Assinins Baraga Center - Historic Mission & Native Genealogy Center
Assinins Mission
History 
Church dedicated to the
Most Holy Name of Jesus
in 1844 by Fr. Frederick Baraga  
 
Trading Post ~ Tribal Center ~ Historic Indian Mission  
Church ~ School ~ Convent ~ Cemetery ~ Orphanage ~ Friary
 
The “L’Anse Mission” in the Early 1800s   
1820s and 1830s – The “L’Anse Mission” (Assinins today) was the site of the first trading post in the area.  Then known as Dubay’s Trading Post, the property came to be owned by Peter Crebassa who took over as the trading post’s agent.  When fur trapping declined, he moved the trading post across the bay to a settlement known now as Zeba.  Fr. Baraga came to Crebassa’s in 1843 at the request of Chief Bineshi.  After meeting with the Chief and the Native Americans there, Baraga committed to starting a Catholic Mission for them. Baraga bought land from Crebassa where the old trading post was across the bay.  In those days, the entire region was known as “L’Anse” which today encompasses Zeba, L’Anse, Baraga and Assinins.  
 
 
Development Timeline
 
1843 ~ When Father Baraga first came to “L’Anse,” Catholic Services were held at Crebassa’s home/trading post on the East side of the bay temporarily.
 
 
1844 Church and School ~ In 1844, timbers from an old trading post building were hauled across the ice and were used to build the first church at Assinins.  Other timbers were added to finish the church so it was big enough to function also as a school.  This was the first Catholic Church and school in the area.  Fr. Baraga dedicated it to the Most Holy Name of Jesus in September 1844.  As development in the area expanded, this church came to be known as the mother church – providing church services across the region. Services were held in that building for almost 30 years. The Church was Dismantled in 1873.
 
 
Fr. Gerhard Terhorst’s Life’s Work
 
Approx. 1860 – Holy Name School ~ A schoolhouse was built under direction of Fr. Jacker.  Fr. Terhorst began to search for nuns to help teach in the school.
 
1866 Convent and Nuns ~ A convent was built of field stone under the direction of Fr. Terhorst once he learned nuns would come to assist him.  Ruins can be seen today on property owned by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
 
In 1866 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelette arrived.  They served until 1906.  The Sisters were based out of St. Louis Missouri.
 
First Train Came Through in 1872
 
1872 Church ~ A building made of field stone was built under Fr. Terhorst’s direction.  Services were held there from 1872 until late 1950s. It was dismantled in 1959 per Fr. Wenzel.
 
1877 Girls Boarding School ~ A wing was added to the convent (west side) for female boarders and orphans. 
 
1881 Boys Boarding School ~ Another building was erected in 1881 to house male boarders and orphans. 
 
Holy Name School and Barn ~ All boarders and orphans attended school at the little school house – the first school in the region.  Fields were cultivated and a barn was built that is still standing.  Meals were prepared in the convent for all.  “Socials” were held by the nuns for special occasions.
The site was formally named in honor of Chief Assinins by Fr. Terhorst in the 1890s when the post office was built. Fr. Terhorst and several of the sisters are buried in the Historic Assinins Cemetery.
 
The Assinins Era
 
In 1906 Sisters of St. Agnes of Fond du Lac arrived. They served until 1956.  The Sisters were based out of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
 
1928 St. Joseph’s Orphanage ~ Under Fr. Douenburg’s direction, construction began on a modern brick building in 1927.  Construction was completed in 1928.  The building housed approximately 80 residents and included a school, kitchen/dining facility and a chapel.  Orphan students attended school here and boarders and local people attended school in the old school house (Holy Name School).
 
It should be noted that the church was known as St. Xavier’s of L’Anse for a time.  (Details unknown)
 
In 1940, the Assinins Cemetery was moved up the hill to make way for new road – US 41. The remains of 166 people were relocated.
 
1950s –Following a fire in the old church, services relocated to the Orphanage Chapel. Fr. Casimir J. Adasiewicz OFM oversaw services at Assinins.  He was Superintendent of St. Joseph’s Home until it closed in 1957.  The nuns left in 1956.
                                                                                                                                                     
1959 Capuchins ~ The Orphanage Building was purchased by the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order. Priests established the Sacred Heart Friary.  Church services for Most Holy Name of Jesus Church were continued at the chapel 1959 to 1970.  The Capuchins made many improvements to the property including the stone sculpture of Baraga and Indians on the site of the first church built in 1844 by Fr. Frederick Baraga and 49 families from the Keweenaw Bay Indian CommUnity (KBIC).
 
