Reverend J. G. Allemann came to Rock Island, Illinois, in 1850, started to organize a church and began building in the Summer of 1851 a stone church, the size being forty by sixty-six feet, and dedicated it St. James Church, it being the first Catholic Church in Rock Island, and Reverend J. G. Allemann being the first pastor. Reverend J. G. Allemann getting advanced in years, in May, 1856, was succeeded by Reverend John P. Donelan, he remaining as assistant to Reverend John P. Donelan until 1859, when Reverend John P. Donelan was transferred to Rockford, Illinois. Reverend P. J. R.. Murphy taking Reverend John P. Donelan’s parish here and remained pastor until the Summer of 1861, when he was appointed chaplain of the Fifty-eighth Illinois Regiment. Next came Reverend P. J. McElherne, who succeeded Reverend P. J. R. Murphy. St. James’ congregation grew so large that Reverend P. J. McElherne began the building of the present St. Mary’s Church, now occupied by the German Catholics. The building was begun in 1863 and completed in 1865. Reverend P. T. McElherne remained as pastor until 1870, when Reverend J. P. Roles was appointed pastor. In 1874 Reverend J. P. Roles transferred St. Mary’s Church to the German Catholic and bought the Presbyterian Church, corner Fourteenth Street and Second Avenue, and dedicated it St. Joseph’s Church. In 1877 Reverend J. P. Roles was transferred to Chicago, Illinois, and Reverend Thomas Mackin was appointed to fill the vacancy of Reverend J. P. Roles. He remained here until his death, which occurred February 22, 1904, when Reverend J. Roach came here as temporary pastor until October, 1905, when Dean J. J. Quinn, from Chatsworth, Illinois, was appointed the present pastor.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908