Parish History

Early Settlers

The area has attracted people since prehistoric times, as evidenced by numerous stone relics found on or near the parish grounds near the present day Delaware Bend.

During the Indian Wars in 1794, a Delaware Indian village located on the banks of the Maumee was destroyed and its inhabitants scattered.

After the war of 1812 settlers began to move up river and they shared the resources of the area briefly with these Indians who were encamped by the river. By the late 1830’s, the Delaware Indians had been moved from the area.

In 1834 The town of Newberg was platted on the southern bank of the Maumee River. It was located close to where the present day Limabaugh road is located.

Newberg never grew, despite the gradual influx of new settlers to the area. Travel in the early days was made difficult by the terrain. “a country covered with heavy timber for 40 miles and with water a foot deep” [1]

Delaware Indian

First Masses in rural Defiance County.

It was only until after the completion of the Erie and Wabash canal in 1843, that early Catholic settlers had the opportunity for regular Masses which were offered in the by Father Amadeus Rappe beginning in 1846. He later became the first Bishop of Cleveland.
Masses were held in an old log cabin on the edge of Newberg and in the homes of settlers in the Mud Creek (Marysdale) area.

In 1847 Rev Louis de Goesbriand, a close friend of Fr Rappe visited the Catholics at Mud Creek and Newberg. He too was later consecrated a bishop. The Knights of Columbus (Council 1039) in Defiance named their 4th Degree after Bishop Rappe.

From 1847 – 1850 the Fathers of the Precious Blood traveled from Glandorf to administer the sacraments to the handful of Catholic settlers in the area.

Bishop Rappe

First Churches Built

By 1855 enough interest was shown and a small log church measuring 16 x 24 feet was built at Newberg and was subsequently deeded to Fr Rappe in 1856. This church served the congregation until 1879 when a fire reduced the church to ashes.

From 1850 – 1873 the Mud Creek area was ministered by priests from St Johns, Defiance. Father Westerholt, (1855-1858) and Father Aloysius said Masses monthly at the Batt home, located 1/4 mile west of the present day Marysdale church site.

On November 19th 1866 a tract of 9 acres at Marysdale was bought for $125 from C.H. Buckinghouse . The deed of sale is signed by Edward Quinn, Sebastian Kretzer. Joseph Batt and Jacob Froelich. It was not deeded to Bishop Gilmour until December of 1872. A frame house on this land was converted into a chapel where the first Masses were said.Foundation parishioners were, Joseph Batt, Lewis Schwartz, Jacob Frohlich and Edward Quinn.In 1873 Mud Creek became a mission of North Ridge (St Michaels Ridge).

The new pastor, Fr Joseph Blosser commenced construction of a new church to replace the chapel, which was moved to the Gerald Singer farm on State Rt 15, where it still stands as a farm building.

The new church was a frame building measuring 30 x 50 feet, built at a cost of $2000. This amount was considerable for a small mission but in his book, "A History of Catholicity in Northern Ohio and the Diocese of Cleveland from 1749 to December 31, 1900" Father George Francis Houck points out that “these people were very generous.”

Log church at Newberg
by Louis Simonis

The New Church at Delaware Bend

In 1879 after the raising of the Log Church at Newberg, there was much discussion on where to re-build a new church. With the completion of the railway to the north in 1874, the town of Delaware Bend was growing, while Newberg showed little growth. There was a dispute between those on the south side of the river and those to the north. The issue was resolved skillfully by the north-siders who hauled lumber to the proposed site to reinforce their side of the argument. The church was constructed at Delaware Bend and the dedication Mass took place in 1880.

In 1889, Father Lawrence Heiland was appointed resident pastor of Delaware Bend (St Stephens, The Bend). Part of his pastorate was the mission of Mud Creek.

In 1914 a vestibule was added to the church, a bell tower was moved from the church to the vestibule and a cross, fifty-five feet in height was moved from the vestibule to the church by the Rahl brothers. The parish hall was remodeled and the sacristy enlarged.

In 1935 eight stained glass windows were installed and a new roof was put on the church. The tower and steeple were remodeled in 1935. In 1947 there were new pews installed. In 1947 a Federal Credit Union was organized and remains to this day as the Christo Rey Federal Credit Union.

St Stephens Delaware Bend c.1890

Marysdale Mission

In 1914 the name of Mud Creek was changed to Marysdale on the recommendation of Bishop Schrembs. The old parish hall of St John’s Defiance (built in 1869) which had also served as the school was purchased, dismantled and moved to Marysdale and became the parish hall.

That year also saw Father Joseph Hensbach, pastor of Delaware Bend given the missions of Continental, North Creek and the formation of a new mission at Cuba (which became the first St Isidore parish in the diocese). With this appointment, care of the mission of Marysdale was given to the pastors at Bryan.

In 1918 with the appointment of Father George May to Delaware Bend, the mission reverted to the care of the resident pastor at St Stephens. It remained this way for the next 17 years.

