The History of St. Michael's Ridge Parish
In 1844, Michael Lutz and Michael Schmidt, both from Bavaria, Germany, settled in this area. From this time until 1861, German settlers of this area celebrated Holy Mass and the Sacraments with traveling priests in the log houses of Michael Schmidt, Michael Lutz and John Coressel. In 1861, Rev Aloysius I. Hoeffel was instructed to "look after the religious wants of this out-post of Catholic settlers”. Michael Lutz donated a one acre parcel of land on which was built our congregation's first church (bottom picture). This was a 30x50 wood frame structure dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of the land donor. Rev. Anthony Eilert took charge of St. Michael's in 1871. He procured a bell and two gothic-style side altars for the first church. In the summer of 1873, Rev. Eilert built a small frame house south of the church and became the: first resident pastor of North Ridge, Ohio, St. Michael's. Rev. Joseph Blaser served St. Michael's until April, 1877. From April to August, 1877, Rev. Joseph Sproll served this parish. He was succeeded by Rev. J. R McCarthy, who served St. Michael's until 1878. Rev. James Christophory was assigned to our parish from 1878-1881. In 1881, Rev. John H. Muehlenbeck became pastor of St. Michael's and enlarged the first church by 28 feet. He also had a 20x40 school built in 1882 to serve the children of St. Michael's. In July 1886, Rev. G. C. Schoenemann became pastor of St. Michael's. Rev. W. A. Sanuska of Holgate attended to the needs of St. Michael's parishioners from February 1890 to June 1890. He was not a resident pastor. Rev. W. S. Kress attended the parish from June to August 1890. From March 1891 to January 1893, Rev. J. W. Bell served the parish.
Rev. John B. Heiland was assigned to St. Michael's in 1893. In 1897, he sought permission to acquire land to build a new church. Permission was granted, and parishioners purchased six acres of land from George Fronk for $450. The new cemetery was laid out and blessed on June 29, 1897. Rev. Heiland was granted permission to "... expend twenty-six thousand dollars for the erection of a brick church, 48x110 ft. ..." in 1901. On October 23, 1901, first ground for the new church was broken. With parishioners working together, "... in two days work, 126x60 feet of ground was dug; 250 loads of sand hauled to the place, and later on 100 cords of stone, several car-loads of crushed stones, and 100,000 bricks from Napoleon. On April 9, 1902, mason-work began in a rush so the cornerstone could be laid on June 15, 1902. The brickwork on the bell tower was finished November 3, 1902, which completed exterior work for that year. During the winter months, interior work began and was completed in the summer of 1903. The new church (our present church) was dedicated on St. Michael's-day, September 29, 1903. The expense for the whole building including brick, stones, cement, slates and work was $25,537.34. This cost did not include interior work and furniture. Rev. Heiland fell ill the following year and died March 18, 1905.
In July 1905, Rev. Albert Andlauer was appointed resident pastor. During his first two months here, Rev. Andlauer drove from farm to farm taking up collections to repay the church's debt. On October 21, 1905, the last note from building the new church was repaid. The married ladies of the parish reorganized the Altar Rosary Society in 1905. The fair (festival) of 1905 was very successful clearing a sum of $343.75. This was recognized as one of the most successful fairs ever held in the county, and all who attended were very pleased. The proceeds from this fair were to be used for installing a carbon gas plant in the church for gas lighting.
In 1911, Rev. Andlauer had the present parsonage built. He moved into it January 10, 1912. Rev. Andlauer served the parish until his death on May 4, 1916. Rev. Gerhard Schmitz was then appointed to St. Michael's. In 1919, parishioners erected a house for the janitor and began a campaign to build a new school. It was completed in 1921. A new sister's residence was also built and completed in 1922. I Rev. Schmitz served the parish until 1931. In the summer and early fall of 1929, St. Michael’ s was attended by Rev. George C. Jaeger while Rev. Schmitz took a much needed vacation. On November 20, 1931, Rev. Albert J. Bishop became pastor of St. Michael's. This was a difficult time for the parish due to the depression. Rev. Bishop left on December 16, 1936, and was followed by Rev. Sylvester Eisel.
During Rev. Eisel's tenure, the parish became debt free in 1944 with a substantial amount set aside. The church festivals were continually successful providing up to one-third of the church's annual income. Rev. Eisel remained in the parish until his death on April 28, 1951.