A Lightning Strike -- And the St. Benedict Light & Power Company

Saturday, February 12, 2022/Categories: History

The St. Benedict Light & Power Company  . . .

A photo in the 1905 church brochure shows the church without electric light fixtures. Instead, two large candelabras and a chain for a third are shown holding dozens of candles. The silver candelabra now converted to electric light, and some statues are the only furnishings that were brought from the third church which stood in the area of the present rectory. The date of the installation of the electrical system is not known but it was prior to 1913 as referenced in the comments by Fr. Cyril Bayer about a lightning strike on the church.

Lightning struck the church and rectory on April 25, 1913, at 1:10 P.M. There was very little damage to the rectory. At the church, the lightning rod was torn off the cross, screens twisted and burned in the belfry, some tower windows were broken, plaster damaged and a rock knocked out of the chimney. In the sanctuary, the statue of St. Joachim was damaged and two statue pedestals were blackened and burnt. Parishioner August Droge made repairs to the tower. In 1913 pastor Fr. Cyril Bayer, O.S.B., wrote this note about lightning that struck the church on April 25, 1913: "Wherever electric wire led, the effects of the lightning can be seen."  At some time before 1913, a power plant provided lighting, but gasoline engines provided power for the water pump and furnace hot air circulating fan. "In 1929 the pastor and townspeople organized the St. Benedict Light and Power Company. A line was built a mile and a half connecting with the high line between Axtell and Seneca. There are 22 users all in the village."  (Wolters, paper 101).  On April 2, 1944, the company sold out the Nemaha-Marshall Electric Cooperative for $1,200.



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