Rev. D. F. Thill is a well known and beloved priest of Sheboygan, Dean of the Sheboygan County Deanery and Consulter to the Archbishop. He has served as pastor of the Holy Name Catholic church for the past twenty years. His birth occurred at Weiler La Tour, Luxemburg, on the 25th day of August, 1844. His parents were Peter and Susan (Watry) Thill, both natives of Luxemburg. His father was a farmer by occupation. He served in the Holland army in 1830 during its war with Belgium, and later served in the Belgian army during the same war. He obtained the rank of corporal. In 1847 Peter Thill came to America with his family and located at Holy Cross, Ozaukee county, Wisconsin, where the family home was established.
To Peter Thill and wife were born seven children. John B. is now a retired farmer of Holy Cross, Ozaukee county. J. E., formerly a resident of Port Washington, Wisconsin, has passed away. Nicholas, deceased, was a priest, and at one time had charge of Holy Name church of Sheboygan, St. Nicholas Hospital, of this city, being named in his honor, and under his supervision was erected the first building of the hospital. Mary is the wife of Theodore Jung, of Port Washington, Wisconsin. J. Peter is deceased. Rev. Dominic F., the subject of this sketch, is the next in order of birth. John P. is deceased. The parents have long since passed to their reward and are buried at Port Washington, Wisconsin.
When but three years of age, Father Thill was brought by his parents to America. He remained at home until a youth of fifteen, attending the public and parochial school. In October, 1859, he entered St. Francis Seminary, near Milwaukee, to prepare for the holy priesthood and was ordained January 29, 1868, by Rt. Rev. Bishop (afterward Archbishop) J. M. Henni. Father Thill was first sent to Madison as assistant at Holy Redeemer church, and in May, 1868, was transferred to St. Matthews church, at Neosho, Dodge county, as its first resident pastor. He remained here until 1871 when he took charge of St. Bruno's church at Ottawa, Wisconsin. In 1873 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph church at Waukesha, where he remained until 1880, when he succeeded Rt. Rev. Vicar General L. Batz at St. Mary's church of Milwaukee. He labored here faithfully for eleven years and resigned in November, 1891, to assume the pastorate at St. John the Baptist church of Jefferson, Wisconsin. He was here only nine months when he exchanged pastorates with his brother Nicholas who was in feeble health and thus in 1892 took charge of Holy Name church of Sheboygan, where he has remained since.
Since coming here, Father Thill has worked with untiring zeal, and his labors have proven a potent element in the growth of his church and the spread of Catholicity in this section. When he assumed charge the parish was in debt - some twenty thousand dollars, and this was reduced from time to time to seven thousand - dollars, when new improvements had to be made which increased the indebtedness to twenty-six thousand dollars. There now remains of this eleven thousand seven hundred dollars. In the meantime, a great many improvements were made under his supervision, a partial enumeration of which would include the following: The larger portion of Holy Name schoolhouse built at a cost of twenty thousand dollars; the heating plant in the church at two thousand six hundred dollars; the new altar at three thousand five hundred dollars; the new pulpit at nine hundred dollars ; the communion railing; a set of new stations costing nine hundred dollars; a new baptistry at one thousand two hundred dollars; and a new slate roof on church and side vestibules costing in all about eight thousand dollars.
In 1911 the church was redecorated and a tile floor put in the sanctuary and aisles, while ceiling and walls were embellished with oil paintings at a cost of thirteen thousand dollars. In fact, while he has had charge there has been somewhere between seventy-five and one hundred thousand dollars raised and expended. The grounds surrounding the church have been beautified with trees, shrubbery, statuary and boulders which give evidence of Father Thill's love of nature. In addition there is a collection of rock containing precious minerals sent from Cananea, Mexico, by A. 0. Koppes, a brother of Rt. Rev. J. J. Koppes, bishop of the grand duchy of Luxemburg.
A thing of which Father Thill can justly be proud is the Holy Name school which has advanced under his pastorate, until now it is considered one of the best in the state. It is now a graded school conducted by the Sisters of Notre Dame, and its diplomas admit the graduates to the high school without examination. It is attended by over eight hundred pupils. Day by day and year by year Father Thill has modestly wrought until the Holy Name church in beauty of appointments and spiritual prosperity is second to none in this state. The estimated value of the property is about two hundred thousand dollars. Father Thill is a man of great energy and strength of character, a faithful pastor and a genial and instructive companion.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL