St. Michael Church on Beltrees Road Mass Schedule
Christmas Eve 7:30pm
Funerals, Marriages and as requested for special occasions
History of St. Michael Church, Beltrees, Illinois
St. Mary church in Alton had parishioners living in and near Elsah who were unable to attend Mass on a regular basis because of the distance. For this reason, the pastor at St. Mary’s would occasionally say Mass at the home of C. Loehr in Elsah. As this arrangement was unsatisfactory to the religious cravings of the thirty-five Catholic families of Elsah and its vicinity, they decided to organize a congregation and build a church. Encouraged in their project by Father Peter Peters, they soon began construction of a new church in 1877 at Beltrees on ground donated by a family named Proetzgn. During the construction of the new church, Phillip Spatz was accidentally killed while unloading timbers for the building.
Mass was celebrated in the new church as soon as the roof was put on, but it was not until March 9, 1878, that the church was completed blessed by Father Peters. Three years later, Bishop Baltes of Alton visited the church for the first time.
In 1886 Father Francis Marks opened a school next to the church with an attendance of about twenty children and a lay teacher, Henry Schloemer, in charge. Soon, however, the school had to be discontinued because of the decreasing attendance and was not reopened until many years later.
Through the efforts of Father J. B. Wand, who attended from Brighton once a month, the church was remodeled in 1907. In 1908, the parish was reunited with the St. Mary’s in Alton. Father Hochmiller, pastor of St. Mary’s, held Mass at Beltrees twice a month. Later in 1908 the church was struck by lightning and completely burned. This was a heavy loss to the struggling people of Beltrees but drawing inspiration from some substantial donations they began without delay to rebuild.
The second church was solemnly dedicated in 1908 by Very Reverend Francis H. Zabel, D.D., assisted by Fathers Hochmiller, Henry Becker, and A. Schockaert.
In the late 1930’s the parish was placed under the administration of St. Patrick’s in Grafton and under the leadership of Father George Link, the congregation built a recreation hall in 1940 near the church. This hall served many purposes. Dinners were held to raise money. Many activities also took place for the congregation and especially for the young people. Many potluck dinners were given for members of the parish as birthdays, anniversaries, etc., came along. Almost every Saturday night, dances were held where the people from the Beltrees areas and surrounding towns came to enjoy themselves. Many young men and women found their future wives and husbands at these gatherings,
On June 30, 1960, another tragedy occurred at the St. Michael’s. A tornado totally destroyed the church and the hall was moved from its foundation. The members of St. Michael’s again began thinking of another church. They decided to move the hall back on its foundation and renovate it into a church. Four months later the newly renovated building was ready for Divine Services. Many things were added later under the administration of Father Anthony Schmidt pastor of St. Patrick’s in Grafton. In 1971 a belfry was constructed to house the bells from the old church and a bathroom installed. A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which survived the tornado, was also placed in the church. In 1993 a handicap ramp was added and in 1999 the interior was remodeled to its current design.
In July of 2005, after the death of Fr. Bob Meyer, pastor of St. Patrick’s Grafton, the parish was reassigned to St. Ambrose parish in Godfrey under the direction of Father Stephen Pohlman. It was also announced at this time by the Diocese of Springfield that the church would be closed to regular Sunday services, but would remain available for weddings, funerals, baptisms and other special occasions. The church is currently still under the administration of St. Ambrose and Father Steven Janoski.
History of St. Micheal's Contributed By: Tom Bechtold