Wisc Way DAY FOUR: Cooperstown to Whitelaw

On DAY FOUR of the Wisc Way pilgrimage, we celebrate Mass at St. James Catholic Church Cooperstown, spend time meditating at the waters of Devil’s River near the historic Rock Mill, walk with someone we don’t know and then saunter into Whitelaw, WI. As said in the introduction, make sure to call ahead for opening days and times during this era of COVID.

START: St. James Catholic Church, Cooperstown  |  END: St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Whitelaw

15.4 mi/ 24.8 km  |  5h 1m  |  Farm Section  |  Services: Convenience store at BP gas station, Kellnersville; Cravings Bakery and Gills Bar and Grill, Whitelaw

DAY FOUR of the Wisc Way in Pictures

St. James Catholic Church, Cooperstown - Follow the Wisc Way

red brick church with tall steeple and rose window at St James Catholic Church Cooperstown
St. James Catholic Church in Cooperstown, WI , on the Wisc Way pilgrimage | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Wittig photo

Early settlers established the first church here in 1850, just three years after speculators built a lumber mill down the road. (See Historic Rock Mill, below.) The 1850 census records a mere 84 people living in the township at the time. Parishioners built the first church at Cooperstown of hand-hewn logs similar to Stengelville. But to put the settlement of this region in perspective, settlers started the church fourteen years before establishing Stengelville’s parish. A second church at this site, built in 1871, burned in 1914. That same year, parishioners hurried to construct the brick structure that you see today.

My host family invited me to attend Mass, and I was happy to worship and meet Fr. Santy. After the service, he gave me a pilgrim blessing and then asked that I pray for him and the St. James Parish while I walked.

Since I am a veteran pilgrim of Camino de Santiago in Spain, I was thrilled that Fr. Santiago (Santy) Turiano Jr. blessed me at St. James Church. Santiago is the Spanish version of ‘St. James,’ of course. Since I am accustomed to seeing Santiago dressed as a pilgrim or as a knight on a white horse, I did not recognize him among the statues of saints in the sanctuary. Could someone leave a comment below on where we might find him? Is he the saint in the red robe holding the scroll?

Historic Rock Mill, Maribel

Weathered vintage 2.5 story mill calle historic Rock Mill thick forest that is changing to fall colors on Wisc Way pilgrimage
Historic Rock Mill in Maribel, WI is on Wisc Way pilgrimage | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

Pliney Pierce built the mill to cut lumber in 1847. After settlers felled most of the timber in the area, the mill on Devils River converted to a gristmill. Rock Mill, as it was called, served mostly Czech, German and Irish immigrant farmers.

Check out the rapids behind the rustic buildings of Historic Rock Mill that are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The sounds of falling water make this a special place of quiet and retreat. The Ojibwe people noted this river’s spiritual qualities and called it Ma-na-to-kik-e-we-se-be, meaning “Stooping Spirit River.”

Today one of the vintage log structures of Historic Rock Mill houses the office and camp store of Devils River Campground.

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Walk With Someone You Don't Know - It's part of Pilgrimage

older man in helmet on mountain bike with farm fields behind him and barn with silo on horizon on Wisc Way
Divine encounter with W. Michael Slattery who wants to walk Camino de Santiago in Spain

When was the last time you walked with someone you don’t know? During pilgrimage you have the opportunity to walk side-by-side and talk with people you’ve never met before. It’s a blessing of the road.

On this day of walking, DAY FOUR, I had my first encounters with local walkers on the road. I slowed my pace so I could let one walker catch up to me.  I learned he was a retired concrete pump truck driver here in the neighborhood. I’d noticed earlier that these farmers buy a lot of concrete. My opinion was based on all the trucks going by.

We walked and talked until his route took him a different way.  Later, I was blessed when a bicycler slowed, eager to speak with me and ask me about what I was doing.

W. Michael Slattery, the man on the mountain bike, moved from Tokyo, Japan, to this place in Wisconsin. He’d lived a Japanese life for over a decade. Michael and his wife moved here because he thought it was beautiful. However, the farm is so much work, he said. He got rid of his livestock last year and would like to go on the Camino de Santiago, but he still has too much work. Does that sound familiar?

I encouraged him to make time to make the pilgrimage

I encouraged him to make time to make the pilgrimage.  Then I told him about my Camino spiritual and walking guidebook. He told me that he, too, was an author. Marquette University Press publishes his books. The Lord sent me an angel even though the human angel Michael expressed that he was not too happy with the system here in the US.

I asked if he had culture shock when he returned. He was quick to say yes—he had culture shock going there, and culture shot coming back. I can’t imagine as I had quite the reverse culture shock after only two months walking from Le Puy en Velay in France to Spain. In that short eight weeks, I, too, had difficulties coming back to the US.

Here’s W. Michael Slattery’s book, Jesus the Warrior? Historical Christian Perspectives & Problems on the Morality of War & The Waging of Peace (Marquette Studies in Theology) on Amazon. You can learn more about his book by clicking the link.

Onto St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Whitelaw

rose window of red and blue glass on the Wisc Way pilgrimage depicting women saints
One of the rose windows at St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, in Whitelaw, WI on the Wisc Way

I stopped for lunch at the mini-mart at the BP gas station in Kellnersville. I was happy to find a picnic table outside the shop, and since the weather was sunny, I treated myself to a Diet Pepsi. You can also buy Parallel 44 wine, beer, sloppy joe mix, breakfast cereals, tomato sauce etc. at the mini-mart. The afternoon walk into Whitelaw was lovely—after four days of walking, I was finding my pace.

Fr. Kurz stopped by while I was walking to deliver my “Pray with Mary, Walk with Jesus” T-shirt. Maybe I’ll include a picture of the shirt in upcoming posts. So make sure to “SUBSCRIBE” below.

The rectory of St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Whitelaw is where I spent the night. Thank you so much, Sharon and Fr. Klingeisen.

By the way, Fr. Richard Klingeisen has a series of podcasts called A Life of Giving.

DAY FOUR Walking Route

Today’s journey on the Wisc Way was on country roads. My route on Google Maps.

For Meditation: Honing a Supernatural Outlook

The Native Americans who named the river “Ma-na-to-kik-e-we-se-be” saw ordinary, commonplace things in relation to the supernatural. How can we better hone this supernatural outlook? What helps you see God in ordinary things? Do you listen for God in the babbling brook, in the wind in the maple trees, or in the words of others?

Isaiah 30:21 says, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you: ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you would turn to the right or the left.” How can you better hear that whisper that directs you along your path?

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was NOT provided with accommodations, meals or other compensation for the purpose of this guide. The Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

In addition, this blog, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, Stacey earns a commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the costs of keeping this travel blog active. 

Further, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for reading.

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