Title to Holy Hill
The original forty acres of land comprising Holy Hill remained government property until purchased by Fr. Francis Paulhuber for $50 in 1855. Fr. Paulhuber, a native of Salsburg, Austria pastored three local parishes: St. Boniface, in Germantown; St. Hubert's, in Hubertus; and St. Augustine's, in Richfield. While visiting his friend Joseph Kohler, Fr. Paulhuber gazed on this hill and made a prophetic statement: "That beautiful hill yonder, reminds me very forcibly of a hill near our home in my native country. I feel sure and the day is not far distant, when that hill will become one of the most noted places in all this land; when it shall be consecrated and made holy; a place of worship and pilgrimage when tens of thousands shall come to do homage to the Virgin Mary and her Son..." After his prophecy Fr. Paulhuber made a commitment to buy the property for the church: "Only lately have I learned that the hill is still owned by the government and it is my intention to secure it without delay, and then permanently established the title by deed to this Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church."
Fr. Paulhuber purchased the land with the intention of transfering the deed to the church. According to government records, the deed was recorded in his name and entered by him on May 1, 1855, by duplicate No. 38710. Apparently Fr. Paulhuber left the deed with John M. Gans, an area notary public, giving him instructions to transfer the deed to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. During this era records were not always kept and the matter was either forgotten or overlooked. Fr. Paulhuber returned to his Austrian home and died there without leaving further instructions. Mr. Gans also died without leaving witnesses to the transaction. This caused serious tax problems as well as complications in the title of the land. Since the land was legally recorded in Paulhuber's name, it was taxed and assessed as private property.
The land was sold for taxes and bought by Martin L. Cutler of Albany, New York. Cutler's deed was dated August 13, 1856, only fifteen months after Fr. Paulhuber purchased the land. This was sooner than the law allowed for deeding of land for taxes. It appeared, because of an error in the description of the land, that some other property was sold for taxes and inserted into Cutler's deed. He continued to pay the assessed taxes for twelve years until March 9, 1868 when he entered a quit claim deed to Washington Co. for $8.84. This step was evidently encouraged by diocesan authorities in order to correct the imperfect title to the property. The quit claim deed from Washington County to the trustees of St. Mary's Chapel in Erin Township was recorded November 5, 1868 at 2:00 p.m. The price was $10.00.
Eight years later, on May 26, 1876, a quit claim deed was entered by the trustees of St. Mary's Chapel (Roman Goetz, John Piek and Bertram Schwarz) to Archbishop John Martin Henni, Archdiocese of Milwaukee. This deed, recorded at 2:00 p.m. June 29, 1876, is located on page 17 in volume 36 of Deeds at the Washington County Register of Deeds, West Bend, Wisconsin. The total for the deed was $1.00.