LOCAL HISTORY

Churches & Ethnicities

Prior to 1850 any church services were held by circuit riders in the Ceresco school house. The Wisconsin Phalanx expressed religious tolerance, but did not contribute to any one denomination. By the early 1850s, efforts to build permanent denominational buildings in the new village ofRipon were underway. Almost everyone was cash poor, so church building plans evolved in “fits-and-starts.” It was not uncommon to finish the basement of a church building and hold services there while raising funds to complete the additional floors.

Church histories tell us of the arrival of ethnic groups to Ripon. People arriving from the eastern United States founded Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and Congregational churches. The Irish came to help build the railroad in the 1850s and established a Catholic Church. German and Polish settlers began to arrive as early as 1860. They built their own Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic churches and schools.

The Baptist Church at 133 E. Fond du Lac Street, which now houses the American Legion, the First Congregational Church at 220 Ransom Street, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 217 Houston Street are all listed on the State and National Registry of Historic Places.

The Society has the histories of Ripon’s churches, but church records are held at the individual church locations.