Skip to main content

Full text of "The centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky"

See other formats

^irtt^'tf^Vx-.VrtV^' H'^x . . 

Columbia ©niuerjs^ttp 


Bequest of 

Frederic Bancroft 


^^'ii i,:'lli;^l!''Hllll>'!!!niii;Z;ii ''"•■"!' 

"II" i t''!ii >■''•'' "'«ii^ 

^ifiii.,: . 1^ 


:'."«i( :ii 

:.!' " !:'»iii..:i ;:!!!iiiiii :;' 

" iiiii.:'!!.: 
.. !iiiiiii'';.ir., 

i.ii''''MiiiinrJ:,,,ii< liii^^ 




Z-^I^-O^P-^^^^^--^ ^" 


1 1 


y. '/ 

r J 


/ ) J 



















\ lOi? 

Copyright Secured. 1884. 




% ricif^ 

^ CO 




Author's Preface, 3 

Acknowledgments, 9 

Kentucky — Geographical Position— Soil Characteristics — 
Mineral Wealth, n 

Catholic Emigration to Kentucky — T h e Pottinger's 
Creek Settlement, 24 

The Hardin's Creek Settlement, 45 

Settlements in and near Bardstown, 57 

The Cartwright's Creek Settlement, 67 

The Scott County Catholic Settlement, 88 

The Settlement on the Rolling Fork, ; 102 

The Cox's Creek Settlement, 114 


Breckinridge County Settlement, 141 

The First Catholic Missionaries, 156 

Father Badin Again Alone, i75 

Rev. Charles Nerinckx, 184 

The Trappists in Kentucky, 194 

The Dominicans in Kentucky, 200 

The Diocese of Bardstown, 213 

Rev. John B. David — The Seminary of St. Thomas, . . 226 

Convents and Schools for Girls — The Sisterhood of 

LorettO; 233 


The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, 245 

The Dominican Convent of St. Catharine of Sienna, . .261 

The Cathedral of St. Joseph, Bardstown, 269 

St. Joseph's College, 276 


St. Mary's College 282 

The Mission of Louisville, 288 

Rev. and Rt. Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds, 312 

Rev. and Rt. Rev. John McGill, 320 

The Mission of Lexington, 328 

Rt. Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget, 338 

Rev. and Rt. Rev. John B. David, 34S 

Rev. and. Rt Rev. Guy Ignatius Chabrat, 353 

Revs. W. E. Clark and John B. Hutchins, 357 

The Mission of Union County, ^67, 

The Bishopric of Bardstown — 1819-1840, 373 

The Jesuits in Kentucky — St. Mary's College, 385 

The Diocese of Louisville — The Last days of Bishop 

Flaget, 400 



The Convent of the Good Shepherd, 405 

The Missions of Hardin and Meade Counties, 412 

The Mission of Grayson County, 421 

The Mission of Daviess County, 425 

The Jesuits at Sr. Joseph's College — 1848-1868, . . . . 433 

Rev. S. T. Badin — His Later Years, 441 

Rt. Rev. Martin John Spalding, 474 

Very Rev. B. J. Spalding, Administrator, 489 

Rt. Rev. P. J. Lavialle, 492 

Catholicity in Southern Kentucky, 49^ 

Rev. Robert A. Abell — 1 834-1 873, 5°° 

St. Thomas' Seminary — Very Rev. F. Chambige, 508 

The Churches of Louisville, 514 


The Diocese of Covington, 530 

The Charitable Institutions of the State, 541 

Preston Park Seminary — Houses of Study — Other Schools, 5 50 

Appendix, 557 

Writings of Early Missionaries, 559 

Churches not Heretofore Noticed, 576 

Centennial Religious and Educational Statistics of 
Kentucky — 1 785-1885, 580 


In the volume here presented will be found engraved portraits of: 

f'rom 1 painted likeness kindly furnished by Rt. Rev. William G. McCloskey, Bishop of 



From a portrait painted by a Sister of the Loretto Society — furnished by the Mother Superior 

of Mount St. Benedict's Academy. 


From a photograph furnished by his nephew, Rev. J. J. Abell. 


French emigrant to Louisville in 1806 — From a crayon drawing executed in 1819 by the world- 
renowned painter and naturalist, John James Audubon — furnished by Mrs. 
Joseph B. Lilly, a granddaughter of M. DeGallon. 


From a photograph taken in 1870. 


Fifteen Years ago the historical record herewith presented to the 
CathoHc public of the country was suggested to me by a clerical friend, 
now deceased, of the Archdiocese of Boston. Too much occupied at 
the time with business affairs to give thought to the matter, I allowed 
it to pass from my mind. Toward the close of the year 1876, I was 
again approached on the subject, this time by a number of Kentucky 
priests, all personal friends. They were importunate, and nothing I 
could say in opposition to their views had any effect to moderate their 
persistency. They argued that the work suggested was called for in 
justice to the memory of the dead, and in the interests of the living 
children of the Church, not only in Kentucky, but in every part of the 
country ; that the past of the Church in our State had been an era of 
true christian heroism, and that the part taken in its foundation and 
early extension by both priests and people, if faithfully chronicled and 
set before the eyes of their successors and descendants, would furnish 
both with motives for increased zeal in the service of God. 

My fitness for the task proposed was assumed by these friends from 
the fact, that having been, either as publisher or editor, connected with 
the Catholic press of the diocese for more than forty years, I had 
necessarily acquired something of facility as a writer, and something, 
too, of skill in the arrangement of matter supposed to be of general 
Catholic interest. Finally, as they expressed it, to none other than 
myself had there been given opportunities to learn what was absolutely 
necessary to a faithful record of facts bearing on the subject involved, 
and of incidents relating thereto ; and hence it was their conviction 
that the consummation of the work depended solely upon my willing- 
ness to undertake it. 

However doubtful of my own capabilities, and but faintly recog- 
nizing at the time the extent of the obligation assumed, and the sum of 
labor it involved, I found myself powerless any longer to resist the ex- 
pressed will of these friends. Seven years have come and gone since 
my first steps were taken toward my journey's end that has only now 
been reached. It were idle here to speak of the many disappoint- 


ments I have met with in my endeavor to secure information, supple- 
mental to my own previous knowledge, touching individuals and inci- 
dents, parts of the past with which I had to deal, that were regarded 
by me as important to the completeness of my narrative. Before I 
began to write, I had no idea of the numbers there are, Catholics in 
both practice and name, who seem neither to know nor care whence 
they sprung, or in how far they are indebted to their ancestors for the 
transmitted virtues by which they are to-day distinguished in society 
and the Church. Pride of ancestry, I have found, is a much more 
common sentiment among people whose descent is from those who ex- 
hibited in their lives, much of worldly wisdom, it may be, but nothing 
whatever of supernatural virtue, than it is among those whose fore- 
fathers were best known in their day and generation for their adher- 
ence to Catholic truth, and by their compliance with the precepts 
inculcated by their religion. 

Properly speaking, all history should be for instruction, for edifica- 
tion, and for warning; and especially should this be so when its subjects 
are used to illustrate the relations of a people, even of a family, with 
the Supreme Arbiter of its destinies, the Fashioner of its faith and 
the only object of its adoration. It should not be otherwise than 
comforting to any Catholic to be able to trace backward the lines of 
his ancestry, and to find them supported throughout their length by 
men and women who knew how to appreciate their great privilege 
of being reckoned among the obedient children of the Church. 

With the view of giving to the thousands of their descendants, in 
Kentucky and scattered throughout the South ^nd West, starting points 
for investigation into their family histories, I have sought to secure the 
names, both family and baptismal, of the original Catholic colonists in 
the eight leading Catholic settlements of Kentucky. I am pleased to be 
able to say that my efforts in this direction, thanks to friends whose aid 
has not been wanting in all the older congregations of the State, have 
been successful beyond anything I could have reasonably hoped for. 
I am satisfied that the names of but few Catholic emigrants to Ken- 
tucky between the years 1785 and 18 14, whether from Maryland and 
the adjoining States, or from England, Ireland and France direct, have 
escaped my own researches or those of the friends to whom I have 

A subject for disquisition that has not a little interested me, refers to 
the national derivation of the proper names borne by our Maryland 
forefathers in the faith. By far the greater number of these appear to 


me to be of distinct English derivation. This circumstance is readily 
to be accounted for by the fact, that, being himself an Englishman, it 
was but natural that Lord Baltimore should have endeavored to secure 
for his associates in his scheme of American colonization, friends and 
neighbors of his own nationality, banned by the laws then in force, as 
he was himself, on account of their adherence to the faith of their 
fathers. Among these names, alike familiar to the Catholic ear in 
Maryland and in Kentucky, may be mentioned the following : Adams, 
Alvey, Aud, Bean, Beaven, Boone, Brewer, Beckett, Blandford, 
Bowlin, Blacklock, Boles or Bowles, Burch, Cecil or Cissell, Carrico, 
Clark, Clements, Clarkson, Cambron, Coomes, Cooper, Craycroft, 
Dant or Dent, Downs, Drury, Elder, Edelin, Elliott, Fenwick, Forrest, 
Fowler, Gardiner, Gwynn, Greenwell, Gettings, Hayden, Hardisty, 
Howard, Hamilton, Hill, Hutchins, Jenkins, Jarboe, Johnson, Lan- 
caster, Livers, Lucas, Luckett, Montgomery, Mattingly, Miles, Medley, 
Mills, Mudd, Norris, Osborne, Payne, Queen, Raley or Raleigh, 
Rapier, Rudd, Rhodes, Roby, Spalding, Sanders, Speaks, Spink, 
Sansbury, Sims, Smith, Thompson, Tucker, Wathen, Wheatley, 
Willett, Weatherington, Worland, Yates, and numerous others, all 
supposed by me to be of either English, Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Norman 

Then we have others that are as distinctly Irish, such as Bryan and 
O'Brien, Byrne, Dolan, Donohoo, Fagan, Flannigan, Gannon, 
Gallahan, Hagan, corruption of O'Hagan, Hughes, Kelly, Mahony, 
MoUahorne, corruption of Mollihan, McAtee, Nally, Neeley, O'Neil, 
Roney, and possibly, Riney, by some written Raney. It is quite 
certain that early emigrants to Kentucky bearing some of these names 
were born in Ireland. It is equally assured that certain among them, 
notably the McAtees and the Hagans, bore names that are to this day 
so common in Maryland as to warrant the belief that their descent was 
from those who were of the Colony of St. Mary's, established in 1634. 

It will be observed, too, that certain baptismal names were common 
to all the settlements. Some of these, such as Jeremiah, Hezekiah, 
Nehemiah, and Zachariah, would likely be denominated frightful by the 
godmothers of our own times. Then there are many names drawn 
from the storehouse of church nomenclature that are curious from 
the frequency of their application to the infant humanity of Catholic 
Maryland. Among these specially noticeable, will be found : Ambrose, 
Austin, Augustine, Andrew, Anthony, Anselm, Bennet, Bernard, 
Basil, Clement, Felix, Giles, Gregory, Hilary, Hugh, Ignatius, 


Jerome, Leo, Lawrence, Matthew, Nicholas, PhiUp, Patrick, Raphael, 
Stephen, Simeon, Valentine, Wilfred, and Walter. One has but to 
look at these names to know what was the faith professed by those who 
bore them. The baptismal names, Leonard, Randal, and Roger, were 
common among the first emigrants to Kentucky, and they are common 
in both Maryland and our own State to the present day. The first 
of these was undoubtedly adopted and continued among the colonists 
of St. Mary's in honor of their great English leader, Leonard Calvert. 
The task imposed upon me by my clerical friends was no doubt 
suggested by their knowledge of the fact that my personal relations 
with very many of the deceased clergy of the State had been of a 
very intimate character. It is something for me to say that my remem- 
brances of sixty odd years fairly throng with moving figures in ecclesi- 
astical garb whose hearts have long been pulseless. With little stretch 
of fancy, they appear to me now as they did in life. I touch their 
hands, and I feel the returning pressure. I look into their eyes, and 
I see no diminution of lustre. I hear their voices, and their instructive 
Avords find lodgment in my ears and in my heart. They raise their 
annointed hands in blessing and in sacramental absolvement, and my 
head is bent to receive the benison and the divinely instituted release 
from the thraldom of Satan. I see them in sanctuary ceremonial, at 
the altar, in the pulpit, in class-room and study-hall, and at the bed- 
sides of the sick and dying. Now they appear to me slowly pacing the 
seminary lawn, in the shadow of the former Cathedral of the diocese, 
here singly, and there in pairs, telling their beads, and reciting the 
words of the divine office ; and now I see them with mien indulgent, 
overlooking, and sometimes taking part in the noisy games of college 
youths in the hours of recreation. I sit at table with them in the 
dining-room of the episcopal residence, where hospitable entertainment 
is regarded as one of my privileges, and I listen or talk where speech 
is free, where serious converse gives place at times to jest and banter 
and the room is made to ring with laughter, not rippling, it may be, 
like that of childhood, but just as hearty and just as guileless. I greet 
them on the street ; I travel with them on horse back, by stage coach, 
by river steamer and railroad conveyance; I receive them as my 
guests, visit them in their own rooms, ask for and receive their advice, 
and am honored by their confidence. 

Some one may ask : See you nothing against which you would 
gladly shut your eyes ? — nothing that it has pained you to refer to in 
the history you have written ? Alas, yes ! As in society and civil 


government history is constantly repeating itself, so there have ap- 
peared in the Church of Christ as the years rolled on paraphrases of 
the events chronicled in the Sacred Scriptures touching the Apostolate 
chosen by our Lord Himself. In Kentucky, as elsewhere, there has 
been faltering through human weakness, followed by tears and peni- 
tence and faithful championship. Sale, too, has been made of the Son 
of God, and to the price paid has been added wretchedness and despair. 
But litde has my history to do with these unfortunates, few in number, 
thank God, and they will be found referred to only to bring into bolder 
relief characters against whom reproach, whether implied or openly 
charged, would but constitute slander. 

In the pages that follow much space has been devoted to pen-por- 
traiture, as well in respect to person as character, of numbers of cler- 
gymen who were formerly identified with the mission of Kentucky and 
its Catholic establishments. I have endeavored to present these heroes 
of a past age in the religious history of the State as they were known 
to me when living, not as saints already glorified, but as soldiers of the 
cross of Christ, battling loyally for the right, and retrieving lost advan- 
tage when worsted in the combat. It would be too much to say, since 
they were but human, that they were all faultless, and that provision 
had been made in their regard against errors of judgment. Some of 
them were certainly deficient in erudition, and a few of them lament- 
ably so. This was due, not to intellectual incapacity, however, but to 
absolute lack of educational facilities at the time, and to circumstances 
requiring their ordination with the least delay possible in order to 
secure to a spiritually suffering people proper pastoral rehef. It is to 
be remembered that, for the greater number of them, their Seminary 
lives were as much given to manual labor as to study, the former con- 
dition being imperative in order to insure to themselves and their 
teachers the bare necessaries of hfe. But, whatever were their defici- 
ences in respect to culture and training, it is something for their biog- 
rapher to be able to say of them, that a more faithful, efficient and zeal- 
ous body of priests never did service in the cause of religion. All of 
them were fairly intelligent, and some of them singularly intellectual. 
I have no apology to make to any one for having devoted so many 
pages of my finished work to the Hves and labors, the sayings and 
doings, of Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin and Rev. Robert A. 
Abell. To say that these were unique characters, naturally suggesting 
to the biographer stressful points wherewith to embellish his narrative, 
would be little indicative of their historic consequence. They were 


grand characters as well, mediocre in nothing that ordinarily establishes 
well earned fame and gives to men a just claim to the gratitude of 
their fellows. I have found myself interested in their very eccentrici- 
ties, as will also, no doubt, the Catholic public here addressed, and in 
no wise has my idea of the moral grandeur of their lives been warped 
or diminished by the increased knowledge I have acquired of the 
singularities by which they were distinguished in society and in the 

That my historical record will find appreciative readers, and many 
of them, more, possibly, in the North and East than in the South and 
West, I do not permit myself to doubt. This will result much more 
from the character of material that has fallen in my way than from any 
extraordinary skill I have displayed in the line of construction. In 
very truth, the structure I have reared will be found one of fragments ; 
but there attaches a story to each one of these, complete in itself, that 
not only fits it for its appointed place in the general design, but gives to 
it every requisite of conformity. 

Wearied of my pencilings, long continued, often interrupted, and 
as often rewritten, I now push out of my sight the accumulated sheets 
to flutter before eyes that will discover in them, I trust, something for 
edification and litde for serious criticism. Should my hopes of public 
favor for my etchings be realized, I will here ask my readers, one and 
all, priests and laymen, to remember me wherein I am most needful of 
their charitable service — in their sacrifices and prayers. 


Louisville, Ky., April 25, 1884. 



Frequent reference will be found in the pages that follow to the 
researches made more than forty years ago by the Most Rev. M. J. 
Spalding and then given to the public in his "Sketches of the 
Early Missions of Kentucky," and his "Life of Bishop Flaget." 
So far as it was the design of the author to go, his work was admirably 
done, and his sketches have furnished me with numerous facts and 
occurences introduced into this history. It will be observed, too, that 
in the sketch I have given of that renowned missionary priest, Rev. 
Charles Nerinckx, I have availed myself freely of the tecord lately 
published of his life by Rev. Camillus Maes, of Detroit. 

It is but just to say that I have had the assistance of many individ- 
uals, both old and new-found friends, in the labor that was necessarily 
involved in the preparation of the matter that makes up the volume 
here presented. Without such aid, it had been impossible for me to 
get at many facts, as well in the history of Catholic emigration to Ken- 
tucky, as in that of the rise and progress of Catholicity in the State, 
that have added much to the value of my finished work. Referring to 
these friends, my grateful heart turns first of all to those among them 
who have passed away since I began to write. The late Rev. John 
B. Hutchins, my friend from childhood and my preceptor in youth, 
not only opened to me the storehouse of his extended remembrances, 
but he sought, and with marked success, to induce others to render me 
like service. In a minor degree, the same is to be said of Revs. Chas. 
I. CooMES and Michael Power, Drs. John E. Crowe and Thomas 
Jenkins, and Mr. James W. Osborne, all of Louisville, and all de- 
ceased since 1879. 

The interest that is exhibited at the cost of time and pains, no 
matter what may be its subject, should be, of all other, the most 
worthy of acknowledgment and thanks. Such interest has been taken 
in my labors by Most. Rev. William Henry Elder, Archbishop of 
Cincinnati; Rev. A. J. Thebaud, S. J., of New York City; Very 
Rev. a. Bessonies, V. G., Indianapolis, Ind. ; Rev. Walter H. 


Hill, S. J., of Saint Louis, Mo. ; Revs. E. J. Durbin, A. A. Aud, 
Thomas J. Jenkins, David Russell, Francis Wuyts and Lawrence 
Bax, of the diocese of Louisville, and Rev. Ferd. Brossart, of the 
diocese of Covington. 

Specially would I acknowledge the invaluable services rendered me 
in reference to Catholic colonization in Kentucky by Mrs. Hamilton 
Edelin, of Holy Cross congregation; Mrs. Albert Jenkins and 
Mr. Samuel Spalding, of that of St. Augustine, Lebanon; Mrs. 
Mary Blandford Ball, of that of St. Michael, Fairfield; and Mr. 
Richard Coomes of that of St. Lawrence, in Daviess county. 

To the Superiors and older members of the conventual establish- 
ments for females in Kentucky, I am indebted for much valuable infor- 
mation touching their respective foundations. 

Considerate service has also been rendered me, in respect to special 
points of inquiry, by Rev. James F. Callaghan, of the archdiocese 
of Cincinnati; Rev. William J. Dunn, of the Passionist Fathers; 
Rev. J. De Vries, of Bowling Green; Rev. Edwin Drury, of New 
Hope; Rev. M. Melody, of Leitchfield; Rev. J. J. Abell, of Coles- 
burg, Kentucky; and by Very Rev. M. Bouchet, V. G., and Revs. 
A. J. Harnist, H. J. Brady, M. L. Brandt, T. J. Disney, E. M. 
Bachman, M. Oberlinkels, Louis M. Miller, H. Plaggenborg, 
and others of the city pastorate of Louisville. For like service I am 
indebted to Messrs. Francis W. and Basil T. Elder, of Baltimore 
and Saint Louis, respectively; Edward, John G. and Benj. F. Mat- 
tingly and Mrs. Richard M. Spalding, of Marion county, Ken- 
tucky; Dennis Mulligan, Esq., of Lexington; Wm. F. McGill, 
Esq., of Bardstown; Richard P. Edelin and William F. Booker, 
Esqrs., of Springfield; and Sylvester Johnson, Esq., and Mrs. Ann 
HoRRELL Dawson, of New Haven, Kentucky. I am under similar 
obligations to the individuals here named, all residents of Louisville : 
Hon. Chas. D. Jacob, Hon. Patrick Campion, Hon. Richard J. 
Brown, Patrick Joyes, Esq., Frank Hagan, Esq., Judge J. C. 
Walker, Hamilton Pope, Esq., James S. Pirtle, Esq., and Messrs. 
Joseph B. Lilly, Thomas Leahy, Michael Rogers, Chris. Bosche 
and Thomas Carroll; also to Mrs. John Hays, Mrs. Mary Nip- 
pert, Mrs. Bernard McAtee and Mrs. John Doyle. Finally, I 
am indebted to the Passionist Fathers of "The Retreat," near Louis- 
ville, for a number of translations of original letters and documents 
from the French. 





The district of country known as Kentucky is situated between 
thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, and thirty-nine degrees ten minutes 
north latitude, and between eighty-one degrees fifty minutes, and 
eighty-nine degrees twenty-six minutes west longitude. Its area is 
forty-two thousand six hundred square miles, and it is bounded on the 
north by the Ohio river, separating it from the States of Ohio, Indiana 
and Illinois; on the east by Virginia; on the south by Tennessee; and 
on the west by the Mississippi river, separating it from the State of 

The surface of the country presents a pleasing diversity of aspect. 
Dipping from the Cumberland mountains, through ranges of heavily 
wooded hills of constantly decreasing elevation, it extends three hun- 
dred miles westward in beautiful levels and undulations, interrupted 
here and there by the rocky protuberances known to the language of 
the country as knobs, until stayed by the streams that constitute its 
northwestern and western boundaries. Springs of wholesome water 
percolate the land in every direction, and these, as a general thing, 
are never-failing. In addition to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, 
which water the northern and western boundaries of the State, Ken- 
tucky is traversed by several important streams that are navigable for 
long distances. These are the Big and the Little Sandy in the eastern ; 
the Tennessee and the Cumberland in the western ; and the Kentucky, 
Licking, Green and Barren rivers in the more central parts of the 
State. Salt river and its confluents, the Beech and Rolling Forks, 
though not navigable for steamers, have been made to serve the needs 
of commerce for nearly a hundred years in bearing upon their 
bosoms during the spring-tide freshets the produce of the country on 
its way to the markets of the south. 

When first visited by the whites, the forest growth of Kentucky was 
as rank as it was diversified. Nearly every species of tree and shrub 
known to the temperate zone was to be found thickly studding almost 


the entire surface of the State. Even now, though there has been 
much reckless waste of valuable timber in too many localities, there is 
ample remaining, and .of the best quality, to serve the necessities of a 
large population for many years to come. 

For the most part, the country rests upon a bed of hmestone — of 
blue limestone in the counties east of the Kentucky river, and of gray 
limestone in those to the west of that limit. In certain districts, how- 
ever, black shale abounds, and the lands thereabout are not considered 
productive. Beneath these rocky foundations, in both the eastern and 
western parts of the State, vast beds of coal and iron have already 
been exposed and are being profitably worked. Lead and gypsurn 
have also been found in different parts of the State, but not in quanti- 
ties sufficient to warrant active mining operations. Salt springs or wells 
abound in many localities. At one time the manufacture of salt was a 
primary industry of the State. Now, it is only made in large quan- 
tities in Clay county, in eastern Kentucky, and in Meade county, on 
the Ohio river about fifty miles southwest of Louisville. 

Taken as a whole, the soil of Kentucky is remarkable for its fertility. 
The lands overlying the blue limestone formation are undoubtedly the 
best, but there are vast tracts lying beyond the region wherein this 
characteristic geological formation prevails that are almost equally pro- 
ductive. In such a vast area, of course, uniformity in the value of 
lands for agricultural purposes is not to be reasonably expected. There 
are spots, and not a few of them, from which the husbandman will vainly 
seek a compensative return for his toil. It was upon just such a spot 
that the first CathoHc emigrants who came to Kentucky reared their 
rude tabernacles. Many have regarded this fact as a misfortune. The 
writer, whose descent is from one of them, is inclined to the belief 
that it was providential. 


It is difficult to say with certainty to what particular tribe of Indians 
the country known as Kentucky rightfully belonged at any era of 
which there is historic record. It is generally conceded that in the far 
distant past, possibly as many as eight hundred years ago, as some 
archaeologists affirm, the district to which now attaches the name was 
inhabited by a race of men whose civilization was of a higher type 
than that of any of the tribes that have since been brought into contact 
with the whites on the soil of North America. Without going into the 
details, there is abundant evidence in support of this theory to be found 
in the remains they have left us scattered all over the State, all point- 
ing unmistakably to a knowledge among them of certain of the arts, as 
well as of appliances of Hving, that were wholly unknown to any one 
of the nomadic tribes found in the country by its Caucasian discoverers. 