A Crescent News report in 1924, describes a funeral held at Marysdale for a local man and that 1000 people attended!

In September 1935 Marysdale became a mission of St Johns, Defiance under the pastoral care of Father George Lang. The assistant pastor at St Johns was appointed in 1935 and the Mission of Marysdale became part of his duties.

In 1938 the mission returned to the care of St Stephens, The Bend and remained so for another 56 years.

Marysdale Mission c.1920

A view of the inside of the old Marysdale Mission church.

1960's Changes and Additions

In 1960 major renovations were undertaken at St Stephens church. The naves were added to give the current cross shaped floor plan and a basement with class rooms added below. Additional land was purchased to the East for a parking lot.

After the Second Vatican council in 1965 the old high altar at St Stephens was replaced by a hand carved modern altar which was fashioned by Charles J Meyer. The Pastors residence was renovated and insulated and the parish hall was remodeled.

In 1970 a new bell tower was added to the church at Marysdale. A plaque in the vestibule shows contributors to this project

The New Church at Marysdale

In early 1963, a planning and finance committee was chosen to solicit pledges and donations from the parishioners and friends toward a new church to hold the 125 families of the area. Plans were finalized in 1964.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held at 1pm on Monday June 15th 1964 for the new $150,000 church. On hand for the ceremonies were Fr John Lehmkuhl and member of the parish building committee.

The 90 years old frame church was replaced with a new church built of block with brick facing on both interior and exterior walls.

Adjoining the church and forming one building with it is a multi-purpose hall with kitchen. Folding doors can be used to divide the hall into smaller rooms for CCD classes and meetings.

The first Mass in the new church was the Easter Vigil mass of 1965.

Anniversary Celebrations

In 1973, Marysdale church celebrated its 100 year anniversary. Fr Obergefell held a special outdoor Mass to celebrate the occasion.

In November 1980 the 125th Anniversary of St Stephens parish was celebrated by Fr Kill with concelebrants including Fr Robert Knopfle, Fr Joseph Jaros, Fr Ervin Rausch OSC, Fr Allen Fillman, Fr Donald Mueller and Fr Robert Armstrong.

New Cemetery for Marysdale

In December 1997 additional ground was purchased across the road to the west to extend the cemetery which was running out of burial plots. Two acres of the newly purchased land were planted with grass and concrete footers poured for the headstones. The new cemetery was consecrated by Fr William Martin on Sunday June 9th 2002, following the 10am Mass.

With the retirement of Fr William Martin in July 2002 Marysdale and St Stephens were clustered in a parish re-organization and again came under the control of St Michaels Ridge and its pastor Fr David Tscherne.

In June of 2004, Bishop Leonard P. Blair removed Marysdale from its cluster with St Michaels and St Stephens and Immaculate Conception was assigned to the care of Fr Charles Ritter, the pastor at St Patrick’s Bryan. St Stephens and St Michaels Ridge were twinned.

In March 2005 after a meeting with Bishop Blair and the combined parishes of Immaculate Conception and St Stephens, it was decided to merge the 2 parishes into one new parish. This new parish would have 2 worship sites to accommodate the Sunday liturgies. Both parishes ceased to exist on June 30th 2005. The new parish was then to be twinned with St Michael’s Ridge, still under Fr Dave Tscherne.

Saint Isidore Parish is Born

On Saturday July 2nd 2005, the first Mass was celebrated by Fr Dave Tscherne. It was announced that Bishop Leonard Blair had decided the new parish would be called St Isidore (The Farmer) since the closing of St Isidore’s Cuba in 2004 had left the diocese without a church named in honor of the patron saint of farmers.

With the combination of the two parishes, it was decided to have 16 members on the first parish council. In subsequent years the number was reduced to the present number of 10 counselors.

In 2008 the CCD classes were combined with the elementary grades meeting at Marysdale and the Middle/High schoolers at the Bend.

May of 2008 saw the passing of Fr William Martin at age 83. He had been living in the rectory at the Bend since his retirement in 2002.

A large funeral Mass was held at Marysdale with over 30 priests concelebrating. He was laid to rest in the Delaware Bend cemetery.

In July 2009 Fr Robert Kill was appointed to be the pastor of St Michael Ridge and St Isidore’s parishes. Fr Kill had served prior to this at the old Immaculate Conception and St Stephens parishes as pastor from 1978-1988.

June 2013 after many months of planning, meetings and consultation with the Diocese of Toledo, a major roof project was undertaken at the Marysdale site. The flat roofs of both the sacristy and parish hall were replaced with a new pitched roof similar in design to the roof of the main part of the church. The work was completed in mid August with the relocation of the air conditioning units off the roof and onto pads adjacent to the bell tower.

