassy valleys.

The earliest inhabitants of the area came a few thousand years ago, perhaps descendants of Asiatic tribes that entered America by way of Alaska. Indians living in Oregon wandered far up and down the country in search of game or fish. Those who lived in and about the Santiam countryside were mostly of the Calapooia Tribe. Those who lived nearest to Sublimity on the south were known as Santiams, whereas the Mollalas often approached from the north, since the north-south Indian trail led through the Sublimity country.

The area was a mostly a vast forest before the 1840's, but the Sublimity area was bare because the Indians regularly burned it to provide feeding grounds for deer which they hunted for food. Government surveyors were among the first white men to look over the area. Josef Brohn was noted as a white man that surveyors encountered in the Sublimity area. He lived in a log cabin with a vegetable garden about 1/2 mile west of town on what was known as the Wm. Smith place in 1875.

1840- Sublimity had its beginnings as an Indian village and then a trading post.

1848- It was originally named "Hobson Corner" after Hadley Hobson, a brick contractor from North Carolina, who came to the area after inadvertently ending up in California instead of Oregon. Mr. Hobson made the best of the situation by gold mining until the fall of 1848 when he boarded a sailing vessel in San Francisco and arrived in the Columbia river after five weeks of seasickness. He took up a claim on Mill Creek north of Stayton, building his home on what has since become known as the Miller place, where he settled with sheep and cattle and raised a family of ten.

1850- James M. Denny received a Donation Land Claim grant of one quarter section as follows:

Certified Copy of Patent. The United States of America Book, 83 Page 539 By the President, Dated Nov. 18, 1858 James Buchanan, L.S., Recorded Dec. 22, 1903 to James M. Denny Certificate numbered two hundred and eleven Notification No. 57 has been established to a donation of one quarter Section, or One Hundred and sixty acres of land, and that the same has been surveyed and designated as Claim Number Sixty nine and as part of Section Thirty four and Thirty five in Township Eighty South of Range one West according to the Official Plat of Survey returned to the General Land Office by the Surveyor General, being bounded and described as follows, to wit: Beginning at a point ten chains East of the North west corner of the South east quarter of Section thirty five in Township Eight South of Range one West, thence South twenty six chains and eighty links; thence west sixty chains; thence North Twenty six chains;_sixty six and two thirds links and thence East sixty chains to the place of beginning, in the Willamette Land District Oregon Territory, containing one hundred and sixty acres and forty two hundredths of an acre. Do give and grant unto the said James M. Denny, the tract of land above described. To have and to hold the said tract, with the appurtenances, unto the said James M. Denny, and to his heirs and assigns forever. By Act of Congress approved September 27, 1850

Town Plat

1852- Sublimity received its official name when a US Territorial post office, one of the first six in Oregon, six years before it became a state, was established. The name Sublimity was selected by James Denny because of the "fine vista and sublime scenery" in the hills around the town. Sublimity has the distinction of being the only place in the United States (or perhaps anywhere) with this name. Denny became the first postmaster and the post office was located in his store until the 1870s. It was then located in the Hobson store where Mr. Denny distributed mail from the office window. Mail from the East came by way of Hawaii, taking about six months. Subsequent post offices were in homes, stores, and a shoe repair shop.

The date of this photo of a coach in front of the Stayton post office is uncertain.

Early Stayton Post Office

(Note: Sublimity got its post office about twenty years before its larger neighbor Stayton. In fact, Drury S. Stayton was one of the original trustees of Sublimity College and Sublimity's second postmaster. Stayton was named for him only after he moved there.)

1853- The Hobson-Whitney cemetery was established east of Sublimity. Family members of Jeremiah Kenoyer and John F. Brewer, who were among the founders of Sublimity College, are buried there, along with other pioneers. Pioneer life was precarious. Salem Dixon, perhaps the first to be buried in the cemetery, died by "accidental" shooting. His epitaph: "Death is certain, the hour unseen."

According to May Neitling, local historian: "The last chief of the Santiam Indians was buried in the northwest corner of the cemetery near a large old maple tree that has been struck by lightning several times. . . the last remnants of the tribe were moved to Grand Ronde in 1906."

Kenoyer Brooks Dixon

Sublimity Historical Outline - The College

1853- A group of 98 members of the United Brethren in Christ church, which opposed slavery and secret societies, made up a colony that came by ox train from Indiana, arriving in the Willamette valley near Albany in September. They established churches and schools there and later John F. Brewer, in search of more land for the members, came to the Sublimity area.

1854- The Sublimity School District was formed. The school constructed that year was a log cabin near the present west end of Division St. It cost $500.00 and served nearly until the end of the century, when it was replaced by a more modern building in town.

1854- Drury S. Stayton became postmaster.

1855- James M. Denny died. He was unmarried with no children. His parents, John and Sarah Denny, inherited his land.

1856- Charles H. Crawford became postmaster.
1856- Solomon Alberson became postmaster.

1857- After three years of growth the United Brethren settlement decided to establish a school in keeping with their ideals of education. Sublimity had become a natural center for settlers, and the United Brethren decided to locate their school here. On January 14, 1857 a bill was introduced in the legislative assembly at Salem:


James Denny had donated the land and the two-story, 18x35 foot frame building (with lumber from a saw mill near Jefferson), was constructed in record time on nearly the exact spot where the St. Boniface high school later stood. A panoramic view overlooks the valley to the south and east.

1858- In January the bill was granted and the college formally opened. Trustees named in the charter were "John Denny (father of James), Thomas J. Connor, Eli Hubbard, D. S. Stayton, Jesse Harritt, William Bishop, Jeremiah Kenoyer, David B.MacMillan, James M. Campbell, Allen J. Davie, Hadley Hobson, Solomon Alberson, G. W. Hunt, James M. Chandler, Morgan Rudolph, and their associates and successors." They held the college and its properties in trust for the United Brethren in Christ church, a branch of the Mennonite church in Indiana. It was empowered to "grant and confer degrees in the liberal arts and sciences to such pupils of the institution . . ." Algebra, geometry, English, ancient languages, music etc. were taught. This gave Sublimity the early distinction of being a "college town." The academic level ranged from the primary grades up, but did not much exceed high school level.

It became especially known for two things - its outstanding Latin department, and its baseball team, which had beaten Willamette University on its home field. The first teacher and headmaster at the college was Milton Wright, later to be made a bishop of the United Brethren church. Wright, who was a strict disciplinarian, stayed two years at Sublimity college, then was recalled to Indiana by his church, where he soon married and fathered Orville and Wilbur Wright, world famous for their invention of the airplane.

Tuition was $5 for the first twelve weeks. Advancing students were charged an additional fifty cents a subject. Latin and ancient languages cost $9.00 per term, higher English $7.00.

Milton Wright Bishop Milton Wright

1859- Oregon was admitted to statehood on February 14.

1859- Masonic Lodge #25 AF&AM was consecrated as Sublimity Lodge June14, 1859. Partial records list 18 petitions for the degrees of Masonry from 9 farmers, 4 carpenters, a miner, schoolteacher, merchant and mechanic. The first elected officers were: Willis Duningham, W. Fulbright, Peter Biliyew, Thomas Evans, F.B. Sprague, B. Hutton, Tyler. There were ten voting members. The Charter was surrendered Sept. 22, 1863. So many of the people returned to their home states to fight in the civil war that Sublimity was almost deserted. - Bob Brundage

1860- "The 1860 Federal Census listed the three largest cities in Oregon as Portland with 2,874 persons; Sublimity, 1,221, and Eugene, 1,183. The smallest community reported was Illinois Valley with a population of 5 lonesome souls. Salem was in between someplace. The Rand-McNally people report that the 1860 census showed a total of 52,465 persons in Oregon. This did not include some 7,000 Indians "who retain their tribal characteristics"."     (From an article in the Oregon Statesman, Feb. 3,1959. Yes, this is surprising, and I wonder if the Sublimity figure included some of the adjacent areas.)

1860s- Sublimity had been bustling when the Civil War broke out. It had a Chinese laundry, five stores, a gun maker's shop, public school, college, Methodist Church, United Brethren Church, hotel, post office, public well and a furniture shop. Some say Sublimity was as large then as it is now. The Civil War caused a severe decline in Sublimity's population as settlers returned to their native states to fight, dissension over slavery being intense. The town became deserted; the college closed but reopened in 1865 at the end of the war. It closed permanently in 1870.

1861- David Simpson became postmaster.
1862- Philemon Morris became postmaster.

