Religious Societies and Organizations

kofc boys band.jpg

The Knights of Columbus Boys Band stands in front of the north door of Natchaug School. Courtesy of:


Colorized photograph of Father Papillon with his two sisters and the rectory house keeper outside of St. Mary's rectory. Photo courtesy of:

  Willimantic contained several religious affiliated societies and organizations of different denominations. These societies allowed members to engage with others outside of their designated church worship times and days. For instance, there were two Christian-based societies such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.). The Knights of Columbus, on the other hand, were a Catholic organization and were established in Willimantic in 1910. Decades prior, the St. Jean Baptiste Society, a Roman Catholic French-Canadian voluntary organization, was established and continued to be active through the early 20th century. In fact, Willimantic's St. Jean Baptiste Society was one of the largest chapters in New England. There was also The Ancient Order of Hibernians, which were an Irish Catholic organization. All of these societies and organizations were relatively active in 1910 Willimantic, whether they had a single chapters or several.

One of the newest groups of immigrants to Willimantic, Polish parishioners at St. Joseph’s Church established a number of parish organizations. The first was a particularly active organization which combined gender, religious and ethnic membership requirements: the Society of Brotherly Help under the Care of St. Joseph (Towarzystwo Bratniej Pomocy pod Opieką Świętego Józefa). It formed in September 1907 and according to the 1964 copy of its Constitution, its purpose was “to render material and moral assistance to every member in need and mutual support.” The membership was open to any man whose father was of Polish descent, had good moral character, was between 21 and 45 years old, and resided in Willimantic for at least three months. A strict moral conduct, personal honesty, and commitment to the organization were expected of all the members. In the early years, during both religious and civic celebrations in town, the St. Joseph Men’s Society represented Polish immigrants as distinct from other ethnic groups, such as the Irish, French and Italians.

Willimantic Clergy

   According to the Connecticut State Register and Manuals of 1910 and 1914, notable religious members/leaders in the Willimantic Community at the time included:

  • R.G. Hartley (Baptist)
  • W. F. Rowley (Baptist)
  • W.S. Beard (Congregationalist)
  • Harry Grimes (Congregationalist in Windham)
  • L.M. Flocken (Methodist)
  • W.O. Nuzund (Methodist)
  • D. A. Willis (African M.E. Zion)
  • S.E. Robinson (African M.E. Zion)
  • R.D. Hatch (Protestant)
  • Charles L. Adams (Protestant)
  • Otto Baumister (Roman Catholic)
  • A. DeBruycker (Roman Catholic)
  • John Flemming (Roman Catholic)
  • J. McGuane (Roman Catholic)
  • C. H. Paquette (Roman Catholic)
  • Timothy Bannon (Roman Catholic)
  • Philip J. Mooney (Roman Catholic)
  • P. Papillon (Roman Catholic)
Churches and Religious Organizations
Religious Societies and Organizations