In November of 2018 Fr Kill let us know that he had begun treatment for cancer. During his treatment, the parish had a series of visiting priests that handled the weekend Masses. In December it was announced that Fr Jake Gordon would be assisting Fr Bob with the Masses at both St Michael Ridge and St Isidore.

In June of 2019 it was announced that Fr Jake Gordon has been appointed the pastoral administrator of both St Michael Ridge and St Isidore parishes. Fr Jake assumed duties on July 1st 2019.

In July 2020 it was announced that Fr Jake Gordon had been removed by the Bishop of Toledo as parochial administrator.

In October it was announced that Fr Joe Steinbauer has been appointed Parochial Administrator for St Michael Ridge and St Isidore parishes.

Father Melwin d'Souza (SAC) began his term as pastor of St Isidore's and St Michael's Ridge on July 1st 2021. He was installed by Bishop Daniel Thomas on July 31st, 2021 and is the current pastor of the parish.

Parish Priests

SS = Pastor resident at St Stephens, Delaware Bend.

SJ = Pastor resident at St John's Defiance.

SP = Pastor resident at St Patrick's, Bryan.

SM = Pastor resident at St Michaels, St Michaels Ridge.

SMA= Pastor from St Mary's Antwerp

** = Parochial Administrator

  1. Rev Amadeus Rappe (visited 1846)

  2. Rev Louis Goesbriand (visited 1847)

  3. Fathers of the Precious Blood (1847 – 1850)

  4. Rev Foliere

  5. Sanguinist Fathers 1852 – 1855

  6. Rev Francis Westerholt 1855-1859

  7. Rev Patrick Hennebery

  8. Rev Father O’Kieff

  9. Rev Aloysius I Hoeffel 1859-1866 SM

  10. Rev James P Carroll 1866-1868 SM

  11. Rev G Rudolph 1868-1869 SJ

  12. Rev E Hannin 1869

  13. Rev E.J. Conway 1869

  14. Rev F Drolzhagen 1869

  15. Rev D Zinsmayer 1870

  16. Rev Anthony Eilert 1871-1873

  17. Rev J.A Michelfelder 1871-1873

  18. Rev John Klute 1874-1876

  19. Rev Joseph Blosser 1873-1877 SM

  20. Rev Frederick Rupert 1879-1881 SMA

  21. Rev A. E. Manning 1881-1883

  22. Rev C Viere 1869-1873 SJ

  23. Rev Chintzmeyer SJ

  24. Rev Anthony Eilard SJ

  25. Rev J Sproll 1877 SM

  26. Rev T P McCarthy 1877-1878 SM

  27. Rev J Christophory 1878-1881 SM

  28. Rev A Manning 1881-1883

  29. Rev Armand Hamelin 1883-1886

  30. Rev J.H. Muehlenbeck 1881-1886 SM

  31. Rev Ferdinand A Schreiber 1886-1888 SMA

  32. Rev G.C. Schoenemann 1886-1888 SM

  33. Rev Father Kress

  34. Rev Laurence Heiland 1888-1900 SS

  35. Rev Henry Boesken 1900 SS

  36. Rev Nicholas Espen 1900-1910 SS

  37. Rev John Theiss 1910-1912 SS

  38. Rev Joseph Hensbach 1912-1914 SS

  39. Rev A.J. Bishop 1915 SP

  40. Rev Philip A Schritz 1915 SP

  41. Rev Father Goebel

  42. Rev Peter Peiffer 1915-1918

  43. Rev Charles Buettel 1915-1917 SP

  44. Rev Alfred Metzger 1917-1918 SP

  45. Rev George May 1918-1922 SS

  46. Rev Carl Reineck 1922-1926 SS

  47. Rev William Armitage 1926-1929 SS

  48. Rev Anthony Moes 1929-1933 SS

  49. Rev Paul Brissel 1933-1935 SS

  50. Rev George Lang 1935-1938 SJ

  51. Rev Robert Knoepfle 1938-1943 SS

  52. Rev Leo Mahlmeister 1943-1953 SS

  53. Rev William Pfeifer 1953-1962 SS

  54. Rev John Lehmkuhl 1962-1967 SS

  55. Rev Robert Armstrong 1967-1969 SS

  56. Rev Joseph Jaros 1969-1971 SS

  57. Rev Sylvan Obergefell 1971-1974 SS

  58. Rev Donald Mueller 1974-1978 SS

  59. Rev Robert Kill 1978-1988 SS

  60. Rev William Martin 1988-2002 SS

  61. Rev David Tscherne 2003-2004 SM

  62. Rev Charles Ritter 2004-2005 SP

  63. Rev David Tscherne 2005-2009 SM

  64. Rev Robert Kill 2009-2019 SM

  65. Rev Jacob Gordon 2019-2020 SM **

  66. Rev Joseph Steinbauer 2020-2021 SM **

  67. Rev Melwin Dsouza (SAC) 2021 - present

Fr Hoeffel

Rev Louis De Goesbriand