The following history is substantially based on the booklet HISTORY OF ST JOSEPH'S CHURCH, ONEIDA, NEW YORK, compiled by our parish secretary and historian, Marie Magliocca. At present the history covered on this page covers the years 1893-1938. We hope to have the remainder of the history up soon.

ST. JOSEPH'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, ONEIDA, NY St. Francis Church, Durhamville, NY

(The photo on the left is the current St. Joseph’s Church. The photo on the right is St. Francis Church, Durhamville, wheere St. Joseph’s parishoners used to worship.)

A HISTORY OF OUR PARISH

St. Joseph’s German Catholic Church, 121 St. Joseph’s Place, Oneida, N.Y. was formed from German speaking Catholics who resided at Oneida and attended church services at St. Francis Church, Durhamville. There were about thirty families who every sunday walked the two and one-half miles to the Durhamville church from Oneida for Mass.

 

This group of Oneida people began proposing a new church in Oneida. Business activities were declining in Durhamville and Oneida was a busy, growing village.

 

On February 27,1889 the German speaking Catholics of Oneida held a mass-meeting and a society was formed to be known as “St. Joseph’s German Catholic Church Building Society.” Each member of this Society contributed 50 cents per month to the church building fund. The first contributions were received on March 12, 1889.

 

In 1890 four lots on the north easterly corner of McGuire street (now St. Joseph’s Place) and North Street and one lot on the south easterly corner of McGuire (now St. Joseph’s Place) and North Broad Street were bought. The site of the new church was to be the southeast corner of North and North Broad Streets.

 

The German Catholics of Oneida were urging the Rev. Adolph Bergman, pastor of the Durhamville church and residing in Durhamville, to have a Mass in Oneida on Sundays. He promised them one Mass a month. On the first Sunday after Easter, April 5, 1893, he had the first Mass for them in the East Elm Street School house, located on the corner of East Elm and Williams streets. During the summer of 1892-1893 laborers and masons, members of “St. Joseph’s Society” made the excavations and built the foundation for the new church. The church was incorporated as “St. Joseph’s German Catholic Church, Oneida, N.Y.” on July 24, 1893. The first official meeting of the corporation was held in Bishop Ludden’s residence, Syracuse, on september 6, 1893… At the meeting a resolution was passed to proceed with the building of the church, that it be a frame structure and that the contract for the buliding of the structure be awarded to George Avery of Oneida at the proposed price of $4,955… Construction began on September 11, 1893. Bishop Ludden had decided on October 1, 1893 for the laying of the cornerstone which ceremony was preformed that day by Rev. Vicar General Kennedy. The new church was blessed by Bishop Ludden on October 14,1894. The Rev. Adolph Bergman, pastor of St. Francis Church, Durhamville was the celebrant at the solemn High Mass.

 

As time went on membership increased. In 1905 the parish had about 55 families. Between 1905 and 1910 Italian families began to come to St. Joseph’s. In 1910 the parish had about 85 families.

 

Immediately after the dedication of the first St. Joseph’s Church, the Rev. Bergman, now in charge of both St. Joseph’s and St. Francis, and residing in Durhamville, began celebrating Masses at the two churches on alternating Sundays. He also desired to change his residence to Oneida. At a meeting of the pastor and trustees of the two churches on November 4, 1894, a resolution was passed that St. Joseph’s Church procure and furnish a residence for the priest and that he begin to reside in Oneida. During the week of November 11, 1894 Re. Bergman established his residence in Oneida at 73 James Street (now North Main Street). This residence was about 800 feet from the church and the rent was $9.00 dollars a month.

 

A rectory on the south-easterly corner of McGuire Street (Now St. Joseph’s Place) and North Broad Street was originally built by Rev. Bernard Gosssens in 1896 on lots owned by him. Father Gossens was pastor at St. Joseph’s from August 10,1895 until January, 1909… This house, with two additional lots on McGuire Street (now St. Joseph’s Place) were bought by the church from Father Gossens on April 28, 1912 for $3,500.

 

In the summer of 1921 the parish built a parish hall on the northeast corner of McGuire street (now St. Joseph’s Place) and North Street, the site of a wooden structureernard Kaier, a long time member of the parish recalls attending this school prior to the time Father Lauer was Instructed to close it down. Quoting from a letter dated 3/22/1919 to Father Lauer from the Bishop’s office,- “St. Patrick’s School will satisfy the needs of the Catholics of Oneida… For the present there will be no school at St. Joseph’s.”

 

The parish hall was a stuccoed frame building with a floor space of 60 x 78 feet. It was erected and furnished at a cost of $12,500. The low cost was made possible by the voluntary labor of the men under the pastorate of Father Lauer.

 

During the summer of 1925 the rectory underwent much needed renovations at a cost of $11,500.

 

In 1926 the parish numbered about 105 families. The old frame church had a seating capacity of 224. Children attending religious education classes numbered about 175. The need for a larger church became evident. Special efforts were made by parishoners to raise funds for the new church.

 

On December 27,1926 a parish meeting was held in the parish hall. The meeting was a very well attended affair. The topics discussed were the need for a larger church and the means for financing its construction. A commitee of twenty men was selected to cooperate with the pastor and two trustees to formulate plans for the raising of funds and the procuring of tentative sketches for a new church to be built east of the rectory on McGuire Street (St. Joseph’s Place). This was the site of a grape vineyard. Parishoner Francis Winker recalls that both white and purple grapes were grown on the site and that Father Lauer was only interested in harvesting the purple grapes. He therefore allowed the youth of the parish to help themselves to the white grapes. Quoting Francis- “We had a feast.”

 

In February 1928 Ferdinand F. Durang, N.Y. City was engaged to draw up the plans for the new church. A five acre plot of land was bought, situated on the Oneida-verona Road (Fox Farm) where stone was to be quarried for the new church. On February 26,1928 a building committee of 25 was created to assist in the planning and building of the new church.

 

On April 23, 1928 work was begun in the excavation for the new church.