What are known as Indian tnounds are to be found in all parts of 
Kentucky. They usually appear on the margins of water courses, and 
upon level lands. It is doubtful at this day whether they were con- 


structed primarily for defence, sepulture, worship and_ sacrifice, or for 
all these uses combined. Some are square, some elliptical, some cir- 
cular, and some polygonal. Many of them have been opened and 
have been found to contain human remains. Their structure is often 
in accordance with a high standard of art, and the size of many of 
them, taken in connection with the fact that they are ordinarily situated 
in the midst of fertile plains and contiguous to running waters, would 
imply that their builders were an agricultural people and were pos- 
sessed of fixed habitations. 

It is of tradition that the name by which the State is known is of 
Indian origin, and that the meaning of the word is, The Dark and 
Bloody Ground. It is said by some that this title was applied to the 
district ages ago for the reason that, even then it had long been re- 
garded as disputed territory, over which mutually hostile bands were 
and had been in the habit of roaming and hunting and fighting, and to 
which no particular tribe had ever acquired a title by conquest. Some 
go so far as to assert that, so fierce and bloody had been the contests for 
its mastery, the Indians themselves came to regard the country as 
given over to the possession of malignant spirits, and that, for this 
reason, they were disinclined to it even as a temporary abiding place. 
This supposed prejudice on the part of the Indians, if it ever had an 
existence, must have worn itself out before any attempt was made by 
the whites to secure a footing in the country; otherwise, the history of 
those times would not be found blotted on almost its every page with 
accounts of tragedies that had their motive in Indian hostility to 
Caucasian colonization. 

It is quite certain that what is now known as Western Kentucky 
was inhabited by Indians at or very shortly before the time of the dis- 
covery of the country by the whites. These Indians, except, it may 
be, in the southwestern part of the State, where it is conceded that the 
Cherokees afterwards held sway, were most likely of the tribe of the 
Chaouanons, so designated in the writings of the French missionaries, 
who were undoubtedly the first Europeans that travelled through the 
western portion of the United States. This name of the original 
nation was changed by the English, first into Shauana, and later, into 
Shawnee. The Cumberland river, thus named about the middle of the 
last century by its discoverer, Dr. Thomas Walker, after the English 
Duke of that title, was called by the Indians, the Shawanee.' 

Though it is asserted that Col. Wood, an Englishman, explored 
Kentucky in 1654, and that a party of twenty-three Spaniards, all of 
whom were afterwards destroyed by the Indians, journeyed along its 
northern border as early as 1669, it is doubtful if the renowned Father 
Jacques Marquette was not the first white man whose feet pressed the 
soil of the State. Accompanied by Louis Joliet, and five other French- 
men, he descended the upper Mississippi in 1673, and reached the 
mouth of the Ohio, then called the Ouabouskigon, about the 5th of July 
of the year named. Happily, we are not left to conjecture in relation 
to the great Jesuit missionary's impressions. What he saw and heard 


was committed to j^aper, and the record remains. He tells us that the 
region to the east, tlirough whicli flows the Ohio, was peopled by the 
Chaouanons; that they were in such numbers that they reckoned twen- 
three villages in one district, and fifteen in another ; that they were 
peaceably disposed, and had been shamefully persecuted by the pow- 
erful tribe of the Iroquois, etc.* 

Had the Shawnees been an insignificant and unwarlike people, it is 
not likely that the Iroquois would have considered it worth their while 
to leave their own hunting grounds in western New York, and the 
shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, in order to make war upon 
them. With these latter war was a trade. They pushed their wars and 
invasions to the west and south; and, at the time of the discovery of 
the mouth of the Ohio by Father Marquette, they seem to have just 
overpowered the Shawnees, the ancient tenants of Kentucky, and 
also, possibly, of the Wabash country, f 

The extinction of Indian titles to proprietorship over the soil of 
Kentucky is claimed under the provisions of four distinct treaties 
entered into between the Indians and the whites. The first of these 
was the treaty of Albany, New York, made with the Iroquois in 1684, 
Lord Howard, Governor of Virginia, and Col. Thos. Dongan, Gov- 
ernor of New York, signing the treaty on the part of the whites. The 
second was effected at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1744, the contract- 
ing parties being the Chiefs of the confederation known as that of 
"The Six Nations" on the part of the Indians, and the Governors of 
Pennsylvania, and commissioners representing Virginia and Maryland 
on the part of the whites. The third, entered into Nov. 5th, 1768, is 
known as the treaty of Fort Stanwix. By this treaty the Indians, com- 
posing the original Iroquois league, ' ' together with the Delawares, the 

»It is exceedingly doubtful if the Shawnees were deserving of this eulogy 
of their peace-loving characteristics. They would have been glad to be at peace 
with the Iroquois because they knew themselves to be less powerful. They 
were, in fact, as their subsequent history shows, a fierce, hardy and warlike 
tribe, " In 1745," says Collins in his Annals of Kentucky, '* the Shawnees of 
Kentucky had retreated upon the banks of the Ohio, the Miami and the Mus- 
kingum to avoid their southern enemies. Being now at peace with the Men- 
guys, they allied with them against the Cherokees, Catawbas, Muscologees, 
Chickasaws, etc., and Kentucky remains the hunting ground of the northern 
and southern nations, where they meet at war." " In 1764," says the same 
authority, " they removed from Ohio to Pennsylvania, and from Green river 
to the Wabash." 

In 1804, the fierce Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, together with his brother, 
noted as " the Prophet," sought to incite a general massacre of the whites 
throughout the west by endeavoring to convince the tribes that it was their 
duty to combine to that end. If the true story could be told of the hundreds 
of massacres of white people in Kentucky during the last three decades of the 
eighteenth century, it is not to be doubted that the greater number of these, as 
well as the more daring and more atrocious, were committed by the Shawnee 

t Schoolcraft, in his History of the Indian Tribes of the United States says 
of the Shawnees : "This people always considered themselves to have claims 
to these attractive hunting-grounds," (those of Kentucky). 


Shawnees and the Mingoes, grant unto King George the Third, in 
consideration of the sum of;^io,46o, all the territory south of the Ohio 
and west of the Cherokee (Tennessee) rivers, and back of the British 
settlements." The fourth and last treaty was that entered into between 
the Cherokee Indians and the Henderson Land Company in 1775, by 
the terms of which, in consideration of the sum of ^10,000, the In- 
dians named ceded all their proprietary rights to the soil of the State 
to said Company.* 


The earliest recorded explorations of Kentucky — then a little 
known district of country, and geographically forming the vastly 
superior portion of Fincastle county, Virginia — were made, first by 
Dr. Thomas Walker in 1758, and second, by John Findlay in 1767. 
The first of these explorers, a native of Albemarle county, Virginia, 
crossed the Alleghanies, as some say, in 1747, but as is more generally 
believed, in 1758, and discovered the Cumberland range of mountains 
and the river by the same name heading therein. 

Findlay's expedition in 1767, was undertaken solely with the view 
of opening trade with the Indians. These becoming hostile, he and his 
companions were forced to return to their homes. The leader of the 
expedition had an eye, however, to the beauty of the country and its 
adaptation for permanent settlements, and it was owing principally to 
Findlay's glowing descriptions of what he had himself seen in the 
regions he had traversed that many of the frontiersmen of Virginia and 
North Carolina were influenced to leave their homes and tempt the 
uncertainties of existence in the then pathless wilds of Kentucky. 

Among those who took the deepest interest in Findlay's accounts of 
the country was one whose name became afterwards associated with 
the most stirring events that characterized the early history of the 
State. Daniel Boone was a noble adventurer. He was at once daring 
and prudent ; self-confident and modest ; almost misanthropic in his 
manner of life, and yet always ready to stand between his friends and 
danger. Collins thus refers to this remarkable man : 

"He was born in Burks county, Pennsylvania, on the nth Feb- 
ruary, 1 73 1. Of his life, little is known previous to his emigration 
to Kentucky. . . . It it said that his ancestors were among the 
original Catholic settlers of Maryland; but of this nothing is known 
with certainty; nor is it, perhaps, important that anything should be," 

* Under the provisions of this treaty, the Henderson Land Company claimed 
proprietary title to lands that had been previously conveyed to individuals 
and corporations by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Trouble immediately 
ensued between the Company and the aggrieved holders of these lands. To 
quiet the disturbance, the Legislature took the matter in hand and decided that 
the Company had acquired no title to the lands through its treaty with the 
Cherokees. There was assigned to it, however, by way of compensation for 
the money it had expended, an ample territory in the northwestern part of the 
State, including the district of country now known as Henderson county. 


We may be permitted to doubt if the writer of this is competent to 
decide upon the question he raises and so flippantly dismisses. At times, 
through lack of facilities necessary to the practice of their religion, 
individual Catholics have been known to lapse from the faith of their 
fathers. But in such instances the children do not ordinarily suffer total 
shipwreck of the legitimate results of the faith that was held and prac- 
ticed by their parents. It will be important for Catholics to know that 
Daniel Boone, notwithstanding he had little knowledge, and possibly 
none at all, of Catholicity as a system of religious faith, was indebted 
to his Catholic ancestors for those stern virtues, transmitted in the 
natural order, which at once distinguished them and characterized 
himself. * 

Immediately preceding his first visit to Kentucky, Daniel Boone 
was living with his family in one of the valleys bordering on the South 
Yadkin river, in North Carolina. Upon Findlay's return to the State, 
urged thereto, doubtless, as much by his own venturous spirit as by 
that pioneer's accounts of what he had seen, Boone made up his mind to 
organize a company for the further exploration of the country beyond 
the Cumberland mountains. Early in the year 1769, accompanied by 
Findlay in the capacity of guide, and by John Stuart, Joseph Holden, 
James Mooney and William Coole, all of his own neighborhood on 
the Yadkin, Boone began his rnarch westward. On the 7th June the 
party reached Red river, in eastern Kentucky, where they built a 
cabin and remained until the 2 2d December following. On that day 
while out hunting, Boone and Stuart were captured by Indians, from 
whom, after several days, they succeeded in escaping. On regaining 
their camp they found it dismantled and deserted ; and of those who 
had been left in its occupancy no word was ever heard. A few days 
later the survivors were joined by Squire Boone, a younger brother 
of Daniel, and another man who had followed the expedition from 
North Carolina. But soon after this accession to their numbers, Stuart 
was shot and scalped by the Indians. The only remaining companion 
of the brothers became discouraged and returned to North Carolina. 
With an interval of several months, during which the younger of the 
brothers returned to'North Carolina in order to procure a fresh supply 
of ammunition, the Boones remained together, "roving through the 
woods in every direction, killing abundance of game, and finding an 
unutterable pleasure in contemplating the natural beauties of the forest 
scenery," until March-, 177 1, when they retraced their steps to North 
Carolina. For nearly three years Boone remained away from his 
family, and during all that time, "he never tasted bread or salt; nor 
beheld the face of a single white man, with the exception of his brother 
and the friends who had been killed." 

In the fall of the year 1773, Boone was at the head bf another expe- 
dition to Kentucky, but this resulted as disastrously as the first. When 

*The family name of Boone is quite common in both Marylana and Ken« 
tucky; and, for the greaterpart, those bearing it are Catholics in religion. 


the party, which was composed of forty armed men, neared the Cum- 
berland mountains, they were attacked by Indians, and a bloody battle 
ensued. The Indians were driven off, but six of the whites were 
killed or wounded, a son of the leader being of the number of the 
former. Completely demoralized by the occurrence, the remainder of 
the party retired to the settlements on Clinch river. In 1775, Boone 
was employed by Col. Richard Henderson to mark out a road for the 
pack horses and wagons of the party he was leading to Kentucky. 
This service he accomplished, reaching a point about fifteen miles from 
that upon which he shortly afterwards built the fort known as that of 
Boonesborough, on the 25th March of the year named. Here he was 
attacked by Indians and a number of his companions killed. Upon 
the completion of the fort he returned to Clinch river for his family, 
and their removal to the fort was happily accomplished some time 
during the following year. In July, 1776, a thrilling adventure hap- 
pened at the fort, which is thus described in Collins' History of 
Kentucky (Vol. II, page 58): 

"Jemima Boone and two daughters of Col. Calloway were amusing 
themselves in the neighborhood of the fort, when a party of Indians 
rushed from the surrounding coverts and carried them away captives. 
The screams of the terrified girls aroused the inmates of the garrison, 
and Boone hastily pursued with only a party of eight men. After 
marching hard for two nights, the little party came up with the Indians 
the third day. The pursuit had been conducted with such celerity 
and silence that the Indians were taken by surprise and easily routed. 
The young girls were restored to their parents without the slightest 

It would be interesting, if such digressions were admissible, to 
give here at least a synopsis of the events that took place at and near 
Boonesborough between the years 1776 and 1780. Night and day 
the garrison was kept on the alert, and very many distressful tragedies 
were enacted where peace and plenty have blessed a contented popu- 
lation for more than a hundred years. 

It is stated, but without sufficient authority,, as we conceive, that 
Gen. George Washington came into Eastern Kentucky -between the 
years 1770 and 1772, and surveyed two tracts of land for one John 
Fry — one in the present county of Lawrence, and the other in what 
is now Greenup county. 

In 1770, a party of forty hunters from Soiithwest Virginia united 
for the purpose of trapping and hunting west of the Alleghany moun- 
tains. Nine of them, under the leadership of Col. James Knox, 
penetrated the country as far south as the Green and lower Cumber- 
land rivers. On account of their extended absence from home, they 
were denominated "The Long Hunters." 

In the fall of 1773, Capt. Thomas Bullitt, a land surveyor from 
Virginia, reached the Falls of the Ohio and pitched his tent above the 
mouth of Beargrass creek. At night, for .fear of the Indians, he 
retired to a shoal in the river above Corn island. He was accompanied 


in this expedition by Jas. Sandusky, James Harrod, John Smith, Isaac 
Hite, Abraham Haptonstall, James Douglas, Ebenezer Severns,^ John 
Fitzpatrick and others. The party was joined later by Hancock 
Taylor, killed afterwards by the Indians, Mathew Bracken and Jacob 
Drennon. During this expedition Capt. Bullitt completed a number 
of surveys in the district now included in the boundaries of Jefferson 
and Bullitt counties; and, before leaving, he laid off the town of 

In May, 1774, a party composed of forty-one persons, under Capt. 
James Harrod, descended the Ohio river and encamped on the site 
now occupied by the city of Cincinnati. Proceeding on, they reached 
the mouth of the Kentucky river, which they ascended as far as what 
is now Mercer county, where they laid off the town of Harrodsburg 
and erected a number of cabins. 

The most noteworthy of the Kentucky pioneers, after Boone, was 
Simon Kenton. As early as 1771 he visited Kentucky in company 
with John Strader and George Yeager, the latter of whom had been 
brought up by the Indians. Failing in their search after certain cane 
lands, reported to them as exceedingly rich, they returned to the 
mouth of the Great Kanawha in the winter of 177 1, and engaged in 
huntmg and trapping. In March, 1773, they were attacked by 
Indians, and Yeager was killed. Kenton and Strader escaped to the 
woods, and after incredible sufferings, reached a camp of hunters on 
the banks of the Ohio. 

In July, 1773, Capt. Bullitt surveyed "a very good tract of land" 
on Big Bone creek for Robert McAfee, one of a numerous family of 
early pioneers in Kentucky. Bone Lick, as the locality is called, is 
in Boone county, about one and a half miles from the Ohio river. At 
the time referred to, it was a repository of bones of animals, immense 
in size and also in quantity.* 

Very many surveys were begun and finished in Kentucky in the 
year 1774, and from that time emigration to the State set in steadily. 
No holiday time had these first setders in wresdng the country from 
Indian mastery. Regarded by all the tribes having their nominal 
homes north of the Ohio river and south and west of the Tennessee, 
as intruders and usurpers of rights to which they had no claim in 
equity, they literally lived from day to day with their lives in their 
hands. To enable the reader to form a correct idea of the dangers 
to which they were exposed, we shall introduce here, taken at random 
from hundreds of such accounts, a few details of their troubled 
experiences : 

»One account of these bones speaks thus of them: " They were lying in 
the lick and close to it, as if most of the animals had been standing side by 
side and sticking in the mud when they met their death. Some of the joints 
of the back-bone were large enough for use in the place of stools, and some of 
the ribs were long enough to be converted into tent-poles. One of the tusks 
stuck out of the bank six feet, and so firmly was it imbedded that we found it 
impossible to remove or even shake it." 


"Col. John Floyd, who was a leading spirit among the pioneers 
of Kentucky, was one ot five brothers, three of whom were killed 
by the Indians. Two of his brothers-in-law also met a like fate. On 
the i2th April, 1783, Col. Floyd and his brother Charles, not suspect- 
ing danger, for there had been no late serious trouble with the Indians, 
were riding together near Floyd's Station, when they were fired upon 
and the former mortally wounded. He was dressed in his wedding 
suit of scarlet cloth, and thus was a prominent mark for his murderous 
foes. His brother, whose horse was wounded, sprang up behind the 
Colonel's saddle, and putting his arms about him, took the reins and 
brought him off to the fort, where he died after a few hours. Col. 
Floyd was the owner of a remarkable horse that he usually rode, 
which had the singular instinct of knowing when Indians were near, 
and always gave to his rider the sign of their presence. ' Charles,' 
said the wounded man to his brother, ' if I had been riding Pompey 
to-day this would not have happened.'" 

"The family of Samuel Davis, residing in 1782 in the county of 
Lincoln, was surprised by Indians when the husband and father was 
but a few rods from his own door. Returning, after a brief absence, 
he was horrified to find the cabin filled with Indians. Though seen 
and followed by one of the band, he managed to escape to the station 
of his brother, about five miles distant. His appearance told the tale 
of his distress before he could tell it himself. Obtaining a spare gun, 
and followed by the entire force of the station, he made his way back 
to his cabin, only to find it tenantless. There being no appearance 
of bloodshed about the premises, it was rightly conjectured that the 
Indians had carried off his wife and children. Pursuit was immedi- 
ately made, and after going a few miles, the attention of the party 
was attracted by the howling of a dog. The animal belonged to the 
family, and had been wounded by the Indians in their attempt to kill 
it. Knowing by this circumstance that they must be in the vicinity 
of the savages, they pushed forward and soon had them in view. Two 
Indians had the woman and children in charge, and these discovered 
the approach of the whites and gave the alarm. One of these latter, 
hastily advancing, knocked down the oldest boy, aged eleven, and 
was fired on. Ineffectually, however, while in the act of scalping him. 
Mrs. Davis saved herself and the infant she had in her arms by 
jumping into a 'sink-hole.' The entire family was rescued without 
casualty, except to the eldest son, who, on regaining his lost conscious- 
ness, rose to his feet and exclaimed : ' Curse that Indian; he has got 
my scalp ! ' " 

It was most likely in the year 1783 that the occurrence took place 
that is related in a biographical sketch of the late John L. Helm, 
Governor of Kentucky, whose grandfather, Thomas Helm, was an 
early settler of Hardin county : ' ' Jenny Pope Helm, wife of Thomas, 
and grandmother of Governor Helm, was a courageous little woman, 
but on one occasion she suffered a shock that almost deprived her of 
reason. She had sent one of her sons, not yet grown, to the Bullitt 


Licks for a supply of salt. The youth was accompanied by a party of 
young men from a neighboring settlement, and on their way they were 
fired on by Indians and the boy killed. The body was recovered by 
one of his companions, who bound it on his horse and brought it to 
the fort. The mother was on the watch for her returning boy ; and 
seeing the horseman approaching with his strange-looking burden 
slung across the shoulders ot hib beast, she hastened to the gate in 
order to open it for his entrance. Who can paint the horror of the 
moment, when, just as the heavy gate swung back upon its hinges, the 
mangled remains of her son — the bonds breaking that had held them 
in their place — fell prone at the feet of the wretched woman." 

The history of white emigration to Kentucky during the decade 
ending with the year 1783 is filled with recitals of a like character 
with the above. But never was there a people more venturous or more 
scornful of danger than were those who are now referred to as the 
pioneers of Kentucky. Many of these men were no doubt attracted 
to the State by their love of adventure. However this may be, they 
were certainly not kept away by their knowledge of the fact that 
danger was an element of the life that was before them. With each 
year these hardy men were seen to enter upon the soil in greater 
numbers; and by degrees, first from- one section and then from 
another, there was eliminated all fear of Indian molestation. 

People of the present day have little conception of the rude sim- 
plicity that marked the lives of these pioneers. The outfit of a family 
of emigrants at the beginning of their journey ordinarily consisted of 
the clothes they wore, and, possibly, of second suits, or the stuffs 
required for their manufacture ; firearms and ammunition ; a few in- 
dispensable tools and agricultural implements ; a limited supply of 
cooking utensils ; a * small ' and sometimes a 'great' spinning-wheel; 
a pair or two of combing cards and a package of seeds. Such as 
were able to do so, brought with them, of course, the best specimens 
of their flocks, herds and horses, and the ubiquitous dog trotted beside 
his master from the beginning of his journey to its end.* 

Arrived at their destination, their first care was to make provision 
for protection and shelter. For the most part, these requisites were 
only to be secured by residence in one or another of the fortified 
stations already existing, or by the erection, through the combined 
action of a number of families, of others of like character, f 

*In early days in Kentucky the dog was considered a necessary appendage 
to every household. During the Indian raids of the times, it was to his 
sagacity and watchfulness that individuals and families were often indebted for 
the preservation of their lives. 

tThe state of the country from 1774 to 1790, was such as to forbid isolated 
residence in any part of the country. Hence it was that in every neighborhood 
there was a block-house, to which was applied, in the language of the country, 
the term station. Collins enumerates no fewer than two hundred and fifty 
stations, mostly situated in the central parts of the State. The more important 
of these were: Harrod's, in Mercer county; Boonesborough, in Madison 
county ; Bryan's, in Fayette county ; Fort Nelson and Floyd's, in Jefferson 


As time passed on, however, now one, and now another of the 
families previously cooped u}) in a particular station would emerge 
from its gates and set up for themselves beyond its protecting palisades. 
Not a few of these paid with their lives for their temerity ] but there 
were many who were left undisturbed to pursue their peaceful avoca- 
tions, and to win for themselves comfortable homes in the wilderness. 
Having fixed upon a survey, the first thing they did was to clear a 
favorable spot of its forest growth and to erect in its centre a rude 
structure of logs. The size of the cabin was made to correspond with 
the number of persons who were to find shelter under its roof. Gen- 
erally speaking, it was divided into two rooms, but often into three or 
four. The roof was formed of clap-boards, and the floor, where there 
was other than the naked earth, of rough-hewn puncheons. The 
openings for the introduction of light were but lateral slits in the wall, 
generally three feet in length by one foot in width, and though they 
were sometimes protected from the inside by hanging wooden shutters, 
they were bare of both sash and glass. 

The furniture used in these primitive times was all improvised on 
the call of necessity. It consisted, ordinarily, of a table fashioned 
after the pattern of a butcher's block ; bedsteads constructed of up- 
right and lateral sections of young timber, dovetailed at the corners ; 
wooden settles and three-legged stools. In a corner of one of the 
rooms, or, as was most generally the case, under a shed of boughs in 
the rear of the cabin, were to be found a hominy-mortar and a hand- 
mill for grinding corn. Wooden platters served the purposes to which 
earthenware is now devoted, and the easily cultivated gourd made an 
admirable drinking cup. 

The forests and streams were alive with game and fish in those 
days, and so long as powder and lead were in hand, or were to be 
procured at the nearest station, there was little absolute suffering for 
lack of food. This circumstance, too, enabled the settlers to retain 
the natural increase of their herds and flocks, and there was soon 
abundance of milk for food, and of wool for clothing. 

The first planting done by the emigrants was invariably of corn 
and flax. The product of the one was needed for bread, and that of 
the other for wearing apparel. No matter how small was the spot of 
ground reclaimed from the forest, a patch of flax was regarded as one 
of its necessary features. Upon the women of the household generally 
devolved the labor of securing this crop and preparing the lint for its 
destined uses. Cotton and hemp were cultivated at a later day, each 
family raising a sufficiency of both for its own needs. As a rule, up 

county; Bullitt's Lick, in Bullitt county ; McAfee's stations (three), in Mercer 
county; Ruddle's, in Bourbon county; and Logan's Fort, in Lincoln county. 
The stations situated in the district occupied by the Catholic emigrants 
from Maryland were known as Bardstown, Cox's Creek, Burnt, Rogers' and 
Goodwin's, all in Nelson county ; Sandusky's, Cartwright's, Harbeson's and 
the Rolling Fork, in Washington county; Mann's Lick, in Bullitt county; and 
Kincheloe's, in Spencer county. 


to the year 1820, the clothing of the people throughout the State was 
the direct product of their own farms, and had been spun, woven and 
fashioned by the females of the households. At a date still later, 
there was no more familiar sound to be heard in the land than the hum 
of the spinning wheel. 

