St. Nazianz, Wisconsin

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St. Nazianz is a village in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States founded in 1854.The population was 749 at the 2000 census.



The first 100 years

St. Nazianz was organized in 1854 as a religious colony by a group of German immigrants, led by Fr. Ambrose Oschwald, a Roman Catholic priest. The first settlers in the Oschwald group numbered 113 and came to the United States from the Black Forest of Baden, Germany, seeking religious freedom.

Father Oschwald and his group sailed for America during the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1854, on two separate ships. The voyage of one lasted 52 days, and the other 55 days. By the time they arrived in Milwaukee by train, Several of the group had died. Father Oschwald bought 3,840 acres (15.5 km2) of land in Manitowoc County for $3.50 per acre. His down payment was $1,500, with the rest paid in five installments.[citation needed]

In late August 1854, Father Oschwald sent six men to locate the land he had purchased, and they took a boat from Milwaukee to Manitowoc, the county seat. They then headed west by oxcart, getting as far as the place where Valders now stands. They then cut their way through the dense forest, arriving at their destination on August 27. The men named the site St. Nazianz, in honor of Gregory Nazianzus. Father Oschwald followed on September 1 with more men, and the group began working to clear the land and build log houses. Soon after, work started on the community's first church, a 32-by-24-foot structure, which was built by hand. By October 21, the church was half completed, and Father Oschwald celebrated the first Mass.

Settlers began going by the name "The Association" and agreed to share everything in common and work without pay. That arrangement continued until 1896. The group built shops and mills and the community was thriving within just a few years of its start. People began practicing trades, including blacksmithing, carpentry, masonry, shoemaking, woodworking, tailoring, barrel making, rope making, tanning, weaving, brick-making, baking, and brewing.

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