The John Endres Chapel

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High on a hill, in the Town of Berry, near marxville, Wisconsin, stands a tiny chapel built in 1857 by John Endres. Built of native stone and mortar, it is situated in a grove of oak, birch and hickory. The door and window frames are made of wood as is the hand carved alter. Theroof oiriginally of wood, has recently been covered with metal. The alter is covered with a white cloth embroidered with German lettering, which translated means "o mary, Mother of Mercy".

On the altar are a statue of Mary and other religious articles. The altar is illumined by light from the two tiny windows. ON the walls of this 6x8 foot chapel are holy pictures - Christ with a crown of throns, the Apostles and the Savior's reappearance to them afte rthe Cruisficiation and Resurrection.

Exactly why the chapel wa sbuilt is not certian. Many legends surrond its construction. That it was built by John Endres is not legend. John Endres was a German pioneer who came to America in 1852 wigth his wife Anna Maria and children Peter, Maria, mathias, Anna and katharina and settled in the Springfield Corners area.

Some say he built the chapel as a place to pray because he was a very devout Catholic. Others say it was because of a promise amde by him to the Virgin mary that if his family were spared in the diphtheria epidemic of the mid 1850's, he would build a chapel in Thanksgiving. perhaps a clue to the reason is found in the passenger list of the ship on which the family reached Americca. On that list were two children, Anna, age 2 and Katharina, an infant who was born to John and Anna Maria Enres. By 1855 these two were no logner part of the family. Maybe they died of diptheria and he prayed that the rest of the family might be spared death. The others lived and so perhaps John Endres built the chapel in thanksgiving.

No matter what the reasons, John Endres chose an ideal locaiton - the highest pointon his 80 acre farm, overlooking the homestead and Indian Lake where Indians still camped. He hauled the stone up the hill with his oxen. In this task he was assisted by his 14 year old son Peter. Even 4 year old Michael tried to help by getting under the wagon.

Later, in 1882, John's son, Mathias, and hisfamily lived there. He farmed until 1891, when he sold it to martin Ballweg, husband of John's granddaughter, Maria Kelter. Martin wold it to his brother Frank in 1923 and Frank sold it to his son Henry. Now the farm is owned by Mr. John A. Marx Jr., who ought it in 1959. Through all the years the hcapel has been maintained with loving care by the owners.

A clause was inserted in the deed to the land saying: 'That the one room chapel is to be kept up and maintained by.. heirs and assigns forever.'

In 1926, the hcapel was consecrated by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer of Milwaukee. It was name dthe Shrine of St. Mary of the Oaks. John Marx recently donated the chapel and an acre of land to Dane County as a park.

Many people, both the curious and the devout, visit the chapel each year from May to October. They climb the steep, lkovely hill to the tp. Some are turned back by the difficult ascent, while others consider the visit and important event in their lives and the logn climb a penance and well worth the effort.

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John Endres Chapel
John Endres Chapel

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