1863- Sublimity elementary school officially became District No. 7, with 110 students. The term was extended from three months to five months, and teachers were paid $20.00 monthly.

1866- John W. Cusick became postmaster

1866- J. R. Sellwood, a graduate of Willamette University, assumed presidency of the college. He later became a prominent Portland businessman - the Sellwood district bears his name. The fourth and last president of Sublimity college was Prof. John W. Garrison. Through his efforts the enrollment reached l25 by the end of the 1860s. "We taught a little of everything." Local students lived at home; others boarded at the school or with local residents. However the withdrawal of the United Brethren church and the depression following the Civil war hastened its closure. Too, both the public school district, which itself had decreased to 50 students, and the college taught some of the same subjects and both depended on the available public money. Another reason suggested for its decline was competition from Philomath College, another United Brethren institution southwest of Corvallis, Oregon. It's building survives as a museum.

1867- Hadley Hobson became postmaster.

1870- Robert L. Swartz became postmaster

1870- Sublimity College closed suddenly and permanently.

Sublimity Historical Outline - The Catholics Move In

1870's- The first Catholic settlers, German immigrant farmers, came to Sublimity. They were an industrious and persistent lot, and their arrival eventually transformed the depressed hamlet into a busy rural village supplying trade to the area.

1872- Philemon Morris became postmaster.

1874- Nearly all the abandoned farms in the area were re-possessed by these new people and the town grew rapidly. Many of the new settlers came by rail from German colonies which had previously located in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

1874- M. Haupt became postmaster.
1875- Ernest Becker became postmaster. He had lost his left leg in the battle of Shiloh ("Hornet's Nest") in the Civil War in 1862.
1876- Nicholas LaCroix, a Sublimity storekeeper, became postmaster.

1875- Drury Smith Stayton, in 1854 postmaster of Sublimity and one of the founders of Sublimity College, was one of the first buried in the Grier Cemetery between Sublimity and Stayton, which town he founded (but that's another story). He was followed by his wife and later by these bronze markers on the original stones.

Rebecca Stayton's memorial
Drury Stayton's memorial

1877-1879 The first Catholic services were held in private homes, and later in a leased building (see below). There were only about five Catholic families in Sublimity at the time but they asked Archbishop Blanchet for a missionary priest, and in 1879 Father Peter Juvenal Stampfl arrived. He was a German via Minnesota and encouraged Midwesterners to immigrate. (Note: According to the 1880 US Census P. Juvenal Stampfl was a Catholic priest born in 1853 in Austria.) He wrote the first entry in the parish record on December 3, 1879, which marks the official beginning of Saint Boniface Church in Sublimity, Oregon:

Parish Record

1877- Settlers came by various routes. An example is the Vincent Pietrok family who came from Germany via St. Paul, Minnesota and homesteaded in Linn county near Stayton. They were early members of St. Boniface church in Sublimity. Here's a charming picture of homestead life in which the fiddle played its customary part.

Pietrok Homestead

1878- The town was surveyed, dividing it into 20 city blocks (some are cut off in the map below) and seven main streets. The present Catholic church is near the old college location. (from a Marion County Historical Society reprint of the 1878 map, circles added)
1878- A new one-room District 7 school was built near the present City Hall.

1878 map

A hotel and rooming house, the Parker House, stood on the Anton Van Handel place, marked by the circled "1" in Center St. in the map above. Across the street (now the Sublimity Building Supply), marked by the circled "2", there was a vacant building which was leased as the first St. Boniface church in 1877 and used for a couple of years. It collapsed in a heavy snow in 1880.

1880- Father Stampfl purchased the empty and run-down college buildings (just northeast of the present church) and 20 acres for the parish in January. One acre was designated the Cemetery of the Angels. The ground floor became the second St. Boniface church. Father Stampfl returned to Minnesota in 1881 (a few months before the Benedictines arrived in Gervais and took over the care of Sublimity) but returned later to visit.

Sublimity Historical Outline - The Swiss Benedictine Contribution

(Note: A lot of early short-term pastors are listed below. Most of these were Benedictine monks on non-resident assignment. Note too that assistant pastors or priests in residence as high school teachers are not, as a rule, listed below.)

1881- Father Adelhelm Odermatt OSB was the first of the Benedictine pastors, and visited on horseback once or twice a month.
". . . a native of Switzerland and a member of the 800-year-old Benedictine Abbey of Engelberg, Switzerland (he) came to the US in 1873 and arrived in Oregon in 1881. After an extensive search all over western Oregon, he picked the Mt. Angel butte for a new abbey. The town at the foot of the butte went through a variety of names - Fillmore (after the U.S. President), Frankfort, and Roy among them. But when Father Adelhelm decided to build the monastery there he asked the postmaster to change it to Mount Angel, the anglicized name of his Benedictine headquarters in Switzerland.

1881-1882 Abbot Adelhelm Odermatt OSB, pastor Father Adelhelm Odermatt OSB

photo courtesy Ernie Shea

1882- Father Nicholas Frei OSB, pastor Father Nicholas Frei OSB

1883- Father Barnabas Held OSB, pastor Father Barnabas Held

1883-1884 Father Anselm Wachter OSB, pastor Father Anselm Wachter OSB

1884- Father Bede Horat OSB, also from Switzerland, visited Sublimity once a month. He would arrive Saturday evening, celebrate Mass on Sunday, preach once or twice, teach the children catechism, and return to Gervais on Sunday. (from an 1883 letter of Abbot Odermatt published in

Sublimity Historical Outline - Good Father Werner

1884- Sublimity received its first resident pastor, the Swiss Father Werner Ruettimann OSB, aged 27, also arriving via Gervais. He had studied in Switzerland both at The abbey of Einsiedeln (which had founded St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana) and at the abbey of Engelberg (which founded Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon).

1884-1889 Father Werner Ruettimann OSB, pastor Fr. Ruettimann

The old college building had been purchased in 1880. Being divided into small rooms it did not make an ideal church, but the first floor was being used as the second St. Boniface church. The upper story, with its broken windows, was still the domain of bats and pigeons. Father Ruettimann took up lodging on the first floor near the front door.

Sublimity College

Father Ruettimann was also responsible for the communities of Jordan and Scio. Several young women were living a semi-religious life in the Jordan colony, southeast of Sublimity, when Archbishop William Gross visited and invited them to become a formal religious community. (For the full and fascinating story read These Valiant Women by Wilfrid P. Schoenberg SJ. The settlement of Sublimity by mid western Germans is connected with that of Jordan, but is hardly as bizarre.)

Note: Centennial History 1885-1985 Our Lady of Lourdes, Jordan, Oregon, editors Barbara Bentz, Linda Duman, and Fr. Gregory Moys, covers the Jordan settlement and its background.

1885- Because of a disagreement with their trustees the Jordan sisters left to live for a few months with the Benedictine sisters in Mt. Angel as they planned to move to Sublimity and begin their new life as the Sisters of the Precious Blood, later to be known as the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. Father Ruettimann arranged for the upper floor of the college building to be used for the sisters' convent, and also built a two-story addition onto the back of it.

Ditters' Store

1885- Meanwhile, Ditters' store, shown here in 1910, was started by John Ditter from Wisconsin in partnership with George Bell. The crossroads site was a popular one for the purpose, having been the scene of the early Hobson Corner store, and near that established by Nicolas LaCroix, a French-Canadian trader from Gervais in the 70s. Ditter's began as a drugstore and tobacco shop, later selling general merchandise - buggy oil, kerosene lamps, barrels of pickles. . . The pump on the right was for thirsty horses.

Sublimity Historical Outline - The Sisters of St. Mary

1886- When the old college building was nearly ready it became the first convent of the newly founded religious order. The building was decorated with evergreen boughs for the occasion by the nine sisters, and the two Boedigheimer brothers, who had moved to Sublimity from Jordan. (Taking photographs was a rather stiff process in those days.) Father Ruettimann called the new convent "Mariazell" after a favorite shrine to Our Lady in Austria. But it was very primitive, and the sisters had little in the way of furnishings or even food starting out.

A convent now

Above, left to right: Brother Joseph Boedigheimer, Fr. Ruettimann (seated), Brother Franz Boedigheimer, Sisters Barbara Rauch, Theresa Arnold, Emma Bleily, Catherine Eifert, Aurelia Boedigheimer, Mary Silbernagel, Anna Bender, Matilda Silbernagel, Martha Eifert (off edge of picture)

Sublimity College

Above, the interior of the chapel of the convent, formerly a study hall in the college.

