This will be the first time since 2020 that the Maryhill Historical Society has been able to hold their annual Heritage Day celebrations. This was held this year on Sunday, September 18th and this year the Historical Society is celebrating their 45th anniversary.
Heritage Day is celebrated to give recognition to our early settlers who settled in Maryhill (New Germany) in the late 1820’s and early 1830’s. The early settlers erected these roadside crosses which lie within the boundaries of St. Boniface Parish. All of the original crosses have been replaced, having deteriorated with time or were vandalized. The replacements are as close to the original design as possible. The corpuses also have been replaced.
The celebration began at 11 a.m. with Mass at St. Boniface church with Father Peter Meyer. The entrance hymn “On a Hill in Maryhill“ was written by former Historical Society member Helen Moyer to the tune of “Old Rugged Cross”. Following Mass, everyone met in front of the Grotto on the Rectory lawn. Historical Society president Linda Kennedy welcomed everyone and Diane Strickler gave a brief history of Blessed Virgin Mary Grotto. “With the help of his uncle, Mr. Missere and his father, Louis Diemert, both experienced stone masons, Father Joseph Diemert designed a grotto to be placed on the Rectory lawn to accommodate a statue of the Virgin Mary. Mary Magdalena Weber, daughter of Anton X. Weiler and Theresia (Weiler) Weiler and the mother of Sister Tarcisia, a teacher at St. Boniface, had willed a sum of money to be used for a statue and for construction materials. The grotto was built and dedicated in 1944, to stand as a landmark overlooking the village.”
Robert Kennedy was the lead car in his blue 1928 Roadster pickup and David Kennedy in the 2nd car driving Father Peter Meyer in his maroon 1930 coupe they led the car cavalcade to where the first Mass was said. “In the early days of New Germany Mass was celebrated in the settler’s homes. The first Mass was said at the home of Christian & Barbara (Alllgeier) Rich in 1832 by Rev. Meriatte S.J. Christian Rich had bought the land from the Mennonites. In 1997 a special stone was erected at the end of the land which is the home now of Fred Drexler.” Theresa (Drexler) Hodgkinson gave the history at this site. This stone and inscription were paid for by the former Holy Name Society and Maryhill Knights of Columbus.
Next stop was the Klein cross just outside of Maryhill which was erected in 1846 by Andrew Klein at the entrance to their farm to fulfill a promise made to God during a severe storm on the mid Atlantic Ocean. This hazardous ordeal lasted six weeks. The original cross was made of peeled cedar and was about 14 feet high. Ken Kurtz gave the history of this cross which is on the farm where he grew up on, he also donated the new Corpus on this cross.
The second cross was erected by Robert McKaninny and his 2 brothers who were of Irish descent. It was thought they may have erected the cross in about 1832 again in gratitude for a safe arrival after a stormy Atlantic crossing. The original cross was very ornated and was also made of a hewn square cedar 10” x 10” and about 15 feet high. The Sebastian Drexler family purchased the farm in 1876 and took the responsibility for the care and maintenance of this cross for several generations. This new cross has been constructed as closely as possible to the original. Helen Peacock, a Drexler descendant gave the history at this site.
The third cross which is near Weissenberg was erected by James Keleher in 1908 as a memorial to his pioneering parents in thanksgiving for the prosperity the family enjoyed in their new land. In 1916 Joseph P. Moyer purchased the farm. Betty Hinschberger gave the history of this cross.
At each of the locations Historical Society president Linda Kennedy introduced each site with various members of the society giving a brief history followed with Father Peter Meyer ending with beautiful prayers connecting an appropriate saint to each site. .
All the plots of land that the crosses are located on are owned and cared for by the Maryhill Historical Society.
This year’s lunch was supplied by the St. Boniface Catholic Women’s League consisting of sandwiches, vegetable and fruit trays and all the fixings along with various pies, carrot cake, coffee, tea, and water. This celebration was held at the Maryhill Heritage Park Community Centre.
Birthday recognitions was given to those in attendance who had turned 80 – 85 – 90 – 95 since the pandemic – Mary Ann Stroh, Jean Keller & Marlene Bruckhardt. These people all receive birthday cards during the year. Receiving certificates for Wedding Anniversaries again for those in attendance for this year and past years were Elmer & Karen Zettel (60 years) and Mike & Marg Drexler (50 years). A special certificate will be sent to Ralph Meyer who was one of the founding members of the Historical Society in 1977 and one of the first presidents and will be celebrating his 100th birthday this year.
Also honoured this year for the Community Award was Twin Oaks Nursing Home.
It is always a pleasure to welcome Ward 3 Councillor Murray Martin and mayor Sandy Shantz to our celebration. This year Bonnie Bryant, Kayla Grant and Patrick Merlihan were also able to attend.
There was a silent auction consisting of many items, 50 / 50 draw, several door and table prizes.