1970 Tribal Center  In 1970, the Capuchins moved. They sold the Orphanage Building to the KBIC in 1971.  It became the first KBIC Tribal Center.  The Tribal Center relocated and the old building was razed in 1997.
 
1978 Sr. Howell, a Loretto Sister, came to assist Fr. John Hascall.  She served until 1994 when she retired to the Loretto Convent in Wheaton, Illinois.                    
 
1971~1975 Old Convent and Chapel remodeled.  Services were held there until building was declared unsafe. Stands today in ruin. 
 
1976 Log Church   A new church was built by the KBIC.  It burned down in 1982.
 
 
1982 Log Church – The current Church was built with an altar honoring the four directions.  An interior fire in 2007 resulted in renovations that were completed in 2008.
 
 
 
Priests at the Mission
1843–1852     Fr. Frederic Baraga 
1852-1853      Fr. Angelus Van Paemel                    
1853–1854     Fr. Charles
1855–1861     Fr. Edward Jacker   
1861-1901      Fr. Gerhard Terhorst  
1901-1916      Fr. Melchior Faust    
1916 – 1936   Fr. Casper Douenburg 
1936-1941      Fr. Anthony Waechter                        
1941-1949      Fr. Paul Prud’homme, SJ       
1949-1958      Fr. Joseph Lawless, SJ                                          
1958                  Fr. Edward Wenzel, Cap.                   
1958-1963      Fr. Bernardine Schlimgen, Cap.          
1963-1970      Fr. Christopher Hafner, Cap.               
1970-1986      Fr. John Hascall, Cap.
            1978-1994                 Sister Irene Howell, IBVM, Cap.
1986                 Fr. Paul Yaroch, Cap.                        
1986-1987      Fr. Wally Kasuboski, Cap.                 
1987-1990      Fr. Larry Abler, Cap.                         
1990-1997      Fr. John Hascall, Cap.                                   
1997-2000      Fr. Paul Manderfield              
2000-2003      Fr. George Kallarackal Joseph          
2003-2004      Fr. James Ziminski                                        
2004-2005      Fr. Chacko Kakaniyil
                                               & Fr. Antony Maniangattu
2005-2009      Fr. Augustin George & Fr. George Maki
2009-Present    Fr. John Longbucco & Fr. Janusz Romanek
 
 
 
First Families Deed
 
In 1843, the first settlement on the west side of the bay came to be known
as the  L’Anse Indian Mission.” At the time, the bay area was called L’Anse.  
These 52 families were the first to settle there:
 
Edward Assinnise (Assinins)              John G. Metakosige
Elias Kebeossadag                                John B. Onabeniassing
Peter Meiwash                                         Peter Mamadjigwan
Julian Operagan                                     Benjamin Cloutier
Edward Mongosid                                 Peter Moniawinim
Solomon Wewajiang                             Joseph Okabenanokwadwebi
Louis Wison                                            Amabel Otchipwemigisins
Michael Paywanegizig                            Joseph Totok
Moses Migisins                                       Geo Omadagami
Joseph Gendron                                   Samuel Jawanash
Benjamin Gabiwabikoked                   John Nanigizig
John B. Gossens                                  Francis Mogwade
Augustine Wawassin                           John Mesiworash
Henry Pitassin                                       William Niobinessi
Daniel Kebriassing                               Alexis Watisins
John Kaijigobi                                       Henry Wabigagans
John Awassigjing                                 Henry Omaiawigizig
Moses Obimigazig                               William Bebamashi
Edward Eniwaka Migeshkong       James Wabiggons
Moses Kebene                                     Henry Omaiawigizig
Francis Wembesisash                          William Bebamashi
Joseph Mekatowikwanaie                 James Waging
William Bemwewe                                  Megagius Pushkwegin
Moses Atikons                                     Julian Nodin
Anthony Misigan                                 James Kepwadosse
 
In the 1860s, the affects of the Civil War reached Lake Superior.  Trouble was brewing in the government and local Native Americans feared relocation to the west. Baraga did not forget the L’Anse Natives even after becoming bishop of the diocese. When word got to him about possible relocation, he came to them right away.
 
In 1863, Baraga used his lawyer skills to draw up a deed for the place that he had purchased with his own money in 1843.  He figured out the best way to ensure the Natives could remain in their homeland.  The entire plot of land (nearly 500 acres) was turned over to the Chief Assinins and the Natives who lived there at the time. 
 
A post office was assigned to the settlement in the 1890s and a name was needed. Fr. Terhorst named it “Assinins” to honor the much admired Chief who had passed away in 1876.  Chief Assinins had been friend to Terhorst for 15 years and to Baraga for 25 years.
 
Revised 3/5/2010 ABC/ct