The Founding of Saint Anne, Illinois

St. Anne Sign

Sainte Anne, Illinois, is about 70 miles south of Chicago, in Kankakee County.  The founding and history of St. Anne are told in The Heritage of St. Anne and The Saga of St. Anne.  Here are some highlights:

Brothers Ambrose and Antoine Allain came from Canada to settle first in Bourbonnais in 1848 and in what would become St. Anne in 1850.

Around this time, the Bishop of Chicago sought a priest to establish a Catholic church in that area and persuaded Father Charles Chiniquy of Canada to move there with 200 of his parishoners.  By 1852 they had built 40 log homes and a church and given the town its name.

Father Chiniquiy persuaded other French Canadians, Belgians, and French to move there.  But just as the town was thriving, he had a falling out with Catholic leadership that lead to his forming the Catholic Christian Church in 1858.  About 80% of his parishoners followed him.  The Catholic Christian Church continues today, but the church in St. Anne became Presbyterian.

Father Chiniquiy’s worldwide fame and oratorical skills saved the town when the crop failures of 1858-9 hit.  He raised money from all over the world.

Father Chiniquiy claimed to be a friend of Abraham Lincoln and hired Lincoln to defend him in a lawsuit.

The religious controversy had settled down by 1865 when the Bonvallets arrived.

Today St. Anne has a population of about 1200.