St. Bridget Historical Society
Web Site for old St. Bridget Church Axtell, (Marshall County), Kansas
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The Saint Bridget Historical Society was established in 1970, as a non-profit corporation, to safeguard and watch over the interests and property of the old St. Bridget Church (above) and its former parish.  This parish was established in 1862 and in September, 1967 the parish of St. Bridget was closed by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. It was the intent of the Archdiocese to tear down this building when former parishioners took up its cause and formed the St. Bridget Historical Society and saved this church from destruction.

In 1972, Archbishop Strecker, then Archbishop of the diocese, transferred ownership of the church building to the St. Bridget Historical Society of Rural Axtell, Kansas. We are very appreciative and indebted to Archbishop Strecker for saving our church.  In September of 1995 this church building was accepted as a Kansas Historic Site and in October, 1996 St. Bridget Church was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. We hope you will enjoy browsing through our Web site


Directions To St. Bridget Church

Coming from U.S. Highway 36: Go to Axtell turnoff (Kansas Highway 110 - (ten miles west of Seneca; 20 miles east of Marysville). Travel North on K-110 until into city of Axtell until you come to a T intersection. Make a right turn then immediately a left turn (onto Fifth Street) and go north through the town. Cross the railroad tracks - continue north. The road takes a little jog and turns into a all-weather rock road at the city limits. Continue north for about five and one-half miles till you come to St. Bridget Cemetery. It will be on your right. The road makes a sharp left and then 100 yards or so makes a sharp right as you start up the hill. At the top of the hill is St. Bridget Church.

Coming From Summerfield on Kansas Highway 99: From the southern city limits of Summerfield, go south approximately one and 1/4 miles. On the right side of the road are two large propane gas tanks marked "H & H." At that intersection, turn left (east) and travel on an all-weather rock road approximately five miles. Turn right (south) onto another all-weather rock road and travel up the hill. At the top of the hill on the right is St. Bridget Church.


St. Bridget Song

This song was adopted by the St. Bridget Historical Society as their "Official St. Bridget Song."  A funny story about this song: A lady who often came to our St. Bridget Day Celebrations, when we use this song with OUR LYRICS, heard the real song "Little Brown Church In the Vale" on her radio. She never knew it even existed, so she was shocked to hear the song on the radio. She called the wife of one of our Historical Society Officers upset that SOMEONE stole our song and changed the lyrics. The Officer's wife had to confess that it was US who borrowed their tune and put our words to it.  We hope you enjoy the origins of our " borrowed" song.

Original Lyrics: St. Bridget Version:

There's a church in the valley by the wildwood,
No lovelier spot in the dale;
No place is so dear to my childhood,
As the little brown church in the vale.
There's a St. Bridget Church in the Country
No lovelier place on a hill.
No spot is so dear to my childhood,
As this St. Bridget Church on a hill.
Come to the church in the wildwood,
Oh, come to the church in the dale,
No spot is so dear to my childhood,
As the little brown church in the vale.
Oh Come Come Come Come
Come to the Church in the Country,
Oh Come to the Church on the hill
No spot is so dear to our childhood
As this little country Church on a hill.
How sweet on a clear, Sabbath morning,
To list to the clear ringing bell;
Its tones so sweetly are calling,
Oh, come to the church in the vale.
How sweet on a bright Sabbath morning,
To list to the clear ringing bell;
It's tones so sweetly are calling.
Oh come to the church on the hill.
Refrain: Refrain:
There, close by the church in the valley,
Lies one that I loved so well;
She sleeps, sweetly sleeps, 'neath the willow,
Disturb not her rest in the vale.
As we wander today with our families,
We remember the days of yesterday,
Let us gather and worship together,
At this St. Bridget Church so dear.
Refrain: Refrain:
There, close by the side of that loved one,
To the trees where the wild flowers bloom,
When the farewell hymn shall be chanted
I shall rest by her side in the tomb.
From the church in the valley by the wildwood,
When day fades away into night,
I would fain from this spot of my childhood
Wing my way to the mansions of light.


Tour of the Church

Welcome to St. Bridget Church. This building is the fifth structure built by the parishioners of this parish. The first structure was burned by arsonists in 1861. The second building was soon built and moved from a location in the cemetery to a hilltop approximately 1/2 mile away. The third structure was a rock church constructed in 1871. The fourth was a wood structure used temporary as a church from approximately 1902 through 1908. It later was used as a parish hall. The present church building was completed in 1908, except for the church steeple. It was to be added later when more funds were available. As you can see, those funds were never available.

As you walk up the steps, you see St. Bridget gazing down upon you from her place on the front steeple. Let us walk through the front doors now.

To the left of the inner doors is a portrait of Patrick McGrath, the gentleman who donated the original ten acres the church was built upon. To the right is a picture of Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker, who saved the church building from destruction and encouraged us to form a historical society. Once that was accomplished, he deeded the church and grounds to the historical society. These two gentleman are very special to our church.

Looking to the left side of the entranceway, one sees portraits of the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother, both very important in the lives of the Irish people.

As you stand before the main altar, you notice three niches with statues in each one. These three Irish saints are St. Bridget (middle), St. Patrick (right) and St. Columba or Columbkille (left).

Music at St. Bridget's was supplied by a pump organ. Before electricity was available, an organist had to have strong leg muscles to play this musical instrument. Shortly before the parish closed in 1967, the parish retired this organ because of the cost on repairing it was more than they could afford. A small electric organ was obtained and used in the final years. One of the first things the St. Bridget Historical Society did was raise funds and restore this beautiful pump organ. It is again used at our services at St. Bridget.

The Baptismal Font was renovated in 1994 by the Terry Stallbaumer family in memory of their son Nicholas, who was our St. Bridget official greeter. Nicholas, age 11, died in a farming accident.

The Confessional was an important part in the sacramental life of the parish. Notice the cloth curtains. Could not talk very loud or everyone would know your sins.

IIf you climb the balcony staircase, you will see this view from the balcony or choir loft.
As you leave through the front doors, this sight catches your eye - You can see for miles. It is not hard to understand why our ancestors wanted this spot for the church.


We hope you enjoyed this quick tour. We enjoyed showing you our historic church.



Copyright 2012
St. Bridget Historical Society, Inc.