Collection: Pictures With Permission from the Guardian Archives
(Predecessor of the Arkansas Catholic Newspaper)
Source: Arkansas Catholic newspaper collection scanned by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Early Catholics in Hoxie
The Catholic Church has had a presence in Hoxie since before the town was incorporated. Mass was celebrated for the first time in Hoxie in 1881, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Dowell by Father John E. Weibel, who was then located in Jonesboro. Father Weibel would visit Hoxie at regular intervals, sometimes saying Mass at the Dowell home and sometimes at the Boas Hotel, built in 1883 and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Boas. Mr. and Mrs. Pat Whelan are also mentioned as some of the first Catholic settlers in Hoxie.
1886 – First Catholic Church in Hoxie
Five years after that first meeting, Father McQuaid became the pastor for Hoxie. It was during his first year, in 1886, that the first church was erected, named “All Saints Church”. We do not have a close-up picture of this church, but know that it was located on the corner of SW Lindsey and SW Texas Street (later Hwy 67), and faced the Iron Mountain railroad tracks. We have another photograph of an early Hoxie Street Scene that shows this church in the distance, that we will publish in a later article. It was described as a beautiful, if rather small, frame building surrounded by an improved lot and fenced in. Today this corner lot is occupied by a branch of First National Bank, at the stoplight in Hoxie.
1892 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Most Reverend Edward Fitzgerald being consecrated as the 2nd Bishop of Arkansas. This “Silver Jubilee” Anniversary was celebrated by Catholics throughout Arkansas, including Hoxie, where the Bishop visited and blessed the new church on April 24th, 1892.
Almost all publications in the State of Arkansas took notice of this event, the following is a great description from The Echo newspaper:
The 24th of April will remain a memorable day in the annals of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Little Rock. On this day, the Bishop blessed the beautiful new church at Hoxie. This is a mere village, but it poses as the crossroad of two railroads, the Iron Mountain’s main line, and the Kansas City-Gulf Railroad, and is, therefore, a gateway of travel. The surrounding country is rich. One and one-half miles to the north of Hoxie lies Walnut Ridge, connected by both dray and railroad lines. It is a beautiful, rich town with good hotels, a bank, and a very fine opera house.
In Walnut Ridge there are three saloons, and in Hoxie two. About three miles south of Hoxie are Minturn and Lindsay. Seven miles to the west on the KC Railway is the small town of Portia, a very active place, surrounded by the richest farmland. Six miles to the east is Sedgwick, a small town with several large sawmills. In all these places there is a small number of Catholics; this central church at Hoxie has the potential of serving all of them.
All Saints Church is fifty feet long, has an exceptionally large painting (4′ x 9′) above the beautiful altar depicting the Crucifixion of Christ…
The following humorous story, taken from a historical publication of Catholics in NorthEast Arkansas, located at the Lawrence County Library, also occurred in 1892. It occurred during a fundraiser speech from Reverend Father O’Reilly, pastor of Helena.
On the night on which he was scheduled to speak at Hoxie, a veritable downpour occurred … An entire herd of hogs found shelter under the church against the inclemency of the storm. While the people quietly assembled, no one noticed anything. But after the speaker had begun, the “grunters” let out infernal noises so that scarcely any one could understand the speaker. Angrily, Father McQuaid rushed out and succeeded to rout the herd of screaming hogs with the first whip he found and used.
1914 – Second Catholic Church in Hoxie
In 1913, Father Heagney became pastor of the Hoxie Church, travelling from Little Rock every two weeks. It was during this time that the first church burned. It was replaced immediately by a new church in a different location, on the north east side of town.
This new church sat across the railroad tracks from where Budgie Little’s Service Station is now. It was directly in the middle of the block between Ruth and Jackson Streets on NE 2nd Street, and faced West.
This new “All Saints Church” was dedicated by the Right Reverend John B. Morris on May 15, 1914.
This church building was torn down in 1924.
1925 – Third Catholic Church in Hoxie
In 1920, Father S. J. Peoples was assigned to Hoxie. The congregation steadily outgrew their current building, and in 1924, a lot was purchased in yet another section of town. This lot was located on NE 2nd Street, between Towne Street and Cleveland Street. This block is directly across the railroad tracks from where Bryan Funeral Home sits today. The church faced East, toward NE 2nd Street, away from the railroad tracks.
This third Catholic Church was built on this lot in 1925. It was named “Mary Immaculate Church”, and the first Mass was celebrated on June 14, 1925.
We do have a few pictures of this building. The featured image for this article at the top of the page is the actual exterior of the church. We also have an artist’s rendition of the church from a copy of the November 22, 1924 Guardian Newspaper and an actual interior photographs of the building from a copy of the June 18, 1943 Guardian Newspaper.
Does anyone remember seeing this last church standing? James Whitlow remembers a pile of bricks on this lot when he was a young boy.