In 1847-48 Father Caspar Rehrl, with thirty members, established the parish of St. Louis Catholic Church, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Most of the early members were French or French-Americans, although Irish and German settlers were also in evidence. By 1854 the membership had mushroomed to 2,000. Over the next century and a half, the parish underwent a number of changes in its composition and location, before finally merging in 2000 with five other Catholic parishes in Fond du Lac to create Holy Family Catholic Church.
The work at hand is a transcription of the earliest vital records of St. Louis parish. The transcribers relied on both the original parish records books in the Archives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and microfilm copies. Most of the original records were recorded in Latin, with marginal notations, usually in French. The transcribers have divided the materials into alphabetically arranged sections for birth, marriage, and death. (The marriage record section is further subdivided into separate listings arranged by both bride and groom.) The birth records, by far the longest part of the book, consist of nearly 8,000 entries, each indicating the given name of the newborn, dates of birth and/or baptism, and the names of parents and often the godparents. The marriage records, of which there are about 1,200, state the names of the bride and groom, names of their parents, and date of the marriage. The roughly 1,000 death records furnish the full name of the deceased, date of death and/or burial, age at death, and in many cases, the cemetery, spouse’s name, and names of parents. By any measure this is an important contribution to the genealogical record of early Wisconsin, for which researchers can give thanks to its fastidious compilers.