OSAGE | More than 300 parishioners sat anxiously waiting as Gary Hemann, a member of the Sacred Heart Building Committee, cut open the 1928 time capsule found in the church’s cornerstone. The parishioners had gathered Nov. 5, after Sunday morning Mass, to discover what had been placed in the rectangle, copper box.
“We were going to re-lay the old cornerstone in the courtyard of the new church,” Hemann said. “I was just cleaning it up, rinsing it off with water, when I found a small cemented section in the granite cornerstone, so I chipped it away, and found the box.
“Someone had chopped out the granite so the copper box (time capsule) could be cemented in it. It could have very easily never been found."
Joining Hemann, during the ceremony, were fellow committeemen, Leo Chisholm and Dave Mayer. After Hemann cautiously cut away the top of the box, Chisholm and Mayer took turns holding up and explaining the contents found in the box. Surprisingly, most of the contents were in pristine condition.
Among the 89-year-old objects, which were placed in the box in early August 1928, were two copies of the Wednesday, Aug. 1, 1928 Osage newspapers – the Osage News and the Mitchell County Press.
“Impressive ceremonies will mark the laying of the cornerstone of the new Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Osage next Sunday afternoon, Aug. 5 at 3 o’clock,” read the first paragraph of the Mitchell County Press article.
Several other Catholic publications were in the capsule, including a copy of “The Witness” and “The Catholic Citizen”, which are still in circulation. As Mayer pulled out the 1928 copy of “The Witness,” he said, “Leo’s ad is in here,” which brought some laughter from the crowd.
Also among the contents were several neatly handwritten notes recording the church’s history. In the notes, it was stated the full city block purchased for the Catholic Church cost only $400. A handwritten postcard, with a picture of the original church, built in 1887, which later burned to the ground on January 26, 1928, read, “This church the 1st in Osage, was built by Rev. E. W. Fowler in the year 1887. It was dedicated by RT Rev. Bishop Hennessy, Bishop of Dubuque and destroyed by fire Jan. 26, 1928.” It was signed, “Rev J. P. Martiu, Pastor 1928.”
One of the small, metal artifacts in the box was a mini container, which, when opened, revealed a very small silver statute of Mother Mary.
A list of those who pledged toward the rebuilding of the church, in 1928, and the amounts they pledged were found on several typed pages in the box. The largest donation recorded was $2,500, with many families giving $25 toward reconstruction. The fire insurance payment toward the new church was $21,000, and pledges toward the rebuilding totaled $20,780.
Dorothy Niess, who found her dad’s name, Sam Bonoff, on the list of donations said, “To find my dad’s name in here is heartwarming.”