History of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish
Beginnings of a Parish
Hall County was established by an act of the legislature in 1855 and was organized in 1859. That same year, Patrick Moore and his brother, Richard, came from Iowa City, Iowa to be the first Catholic families in Hall County. They immediately sought help from the bishop in Omaha. However, it wasn't until 1861 that the first priest, Father Almire Fairmont, a Frenchman, came to visit the Hall County parishioners.
Father Fairmont celebrated the first Mass in the Moore's log cabin in the fall of that year, 3 miles west of what is now the town of Wood River. Moore's house was the home of the Rev. Anthony Moore, the first priest ordained from Hall County. About the same time that the Moores settled, the Windolph families, also Catholics, arrived in Grand Island.
Priests from Columbus or Omaha then came to the Grand Island and Wood River area once a year to confer the sacraments and celebrate Mass. In 1864, Father M. J. Ryan offered Mass once a month in homes and railroad section houses.
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