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Our Immaculate Conception Church


Immaculate Conception Church at Stepstone
Location:  174 Stepstone Church Road, Butler, KY  41006

In the late 1840's and 1850's, there was a Catholic presence in the river valley and surrounding hills of present day Pendleton, Campbell, and Bracken counties; however, there was no building or organized congregation.  Recent immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Bavaria, France, and Switzerland were living near Motier, later called Carntown, at the mouth of Stepstone Creek.  The children of these people were baptized, as recorded in 1847, at the Church of the Trinity in Cincinnati, Ohio.  In the 1850's a log structure was erected on the properdonated by Michael Faulhaber. Previous to the log structure, Mass was celebrated in family homes.  The congregatioon was named Immaculate Conception Church after the recent dogma of the Catholic Church (1854).

In 1861, the present building was built from lumber taken from the 3-acre plot.  Some logs were used as sills on top of a rock foundation.  For uniform cuts, the rest of the lumber was sawed at the mill approximately 1 mile up Stepstone Creek.  The mill was located on Washington Trace, now KY Highway 10, just south of Wesley Chapel.  The priest entered through a door from behind the altar.  The sacristy was added later as a gift from Frank and Margaret Rust and other families.  The log structure was used as a school for the 8 families in the parish and neighbors.

After the turn of the century, a Benedictine priest, Fr Eberhardt, lived in the community about a half-mile from the church. The German-speaking school closed in the days before World War I, since most of the congregation wanted their children to be fluent in English.

As roads and transportation improved and priests became scarce, the families at Immaculate Conception were asked to attend Sts. Peter and Paul on California Crossroads.  The last wedding  ceremony in Immaculate Conception Church was in September 1941 in which Clarence William Record and Martha Massey were married.  Eventually, the only service was cemetery visitation and a feast Mass held once a year.  In the late 1970's, the tradition of Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th began. Due to weather considerations the Mass dates have changed over the years. The school children of Sts. Peter and Paul look foward to visiting a church out of the Civil War era with no electricity, central heat or plumbing. 

Normally there will be a Mass before Cemetery Visitation at Stepstone and one or  two other times during the warmer months. Please consult the bulletin for time and exact date.

The church, along with the cemetery, is registered as a Kentucky Landmark.  It is the oldest frame church being used by the Diocese of Covington.
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