Later, after the erection of a new convent for the sisters, the old college building was used as a parish hall. Many German Catholics arrived from the middle west and more adequate space was needed.

Sublimity Historical Outline - Schools, Public and Parish

1887- Sublimity Public School District No. 7, (Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library, Salem, OR, Siegmund Collection)
Left to right, back row: Engel Schott, Perry Smith, August Klinger, Ed Gilbert, Tom Davey, Alvah Smith, Henry Smith, Bill Cooper, Bert Veal, Will Ledgerwood.

Second row, left to right: Ethel Stanton, Olga Hobson, Jessie Hobson, Rhoda Hobson, Belle Stanton, Mamie Ledgerwood, Mr. E.A. Bennett (teacher), Ella Glover, Fannie Lee, Emma Udell, Nellie Lee, Hattie Clark, Celine Klinger, Lena Lee, Emma Miller, Otillia Becker.

Front row, left to right: Roy Miller, Alfred Klinger, Jim Udell, Art Gilbert, George Glover, Frank Hobson, George Pritchet, Dan Stanton, Price, unidentified, Joe Becker, Nona Lee, Amanda Becker.

Public School, Sublimity 1887

1888- A substantial new rectory was built to replace the tiny two room house Fr. Ruettimann had been living in. It was replaced in 1957.

Rectory 1888-1957

1888- The Sisters of St. Mary opened the first parochial school in Marion County, in a new one room schoolhouse built by Joseph Spenner. Below we see the first school with the first resident pastor, the Rev. Werner Ruettimann. Half the day classes were taught in German, half in English, as many of the settlers spoke German. In the distance we see the rectory to the left, and in the middle the former Sublimity College building with the "addition" on its right side. (It was later salvaged from the 1910 fire that destroyed the original college building. It was moved north, used as a convent, and later moved again onto the M. Hassler place, and became the start of the future Marian Home.)

Sublimity College

First School

1888- The same St. Boniface grade school, with the first teacher, Sister M. DeSales, a Franciscan from Wisconsin, who came for a year to also instruct the new nuns.

So then there were two school systems, public and Catholic, working together. For many years following, Catholic nuns also taught in the public schools, after passing the state certification exams. (At that time not many attended school beyond the fifth grade.)

1889- Friends from back east had sent the Sisters a bell that rang for the first time on New Year's day. Sadly its first peals announced the death of young Father Ruettimann at age 32 of tuberculosis. He was buried in the hilltop cemetery at Mount Angel Abbey. (On a recent Sunday afternoon I visited his grave. I also saw the headstones there of Abbot Odermatt 1844-1220, Fr. Bucholzer, Fr. Wachter, and even of Fr. Schmid, the historian of Sublimity, d. 1971.)

Fr. Ruettimann's monument

1889- Father Anselm Wachter was Vicar, and for a few months there was no pastor until Prior Odermatt at Mt. Angel could first send Father Eugene Bolla OSB and then Father Joseph Bucholzer OSB, natives of Switzerland.

Click on Joseph Ripp's Diary (1904-1920)when you have time to read a young man's unpretentious story of life in Sublimity, which was so social, simple and real in those days before television. Don't miss the poignant ending. He came from Nebraska in 1903, was a teacher, a printer, and a breeder of rabbits (as this handsome example)that he sold nationwide as breeding stock.

Joseph Ripp ca.1912

Sublimity Historical Outline - Sublimity Builds a Proper Church

1889- Father Joseph Fessler arrived from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took over the parish duties, and built the third (the present) St. Boniface church. It is still in continuous use and very much in its original condition. The heavy hand-hewn timbers came from the farm of William Schmidt. I.J. Boedigheimer provided the sawn lumber. The contractor was from Gervais. In 1889, Fr. Fessler wrote in German cursive in the parish record book (I translate):

Cursive etc.

"John Weiss was here on August 15th and we negotiated the building of the church concluding that he would complete the exterior for the sum of $500. At this time the timber had already been cut by the church members.

Here is a charming letter to the editor of the Catholic Sentinel from an anonymous Sublimity farmer, published Sept. 16, 1889.

"We are building a handsome frame church, 36 x 72 feet, if I am not mistaken. I expected that someone else, who knows all about it, would post our esteemed Catholic newspaper, but as everyone is silent about it, I, although only a common farmer, undertake to let you know what is going on in Sublimity.

"Our most beloved Archbishop has sent us an excellent parish priest in the person of Rev. Joseph Fessler, who is by the way, also a rustler in the best sense of the word. He makes things go ahead in spiritual and temporal matters.

"The first Sunday of September was quite a feast for our congregation. The Benedictine Prior of Mt. Angel blessed the beautiful cornerstone, and preached on the text: "No one can lay another foundation but that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." The Rev. speaker congratulated the new pastor upon his great success in building the new church. He praised the solid, well done rock foundation, and admonished the faithful of the congregation of Sublimity, as true sons of St. Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans, to be one heart and one soul with their good shepherd in erecting the house of God, this most beautiful monument of true Catholic faith. He thanked all those who contributed towards the new church in cash or in hauling building material, and encouraged all to rival each other in the noble work. Our dear, beloved pastor then sang High Mass with deacons from Mt. Angel.

"The lovely feast concluded in the afternoon with solemn vespers and Benediction.

"Mr. John Weiss, of Gervais, has the contract for the new church, now in course of erection, and whoever knows John Weiss as church builder, already knows beforehand, what a handsome church we folks of Sublimity are going to have. We are happy. A fine priest, a fine church, fine farming land, and all we need yet is a few more good Catholic farmers."


Early church

The church was dedicated by Archbishop H. Gross of Oregon City in honor of St. Boniface on October 26, 1889. On this same day the bell that had been meant for the convent was blessed for the new church. Ten persons were confirmed, and four women were welcomed into the Sisters of the Precious Blood.

Interestingly, Father Fessler, of independent means, also had established his own dairy, sheep farm, and extensive orchards. He also promoted the Sublimity area in eastern newspapers.
1889-1891 Father Joseph Fessler, pastor Fr. Fessler
Archbishop Gross of Oregon City. (In 1928 the archdiocese changed to Portland.) Archbishop Hickley Gross

About this time, the addition Fr. Ruettimann had made to the college building was removed to the present location of the convent building for use by the sisters:

Early Convent

1890- Center Street, Sublimity, looking south. The rooming house or hotel is at the right; the stores are farther along. (Sublimity, Story of an Oregon Countryside by Mark Schmid left to right: first two unidentified; Mr. Weidner, X.; W. Copps; Kinsey; B. Neal; C. Heater; C. Darst; B. Cooper.)

mainstreet 1890

1891- The Sisters were asked to move their convent to Beaverton to provide teachers for an orphanage. There too they had better buildings and 600 acres of land. Father Fessler left with them to help manage. They soon had a barn built, and two Sublimity men volunteered to drive their cows to Beaverton. In 1894, the Sisters began the construction of a new Motherhouse in Beaverton, and in 1905 changed their name to the Sisters of St. Mary, known today as the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. (The St. Boniface convent continued to house the local teaching sisters.)

Wm. VanHandel with Oxen
Thanks to Joe Spenner, this fine logging scene is at Gale Creek near Verboort, Oregon with Wm. VanHandel on the right, before settling in Sublimity, after perhaps traveling with these oxen to Oregon.

1891-1892 Father Joseph Kempker, pastor Father Joseph Kempker

1892- Augusta H. LaCroix (Mrs. Nicholas LaCroix) became postmistress.

1892-1893 Father Peter Beutgen OSB, pastor Father Peter Beutgen OSB

1894-1895 Father Joseph Bucholzer OSB returned as pastor. Father Bucholzer

1894- John A. Ditter became postmaster.

Sublimity Historical Outline - The Golden Era of Father Lainck

1895- Father Anthony Lainck arrived as pastor via Gervais. He was born in 1865 of noble parentage in Graes, Westphalia, Germany. His early home training and gifted personality fitted him well for his future task. He studied theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and was ordained there in 1891. His kindness and sociability soon won for him many friends among Catholics and non-Catholics alike in Sublimity and Stayton.
(Anthony Hall, home of the local Knights of Columbus, is named for him.)

1895-1927 Father Anthony Lainck, pastor Fr. Lainck

1896- After a series of small farm fires, a group of farmers organized the "Farmers Relief Association" to provide mutual insurance, later known as Sublimity Insurance Company.

1898- Meanwhile, back to the Hobsons! The photo below is from Dorothy Graham, whose grandfather Lemuel Hobson, father of Henry H. Hobson b. 1894, owned this old family home on the east side of the Stayton-Sublimity road, now the Miller (century farm) and Hottinger property.