It is not to be doubted that the emigrants had from the start 
pretty clear notions of the privations they would have to endure, 
and of the hardships their ventures would entail upon them. But 
never were men and women less dainty or more courageous. They 
met discomforts without complaint, and they shrank from no char- 
acter of toil that gave promise of beneficial results to themselves 
or others. One of their most serious troubles referred to the long 
and often dangerous journeys they were obliged to make to the licks 
in order to procure supplies of salt. Roads there were none — 
blazed trees being the only guides to direct the messengers to and 
from the licks. 

For protection against cold, whether in sleeping or journeying, the 
emigrants had recourse to the skins of beasts, killed in the chase or 
trapped on the margins of the water courses. The art of dressing and 
rendering these pliable was of common knowledge at the time. A 
serious inconvenience of the settlers arose from the fact that there 
were no mills in the country for the grinding of corn. The reduction 
of grain into meal by the use of the old-fashioned hand-mill was a 
laborious process, and it involved so much of the time and labor of 
the households, that measures were almost immediately taken, after 
the country was supposed to be free from Indians, to remedy the 
annoyance. Rude corn mills, very simple affairs, were put up in the 
vicinity of some of the stations as early as the year 1780. It was not 
until about the year 1790, however, that a more pretentious mode of 
milling was estabHshed in the State. About the year named, a litde 
earlier or a little later, mills were put up in Bardstown, on Cartwright's 
creek, and on the Rolling Fork, to which the Catholic settlers of 
Nelson and Washington counties were in the habit of repairing with 
their grists for grinding.* 

* These mills, and many others subsequently built in the districts of country 
settled by Catholics, were put up, I have reason to believe, by the writer's 
father, the late Nehemiah Webb, of Bardstown. Mr. Webb was a practical 
millwright. His first wife was the daughter of a Mr. John Waller, proprietor 
of the mill on Cartwright's creek, and he was himself the proprietor of the 
mill at Bardstown. His first child, singularly enough, was born in a mill he 
had just completed on the Beech Fork, near the present village of Fredericks- 
burg, in Washington county. He is credited with having erected and operated 
the first cotton gin and the first oil press in the State. I am indebted to the 
courtesy of William F. Booker, Esq., of Springfield, for a copy of the forty- 
second issue of a newspaper published in Bardstown in 1807, by P. Isler, under 
the title of the Candid Critic. In this issue appears the following advertise- 
ment : "The subscriber hereby informs the public that he has got his Cotton 
Gin again in operation, and that he continues to purchase flaxseed and wheat. 

" Bairdstown, Dec. 9, 1807." "[Signed,] Nehemiah Webb." 


With the feeUng of more assured safety from savage inroads, the 
enterprise of the settlers began to exhibit itself in many ways. Their 
farms were extended, and their crops presented a more diversified 
appearance. The vegetable garden claimed greater attention from 
housewives, and soon wild flowers and creepers began to adorn the 
garden walks, and to climb the sides of the rude structures in which 
the people lived. A system of barter was inaugurated, not only 
between neighbor and neighbor, but with the nearest stations and the 
newly laid-out villages. Artisans were invited to set up their trades in 
localities most convenient to those who proposed to become their 
customers. Orchards were planted, and attention given to the culti- 
vation of fruits. Commendable rivalry sprang up among the women 
of the settlements in the production of fabrics for clothing, and in 
many other things involving the comfort and welfare of families. 
Finally, churches were organized, and schools established for the 
instruction of youth. 

In these days of ostentatious display in the matter of attire, it will 
not be amiss to note how little there was of complexity in the styles of 
dress worn by both men and women in the olden times in Kentucky. 
" As late as 1782," says a writer on the subject, "the men dressed in 
pioneer homespun; moccasins and leather leggings for the lower 
extremities ; hats made of splinters rolled in buffalo wool and sewed 
with deer sinews or buckskin whangs; shirts and hunting shirts of 
buckskin. A few dressed in Indian costume — wore nothing whatever 
but breech-clouts. The females wore a coarse cloth made of buffalo 
wool; underwear of dressed deerskin; sun-bonnets something like the 
men's hats; moccasins in winter; but in summer all went barefooted." 

From and after the year 1785, the underwear of both sexes was 
invariably of flax linen, and a young woman could be said to be in 
full dress when she appeared in a closely-fitting gown of cotton, woven 
in stripes, or of half-bleached flax linen, five yards to the pattern, for 
summer; or in one of linsey-woolsey, dyed to suit her individual taste 
with coloring matter gathered by herself from the neighboring woods. 
From top to toe — from her sun-bonnet, stiffened with hickory splints, to 
her moccasined feet — she was able to boast that her wearing apparel 
was the creation of her own busy fingers. 

We shall not attempt to institute a comparison between Jemima 
Boone, Betsy Calloway and the other young women of their day, and 
the belles of our own period. Were we to do so, however, it is not at 
all certain that we should not be compelled to accord to the former the 
greater sum of praise. It is beyond question that they were physically 
superior, and it is an open one whether they did or did not possess in 
a greater degree those qualities of heart and mind that go so far to 
insure happiness in the married state. 

Emigration to Kentucky assumed great activity at the close of the 
revolutionary war in 1782. Those proposing to setde in the State 
ordinarily came in bands, as well for mutual protection as with the 
view of after social intercourse in their new homes. As a general 


thing, the emigrants were agriculturists, but in each distinct company 
there was ordinarily to be found one or more persons who were 
familiar with particular mechanical trades, such as blacksmithing, 
wagon making, carpentering, etc. These latter usually settled at 
points that were most convenient to the greater number of the families 
upon whose patronage they were dependent. All the old towns in 
Kentucky owe their origin to this circumstance. For many years 
there was little money in the country, and trade amongst the people 
was almost exclusively carried on by interchange of commodities. 



Among the adventurous men who sought to conquer homes in 
Kentucky between the years 1773 and 1785, there were, without doubt, 
many who were born of Catholic parents and had been received by 
baptism into the Catholic Church. That there were more of these 
than is generally supposed is to be inferred from the fact that unmis- 
takable Catholic names are to be met with all over the State whose 
present owners know nothing whatever of the ancient faith of Chris- 
tendom. These men came as adventurers, and not as Catholics ; and 
it was only through God's mercy that here and there an individual 
amongst them was saved from shipwreck of his faith. Of this class of 
Catholics, the only two of whose lives there is any settled record were 
William Coomes and Dr. George Hart. The late Most Rev. Dr. 
Spalding, in his admirable "Sketches of Kentucky," says of these 
two adventurous spirits : 

" They both came out in the spring of 1775, among the very first 
white people who removed to Kentucky.* They settled in Harrod's 
station, at that time the only place in Kentucky except Boonesborough, 
and, perhaps, Logan's station, where emigrants could enjoy any degree 

■■■■This is likely a mistake. Dr. Spalding tells us (see note, pages 34-35) 
that his informant, the late Walter A. Coomes, who was a son of the William 
Coomes mentioned, stated to him that "his father reached Harrodstown in the 
spring of 1774," but, as that date did not agree with the statement made by 
Butler and Marshall respecting the first settlement of the town, he had thought 
it more probable that. his arrival had been a year later. Neither Marshall nor 
Butler are wholly reliable in regard to dates. Collins has corrected many of 
their errors, the one referred to among others. He tells us that in the spring 
of 1774, "James Harrod, Abram Hite, Jacob and James Sandusky, and thirty- 
seven others, descended the Ohio to the mouth of the Kentucky river, and that 
they went up that stream to what is now Mercer county, where, in June, they 
laid off Harrodstown (afterwards called Oldtown, and now Harrodsburg), and 
erected a number of cabins." (Collins' Kentucky, Vol. I, page 17). 


of security from the attacks of Indians. . . . William Coomes 
was originally from Charles county, Maryland, whence he had removed 
to the south branch of the Potomac river in Virginia. He emigrated 
to Kentucky with his family, together with Abraham and Isaac Hite. 
On the way through Kentucky to Harrod's station, the party encamped 
for some weeks at Drilling's Lick, in the neighborhood of the present 
city of Frankfort. Here Mrs. Coomes, aided by those of the party 
not engaged in hunting, employed herself in making salt — for the 
first time perhaps that this article was manufactured in the State."* 

Dr. George Hart was a native of Ireland, in religion a Catholic, 
and by profession a physician. Dr. Spalding say of him : 

"He was one of the first physicians, if not the very first of the 
profession, who settled in Kentucky. He lived for many years in 
Harrodstown, where he was engaged in the practice of medicine. 
After the great body of the Catholics had located themselves in the 
vicinity of Bardstown, he too removed thither in order to enjoy the 
blessings of his religion. He purchased a farm about a mile from 
Bardstown, embracing the site of the present burial ground of St. 
Joseph's congregation. It was he who made a present to the church 
of the lot of ground upon which the old church of St. Joseph was 
.erected. Towards the building of this, one among the oldest Catholic 
churches in Kentucky, he also liberally contributed. He was the first 
Catholic who died in Kentucky, and the first who was buried in the 
cemetery which himself had bestowed." f 

* It is nK)re than likely that Mrs. Coomes was the first white woman who 
came to the State with the view of permanent residence. 

1 1 have to acknowledge that I am unable to reconcile Dr. Spalding's state- 
ments respecting William Coomes and Dr. Hart with other well ascertained 
facts and the inferences they naturally suggest. On page 30 of his "Sketches," 
he tells us that Walter A. Coomes was " 16 years old when he came to Ken- 
tucky with his father in 1 775, and that the same Walter A. Coomes is (then 
living in 1844) in his 74th year." Here we are presented with an arithmet- 
ical impossibility. Again, on page 40, he says of William Coomes, father of 
Walter A. Coomes, that he moved from Harrodstown to the vicinity of Bards- 
town in 1783, "in order to be near his Catholic brethren." But there were no 
"Catholic brethren" for him in all Kentucky until 1785; no priest till 1787; 
no Catholics about Bardstown as permanent residents till still later. Again, 
on page 24, Dr. Spalding says of Dr. Hart, that "he was the first Catholic who 
died in Kentucky, and the first that was buried in the cemetery that himself 
had bestowed." Inferentially, the statement that Dr. Hart was the first Cath- 
olic to die in Kentucky is altogether improbable. Dr. Hart must have died 
after July 12th, 1802, which is the date of his deed : " In consideration of the 
sum of five shillings, unto Stephen Theodore Badin, of Washington county, 
for a certain tract of land lying near Bardstown, containing two and three- 
quarter acres, including the Roman Catholic chapel." This deed is signed 
"George Hart" and is recorded in the office of the Nelson County Court, in 
Deed Book 6, page 97. 

When Father Badin first reached Kentucky in 1793, he estimated the 
number of Catholic families under his charge at three hundred. The ordinary 
statistics of mortality would preclude the idea that there had not been 
many deaths among them previous to Dr. Hart's own demise. It is beyond 


Properly speaking, Catholic emigration to Kentucky did not set in 
until the year 1785. In the beginning it was wholly from Maryland, 
and principally from the counties of St. Mary, Charles and Prince 
George. The greater part of the emigrants were descendants of the 
original Catholic settlers, who, in 1634, disembarked from the ArA' and 
the Do7>e, and took peaceable pos.session, by right of purchase, of the 
territory to which was given the name of Maryland. In deciding to 
give up their ancient homes and to seek others in the wilds of Ken- 
tucky, the emigrants were influenced principally, no doubt, by the 
motive of bettering their worldly prospects. Their Maryland farms, 
exhausted by unskilful methods of cultivation through a long series 
of years, had ceased to yield them remunerative crops, and in the then 
state of the public mind in reference to the boundless fertility of the 
soil of Kentucky, it is not at all wonderful that they should have been 
stirred to just such a movement as the one that followed. 

Preliminary to passing on to the histories of the eight leading 
Catholic setdements of Kentucky, the writer would ask his readers to 
bear in mind certain facts here stated in brief, but hereafter to be 
treated in detail : 

1. The Catholic settlement on Pottinger's creek, begun in 1785, 
was followed a year later by that of Hardin's Creek, and possibly, by 
that of Scott county. The settlement near Bardstown and that of 
Cartwright's Creek date from the year 1787. The Rolling Fork settle- 
ment was begun in 1788; that of Breckinridge county in 1790; and 
that of Cox's Creek, or Fairfield, in 1795. With the exception of that 
of Scott county, all these settlements were in the single county of 
Nelson as then laid out. 

2. The first missionary priest sent to Kentucky, Rev. M. Whelan, 
reached the Pottinger's Creek settlement in the early summer of 1787, 
and he remained in the State till the spring of 1790. He was followed 
six months later by Rev. William de Rohan, who built Holy Cross 
church, the first erected in the State, In 1795 came Rev. Stephen 
Theodore Badinand Rev. M. Barrieres, the former remaining till 181 9, 
and the latter serving the mission for only four months. In February, 
1797, came Rev. Michael C. J. Fournier; and two years later Rev. 
Anthony Salmon. The first named died in 1803, and the last after a 
brief service of nine months on the mission. In 1799, Rev. John 
Thayer, a native of New England, a convert and a priest, came to 
Kentucky and labored efficiently for four years. In July, 1805, came 
Rev. Charles Nerinckx, afterwards the founder of the Loretto Society, 
who served upon the missions of the State until 1824. The same year 

question that the memory of Dr. Spalding's aged informant was not equal to 
his desire to give exact information on the points submitted to him by the 
author of the "Sketches." If the motive v/hich influenced Dr. Hart and 
William Coomes to remove from Harrodstown to the neighborhood of Bards- 
town was to be "near their Catholic brethren," it is quite certain that their 
change of residence did not take place until 1785. lam inclined to think that 
it took place in reality a year later. 

1 rr 




came Rev. Urban Guillet and his associates of the order of Our Lady 
of La Trappe, and founded a Monastery on Pottinger's creek. In 
the same year came to Kentucky the Dominican fathers, Revs. 
V_Edward Fenwick, Thomas Wilson, WiUiam Raymond Tuite and 
Robert Angier, who founded the estabUshment to this day known as 
that of St. Rose. 

3. Rt. Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget, first bishop of the See of 
Bardstown, reached the seat of his episcopal jurisdiction early in 
June, 181 1. He >vas accompanied by several ecclesiastics, among 
whom were Revs. John B. David and Guy Ignatius Chabrat, the 
latter not yet in priest's orders. 

4. From the novitiate of the Dominican fathers of St. Rose were 
brought forward five students for ordination in 1816. The names of 
these were : Revs. Richard P. Miles, Samuel H. Montgomery, William 
T. Willett, Stephen Montgomery and N, D. Young, all afterwards 
engaged in missionary work in the territory attached to the diocese of 

5. The diocesan seminary of St. Thomas was established in 181 1, 
under the direction of Rev. John B. David, and from that date to the 
year 1824, quite a number of priests were ordained from the ranks 
of its students. Among them it is only necessary here to mention the 
following: Revs. Guy Ignatius Chabrat, Peter Schaeffer, Anthony 
Ganihl, M. Derigaud, David Deparcq, Philip Horstman, Robert A. 
Abell, George A. M. Elder, William Byrne, Ignatius A. Reynolds, 
Edward McMahon, Robert Byrne and E. J. Durbin. 


In the year 1785, "a league" of sixty famihes was formed in 
Maryland — all Catholics, and mosdy residents of St. Mary's county — 
each one of whom was pledged to emigrate to Kentucky within a 
specified time. Their purpose was to settle together, as well for 
mutual protection against the Indians, as with the view of securing to 
themselves, with the least possible delay, the advantages of a pastorate 
and a church. They were not all to emigrate at once, but as circum- 
stances permitted. The tradition of this league is sufficiently general 
among old people, as well in Maryland as in Kentucky, to give to it 
certainty.* Of the sixty families subscribing to the compact, twenty- 
five Isft Maryland early in 1785, and reached Kentucky before the 
end of spring of the same year. Their journey was prosecuted by 
land to Pittsburg, and thence in flatboats down the Ohio to Maysville. 
This landing was chosen for the reason that the country bordering on 
the river above the Falls of the Ohio was known to be infested by 
Indians. The party marched inland from Maysville and arrived in 

*The United States Catholic Miscellany of Wednesday, December ist, 
1824, mentions the fact that about twenty Catholic families reached Kentucky 
in the year 1785. 




due time at Goodwin's station (near the present town of Boston, in 
Nelson county), which was the nearest fortified post to their pre- 
arranged and ultimate destination, the Pottinger's creek lands. Leav- 
ing the women and children under the protection of the fort, the 
able-bodied men and youths of the party soon set out in quest of their 
future homes, the sites of which lay some twelve or fifteen miles south- 
east of the station. The lands being found and identified, the work 
of clearing them of their forest growth at once began, and this was 
soon succeeded by that of dwelling-house construqtion. Rude enough 
were the tabernacles our forefathers in the faith set up in the wilder- 
ness. They sufficed for shelter, however, and heaven be praised, 
daintiness was not a characteristic of those who were to dwell in them. 
The names borne by these twenty-five families are not now all certainly 
known; but the principal among them was Basil Hayden, whose bond 
for his land, signed at Baltimore in 1785, is of record in the Nelson 
county clerk's office. On the face of this bond appears the name of 
Philmer (Philip) Lee, as Hayden's security. It is quite certain that 
Basil Hayden and Philip Lee were living on adjoining farms on 
Pottinger's creek in the year 1786. Lee may be said to have been a 
man of method. While still in Maryland he was in the habit of 
keeping a record of passing events. From the entries in that record 
extending back to the year 1735, ^^'^ continued after his removal to 
Kentucky, it appears that his neighbors in both States bore identical 
names. Among the names most frequently met with in Lee's diary 
are : Lancaster, Coomes, Brown, Thompson, Smith, Rapier, Cash, 
Bullock, Hayden and Howard. Though there is little doubt that the 
list that follows does not include the names of all the Catholic settlers 
on Pottinger's creek up to the year 1800, it is reasonably certain that 
the omissions are few in number and not of special consequence. The 
first names given are thought to be, in part, those borne by the twenty- 
five families of the Maryland "league," to which reference has been 
made : Basil Hayden, Philip Lee, William Bald, Bernard Cissell, 
Charles Payne, William Brewer, Leonard Johnson, Henry McAtee, 
Joseph Clark, Stephen Elliott, James Mollihorne, Henry Norris, 
Ignatius Cissell, Ignatius Byrne, Randal Hagan, Ignatius Hagan, 
Jeremiah Brown, Robert Cissell, Ignatius Bowles, Hezekiah Luckett, 
Stanislaus Melton, Thomas Bowlin, John Baptist Dant, Philip Miles, 
Harry Hill, John Hutchins, Isaac Thawles, John Spalding, William 
Mahony, Henry Lucas, William Bowles, John Bowles, James Queen, 
Bernard Nally, James Stevens, Ignatius French, Washington Boone, 
Francis Bryan, Jeremiah Wathen, Thomas Mudd, Raphael R. Mudd, 
Walter Burch, Philip Mattingly, Joseph Spalding, James Dant, 
Joseph Dant, Urban Speaks, Joseph Edelin, Joseph Howe, Joseph 
Mills, Harry Miles, Monica Hagan, Rodolphus Norris, Francis Peak. 

It is eminently proper that what the writer has learned concerning 
individuals in the above list should be here recorded: 

Of Basil Hayden, the leader in the scheme of Catholic emigration 
to Kentucky, little is now known beyond the fact that his acknowl- 



edged influence over his associates was at all times exerted with a view 
to their interests for time and eternity. The date of his own death is 
uncertain. His aged widow was a pious member of Holy Cross con- 
gregation up to the year 1837, when she was called to a better life. 

William Bald, Bernard Cissell, Charles Payne and William Brewer, 
named above, formed the first board of trustees ever organized in the 
State for the secure tenure of Catholic Church property. The deed 
of transfer of the grounds attached to Holy Cross church, the first 
erected in the State, reads as follows : 

"This indenture, made this first day of May, in the year of our Lord, 1798, 
between Basil Hayden, Sr., of the county of Washington and State of Kentucky, 
on the one part, and William Bald, Bernard Cissell, Charles Payne and William 
Brewer, of the county and State aforesaid, of the other part, witnesseth : That 
the said Basil Hayden, for and in consideration of the sum of five pounds, 
good, lawful and current money of Kentucky, to him in hand paid by the 
asid William Bald, Bernard Cissell, Charles Payne and William Brewer, the 
receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, and thereof do release and acquit 
them, the said William Bald, Bernard Cissell, Charles Payne, and William 
Brewer, their heirs, executors and administrators: I, the said Basil Hayden, 
hath this day granted, bargained and sold unto the said William Bald, Bernard 
Cissell, Charles payne and William Brewer, their heirs, executors and adminis- 
trators, for the use of the Roman Catholic Church forever, a certain tract or 
parcel of land containing two acres, more or less, situated, lying and being in 
the county of, Washington, and on the waters of Pottinger's creek, including 
the chapel in the centre, and bounded as follows: Beginning at a hickory 
standing 45" W., twelve and a half poles from said chapel, running thence due 
east eight poles to a white oak sapling ; thence due south eighteen poles to a 
white oak and hickory ; thence due west eighteen poles to a dogwood ; thence 
due north eighteen poles to the beginning ; and all the appurtenances there- 
unto belonging ; to have and to hold the said two acres of land, to the said 
William Bald, Bernard Cissell, Charles Payne and William Brewer, for the only 
purpose and benefit of the Roman Catholic Church ; and I, the said Basil 
Hayden, Sr., for myself and my heirs, unto the said William Bald, Bernard 
Cissell, Charles Payne and William Brewer, and their heirs, do the said land 
and premises from my heirs and all and every person claiming by or under us, 
warrant and forever defend. In testimony, etc. Basil Hayden." 

"Attest: John Reed, Clerk." 

Leonard Johnson's children were John, Clement, George, Thomas, 
Philip and Polly. The latter married Thomas Hayden, and died only 
a few years ago near Knottsville, in Daviess county. John Johnson 
married a daughter of Philip Miles, and was the father of Sylvester 
Johnson, Esq., of New Haven, Kentucky, who has long been favor- 
ably known throughout the diocese of Louisville for his benefactions to 
the poor and orphans. For years Mr. Johnson has been providing the 
orphans of St. Thomas' Asylum with annual outfits of clothing. 

Clement Johnson was a remarkable character among the settlers on 
the creek. His tastes were aesthetic, and his mode of giving expres- 
sion to them was through the medium of a fiddle. It is more than 
likely that he supplied the music to which some of our grandfathers 
and grandmothers capered "when their dancing legs were on," and it 
is not improbable that Father Badin regarded him with no favorable 
eye for the facility with which he could transform decorousness into 


hilarity. Whether this was so or not, certain it is that Clammy John- 
son was a great favorite in the neighborhood in which he lived, and 
a well meaning man withal. If he felt at times that he had been instru- 
mental in causing the development of a worldly spirit in the minds of 
the young people of the congregation, he at least sought to atone 
for his fault by endeavoring to render the choir singing in Holy Cross 
church more artistic in its character. Clement Johnson's fiddle, I have 
reason to believe, was the first instrument of music ever brought into 
the choir of any church in Kentucky. 

Joseph Clark was one of the most exemplary members of Holy 
Cross congregation. He lived on a farm adjoining that of Philip Lee, 
and almost in sight of Holy Cross church. 

Jeremiah Brown was the maternal grandfather of the late Rev. John 
B. Hutchins, whose name for nearly fifty years has been associated 
with Catholic institutions of learning in Kentucky. 

James Mollahorne was the first adult person among the original 
settlers buried in the Holy Cross cemetery. His death took place in 
the year 1801, and the stone slab that covers his grave and bears his 
name is an object of curious interest to the members of the congrega- 
tion to the present day. 

Henry Norris was one of the first settlers on the creek. It is to 
the kindness of one of his great-granddaughters, Mrs. Elizabeth Edelin, 
married to Hamilton Edelin, Esq., of the Holy Cross congregation, 
that the writer is indebted for much valuable information touching the 
local history of the Pottinger's Creek settlement. She still retains the 
original patent to the land upon which her great grandfather lived. 
This patent bears date of December 2d, 1785, and is signed by 
*' Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia."* 

Ignatius Cissell was accompanied to Kentucky by his four sons, 
Rody, Ignatius, Joseph and James. The entire family was conspic- 
uous for its sterling worth and its strong adherence to Catholic truth. 

Thomas Bowlin was the father of Rev. Charles D. Bowlin, of the 
St. Rose establishment of the order of St. Dominic. He was a 
widower with several children when he married the widow of John 
Hutchins, who had also a young family by her deceased husband, 
including one, John B. Hutchins, who became afterwards a priest. 

* I append, as an evidence of cheap taxes at the time, the following tax 
receipt, of which description of papers Mrs. Edelin has sent me several : 

"July the 29 day, 1789, Rec'd of Harry Norris three shillings, it being for 
his levy for the year 1788, by me. Samuel Grundy, D. S." 

My correspondent's paternal great-grandparents were William Mahony 
and Charles Payne ; her maternal great-grandparents were Henry Norris and 
John Spalding. The first named hewed the logs that formed the old Holy 
Cross Church. Betty Norris, a daughter of Henry Norris, lived single to a 
good old age and died the death of a saint. It is said of her that she never 
missed an opportunity to hear mass. It was her habit to walk to church, no 
matter what was the state of the weather, and not unfrequently, when it was 
her purpose to go to confession, she was to be found at the church door as early 
as three o'clock in the morning. 


