Celebrating 150 Years
Celebrating 150 Years
In 2005 a group of interested Luxembourgers met to form a Society in honor of their ancestors and join groups of other Luxembourgers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and beyond. Thus, the Luxembourg Heritage Society of Northwest Iowa began with 15 charter members. Rick Roder conducted the first meetings and helped form our mission goals. Our mission statement defines what we do:
The mission of the Luxembourg Heritage Society of Northwest Iowa is to preserve the contributions of Luxembourg settlers in our area and throughout the United States through genealogy, education and celebration of their achievements.
A prairie church was built by a group of devoted Catholics who arrived in Sioux County in 1870. For several years following, more settlers came to the area. They began building their church in May 1881, but a violent wind destroyed it. Work began again and the church was dedicated September 12, 1881. The parishioners named it St. Donatus in memory of the parish they originally came from in eastern Iowa. Prior to construction of the church itinerant priests stopped to say Mass at a farmstead, school house or a store. Three or four times a year and especially at Christmas, a group of adults would attend Mass in Le Mars, climbing into a buckboard at midnight in order to reach their destination in time for services. As the railroad expanded and came through a little community called East Orange, later Alton, a church was erected there. In November and December of 1896, the prairie church was carefully dismantled, and the lumber was used at the church in Alton.
Since the families that attended St. Donates parish had members that passed away, they were told they would move their graves to a new site in Alton, except for any who had died from a disease.
We remember and honor these people of courage and faith each year in May with an outdoor Mass held at the corner where a little shrine of trees protects this area. All people are welcome to come, bringing a lawn chair and their love of the Catholic faith instilled in the hearts of all of us.