Hobson House

1898- The building on the left, the second St. Boniface grade school, was built to supplement the first one in the right rear, that built by Joseph Spenner ten years earlier.

Parochial School

1899 -
Oregon Statesman, New Year's Edition, 1 Jan 1899

Sublimity is one of the most prettily situated towns in the valley, standing upon an elevated ridge at the south end of the long range of "Waldo Hills" and overlooking in every direction one of the most beautiful and fertile stretches of country the eye could wish to behold. The town and the country surrounding it for a few miles is settled largely by Roman Catholics, there being nearly 100 families of that persuasion tributary thereto. There is a large Catholic Church, St. Boniface, which is in charge of Rev. Anthony Lainck, who has a numerous congregation. There is also a Catholic parochial school, taught by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, with from 60 to 75 pupils constantly. The past season an additional new building became necessary for this school.

Sublimity has also a fine public school building, with a large attendance and good teachers. Of course there is also quite a population in the neighborhood who are not Catholics. It is a very prosperous community in every way. There are two good general stores, a blacksmith shop, shoe shop, dressmaking, a saloon, etc.

Grain, fruit and hop culture, dairying and stock raising form the leading features of the agricultural pursuits of this section and the surroundings of the inhabitants indicate much thrift, enterprise, freedom from debt and general comfort.

Property in and around Sublimity is a desirable and sure investment. The town has two daily mails, telephone service, and is but four miles from a railroad station. It is fifteen minutes southeast of Salem

1902- Sublimity was incorporated and granted its own charter through the efforts of Senator Wm. M. Hobson.

1903- The first city officials were elected: John Kintz, mayor; J.A. Ditter, treasurer; Theodore Odenthal, recorder; Philip Meier, marshal; and J. Hassler, H. Hunke, B. Prange, and A. Riesterer councilmen. Salaries ranged from $25.00 for marshal to $5.00 for the treasurer. The city had no income and very little business to transact. Its first ordinance, adopted in June of 1903 read, "It shall be unlawful to allow sheep, goats, hogs, or horses to run loose about the streets of the corporate limits of the city of Sublimity. Failure to heed this ordinance shall endanger the transgressor for a fine of five dollars, or imprisonment in jail from two to ten days...." The city fathers were faced with their first real problem when the marshal apprehended the first transgressor - the fellow would not pay the fine, but they had no jail. The sentence was suspended until a "cooler" could be built. (ref: Sublimity, Story of an Oregon Countryside, Mark Schmid, 1951)

1903- Edwin Mckinney became postmaster.

What with the dark, muddy streets, many lacking sidewalks, the disorderly saloons, and the unavailability of electric power, the council bought six kerosene street lamps. These were lighted by hand evenings and extinguished in the morning. Perhaps one of these can be seen in this 1907 photo near the right wooden sidewalk on Main St.


1903- In Stayton the Catholic community built themselves a church. It is said that the steeple was made a foot higher than Sublimity's! Immaculate Conception was dedicated in 1904 (photo below courtesy Vera Boedigheimer), but it was not until 1931 that they had a resident pastor. Father Lainck drove his horse and buggy to Stayton to say mass there on alternate Sundays.

Immaculate Conception church, Stayton, 1904

1903/4- Hottinger-Ditter clans:
Grandpa Hottinger

Hottingers, Ditters

1903- St. Boniface church received minor additions in the sanctuary and sacristy.

1903- The National Catholic Order of Foresters fraternal organization was organized, and sponsored this celebration in 1904.

July 4 poster, 1904

July 4th, 1904

1904- Look at the detail in this 4th of July scene. The old college building in the background had served as a church and convent before the new (present) church on the right was built. On the float reigns Rosey (Becker) Riesterer, 16, Goddess of Liberty.

1904- A new rural postal route began from Sublimity to Silver Creek Falls.
1905- In the Stayton Mail: Rural mail carrier B.S. Branch went to the fair and brought back a wife.

1906- The first crushed stone paved roads and by 1913 nine miles of road were completed, for a cost of $18,000.

1906- Mary J. Prange became postmistress.

1907- Here is a class of public school district No. 7, Sublimity with its teacher, Sister Imelda.

1907 School District 7

Top row from left Charles Schmitt, Henry Boedigheimer, George Boedigheimer, Joe Ripp, Philip Alders, Felix Steinkamp. Joe Pieser
Second row George Prange, Sister M. Imelda, Rose Kintz, Christine Ripp, Emma Peters, Tillie Leverman, Dean Miller, Bertha Hendricks and Tony Steinkamp
Third row Theresa Hottinger, Joe Steinkamp, Ida Doerfler, Dora Smith. Theresa Rauscher, Marie Odenthal, Mary Benedict, Lena Fischer, Pauline Heuberger, Hattie Hendricks
Bottom row Mary Lulay, Lena Hermens, Gertrude Lulay, Grace Hottinger, Dora Albus, Arvilla Wagner

1907- The Women's Catholic Order of Foresters was organized, and the hall was erected. (1915 photo, it was razed in 1980.) The hall was owned by the C. F. Association, which issued shares in it. It was a popular venue for weddings, dances, etc.

Forester Hall

1907- Rooms in the old college building were rented to the Steffes family, newly arrived from Wisconsin.

1908- Bernard Prange became postmaster for 15 years.

Sublimity Historical Outline - Finishing Touches

Church in Snow St. Boniface Church, 1910

1908- The present historic St. Boniface church, built in 1889, is the second oldest original church in the archdiocese of Portland. It was in 1908, under Father Lainck, that the present fine bells and altars were added. The altars were built by Engelbert Gier, all handmade and decorated with gold leaf.

The three large bells in the bell tower in front of the church were cast by the "Henry Stuckstede Bell Fdy Co, St.Louis Mo 1909." They bear this notice and the following legends in Latin:

Larger bell: BONIFACIUS VOCAT POPULUM SUUM (Boniface calls his people)
Medium bell: SANCTA MARIA, ORA PRO NOBIS (Saint Mary, Pray for us)
Smaller bell: SANCTA BARBARA, PROTEGE NOS IN HORA MORTIS (Saint Barbara, protect us in the hour of death)

The smallest bell (only 350 pounds) is in the 110 foot steeple, and it is the one that had been donated to the new convent in 1888. It is inscribed G. Campbell and Sons, Centennial Bell Foundry Milwaukee Wisconsin 1888 (top), Mariazell Convent of the Precious Blood, Jesus Mary Joseph (bottom).

A Happy Note: While many churches have now silenced their bells out of deference to the "heathen," Saint Boniface' bells are loud and clear, and herald the Angelus daily now as in the Middle Ages.


(Above is the interior in 1908, below before 1908.)

Before 1908

1910- The old college building burned to the ground in an accidental fire.

1910- The Sublimity Telephone Company was incorporated.

1910- Hop harvesting time at the Joseph Susbauer hopyard northeast of the Sublimity city limits

Hop Harvest

Top row from left, Mrs. Joseph Susbauor and Grandma Van Handel.

Second row Nick Zimmermann, Mary Kintz, Mrs. J.B. VanHandel, Annie Hunke, Rose Ditter, Minnie Hassler, Kate Ditter, Wilma Bechtold, Grandpa Joe Susbauer, Mary Kleckor, Theresa Bechtold, Rose Susbauer, Dan Kintz, John Kintz.

Third row Angeline Kintz, Mamie Zimmermann, Manie VanHandel, Josephine Duchateau, Alice Klecker, Tillie Ditter, Theresa Ditter.

Bottom row Nettie VanHandel, Lawrence Vanflandel, Roman Kintz, Andy Kintz, Arnold Zimmermann, Ed Klecker, Edna Ditter, John Susbauer, Clara Bechtold, Joe Susbauer, Anthony Zuber and Adam Susbauer.

1910- Here are a couple of photos from the "horse and buggy" days.

Horse and Buggy

Above, left to right: Lena Hermens, Mary VanHandel, Jesse (the horse).

Bill Van Handel had purchased property northeast of Sublimity near Triumph road. His oldest daughter, Mary, stayed with relatives in Verboort while the new home place was prepared for the family. Early one summer morning, all by herself, Mary left for Sublimity in the buggy shown with Jesse, who was a fast walker. After about 75 miles they arrived at the crossroads of the Sublimity/Silverton Silver Creek roads. Jesse balked and refused to continue straight east. It was near sunset and Mary was very concerned, then remembered her dad saying if Jesse ever gave any trouble, to "let him have his head." She loosened the reins and he turned south to Sublimity and they soon arrived safely, after dark at the new homesite. (Photo and story thanks to Joe Spenner.)

