Time capsule celebrates town, church’s link

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Eddie Reckelhoff, left, and Jason Merkel, both of Celestine, dug up a 25-year-old time capsule outside St. Celestine Catholic Church in Celestine on Sunday. The time capsule, containing Celestine suspenders, workers lists from the 150th year festival, a cookbook, and copies of The Herald among other items, was buried in 1993 for Celestine's Sesquicentennial (150th year). "I think as you get older, history is more important to you than when you were younger," said Reckelhoff. "You just realize, that if it wasn't for your ancestors and what they did, you wouldn't have what you have. And so you just wanna try to keep that going."


CELESTINE — Parishioners celebrated the historic link between the town of Celestine and St. Celestine Catholic Church Sunday morning when they opened a time capsule buried on the church grounds 25 years ago.

The town buried the time capsule in celebration of the community’s 150th anniversary.

Glenda Reckelhoff watched the time capsule burial in 1993 and remembers it being a warm, sunny day. Sunday’s weather, on the other hand, was chilly and rainy, but that didn’t deter the excitement. After the 8 a.m. Mass, parishioners huddled under their umbrellas and crowded around a flower bed to hear a blessing from Father Eugene Schmitt and to watch Mike Hassfurther, Jason Merkel and Eddie Reckelhoff dig up the cardboard box that was wrapped in plastic and placed in a cement enclosure underground.

Photos from the 1993 Celestine time capsule burial sat on a table next to Celestine suspenders found in the time capsule at St. Celestine Catholic Church on Sunday.

Inside, parishioners found a pair of red suspenders with “Celestine” embroidered on them, a beer stein and several books and documents chronicling the town’s history and 150th celebration. The items were on display Sunday night for the first of two Legacy Nights.

Hassfurther helped bury the time capsule in 1993 and said it was “neat” to be able to be one of the men digging it back up.

“The biggest thing, is it going to be legible?” he said. “Did you do a good enough job sealing it up?”

Indeed they did. Except for a bit of rust around the paperclips, the documents were in good shape, and people crowded around to read them in the parish center after Reckelhoff emptied the capsule.

Reckelhoff is on the church committee that is planning 175th anniversary events leading up to the town’s 175th festival later this year. The collaboration is one of many ways the church and town are connected. The town and church’s earliest histories are also tied together. In fact, the town would likely not exist were it not for the church.

Father Joseph Kundek, the priest responsible for several of the county’s Catholic churches, platted Celestine in 1843 to build the church, and the community grew around it. The earliest town history was written by the church’s third priest, Father Karl Bilger, and many of the town’s earliest residents are remembered only as they were related to the church.

In the years since the founding, the town has made a name for itself, particularly in regard to lumber milling and farming. According to historical records, as Dubois County became known for woodworking, Celestine became known as the town that supplied the wood. According to the town’s sesquicentennial history book, a copy of which was buried in the time capsule, early life in Celestine wasn’t easy, but it was fulfilling.

“It’s just a tight-knit community,” Ann Hassfurther said about what makes Celestine great. “Everybody works together and there’s always someone there to help.”

Gavin Wagner, 10, left, Trevor Buechler, 15, and Angela Wagner, all of Celestine, looked through items from the 25-year-old time capsule at St. Celestine Catholic Church in Celestine on Sunday.

More on DuboisCountyHerald.com