A Brief History of Immaculate Conception

Have you heard the tale of the “Baptist pocket” and the “Catholic pocket?” It is just one of many stories that comprise the history of Jackson churches.

Apparently in 1855 a native Kentuckian names John S. Medley moved to Jackson with his family. A devout Catholic, he favored the construction of a Catholic church rather than a Baptist church, which was also being considered. Both congregations met at the county courthouse. Eventually it was agreed that money would be raised for both Catholic and Baptist churches, so each collector had two pockets: a Baptist pocket and a Catholic pocket. Both handsome brick churches with a capacity of about 125 people were completed in 1858.

Founded as a mission by the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 1850, land for the Catholic church building was purchased in 1854. Records at St. Vincent College in Cape Girardeau indicate that four men: Joe Hunter, John Medley, Thomas English, and George Beattie were credited as founders. The mission was given parish status in 1874 and a Fr. Rheindorff began to keep official records. The first baptism was that of 31-year-old Joseph A. Wiley on December 13, 1874. He is also the first death recorded, apparently a deathbed conversion, as he died the next day.

One of the early priests who tended flocks in Perry Cape Girardeau counties was Fr. Joseph Timon C.M., a Vincentian priest from Perryville who eventually was named Bishop of Buffalo, New York. Knights of Columbus Council #6405 bears his name.

In 1880, Father John Gadell began teaching school in the church sacristy. Ursuline nuns began conducting classes in a new school building/convent in 1882. The school closed in 1913 and reopened in 1923, closed again in 1927, and reopened in 1943 with School Sisters of Notre Dame teaching. A new school was completed in 1948. A gym and four additional classrooms were added in 1970. The cornerstone for a new church was laid May 26, 1962. Bells in the bell tower came from St. Edward Church, Dutchtown (now closed).

In 1994/1995 a planning committee studied whether the parish should relocate. It was decided to stay in the heart of Jackson, and in time additional properties were purchased, working on a 20-year multi-phase expansion program.

The first phase was completed in 2002. The tornado of May 6, 2003, revised the long-range plan by taking out the 1948 and 1970 facilities.

On August 15, 2004, the new classrooms and multi-purpose facility were dedicated. Funds being raised for a church renovation or construction were redirected to school construction. As the debt on those buildings retired, the Parish Council once again looked at how best to approach church enlargement or perhaps replacement. In 2018 the decision was made to move forward with building a new church on the current properties.

From a faith community comprised of only a few families, the parish included 1,142 households in 2020 and is now over 3,067 members.

May the grace of God continue to bless us and all faithful members of God’s family throughout Jackson and environs