- Telephone exchange: 483-xxxx
- Township: Jackson
- Previously known as Punjaub
- Namesake: founders Henry and Charles Lawrence
As the early settlers came through the region northwest of Ste. Genevieve on their way to the mining region near Bonne Terre, MO, they often passed through the small beautiful valley west of Bloomsdale. The beauty of this place, nestled between two small hills, inspired one traveler to remark about how much it resembled the beautiful region of Punjaub, India, and thus, the official name of Punjaub was given to the village, which became an important trading center in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s.
By 1870, two brothers, Henry and Charles Lawrence, were living on a farm just west of Punjaub. From newspaper accounts, we have learned that these men were very industrious. Sensing a need for a local source of supplies, they established a large general store and flour mill in Punjaub. There was also a blacksmith shop, which was purchased by Andrew Oberle in 1879, and operated by his family and other various owners, until it was closed in 1930 by Anton Dennis. Barrels were made in the copper shop of Mr. Bell. A small, spring-fed stream running through the village provided power to operate these industries.
In 1880, Henry Lawrence and his wife, Caroline, donated the land and registered the plans for the town of Lawrenceton, with lots, streets, and the highway measured and laid out for public use. At the same time, they designated one lot for the use of a public school.
Realizing the importance of a local church, Henry Lawrence and his wife, Caroline, and Charles Lawrence and his wife, Philomena, gave 10 acres of land in 1870 for the use of the Catholic congregation of Punjaub. The church, named St. Lawrence, influenced the choice of the name Lawrenceton for the village.
St. Lawrence church and cemetery, photographed 2006 by Valerie Holifield, all rights reserved.
The first church’s cornerstone, which still exists, was laid in 1870, and the church was dedicated by the Vica-General Muehlsiepen in 1872, with Rev. Peter Mollenbeck being the first pastor. After his departure, Father Henry Mehring cared for the Lawrenceton and French Village parishes until 1878. Fathers Reding and Grosholz were next and pastored St. Lawrence exclusively, until 1882, when the churches at Lawrenceton and French Village were served by Father A. Huettler, in residence at Bloomsdale. By 1887, Rev. Charles L. VanTourenhout was put in charge at Lawrenceton with French Village as its mission parish. It continued as a mission parish of St. Lawrence for many years.
Early church records show the first baptism was in 1872, the first confirmation in 1879, and the first burial in 1912. It is thought that Lawrence Bookholtz was the first one baptized in St. Lawrence Church.
In 1917, a devastating tornado hit the church demolishing all but the entrance and blowing some of the records across the Mississippi River into Illinois. The church was rebuilt during the pastorate of Rev. Frank X. Weinig, and dedicated in 1918 by Most Rev. John J. Glennon. Other improvements have been made, and in 1942, a different entrance was built, including a statue of Mary, Queen of Peace, donated in memory of Pauline Glaser Kohler by her children.
In 1965, at the time of Father John Jadrich’s pastorship, St. Lawrence Catholic Church has been administrated by the pastor of St. Agnes church at Bloomsdale. Following Rev. Jadrich, Father John Majewski served both parishes for 15 years. At present, Rev. Vincent Huels cares for both parishes.
The general store built and run by the Lawrences was later purchased by Daniel Loida and run by his family. During the rebuilding of the church, services were held upstairs in the store. Around 1920, Dominic Lichtfuss was operating the store, a post office, and a tailor shop. The large general store has been torn down and made into a residence. By 1922, James Carron was running a small store and gas station in Lawrenceton. Leroy and Pauline Reidt bought this store and station and ran them until 1950. There is no store or other business in Lawrenceton at the present time. The post office was closed in the early 1940’s as an economic measure by the U.S. Postal Department, and Lawrenceton is now served from the Bloomsdale post office. With the consolidation of the county schools in 1947, Lawrenceton public school was closed, and the children were bussed to other schools.
In 1959, Albert Pinkston built a large dam near the town, forming a beautiful lake, and sold lots for homes. It was to be a vacation resort. But in May of 1968, the dam gave way, emptying the lake and slowing the sale of property. However, with the current movement of people from the urban areas back to the rural areas, the region around Lawrenceton has become more heavily populated. The annual church picnic also brings many people to admire the beauty of the countryside and to recall the busy days of the past and to dream of a home in the quite of this small village of Lawrenceton.