The History of St. Anne Academy
St. Anne (population 1,212) is located in east central Illinois,
located 10 miles west of the Illinois-Indiana border and 12 miles southeast of Kankakee.
State Route 1 (aka the Dixie Highway) runs thru town,
as do two railroads and there are two lakes (Cote Lake
and Pickeral Lake)
that are at the north end of the community.
It is believed that St. Anne
was founded around 1850 during the time when the Rev. Charles Chiniquy moved there after leaving Boubonnais Grove (now
Bourbonnais), following a fire that destroyed the church
he was the pastor of in 1853. Chiniquy’s history is one filled with controversy due to being accused of setting that
fire, and was defended in court twice by Abraham Lincoln with both trials ending in a hung jury. The priest was also excommunicated
from the Roman Catholic Church by the Bishop of Chicago at the time, Anthony O'Regan, and started a Presbyterian Church in
St. Anne as he took many Catholic followers with him.
Around 1883, the Sisters
of the Congregation of Notre Dame came to St. Anne as a way to offset the problems that were caused by Chiniquy’s
excommunication by opening up an co-ed school as an alternative to the public school that was already in place. St. Anne Academy opened on September 29th of that year as 40 students were enrolled. The sisters
suffered physical privations and abuse from residents during that first school year as Chiniquy’s supporters opposed
the new school.