Joseph Zimmerman

Above: Joseph Zimmerman

1911- Mr. and Mrs. Arnold VanHandel celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, here with 8 of their 12 children.

Van Handel Anniversary

Joseph Susbauer
Joseph and Elizabeth Bany Susbauer family at the Catholic Foresters Hall in Sublimity, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, 1925.
Gunnell and Robb Studios, Salem, Oregon, Thanks to Gene Ditter

1912- The Sublimity Dairy Association was incorporated.


Hermens Creamery: Pete, Bill, and Adrian Hermens, Nick Gehlen with team.

1912- October, after several large fires, the City of Sublimity formed the Sublimity Fire Department. The fire department acquired one A.G. Long #10 chemical fire engine that had a 45 gallon tank, two wagon style wheels, two kerosene lanterns, an axe and a crowbar. Information as to the leadership of the department is sketchy, however G.H. Bell was president at its formation. Many names still common to current Sublimity appear on the early rosters, such as Zuber, Ditter, Etzel, Ripp, Susbauer, Kintz, Riesterer, and Welter.

1912- The first public well was dug.

1913-1914 Through Father Lainck's efforts a new two-story school was completed north of the church and west of the convent. The Sisters of St. Mary taught the 9th and 10th grades (under Sister Imelda in 1916), as well as the 7th and 8th in the old public school building, north of the creamery. Father Lainck was energetic and effective in helping both nuns and youth.

New Grade School

1914-1915 Sublimity installed electric street lights from the Stayton Light Company, paid for by a special city tax.

1915- Another July 4th.On the float, standing from left: Edith Highberger, Lena Hermens (Goddess of Liberty), Grace Hottinger. Driver: Pete Hermens, Creamery horses, from left: Duke and Don. Center: Baribeau house. (Joe Spenner's photo)


1915- The town square, 103 Main St. looking north. From left on the Ditter, Bell & Co. porch: the Doctor, George Bell, Mrs. Nick Zimmerman and two boys, John A. Ditter.

103 Main St.

1915- Roy E. King of Sublimity (courtesy Santiam Historical Society). He rests in the Union Hill / King cemetery near Sublimity.


1916- The St. Joseph's Verein was organized in Sublimity. It was a Catholic organization founded at Klagenfurt, Germany in 1893 for the advancement/preservation of religion, social and cultural ideals, and good literature. The local group is seen here in front of St. Boniface church, with Fr. Lainck in the front row, second from the right. The Verein merged into the Holy Name Society 1n 1929.

St. Joseph's Verein

1918, Feb. 8 - Stayton, Oregon Grade School, grades 7 and 8. I did not want to leave Stayton out, and this photo courtesy of the Santiam Historical Society in Stayton provided a welcome opportunity, since my late great friend Giles Brown is front row, second from left. We shared our interest in old violins. Giles played Sundays at the Mt. Pleasant Community Church.

The names are listed (probably not in order) as George Mielke, Giles Brown, Lawrence Smith, Clarence English, Lyle Lampman, Nickie Fehlen, Dick Child, Cleo Weddle, Louise Reiger, Mary Tate, Willis Scofield, Gilbert Hammer, Norwood Eskew, Nettie Geymer, Tillie Spaniol, Alma Nendel, Sara Caldwell, Tresa Forrette, Emma Miller, Elnice Farrar, Irene Lee, Rosie Allis, Margaret Henal, Elizabeth Lee, Alta Meyers, Lauren Chapman, Kenneth Thomas, Cecil Schick and Miss Nora Crabtree.

Stayton 7-8th grades 1918

1919- This photo shows the sisters from Sublimity at Beaverton.

Back row: Sisters Magdalene Giebler, Theophane Ruettgers, Johanna Silbernagel, Cecilia Boedigheimer, William Tuettgers, Father Anthony Lainck (visiting pastor from Sublimity), Cyrilla Ruettgers, Vincent Ritzinger, Theresa,C.j. Ruettgers, Germaine Heuberger

Third row: Sisters Thecla Schmid, Mechtild Hendricks, Gertrude Silbernagel, Theresa Heuberger, Aloysius Bender, Barbara Hassler, Boniface Prange

Second row: Sisters Eulalia Benedict, Rosalia Benedict, Anthony Heuberger, Innocentia Spenner

Front row: Novices Antonina Lulay, Felicitas Minten, Immaculata Frank.

Sisters from Sublimity

1919- I. J. Boedigheimer and Helen Frances Smith's 25th wedding anniversary in 1919, taken on their front porch in Sublimity.

Boedigheimer 25th Wedding Anniversary, 1919

1919- Young Mary VanHandel holds a pan full of freshly cleaned trout.

Mary Van Handel

1920 - Joe Schrewe resting after falling a Douglas fir on his land in southwest Sublimity. The stump looks to be about seven feet wide.
Born in Germany, Joe died in 1961 at 88. He had three children.

Joe Schrewe

1920s - Tony Van Handel's Harness Shop. Jim Ripp worked here. It is now the site of Dr. Heuberger's veterinary office. A leather horse collar rests on the plank sidewalk.

Harness Shop

1920 or so- Barney Ditter, Leo Susbauer, and Ernie Riesterer. Video games had not yet arrived.


Paris Woolen Mill, Stayton OR

The Paris Woolen Mill was in Stayton, but Sublimity provided a some managers and many workers, including these ladies:
Standing right front, Hilda (Starr) Schumacher; Anne VanHandel to Hilda's right; and probably Ida and Angeline Hartman's mother; and __Albus in the center back.

Lyons High
Lyons, Oregon High School, date and occasion unknown - we can only guess!

1920- Father Lainck's 25th Anniversary as pastor. He had built the school and rectory, remodeled the church, and built the church at Stayton as a mission.

1923- Oregon passed the "garb bill," which prohibited public school teachers from wearing religious dress. This cooperative arrangement was followed: Grades 1, 2, and 3 were taught by the sisters in the Catholic school; grades 4, 5, and 6 were taught by district teachers in the public school, and grades 7 and 8 were taught by the sisters in the Catholic school. The district also rented a classroom in the Catholic school.

1923 Frank Bell became postmaster.

1923- The Knights of Columbus organized St. Anthony's council #2439 in Sublimity.

Like other Sublimity families, Mathies and Bernadine Schmid shared sons and daughters with the church. In the front row, left to right, are Sisters Rosaria and Thecla, and Fathers Mark and Leo. Mark wrote the history Sublimity, Story of an Oregon Countryside in 1951.


1924- Mrs. Antoinette Hermens became postmistress for 18 years.

1926-1927 Father Charles Seroski, Pastor Father Charles Seroski

1926- Philip Steffes of Sublimity discovered a native thornless blackberry otherwise identical to the thorny evergreen blackberry, and as productive. It quickly became the most popular blackberry in the country, and was grown extensively in Oregon. It was later hybridized into the aromatic and intensely flavorful Marion berry.


1927- Father Lainck died after a first vacation trip to his German birthplace, having served St. Boniface parish for 32 years. The Stayton Mail of June 16th, 1927, echoing the sentiment of all who knew Father Lainck, wrote,


This bronze sculpture was placed by Father Siroski in Father Lainck's memory. Eventually the Scherbring brothers were added.

Sublimity Historical Outline - The Scherbring Years

1927- Rev. Francis Scherbring was appointed to minister to the Sublimity and Stayton parishes. He had served previously at Salem and Shaw. He organized the Young People's Club. Noting the growth in the sublimity area he made plans to build a new Gothic church; these were near the final stage when he unexpectedly died in 1935.

1927-1935 Father Francis Scherbring, pastor Father Francis Scherbring

Ladies' Drill Team

Women's Catholic Order of Foresters Drill Team.
Standing, left to right: Cecilia (VanHandel) Maertz, Pearl (Doerfler) Zuber, Grace (Hottinger) Ditter,Nettie (VanHandel) Gries, Clara Zuber, Julia (Boedigheimer) Gries, Angeline (Kintz) Hassler, Effie Gescher, Aurelia (Kintz) Podrabsky, Edna Ditter, Angie (Zimmerman) Jungwirth, Ilsabette Ditter.

About 1928- Below, back row, left to right: Mary Hendricks, Gus Hendricks, Genevieve Hendricks, Anna Ditter. Front row, left to right: Joe Ditter, Herman Hendricks (on lap), Mary Ditter, Anna Hendricks, Leonard Hendricks, John A. Ditter, Catherine Ditter.


