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Accepting an invitation from Bishop Peter Baltes, Diocese of Alton, Illinois, 20 Sisters from Germany arrived in the United States on November 3, 1875. In addition to Alton, he sent small groups to Springfield, Belleville, Effingham, East St. Louis, and Litchfield – all in Illinois. They learned English, introduced themselves to the people of the area, and began nursing care, earning the residents’ trust.

They quickly became engaged in providing home care and building hospitals. Eventually other locations requested their services, primarily in German communities in Illinois and Wisconsin. Women in the United States were inspired by their work and joined them.

We are honored to share a treasure from our archives: the diary of Sister Crispina Topp, OSF (May 24, 1850 - January 26, 1927). Sister Crispina (pictured below, circa 1920s) was among the 20 Sisters from Germany who were chosen to be missionaries in America and their arrival in November 1875 marks the beginning of the health care ministry that continues today through the service of thousands of colleagues throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. 

Click here for the diary video.




Sister Crispina was born on May 24, 1850 in Warendorf, Germany. She entered the community on October 2, 1869 and professed first vows on March 9, 1872. When the request for missionaries to America was made in 1875, she applied and was accepted. 

Here are her assignments:
1875 – St. John’s Hospital – Springfield, IL
1876 – St. Anthony’s Hospital – Effingham, IL
1878 – St. Mary’s Hospital – Decatur, IL
1882 – St. Elizabeth’s Hospital – Belleville, IL
1883 – St. John’s Hospital – Springfield, IL
1887 – St. Mary’s Hospital – Streator, IL
1895 – St. Joseph’s Hospital – Highland, IL
1896 – St. Nicholas Hospital – Sheboygan, WI
1901 – Sacred Heart Hospital - Eau Claire, WI
She died on January 26, 1926 and is buried in Crucifixion Hill Cemetery (Springfield, IL).

Hospital Sisters of St. Francis 4 849 LaVerna Road, Springfield, IL 62707 (217)522-3386
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