In April of 1865 central Minnesota settlers knew of the Abraham Lincoln assassination before it happened. Legend has been passed through generations about a confession between Mary Surratt and a traveling Benedictine Priest.
The local religious authority has always denied any connection between Benedictine Priests and Mary Surratt. However, Old St. Anne's Pass legend states that The Benedictine Priest was staying at the Surratt boarding house in Washington City a week before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Mary Surratt made a confession of her impure thoughts about a plan to assassinate President Lincoln. The Benedictine Priest left Washington City on Sunday April 9, 1865 for St. Joseph MN. On the morning of April 14, 1865 he stood in the depot of St. Paul where he met Johann (founder of Old St. Anne's) and disclosed the terrible news. As The Benedictine Priest traveled by stage to St. Joseph (Through St. Cloud) he continued to disclose the terrible news.
To read the complete story of The Benedictine Priest, please visit the Stearns historical society museum.
Old St. Anne's Pass
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ABOVE: Log Church - This was Old St. Anne's Church. To the left of the Church held the church cemetery. Catholic folks from the Kimball area attended this church from the mid 1860's through the mid 1890's. During the entire time of this church they experienced religious unrest between themselves, and secret society protestant groups they called, "Haters."
Due to the conflict, St. Anne's of Kimball went approximately 25 years without having a Catholic Church (from 1894 to 1919 or so). This was because the first generation folks were dying off, and the second generation folks didn't want to fight anymore....
Since the early settlers, the Kimball area has always held the most variety of churches in the entire county. Due to their early struggles, the residence of Kimball are generally considered models for tolerance and acceptance. In Kimball Minnesota hate is the exception, not the norm...
(Picture was taken by Michael Becker)
ABOVE: This clump of trees contains the Old St. Anne's Church Cemetery. The church was to the right of the trees on the hilltop. Where the photographer was standing held the road prior to the bridge construction in the early 1930's.
(Picture was taken by Dan Becker).
ABOVE: Watkins Town Street - This is what the town of Watkins looked like during the days of The Benedictine Priest.
(Picture taken by Michael Becker).
AT LEFT: Elizabeth Beckers. Along with residents in the village of St. Joseph, and St. Cloud, this woman claimed to have known about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln before it happened. After his death in 1886, she told her children and grandchildren that she heard it from the most credible source known to her, The Benedictine Priest...
(Picture taken at Old St. Anne's Pass. Owned by Michael Becker).
BELOW: Johann Beckers Obituary - German and English version of the same obituary. This was done because many of the settlers first language was German. This obituary, about Johann, mentioned his relationship with the Priests. He was the man that befriended The Benedictine Priest at the St. Paul Depot on April 14, 1865. With help, Johann rebuilt Old St. Anne's each time it was burned. When The Benedictine Priest died on April 14, 1886, Johann carried his remains out of St. Cloud, along with all his personal effects, to Old St. Anne's Pass for a proper burial.