1920's and 30's- In these years many sawmills were established in the area. Their operators had names very familiar in Sublimity today: Breitenstein Bros.; VanHandel Brothers; John Frank & A. Minden; A. & B. Minden; Stuckart & Minden; Frank Etzel; Ted Freres; Amandus Frank; J.B. VanHandel; Sim Etzel; Peter Gries; Lulay Brothers.

Below, left to right:Below, left to right: Joe Susbauer, Dan Kintz, Frank Etzel, Isidore Bell, Ed Etzel, Paul Zuber, Bill Hermens, Charlie Schmitt, Engel Schott, Bill Odenthal, George Doerfler, Tony Schindler, Joe Benedict, Nick Lulay.



Above, left to right:Joe Schulte, Carl Schultebein, Gus Hendricks

The Sublimity Fire fighters sponsored an annual talent show to build individual interest in the arts, music, theater as well as baseball and basketball. The basketball team was known as the "Hawks" and frequently won trophies among the seven Santiam Valley teams. East of town on the Zimmerman place a baseball field with bleachers was built by Wm. Lulay in 1932. Mr Lulay organized and managed a team in season.

1932- The WWI memorial was dedicated in the city park, a cannon and brass plaque with the names of 54 local servicemen and women.

1933- The Sublimity public grade school class

Grade School

Back row: Ed Roeser, Floyd Jones, Dorothy Tate, Mabel Jones, Sam Tiee, Frank Lahr, CHristine Schulte, Laura Tate, Vera Palmer, Dottie Lahr, Velma Yeoman, Elijah Jones, Ralph Lulay
Front row: Frank Reu, Bernard Shmid, Lawrence Odenthal, Camilla Lulay, Rosina Hartman, Lilian Glover, Loretta Ditter, Jan Gallay, Bernice Ruetttgers, Loretta Etzel, Delores Bentz, Lynn Neal, Don Lulay, Joe Spenner

1933- The nearby Silver Creek Falls Park was dedicated with 1030 acres and nine waterfalls ranging from 25 to 198 feet tall.

South Falls

1934- The Confectionary in Sublimity, Ben Toepfer proprietor. Ben started with food and "near beer" during Prohibition, later had the real thing. (Courtesy Santiam Historical Society) This building and bar served as Meier's Sublimity Saloon early in the century.


1935- Following the death of Father Francis Scherbring, his brother, Father Joseph Scherbring, who had served as pastor of the Stayton parish 1931-1935, was appointed his successor. A building program was soon outlined, beginning with the hall and gymnasium.

1935-1955 Father Joseph Scherbring, pastor Father Joseph Scherbring

1936- Here we have a "what might have been." According to historian Mark Schmid Fr. Francis Scherbring had wanted to build a larger church. We still have the architectural drawings and specifications "Complete Church Plans by E. J. Gier, Proposed 1937, Estimated by Barrett And Logan." According to a March 5 headline in the Stayton Mail, "Plan $55,00 Catholic Church at Sublimity; Work Will Start Soon on Project," Construction was to start immediately and the church with full basement and faced with light Willamina brick was to be debt-free when completed. The concrete foundation had in fact been laid before the project was abandoned, for whatever reason, during Fr. Joseph Scherbring's time. What actually went wrong with the building fund is clouded in rumor and speculation, which we will not pursue here. Below are photos of two of the blueprints and an architectural rendering:


Proposed Church

drawing 2

You may note a similarity in style with St. Mary's church in nearby Mt. Angel. Its architect too was Engelbert Gier, who with his builder brother Emil had come from Germany via Texas.

1937- Eugene Ditter was appointed Fire Chief after Chief Tom Reuf dies of Pneumonia. "Gene" served until the mid 1970's.

1937- Sublimity Fire Department acquired a 1931 International pumper. This pumper was the first motorized fire equipment in East Marion county and is still on display.


Top from left:   Tony Schrewe, Wilfred (Barney) Ditter, Ernie Riesterer, Dan Meier, Bill Riesterer, ?Ray (Red) Boedigheimer

Bottom: Eugene Ditter, Ben Toepfer, Herman Hassler, Jerome (Bud) Ditter, ?, Leo Susbauer, Bill Duchateau, Pete Boedigheimer.

1940s- Sublimity got a new municipal water system, a new grade school, two general stores, a building supply store, and a tavern. Wheat, oats, and barley were major crops.

1940- The "activity hall" (in 1888 the first parish grade school) was converted into the first St. Boniface High School. Four years of high school were taught in its three rooms by the Sisters of St. Mary. The first graduating class included Camilla Lulay, Bernice Ruettgers, Dolores Bentz, Loretta Etzel, and Joe Spenner.

1941- The St. Boniface Hall and Gymnasium building was built for $7500.

1942- Clara Neal became postmistress.

1942- Wartime photos:

St. Boniface grade and high schools, mid 40s

Above: The students of St. Boniface school in Sublimity were over their wartime bond drive quota. The soldiers and jeeps here are from Camp Adair, Corvallis, Oregon, 1942.

Below: St. Boniface High School graduating class of 1942

Class of 1942

Top row - Joe Gerspacher, Donald Toepfer, John Laux, Fr. Joseph Scherbring, Ed Spenner, Clifford Laux, Vincent Spenner.
2nd row from top - Richard Schumacher, Eobert Schumacher, Gene Heuberger, Kenneth Bentz, Richard Spaniol, Matt Gerspacher, Joe Dombrowsky, Paul Dombrowsky,
3rd row from top - Doris Albus, Velma Lulay, Doris Susbauer, Maxine Kintz, Betty Bender, Lillian Weeder, Muriel Gries, Marcella Gries, Avone Nightingale, Lorraine Duchateau.
Bottom row - Delores Wolf, Catherine Duman, Ruth Lulay, Dorothy Lulay, Vera Hassler, Mark Schulender, Dorothy Lambrecht, Rose Mary Dombrowsky, Doris Vanteicher.

Courtesy of Vera Hassler Boedigheimer

1945- A new brick St. Boniface High School was constructed west of the gym with a capacity of 7 teachers and 100 students. Sisters of St. Mary and priests in residence at St. Boniface taught. The athletic program thrived.

St. Boniface High

Sublimity Hawks Basketball 1946-47

1946-47 - Sublimity Hawks town team. Won 19, lost 1. Front l-r: Kenneth Bentz, Orville Lulay, Tony Gerspacher, Bernard Bentz, Arlyn Birkholz, Back l-r: Billy Lulay, Leonard Frank, Eugene Heuberger, Matt Gerspacher. Missing: Leonard Neal, Eugene Russell, Richard Schumacher, Lawrence Ripp, Stan Russell, Harold Etzel.

1947- Sublimity built its water system including a 370 ft. well and a 50,00 gallon water tower with asbestos pipes - how times have changed!

1948- A modern convent (below) was built across the street from the new High School, replacing the old college "addition", which was moved south to the Hassler place.


1949- A new district 7C grade school was built on the current site, finally for all eight grades.

1949- The Rural Fire District was formed. One engine was purchased, equipped, housed and manned in the Sublimity Station.

ca 1950- Lively Saturday nights were provided by local musicians, many from Sublimity, at the Aumsville Pavilion. This is the "Rangeriders" band. (Aumsville Historical Society photo)

MaryJo and Friends

Front row from left: Mary Jo Hendricks, Larry and Rose Hendricks, Ron Bentz. Back row right: Another Sublimite, Al Etzel. Mary Jo directed the St. Boniface choir for many years, and performs in her own popular band.

1955- With the parish proper being cared for, Father Scherbring began the unfolding of a long cherished dream - a home for the sick and aged in the peaceful setting of Sublimity. In failing health, he lived long enough to officiate at the blessing of the Marian Home on August 7. But on August 25 he suddenly passed to his eternal reward, sorely missed by all for his piety and kindness.

The Marian Home had its roots in Minnie Hassler, a kindly single lady who had been looking after elderly folks in the old convent building that had been moved onto her eight Church Street acres, which she later donated for Father Scherbring's Marian Home. It was originally run by a staff of six Servite nuns from Austria, two of whom are seen here in the kitchen. From the beginning it was non-sectarian. Marian Auxiliary, Inc. was incorporated in 1957 as a non-profit (see third photo below) and was dissolved in 1975. It is privately operated now as Marian Estates, with about 400 residents.

