The city of Carrollton, situated at the juncture of the Kentucky River with the Ohio River, had been established on December 13, 1794, under the name of Port William. On February 9, 1838, when the western part of Gallatin County was cut off to form a new county, the new county was named Carroll and the name of Port William, the county seat, was changed to Carrollton, in honor of the distinguished Maryland patriot, Charles Carroll of Carrollton. The first attempt of the part of the Catholics of the town to have regular divine services was about 1850, when satisfactory arrangements were made with Bishop Spalding of Louisville for the services of a priest. At that time, Reverend Leander Streber, O.F.M., of Louisville, began to visit Carrollton once a month. Mass was offered in the home of Henry J. Grobmeyer on Fourth Street, between Sycamore and Seminary Streets.
Under the guidance of Father Streber, the Catholic people of Carrollton set about to erect a church. Property was purchased on Fifth Street, and at the end of July, 1853, the Kentucky Family Mirror, a Carrollton weekly, announced to the public the arrangements for the laying of the cornerstone of Carrollton’s first Catholic church.
Bishop Spaulding arrived in Carrollton on Saturday, July 30, 1853. The next morning, Sunday, July 31, the Feast of St. Ignatius, he offered Mass at the granary of Mr. John Roedenbach, which had been specially decorated for the solemn occasion. After Mass the Bishop administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to six children. Following these services, the people assembled and moved in procession to the site of the new church for the laying of the cornerstone. The visit of Bishop Spalding to Carrollton and his eloquent sermon was an inspiration to the Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The Catholics proceeded with the erection of their church with renewed enthusiasm. When completed, the church was dedicated under the patronage of St. John the Evangelist.
In 1855, Bishop Carrell appointed the Reverend Charles Schaffroth as the first resident pastor of Carrollton. Father Schaffroth undertook to erect a small brick schoolhouse near the church. A parish rectory was built in 1861. The following year, 1862, Father I. Weissenberger erected a Sisters’ house, and in 1863, Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg arrived in Carrollton to conduct the parish school. By the close of Bishop Carrell’s episcopate, the congregation numbered sixteen hundred souls, with parish schools for boys and girls, having under instruction two hundred and twenty children. At that time three stations were attended by the pastor of Carrollton.
With the approaching of the Golden Jubilee of St. John Parish, Father Ignatius Ahmann and the congregation turned their attention to the erection of a church of imposing grandeur. Although the parish at the time numbered only about seventy-five families, plans were drawn for a church of majestic dimensions, of pure Gothic architecture. On October 5, 1902, Bishop Maes laid the cornerstone of the new church.
During the remaining five years of the pastorate of Father Ahmann, work on the church proceeded slowly, as funds would permit. Before his transfer to St. Aloysius Parish in Covington, in 1907, Father Ahmann had succeeded in bringing the new church under roof. But the lack of funds, at that time, brought a halt to the work, and the completing of the interior had to be postponed indefinitely. The window openings were covered with boards.
During the pastorate of Reverend Clement J. Bocklage, 1907-1916, the congregation went into a period of the strictest economy, in order to meet the existing debt and to prepare for the completion of the church. In 1910, windows were installed in order to prevent damage to the structure from the weather. Five years later, 1915, work was resumed on the edifice. The interior of the church was plastered; a concrete floor was laid; heating and lighting fixtures were installed; the interior wood work was finished and new pews placed in the church. Final preparations for the dedication of the new church were made by the new pastor, Reverend Otto Hafen.
Sunday, June 25, 1916, was an historic day in the annals of the parish. It was an occasion which the Catholic people of Carrollton had eagerly awaited, after fourteen years of labor and delay. On that day, Bishop Brossart dedicated the present St. John Church in the presence of a large congregation of Catholics and non-Catholics from Carrollton and neighboring towns. It was the first visit of the Bishop to Carrollton since his elevation to the episcopacy. Prior to the dedication ceremonies, a procession of children and clergy, beginning at the old church, escorted the Bishop to the new edifice, where Bishop Brossart, assisted by Very Reverend Joseph Flynn, V.G., and Reverend Charles Bilger of Madison, Indiana, dedicated the church. Following the dedication, Father Ahmann, during whose pastorate the church had been begun, sang a Solemn Mass coram episcopo in the new St. John Church. The Reverend Antonine Brockhuis, L.F.M., of Cincinnati, preached the dedicatory sermon.
On September 3, 1928, St. John Parish celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, with Bishop Howard pontificating. On June 16, 1930, Reverend Joseph J. Sieg, the present pastor, assumed charge of the parish. The congregation today consists of seventy-three families. Sisters of Notre Dame conduct the parish school.
excerpted from History of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Diocese, 1853-1953, by Rev. Paul E. Ryan. Images are from the Rev. Ignatis Mary Ahmann's Forget-Me-Nots of Past and Present, a History of Carroll County Catholicism from 1902