In 1891, German Catholic colonists led by a man named Anton Flusche settled an area in North Texas. They named their new town Lindsay, in honor of a Gainesville judge who financed the settlement and donated land for a church to be built. On January 1, 1892, the settlers began meeting together in Anton Flusche’s home to form the new parish. They built a small church where Mass was said for the first time on Easter Sunday of 1892. Proof of the religious spirit which prevailed among the first settlers is evident from the fact that from the time that the church building was finished services were held there every Sunday. On Sundays when there was no priest to say Mass, the Rosary was said and a lay-service was held according to a book known as a Goffine, a copy of which still survives in the Parish Office. The settlers attended these services in numbers just as large as those at Mass, desiring to fulfill their Sunday obligation as well as they could under the circumstances. In 1899, the first in a long line of Benedictine pastors was assigned to St. Peter’s in the person of Fr. John Troxler, O.S.B. Fr. Troxler quickly set about constructing a larger church, which was completed in 1903.
The parishioners of St. Peter’s had built a church that, they thought, would stand the test of time. But on May 31, 1917, only 14 years after its completion, the church was almost completely destroyed by a tornado. Miraculously, the apse and all three altars, as well as the facade and steeple, were left completely intact. As the dust cleared, the community of St. Peter’s found themselves in a difficult situation. The same generation that had built the second church would now be required to build a third, no easy task for a small group of farmers. Not only did they rise to this challenge, the undaunted German settlers exceeded every expectation and began construction according to a more ambitious plan. Bishop Lynch of Dallas reviewed the plans for what is now St. Peter’s Church and said in disbelief, “You want to build a church like this?” The parishioners salvaged what they could from the old church and from the fire-damaged Gainesville courthouse. Men and boys spent whatever time they could spare from their own farms laboring to clear the foundation and haul materials. The new church was finally finished in the autumn of 1918, one year after the tornado.
The truths of the Catholic Faith are handed down to each successive generation, and with the heritage of Faith, the responsibility of caring for the church in which the Faith is manifested and sustained. The people of St. Peter’s have continued to care for their church through almost a century of wind, rain, and hail. In 2009, the gorgeously painted plaster began to crumble and fall from the walls. Investigation of the problem revealed that roof damage, undetected for decades, had leaked water into the building, compromising the interior plaster and even the mortar binding the brick structure. A restoration effort on an unprecedented scale was required to save St. Peter’s; the damaged plaster had to be removed, the beautiful patterns copied and repainted on new plaster, the windows, floors, pews and altars required repair and refinishing and the roof and foundation needed to be overhauled. This enormous project was completed in two years and at a cost of $4.9 million, over 100 times the amount originally paid to build the church in 1918. However, St. Peter’s is now in pristine condition, preserved for the future generations of parishioners.