Minnie Hassler

Servite Nuns in Kitchen

New Servite Facility

Sublimity Historical Outline - Further Growth and Change

1955-1969 Father Robert Neugebauer, pastor Father Robert Neugebauer

1957- The Santiam Golf Club was founded on March 4 by A.J. Frank, Roy Phillipi, William Gehlen, John D. Davis, Walter D. Miller, Harmon Drushella and M. L. Morey, all golfers. Ralph Lulay is the current president (2011).

Santiam Golf Club
(from across the freeway, pouring rain) © 2011 Denny Barnes, Stayton, Oregon


1957- A new brick rectory was built, including a parish hall.

1959- There was more room in the cemetery then. (Salem Library photo)


1960- After 108 years Sublimity finally got a real post office building. Postmistress Clara Neal received many requests from afar for first day cancellations from the only post office in the world named Sublimity. (A letter arrived from London, England simply addressed to "Sublimity.") It replaced the post office in Mrs. Neal's home, below.

The Neal post office

1962- The Columbus Day storm, Oct 12, "blew out" the new Post Office. (Salem Library photo)

Columbus Day

Regis High

1962- With the opening of the shared Regis Catholic High School in nearby Stayton, St. Boniface High became vacant, and St. Boniface grade school moved in. The 1913 grade school was razed in 1963.

1962- Ed Hassler next to a field of orchard grass. (Oregon State Archives) Doerfler Farms of Sublimity is the largest grass seed producer in the world. Christmas trees are also a major crop in the Sublimity area, and are shipped worldwide.


Folklore - According to the late Gene Ditter, there was a time when wheat and oats were the main crops and the grass was considered a nuisance. "It was commonly known as the "Damn Ditter Grass." For a number of years they (farmers) tried to kill it because it got mixed up in their grain. But it spread all over the valley here." How did it get here?

1964- Telescope
Telescope builders - These Regis High School (established 1962 in Stayton, Oregon) students are building an 80 power reflecting telescope in their spare time. They are (clockwise from front) Dennis Gilleran, William Lulay, Joe Sprauer, Robert Neal, and David Sherman. Joe Spenner, Maintenance Engineer, is the adult supervisor on the prokect. (Photo thanks to Joe Spenner.)

1968- Lanny L.Fredricks was postmaster from 1968-1973.

1972- The Sublimity Harvest Festival began. The largest show of its kind west of the Mississippi, it draws over 30,000 visitors on the weekend following Labor Day. The emphasis has shifted through the years from grass seed farming to tractor, draft horse, and truck pulls to "monster trucks," etc. Originally in town it now has permanent competition fairgrounds adjacent to the local Chemeketa Community College.

Harvest Festival Pull

1969-1975 Father Thomas Gadbois, pastor Father Thomas Gadbois

1973- Carol Moll became postmaster for about 28 years.

1973- The scarcity of nuns and high staffing costs forced St. Boniface to close its grade school too. (Reminiscent of Sublimity College closing a hundred years before on the same location?) School District 7C leased the former St. Boniface high school for $10,000 annually for use as Sublimity Middle School.
1978 (1981?)- The altars in St. Boniface Church were repainted by elderly sisters of the pioneering VanHandel family, Katie, Christine, and Margaret, who rose to the occasion. The photo shows Christine and Margaret atop the scaffold.

VanHandel girls gild the altar.

1975-1986 Father Daniel Hurley, pastor Father Daniel Hurley

St. Boniface Centennial Mass

1979- St. Boniface Church celebrated its centennial with an outdoor Mass con celebrated by an Archbishop, three Bishops, an Abbot, its pastor Fr. Hurley and numerous other priests! Left to right are Bishop Steiner (who was to celebrate the 125th anniversary mass - see the 2004 photo below) Bishop Leipzig, Archbishop Power, Bishop Waldschmidt, and Abbot Anselm OSB.

1986-91 Father Edward Altstock, pastor Father Altstock

1987- the Rural Fire District annexed the City Fire Department to become the current Sublimity Fire District.

1989- A new Headquarters Station was built on Parker St.

Great-grandfather was First Sublimity Settler by Carl Hobson, Keizer, Oregon (a letter to the editor, date?)

"I have been following with interest the possibility of the town of Sublimity merging with Stayton. I am opposed based upon a personal interest.

1991- Fire chief Kevin Hendricks moved to Woodburn, replaced by Jerry Heater. The district acquired more pumpers, medic/rescue units and other equipment and a second station on Drift Creek Road.

1991-1994 Father Glenn Dare, pastor Father Dare

1993-1996 Father William O'Malley SJ, pastoral vicar Father O'Malley

1993- The school district purchased the St. Boniface school property for $650,000.

1993- Sublimity gets its first motel!

1993- A Catholic Sentinel photo. The caption states "St. Boniface Church is the only one in the archdiocese to have its reredos (altar wall) still intact."


1994-1997 Father Galdino Monteiro SFX, pastor Father Dino

1995- Alan W. McMahen became Sublimity's first career fire chief.

1995- Delbert and Yvonne Ditter retire and sell the 105 year old family grocery.

1996- On July 1, Sublimity School District No. 7 became part of the North Santiam School District.

1997- The Santiam Canyon Stampede was established as an annual PRCA Rodeo at the Sublimity Harvest Festival grounds in early August.

Stampede Rodeo

1997-2001 Father Arthur Dernbach, pastor Father Dernbach

1999-2000 The church was structurally reinforced, prompted by concerns from the 1993 "spring break" quake.


2000- The old Ditter grocery building was razed, replaced by the brick Ditter Town Square.

2001-2002 Father Michael Sprauer, pastor Father Sprauer

Mural on Old Post Office

Colorful new mural on the old 1960 post office building reflecting its new use as a telephone office. Sublimity now has a large new post office, below, 2002.

Post Office 2002

2002-2005 Father Patrick Donoghue, pastor Father Patrick Donoghue

(2002- In December I registered the domain name for the parish. In November 2003, with Fr. Donoghue's blessing, I put it "on line" with the Sunday bulletin and have added other features since then, as this history.)

Sublimity water tower

2003- Sublimity's superfluous water tower failed to sell on Ebay!

2004- Sublimity's mayor (for the second time) is Ray Heuberger DVM. Heubergers have been part of the church and town from the early days.

City Hall Dr. Heuberger

2004- June 5 was the 125th anniversary of our parish and the 1250th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Boniface. Mass with Bishop Steiner. German sausage picnic and music in a huge tent welcome to the community. Display of historical artifacts, such as this door from the old Sublimity College, supplied and displayed by Sublimity's favorite historian, Vera Boedigheimer.



Photos in the choir loft and afterwards in front of church.

Bishop Steiner after Mass

Archbishop Vlazny

(On Dec. 5, 2004 Archbishop Vlazny came to celebrate the beginning of our church register on Dec. 3, 1879 by the first pastor, Fr. Peter Stampfl. (see 1879 above)

2005 (July-September) Fr. Irudayaraj Amalanathan, administrator Fr. Amalan

Tim Bielenberg

Tim Bielenberg barbeques famously for a Choir picnic at Strobels', July 2005

2005 Parish Picnic

Annual Parish Picnic, August 2005.

Our new priest, Fr. M. Jeyamani Paul, gives his first Sunday homily, October 2, 2005

Fr. Paul

2005 - Your webmaster was appointed to the twelve member Archdiocesan Historical Commission.

2005 - Our website caught the attention of the BBC, who sent a television crew to interview parish members, including local historian Vera Boedigheimer.

2006 - In February the Archives Committee was reestablished with a new location in the Convent building and a renewed commitment to collect, preserve, organize and share heritage resources.

Santiam Historical Museum

The archives group were given a tour of the Santiam Historical Museum, which includes Sublimity historical items, by Carol Zolkoske, center. A few of those present were, from the left, Henry Strobel Jr, Ralph Lulay, Carol, Vangie Ripp, Francis Hendricks, Evelyn Fuson (museum staff), and Vera Boedigheimer.

2006 - Six months later, in August, there was an "Open House" for the new archives facility. For lots more about this program, see Sublimity History.

Dinner Site

You'll also read there about the past and present St. Boniface Annual BBQ Chicken Dinner, serving over two thousand this year. Carol Rambousek provided PR, including even an interview of both archives and dinner representatives on Albany radio station KGAL.