Thus it was that Fathers Bowlin and Hutchins, though really in no 
wise related by blood, were accounted brothers. The home education 
and training of both were directed by the mother of the latter. 

The Bowles brothers, Ignatius, John and William, were upright 
and pious men, and gready respected in the community. 

Joseph Edelin was the grandfather of the writer. He came from 
Maryland in 1795, ^^"^ settled on a farm less than three miles from 
Holy Cross church. Two cousins accompanied him to Kentucky with 
their families. These settled near St. Ann's church, in Washington 

James Dant, whom the writer remembers well, was most likely 
young when he came to Kentucky. In faith he was earnest, and in 
charity he was abounding. He made a gift to the sisters of Loretto 
of the Gethsemani plantation, on condition that they should keep up 
a school on the place for poor girls. The farm was afterwards sold to 
the Trappist fathers on the same condition. 

Ignatius Byrne was the father of several sons, one of whom was 
Rev. Robert Byrne. Both himself and his wife were exemplary 

Stephen Elliott was noted in the settlement for his immense size. 
His son, the late Rev. James Elliott, though he was much below his 
father's standard in this particular, was also a man of large proportions. 

Philip Miles, through his son Harry Miles, married to Nancy 
McAtee, was the grandfather of Rev. Thomas Miles, S. J., of the 
province of Missouri. 

Monica Hagan was a widow when she came to Kentucky in 1782. 
She settled with her three sons, Clement, James and Edward Hagan, 
near the present site of the Trappist Monastery, near New Hope. 

The leading idea of the emigrants was that a priest should ac- 
company them to Kentucky, and there remain with them; but in this 
particular point, regarded by them of the utmost importance, they 
were destined to disappointment. At the time referred to, it is true, 
the number of Catholics in the whole country was not great ; but there 
were, comparatively, still fewer priests to serve them. Very Rev. John 
Carroll, who then held spiritual jurisdiction over the entire body of 
the faithful of the United States, anxious as he undoubtedly was to 
supply a needed want to those of his spiritual children who had 
decided to emigrate to Kentucky, found himself utterly unable to 
furnish them with a priest. Two years later he sent them one of 
whom we shall speak further on. 

It is a singular circumstance in the history of Catholic emigration 
to Kentucky, that the first colony of emigrants should have settled on 

■■'■Joseph Edelin's children, some born in Maryland and some in Kentucky, 
■were: Cloe or Clotilde, married to Nehemiah Webb, of Bardsto-wn, in 1813; 
Leonard, Teresa, Peggy, Elisa, Lewis, Lucy, Benedict, James, George and 
Helen. Benedict and George removed to Missouri over forty years ago, where 
the latter soon afterwards died. James Edelin, the last survivor of Joseph 
Edelin's children, died in 1880. 


lands that were, possibly, the least inviting of any to be found in all 
Central Kentucky. Referring to this circumstance, Dr. Spalding 
uses the following language: "The selection of Pottinger's creek as 
the location of the new Catholic colony was unfortunate. The land 
was poor and the situation uninviting. Yet, the nucleus of the colony 
having been formed, these disadvantages were subsequently disre- 
garded, and new Catholic emigrants from Maryland continued to flock 
to the same neighborhood. They preferred being near their brethren, 
and enjoying with them the advantages of their holy religion, to all 
other mere worldly considerations. They could not brook the idea of 
straggling off in different directions, where, though they might better 
their earthly conditions, they and their children would in all prob- 
ability be deprived of the consolations of their religion."* 

It is very generally believed that deception in respect to the 
quality of the Pottinger's creek lands was successfully practiced upon 
the first Catholic emigrants to the State by certain speculators in wild 
lands then living in Baltimore. These parties were the owners of 
patents from the government of Virginia covering the surveys in 
question; and, no doubt, the emigrants were induced to buy on their 
representations. Having paid instalments in cash, and given bonds 
for the remainder of the purchase money, they were afterwards power- 
less to right the wrong that had been done them. The motives 
influencing subsequent emigrants to settle on Pottinger's creek are 
clearly and truthfully stated by Dr. Spalding. From and after the 
year 1787, however, as will be seen hereafter, but few of the incoming 
Catholic colonists were content to setrie on the poor lands contiguous 
to those previously occupied by their brethren. They sought and 
found better lands, and more favorable localities upon which to settle; 
first, in the neighborhood of Bardstown, and afterwards on Hardin's 
and Cartwright's creeks, and on the Rolling Fork of Salt river. 

In the fall of 1787, the Catholic colonists on Pottinger's creek were 
gladdened by the sight of a priest. Father Whelan, an Irish Francis- 
can, had been sent to them by Dr. Carroll; and for the first time 
in two years for themselves, and for the first time in creation 
for their surroundings, the great sacrifice of the New Law was to be 
offered up in their sight. Father Whelan was undoubtedly a laborious 
and painstaking pastor of souls. All the traditions of the times are 
in so far concurrent. It is true that though he remained in Kentucky 
for two years and a half, he did not cause to be erected a single church 
or chapel. It is more than likely, however, that he only deferred a 
work which he saw could not be properly accomplished at the time.f 

* Sketches of Kentucky, p. 25. 

1 1 have not been able to learn the designation of the church stations at 
which Father Whelan was in the habit of saying mass and administering the 
sacraments. It is reasonably certain, however, that the church station on 
Pottinger's creek was the house of Basil Hayden ; that near the present town 
of New Hope, the house of Jeremiah Brown ; that on Poplar Neck, the house 
of Edward Howard; that near Bardstown, the house of Thomas Gwynn ; that 


Owing to serious trouble with a number of his parishioners, Father 
Whelan abandoned the Kentucky mission in the year 1790.* 

Father Whelan was succeeded by Rev. William de Rohan, who 
came unaccredited to the mission shortly after the first-named had left 
the State. It was during his pastorship, in 1792, that Holy Cross 
chapel was built. This was the first structure for Catholic worship 
put up in the State, f 

The next priest to serve the Holy Cross congregation was Rev. M. 
Barrieres, who accompanied Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin to Ken- 
tucky in 1793. He remained in the State but a few months, however, 
and he was succeeded by his compatriot. Father Badin, whose labors 
in the extended field of his ministry, embracing the entire State, have 
justly entitled him to the distinctive appellation of the "Apostle of 

From 1797 to 1803, no doubt Rev, M. Fournier was at times 
charged with the care of the congregation ; and the same may be said 
of Rev. Anthony Salmon during the year 1799.^ 

In 1819, Father Badin left Kentucky for Europe, where he spent 
several years. Upon leaving, his place at Holy Cross was supplied by 
the appointment of Rev. Anthony Ganihl to the vacant mission. Father 
Ganihl was by birth a Frenchman, and he was in deacon's orders when 

on Cartwright's creek, the house of Thomas Hill, or possibly that of Henry 
Cambron ; and that on the Rolling Fork, the house of Robert Abell. 

■■See elsewhere a sketch of his life, and a history of his ministerial labors in 

t The history of Father de Rohan's connection with the mission of the 
State is given elsewhere. 

X It is not to be understood that either of the priests named in the text was 
more peculiarly the pastor of Holy Cross congregation than he was of the 
scattered bodies of Catholics in other parts of the State. Until after the arrival 
in Kentucky of Rev. Charles Nerinckx, in 1805 ; of the Trappist fathers, in the 
same year; and of the Dominican fathers, Wilson, Fenwick, Tuite and Angier, 
in 1806 ; it is doubtful if the Holy sacrifice was offered up in Holy Cross church 
oftener than once a month. It was only, indeed, after Bishop Flaget and his 
companions came to Kentucky in 181 1, that the congregation of Holy Cross 
was so far favored as to be able to hear mass on every Sunday and Holyday of 
obligation. Nominally, Father Badin remained pastor of Holy Cross from 
1794 to 1819; but it is quite certain that the greater part of his time was given 
to missionary duty in other congregations. From the fall of 1805 to the spring 
of 1809, the Trappist fathers, settled within a mile of Holy Cross church, were, 
doubtless, in the frequent habit of supplying his place, as well there as at the 
nearer surrounding stations. After their removal from Kentucky in the last 
named year, it is known that Father Nerinckx was charged with the care of 
the congregation, often for intervals extending over several months. My 
mother, whose girlhood was passed on her father's farm near Holy Cross church, 
was often heard to speak of Father Nerinckx, whom she venerated greatly. 
As Bishop Flaget and Father David had their first home with Father Badin 
at St. Stephen's, only three miles from Holy Cross church, it is reasonably cer- 
tain that both of them were in the habit, occasionally at least, of exercising 
the functions of their ministry in the congregations attached thereto. The 
same can be said, more than likely, of Rev. Guy Ignatius Chabrat, after his 
elevation to the priesthood at the close of the year 181 1, 


34 THE pottinger's creek settlement. 

he came to the country. He was a man of excellent mental gifts and 
of great learning. His entry into the diocesan seminary was most 
likely in 1817, and he was ordained priest soon afterwards. After 
having filled, for a year or more, the position of professor in the semi- 
nary, he was dispatched to the mission of which Holy Cross was the 
centre. Here he remained until after the consecration of Dr. Edward 
Fenwick, first bishop of Cincinnati. On the occasion of the consecra- 
tion of that prelate at the church of St. Rose, in 1822, with the consent 
of his own bishop, he offered his services for the new diocese, in which 
there was then but a single priest, and they were at once and gratefully 
accepted. He returned to Kentucky in 1838, and filled for about two 
years the position of professor of modern languages in the college 
of St. Joseph, Bardstown. His name does not appear in the Catholic 
Directory after 1841, and it is supposed he returned to France some 
time during that year. * 

* In early times in Kentucky it was not an unusual thing for missionary 
priests to receive challenges from sectarian ministers to debate with them points 
of religious doctrine. Most generally these challenges were respectfully de- 
clined, but occasionally they were accepted, and the debate followed. While 
Father Ganihl was serving the Holy Cross congregation, a challenge of this 
nature was sent to him by a Baptist minister known throughout the country as 
Elder Elkins. The subject proposed was "The correct mode of administer- 
ing christian baptism." Father Ganihl only knew of his challenger that he 
was a man of gigantic stature, with a voice of corresponding compass. He 
concluded to accept the challenge, however, and at the proper time he was on 
hand with a few members of his own congregation. The debate had been 
advertised from mouth to ear throughout the district, and an immense crowd 
had gathered to hear the discussion, which was to be held out of doors, some 
standing, some sitting on improvised seats, and some lolling on the grass in 
comfortable expectancy of a wordy fight from which they would be able to 
extract amusement at least. The elder was complaisant, and he politely asked 
Father Ganihl to mount the stand and give his reasons for adhering to the 
Catholic mode of administering baptism. The priest thanked him for his 
courtesy, and at once began his discourse. He first stated the doctrine of the 
Church in reference to baptism, and then urged its necessity and the obliga- 
tion which rested upon men to receive it. He then defined the mode of its 
administration adopted by the Church. He quoted largely from the Bible, 
from church history and the Fathers, and he showed his learning by frequent 
references to Greek and Latin authorities on the subject. He concluded 
by declaring that the vast majority of those who had borne the christian 
name from the beginning, had been brought into the fold through the 
administration of the sacrament as it is now prescribed by the Catholic 
Church. He here signed to his opponent, who was standing within the inner 
circle of auditors, immediately fronting him, that he was ready to exchange 
places with him. But that individual, as it appeared from the sequel, had no 
notion of exhibiting his ignorance in that company. From the beginning of 
Father Ganihl's address, he had shown symptoms of restlessness, and now 
that it was his time to speak, he stood for a moment as if transfixed. Suddenly, 
and without a word of explanation or apology, he turned in his tracks, elbowed 
his way through the crowd, mounted his horse and sped away as if a legion of 
devils were at his heels. At first the crowd appeared bewildered; but a 
moment later a shout arose from it that could have been heard a mile. Among 
the priest's friends who were present that day was Walter Burch. Watty, as 



From the fall of 1822 to the spring of 1824, the congregation was 
served by the Rev. Charles Nerinckx, superior of the Loretto com- 
munity, assisted, most probably, by Rev. G. I. Chabrat. In 1823, 
the old log church built by Father de Rohan in 1792, gave place to the 
present structure of brick, which was erected by Father Nerinckx. 
Four years before, this indefatigable servant of God had put up, 
mostly at his own expense, it is said, the church of St. Vincent, near 
New Hope, and only a few miles distant from that of Holy Cross. 
From the date of Father Nerinckx's death, August 12th, 1824, to that 
of the installation of Rev. Robert Byrne as pastor, sometime in the 

year 1825, the congregation was served by Rev. Butler and Rev. 


In 1825, Rev. Robt. Byrne, then but recently ordained, was 
appointed resident pastor of Holy Cross congregation. The life and 
labors in the sacred ministry of this exemplary priest are worthy of 
more than casual mention in this history. His thirty-one years of 
ministerial life were passed in but two congregations, and these were 
but four miles apart. Robert Byrne was the son of Ignatius Byrne, 
an early settler from Maryland who had taken up a farm lying about 
midway between Goodwin's station and the present town of New 
Haven, in Nelson county, f Here he was himself born in the year 
1792. His parents were good, pious, simple people, poor in respect 
to the goods of this world, but rich in those virtues which form the 
crown of christian souls. What they were themselves possessed of, 
in the way of secular knowledge, so much, doubtless, they imparted 
to their son ; but that was little. The knowledge they had of tJieir 
faith, and of the means requisite to give to it vitality, they also 
imparted to him; and that was much. He grew up a dutiful and 
christian youth, and, as was afterwards made manifest, a patriotic one. 
In the year 18 14, a call was made on the authorities of Nelson county 
for troops to defend the country from British aggression, and Robert 
Byrne, with others of his young cotemporaries, shouldered his musket 
and his knapsack and marched to the defense of New Orleans. " In 
one pocket," writes a correspondent, "he carried his cartridges, and 

much as Yorick of the play, or anybody else, was a man of infinite jest. 
Mounting the vacated stand, he cried out: "Well done. Elder Elkins ! I 
tell you what, boys," he added, turning to the crowd, "the elder has proved 
himself this day to be a man of sense ; the wind has been knocked out of him, 
and he has gone to recover it." 

•■■I have not been able to learn even the christian names of these two 
priests. Neither of them was ordained in the diocese. Father Butler remained 
only six months at his post. Father O'Bryan, as I learn from one who knew 
him, was a priest of unblemished character and excellent abilities. After 
laboring on the mission for about a year, he was seized with a mental malady 
which rendered his removal a nece'ssity. He recovered his normal faculties 
after a time, and soon afterwards left the diocese. 

t Several other Catholic families had settled in the same neighborhood, and. 
among others, that of Ignatius Greenwell, whose house for many years after- 
wards was a church station. 


in the other his prayer-book and beads. To the end of his life his 
devotion to the Holy Mother of God found its expression in the daily 
repetition of her rosary." The company to which he was attached 
only reached New Orleans after the battle had been fought and the 
victory won by the army under the command of General Andrew 
Jackson. Peace was soon afterwards proclaimed, and the volunteer 
forces were disbanded. Returning to his home, Robert Byrne began 
to reflect seriously on the subject of a vocation for life. His short 
experience as a soldier had given him something of an insight into 
the ways of the world, and its hollowness and frivolity disgusted 
him. The more he reflected, the clearer opened his way before him, 
and that led him to the army of the Lord of Hosts, whose antagonism 
is "against principalities and powers; against the rulers of the world 
of this darkness." He entered the seminary of St. Thomas, most 
likely, in 1817, and he was ordained priest in 1825. Immediately 
after his ordination, he was given charge of the church and congre- 
gation of Holy Cross; a position retained by him for more than twenty 
years.* From the beginning, his conduct of the mission was marked 
by the most gratifying results. The people recognized in him the 
true priest, thoroughly unselfish, and thoroughly imbued with the 
mild and merciful spirit of the Great Master whose commission he 
carried, and with whose work he had been intrusted. He gained 
their respect at once, and it was not long before they accorded to him 
their love. He had an innate sense of justice, and this virtue was as 

* A reverend correspondent who knew Father Byrne intimately thus writes 
me concerning him : " He never went through what is called a formal course 
of theology, but he had a fair knowledge of the science, could preach a good 
sermon, and was as efficient a priest for good as is ordinarily to be met with 
nowadays among those who have been favored with superior educational 
advantages. He did not stoop to refute or confound either the avowed infidel 
or the fanatical sectarian; but he explained in simple language the dogmas of 
the Church, and used all his powers of persuasion to induce his hearers to 
become practical Catholics. So successful were his efforts in this direction, 
that his parishioners were recognized far and wide as a 'confession-going 
people.' He was v^ry abstemious in eating, and he drank nothing intoxicating. 
The only excitant he ever used was snuff, and that only in moderation. Not 
unfrequently, after having heard a confession, he would offer his box to his 
penitent, and say to him: 'Take a pinch, my child, and thank God it is no 
worse.' I never yet heard any one complain that his neighbor was too kind, 
but if Father Byrne had a fault at all, I should express it by the term, over- 
kindness. • His walk was that of a father in the midst of his children. Every- 
body loved him, and the little ones most of all. His visits to the houses of his 
parishioners were regarded by them as red-letter occasions, and it was pleasant 
to witness the delight that was manifested in the countenances of an entire 
household when the announcement was made, ' Here comes Father Byrne !' 
At the sight of him riding 'down the fence' or 'up the lane,' the children 
of the family, white and black, uproariously joyful, would sally out to. meet 
and escort him to the house, where the elders stood ready to give him a less 
demonstrative, but a no less hearty welcome. It is no wonder that Father 
Byrne was content to live and die among the simple-minded people of his first 
and only mission," 


natural to him as eating and drinking. It never failed him, and it 
aided him wonderfully in defining lines of duty in human action in 
respect to those who were in the habit of consulting him. " Give to 
God," he would say, "what belongs to God; to Csesar what belongs 
to Caesar; and to your neighbor what belongs to your neighbor." 
He never spared himself He was prompt at the altar, prompt in the 
confessional, and prompt in his visits to the sick and the dying. 
Neither heat, nor cold, nor flood, nor darkness, was an obstacle 
sufficiently formidable to keep him from the bedsides of the sick. In 
1845, Father Byrne's failing health demanded at the hands of his 
Ordinary some measure of relief from excessive labor. Though he 
was but fifty-three years of age, he was fairly broken down. He was 
offered the smaller neighboring parish of St. Vincent, and accepted 
its pastorate. The duties of the position he fulfilled without assistance 
for a little more than a year, when his increasing infirmities forced 
him to retire from the ranks of the active ministry. St. Vincent's, 
however, was his home for the remaining years of his life. Up to the 
year 1849, ^^^ residence was with Mr. Joseph Clark; after that time 
it was with a family known throughout the district as "the Brown 
children." This family consisted at the time of two bachelor brothers, 
of whom Peter Brown was the elder ; six maiden sisters, all advanced 
in life ; and a widower brother with two girl children. With these 
good people Father Byrne lived for nearly seven years, engaged at 
times in such light missionary work as was not unequal to his strength. 
His death took place on the 7th day of April, 1856.* 

"In answer to your request that I should furnish you with my own 
estimate of Father Byrne's character," writes his successor in the 
pastorship of Holy Cross church, "I can simply say that he lived a 
truly christian life, and died a most edifying death. He was a repre- 
sentative priest of the class known as workers. He was not in the 

* The annexed details of Father Byrne's sickness and death are from a 
letter addressed to me by Rev. Francis Wuyts, who was one of his successors 
in the pastorship of Holy Cross church : " About a week before that event 
took place I assisted Father Byrne for death. I doubted at the time if his 
condition was extreme enough to warrant me in administering the last sacra- 
ments; but he told me he felt that his end was fast approaching, and I 
submitted to his judgment.. Six days later, I again visited him, and I found 
him almost in extretyiis. I stayed with him all night, and said mass in his room 
the next morning. At the elevation, his agony commenced, and when I 
approached him, immediately after mass, he was exhaling his last breath. He 
was buried from the Trappist Monastery, Abbot Eutropius singing the mass of 
requiem, and Father Robert Abell delivering an effective eulogy. The veteran 
preacher reviewed the life of his deceased brother, with which he had been 
familiar from the time they had both been inmates of the Diocesan seminary. 
He spoke of his youthful example of worth and piety ; of his after life of 
usefulness; and of his devotion to God and humanity. He eulogized the 
virtues that had distinguished him living and would form his crown of glory 
for eternity. His remains were consigned to the earth in the old cemetery of 
the Lorettine Sisterhood at Gethsemani, a short distance from the convent of 
the Trappist fathers," 


habit of putting off the duties of the present for a future day, nor fbr 
a future hour. His faith was firm, his piety sincere, and his charity 
overflowing. His people looked upon him as a saint when he walked 
in their midst, and they now revere his memory as that of a saint in 
heaven. Naturally of a quick temper, he had so schooled his nature 
as to be able to preserve christian equanimity under the provocations 
of insult and injury. His life as a priest was one of incessant toil, 
and insignificant enough was the worldly recompense accruing to him 
for his labor. When he came to die, he divided his little personal 
effects among his friends, his beneficiaries for the most part being poor 
and hard-worked priests. At the time of his death, and a little before 
that event, Rev. J. DeVries was endeavoring to build a church in 
Hodgensville. The work progressed slowly for lack of funds, a cir- 
cumstance that was well known to Father Byrne. Said he to me one 
day : ' DeVries is a ^ert* little fellow, and I think I will give him a 
hundred and fifty dollars.' Then and there, he had me open a drawer 
in his table, and count out the money from his little savings kept 

In 1846, Rev. Daniel Kelly was named pastor of Holy Cross 
church, and remained attached to the congregation for a little over a 

From 1847 to the middle of the year 1850, the congregation of 
Holy Cross was served by Rev. Athanasius A. Aud.J 

*The \.trm.pert, ordinarily pronounced as if spelt/<rar^, is a common expres- 
sion with many people to denote activity or sprightliness. 

1 1 knew Father Kelly, a few years later, when he was holding the position 
of chaplain of St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum, in Louisville. He was educated 
for the ministry in the diocesan seminary of St. Thomas, and was ordained 
priest by Bishop Flaget on the 23d day of November, 1828. Holy Cross was 
his first mission in the diocese. He remained in Louisville till 1856, when he 
returned to Ireland, and there died some years afterwards. He was a good 
man and a well meaning priest, but too lethargic by nature to be effective as 
the pastor of a congregation. 

