Immaculate Conception Catholic Church History

The Catholic Church in Benton County began with the deeding of two sections of prairie near Keystone to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana in January of 1863. Francis Murphy, a Benton County pioneer, gave those 1,280 acres in return for the education of his two sons.

In the spring of 1866, Father Paul E. Gillen and three Brothers took possession of the land and began caring for the spiritual needs of the settlers. Father Gillen sold most of the land, reserving enough for a church and cemetery.

A rural church was built in 1869 and given the name of Holy Cross. Immaculate Conception Church in Van Horne was built on the same site as the church of today. When the rectory was added in 1903, Immaculate Conception became the principal church.

In 1914, the church building in Van Horne was destroyed by fire. The present brick structure was finished in 1915 at a cost of $40,000.

Holy Cross was officially closed in 1928.

Two women of the parish entered the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, and one man was ordained to the priesthood, and another died as a seminarian.

For a complete history as printed in the book, "Van Horne: The First Century 1881-1981", click on the church history link to the left.  Other historical information can also be found with the links on the left.