Mission Story Our Museum W.W. Graves Research About Us Links From the Past News

Our Museum

"..a Great Distributing Center of Civilization.."
This partial quotation is from "Beacon on the Plains", Sister Paul Mary Fitzgerald's doctoral thesis on the Osage Catholic Mission. The quote refers to the effect that the mission, and the work of its extraordinary group of missionary priests and nuns, had on the new Kansas frontier*.

The Osage Mission was established by Jesuit and Loretto missionaries during 1847, seven years before Kansas was a territory; and 14 years prior to statehood. All of the early missionaries were recent European immigrants. During a 35 year period this dedicated group of missionaries from Ireland, Italy, Holland and Belgium worked among the Indians and settlers. They taught, they established more than 100 mission stations, they built churches, and they sprinkled Christianity and elements of their diverse cultures across four states. (see "Mission Story").

The Osage Mission-Neosho County Museum is located on the site of the original mission. The first church and school buildings were built across the street from the museum, near the existing St. Francis de Hieronymo Catholic Church. Our museum complex is situated directly on the site of St. Ann's Academy. Over a period of more than 160 years, the original Osage Indian schools grew and persisted as the longest continuous-running school system in Kansas. Please take a moment to browse links that follow, and then plan a visit to our museum.

The museum is on Highway 47, on the east edge of St. Paul, Kansas. Our two-acre campus is directly across the street from the historic St. Francis de Hieronymo Catholic Church. The church steeple is visible for 5 to 10 miles in most directions.

Access and parking, for large vehicles, is not a problem. Our parking area includes a long, oval drive with two highway entrances that will accomodate several tour buses or recreational vehicles.

A visit to The Mission offers a variety of activities ranging from a simple museum visit, to a more comprehensive tour of nearby historic sites. Our museum campus is rural, and has both covered and open picnic tables, allowing visitors to plan leisurely on-site lunch in a quiet country setting. Travelers can also take advantage of local restaurants and accommodations, including local campgrounds.

A historical tour of the museum and local sites can include:
  • The indoor displays in our two room main museum building
  • Outside displays including an authentic one-room school house, farm displays and our new blacksmith and harness shop
  • A tour of local historic sites within walking distance or a short drive from the museum.

The buffalo represents a revered Native-American mainstay, providing food, shelter, clothing and tools.

Graves Research Center

The research room provides both family and local historic records, as well as the writings of the early Jesuits who helped settle the region.
Historical Research
Some visitors arrive with a specific purpose - to find out more about family or the southeast Kansas region. Our W.W. Graves Research room is dedicated to local newspaper editor and respected historian William Whites Graves. Mr. Graves was a graduate of the St. Francis Institute and, at an early age, became owner and editor of the Osage Mission Journal (later St. Paul Journal). Our Research Room provides a variety of printed, microfilm and computer resources to assist researchers, including students, with research needs.

The research library includes sources not available anywhere but St. Paul. in addition to normal local birth-death records, we have:
  • Microfilm records of early St. Paul Journal newspapers
  • Several card-file drawers of Mr. Grave's personal note cards
  • Copies of journals and writings of the Osage Mission and other Jesuit missionaries
  • Books and other material on the Osage and other Indian Tribes
During the past, we have assisted visitors from as far as Canada and California with on-site family research projects. We do provide assistance via email requests. Check our research page for a complete description of research resources.
In addition to books and material in our research library, our Gift Shop offers a variety of books that can be purchased by the visitor or researcher:
  • The Annals of Osage Mission (W.W. Graves)
  • The History of Neosho County (2 Volumes, W.W. Graves)
  • St. Francis & Hope Cemetery Books (Viola Gouvion & George Paine)
  • Beacon on The Plains (Sr. Mary Paul Fitzgerald, S.L.)
These and other historic, children's or general interest books may be purchased. Our gift shop also includes a variety of local or Kansas interest items, cups, wind chimes, toys and whimsical decorator pieces.


St. Ann's, after the fire. Photo presumed to have been taken from
the shorter church steeple across the street from the museum.

* Dr. Fitzgerald's "Beacon on the Plains" is available in the museum gift shop.