The parish of St. Joseph was organized in Rice Lake in 1880 and incorporated in 1891. Property for the church was purchased from Knapp, Stout Lumber Company as part of the Diocese of La Crosse. The first church, built of wood and brick veneer, was erected in 1881 when the town’s population was 471. It was a mission of Dobie until 1887 when Rev. Michael Schoelch was appointed resident pastor. Church records begin the month of September 1887. Rev. Schoelch
remained only eight months after which St. Joseph Church reverted to a mission of Our Lady of Lourdes until 1889, the year the first rectory was built. At this time there were 125 families in St. Joseph Parish. By 1892 Rice Lake’s population had soared to 2,500. In 1905 it became part of the Diocese of Superior.