Kundig, Martin

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Priest, cathedral rector, civic leader; b. Switzerland, Nov. 19, 1805; d. Milwaukee, WI, March 6, 1879. He attended schools at Einsiedeln and Lucerne, Switzerland; Rome, Italy; and Bardstown, KY. He was ordained on Feb. 2, 1829, for the Diocese of Cincinnati, Ohio. After spending three years in southern Ohio, he was transferred to Detroit, MI, where he founded parishes and was active in civic affairs. During a cholera epidemic in 1834 he set up relief services, among them a hospital. He became superintendent of the poorhouse for Wayne County, and his interest in free public schools gained him an appointment as a regent of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 1842 he went to Wisconsin, where he helped newcomers, especially the English-speaking, by guiding their land purchases and organizing societies. At his initiative, temperance societies were formed in Milwaukee and the city received such favorable notice that the hierarchy recommended it as the headquarters of a new diocese. Among his civic interests were the promotion of easier attainment of citizenship for immigrants, better harbor facilities, and education. The first free public school in Wisconsin was opened June 16, 1845, in the basement of St. Mark's Church, Kenosha, of which he was the pastor. He also planned a trade school in connection with Bishop's Hall at the cathedral in Milwaukee. The builder of 22 churches in southeastern Wisconsin and rector (185979) of the cathedral, he served also for 30 years as vicar-general under Bp. John Martin Henni.

Bibliography: p. l. johnson, Stuffed Saddlebags: The Life of Martin Kundig, Priest (Milwaukee 1942).

[p. l. johnson]