Catholic settlers arrived in 1859 and settled at what was called Parsons Creek. After three years, two of the original pioneers, Nicholas Schumaker and Nicholas Esslinger, traveled to Leavenworth to ask Bishop John Miege to send them a priest. He promised to do so, either from Atchison or the Jesuits’ Indian mission at St. Mary’s. Residents built a log cabin in 1865 that served as both a church and school.
In 1866, the community was still without a priest, so Esslinger traveled to St. Mary’s with his fiancée, Gertrude Bowmaker, so they could be married in the church. In 1871, Schumaker donated land for a church, and Esslinger gave land for a school, and the first church was built that same year.
The railroad arrived at Clifton in 1877, making it easier for missionary priests to travel there.
As the parish grew, a larger church was built in 1898. It burned to the ground after being struck by lightning in 1918. The present church was built in 1922.
Tragedy struck the small parish in 1949 when Father Joseph Browne died in the rectory from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several days earlier, both Father Browne and his housekeeper Jane Curry had complained of headaches and illness, which they attributed to the flu. A faulty furnace flue, however, was the cause. The poisonous gas killed the priest, but the housekeeper survived.
213 Clifton St.
Clifton, KS 66937
Mission ParishesSt. John the Baptist Parish - Clyde
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Fr. Steve Heina
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