{Father Aud is still living, and I trust he will be spared for many years to 
serve and edify the good sisters and pupils of Calvary convent and school, 
among whom he has passed the later years of his long and useful life. It had 
not been my purpose to refer in this history, except in a casual way, to living 
persons; but I think I will and should be excused for speaking my thoughts of 
the only two remaining to the present time of the old missionary priests of the 
diocese. Athanasius A. Aud was born near Fairfield, Kentucky, on the 2ist 
February, 1803. His father was Zachariah Aud, one of the original emigrants 
to the settlement, and his mother was Margaret Wathen, a widowed daughter 
of Francis Coomes, another of the first settlers, and a man who was as remark- 
able for his christian virtues as he was for his longevity. He died a centena- 
rian on the 3d day of April, 1822. Among the descendants of Francis Coomes 
born in Kentucky, were four priests, more than double that number of members 
of religious orders and hundreds of orderly practical Catholics. His daughter 
Winifred was the mother of Rev. J. C. Wathen; Margaret was the mother of 
Rev. A. A. Aud, and Anna C. was the mother of Rev. Charles I. Coomes. His 
daughter Rachel was the wife of William Coomes, of Owensboro, whose house 
was a station and resting-place for Fathers Nerinckx, Abell, Durbin and other 
priests in their visitations to that part of the State. The house of his son. Rich- 


Zachariah Aud and Margaret Wathen were married by Father 
Badin in 1799, and their first children, including the subject of this 
sketch, received baptism at his hands. The early education and train- 
ing of Father Aud were such as to fit him for his after vocation. When 
he had reached his sixteenth year, he was sent to Father David, at St. ' 
Thomas' seminary, with the view to his education for the ministry. 
To a letter of inquiry lately addressed to him, he thus answers respect- 
ing the date of his entrance into the seminary: "It was on the nth 
day of February, 1819. The beautiful peach trees along the road were 
in full bloom, and notwithstanding the early spring, they bore a boun- 
tiful crop that year." After pursuing his studies for several years at 
St. Thomas', the young man's health began to fail, and it was thought • 
best that he should be returned to secular life. He afterwards studied 
medicine, and would doubtless have become a successful practitioner 
had he not felt that his caUing was in another direction. With health 
fully restored, he again entered the seminary, and for about four years 
his time was divided between study and teaching. His ordination to 
the priesthood, in conjunction with that of the late Rev. Joseph Hasel- 
tine, took place in the cathedral of Bardstown, in the year 1836. 
"Bishop David," he writes, "was the ordaining prelate, and I think 
we were the last priests he ever did ordain. I may be mistaken in this 
belief, but my reason for so thinking is based upon the fact that he 
was afterwards in the habit of calling Father Haseltine his 'Joseph,' 
and me his 'Benjamin'" Father Aud's first mission was at St. 
Thomas', three miles from Bardstown, and it included the care of the 
growing congregation at New Haven. There were also four stations 
in the district, extending from New Haven to Nolynn creek, and 
thence to Green river, to each of which he was engaged to pay peri- 
odical visits. He retained the mission until 1844, when he was 
intrusted with the pastorship of St. Stephen's, Owensboro, with sev- 
eral outlying stations. He was subsequently removed to the Church 
of St. Lawrence, near Knottsville, in the same county, where his 
pastoral charge extended over three other churches and five stations, 
some of them being in Hancock, Ohio and Muhlenburg counties. 
As has been stated above. Father Aud became pastor of the old 
Church of Holy Cross in 1847, and he retained his position until the 
year 1850. During this time he also served the congregation of St. 
Vincent, aided, no doubt, by such assistance as the former pastor. Rev. 
Robt. Byrne, who was an invalid, was able to render. In the year 
1850, Father Aud was attacked by serious illness, consequent upon 
unavoidable exposure. Unable longer to discharge the duties of his 
position, he was sent to Calvary convent to say mass for the sisters 
and to assist the pastor of Holy Mary's church in the labors of his 

ard, a short distance from Fairfield, in Nelson county, was a church station for 
many years, kept up principally for the benefit of his aged parents and other 
infirm persons living in the neighborhood. Francis Coomes' wife survived her 
husband but a few years, dying at the age of one hundred and two years. Their 
son Richard lived to see his 96th birthday. 


ministry. He remained in this position until the death of Rev. D. A. 
Deparcq, in 1864, when he became pastor of Holy Mary's and chap- 
lain of Calvary convent. The first named of these positions he held 
mitil 1873, and the chaplaincy of the convent he has ever since 
retained. * 

During the three years ending with 1853, the congregation of 
Holy Cross, as well as that of St. Vincent, were served by Rev. 
James Quinn.f 

The later pastors of Holy Cross church Avere : Rev. Francis Wuyts, 
who served the congregation for about fifteen years; Rev. Thomas 
Faunt; Rev. F, Fauran; Rev. E. Vantroostenberghe ; Rev. D. O'Sul- 

*My acquaintance with Father Aud began when I was little more than a 
child, but I have a more perfect recollection of him when he was a student of 
medicine in Bardstown, in 1830-31. At that time there was not a young man 
in the county who was held in higher regard by all classes of citizens, Protest- 
ants and Catholics. He was tall and sparely built, and his general appearance 
indicated a delicate physical organization. In this particular he is little changed 
to the present day. His most favored acquaintances were persons devoted to 
scientific and literary pursuits. He was himself a graceful writer and a critic 
of no mean pretensions. One of his most pleasing characteristics was his con- 
stant cheerfulness. I need scarcely say, that not the less than when he was an 
inmate of the diocesan seminary, was he regardful of his duties in respect 
to religion. From the time referred to, it has been only at long intervals that 
I have been favored with opportunities to see and converse with Father Aud. 
But all his old friends of the clergy were my own also, and with these he was 
a not unfrequent theme of conversation and of friendly eulogy. He was never 
referred to by them except in terms of kindly interest. This was specially 
the case with the late Dr. McGill, bishop of Richmond, and the late Very Rev. 
B. J. Spalding, of Louisville. 

t Rev. James Quinn's ordination took place, most likely, in 1844. In 1845 
and 1846, he was assistant to Rev. Elisha J. Durbin, on the missions of south- 
western Kentucky. He was afterwards stationed at Holy Mary's, at Holy Cross 
and at St. Francis Xavier's (Raywick), Marion county. "Father Quinn," 
writes a clerical friend who knew him well, " was a man of solid piety and of 
a zeal that was active, charitable and winning. When he left the diocese of 
Louisville, about the year 1859 I think, he took the pastorship of a respectable 
congregation in one of the New England States, where he remained till the 
failure of his health necessitated his retirement from all onerous duties. In 
1868 or 1869, he returned west, and thenceforth lived with his sister in Newport, 
Kentucky, occasionally aiding the pastor of the church of the Immaculate 
Conception of that place. He was also, by request of the bishop of Covington, 
confessor for one or more communities of sisters. He was less brilliant than 
talented, but he was altogether an efficient priest, and was much respected by 
the clergy among whom he labored." A lay friend writes me thus concerning 
him: "Father Quinn, when I knew him in 1848, as a frequent visitor at St. 
Mary's college, had the reputation of an accomplished gentleman and a labo- 
rious priest. He was tall and spare, and he stooped slightly in walking. 
Father J. Delaune, who was then president of the college, and who, as you may 
know, was a man of superior talents and acknowledged piety and worth, was 
in the habit of referring to him in terms of respect and strong affection. I 
remember to have heard it stated of him that he never permitted a day to pass 
without evincing his devotion to the Blessed Virgin by the recitation of the 
rosary." The death of Father Quinn took place at Covington, Kentucky, 
December 6th, 1876. 


livan; Rev. David Russell; and Rev. R. P. Feehan, whose pastorate 
ended in the fall of 1877. Since that date the present pastor, Rev. 
Edward Lynch, has had charge of the congregation. 

No truth can be plainer than that Catholicity in Kentucky is 
largely indebted for its wonderful extension, and for the religious 
fervor that still distinguishes very many of its adherents, to the fidelity 
of those who first brought their religion into the State, and who, in 
many instances, made sacrifice of their worldly prospects in order to 
enjoy the advantages of Catholic association and, as was their hope 
and common belief, the ministry of a priest. There is scarcely a 
Catholic congregation in the State that has not its representative from 
that of Holy Cross; and beyond its borders, and especially in Indiana 
and Missouri, very many resident Catholics of the present day are 
able to trace their ancestry to those who, first of all in the wilds of 
Kentucky, told their beads in the shadow of Rohan's Knob. The 
writer cannot better conclude his account of the Pottinger's creek 
Catholic settlement than by presenting his readers with the substance 
of a letter lately received by him from one who, for fifteen years of 
his ministerial life, occupied the position of pastor of souls in Holy 
Cross congregation: 

' ' Holy Cross and its congregation have little to boast of that is 
purely conventional. The lands upon which the first Catholic emi- 
grants to the State settled are not noted for their fertility. One sees, 
to be sure, plenty of dwarf pines and hardy weeds; but it is only here 
and there that the soil is at all generous. But let it not be thought that 
Holy Cross is voiceless of jubilation on other accounts. Here was 
set the cradle of the Church in Kentucky. Here was planted the 
mustard seed of divine faith that has grown indeed into a great tree 
whose overshadowing branches are to-day giving shelter to tens of 
thousands of ardent believers, symbolized by ' the birds of the air ' of 
the holy Gospel. 

"Outside of the duties of my ministry, at least, there was nothing 
that so much interested me during my pastorship of the Holy Cross 
congregation as the strong affection evinced by visiting pilgrims — most 
of whom, no doubt, had first drawn breath in the neighborhood — for 
everything connected with the old church. These would come from 
all parts of the State, but the greater part of them, I was informed, 
were residents of Daviess county, whither they had removed years 
before I came to the country. It was a common thing with these 
good people to pay periodical visits to the spots of earth upon which 
they were born, and to seek revivification of their faith where its 
divine truths were first unfolded to their infant minds. Their strange 
faces would appear before me in the church, and I would after- 
wards find them in the graveyard; the men with uncovered heads, and 
the women with clasped hands and tearful eyes, now stopping before 
one mound of earth and now before another, and all engaged in 
prayer for relatives and friends whose earthly tabernacles were there 
awaiting the trump of resurrection. Upon addressing them, as I 


sometimes did, they would tell me: 'This is father's grave,' or ' here 
rests mother,' or 'sister' or 'brother.' When I saw them, as was not 
unfrequently the case, standing by some sunken headstone and 
devoutly reciting the rosary of our Blessed Lady, I could but feel 
that their teachers and guides, and those of their parents, must have 
been apostolic men indeed; otherwise, they had not laid in their 
hearts foundations deep and broad enough to support the grand and 
beautiful superstructure of faith and piety upon which my eyes were 

"Of old Holy Cross church, built by Father de Rohan in 1792, 
there is no vestige remaining. The present beautiful and commodious 
structure owes its erection to the indefatigable zeal of one whose name 
should be heard and pronounced with reverence by all Kentucky 
Catholics. I refer to the late Very Rev. Charles Nerinckx. Called 
to the temporary pastorship of the congregation in 1822, he could but 
feel that the decency of divine worship required at his hands an effort 
to provide a more fitting abode for the Immaculate Lamb of God when 
visiting His people, than was afforded by the stable-like structure — 
meaner than was that wherein the eyes of His infant humanity first 
opened to the light Himself had made — that had served the absolute 
wants of the congregation for more than thirty years. Sunday after 
Sunday he referred to the matter in the presence of the congregation, 
and at length he astonished his hearers greatly by telling them that he 
had fixed upon the following day as a proper time to begin the work. 
He was aware of the fact, he said, that not many amongst them were 
so circumstanced as to be able to set their names down for money 
subscriptions, at least in large amounts, but all of them could do 
a little, and the greater number of them could at least give the labor 
of their own hands, and that of their cattle and horses, to the under- 
taking. He ended by inviting all the able-bodied men of the congre- 
gation to meet him at an early hour next day, and to come prepared 
with such tools and implements as they might have at command, to 
enter upon the work with willing hands and cheerful hearts. 

"They did come in goodly numbers, and with them they brought 
the appliances of their farmer's calling — horses and wagons, oxen and 
sleds, crows and mattocks and spades, saws and axes and adzes — and 
day after day gangs of them were to be seen, some engaged in felling 
timber, and others in shaping it into girders and joists and rafters 
by the aid of a whip-saw ; some in hauling clay and sand to be 
used in the manufacture of bricks; some in one species of labor and 
some in another; but all directing their best energies to the accom- 
plishment of the task that had been set before them. 

"It is said that Father Nerinckx experienced much difficulty in 
raising funds with which to pay for the skilled labor he was under the 
necessity of employing in the building of the church. But his was a 
fearless soul, and he was never known to turn back from any needed 
work to which he had once set his hands. In a greater degree than 
any of his cotemporaries of the Kentucky mission was his name con- 


nected with the work of church building. Aheady he had caused to 
be erected nine churches in different parts of the State, and now, 
with zeal unabated, he was giving to the immediate work before him 
the still unyielding energies of his nature. Obstacles to the enterprise 
seemed to clear themselves away before the momentum of his own 
christian courage, and he was enabled to open the new church and to 
offer therein the Holy Sacrifice in thanksgiving for the happy close of 
his labors in a comparatively short time after he had brought the people 
to consider and to act in reference to the undertaking. 

"I have not seen a single one of the old churches of the State, 
saving, it may be, the former cathedral of St. Joseph, at Bardstown, 
that presents so fresh an appearance as does that of Holy Cross.* 
The figures 1823, the date of its erection, formed of iron anchors 
running through the wall, appear high up on one of the gables of the 

"The good people of Holy Cross congregation have sometirnes 
been regarded as wanting in polish, and in those delicate virtues which 
form the basis of what is known as social gentility. I am not going to 
deny that very few of them, whether men or women, have the appear- 
ance of having just ' stepped out of a band-box.' It is further said of 
them that they are not a sedate people. This charge is in part true 
and in part false. On proper occasions they can be and are sedate. 
But it is to be acknowledged that they are the reverse of puritanic in 
their every-day conversation and modes of life. They will dance, as 
their fathers and mothers did before them; they are not averse to play- 
ing a game o!" cards now and then ; and it is to be feared that some 
amongst them are a trifle too much given to joviality. But whatever 
may be their foibles, I can say of them with truth, that I never wit- 
nessed amongst them anything that was deserving of severe censure. 
Under rough exteriors they carry honest and open hearts. They are 
kind and hospitable and obliging. They are compassionate of human 
suffering, and they are to the full as liberal in their benefactions, accord- 
ing to their means, as others who are more boastful of their givmgs. 
But it is because of their warm and steadfast Catholic faith that they 
are most deserving of praise from without their own gates. Little 
affluent otherwise, they esteem themselves rich in possessing this 
precious gift of God. But theirs is by no means a faith that is inop- 
erative of good works. It is fruitful of good works, of charity and 
practical piety. There are few households in the parish that are not 
gathered together morning and night for prayer in common, and I have 
never known a people who were more exact in their observance of 
the wholesome laws of the Church in relation to religious duty and 
moral obligation. 

* The brick masonry of both churches named was the handiwork ot Col. 
James M. Brown, of Bardstown. This gentleman was not only a master of his 
"trade, but he was never accused of slighting his work in the least particular. 
Col. Brown died at an advanced age only a few years ago, and no one stood 
higher than he in public esteem. 

44 THE pottinger's creek settlement. 

"It was my privilege to administer the last sacraments to two of the 
original Maryland emigrants, who, in 1785, settled on Pottinger's 
creek, and formed the first Catholic colony of the State. These were 
John Downs, who died in 186 — , at the age of one hundred and four 
years, and Mary Clark, widow of Joseph Clark, who had been noted 
in the early history of the settlement for his staunch adherence to the 
faith of his fathers, and for the free-handed hospitality it had pleased 
him to extend to the old missionary priests of the State. This 
venerable lady had reached the ninety-fifth year of her age when, in 
1863, she was called to the reward of her faithfulness. 

" Mr. Downs, or ' Uncle Johnny Downs,' as he was called by the 
young and the old of the congregation, was as remarkable for his 
simple faith and the hardy virtues he practiced in life, as he was for 
his longevity. He was known to everylDody, and he was respected by 
all. Almost to his last day it could have been said of him as it was 
said of Moses, ' His eye was not dimmed; neither were his teeth 
moved.' The first were still as the eye of the eagle, and the last 
were sound in his head. He was twice married, and his children and 
his grand and great-grand children cover the land. His home was 
the home of the priest, and the stranger was never turned away from 
his door. He ground his corn and baked his bread alike for his own 
household and for goers and comers without distinction of race, 
religion or nationality. People respected him and what belonged to 
him, and he was never known to keep a lock on his meat-house. He 
never paid a doctor's bill, for the reason that, up to his first and last 
illness, he was never sick in his life. He was a type of true humanity 
as well as of true christian spirit and deportment. All loved him, all 
spoke well of him, and to this day the recollection of him and his 
many virtues is cherished in the hearts of all to whom he was known 
in Holy Cross congregation. 

' ' The life of Mrs. Mary Clark was beautiful in its christian sim- 
plicity and meekness. She was a stranger to the Church until about 
the time of her marriage; but from the day upon which the regener- 
ating waters of baptism were poured upon her head to that of her 
happy death, she was ever faithful to the obhgations imposed upon her 
by her religion. During her husband's lifetime she seconded all his 
efforts to promote Cathofic interests, and during her long widowhood, 
like Anna of old, it was her delight to serve God in His holy 
temple. In conversing with others, it was her habit to speak only 
of holy things. Of her great charity, she was constant in prayers that 
all might be led, as she had been, into the ark of God's Church. 
Meeting a stranger, she was sure to ask him if he were a Catholic; if 
he had ever read Catholic books ; and if he did not consider it a great 
blessing to be a member of Christ's mystical body. Her conversation 
was edification itself, as much so to me as to others ; and after listening 
to her for a brief while, as I had frequent opportunities of doing, I 
was disposed to thank God for having led me to a land wherein such 
exemplars of primitive christian piety were to be met with and 


honored. 'Grandmother' Clark — so was she called by everybody — 
left behind her dying the sweet aroma of her many virtues. Who of 
her sex would not esteem it a privilege to live as she did, a life 
of faith and goodness and thanksgiving; and to die as she did, offering 
her divine Master an undivided heart." 


Hardin's creek settlement. 

This settlement, situated about ten miles east of that of Pottinger's 
creek, and about eight miles southwest of that of Cartwright's creek, 
had its beginning as early as 1786. It is asserted by some, indeed, 
that several of the earliest emigrants to the district were members of 
the emigration league of sixty families formed in Maryland, to which 
reference has already been made. This may well be true, since the 
intervening distance between the Pottinger's creek lands and those of 
Hardin's creek was but a few miles. It is the more probable, too, 
for the reason that, after the Church of Holy Cross was built in 1792, 
very many of the Catholic people living on Hardin's creek were in 
the habit of going thither to hear mass and for the reception of the 

The first Catholic settlers on Hardin's creek are supposed to have 
been Edward Beaven and his brother, Col. Charles Beaven. Many 
of the name, residents of the State, and some living in the neighbor- 
hood of their ancestor's former holding, are the descendants of the 
first mentioned of these brothers. Col. Charles Beaven, who was a 
widower, and whose title had been acquired in the service of the 
country in its struggle for independence, not rehshing the hardships 
that are inseparable from pioneer life, returned to Maryland after a 
few years, where he passed the remainder of his days. 

The next emigrants from Maryland to the settlement were Mathew, 
Zachariah, Sylvester and Jeremiah Cissell, brothers, and all, as is 
supposed, from St. Mary's county, Maryland. It is stated that all of 
them lived to be old men, and that there were none to speak ill of 
them after they had passed away. Mathew, the most noted of them 
all, was a man of rare intelligence, equally displayed in his temporal 
affairs and in those that had relation to his own future, and that of 
those whom God had committed to his charge. His influence in the 
settlement was great, and it was always exerted for the furtherance of 
common interests. Of his sons, Charles and Mathew Cissell, Jr., 
long ago deceased, it would be unnecessary to speak in the hearing 
of those who knew them living. Equally with their father, they were 


respected and confided in by their cotemporaries. Honorable men, 
good citizens and faithful Catholics, the example of their lives has not 
been lost upon their children.* 

Early in 1786, the settlement was much strengthened by the 
addition to its numbers of the families of William, Leonard and Lucas 
Mattingly, three brothers, whose previous homes had been in St. 
Mary's county, Maryland. To these three is to be traced the descent 
of a family connection that is known in every State of the South and 
West, and is represented by hundreds in the single congregation of 
St. Charles, in Marion county, f 

William Mattingly, the first to reach the settlement of the three 
brothers named, was married in Maryland to a Miss Spalding, who, 
with their three sons, James, Edward and Richard Mattingly, accom- 
panied him to Kentucky. His wife dying, he afterwards intermarried 
with EHzabeth Clark, a sister, as is supposed, of Joseph Clark, of 
the Pottinger's Creek settlement. | 

Leonard Mattmgly, the acknowledged patriarch of the family in 
Kentucky, must have been past middle life when he came to the 
State. His children, all born in Maryland, were named, without 
reference to order of birth : Leonard, Basil, John, William, Joseph, 
Ignatius, Jane, Margaret, Susan, and another daughter whose christian 
name is not now remembered by the surviving members of the family. || 

*The brothers Cecil, of Cecilia College, Hardin county, are sons of Charles 
and grandsons of Mathew Cissell, the elder. Many years ago, Charles and 
Mathew Cissell, Jr., secured the passage of an act by the Kentucky legislature 
empowering them, and all who bore the name in the State, to change its 
orthography from Cissell to Cecil. It is not believed, however, that the 
change was adopted outside of the families of the brothers named. 

tWhen Leonard Mattingly died in 1827, it was estimated that his living 
descendants numbered nearly three hundred souls. 

J William Mattingly was the father of ten children by his second wife. 
These were respectively named: William, Mary, Benjamin, Felix, Ignatius, 
Julia, George, Susan, Catherine and John. Of these, there were living in 
1879, Felix a^nd John, of the congregation of St. Charles, with large families 
of children; Ignatius, an old and respected citizen of Bardstown ; and Julia, 
known as Sister Theresa, of the Sisterhood of Loretto. One of George 
Mattingly's daughters, now deceased, was known as Sister Mary Charles, of 
the same society; and one of John Mattingly's daughters is a member of the 
Sisterhood of St. Francis, in Shelbyville, Kentucky. 

II A great-grandson of Leonard Mattingly furnishes me with the annexed 
account of the after lives of his grand-uncles and aunts named above, which 
he characterizes as " lamentably imperfect : " Leonard Mattingly, Jr., took 
to wife a sister of Mathew Cissell. Basil Mattingly's first wife was Monica 
Miles, a sister of Harry Miles, of the Pottinger's creek settlement. Their 
children were: Harriet, who became the wife of Irvin Buckman ; Martha, 
afterwards Sister Generose, of the Loretto society; Austin, now of Mississippi; 
and George, now of Daviess county, Kentucky. His second wife was Polly 
Hagan (of whom I will speak later). Joseph married Mary, daughter of Joseph 
Hayden, and a sister of the late Rev, George Hayden, who died in Texas 
about forty years ago. Ignatius married a Miss Fowler. John took to wife 
Polly Fenwick. Of six of their children, it is said, not others in all the 
congregation of St. Charles were more devoted Catholics, or exemplified their 


Of Lucas Mattingly, last of the trio of brothers named as having 
settled on Hardin's creek in the year 1786, the writer has learned 
absolutely nothing beyond the fact that one of his descendants, John 
G. Mattingly, was living a few years ago near the village of Manton, 
in Washington county, a respectable member of the congregation of 
Holy Rosary church.* 

faith by acts that betokened a fuller understanding of its spirit. Margaret 
Mattingly, the elder of the daughters, was of the band of christian maidens 
out of which grew the now well-known Sisterhood of Loretto. Nancy, another 
daughter, would have followed her sister's example had she not been a cureless 
invalid. She wore the habit of the sisterhood in her own home, and it is said 
that her short after life was that of a saint on earth. The sisters of these, 
Susan, Elizabeth and Polly, married respectively John Thomas, John Miles 
and Basil Payne, and, in their different spheres of life, were patterns of virtue 
and christian propriety. Their brother, Benjamin F. Mattingly, married Susan 
Mary Graves. Two of their children, John G. and Benj. F. Mattingly, are 
to-day widely known and respected, not only as consistent and pious Catholics, 
but as business men of enterprise and integrity. The residences of both are 
in the vicinity of the Church of St. Charles, but they both have large distillery 
interests in Louisville. William, son of Leonard, Sr., married Henrietta, a 
daughter of Charles Buckman. Dr. C. P. Mattingly, of Bardstown, is one of 
their sons. Jane, eldest daughter of the elder Leonard, married Charles 
Russell, who is the progenitor of all of that name in the present congregation 
of St. Charles. Through his son, Ignatius, Charles Russell became the grand- 
father of Rev. David Russell, a priest of the diocese of Louisville. Margaret 
and Susan, daughters of Leonard Mattingly, Sr., married respectively, Dr. 

Davis and Mr. Absalom Ray, both non-Catholics. The life of the former 

is said to have been rendered most unhappy through her husband's tyranny, 
exerted in opposition to the religious rights of his wife, and in direct conflict 
with his own pre-marital promises. The poor woman was forbidden to go to 
church, and though she did manage, often at extreme peril, to comply with 
the absolute requirements of her faith in respect to the reception of the sacra- 
ments, she was constantly tortured by the thought that her children, unbap- 
tized because her husband would have it so, and without religious instruction 
for the same reason, were growing up around her in the condition of heathens. 
The late saintly Father Vital Gilles, S. J., who was then pastor of the church 
of St. Charles, once told me of the edification he experienced beside the bed 
of death of one of Mrs. Davis' sons. He had been sent for by the dying 
man, and though he found him speechless, he easily divined from his beseech- 
ing look that he was asking for the rite of baptism. The sacrament was 
administered at once, and a- few minutes later the man was dead. Father 
Gilles was well convinced, as he said, that this happy result had come about 
through the prayers of the mother, whose purgatory had been passed on earth. 
*The Mattinglys of Maryland and Kentucky are evidently not of one 
lineage. Some of them have dark and some of them light complexions, and 
this peculiarity is as much observable in the families of either class today as it 
was in those of their grand-parents nearly a century ago. With the fair- 
skinned of the name, the descendants, possibly, of Joseph, Philip and Richard 
Mattingly, of Washington, Nelson and Breckinridge counties, respectively, 
my acquaintance has been limited. Among the swarthy of the name, I have 
had friends from my youth upward. At a time when impressibility was one of 
my weaknesses, I remember to have fallen into the company of a young lady 
descendant of Leonard Mattingly, and to have associated her in my mind with 
the opening couplet of Handel's well-known song, " Ruddier than the cherry — 
Browner than the berry ! " 

48 Hardin's creek settlement. 

John Lancaster came to the settlement in 1788. It has been said 
by some that he had previously visited Kentucky as an attache of a 
party of surveyors. He was of English and Irish descent, and of 
Maryland birth. Family tradition says of the Lancasters that the first 
of the name to come to America was John, the son of a Lancashire 
landlord of the same name, who had given offence to his father by 
uniting himself in marriage with Fanny Jarnigan, a portionless Irish 
girl. It would appear that the young man was a lad of spirit, and 
that, rather than see his wife snubbed by his family, he concluded to 
remove both her and himself to America, where disgrace was not 
likely to attach to either of them on the score .of misalliance. The 
pair settled on the lower Potomac, in a locality known as Cob Neck, 
where they reared a family of sons and daughters. One of the sons, 
Raphael Lancaster, married Eleanor Bradford, whose mother was a 
Darnell, a sister of the mother of Dr. John Carroll, first bishop and 
archbishop of Baltimore. Two of Raphael Lancaster's sons, John 
and Raphael, removed to Kentucky in 1788, the first-named to the 
Catholic settlement on Hardin's creek, and the other to the neighbor- 
hood of Bardstown. 

