Rev. Peter Anton Grobbel
This photograph of Rev. Grobbel was
taken in 1947 in Long Pine, Nebraska
(photo courtesy of Johannes Grobbel, Schmallenberg, Germany)
Peter Anton Grobbel was born on 12 June 1873 in Milchenbach, Westphalia, Prussia (Germany). He was the son of Johan Caspar Grobbel and Elisabeth Troster, and the Grandson of Johan Jakob Franz Grobbel and Maria Josephine Rameil, and the Great Grandson of Anton Grobbel (b. 31 Oct 1773 in Lenne) and Anna Catherine Storck (b. 13 Feb 1785 in Milchenbach). 1
According to the "Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Nebraska" (published in 1912) 2:
Reverend Peter Grobbel, prominently known in St. Paul, Nebraska, has for the past two years (1908-1909) held the position of assistant pastor of the Roman Catholic Church of that city. Reverend Grobbel is a young man of fine education and high mental attainments,and by his earnest and faithful attention to duty has won for himself a lasting regard in the hearts of the people of his congregation.
Peter Grobbel received his elementary education in the public schools of Westphalia. Later he spent six years and a half in the French academy, afterwards, returning to Germany and spending an additional three years in college, then successfully passed the required state examination, and in the fall of 1896 was inscribed at the Rome University for Philosophy. During the following year he was again inscribed in the faculty for philosophy at Freiburg, Switzerland.
The years 1899 to 1901, inclusive, were spent in Bonn University, where he was inscribed in the faculty of theology. He next went to Rome and took up the study of theology and philosophy, then to the University of Freiburg, where in the fall of 1905 he completed his studies. In the latter year Reverend Grobbel came to America, his first location being at Spalding, Nebraska , beginning his work as assistant pastor of the Catholic Church. After a short time there he was transferred to West Point, Nebraska, remaining but a few months, then returned to Spalding. From there he was sent to Kearney, but on account of failing health was obliged to give up work temporarily, and took a trip back to his old home in Germany for several months. Upon his return to Nebraska he spent some time in South Omaha , and in July, 1908, received his appointment as assistant pastor in St. Paul, which post he filled to the complete, satisfaction of the entire congregation. On January 10, 1910, by grace of authority, he was made the pastor of the Roman Catholic Church at Randolph, in Cedar County, Nebraska, removing to that city.
Reverend Grobbel is a broadminded and liberal man, aiding in every way possible those who come to him for advice and help, and his success in his labors is due in a great measure to his zeal and conscientious devotion to duty. In addition to this he is thoroughly equipped with a splendid education in every branch of study, having at his command six different languages in which he is equally proficient.
Father Grobbel was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on 23 July 1905 in Freiburg, Switzerland. Five of the six languages he spoke would have been German, French, Italian, Latin and English. Upon arriving in the United States in November, 1905, he was assigned as Assistant Pastor of St. Michael's Parish in Spalding, Nebraska.
Over the next two years, he also served parishes in West Point and Kearney, NE as Assistant Pastor. In 1907, ill health caused him to return briefly to his native country, and upon his return to the U.S. in November 1907, he was assigned as Assistant Pastor at St. Bridget's Parish in South Omaha, NE.
In July 1908, Fr. Grobbel was named Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in St. Paul, NE. A year and one-half later, on 10 Jan. 1910, he was named Pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish in Randolph, NE. In 1913, he was transferred to St. Anthony's Parish in St. Charles, Cuming County, NE, where he served 24 years as Pastor until his retirement in 1937.
In 1930, the 25th year of his priesthood, Fr. Grobbel returned to his birthplace of Milchenbach, Germany. 3 His family, friends and hometown parish honored his 25th anniversary as a priest with a church ceremony and procession that wound its way from the church (background in photo above) through the streets of Milchenbach.
In retirement, Fr. Grobbel lived in Long Pine, NE, with periods spent in Grand Island and Omaha. He died at the age of 91 on 16 April 1965 at a hospital in Omaha, NE. On Monday, 19 April 1965, Msgr. Nicholas Wegner, Director of Boys Town, NE, offered the Requiem Mass for Fr. Grobbel at St. Cecilia's Cathedral in Omaha, NE. 4 Rev. Grobbel was interred in Block 7, Grave 11 of the Priest Circle (on the outside, SE part of the circle) at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 4912 Leavenworth St., Omaha, NE. 5
(photos courtesy of Vikki Henry, Omaha, NE)
Rev. Grobbel's Time Line in the USA
08 Nov. 1905
arrived at Ellis Island, NY on the Kroonland, having sailed from Antwerp, Belgium, place of residence given as Freiburg (Switzerland) (Ellis Island On-Line, http://www.ellisisland.org/ )
Spalding, NE - asst. Pastor at St. Michael Parish
West Point, NE - asst. Pastor at St. Mary Parish
Spaulding, NE- asst. Pastor at St. Michael Parish
Kearney, NE - asst. Pastor at (?)