2007 - House of John and Agatha Kintz
Grand- and great-grandchildren of John and Agatha Kintz gathered May 30 to celebrate the passing of their family homestead, to be replaced by a medical clinic of Santiam Memorial Hospital. The Kintzes came from Minnesota in 1887, purchasing five acres in Sublimity.
From left: Gerold Kintz, Jeanette (Kintz) Lulay, Shirly Anne (Kintz) Keudell, Ted Meier, Ron Meier, Darlene (Kintz) Hendricks, Vera (Hassler) Boedigheimer, Charlotte (Kintz) Grosjacques, Rita (Susbauer) Young, Doris (Susbauer) Owen, Diane (Podrabsky) Welter, Marlene (Podrabsky Chapman, Luane (Kintz) Robertson, Blossom (Kintz) Wolf, Joanne (Lulay) Kintz.

2007 In November the St. Boniface Archives Office and Museum moved from its modest earlier facility to prime space in the southwest quadrant of the old convent building opposite the church. There's lots more about the Archives at St. Boniface Community Archives & Museum

2007 The state of Oregon is giving Jim and Shirley Heater a Sesquicentennial award. The Heater family has been working the same Sublimity area farm since 1852 (156 years). It's grown to about 5000 acres, of which 3500 produce Christmas trees for worldwide export. Lorenzo Dow Heater arrived here in 1851 from Iowa, returned and brought his family by wagon train over the Oregon Trail in 1852. (Photo and history thanks to the Stayton Mail for December 26.)

Heater Family

2008, June, Father Paul, beloved pastor of St. Boniface, was recalled by his bishop to his native India

2008, July, The new pastor of St Boniface is Rev. Irudayaraj Amalanathan (Father Amal), who had served here briefly in 2005.

Fr. Amal


Antony Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirapalli in India, visits in September.

Henry Strobel's article, St. Boniface Archives and Museum, Sublimity, Oregon, was published in the Fall 2008 issue of the Newsletter of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society. This article and much more can be seen at the Sublimity Community Archives & Museum web page
The annual all day "Spring Event" of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society was set to be held in Sublimity, hosted by the St. Boniface Archives & Museum on April 25, 2009. More information is at the Archives & Museum web page
2009, March, The Once a Month Band performing at the Union Grange Hall northeast of Sublimity. (Photo by Denny Barnes for Our Town Monthly.) Their music is a living continuation of the musical traditions of Sublimity familes dating back 60 or 70 years. These traditions are profiled in an article by Sharon Barnes entitled 'The Once a Month Band' located in the Archives & Museum web page.


2009 Tony Beitel celebrated his 100th birthday on May 9th in perfect health, mind, and spirits, making good use of his current driver's licence, and a frequent visitor to St. Boniface Archives and Museum.
2009 Vera Boedigheimer, our dear friend passed away on May 12. At the Spring Event of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society held at St. Boniface Archives & Museum in Sublimity, it was my privelege to announce:
"To Vera Boedigheimer, town historian, inspiration, raconteur and friend, we dedicate these Archives today."
2009 St. Boniface Church celebrated both the holiday of St. Boniface, "Bishop and Martyr, Apostle to the Germans," (annually June 5) and its 130th anniversary (December 3, 1879) on June 6. (Photo © J. Liesch)


2009 In September our friends and neighbors of the Aumsville Historical Society, originally incorporated in 1978, opened their long awaited and impressive new office and museum in the old City Hall building just inherited from the city.

Aumsville Historical Society

2009 In September the beautiful shrine specified in the bequest of local bachelor farmer Vincent Etzel appeared in the St. Boniface churchyard. In this photo you cannot see the nine wonderful, original stained glass windows by Pugin, Hardman, and Powell of Birmingham, England and the two large statues of Jesus and Mary made in Ortisei, Italy by the Conrad Moroder Co. It is absolutely worth a visit.

Sacred Hearts' Shrine

2010 In May the unused old municipal water tower was finally cut up and trucked away in pieces, a landmark not likely to be much missed. For years Sublimity has shared a water system with Stayton.

Water Tower Demolition

2010 July saw several changes to the organization of Catholic churches in this area:

St. Boniface in Sublimity now administers St. Mary's in Shaw, Oregon, but no longer St. Catherine of Siena in Mill City, long a St. Boniface "mission," but now administered by the church of the Immaculate Conception in Stayton.

The pastor of St. Boniface now celebrates the 8:00am Sunday Mass in Shaw instead of Sublimity. The St. Boniface Mixed Choir continues to inspire at the 10:00am Sunday Mass in Sublimity, but without their 8:00am Mass, the St. Boniface Men's Choir, active since the 1930s, is reduced to part time service at Saturday evening vigil Masses.

The good news is that St. Catherine of Siena church in Mill City, up the Santiam River canyon from Sublimity, celebrated its Centennial on July 3rd and fourth, with a complete renovation of the 100 year old church! (See the newspaper article at St. Boniface Archives & Museum)

2010 August - Fred Schwindt donated his wonderful painting of Fred in his huge red logging truck by noted artist Bob Hartmann of Sublimity. Fred was a log truck driver for 40 years. When he was discharged from the military after WWII in 1946, he first drove for Freres Lumber. In 1952 he bought his own truck. Fred drove the Peterbilt shown in the painting for 12 years. It's a good glimpse into our local timber industry. Fred is on the St. Boniface Archives committee.

Log truck

2010 December 14 - Tornados are virtually unheard of in this area, but today was different. Here's the Nichol Plumbing building. Although the roof and concrete blocks are gone the antique feed sacks are still on the wall. Fortunately Mrs. Nichol had just left to have her oil changed! Photo courtesy of Henry Strobel Jr

Aumsville Tornado

2010 December 21 - The last meeting in 2010 of the Archives & Museum committee and Christmas party.
Front row, l-r: Frances and Francis Hendricks, Rita Young, Charlene Pierce, Tony Beitel, Fred Schwindt
Back row, l-r: Evangeline Ripp, Guests Mary Heater with grandchildren and husband Dick, Donald Porter
Outside of camera view: Joseph Spenner, James Reiser, Carol Zolkoske, Henry Strobel

Last meeting before Christmas

2011 August 3rd - Aumsville Centennial Celebration at City Hall Complex. Speech by Mayor Harold White, historical exhibits, flyovers by vintage aircraft, performances by the Oregon State Defense Force Pipe Band and Color Guard, centennial birthday cake, and music by the Cartwrights and Clevengers. My opportunity (Henry Strobel) to stand with other veterans, as Postmaster Ray Berg and Mayor White.

Aumsville Centennial

2011 - August. The cross and ball atop the St. Boniface church steeple was replaced. Click on these (Statesman Journal) photos and come back.

    Photo 1  The original cross and ball (world)
    Photo-2  Removing the original cross and ball
    Photo-3  The metal bottom of the ball shows holes from the rifle bullets sent heavenward by the pastor in the 1920s to discourage roosting birds, but later providing access for bees. The center wooden shaft of strong Douglas fir is the base of the cross.
    Photo-4  The new cross and ball begins its ascent.
    Photo-5  The new cross and ball is attached.

2011 - The September Sublimity Harvest Festival has grown hugely since 1972, mostly in a mechanical direction, but we still see the ever popular draft horses. Here are the Herman Hendrickses driving the Tim Bielenbergs' fine team and Oaklea Farm freight wagon. (It was my pleasure to tour downtown Sublimity in this conveyance on a recent summer evening.) Photo by Theresa Swearingen



2012 - January   Stayton High School Choir goes to England to perform in the London International Choral Festival


2012 - June 23.The double avenue of sixteen aging Douglas firs fronting the church and dating from its construction was removed for safety and liability concerns. And it does look better, doesn't it? Photo©HenryStrobel2012

"Timber" A short video of one of the sixteen trees falling  Thanks to Betty Young of Sublimity
"What about the stumps?" Watch the remote controlled grinder!  Thanks to Ron Etzel of Sublimity "

2013, July, Fr. Paul Materu, ALCP is the new Administrator at St Boniface.

Fr. Paul

2016, July, Steve Tabor appointed as Deacon at St Boniface.

photo needed

2017, April, Photo update of Saint Boniface Parish, modern day with rare double rainbow. Photo Credit: Steve Hanlon (2017-04-14)


2018, October, Saint Boniface celebrates its 100th Annual Parish Dinner. Sue M VanHandel tends to dozens of chickens to be served alongside homemade chicken and noodles, baked potato, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, pies/cakes.Photo Credit: Kim Zuber (2018-10-14)


A lot is changing in this unique and vital community. But more important are the good things that remain the same - the principles, purpose, and moral fiber that have so closely bound family and church and town. Presenting this history has fascinated and inspired me as I continue to learn about the community that we chose twenty-eight years ago.

All rights reserved © Henry Strobel 2003-2017. Your additions and corrections are welcome!

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