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St. John's, 1856

About 1 1\2 miles north of this spot is the abandoned site of "Old St. John's,"one of the first
towns established in Dakota County.

The townsite was settled on June 2, 1856, by the Father Trecy Colony--sixty people, with
eighteen ox-drawn covered wagons. The site was surveyed and platted June 24, 1856, and the
town was named St. John's, in honor of St. John the Baptist.

The colony was led by Father Jeremiah Trecy, a young Catholic priest from the Garryowen
Parish near Dubuque, Iowa. Consisting mostly of Irish immigrants, it constituted the first
Catholic parish in Nebraska. The town of St. John's grew rapidly and by 1858 it had two
hundred inhabitants.

In 1860 Father Trecy went to Washington seeking permission to establish a mission among the
Ponca Indians. Meanwhile the Civil War began. Father Trecy became an army chaplain, and
never returned to his beloved colony.

In the early sixties, the Missouri River began to threaten St. John's. The people began moving
their buildings to the new town of Jackson. By 1866 all buildings were gone and the townsite
was abandoned.

The site of St. John's still exists as a symbol of courage and hope and of the religious faith of a
dedicated people.

Dakota County Historical Society
Historical Land Mark Council
US 20, Jackson
Dakota County
Marker 34

 


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Last updated 4 June 2004

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