St. Mary (Urbana, Iowa)


St. Mary (Urbana, Iowa)


“Saint Mary Church at Spencer’s Grove, two and a half miles north of Urbana, “stood out in the prairie like a lonely sentinel of the Lord,” according to Father Hubert Holsters, writing in the Centennial History of the Archdiocese. For many years before Sacred Heart Parish of Walker was established, Saint Mary’s was the only Catholic parish in that area between the Cedar and the Wapsipinicon rivers, between Independence and Cedar Rapids. In 1870 a priest from Cedar Rapids came regularly to celebrate Mass in the home of Anthony Wahl. Wahl’s son-in-law kept faithful record of collections. The first is dated January 16, 1870, and amounted to $1.15.”

Rev. Msgr. Edgar Kurt, “Parish Profile #139: Saint Mary Parish, Urbana,” Dubuque: The Witness, 3 September 1989.


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"


History of the parish over the span of 182 years, including information about its priests and parishioners.

Table Of Contents

Dedication Booklet 2 November 1969 (1 booklet)

Diamond and Golden Jubilee Solemn Pontifical Mass, 26 August 1940. (1 document)

Financial Statement, n.d., 1985 (1 copy, 1 document)

Planning Committee Letter (1 document)

Witness Heritage Day Article and 1987 History, News Clippings, 150th Anniversary Information, photographs (1 packet)

Witness History (1 document)

Hohenbrink, Michael. “Pro-life activities bring teaching moment.” Dubuque: The Witness, Vol. 89, No. 2.  18 January 2009, p. 1-2. 

Smith, Sue Davis. “Churches’ grape project bears fruit,” The Gazette, 13 April 2002, p. 9B. (1 original, 1 copy)



“St. Mary (Urbana, Iowa),” Loras College Digital Collections, accessed October 3, 2023,