In the early part of the 19th Century Fosters Meadow was a protestant community, populated by descendants of English and Dutch immigrants. At the time of the 1850 Federal Census the Philip Hoeffner family was the only German Catholic one living in the area. However, by 1854, a number of others had bought farms including Philip Barb, Jacob Felten, Johan Krug, Joseph Hoffmann, Simon Krummenacker and Wilhelm Finn. Since the nearest church where they could practice their faith in their native language was over 20 miles away in Williamsburg, these men petitioned the Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Brooklyn to establish a German- speaking parish in Fosters Meadow.
On August 13, 1854 Father George Roesch from Most Holy Trinity Church in Williamsburg celebrated the first Mass in the new missionary parish. It was held in the parlor of the farmhouse of Joseph and Carolina Hoffmann which had been blessed as the Oratory of Saint Lawrence and was located diagonally across Fosters Meadow Road from the present church. Mass was held on an irregular basis at the Oratory by visiting German-speaking priests until the parishioners completed the construction of a church building in 1857 on the west side of Fosters Meadow Road near Central Avenue (Linden Blvd. today). Originally known as the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord, it was re-dedicated Saint Boniface Parish in honor of the patron saint of Germany.
Once the building was completed, a school was started in the basement for the children of the German farmers. Wilhelm Germs, a local doctor took the job as teacher to supplement his income. He moved his school to the basement of the New Church, built in 1869 on the site of the present day Church. Dr. Germs continued as teacher until the Sisters of Saint Dominic took very over in 1886.
The New Church was built on three acres purchased by Pastor Joseph Hauber. Responsibility for raising funds for the construction of the building fell upon a Building Committee who solicited contributions from the eighty families who were members of the Parish. The committee consisted of Andrew Batt, Joseph Rath, Frank Froehlich, Joseph Hoffmann, Philip Hoeffner, Jacob Felten, Peter Rath, Jacob Stattel and Christian Ziegler. The Committee was highly successful in raising $2,500 from the small number of parishioners and the building was dedicated in November of 1869.
Two years later, another appeal went out to the parishioners to purchase two bells for the belfry of the New Church. The large bell, weighing 605 pounds and named “SANCTUS BONIFACIUS” was sponsored by Jacob Felten, Andreas Batt, Franz Froehlich, Christian Ziegler, Philipp Barb, Bernard Rottkamp, Nicolaus Krummenacker, Peter Hermann, Heinrich Schreiber, Peter Rath, Johan Gunther and Johan Helferich. The small bell, weighing 267 pounds and named “SANCTUS JOSEPHUS” was sponsored by Joseph Hoffman, Joseph Lang, Jacob Stattel, Heinrich Hartmann, Simon Krummenacker, Nicholas Hoeffner, Johan Hermann, Johan Dubon, Andreas Kraus, Johann Krebs, Ignatz Fiesel and Joseph Brustle.
The New Church served its parishioners well until it was razed one hundred years after its construction in 1869.
(To view photographs of St. Boniface RC Church please visit our Gallery)
Prepared by Paul Hoffman