French - and German - settlements were responsible for the strong cultural presence of Catholics in Southeast Missouri in the 19th Century. Dispatched by church leaders with names still familiar to St. Louisans - Dubourg, De Andreis, Rosatti - missionary priests carved out parishes and built churches in Cape Girardeau, Perryville, and other SEMO towns. Many of the churches are still standing.
I thought about some of this yesterday as I passed through Poplar Bluff, where an uncle-priest had been stationed. Although it was already dark, I wanted to see his old church, Sacred Heart. As I approached the front door, the lights (miraculously?) turned on. I took these photos with my phone - one of the church and one of Father Slay's name on its cornerstone.