following article by Norma Jeanneret is published here thanks to the
of Mrs Tammy Haynes who
sent me the article and also two of the three pictures shown on this
page. (Select the images to enlarge)
caused by lightning destroys church
By Norma Jeanneret
the southwestern part of Nemaha County is a community called Neuchatel. In the
early morning hours of April 21, 1994 during a thunderstorm, a bolt of lightening
hit the little picturesque church, probably the steeple, and in a very short
time the church burned to the ground. The Onaga Fire Department was on the scene
but nothing could be done as it was so completely engulfed in flames.
Nothing was saved from the church.
back into the history of the little church community reveals
as one of the few purely French settlements in Kansas.
It was founded in the 1850's by a little band of French
from Neuchâtel, Switzerland
the same name to their new home.
the early 1860's the liale settlement was visited by a French missionary
the Presbyterian church. He was followed in 1870 by Rev. Henry Morel, who
came to Neuchatel with his wife and young daughter from Green Bay,
Wisc., and before
that, France. He organized the French Presbyterian Church and in 1871 the
frst church was built.
A carpenter by the name of Wyler was in charge of the building and the handcarved
solid walnut pews, pulpit and bookcase were his handiwork. The
pews could be
turned either way and were put together with hand-wrought.
1905 this church was torn down-the'reason for this is unknown-
and the present church was erected. Present, that is, until
a few days ago. The pews,
and bookcase from the first church were saved and used
in the new frame structure. The high vaulte ceiling and
stained glass window added to the beauty of
few years later it was decided to transfer to the Congregational
denomination, since it was
no longer necessary nor practical for French
and the part-time services were by the Congregational
pastor at nearby Onaga.
years ago the Neuchatel settlement was a thriving community
of many businesses.
But time took
its toll. People moved away, and all that was left
the stone schoolhouse built in 1971, now the
township voting place, the hall where many community get-togethers
are held, and also nearby, a little house.
the church seemed to be the sentinel of all this from its
place on the hill
with its new coat of gleaming white vinyl siding.
Regular services hadn't been held in the church for
years, but for many, close-by and far away,
church was very dear to their hearts.
(Picture taken by Nicolas
Junod, July 1, 2010)
...Neuchatel cemetery links