ill health, returned to Germany
23 Nov. 1907
arrived at Ellis Island on the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, from Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Germany (listed as a US citizen) (Ellis Island On-Line, http://www.ellisisland.org/ )
Nov. 1907- Jun. 1908
South Omaha, NE - asst. Pastor at St. Bridget Parish
July 1908 - Jan. 1910
St. Paul, NE - Pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish
10 Jan. 1910
Randolph, NE - Pastor at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish
1913 through 1937
St. Charles, Cuming County, NE - Pastor of St. Anthony Parish
25 Oct. 1914
arrived at Ellis Island on the Rotterdam, from Rotterdam, South Holland, The Netherlands (Ellis Island On-Line, http://www.ellisisland.org/ )
09 July 1918
Rev. Grobbel attended the funeral of Rev. W. Wolf, at Grand Island, NE 6
West Point, NE (Official Catholic Directory); West Point is about 4 miles NE of St. Charles and was apparently the mailing address used by Fr. Grobbel at the time. St. Charles is a rural crossroads with the Church as it's main feature.
12 June 1921
John Linus Paschang (b. 05 Oct 1895 in Hemingford, NE) was ordained a Priest at Fr. Grobbel's Parish, St. Anthony's in St. Charles, NE. Fr. Paschang served as a Priest and Monsignor in the Omaha Diocese until 1951, when was appointed Bishop of the Grand Island Diocese, where he served until his retirement in 1972. Bishop Emeritus Paschang was the world's oldest living Roman Catholic Bishop when he died on 21 March 1999 at the age of 103.
Fr. Grobbel returned to the village where he was born for a visit during the year of his 25th anniversary as a priest. The 1930 US Federal Census lists him as being 36 years old (obviously an error, he was 56 years old at that time) and residing in St. Charles, Cuming, Co., Nebraska.
St. Charles, NE (Official Catholic Directory)
28 May 1936
St. Charles, NE - as Pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Fr. Grobbel officiated at the funeral of Anton Schmuecker 7
Fr. Grobbel retired from the active priesthood and moved to Long Pine, Brown Co., NE (according to his death notice in the Omaha World-Herald). Long Pine is about 140 miles NNE of Grand Island, NE.
Even though he was officially retired, Fr. Grobbel remained active. At this time he was also associated with St. Francis Hospital in Grand Island, NE (Official Catholic Directory). According to the 24 March 1940 issue of the "Register", the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Grand Island, on Easter Sunday 1940 he assisted in the celebration of Easter Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Grand Island, NE (thanks to Russ Czaplewski of Grand Island, NE).
Retired, living in Long Pine, NE (photo caption, Official Catholic Directory)
Retired, in Omaha, NE, St. Joseph Hospital (Official Catholic Directory)
16 April 1965
Omaha, NE - Rev. Grobbel died in a local hospital after a long ilness, according to his obituary in the 23 April 1965 issue of the "True Voice".4 A Rosary recitation was held on Sunday, 18 April 1965 at the Heafey and Heafey Funeral Home in Omaha, NE. The Reqiuem Mass was held at 10:30 am on Monday, 19 April at St. Cecilia Cathedral, with burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Omaha, NE. 8
1Ludwig Brögger, Wipperfürth, Germany (1999)
COMPENDIUM OF HISTORY, REMINISCENCE AND
BIOGRAPHY OF NEBRASKA ,CHICAGO:
ALDEN PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1912, (pp 740-741) (available on the Internet at: http://www.rootsweb.com/~neresour/OLLibrary/Comp_NE/index.htm#Table%20of%20Contents )
3 Theodor Grobbel, who remembered the visit of his great-uncle during a conversation at his home in Milchenbach on April 23, 2000; during my visit in Sept. 2003, I was shown a book about the history of Milchenbach which contained the 1930 photo of the procession that was held for Father Grobbel.
4 True Voice, Friday 23 April 1965, Grand Island, NE, pg. 1, col. 4, Obituary.
5 Russ Czaplewski, e-mail received Monday, 09 June 2003
6 "The Churches of Hall County", from "History of Hall County," pub. 1920 by Buechler, Barr & Stough, transcription available at http://www.rootsweb.com/~nehall/church_hist.html
7 CUMING COUNTY (Nebraska) DEMOCRAT, May 28, 1936, Obituary
8 Omaha World-Herald, Saturday, 17 April 1965, Omaha, NE, pg. 18, Death Notice
This link opens a map in a new window that shows the location of the towns in Nebraska where Fr. Grobbel served his parishoners.
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