“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Table Rock in Pawnee County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

St John's Catholic Church

Est. 1877

St John's Catholic Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 3, 2021
1. St John's Catholic Church Marker
St. John's Catholic Church, one of the oldest wood church buildings in Nebraska was built in 1877. The church originally had no steeple and was a simple square-type structure. The Steeple was later added along with the stained glass windows in the 1930's. The two men that assumed much of the responsibility for building the church were Peter Miller and Joseph Reuter, but because of lack of funds, some of the furnishings, sidewalks and other essentials were not finished until 1890.

The first marriage in the church occurred in 1881 between Peter Miller and Mary McBride and was officiated by Father Augustus Rausch. The last marriage ceremony occurred on July 2nd, 1966 between Roy Stevens and Patricia Mertes and was performed by Father Irvin Weber.

Father Rausch who served the Parish from 1881-1888 wrote "There was in all my missions only one church that was indebted, that being Table Rock in the amount of $143.54. I went from house to house sometimes on foot to collect money to pay this debt. On September 27th, 1883 the last of the balance was paid off. When the debt was paid off, the church had not yet been plastered nor had
St John's Catholic Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 3, 2021
2. St John's Catholic Church Marker
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a ceiling yet. Pete Miller bought the lumber to have the church ceiled without my knowledge. The building was also painted outside, a chimney, and a sidewalk made. The expenses came to $90." Father Rausch also commented on the furnishings of the church in 1881. "The church had 6 brass candlesticks, 6 bouquets and vases, 1 alter picture, a curtain drawn from wall to wall used as a confessional, one chair, and an old clock. Besides this, there were two benches and an old stove. I got lumber for $5.00 and made 10 single benches myself. They are my donation."

In 1952 under the direction of Father Velasek, a displaced person from Russia arrived in Table Rock and began painting a mural in the church. Fr. Velasek said, "I thought it would be a good idea to have a wall to ceiling painting like many churches in Europe so that any person entering the church would immediately be struck by the figure of Christ and to magnify this, the figure of St. John The Baptist surrounded by his bearers pointing his fingers toward Christ and saying to the crowd: "There is the Lamb of God." Father Velasek said of the artist, "He was a genius and could paint anything you asked him to. He was a restless man though and disappeared upon finishing the mural without a farewell."

St. John's members attended services for the last time in the Table Rock building on June 31st, 1968. The remaining
St. John's Catholic Church (<i>northwest elevation</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 3, 2021
3. St. John's Catholic Church (northwest elevation)
45 families belonging to the congregation were officially assigned to the St. Anthony's parish in Steinauer, NE. On August 30, 1970, St. John's was presented to the Table Rock Historical Society by Father Irvin Weber and was accepted by Gordon Bethel, president of the Historical Society.

The church is currently used to display religious items. Some of the original pews and church furniture remain. The interior remains as it was last seen when it was used for religious services.

In 2013, the church underwent major renovations including replacement of the original crumbling, limestone foundation. Funds were provided by the Table Rock Historical Society, Verlyn Beethe Estate, and USDA Rural Development. This improvement will allow future generations to enjoy this unique little church.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureArts, Letters, MusicCharity & Public WorkChurches & Religion. A significant historical year for this entry is 1877.
Location. 40° 10.69′ N, 96° 5.581′ W. Marker is in Table Rock, Nebraska, in Pawnee County. Marker is on Luzerne Street just west of 5th Street, on the left when traveling west. Marker is mounted directly in front of the subject church. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Table Rock NE 68447, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Village of Steinauer
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(approx. 5 miles away); Pawnee City (approx. 5.7 miles away); Convent House Bed & Breakfast (approx. 7½ miles away); St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church (approx. 7½ miles away); N.A. Steinauer Home (approx. 7½ miles away); Jailhouse (approx. 7.7 miles away); Community Park (approx. 7.7 miles away); Opera House (approx. 7.7 miles away).
Also see . . .  The Museum of St. John's Catholic Church.
The church was built in 1877 as a rectangular box. The vestibule was added in the 1920s. In 1952, the parish priest arranged a surprise that will make you smile. In 1968, the church closed. In 1970, it was donated to the Table Rock Historical Society. In 1993, the Historical Society undertook a limited restoration. In 2012 and 2013, the Historical Society undertook a major restoration, forced by deterioration of the foundation.
(Submitted on April 5, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 65 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 5, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Mar. 31, 2023