LAWRENCE (SNR) – John Brockman, a member of St. Stephen Parish in Lawrence, was born in 1897 and was just 20 years old in 1918 when, within a week, he contracted Spanish Influenza and died.
With the widespread epidemic at the time, public gatherings of all kinds were banned. Brockman’s funeral was held at an outside altar constructed for the purpose. Only his father, Henry Brockman, attended the funeral Mass celebrated by St. Stephen pastor Father Alois Hahn, and Sacred Heart Parish’s pastor, Father Charles Becker.
The Knights of Columbus membership journal kept by Council 1906 in Lawrence recorded that John Brockman joined the Knights of Columbus June 9, 1918. His life insurance in the amount of $1,000 was paid that November. Brockman’s parents gave the insurance money to St. Stephen Church to purchase a nativity set in his memory.
The nativity set, which is still used to this day, was made in Germany. Father Hahn was familiar with the German studio that produced the statues and purchased the set on one of his trips to his homeland. Parishioners estimate that its current worth would be $15,000.