St. James at the Sag Bridge

     Saint James at the Sag Bridge is the second oldest Catholic church in northern Illinois.  It is located on a bluff overlying the Des Plaines River and the Sag Channel.  The site is rich in history.  Native Americans were the first to occupy the land.  Later the French used the site for a fort. 
     The church was established by Irish Catholic farmers and canal laborers.  Founding date is unclear either 1833 or 1837.  The first church was a simple log cabin on an original Indian trail (later Archer Avenue).  This was formerly a residence of one of the settlers.
     The land on which the current church and cemetery stand was donated by two parishioners–John Sullivan and James Murphy.
     In 1853, the cornerstone of the current church was laid.  Limestone from local quarries was used in the construction.  It took approximately 6 years to haul enough limestone up the bluff to complete the project.
     For years, there was no assigned pastor.  In 1880’s, the first pastor was Father James Bollman.  During his term, he had the church remodelled and enlarged.  Several upgrades took place in the 1890’s.  These include:  stained glass; walls of the church were enlarged; pitch of the roof was changed; new ceiling of Sitka spruce was installed; hand carved walls were installed.
     As one walks through the cemetery, many graves of Irish Catholics from the mid to late 1800’s are seen.  No doubt many of these individuals were canal workers.


Saint James at the Sag Bridge


Saint at the Sag Bridge


Old Grave Markers Saint James Cemetery


Old Grave Marker Saint James Cemetery

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