John Lancaster was a man whose capabilities would have been 
considered extraordinary anywhere. This will be recognized by the 
reader when he shall have perused the account given below, condensed 
from Dr. Spalding's "Sketches of Kentucky," of his capture by the 
Indians while on his way to Kentucky in the year named : 

"The party on the flat-boat comprised four persons, viz: Col. 
Joseph Mitchell and his son, Alexander Brown and John Lancaster. 
On the 8th of May, while proceeding down the Ohio, below Mays- 
ville, at a point where it was impossible for the voyagers to escape, 
they found themselves confronted by a large party of Indians with 
leveled guns. One of the chiefs, known afterwards to Mr. Lancaster 
as Shawnee Jim, caused a white flag to be displayed from the shore, 
and he intimated in broken English that the object of the Indians was' 
but to trade with the occupants of the boat. At this juncture, a skiff 
manned by four Indians was rowed rapidly toward the boat, which it 
struck so violently as to cause it to upset and precipitate three of the 
Indians into the river. Mr. Lancaster did not hesitate to obey the 
impulse which prompted him to jump to their rescue. He succeeded, 
and his success furnished him with a hope that in his case, at least, 
the good will of the red-skins was assured. The parties in the boat 
were soon made prisoners, two of the Indians struggling with each 
other for the possession of the person of Mr. Lancaster. The quarrel 
between them was renewed when the party reached the shore, and a 
desperate fight ensued. Shawnee Jim here interposed, and he decided 
in favor of the Indian who had first seized Mr. Lancaster's person. 
Having robbed the boat of its effects, which included a considerable 
amount of whiskey, the Indians, accompanied by their prisoners, 
decamped with their booty. Camping for the night, they bound the 
prisoners, hands and feet, and attached them to stakes driven in the 


ground. Instead of their clothing, of which they had been previously 
stripped, a blanket was thrown over each, and in this condition they 
passed the night, care and bodily torture rendering sleep impossible. 
Though the savages had spent much of the night in drinking, they 
were up with the dawn, unbound the prisoners and hurried them 
onward until an Indian village was reached, situated, as Mr. Lan- 
caster supposed, about sixty miles from the mouth of the Miami river. 
There their experiences proved of stirring interest. Mr. Lancaster 
was adopted into the tribe by his captor, the name Kiohba or Running 
Brook being given him, and he was treated with kindness. Eight 
days after his arrival at the village, however, he was left by his captor 
in charge of Shawnee Jim, who happened to be in a sullen and 
vindictive mood at the time, and at length began to quarrel with his 
wife. The poor Avoman, fearing his vengeance, fled from the camp, 
and was thence followed by her husband. Very soon he was seen 
returning alone, after having, as Mr. Lancaster supposed, murdered 
the woman in cold blood, A daughter of the chief was standing 
near Mr. Lancaster at the time, and she said to \\\xi\, puckete — runt 
Being assured by her looks that the girl apprehended danger to him 
from her father's ungovernable temper, he turned and fled swiftly 
away. Reaching a hill that overlooked the village, he glanced back- 
ward, and saw enough to put wings to his feet. A burly savage was 
seen raining blows upon the body of Capt. Mitchell with a tent-pole. 
Mr. Lancaster afterwards learned that young Mitchell had been 
burned at the stake. The others of his companions in misfortune 
were finally ransomed and returned to their friends." 

After six days of fatiguing travel, and without other food than four 
turkey eggs discovered by him in the hollow of a fallen tree, Mr. 
Lancaster found himself on the northern bank of the Ohio river. He 
managed to cross the stream on the floating trunk of a tree, and he 
afterwards succeeded in constructing a raft upon which he was finally 
borne to the Falls of the Ohio. Finding his way, a little later, to the 
settlement of his co-religionists on Hardin's creek, the natural energies 
of his character found lodes upon which to work, and it was not long 
before he came to be recognized as a leader of the people in whatever 
was esteemed beneficial to their material prosperity. About the year 
1790, as is supposed, he took to wife Catharine Miles, a daughter of 
Philip Miles, of the Pottinger's Creek settlement. The children of 
this connection were: Joseph B., whose wife was Anna Blair; 
Raphael, married to Caroline Carter, a sister of the late Rev. Charles 
Carter, of the arch-diocese of Philadelphia; Henry, married to 
Catherine Hagan ; John, married to Mary Hayden ; Benjamin, married 
to Ann Pottinger; Ellen, married to Judge A. H. Churchill; Ann, 
married to E. B. Smith; James Madison, a priest; William, married 
to Malvina Churchill; Catherine, first wife of Leonard A. Spalding, 
the only surviving brother of the late archbishop Spalding of 
Baltimore; and Mary Jane, married to Richard M. Spalding. 
This admirable christian and amiable gentleman died as late as the 


50 Hardin's creek settlement. 

25th of September, 1883.* John Lancaster was a man of won- 
derful energy, especially in business affairs. He was well known, 
too, in politics, and was generally regarded as a safe representative 
of the people. He was a representative from Washington county in 
the sessions of the Kentucky legislature for the years 1799, 1800, 
1801, 1802 and 1820. t He amassed quite a fortune for the times, 
and died in the spring of 1838. 

Of James Elder, who came to the settlement in 1791, nothing 
need here be said. The reader is referred for a sketch of his life to 
the history of "The Cox's Creek Settlement," given further on, under 
the sub-heading, ' ' The Elder Family of Maryland and Kentucky. " 

Henry Hagan was an early settler on Hardin's creek, but the 
writer has vainly sought for evidence that would convince him that he 
came to the State earlier than the year 1794. It is the common belief 

* John Lancaster and Catherine Miles were the parents of one priest, the 
late Rev. James Madison Lancaster, administrator at the date of his death of 
the diocese of Covington ; the grandparents of a bishop and a priest, Rt. Rev. 
John Lancaster Spalding and Rev. Benedict J. Spalding, of the diocese of 
Peoria; and the great-grandparents of a priest, Rev. Samuel B. Spalding, of 
the arch-diocese of Philadelphia. TvvfO of their grandchildren, daughters of 
Richard M. Spalding and William Lancaster, are members of the order of the 
Sacred Heart. 

tin one of John Lancaster's canvasses for the legislature, he was opposed 
by Jeroboam Beauchamp, one of the sharpest and least scrupulous politicians 
of his day in all Kentucky. Finding the canvass going against him, Mr. 
Beauchamp resorted to a trick, through the perpetration of which he had no 
difficulty in securing his own return. A joint discussion had been arranged 
between the two for a given time and place, where Mr. Lancaster was first to 
address the people. But a limited number of the voters had reached the spot 
when time was called, and Mr. Lancaster began his address. Instead of 
listening to his opponent, Mr. Beauchamp betook himself to a point upon the 
principal road leading to the place of speaking, where every new comer could 
not help seeing him, and where, as a specimen of the colloquies that ensued, 
the following will sufficiently explain the ruse by which he carried his election : 
"Why, what are you doing here," cried one of his friends, possibly before 
taken into his confidence, "when you ought to be listening to John Lancaster, 
and considering your own reply to his speech?" 

"I am already beaten, boys," replied Beauchamp, "and I might as well 
surrender. Do you know," he added, so as to be heard by a dozen horsemen 
who had by this time reached the spot, "that he is telling the people that 
there is not a respectable man in Washington county who is going to vote for 
me ; that I have not a friend anywhere who is able to put shoes on his feet, or 
is ever seen with a whole pair of suspenders." It is needless to say that Mr. 
Lancaster had given utterance to no such assertion; but the story, nevertheless, 
got public credence before he was able to contradict it. When the election 
took place, there was never such a show seen of independent, barefooted, one- 
gallowsed voters as the one that was presented around the polls of Washington 
county on that day. So strong was public sentiment aroused against the man 
who, as was supposed, had offered public insult to a class of voters, common 
enough, it may be, at the time, but none the less to be trusted on account of 
their independence of the conventionalities of social life, that hundreds against 
whom no such charge could have been made were seen to denude themselves, 
so to speak, before going to the polls, and appeared there in their shirt- 
sleeves, barefooted, and with their pantaloons held up by a single suspender. 


of his descendants that he was by birth an Irishman. It is quite 
certain that for several years before the first Church of St. Charles 
was built by Father Nerinckx, in 1806, his house was the church- 
station for the Catholic people of the settlement. He was a man of 
better resources than his neighbors, and his house was better suited 
for the purpose to which it was put by Father Badin and his successors 
in the pastorate of the congregation. He was fairly liked by his 
neighbors, and he brought up an interesting family of children, of 
which one, in particular, was a special favorite of Father Badin. 
Polly Hagan was a precocious child, and she soon evinced capabilities 
of culture that naturally attracted the notice of the priest. Her head- 
way in this direction would have been slow but for the assistance of 
her pastor. He loaned her books, and, as occasion served, directed 
her in her application of their contents. Under his tuition and 
direction, she became in time an accomplished reader of the ver- 
nacular of the country, and this faculty of hers was put to use by her 
pastor, no doubt, in the reading of lessons previously selected by 
himself in the hearing of the children and youth of the congregation 
assembled for catechetical instructions. In time, Polly Hagan, grown 
to womanhood, became the wife of Basil, second son of Leonard 
Mattingly, the patriarch of the setders on Hardin's creek.* 

Edward H. Mattingly, of Marion county, a son of Basil and 
Polly Mattingly, and an intelligent and highly respected farmer, still 
living in the neighborhood of his mother's former residence, relates 
the following amusing incident, in which his mother and Father Badin 
were the most conspicuous actors: 

In the winter of 1837-8, soon after his return to Kentucky, the 
renowned missionary referred to paid a lengthened visit to the Jesuit 
fathers then established at St. Mary's College. His quarters were 
about a mile away from the old Hagan place, and one night he took 
it into his head to visit the house and see for himself the changes that 
time had wrought in surroundings that had once been familiar to his 
eyes. He knew, no doubt, that there was no face there but that of 
Polly Mattingly upon which he had ever cast eyes; but he wished to see 
that, and to learn from lips that could tell the story, what had become 
of friends not yet forgotten, in whose service he had passed no small 
part of the earlier years of his missionary life. Disguising himself as 
well as he could, and putting on for the occasion a manner that was 
the least natural to him, he tramped through the crispy snow the 
intervening distance, reached the house, lifted the latch without 

* Basil and Polly Mattingly had issue : Mahala, married to Washington 
Mattingly; Edward H., married to Alethair, daughter of Thomas Spalding, 
who was an uncle of the late Archbishop Spalding, of Baltimore; Nancy, 
married to A. J. Mudd ; Mary Jane, married to Joseph Spalding, a half- 
brother of Archbishop Spalding; Henry, married to Susan Jane Spalding; and 
Burrilla M., married to J. W. Montgomery. Dr. Ernest Mattingly, a well- 
known physician of Lebanon, Kentucky, is a grandson of Basil and Polly 

52 Hardin's creek settlement. 

knocking, drew up a chair toward the fire, around which Mrs. 
Mattingly, then a widow, and her sons and daughters were sitting, 
and, without uttering a word, and without having previously divested 
himself of either hat or wrappings, deliberately took his seat in their 
midst. His silence continued so long that the mother and her elder 
children began to fear that they had been intruded upon by a mad- 
man, and the younger of the brood were to be seen edging away from 
the fire with frightened faces. Lifting his head at length, which had 
previously been bent toward the fire, but without removing the muffler 
that hid the lower part of his face, as his hat did the greater part of 
his forehead, he asked abruptly : 

"Is not this the house in which Henry Hagan used to live?" 

"Yes," answered Mrs. Mattingly; "but that was years ago, and 
there have been many changes in it since." 

"Henry Hagan had a daughter named Polly; what has become 
of her?" asked the unceremonious visitor. 

"I am Polly," answered Mrs. Mattingly, "and I am a widow, 
and these are my children." 

Having cast his eyes around the group, as if to ascertain if the 
Polly of his remembrance had not been reproduced in one or another 
of the younger generation, the aged missionary thus continued his 

" And who was it that used to keep church here ?" 

"At first it was Father Badin, and afterwards Father Nerinckx," 
answered the lady. 

" I have heard of them," said her visitor, in a musing sort of way, 
and then he asked abruptly: 

"What sort of a priest was Father Badin, and how did the people 
like him?" 

"He was a good priest, I make no doubt, and I thought a great 
deal of him, because he was kind to me," replied the woman; "but 
the people generally did not hke him a bit; he was cross and crabbed, 
and he wouldn't let the young folks dance and have a little fun now 
and then." 

Laughing heartily, as he arose and laid aside his cloak and hat 
and muffler, the old man exclaimed gleefully: "And so, Polly, 
Father Badin comes back to his people of long ago to find that he is 
only remembered for his accredited faults! Well, well, it is better so 
than for lack of severity to have opened the door to all manners of 

Mrs. Mattingly was distressed beyond measure when the identity 
of her visitor and her old pastor was established in her mind, and she 
tried hard to modify the effects of her unfortunate speech. She was 
silenced at length by the good father's "Tut, tut, Polly! Don't 
distress yourself for having given me assurance that you are no less 
truthful now than when you were a girl ! " 

Without waiting for a reply, he wanted to know if Polly Mattingly 
had improved in reading over Polly Hagan. 


"Not at all, Father," replied the lady. "Any of the older of 
my children can read better than the Polly Hagan of your remem- 

Nothing would satisfy the priest but that a book should be brought 
and trial made on the spot. One after another the children were 
invited to read ; but, whether from natural timidity, or from disinclina- 
tion to exhibit their elocutionary powers in direct rivalry with their 
own mother, and in the hearing of the friend of her youth, one after 
another found excuse for declining the ordeal. It was only at the 
direct bidding of her mother that Mary Jane, only then a short time 
returned from the school of Loretto, could be induced to exhibit her 
skill as a reader. She had been prejudged by her critic, however, 
and her failure was the natural consequence. Having read but a few 
sentences, he interrupted her by saying : 

' ' That will do, my child ! You will never read as your mother 
did before she was of your age."* 

A long conversation followed between Mrs. Mattingly and her 
ancient pastor, the burden of which was the dead past. Their minds 
were peopled with shadowy forms, once known to them as living 
personalities ; and it is not unlikely that the old priest's after walk to 
his temporary home at the college was signalized by many a de pro- 
fundis offered up by him for the souls of former friends, laid to rest 
since he left the diocese in the not distant grave-yard attached to the 
Church of St. Charles. 

The name of Bennet Rhodes, another early settler on Hardin's 
creek, and that of his wife, Nelly Medley, are not to be overlooked in 
writing out the history of the settlement. The Catholic faith of the 
twain was no mere sentiment, to be lightly held and slothfully prac- 
ticed, but a reality that had in it for them the complement of all 
that was to be most hoped for and sought after and clung to while life's 
pilgrimage lasted. As they were themselves, so did they endeavor to 
rear their children, and when they passed away these "rose up and 
called them blessed." Two of Bennet Rhodes' sisters, Mary and 
Nancy Rhodes, were of the Sisterhood of Mary at the Foot of the 
Cross, when the community so called was first established by Father 

A beautiful character was that of George Hardisty, whose name, 
among the early Catholic settlers on Hardin's creek, was synonymous 
with whatever distinguishes the christian above the worldling, the true 
man above the trickster and time-server. His virtues were so ingrained, 

* Mary Jane Mattingly, the young girl alluded to in the text, afterwards 
intermarried with Joseph Spalding, a half brother of the late archbishop of 
Baltimore of that patronymic. The husband died this present year, 1884, 
leaving the greater part of his considerable estate to Catholic charitable uses. 
The wife survives to continue, in the sight of the good people of the congre- 
gation of St. Augustine, Lebanon, the example of her marked correspondence 
with both the precepts and the counsels of the faith that has been to her 
hitherto as a lamp to guide her footsteps in the way of salvation. 


and they were of such pubHc recognition, that when his neighbors 
wished to express themselves forcibly, they were in the habit of appeal- 
ing to his name in confirmation of their utterances. With them, the 
thing done or said could be no more proper and no more true had it 
been performed or enunciated by George Hardisty himself. How true 
it is that what constitutes the life of the true christian on earth ends 
not with his death. The sun of such a life sets not until there is no 
tradition of its brightness left to attract susceptible hearts. * 

William and Andrew Mudd were always reckoned among the old 
settlers on Hardin's creek. They were men of much prominence in 
the Church and in society, and they lived and died respected by all to 
whom they were known. Several of William Mudd's children inter- 
married with the Russells. 

Lower down on Hardin's creek, settled Ignatius Medley, a well 
known Catholic patriarch of his day, whose descendants are still 
numerous in the neighborhood. 

On the Rolling Fork, about where now stands the town of Ray- 
wick, long afterwards a part of the parish of St. Charles, settled 
Thomas Medley, who left behind him when he died, a name that has 
not yet ceased to be referred to with veneration by his numerous 
descendants. Some of these have now their homes in the county of 
Meade, and one of his granddaughters. Sister Adelaide, of the Sisters 
of Charity of Nazareth, is now occupying the position of Mistress of 
Novices at the mother house of the order, near Bardstown. 

There were quite a number of settlers of Irish birth among the 
early colonists on Hardin's creek — more, possibly, than were attached 
to any Catholic settlement in the State, with the single exception of 
the wholly Irish settlement on lower Cox's creek, in Nelson county. 
In addition to the family of Henry Hagan, already referred to, there 

were those of James and — — Hughes, Robert Cook, Flannigan, 

Robert and Patrick Raney and James Gannon. Descendants of all 
these, good citizens, and still faithful to the religion of their fathers, 
are numerous in Marion and the adjoining counties, especially in the 
congregation of St. Charles. Elizabeth, a daughter of James Gannon, 
intermarried with John Graves, a non- Catholic. These were the 
parents of the late Rev. James Graves, S. J., whose death took place 
in Louisville about twenty years ago. One of their sons, Hon. 
Edward Graves, represented Marion county in the Kentucky State 
legislature of 187 1-3. 

Ignatius Clark married Aloysia, a daughter of Thomas Hill, of the 

settlement on Cartwright's creek. Both himself and his wife were 
singularly pious, and much respected. Mr. Clark was a nephew of 
Rt, Rev. Edward Fenwick, first bishop of Cincinnati, and the father 

* Of the names of George Hardisty's children I have those of only five, all 
sons. These were : James, George, Richard, Cornelius and Benjamin Hardisty. 
There are descendants of some of them living still in Marion county, mostly 
in the congregation of St. Xavier, Raywick. 


of the late Rev. Edward Clark, of the diocese of Louisville.* He 
was also the father of Sisters Isabella, Eleanora and Rosalia, of the 
Sisterhood of Loretto. 

Joseph Hay den was a neighbor and friend of Ignatius Clark, and 
their families were intimate. This intimacy extended especially to a 
son of each, George Hayden and Edward A. Clark, who together 
entered the seminary of St. Thomas and became priests. Reference 
is made to Father George Hayden, whose missionary career was a 
short one, in the note last written. 

WiUiam Bryan, still living as this is written, at the advanced age 
of ninety-three years, is supposed to be the only human Unk that 
connects the present of St. Charles' congregation with the past of the 

* Edward Clark most likely entered the diocesan seminary of St. Thomas 
as early as 1824. I remember him as a tutor in the college of St. Joseph, 
Bardstown, in 1827, and afterwards as Professor of Natural Philosophy m the 
same institution. Together with Rev. Charles Coomes, Rev. Edward Quinn 
and Rev. William Whelan, he was raised to the deaconate by Bishop Flaget, 
on the 15th September, 1830. Though the exact date of his priestly ordina- 
tion is unknown to me, it is reasonable to suppose that it took place towards 
the close of the yeai named. His first mission included the large district of 
country covered by the county organizations of Hardin, Grayson, Hart, 
Breckinridge and Edmundson. He was afterwards associated with the Rev. 
E. J. Uurbin in the mission of Union and the adjoining counties. In 1836 he 
was one of the assistant priests of St. Louis church, Louisville, of which 
Rev. I. A. Reynolds was pastor, having for his associates Rev. John McGill 
and Rey. George Hayden. The last named had been an intimate friend of 
Father Clark's from boyhood, a fellow-student with him in the seminary, and, 
if I mistake not, they were together raised to the dignity of the priesthood. 
With the consent of their ordinary, toward the close of the year 1837, the two 
left the diocese with the avowed purpose of exercising their ministry in Texas, 
and, if circumstances proved favorable, of establishing there an institution of 
learning. This latter' purpose was frustrated b*y the death of Father Hayden 
within a comparatively short time after the two had reached the State referred 
to. After the death of his friend. Father Clark's time was wholly occupied in 
missionary work among the widely scattered Catholic population of the 
country. He built several churches in the State, doing much of the work 
with his own hands. About the year 1852, as it is supposed, he settled in 
Houston, where he built a church, a parsonage and a school, and where his 
memory is still treasured by many pious souls. His health failing him at 
length, he returned to Kentucky with the hope of finding relief. Reaching 
Louisville in June, 1856, he was warmly received by his friend, Bishop 
Spalding, with whom he remained until removed by death, November 23d, 
i>858. Father Clark was a zealous priest, and I never knew the man whose 
amiability was greater. The Catholic Guardiatt of December 4th, 1858, con- 
tains a short sketch of his life written by the late archbishop of Baltimore, 
who was then bishop of Louisville, from which I extract the following: "The 
incidents of his protracted illness and last moments were particularly edifying. 
Never could any of his friends visit him without deriving benefit. Unable to 
speak above his breath, he whispered words of advice into the ears of those 
who approached him. Throughout his sufferings, he was never heard to com- 
plain He received the last rites of the holy religion, of which 

he was a minister for twenty-five years, at the hands of his old friend, Rev, 
Walter S. Coomes, and he died as he had lived, quietly and calmly, poor in the 
goods of this world, but rich in the virtues of his holy state." 

56 Hardin's creek settlement. 

early Catholic colonists on Hardin's creek. As he is known to the 
entire congregation, so is he held by them in esteem and reverence. 

The list that follows comprises the names of other early emigrants 
settled on Hardin's creek, almost exclusively from Maryland, most 
of whom left descendants who are to-day well known and highly 
respected Catholic citizens of Marion county : Thomas S. Alvey, 

John Alvey, Edward Beaven, Edward Berry, Borders, Richard 

Beaven, Thomas Beckitt, George Brown, John Bolton, Roswell Bow- 1 

man, John Boone, John Clements, John Cissell, Fenwick, | 

Wilfred Goodrum, Benj. Green, Leonard Green, -"Hoskins, John 

Howard, James Howard, John Hardisty, Clement Hayden, Walter 
Jarboe, Samuel Livers, James MoUahorne, Luke Mudd, Ignatius 
Mudd, Joseph Mudd, Walter Madden, Barton Miles, John S. Miles, 
John Mills, John Medley, Thomas Raney, Samuel Sims, Samuel 
Smith, Zachariah Tucker, Richard Thompson, Bennet Thompson, 
Thomas Tucker, John Thompson, Bennet Wheatley, Alexander 

The first church of St. Charles, on Hardin's creek, was built by 
Father Charles Nerinckx in the year 1806.* It was a substantial log 
structure, and though the number of souls attached to the congrega- 
tion was then estimated at six hundred, it was made to serve in some 
sort the ever-increasing needs of the Catholic body of the district until 
the year 1832, when the then pastor, the late Rev. D. A. Deparcq, 
pulled it down and caused to be erected in its stead a church of brick, 
eighty feet long by forty wide.f The congregation has been served 
by Rev. Charles Nerinckx, Rev. William Byrne, Rev. D. A. Deparcq, 
Rev. John Wathen, Rev. John B. Hutchins and other zealous priests, 
long since deceased. 

* In his life of Father Nerinckx, Rev. C. P. Maes classifies this church as 
the fourth church in the State. This is certainly a mistake. The old church 
of St. Joseph, near Bardstown, is known to have been used for divine worship 
in 1802, and is believed to have been so used for four years previous to that 

tThe church was much enlarged by its present pastor. Rev. P. Fermont, 
in the year 1874. 




Bardstown, the county seat of Nelson county, was already a pros- 
perous inland village when Kentucky was admitted into the Union of 
States in 1792.* Its incorporation as a town by the legislature of 
Virginia bears date November 4th, 1788. It is not believed that there 
was a single Catholic resident of the town at that date. Two years 
later there were but two — Anthony Sanders, an emigrant from Mary- 
land, and Nehemiah Webb, a convert, from Pennsylvania, both young, 
unmarried men. In the country, however, from one to five miles 
from the town, there were already settled several families of Catholics. 
It is not improbable that William Coomes and Dr. George Plart, 
referred to in chapter 11 of this history, bought the farms upon which 
they settled, lived and died, in the vicinity of Bardstown, as early as 
the year 1786.! 

The first arrival of emigrants direct from Maryland was certainly 
in 1776. In that year came Capt. James Rapier, with his sons, 
Charles and William Rapier, both grown or nearly so, who setded on 
lands a few miles southeast of Bardstown, on the Beach Fork of Salt 
river, and in a district of country known at the time and since as 
Poplar Neck. J 

*The county of Nelson, established by act of the general assembly of 
Virginia in 1784, was so called from Gen. Thomas Nelson, of the State named. 
Out of its original territory, since 1792, has been taken that now included in 
the boundaries of Hardin, Washington, Marion, Breckinridge, Grayson, 
Daviess, Hancock, Meade, Larue, Taylor, and parts of Green, Bullitt, Spencer, 
Edmondson, Anderson, Hart and McLean counties. 

tThe farm of William Coomes, comprising a thousand acres, was situated 
about three miles northeast of Bardstown. It is said that Mr. Coomes was 
induced to purchase the property for the reason that there was a cave upon it 
to which, in case of danger from the proximity of Indians, he might retire 
with his family. At his death, the land was divided among his children. 
With the exception of What is known as "The Cave Place," which, I am told, 
is owned by Aloysius Coomes, a grandson of the original proprietor, the estate 
has passed away from the family. The late Rev. and venerable Charles I. 
Coomes, of the diocese of Louisville, was a grandson of William Coomes. 

