Rev. Henry Mensing Biography


This biography appears on pages 1050, 1051 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. V (1915) and was scanned, OCRed and edited by Maurice Krueger,


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Rt. Rev. Henry Mensing, of Webster, one of the best known representatives of the Catholic priesthood in his part of the state, was born in Germany, June 19, 1850, a son of John and Agnes (Duvell) Mensing, who in the year 1881 left their native country and with their family sailed for the new world. They settled on a homestead claim at Pierre, South Dakota, and for many years thereafter the father was identified with agricultural interests. His wife died in 1884 but he survived until 1897. In their family were four children but only two are now living, the younger, William, being now a resident of North Dakota.


The older, Rt. Rev. Henry Mensing, acquired a classical education in Germany and pursued his theological course in preparation for the priesthood at the University of St. Francis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, entering that institution of learning in 1881. He was ordained in 1884 and was assigned to duty at Webster, where he has since remained. There was but a small congregation at that place when he was given charge of the parish and for the first seventeen years he had charge of the Catholic churches at Webster, Bristol, Andover, Groton, Waubay, Grenville, Frank, Eaton, Sisseton, Britton, Langford and a country charge thirty eight miles from Webster. He drove over the country looking after the spiritual interests of his parishioners and largely stimulating the growth of Catholicism in his part of the state. There was no church edifice at Webster when he took up his abode there but in 1888 he succeeded in erecting a comfortable house of worship, which has since been enlarged three different times. He also built a big parochial school in 1906 and there are now seven Sisters who are acting as teachers and one hundred and twenty-five children in attendance. Branches up to and including the eighth grade are taught. The school was erected at a cost of twenty thousand dollars and constitutes an important feature of the church property.


Father Mensing is a leading member of the Foresters and spiritual director of the order. He was appointed domestic prelate by the Pope with the title of monsignor in 1907 and for a year and a half, beginning in 1895, he acted for the bishop when this diocese lacked a bishopric appointment. Becoming connected with the church here in pioneer times, he has contributed in very large measure to Catholicism and is a most earnest and conscientious worker for the church.