After the 1836 Treaty of Washington opened up the land for Europeans, Irish immigrants settled the area north of Grand Rapids. By 1844, it is estimated that 20-30 Irish families were settled in the area now known as Parnell. The town was named after Irish political leader Charles Stewart Parnell. The community came together to worship with a priest sent from Grand Rapids, most frequently in the home of Michael Farrell. By the end of the 1840s, planning for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church had begun. The original church was replaced by two other churches that burned down. The current structure and fourth church to be given the name Saint Patrick’s was built in 1878. It was renovated in the 1990s and still stands proudly over the farm fields surrounding Parnell.
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