JThe Captain Rapier referred to above did not bear any exalted reputation 
for practical religion. His wife, however, was a woman of strong faith and 
fervent piety. To the present day her memory is venerated by her numerous 
descendants. Charles and William Rapier, whom I remember well, were good 
citizens artd pious Catholics. 


Three years later, and possibly, as to the first mentioned, a little 
earlier, came Thomas Gwynn, Anthony Sanders and Nehemiah Webb. 
Mr. Gwynn bought and settled on a farm about two miles northwest 
of Bardstown, near the site of the now well known Nazareth Convent 
and Academy. Previous to the erection of the first church of St. 
Joseph, a mile nearer town, his house is said to have been the church 
station for all Catholics residing within a circuit' of eight miles. His 
name, with that of Anthony Sanders, is closely associated with the 
early Church in that part of Nelson county out of which was after- 
wards formed the cathedral parish. Certainly, than these, no other 
two laymen in the State did more to advance Catholic interests and 
to secure a firm footing for the faith in Kentucky. Though the first 
named was a farmer, and the other a mechanic, neither was without 
culture. Each had a comprehensive knowledge of the sublime truths 
of his religion, and the life of each was squared to the equally sublime 
morality which is its just measurement in human action.* 

Anthony Sanders was a hatter by trade, and did business when the 
material of his specialty was all drawn, in the shape of wool and furs, 
from the surrounding country, in which lived the greater number of 
his customers. He was an industrious, careful man of business, and 
though he lived well and was exceedingly generous, especially toward 
the Church and its suffering missions, he acquired a considerable 
estate. The lot upon which stands the church of St. Joseph, the 
former cathedral of the diocese, was purchased of Mr. Sanders at a 
nominal price. At the beginning of the present century, the county 
of Nelson and those counties previously formed out of its territory 
had not within their borders a resident citizen who was better known 
or more generally respected than Anthony Sanders. He was above 
the ordinary stature of men, of a full habit, and weighed, possibly, 
two hundred pounds. His face was an intelligent one, but its bland- 
ness was its leading characteristic. He was pleasantly humorous, too, 
and an interesting conversationalist, f , 

* About the beginning of the present century two daughters of Thomas 
Gwynn were married to Charles and William Rapier, and a third, some years 
later, was taken to wife by Alexius Hagan, and became the mother of the late 
Rev. Alfred Hagan, a most deserving priest of the diocese of Bardstown. In 
his old age, Mr. Gwynn had his home with his daughter, Mrs. Hagan, whose 
residence was more than five miles distant from Bardstown. Up to a short 
time preceding his death, which took place, if I mistake not, in 1830, he was 
in the habit, even on week days, of walking the entire distance, in order to be 
present at the first mass in the cathedral of St. Joseph. The late Rev. John 
B. Hutchins, only a few months before his own death, told me that he saw 
him on one such occasion, in the depth of winter, and long before it was light, 
waiting patiently for admission to the church. His remains are buried in the 
cemetery of St. Thomas. 

t As I write, an old Douay Bio.e lies open before me, upon the fly-leaf of 
which is written in bold characters, "Anthony Sanders, his Book." Than his, 
from my earliest years to the date of his death, few forms have been more 
familiar to me. He was born, most likely in Maryland, March 25th, 1764. 
Just thirty-five years thereafter, he took to wife Eleanor Knott, probably a 


Nehemiah Webb, a convert from his i8th year, was a native of 
Pennsylvania, and his parents were of the sect known as Quakers. He 
was a mill-wright by trade, and, until about the year 1800, when he 
became himself a mill proprietor in Bardstown, his business took him 
frequently from home, sometimes for months together. Hence it was 
that he was as well known in other Catholic districts of the State as 
he was in the place of his residence. It is more than likely that 
he was the contractor for all the mills built in the large territory covered 
by the county of Nelson previous to the year 1798.* 

The next Catholic emigrants to reach Bardstown were undoubtedly 
Mrs. Mary McManus and her four fatherless children, Margaret, 
Mary, Charles and Naomi. Both herself and her deceased husband 

member of St. Rose's congregation, of Washington county. Their children 
were: Stephen, Cyprian, Urban, Benedict, John, Ignatius, Susan, Catherine 
and William. With the two daughters I had such acquaintance as to warrant 
me in saying that they were at once amiable, accomplished and pious. The 
first named was the wife of the late Pius G. Thompson, once a citizen of 
Louisville. She died at the age of 22 years, January 1 2th, 1839. The younger, 
Catherine, was the wife of the late James McGill, Jr., a brother of the late Rt. 
Rev. John McGill, bishop of Richmond. She died of yellow fever in Louisi- 
ana, September l6th, 1855. For several years preceding his death, I was 
a frequent visitor at the residence of Mr. Sanders, in Bardstown. Though 
confined to the house by reason of age and infirmity, he was always cheerful 
and always ready to talk of the past. Said he to me one day : " I often think 
of the time when your father and myself were the only Catholics residing in 
Bardstown. We used often to joke with each other of the weighty repre- 
sentation the Church had in our town in those days." The death of this 
patriarch took place on the 6th day of January, 1839. 

* Nehemiah Webb was the writer's father. His first wife was Mary Waller, 
a daughter of John Waller, the proprietor of a mill on Cartwright's creek, after- 
wards sold by him to Rev. Edward Fenwick. She became a Catholic after her 
marriage. Their children were named Sarah, Elizabeth, Jerome and Leo. 
His second wife, Miss McArdle, died childless. The children of the third wife, 
Clotilde Edelin, were, Benedict Joseph, John Carroll, Mary, Eliza, Jane, 
Lucretia and Clara. With the exception of Leo, now living at the age of 
seventy-five years, with a married daughter in McLean county, the children of 
the first wife are all dead. A singular circumstance attended the death-bed 
of Elizabeth. In 1833, when that part of the country was first visited by 
cholera, she was living with her husband, Patrick Green, in Texas, and at a 
point where there was no priest stationed within a hundred miles of them. 
Seized with the malady, and feeling that her hour was come, she asked her 
husband to read the prayers for the soul departing. The poor man, overcome 
by grief and excitement, was unable to find the page in his wife's mass-book 
where the petitions appeared. "Give me the book," she said, and having 
received it, she turned 'the leaves until the formulary was found, and then 
handed it back to her husband. By the time the reading was finished, she 
had passed away. She had done what she could, and God is merciful. Nearly 
ten years ago all, save one, of the third wife's children were gathered around 
the table of the writer and elder brother in Louisville. Only a short time 
before, death had invaded the band and taken from us our unmarried sister, 
Eliza. Content were we all if death should find us prepared, as she was, to 
enter into the presence of our Judge. Jane Webb has long borne the name of 
Sister Felicitas in the' Loretto Society. *Nehemiah Webb's death took place 
in the year 1828. 


were of Irish birth, and their first home in the United States was 
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they were married and their children 
were Lorn. In 1791, concluding to remove to Kentucky, Thomas 
McManus took his family to Pittsburg and tlience embarked with them 
on a flatboat for the prosecution of his voyage down the Ohio. 
When a short distance above the town of Gallipolis, the boat was 
fired upon by Indians and the husband and father killed. Not know- 
ing what better to do, the distressed widow continued her journey 
with the other emigrants of the boat, and settled with them near 
Winchester, in Clark county. Here another misfortune befell her in 
the destruction of her house by fire. With the exception of a few 
treasured books, everything she had was destroyed. Another in her 
place might have given way to despair ; not so this truly courageous 
woman. Her dependence was upon Providence, and Providence 
raised up friends for her in her sore distress. It is uncertain how long 
she remained in Clark county, but it is believed that her removal to 
Bardstown took place at a date not long anterior to that of the erection 
of the old church of St. Joseph, near the town. She made up her 
mind that it was her duty to go where it was possible for her to put in 
practice the precepts of her religion, and no persuasion on the part of 
her neighbors had any effect in shaking her resolution. She managed 
somehow to get to Bardstown with her children, and she afterwards 
managed to support herself and them without being dependent on 
public or private charity.* 

Charles McManus, the only son of his mother, was as remarkable 
in youth for his industry and filial piety as he was afterwards for his 
business integrity, and for his christian manner of life. From early 
manhood to the date of his death. May 2 2d, 1840, he was the leading 
merchant of the town, and one of its most honored citizens f 

Among the earlier emigrants to the neighborhood of Bardstown 
was John Reynolds, who, with his wife, Ann French, and their family 
of children, settled on a small farm almost within sight of that upon 
which was afterwards built the convent, school and chapel of the 
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. But for the fact that John Reynolds 

*I remember to have heard when a boy, an edifying anecdote related of Mrs. 
McManus : One evening an emigrant family approached her cabin door and 
asked for food and shelter for the night. She was herself in great straits at the 
time, not knowing whence was to come the next day's supplies for herself and 
her little ones. At first she was much troubled, but her face soon brightened up, 
and she said: "God will provide! In His name I bid you welcome." 

t In the year 1817, Charles McManus was married to Mary Ann, daughter of 
Bartholomew and Priscilla Roby. She was a woman of rare personal beauty, 
and of an affectionate disposition. She survived her husband a little more than 
five years. Mary McManus became the wife of Edward Hayden, whom I 
remember as one of the older and more venerable members of the cathedral 
congregation. Her youngest sister, Naomi McManus, died in the year 1817. 
Margaret McManus, the older child and daughter, outlived all the members of 
her family, her death occurring November 27th, 1862. The aged emigrant 
mother, full of merits and ripe for heaven, died October 5th, 1825. 


was the husband of an extraordinary wife, and the father of a still 
more extraordinary son, no special mention of his name would be here 
necessary. He was an industrious, well-meaning man, to be sure, and 
after a manner, pious. But he was given to the vice of intemperance. 
His wife was altogether of another standard. To use the expression 
applied to her by an aged sister of the Nazareth community, she was 
"a living saint." It is doubtful if there has ever occurred in Kentucky 
a more noteworthy example of healthful influence exerted over a 
household than that which is presented in the case of Mrs. Ann 
Reynolds. In addition to the fact that her religion was as the measure 
of her life, she was of that precise temperament that is most attractive 
of love and confidence. Modest, retiring, helpful, prayerful, sweet 
of temper and loving her children in God and for God, it will not be 
considered strange that these latter should have readily yielded them- 
selves to her molding hands and become, even as she was herself, 
exemplars of christian life and social respectability.* 

Among the emigrants of 1788 who came to the neighborhood, were 
Edward Howard and his son, Thomas, to whom reference has already 
been made. The latter, by whom was bequeathed to the Church of 
Kentucky the seminary farm of St. Thomas, is to be regarded as 
the most munificent of the benefactors of the early church of the 

Raphael Lancaster, a brother of John Lancaster, of the Hardin's 
Creek settlement, is supposed to have come to the neighborhood of 
Bardstown in 1788. He is said to have been not a little improvident, 
and, as a consequence, his family suffered from his remissness. For 
several months after he reached the town, his dwelling was a cave, still 
to be seen in the hillside that fronts its eastern edge. He had a cow, 
and an excellent one, and good Mrs. Lancaster being unable to 
procure other vessels for dairy use, was in the habit of keeping her 
milk in sugar troughs inside the cave. In time, Mr. Lancaster bought 
a farm about eight miles north of Bardstown, not far from what is now 
known as Samuels' Depot, upon which he lived and died. Some of 
his descendants are still living in the neighborhood, though most of 
them are to be found in the counties lying southwest of Jefferson. 

In the congregation of St. Joseph, Bardstown, previous to the 
year 181 2, there were living several families of Hagans, all of whom 
•were held in the highest esteem by their fellow Catholics. Among 
these were the families of Basil, Robert and Alexius Hagan. 

•■-John and Ann Reynolds were the parents of five children, viz: Bernard, 
whose wife was Polly Brown ; Ignatius Aloysius, who became a priest and died 
bishop of Charleston ; Elizabeth, who married John Coomes ; John, who died 
a most edifying death in his 22d year; and Ellen, who married John Horrell. 
The aged couple passed the last years of their lives in the old seminary of St. 
Thomas, in Nelson county. Mrs. Reynolds died suddenly and without previous 
illness, in August, 1840. Her husband, utterly prostrated by the occurrence, 
took to his bed, and, two weeks later, he was buried by her side in the ceme- 
tery attached to the church of St. Thomas. 


Among the earlier Catholic residents of Bardstown was a man 
named Hottenroth, much thought of by Father Badin, and especially 
by Bishop Flaget, on account of his singular piety and the zeal he 
displayed in every work undertaken for the good of religion. After 
the church of St. Thomas was built, it was his habit to repair thither, 
walking or riding the intervening distance of three miles, in order to 
be present at the Holy Sacrifice. On one of these occasions, while 
attempting the passage of the Beech Fork, the course of which lies 
between the town and the church named, he was swept away and 
drowned. The event caused much sorrow throughout the Catholic 
settlements of the State. 

As early as the year 1800, there were living in Bardstown two 
Catholic heads of families, whose surnames were, respectively, Bean 
and Kelly, the latter supposed to be of Irish birth. The writer has 
no remembrance of having seen either of them, and their names are 
here introduced solely for the purpose of referring to their widows, 
than whom the congregation of St. Joseph at a later day had no more 
edifying members. It was something for edification to visit these 
ancient sisters — for such was the degree of their relationship — at their 
retreat a few miles west of Bardstown. In the year 1838, in the 
company of a number of youthful friends, the writer paid them such a 
visit, and so impressed was he with everything he witnessed and heard, 
that when he would now picture to himself a home wherefrom every- 
thing is banished that obstructs insight to heaven, he has but to renew 
in his mind his experiences of that day. 

Edward Hayden, whose wife was Mary McManus, emigrated to 
Kentucky when he was a young man, and settled in or near Bards- 
town. He was always a pious Catholic, a good citizen and a liberal 
benefactor of the Church.* 

Felix Cashot and Stephen Gates were Frenchmen. They came to 
the country with the Trappist fathers in 1805. For some reason, upon 
the removal of the community to Illinois in 1809, the two remained 
behind and settled in Bardstown, where, for many years, they carried 
on business as jewelers and manufacturers of clocks. The habits 
they had formed in the Trappist monastery clung to them in after life. 
Except in church, they were seldom seen beyond their own 
premises, where they hved more Hke hermits than men of the world. 
Mr. Cashot' s death took place in 1840, and his compatriot and 
business partner, led thereto by a countryman of unknown antece- 

*The pew fronting the epistle side of the altar, in the cathedral of St. 
Joseph, was occupied by Edward Hayden's family, and the opposite pew, on 
the gospel side, by that of my father. As I remember him first, he was tall, 
spare and erect. His features were angular, but agreeable, and in manner he 
was wholly free from conventionalism. His son, Charles Hayden, whether as 
an intelligent and practical Catholic, a good citizen, or as an honorable 
merchant, was a man in a thousand. It has been said of Edward Hayden that 
he was one of the principal purveyors for the army of defense under General 
Jackson in the war of 1812. 


dents, but strongly suspected of imposture, removed soon thereafter, 
with his supposed considerable fortune, to the State of lUinois. 

Among the elders of the cathedral congregation in the year 1820, 
were Harry Wathen, Thompson Beaven, Roger Smith, Charles Drury, 

Ambrose Aud, Lewis Hayden, EHsha Gates, Cooper, Charles 

Jarboe, James Warren, Deavers, Bennet Smith, John Merriman, 

Alexius Adams, Walter Osborne, John and James McArdle, Daniel 
Harkins, John Stuart, Patrick Blacklock, John Stevens, Thomas Aud, 

Robert Livers, Henry Livers, George Ross, Blandford, William 

Osborne, William McAtee, Charles Coomes, Higdon, Thomas 

and David McGill. All of these were farmers residing beyond the 
environs of the town, and the greater number of them were certainly 
born in Maryland.* 

In the town proper, at the same date, in addition to those whose 
names have been already given, there were living : John Rogers, 
Alexander Moore, Bernard Wheatley, William Westcott, Robert 
Warden, Peter Wickham, James McGill, F. X. McAtee, James Green, 
George and John R. McAtee, Thomas Price, E. Baker Smith, Joseph 

Price, Thomas Glasgow, Merimee, Ignatius Mattingly, Benedict 

Smith, Charles Warren and Joseph Queen, f 

* As late as the year 1836, more than one-half of the names enumerated 
were those of living men to whom I was myself indebted for helpful acts in 
connection with the establishment of the first Catholic paper published in the 
State, T/ie Catholic Advocate. More particularly than of others mentioned, 
possibly from more intimate association, my memory retains impressions, cast 
thereon at the time, of those admirable men and Catholic christians, Henry 
Wathen, Charles Drury, John Stuart, Elisha Gates, James Warren, Robert and 
Henry Livers, and Lewis Hayden. The house of Elisha Gates was for many 
years the church station for Catholics residing in the neighborhood. Three 
daughters of Lewis Hayden, all still living, are members of religious com- 
munities. Charles Drury was the father of Sisters Isabella and Martha, of the 
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The last named of these — God's blessing on 
her honest, cheery face! — after having served the community for sixty years, is 
still engaged, with energies unabated, in ministering to the sick of the St. 
Joseph's Infirmary, Louisville, an institution which has been under her charge 
for the past fifteen years. Two grandsons of David McGill, Samuel and David, 
sons of the late Stephen McGill, have long been highly respected citizens of 

t One-third of these, possibly, were born in Kentucky, and were from one 
or other of its older Catholic settlements. A few of the emigrants among 
them I am constrained to notice. John Rogers was the architect and builder 
of the cathedral of St. Joseph. He will be noticed elsewhere. Alexander 
Moore, who was a house-builder, removed to Kentucky after the war of 1812, 
in which he took part as a soldier, notably at the defense of Baltimore. The 
letter of introduction brought by him to Bishop Flaget, written by Rt. Rev. 
Leonard Neale, afterwards successor to Dr. Carroll, thus refers to him: "I 
have been acquainted with Mr. Moore for several years, have always known 
him to be a regular practical Catholic, and in the public eye, a man of invari- 
able integrity and honest repute." The family of Mr. Moore and that of my 
father were intimate, and his children were my associates in boyhood. 
The only two of these known by me to be living are Lewis and Augustus 
Moore, long residing in McLean county. James Green first emigrated to 


Patrick Donohoo, Simon and William McDonough, and William 
and George Dougherty were Irish residents of the town. The two 
last named were lay teachers in the college of St. Joseph. In addition 
to those, there was an entire colony of Irish settled from almost the 
beginning of the century on lower Cox's creek, about seven miles 
north of Bardstown, who were members of the cathedral congregation 
and liberal benefactors of the Church. The Celtic tongue, almost 
exclusively, was spoken in the families of these colonists.* 

Woodford, afterwards Scott county, whence he removed to Bardstown 
about the year 1815. He was known to Catholics as a consistent christian, 
and to everybody as the proprietor of the most noted tavern-stand in Bards- 
town. He removed to Louisville in 1831, where he died in 1845. James 
McGill, a native of IreLand, came to the IJnited States in early youth, and 
settled in Philadelphia, where he married Lavinia Dougherty, and where 
the elder of their children were born. In 1818, he came to Kentucky and 
settled in Bardstown. He was a man of excellent natural abilities, and of 
much and varied acquired knowledge. So well was he informed in dogmatic 
theology that he was not only able to defend the principles of his own faith, 
but to expose, also, the inconsistencies and absurdities of opposing systems of 
religion. His intercourse with the clergy of his day was marked by the most 
obliging kindness and by a hospitality that was as free as it was bountiful. 
His children, now deceased, were: John, who became a priest, and died 
bishop of Richmond; James, who died in Missouri, in 1854; Augustine, who 
died of cholera in 1833; Mary, who, together with her husband, Pius G. 
Thompson, perished in the Last Island calamity of the Gulf of Mexico, August 
lOth, 1856 ; Joseph H., whose exemplary christian life was closed by a happy 
death March 28th, 1872; and Stephen, who died of yellow fever in Louisiana, 
November 4th, 1855. Three of James McGill's children are still living, viz: 
William F., who is a highly respected citizen of Bardstown; Sarah A., wife of 
the writer, living in Louisville; and Susan E., wife of Richard P. Edelin, of 
Washington county. The death of James McGill, Sr., took place in Bardstown 
in 1850. His widow died at the home of the writer, in Louisville, August, 
1855. Bernard Wheatley and his amiable wife, a thoroughly lovable old 
couple, were my father's nearest neighbors when I was a child. They were 
pious, cheerful people, and particularly kind to little children. Captain 
William Westcott was a man of high respectability and worth. One of his 
sisters became a member of the Loretto Society of religious, under the name 
of Sister Generose, and is still living. Captain Peter Wickham, an Irish- 
man, if I mistake not, and a retired sea captain, was a man of considerable 
wealth and of unbounded generosity. He was a good Catholic, strict in 
his principles and strict to duty, and one of the most polished men in his 
manners I have ever known. Some time after his death, his widow and 
his elderly maiden sister had charge of the old seminary building in Bards- 
town. There they lived in semi-seclusion, and engaged, for the most part, in 
the performance of delicate acts of charity; and there, ripe for heaven and 
honored of their entire acquaintance, some time about the year 1850, they 
passed away. What remained to them of their estate was left to charitable 
objects. John R. McAtee was for many years a teacher of mathematics in 
St. Joseph's college. Two of his sons are much respected citizens of Louis- 
ville. Several of Robert Warden's sons removed to Cincinnati, where one 
of them was afterwards a judge of one of the courts of Hamilton county. 

*The principal families of this colony were the Fahertys, the Connellys, 
the Welshes, the Flahertys, the Tuells and the Whelans. The first slave 
property that came into the colony is said to have been a negro boy-child of 
five years of age, bought by a Mr. Tuell at a public sale of an insolvent 


It is scarcely to be doubted that all of the earlier missionary priests 
sent to the State, including Fathers Whelan, de Rohan, Badin, Bar- 
rieres, Fournier, Salmon and Thayer, were in the habit of paying 
occasional visits to the Catholic families living within a circuit of ten 
miles of Bardstown. The church stations of the district, up to the 
year 1798, when the first church of St. Joseph was opened for divine 
service, were certainly the houses of Edward Howard, three miles 
south of the town; Thomas Gwynn, two miles to the north; Clement 
Gardiner, near the present site of the town of Fairfield ; and, more 
than likely, that of Capt. James Rapier, of the Poplar Neck neigh- 
borhood, and that of Anthony Sanders, in the town itself. The precise 
date of the erection of the old church of St. Joseph cannot now be 
ascertained. Some claim that it was built as early as 1795, but the 
more general opinion refers its erection to the year 1798. The deed 
of conveyance to Father Badin of the lot upon which it stood, signed 
by Dr. George Hart, is dated July 12th, 1802; but that deed specifies 
the church building as then its chief appendage, and that is known, 
for several years previous to that date, to have been used as a 

debtor's estate. In connection with this negro boy, I remember to have heard 
an amusing anecdote related by the late Daniel Dwyer, Sr., at the time, nearly 
a half century ago, a leading wholesale grocer of Louisville. I was his guest, 
and seated at his own table when he related the incident: "The Irish settlers 
on Cox's creek," said Mr. Dwyer, "had been my customers for many years. 
It pleased them to deal with a countryman who could speak their own mother 
tongue. One day I was waited on by one of their number, Patrick Tuell by 
name, who bought of me a pretty large bill of goods. His instructions were 
that the goods should be delivered to his negro wagoner, who would call for 
them on the following morning. Since you must have observed it, Mr. Webb, 
I need not tell you that what is known as the brogue of my country is in my 
case ineradicable. Though it is something of which I am not ashamed, and 
have no right to be ashamed, I am not a little sensitive to its mimicry by 
those who have it not. Well, on the following morning after I had closed my 
business transaction with Mr. Tuell, a negro fellow, some twenty years of age, 
entered the store, and with as honest a Tipperary brogue as ever fell from 
tongue, asked for his ' masther's groceries.' I had but one idea, and that was, 
that the black rascal was trying to imitate my own manner of speech. Picking 
up an ax-helve, I made pfter him, and he, frightened at my demonstrative 
attitude, backed out of the store and leaped into the wagon that was standing 
in the middle of the street. Turning to me before he could reach the saddle- 
horse of his team, with a most piteous look, he asked, in native Irish, what he 
had done to offend me. I was utterly confounded, you may be sure, and the 
weapon I held dropped to the pavement as from a nerveless hand. Question- 
ing the boy, I found that he had been brought up from childhood in his 
master's family, where he had not only naturally contracted the brogue which 
I had regarded as mere mimicry, but had learned, with the other children, to 
understand and speak the Celtic of the family's daily intercommunication." 

