Rev. Peter Welling, O. F. M., had for many years been a constructive factor in the upbuilding of the Catholic Church and its institutions in Kansas, and his name and career are especially associated with the town of Olpe in Lyon County, where he is pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The first Catholic services in that locality were held about 1884, when the mission was attended by priests from Emporia. The fine new modern church, situated in the northeastern part of the village on Main Street, was erected in 1910 during the pastorate of Father Welling, O. F. M. It had seating capacity for 700, and the church edifice is one of a group of buildings comprising also the parsonage, the parochial school and the Sister’s residence. The parochial school had an enrollment of 135 scholars. In thirty years the parish had grown from small beginnings and had especially prospered under Father Welling’s direction, and it is still vigorously growing. The parish extends from Olpe to one-half the distance to Emporia, eleven miles away, its southern boundary is to one-half the distance to Eagle Creek, five miles, while it extends an indefinite distance to the east and west.
Father Peter Welling is a member of the Franciscan Order. He was born at Oldenburg, Indiana, May 11, 1857, and attended the parochial schools of Cincinnati and the preparatory college of St. Francis in that city, and finished his courses in theology and philosophy at St. Boniface Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in December, 1885. He was then ordained a priest, and his first charge was at Lafayette, Indiana, from which point he visited the missions at Reynolds, Frankfort and Medaryville for two and a half years. Then he was stationed at Streeter, Illinois, for two years, and visited the missions of Benson and Washington. Then followed pastorates at Havelock, Nebraska, two years; Calurnet, Michigan, in the copper regions, six years, and three years at Mount Airy, Cincinnati. He was then stationed at St. Bernard, Cincinnati, where he attended the city infirmary, Longview, and the county infirmary. From 1903 Father Welling was pastor of the Holy Family Church in Leads, Missouri, for three years, then was stationed a year and a half at Oscsola, and since 1909 had had full charge of St. Joseph’s Church at Olpe.
His father was Henry Welling, who was born in 1805 in Linge, Germany. He came to America when a young man, was a general workman, and lived in Cincinnati for some years, where he married. About 1854 he removed to Oldenburg, Indiana, and later to Hamburg, Indiana, where he died in 1885. He was a democrat and a member of the Catholic Church. Before leaving Germany he served as a soldier in the army. He married Catherine Nieman, who was born in 1816 at Dinklage, Germany, came to Cincinnati when a young girl, and died at Hamburg, Indiana, in 1897. Her four children were: Vincent, who was a teacher and died in Hamburg, Indiana, at the age of fifty-six; Josephine, who died in Dayton, Kentucky, in 1902, as the wife of Joseph Kuhling, who is also deceased; Carrie, who lives at Hamburg, Indiana; and Father Peter Welling.