St. Wenceslaus (Spillville, Iowa)


St. Wenceslaus (Spillville, Iowa)


"Saint Wenceslaus Church was built in the Winneshiek County town of Spillville in 1860, but the parish’s double beginning was earlier. First, nearby Saint Clement Parish was established by German settlers about 1853 on the banks of Spielman’s Creek, a mile south of Spillville. It continued for many years but never had a resident pastor. Its members eventually joined a Czech parish at Spillville and Saint Clement’s was discontinued in the 1940s. On the banks of the Turkey River in 1850, they built a church in Spillville dedicated to the Slavic patron Saint Wenceslaus. Soon a succession of pastors served the parish. When a bell tower and transcept were added to the church in 1869, it took a cruciform shape. In 1882 the church was tuckpointed and the ancient construction was found to be sound. In 1876 there was installed a Pfeffer tracker organ, pictured in “Seed/Harvest,” the archdiocesan History, on page 100. The Czech composer Antonin Dvorak played this organ during his stay in the summer of 1893. A german tour group interested in pipe organs hopes to visit Spillville in 1988."

-Rev. Msgr. Edgar Kurt, Parish Profile #36, The Witness, August 16, 1987.


The Archdiocese of Dubuque.
The Center for Dubuque History at Loras College.


Burback, Emily. Burns, Daniel. Gibson, Michael. Oberfoell, Carol. Waldmeir, Helen. Waldmeir, John.


Various primary and secondary sources.




Loras College
Kucera Center for Catholic Thought
Frank and Ida Goedken Series: "Spiritual Life in the Upper Mississippi River Valley"


1901-27 April, 1994
History of the parish over the span of 93 years, including information about its priests and parishioners.

Table Of Contents

Ask for both Archdiocese files.

1876 Pfeffer Pipe Organ Rededication Day Concert, 25 August 1996.

ACCW Annual Parish History Archives Report 1991 (2 documents)

Annual History 1962-63, 1968-71, 1976, 1986-1989 (10 compilations)

Arch-Confraternity Indulgence St. Laurence Church in Otter Creek Iowa 1904 and 1906 (2 documents)

Ballots for affairs in Archdiocese, Collection 1902-1922 (22 documents)

Booklet accompanying a scrapbook, compiled December 2015.

Fraternally Yours: First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association, Vol. 96 No. 8, May 2010. – St. Wenceslaus 150th Anniversary on the cover. (1 newsletter)

History (4 documents)

Letters 1990, 1995 (2 documents)

Letter in Petition for Steam Heating in the Church 1915 (2 documents)

Letter in Petition for steam heating in the School and response 1914 (2 documents)

Letter Regarding Deeds, the Chancery and Thomas Ballon, 1913 (2 letters)

Letter to Rev. Kurt from Maurice Peress (1 document)

Ossian Deanery and ACCW Parish History Project, Parish History on St. Wenceslaus in Spillville, Iowa (1 compilation)

Pastor List (1 document)

Photograph Page of Church and Pastor (1 document)

Pilgrimage Letter 25 October 2002 (3 documents)

Quasquicentennial Booklet (1 document)

Quasquicentennial Pageant (1 document)

Reicks, Sandra. “Heritage society works to restore historic convent.” The Waterloo/Cedar Falls: The Courier. 9 April 2003.

Spillville History and Tour information (1 packet)

“Tiddbit from U of Kansas (1 packet)

Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (3 documents)

“Visit the Spillville Home of Dvorak and Bily Clocks.” Booklet by Spillville Community Club (1 booklet)

 “38th convention.” Dubuque: The Witness. 16 September 1984.

Benda, Rev. Frank. “Quasquicentennial This Week-end.” Ca. 1985.

Byrne, Archbishop James J., “A Suppression of St. Clement’s Church, location one-mile South of

Spillville.” 5 October 1968.

“Czechoslovak priest.” The Cedar Rapids Gazette. 1 September 1990.

Duffy, Beverley. “Pipe dreams: East Iowa church organs are a beautiful legacy.” Cedar Rapids: The

Gazette. 28 January 2001, p. 1-5. (2 copies)

“Dvorak festival showcases Spillville.” The Cedar Rapids Gazette. 6 August 2003.

Gazette Staff Reporter, “There is plenty to see and do in Spillville.” The Cedar Rapids Gazette. 9

December 1995.

Gottschalk, Keith E., “Archdiocese closing 5 churches in Eastern Iowa.” The Gazette. 12 January 2005.

Hamblin, Dora Jane. “Spillville Reveres an Adopted Son’s Name: It was There that Dvorak Set America to Music.” Unknown publisher, n.d.

Karnik, Rev. George. “Spillville recalling Dvorak.” Dubuque: The Witness, Vol. LXXIII No. 27. 22 August


Klimesh, Cy, “St. Clement Church,” p. 1-2.

Klimesh, Steven A. “St. Wenceslaus Church – […]: The Oldest Czech Catholic Church in America.” p. 1-8.

Leith, Scott. “Details sketchy about life of creator of ornate grave markers.” Waterloo/Cedar Falls: 

Courier. 19 June 1995.

Nemmers, Rev. Mark R., “Recall Summer Dvorak Spent in Archdiocese.” Dubuque: The Witness. 14

August 1975, p. 3.

Nemmers, Rev. Mark R. “The Dvorak Organ.” The Tracker. Summer 1976, p. 16-17.

“NO282 Saint Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church.” Buildings of Iowa, 1993. p. 435.

Owens, Kristophere. “Church may save Spillville structure.” The Gazette. 2 June 2001.

“Saints statues.” The Gazette. 7 March 2009.

Shane, George. “Iowa Churches Tell Stories of Native Origins, Cultures.” Des Moines Sunday Register. 27

July 1958, p. 8.

“Spillville parish celebrates 125th anniversary in August.” Dubuque: The Witness. Vol. LXV No. 23. 4

August 1985.

“Spillville native marks 50 years in N.D. congregation.” Dubuque: The Witness. 19 June 2011.

“St. Clement’s Church, Spillville.” The Centennial of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, p. 103.

Uher, Louise. “East Iowa Churches --- St. Clement’s: Only Winneshiek Mission in Constant Use, It’s 101 Years Old.” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, ca. 1961. (1 copy, 1 original print)


“St. Wenceslaus (Spillville, Iowa),” Loras College Digital Collections, accessed July 15, 2024,