The town was settled by the Kingdom of France in 1720 upon discovery of lead ore in the area. Its original name, La Bonne Terre, French for "the Good Earth", refers to the richness of its mineral deposits. Saint Francois County, originally a colonial district, is named after Saint Francis of Assisi.
According to a history of the church:
The St. Joseph Church is the house of worhip for Catholics in the St. Joseph Parish. The parish and a church were established in Bonne Terre in 1872 as a mission of Old Mines. Before the Civil War the congregation was housed in a small church just north of town. It was assigned priests from nearby parishes.
The first church in Bonne Terre was built by Father Daily in 1873. This structure burned down in 1879 and was reconstructed in 1881. 1879 is also the year St. Joseph became an independent parish. The Desloge Lead Company donated the land for the second church and contributed to its construction. Rev. E. J. Dempsey, the first resident priest, supervised construction of this church. To the church were added a school building in 1885 and a priest's residence in 1888.
In 1908 the parish began construction of a building to replace the wooden frame church. It was not finished until 1916. During that time the congregation worshipped in the basement of the new church under a temporary roof.
A combination school and convent were built at the site in 1906. This was staffed by the Ursuline Sisters until its closing in 1969. A new parochial school was built in 1922.
1917-1918 ANDREW AUBUCHON, NORMAN R. JACKSON, THEODORE STEINMETZ, CLARENCE J. THOMURE
The Old Rectory was built around 1880 as a home for St. Joseph parish priests and served as their residence until 1980 when, desperately in need of repair, it was closed and a new Rectory was built...
Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m.
Saturday Vigil: 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 7:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m.
Holy Days of Obligation: 8:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m.
15 Saint Joseph Street
Bonne Terre, Missouri 63628