St. Rose of the Prairie

On this day in 1864, the Rev. Samuel Mazzuchelli passed away. The Italian missionary built more than 20 churches in the tri-state area and founded Cuba City's St. Rose Parish, then called St. Rose of the Prairie.

St. Rose of the Prairie Parish was established around 1849-51, where the current St. Rose Catholic Cemetery is located just north of Cuba City. Father Mazzuchelli purchased land in September 1849 from Levi Eastman, a farmer who had recently arrived with his family from Canada. St. Rose's first parish church was 30 x 20 feet, cost $900 to construct, and was made of brick or stone, depending on the source. The cornerstone from the first place of worship was saved and incorporated into the present church in Cuba City.

Father Mazzuchelli's original church did not survive long before succumbing to damaging frosts in 1856. A wooden structure was built to replace it in 1861 and would continue to serve the parish until 1895, when a larger church was erected in Cuba City.

In the early years of the St. Rose Parish, Father Mazzuchelli would be seen infrequently, as he served many area churches, including Benton, New Diggings, and Shullsburg. In January and February of 1852, for example, Father Mazzuchelli braved cold weather and bad roads to visit St. Rose just once each month on January 6 and February 2-3. His topics of discussion for those particular visits, recorded in his day books, were "on the adoration of the wise men," "Christ presented in the temple and received by Simeon," and "on the advantages of a rural life."

**Sources: Samuel Mazzuchelli: American Dominican by Mary Nona McGreal, OP, who thankfully included the excerpts from Father Mazzuchelli's records in her impressive biography; C. W. Butterfield's 1881 History of Grant County; the 2001 St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church directory, which contains a very helpful history of the parish; federal censuses; land ownership maps; and Dubuque Telegraph Herald articles (May 26, 1966 and April 26, 1970).


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