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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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John Martin Henni

HENNI, John Martin, archbishop, born in Obersanzen, Switzerland, 13 June, 1805; died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 7 September, 1881. After studying in the gymnasia of St. Gall and Zurich, he went to Rome in 1824, where in 1827 he met Bishop Fenwick, of Cincinnati. At the request of that prelate he volunteered for the United States mission, and immediately after his arrival entered the seminary at Bards-town, Kentucky, to complete his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained, 2 February, 1829, and appointed pastor of the German Catholics of Cincinnati, and professor in the Athenaeum of that city. He was soon transferred to Canton, Ohio, but in 1834 was recalled to Cincinnati and made pastor of Holy Trinity church and vicar-general of the diocese. In 1835 he visited Europe, where he published a pamphlet in German, describing the religious condition of southern Ohio. After his return in 1836 he founded, and edited for some time, the " Wahrheits-Freund," the first German Roman Catholic paper published in the United States. He also organized the St. Aloysius's orphans' aid society. During the ten years when he resided in Cincinnati he was a leader in everything that tended to the welfare of the German immigrants who were beginning to come in large numbers into the west. He was present as theologian to Bishop Purcell at the fifth provincial council of Baltimore in 1843, and laid before that body a plan for a seminary for the education of priests to minister among the Germans. The council petitioned the pope to create a new diocese at Milwaukee, and recommended Father Henni as bishop, on account of the large German immigration to Wisconsin. He was accordingly nominated and consecrated bishop by Archbishop Purcell, 19 March, 1844. There was only one frame church in Milwaukee when he arrived there. For the 8,000 Roman Catholics in the diocese there were but four priests. The bishop devoted himself energetically to remedy this state of things; in less than three years he had increased the number of priests to thirty-four. St. Mary's church was opened in 1847, and in the same year he began the erection of a cathedral, and founded a hospital which he placed under the charge of the Sisters of Charity. In 1848 he went to Europe to visit the pope, and also travelled through Germany. On his return he founded an orphan asylum and built the churches of Holy Trinity and St. Gall. In the mean while institutions were springing up in every direction under his initiative. He collected money in Cuba and Mexico for the completion of his cathedral, and was enabled to consecrate it on 31 July, 1853. In 1854 he began to build the seminary of St. Francis de Sales, or the "Salerianum." It was opened the following year under the direction of Father Heiss (q. v.), the present archbishop of Milwaukee. Meanwhile the territory of Wisconsin had become a state, containing a Roman Catholic population of over 300,000, and in 1868 the dioceses of La Crosse and Green Bay were created out of the northern part of Wisconsin. Finally Milwaukee was created an archbishopric, and Bishop Henni was nominated archbishop. He received the pallium in July, 1875, but soon afterward he began to decline in health. A visitation in 1879, in which he exerted himself beyond his strength, prostrated him, and he obtained a coadjutor, 14 March, 1880, but he soon became too weak to perform any official duty.

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