100 Anniversary

A History of St. Mary's Catholic Parish from 1890 to 1990 Hague, Emmons County, North Dakota


t. Mary's Catholic Church parish is the oldest continuous German Russian Catholic Parish in North Dakota.

It was in about 1885 that the first German-Russians began to settle in this territory. Initially services were held in private homes. In 1890 a small wooden church was built in the settlement of Selz, about a mile west of what is now the town of Hauge, ND.

The Fathers from Fort Yates, ND came over occasionally to have Mass at St. Mary's. Father Bernard Strassmaier was the first priest to serve this parish.

In 1906, on completion of the brick church, the original church was sold at public action.

y 1906 the parish was large enough to build its first brick church in Hague Proper. Father Peter Schardt was the first resident priest at Hauge.

The church was elaborately furnished, the dome above the main altar was studded with gold pieces in the shape of a star. On the main altar was a life-sized statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There were two side altars resembling the main altar. Lighting was provided by two large chandeliers with candles that could be pulled down to light and then pushed back up. The church contained three steeple bells with beautiful sounding chimes. Many of the furnishings were imported from Germany, France and Belgium.

On February 13,1929, Ash Wednesday, a disastrous fire burned the church, leaving only a few pillars with some bricks.

Many courageous efforts were made by the people to save the church and in particular the Holy Eucharist in the tabernacle. All efforts failed because there was no fire truck or enough water, people worked desperately carrying water with pails and only managed to save the parish house.


After the fire, Mass was held in the school building south of the church. On certain occasions, services were held downtown in the building which is the Hague store today.

The entrance of the 1906 structure was saved and is our beautiful grotto today.

he beautiful church we have here today is due to the efforts of our past and present parishioners. Despite the great depression at the time, the parishioners raised funds to build a new church that was nearly a duplicate of the 1906 building. The new cornerstone was laid August 4, 1929 and dedicated on June 19, 1930. Much of the labor was supplied by local church members. The church basement was excavated entirely by hand with assistance of horses. Hebron brick from North Dakota was used for construction. The church cost approximately $80,000 and is presently valued at $1.2 million dollars.

The 13 Roman-arched stained glass windows portray various saints. The stations are statue sized with special lighting for each.

Oil paintings, scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, adorn the ceiling. There are over 100 statues and paintings of angels throughout the church.

Oil paintings, scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, adorn the ceiling. There are over 100 statues and paintings of angels throughout the church.

A large angel adorns the main altar, where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. This kneeling angel holds the sanctuary lamp. Two other angels near the front entrance with dish in hand containing the holy water are a welcome sign to worshipers and guests to remind them of the sacredness of the place and the need for cleansing ourselves as we enter God's house.

The churches most outstanding feature is the "High Altar" with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a lighted crown. Every August 15th the parish celebrates its patronal feast, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with an outdoor Mass.


he pioneer cemetery is located near the old church site. By far the most predominant form of marker found here is the handmade type of wrought iron cross or "eiserne kreuze". The iron crosses have a special meaning; the cross symbolizes religion or the foundation of society, while the iron is a symbol of strength, occupation, or the muscles of society. The surviving crosses remain open to the effects of time and nature. A new gate was installed in 1988. The recent revival of the interest in the "eiserne kreuze" has been beneficial to the art form.

Today the old St. Mary's Cemetery is carefully tended and the crosses wear a protective coat of silver paint.

The first burial in the present cemetery was in 1915, the first burials were positioned eastward the direction of the rising sun and the holy city of Jerusalem; later the burials were positioned to face north toward the new church.

At the entrance of the cemetery is a large statue of the "Crucifixion Group". A new entrance gate was installed in 1988.

On July 25,1983, St. Mary's Church as officially proclaimed as a historic site by the National Register of Historic Places. The church is truly a landmark at Hague with its spire topped with a cross rises mightily on the North Dakota prairies.

A new road sign about the church was completed in August, 2004 at the intersection of Highway 83 and 11 near Hague. Four new front doors with center glass fixture to enhance lighting was completed in July, 2004.

General History and Improvements of the Present Church

*Built in 1929
*Dedicated in 1930
*Completely painted and decorated in 1944
*New Organ installed in 1946
*Repainted in 1970
*Releaded Windows in 1975
*Public Address System in 1975
*Held our 50th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church, August 15, 1980
*Ceiling Fans in 1982
*Accepted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1983
*New Furnace in 1985
*New Speakers in 1988
*Insulated Church in 1988
*Repaired the Steeple in 1988
*New Window Louvers in 1990
*100th Anniversary of St. Mary's Parish Celebrated in 1990
*New Basement Windows in 1992
*New South Door in 1994
*New Propane Furnace in 2000

St. Mary's Catholic Parish is the Oldest Continuous German-Russian Catholic Parish in North Dakota

Parish Priests
from 1897 through 1989

April 1897-December l897-Rev. Bernard Strassmeier, O.S.B.
December 1897-December 1898-Claudius M. Ebner, O.S.B.
December 1898-April 1906-Rev. Stephan Stenger, O.S.B.
April 1906-December 1909-Rev. P.W. Schardt
January 1910-November 1910-Rev. Herman Schmitz
1911-1912-Rev. Thos. L.Rabsteinek
1912-1919-Rev. Th. Eisele, D.D.
1919-July 11, 1957-Msgr. Jos. Niebler
Late 1940's-Fr. Rudolph Hanson (Assistant)
1947-1950-Rev. Eugene Haspert (Assistant)
About 1950-Fr. Joseph Splonskowski (Assistant)
1952-1955-Rev. Eugene Hornstein, O.S.B. (Assistant)
September 11, 1957-February 4, 1968-Msgr. Francis Lauinger
April 7, 1964-June 18, 1966-Rev. Edward Korte (Assistant)
June 18, 1966-July 31, 1968-Rev. Joseph Rogers (Assistant)
July 31, 1968-August 1, 1973-Msgr. George P. Aberle
August 1, 1973-July 19, 1978-Rev. Michael Krank
July 19, 1978-January 1981-Rev. Robert Wuest, C.PP.S
January 1981-June 1981-Fr. Bill Miller and Fr. Hubman (Assistant)
June 1981-August 1982-Fr. Brey
August 1981-December 1, 1981-Fr. Bill Miller and Fr. Betzen from Linton
December 1, 1981-October 1, 1985-Rev. Laurence R. Talty
October 1, 1985-Rev. Michael Mullner from Bismarck
January 15, 1986-Emil Dinkel, C.PP.S.
July 1, 1989-Mission of St. Peter & Paul Church, Strasburg
July 1, 1989-Fr. Leonard Eckroth



The book, Hague Area Book II: The Past 100 Years and Its People, 424 pages, 1989, softcover is available at this website page: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/hague.html.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller