The Earliest Years
The first settlers came to the O’Fallon area in the late 1700’s. It was during this time that Fort Zumwalt was built as a trading station and as a protection for the settlers. Indians lived in this region. Most were peaceful Missouri Indians who were eventually driven from their lands by the warring Sauk and Fox, under the leadership of Chief Black Hawk There were thick, virgin forests here as well as land suitable for farming, which was claimed and cleared by predominantly German Catholics. English, Scotch, Irish, and Dutch families also settled in the area.
O’Fallon began, officially, in 1856 when Nicholas Krekel, a federal judge for western Missouri, built a house in the woods along the North Missouri Railroad on land owned by a friend, Colonel John O’Fallon. Judge Krekel also opened a general store to serve farmers and construction crews from Colonel O’Fallon’s railroad. The first U.S. Post Office was opened in 1859.
In the fall of 1869, seventeen farmers, all parishioners of All Saints Parish in St. Peters, met to discuss the possibility of building their own school and church in O’Fallon because of the great distance to St. Peters. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the log schoolhouse were completed and dedicated on September 17, 1871. A week later the school opened to twenty pupils. The first teacher, Joseph Rustige, was employed from September, 1871 to March, 1873. He was paid $25.00 a month.
In September, 1873, the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood were assigned to the school and continued their service to Assumption, uninterrupted, until 1991. Sr. Camilla, C.PP.S. and Sr. Blance, C.PP.S., were the first teachers assigned to Assumption School. In 1875,the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood moved their motherhouse from St. Agatha’s in St. Louis to the property directly across the street from Assumption School, in O’Fallon. The first pastor, Fr. William Sonneschein, arrived in September of 1871, taught in the school, and made sure the school had a library.
Assumption’s Need for Growth
Fr. Henry Brockhagen arrived in April of 1876, and found the school overflowing with pupils. He immediately built a larger brick building which was opened in 1877.
In 1910, Fr. A.A. Jasper, the newest pastor, found the school building again overcrowded, so a new and larger building was begun. It opened in 1914 with four large classrooms, a library, a large second-story meeting hall and a basement. Under Fr. Jasper’s direction, an accredited junior high school was opened in 1923,the first Catholic high school in St. Charles County. This high school was housed in the library of the elementary school. During this time, Assumption’s program included a symphonic orchestra and the Marquette Dramatic Club for training in speech and drama.
From 1923 to 1929, Assumption operated as an elementary school with a junior high school. The enrollment of Assumption School was, by 1929, three times its capacity. In 1929, a new high school building was dedicated. In 1930, the old church was razed and the present limestone building begun. Also in 1930, an additional year of high school was added.
A High School is Added, Closed & a New One Opened
In 1931 the elementary school was joined by an accredited four-year high school sponsored by Cardinal Glennon and staffed by the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood. The new limestone church was dedicated in July of 1931.
In 1937, due to the large enrollment in both Assumption Grade School and High School, a temporary addition was added to the buildings and plans were made for construction of a larger and permanent high school building.
At this time, enrollment in the high school alone was 175 students. The building was dedicated in 1955 as Assumption High School. As the growth of the county continued, the Archdiocese made the decision to build a regional high school. With the dedication of St. Dominic High School, Assumption High School was closed in 1962. The building however, was used by St. Dominic as their present structure was not ready for occupancy in the 1962-63 school year. In 1963, the overflowing elementary school assumed the use of the high school building. It is presently used as the departmental building for grades five through eight. The present primary building, dedicated in 1959, served originally for the entire Assumption Grade School. A convent was built on the property and dedicated in the fall of 1964. When the Precious Blood Sisters were no longer using the convent, that building was converted into rooms for use by the school. It then housed the half-day kindergarten classroom, begun in 1992, the art room, the computer room and the library.
The Last Half Century
In 1986, head Pastor Fr. John began a program of maintenance and repair of buildings, as well as extensive redecoration of the church. At the beginning of the 1991-92 school year the first lay principal, Mrs. Judy Sigmund, was appointed. Prior to this time, since 1873 the Precious Blood Sisters served in this capacity. Fr. Burke died suddenly on May 8, 1995 and his associate, Fr. John Keane, died eight days later on May 16, 1995. Fr. Robert Boisaubin became the pastor of Assumption the next week. In 1995, he hired Sr. Pat Cody, a Dominican Sister to be the principal of Assumption School.
Fr. Joseph Kempf was assigned pastor of Assumption in June 1999, when Fr. Boisaubin retired and has been with us ever since.
Sr. Pat Cody left after the 2001-02 school year. Mrs. Denise DeFord was hired to be our new principal, but was unable to begin the 2002-03 school year due to health concerns. (She died November 2002). Mrs. Colleen Mackin came out of retirement to see the school through the 2002-03 school year.
In 2003, Bob Cowell became principal of Assumption School. Teacher aides were added to the faculty as well as part-time specialty teachers and a part time nurse. Learning Consultants are used as support staff for teachers to aid students with individual needs. Assumption teachers, parents, and students began using the Fast Direct system, an online grade book and bulletin board. Also new the school were security measures taken over the next few years. Fences were added as well as a mechanized door security system, cameras, and a disaster preparation system.
A new church and parish hall was dedicated on February 26, 2005.
After Mr. Cowell’s retirement, Deacon Vernon Dobleman became interim principal in 2007. He and Mrs. Melinda Kruper, counselor, started the Character Development Process established by using the Life Skills plans and the counselor going into many of the classrooms on a regular basis. In conjunction with that began endeavors to enhance our Catholic identity by organizing “religious” field trips and establishing service projects to promote Catholic Social teaching. Deacon Vernon Doblemann also increased communication in Monday prayer services, faculty meetings, PTA meetings, weekly newsletters, etc.
Present Day Assumption
Mrs. Laurie Zaleuke became full-time principal in the summer of 2016, and with her Assumption continued to grow and improve. The rectory basement was refurbished to allow for a growing new library. This allowed construction to begin in the old convent building. The lower level, which had previously housed the library, was converted into a larger computer lab, complete with Smart Boards. The art room relocated to where the librarian’s office and teacher’s lounge had once lived. The area vacated by the old art room and computer lab then housed a second kindergarten room. Full-time kindergarten was offered at Assumption School for the first time in the fall of 2009.