The Oneida people in New York had a relationship with Anglican and Episcopal missionaries since the very early 1700s. Longtime parishioner the late Gordy McLester’s most recent book of history is called A Chain Linking Two Traditions: The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church.
In 1816, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, John Henry Hobart, appointed Eleazer Williams to be a missionary to the Oneida people.
After they moved to Wisconsin in1822, the Episcopalian Oneidas first gathered beneath the trees to worship.
Then in 1825, a little log church was built on top of a hill that is now the cemetery. The Oneidas wanted their new church to bear the name of their “Father”, Bishop Hobart, and they received permission to call it the Hobart Church.
On August 7, 1838, Missionary Bishop Jackson Kemper’s first official act was to lay the cornerstone of a second, much larger wooden frame church for the Oneidas. The following year the construction was finished, and on September 2, 1839 the building was consecrated as the first Episcopal Church in the Northwest Territory. Later that same year, Dr. William Adams and Rev. James Lloyd Breck, founders of Nashotah House Seminary, were ordained here in Oneida.
The third church, made of stone, is still in use today. This stone church was made by the Oneida people with support from Rev. E.A. Goodnough. Although much of the timber needed was available on hand, the stone was quarried and hauled from a great distance. At one time, over 80 men gave their time and labor to quarry this stone. During 1886 the cornerstone was laid and in 1887 consecrated with the name Holy Apostles.
On July 17th, 1920 the Stone Church (as it is still known) was struck by lighting and burned all night. All that remained were the stone walls. The church was rebuilt and rededicated on June 22nd, 1922.
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