"Old St. Joseph was a structure of logs, fairly commodious, and it stood in 
the middle of the graveyard in which most of the early Catholic settlers in 
and near Bardstown lie interred. All that I remember of it comprised a few 
decaying logs and a pile of stones where once arose the sacristy chimney. 
About the year 1836 the graveyard was greatly enlarged by the purchase of 
additional grounds. 



As early as the year 1806, the congregation attached to the church 
of St. Joseph had so largely increased as to necessitate further pro- 
vision of church accommodations in the district. The remedy was 
partly found the following year in the erection of St. Michael's church, 
Fairfield. A litde more than four years later, Rt. Rev. Dr. Flaget 
having been then but recently installed bishop of Bardstown, caused 
to be erected on the Howard place, three miles south of the nominal 
seat of his authority, the church of St. Thomas. Thus was the parish 
of St. Joseph relieved of more than a third of its former members. 
But the influx of Catholics to the town and neighborhood, many from 
Maryland, and still more from other Catholic settlements in the State, 
continued at such a rate as to necessitate the use of private residences 
in the town for church stations.* 

In another chapter will be found an account of the building of 
the cathedral of St. Joseph, and the subsequent history of its congre- 
gation and pastorate. 

* I am inclined to the belief that the old log church of St. Joseph was little 
used, except, it may be, as a mortuary chapel, after the year 1812. After that 
date, up to the year 1814 or 1815, mass was celebrated in the town on Sundays 
and holidays, either in the house of Benedict Smith or in that of Anthony 
Sanders. From the latter date to the consecration of the cathedral of St. 
Joseph in 18I9, the church station of the congregation was the house of my 
father, Nehemiah Webb. My earliest recollections refer to the latter years of 
this period. Unable to understand the nature of the business that had brought 
so many people to the house, I could but stare and wonder as group after group 
of them, after having hitched their horses to the garden fence, filed into the 
parlor and there fell upon their knees. The room was much too small for the 
crowds that came, and hence many had to stand or kneel at points where they 
could see neither priest nor altar. 




One of the most continuously prosperous Catholic settlements of 
Kentucky was first known by the title above given, which was also 
borne by a small watercourse, a tributary of the Beech Fork of Salt 
river, on either side of which, stretched out for miles, the bordering 
lands gave evidence of strong fertility. This settlement, begun in 1787, 
was situated about twenty miles from Bardstown and about ten 
miles from the point afterwards selected by Father Badin for his 
residence, and known as St. Stephen's. Up to the year 1792, 
the entire district was a part of Nelson county, but when the 
county of Washington was created in the year named, it passed to 
the jurisdiction of the new organization, its very center being occu- 
pied by the county-seat, to which had been given the name of Spring- 
field. Long before the advent of Catholics in any numbers in 
Kentucky, the farming lands on Cartwright's creek had been monopo- 
lized by speculators and capitalists who were holding them for sale and 
settlement. Among these the most noteworthy was General Mathew 
Walton, to whom, for the most part, is to be traced prior title to lands 
upon which the majority of the emigrants from Maryland afterwards 
lived and died.f 

* Cartwright's creek, which gave its name to the settlement, had its own 
name, doubtless, from Samuel Cartwright, a companion of James and Jacob 
Sandusky, who prospected through the district in 1777, and built on a neigh- 
boring stream, afterwards known as Pleasant Run, a stockade to which they 
gave the name of Sandusky's fort. 

t General Mathew Walton was a Virginian by birth, and his title accrued to 
him through his services rendered in the war of independence. He came 
to Kentucky soon after the capitulation at Yorktown, and he represented 
Nelson county, which then embraced the territory now occupied by the 
counties of Washington and Marion, in the Virginia convention, by which 
was ratified the present constitution of the United States. He also repre- 
sented the same county in the sessions of the Virginia legislature of 1789 and 
1790. He represented the same county in the conventions held at Danville 
in 1785 and 1787, and in the first constitutional convention of Kentucky, held 
in 1792. He was its representative in the first legislature after the admission 
of the State into the Union, in 1792, a member of Congress from 1800 to 1803, 
and a presidential elector in 1809, when James Madison became president of 
the United States. He is said to have been the proprietor of 160,000 acres of 
land in Kentucky, and was as much noted for high breeding, gentlemanly 
deportment and liberality, as he was for his wealth. Tradition speaks well of 

68 cartwright's creek settlement. 

At the beginning of the year 1787, Thomas Hill and Philip Miles, 
brothers-in-law, living up to that time near Leonardstown, St. Mary's 
county, Maryland, arranged with each other to remove with their 
famiUes to Kentucky. Their idea at the time was to settle on Pottin- 
ger's creek, whither had previously gone quite a number of their 
friends and neighbors. Their proposed journey was begun in Febru- 
ary, and toward the end of March, on the very day they expected to 
make landing above the falls of the Ohio, their boat was fired on by 
Indians with fatal effect. A negro belonging to Thomas Hill was 
. killed, as were, also, all the horses on the boat, and Hill himself was 
seriously wounded by the passage of an ounce ball through both of his 
thighs. This happened at a point then and still known as Eighteen 
Mile Island, its distance above Louisville being just so many miles. 
Happily for the remainder of the emigrants, the boat was soon carried 
by the current beyond gun-shot range of the lurking savages, and 
before night its living freightage of men, women and children was 
safely housed in Louisville.* 

The journey to Bardstown was a rough one for the wounded man ; 
but he was borne along by his companions, and the party reached the 
town in safety after a toilsome march of several days. The trail 
followed by the emigrants on this occasion was a new one. Only a 
month before, another party of Catholic emigrants, under the leader- 
ship of Edward Howard, had established the route by blazing the 
trees along its course, f The entire party remained in Bardstown 
about a year, and Thomas Hill, owing to the severity of his wounds, 
for a longer period. In March, 1788, Philip Miles and Harry Hill, 
the latter being a grown-up son of Thomas Hill, purchased farms in 
the Pottinger's Creek neighborhood, to which they removed imme- 
diately, and upon which they passed the remainder of their lives. | 

his courage as a soldier, especially at the battle of King's mountain during 
the revolutionary era. The dwelling house he built for himself is said to have 
been the first of any pretensions to elegance put up on the SQil of Kentucky. 
Among the most distinguished of his cotemporaries living on Cartvi^right's 

creek in 1785, were Richard Parker and Pirtle, the latter being the 

father of the late chancellor Henry Pirtle, of Louisville. 

*Clement Hill, a seven year old son of Thomas Hill, was lying on the 
deck of the boat when his father's slave was shot, as related above, and he 
was covered by his body when he fell. This episode in the life of Clement 
Hill is not unfrequently referred to by his grandchildren at the present day. 

t Edward Howard settled about three miles south of Bardstown, in a nook 
of country known as Poplar Neck. It was to his son, Thomas Howard, that 
the Church in Kentucky is indebted for the bequest of the St. Thomas semi- 
nary farm. It is very generally believed that Father Whelan, the first priest 
sent to Kentucky, accompanied Mr. Howard on the occasion referred to in the 

I Harry Miles, a son of Philip Miles, lived for many years on the place 
upon which his father settled in 1788. His second wife was Nancy McAtee, 
most likely a daughter of Henry McAtee, of the Pottinger's Creek settlement. 
The death of this amiable lady, who survived her husband many years, is but 
of comparatively recent occurrence. One of her sons, Edward Miles, still 


Catholic emigration to Kentucky was much accelerated in 1788; 
hut few of the emigrants, either during that or the following years, 
were content to establish themselves for life on Pottinger's creek. 
Nominally, the end of their journey was Bardstown, and there they 
ordinarily remained until they had made selection of lands for perma- 
nent residence. With rare exceptions, a single visit to "the settlement 
on the creek," as it was then called, was enough to convince them of 
the undesirableness of the situation. The result was ordinarily as 
favorable to the worldly prospects of the emigrants themselves as it 
was to the diffusion among the non-Catholics of the country of less 
prejudiced views respecting their religion. In 1791, the year before 
Kentucky was admitted into the confederation of States, there were 
settled within its borders no fewer than six distinct and large colonies 
of Catholics, five of which were in the single county of Nelson.* 

Among the most noteworthy of the Catholic emigrants to Kentucky 
in 1788, was Henry Cambron, previously a highly respected citizen of 
Montgomery county, Maryland. He was accompanied by his aged 
father, Baptist Cambron, and by a number of his brothers and 
sisters, t After stopping for a few days at Bardstown, Mr. Cambron 
proceeded to Cartwright's creek, where he bought and settled upon a 
farm adjoining that occupied by John Waller, whose mill, built upon 
his land, was the only property of the kind in that part of the country. 
This mill, with the land of which it was an appendage, was afterwards / 
sold by Mr. Waller to Rev. Edward Fenwick, and upon the latter^-- 
stands to-day the church and convent of St. Rose. J 

occupies the place upon which his grandfather settled, and another, Rev. 
Thomas Miles, is a member of the Society of Jesus, of the province of 

* These were severally known as The Pottinger's Creek settlement; The 
Bardstotvn, or Poplar Neck settlement ; The Cartwrighf s Creek settlement ; The 
Hardin's Creek settlement; Tlie Rolling Fork settlement, all in Nelson county; 
and The Woodford, afterwards Scott County settlement, north and east of the 
Kentucky river. There was also a small colony of Catholics, composed princi- 
pally of the families of the Durbins and Logsdons, settled in Madison county. 
One Catholic family, too, that of Leonard Wheatley, had already settled in 
that part of Nelson county which now forms the county of Breckinridge. It 
is believed, too, by a number of their descendants with whom I have consulted, 
that the first Catholic settlers on Cox's creek, in Nelson county, were occupy- 
ing their lands, in the neighborhood of the present town of Fairfield, as early 
as the year 1791. Others, however, refer the settlement to the year 1795. 

t Henry Cambron's descendants are numerous in Kentucky. They are all 
of the highest worldly respectability, and better still, they are all faithful to 
the ancient faith of their fathers. One of his sons, Charles C. Cambron, died 
in the neighborhood in which his father settled as late as 1880. Another son, 
Ralph Cambron, was still living in 1878, a much esteemed member of the 
Sacred Heart congregation in Union county. 

X It is not unlikely that the mill referred to in the text was built by the 
writer's father, the late Nehemiah Webb. It is quite certain that his first 
wife was Tr^Iary Waller, a daughter of this same Washington county miller; 
that the match was bitteily opposed by the father from motives of pure 
bigotry; that soon after her marriage the daughter became a Catholic and 

7© cartwright's creek settlement.' 

In the spring of 1789, Thomas Hill, now fully recovered from his 
wounds, moved from Bardstown to Cartwright's creek, where he pur- 
chased and settled upon lands adjoining the farm of Mr. Cambron. 
The Catholic faith of these two worthy pioneers is well illustrated by 
the following occurrence, which remains till now a tradition in the 
families of their descendants : 

They had as yet put in and gathered but a single crop when the 
two, being together one day, began to talk of the sad predicament 
they and their famiUes were in,in respect to the practice of their religion. 
The nearest station at which Father Whelan was in the habit of saying 
mass was too far away to render it possible for all to be present on 
these occasions, and their children were growing up with little oppor- 
tunity of learning, in a practical way, the extent and character of their 
religious obligations. If they could but increase their numbers, so 
they thought, and thus be enabled to put up a church, Providence 
woiild assuredly send them a priest to administer to their spiritual 
necessities. At length, one of them said to the other, "Let us go 
upon the uplands to the south, buy lands, gather about us the Cathohcs 
now coming into the State, and build a church." 

As it was suggested, so it was done. The lands were bought, and 
it was not long before they were occupied by the precise character of 
emigrants needed for the realization of the idea that had been advanced 
and acted upon by these patriarchs of the settlement. But they were 
still destined to disappointment. When their hopes were brightest, 
news came to them that Father Whelan had abandoned his mission, 
and that there was no telling when another priest would be sent to 
supply his vacant place. Bereft now of all pastoral care, as were 
their brethren throughout the State, and left to do batde against the 
enemy of their souls unsupported by the grace of the sacraments, they 
could but look upon their position as pitiable in the extreme. There 
was some relaxation of their wretchedness six months later upon the 
appearance in the State of Rev. William de Rohan, mentioned in a 
former chapter; but it was not till the arrival of Father Badin and his 
earlier companions. Fathers Barrieres, Fournier and Salmon, that the 
Catholic settlers on Cartwright's creek felt that the dawn of a brighter 
day had broken for them as children of the church of God. From 
one cause or another, however, the erection of a church in the neigh- 
borhood was long delayed. It was not until 1799 that it was finished 
and blessed by Father Badin, assisted by Father Fournier, and had 
given to it the title of the church of St. Ann. 

In connection with the Catholic settlement on Cartwright's creek, 
the annexed letters in reply to inquiries made of the writers, both 

lived and died one ; and that, though the father was esteemed honorable, and 
was, in point of fact, a wealthy man for the times, the daughter never after- 
wards experienced at his hands either affection or kindness. Leo Webb, the 
youngest and only living issue of this marriage, is now a resident of McClean 
county, Kentucky. 

Catholicity in kentuckv, yt 

written In 1878, will not be found devoid of interest. The hands 
that penned these letters, it must be premised, to-day lie crossed over 
bosoms that feel not the clods that cover them. The first is from the 
late Alexander Hamilton, who was born in Maryland and brought to 
Kentucky by his father when he was a child of eight years, and 
whose death took place in 1879, in the 90th year of his age. The 
other is from the late Charles C. Cambron, who died in 1880, aged 
90 years. Mr. Hamilton's communication reads: 

" My father emigrated to Kentucky from Maryland in the spring 
of the year 1797. He settled in this (Washington) county, about six 
miles north of the town of Springfield, on the road leading from that 
place to Bardstown. He brought with him a family of eight children. 
At that time the only officiating priests in the State were Fathers 
Badin and Fournier. The first named was stationed on Pottinger's 
creek, and the other on the Rolling Fork. There was a small church 
at the time on Pottinger's creek, and a little chapel attached to Father 
Fournier's house on the RoUing Fork. Father Fournier died in 1803, 
and Father Badin was left the only priest in the State.* 

"St. Ann's church was built, about five miles west of Springfield, 
in the year 1798. It was attended from Pottinger's creek by Father 
Badin. Sometime in the year 1806, Fathers Wilson and Tuite, of the 
order of St. Dominic, came to Kentucky and stopped for awhile near 
Bardstown, in Nelson county. From there, in 1807, they came to 
Cartwright's creek and took up their residence with Henry Boone, | 
where they kept church for several months. They were shortly' 
afterwards joined by Father Edward Fenwick, afterwards bishop of. 
Cincinnati, and by a Mr. Young, now Father Dominic Young, of thai 
Dominican order. That fall they purchased a farm and residence,/ 
the present site of the convent of St. Rose, and it was not long before 
they began the construction of the church of St. Rose.f Almost 
immediately after they came to the neighborhood, the charge of the 
church of St. Ann was transferred to them by Fathers Badin and 
Nerinckx, who had previously been in the habit of serving the con- 
gregation at stated intervals. After the church of St. Rose was 
finished, that of S Ann was abandoned. J Father Nerinckx was the 
last pastor." 

* This is a mistake. Father de Rohan was still living in the Pottinger's 
Creek settlement, but without faculties in other than extraordinary cases. As 
late as the year 1823, he was teaching school in or near the village of New 
Hope, in Nelson county. Becoming incapable, shortly afterwards, of earning 
as much as would supply him with the simplest necessaries of life, he was 
removed, by direction of Bishop Flaget, to the seminary of St. Thomas, where 
he passed the remainder of his life. 

t The venerable writer's statements of facts are accurate; not so his dates. 
The reader is referred to the chapter on "The Dominicans in Kentucky " for 
more reliable information on this point. 

JNot finally till the year 1817. It was used occasionally after the com- 
pletion of the church of St. Rose, most likely for the accommodation of 
Catholic families living in its immediate vicinity. It was pulled down finally 

72 cartwright's creek settlement. 

The letter of Mr. Cambron reads as follows: ^'^ Dear Sir — My 
father's name was Henry Cambron; that of my mother before her 
marriage, Margaret Harbin. They removed to Kentucky from St. 
Mary's county, Maryland, in 1790 or 1791.* I was myself born in 
Kentucky on the 5th day of November, 1791. My parents were 
then living on Cartwright's creek, near by the farm afterwards bought 
by Father Fenwick for a Dominican convent. I helped to build 
the old St. Rose church in 1808. I was married on the 17th day 
of January, 18 17, by priest Miles (Rev. R. P. Miles, afterwards 
first bishop of Nashville). I will here name a few of the old 
Catholic setders on Cartwright's creek. The first named, and the 
oldest among them, was my grandfather : Baptist Cambron, Thomas 
Hill, Thomas Osborne, Joseph Carrico, Acquilla Blandford, Thomas 
Yates, WiUiam Montgomery, James Austin, James Raney, Thomas 
Hamilton, James Carrico, Henry Boone and Basil Montgomery. 

" Before the completion of the church of St. Ann, mass was com- 
monly celebrated for the Catholic people of the settlement at the 
house of Thomas Hill, which came in time to be known as the Cart- 
wright's creek church station, f Yours respectfully, 

"Charles C. Cambron." 

The arrival in the State of the Dominican fathers. Revs. Edward 
Fenwick, Thomas Wilson, William Raymond Tuite and R. Angier, 
marked an era of hopeful possibilities for CathoHcity in Kentucky, 
which we of the present day have happily seen realized. They were 
the first to develop a source of Catholic missionary enterprise west of 
the Alleghany mountains. While doing their whole duty in the 
present, they had thought also for the future, and sought to provide 
for its needs by establishing a school in which the divine science 
should be of perpetual inculcation. 

Thomas Hill is to be regarded as the leading spirit among the 
early Catholic colonists on Cartwright's creek. He was by birth an 
Englishman. His father, of the same name, is supposed to have 
been of an old English Catholic family. About the middle of the 
last century, Thomas Hill, the younger, emigrated to the United 
States, and setded in St. Mary's county, Maryland, where, about the 
year 1754, he intermarried with Rebecca Miles, a sister of Philip 
Miles, who afterwards accompanied him to Kentucky. | They had a 

in the year 1819. The grave-yard, by which it was surrounded, where rest in 
undistinguishable graves many of the early Catholic settlers of the district, is 
still sufficiently marked to indicate its former use. 

*This is evidently a mistake. 

t Rev. Walter H. Hill, S. J., of the Province of Missouri, whose father was 
Clement Hill, a son of Thomas Hill, mentioned in the text, writes me con- 
cerning this station as follows: "I learned from Father Badin himself that 
my father was in the habit of conducting him, sometimes from St. Stephen's, 
and sometimes from Bardstown, to my grandfather's house, in order to afford 
the people opportunities to attend to their religious duties." 

X When Thomas Hill came to the United States, he was accompanied by 
his only brother, Henry Hill, who soon became dissatisfied and returned to 


family of seven children, three sons and four daughters. Two of the 
former, Harry Hill, of the Pottinger's creek settlement, and Clement 
Hill, of the settlement near the present town of Lebanon, were after- 
wards well known in Kentucky. The latter, Clement, who was born 
in Maryland, March 22, 1776, was the youngest of their children. 
Though he was past middle life when he came to Kentucky, Thomas 
Hill was still strong and active ; and, above all, he was earnest in his 
desire to provide for his children every facility of culture that was 
within the compass of his means. Especially did he labor to found 
them securely in the Catholic faith and to present them reasonable 
motives for its constant and systematic practice. The death of this 
veteran among the faithful of the settlement, took place in 1820, at 
the age of 97 years, and his name is to the present day held in bene- 
diction in the homes of his descendants scattered all over the western 

The history of the Cartwright's Creek settlement would be 
incomplete without reference being made to Clement Hill, youngest 
son of Thomas Hill, who, as will be remembered, shared with his 
father the dangerous passage of the Ohio river when the" boat upon 
which the family had embarked for Louisville was attacked by 
Indians. Clement Hill remained with his father until after his 
majority, when he took to wife Mary Hamilton, a daughter of Thomas 
Hamilton, whose brother, Leonard Hamilton, was the maternal grand- 
father of the late Most Rev. M. J. Spalding, bishop of Louisville and 
archbishop of Baltimore.* The marriage service was performed by 
Father Badin in 1798. In the year 1803, Clement Hill removed to 
a farm lying within two miles of the site of the present town of 
Lebanon, where he lived to the date of his death, December 13, 

England. The only information concerning him that was afterwards received 
by his brother was in the nature of a report that he had gone to sea sgpn after 
his return to his native country. It is supposed, however, by at least some of 
the descendants of Thomas Hill, now living in Kentucky, that he eventually 
found his way back to Maryland and settled in the county of Prince George. 
This belief is founded on the identity of family names with the Hills of that 
county ; on the fact that both families are Catholic ; and on a reputed agree- 
ment in features. Thomas Hill's only sister, Dolly Hill, did not emigrate to 
the United States. 

*The late Alexander Hamilton, of whom I have already spoken, was a 
son of the Thomas Hamilton referred to in the text. He was named after a 
famous English progenitor of the family, as was also the still more famous 
American politician and financier, Alexander Hamilton, who was Secretary of 
the Treasury under the first administration of the Government, and who was 
killed in a duel by Aaron Burr. The Secretary's father was of the same 
Catholic stock ; but, as runs a tradition in the family, he lost his faith while 
residing in the West Indies. 

t The wife of Clement Hill bore to him seventeen children. To each of 
these reference is here made. Cynthia, married to Henry Calhoun, who left 
many descendants. Maria, married to Josiah Turner, who died leaving chil- 
dren, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ; one of her sons, Rev. J. P. 
Turner, is a Dominican priest, and one of her daughters became a Lorettine 

74 cartwright's creek settlement. 

Though it is no part of the author's design, in the compilation of 
this historical record, to make more than simple reference to indi- 
viduals still Hving, he feels himself impelled, from motives arising out 
of friendship and long intimacy, to speak more fully than he has yet 
done of two of Clement Hill's sons. One of these, bearing his 
father's name, is a well known lawyer of Marion county. Clement S. 
Hill was educated at St. Mary's College, when that institution was 
still controlled by its founder. Rev. William Byrne. He afterwards 
prosecuted his law studies in the office of the late Benjamin Chapeze, 
of Bardstown, a lawyer of great ability, and a man of singular worth 
and purity of character.* Entering in due time upon the practice of 
his profession, it was not long before he was looked upon as a rising 
member of the bar. Possessed of an analytic mind, and rarely gifted 
as a speaker, he soon secured a lucrative practice and full recog- 
nition of his legal acquirements at the hands of the leading lawyers of 
the State. In the years 1852-3, he served one term as representative 
of his district in the Congress of the United States. 

Walter Henry Hill, another son of Clement Hill, and better known 
to Catholics, probably, than any other member of the family, has long 
been an associate of the Society of Jesus of the Province of Missouri. 
His collegiate studies were prosecuted under what many persons 
would call discouraging difficulties. I am inclined to the belief that 

nun. Thomas, who died in infancy. Thomas, second of the name, who became 
a lawyer and died in Louisville, after having received the sacraments from the 
hands of Rev. Robert A. Abell, in October, 1829; a son of his, of the same 
name, is at present a citizen of Lincoln county. Ann E., who became a 
Dominican nun, and whose death occurred at the house of the order in Ohio, 
April I, 1840. Pamela, married to James Adams; one of her sons became a 
priest, and she has many descendants. Richard H., who removed to Texas, 
where, at this date, 1879, he is still living; he has descendants to the third 
generation. Mary, married to John J. Mattingly, still living at Florissant, 
Missouri; she has a large family of children and grandchildren; one of her 
daughters is a member of the Loretto Sisterhood. Clement S., a lawyer of 
great ability, residing in Marion county; he has several children and grand- 
children. Lloyd E., a resident of Lebanon, who has a large family of 
children and grandchildren; one of his daughters is a member of the Loretto 
Society. William A., who died leaving a family of children. Elizabeth, 
married to Benjamin Cooper, who left a family of children at her death. 
Rebecca, married to Joseph Hooker, of Lincoln county; she died leaving a 
family of children. Walter Henry, who became a priest in the Society of 
Jesus, and is now a member of the faculty of St. Louis University. Robert G., 
who became a physician and died several years ago, leaving a numerous 
progeny. James A., also a physician, who died without children, Bennet 
Franklin, who still lives on the paternal homestead; he has a large family, and 
one of his daughters is a member of the Loretto Society. With the exception, 
possibly, of those of Leonard Mattingly, of the Hardin's Creek Catholic settle- 
ment, the living descendants of Clement Hill are in excess of those of any 
other of the early Catholic emigrants to the State. 

* Mr. Chapeze was not a Catholic; but his amiable wife, whom I remember 
well, was a most pious one. There was a large family of children, all of 
whom were reared in their mother's faith. Mr. Chapeze was himself received 
into the Church a short time before his death. 


these very difficulties were providential, and that their recurrence 
secured to the service of religion a faithful minister, and to many a 
• bewildered soul a competent director and guide. He was anxious to 
learn, but no other resource had he upon which to draw for the costs 
of his education than his capacity to labor. Under these circum- 
stances, he proposed to the President of St. Mary's College, then 
under the control of the Jesuit fathers, to exchange the labor 
of his hands, to be exerted on the college farm, for the intellec- 
tual culture he coveted, and which was otherwise beyond his reach. 
His request was promptly acceded to, and he at once entered upon 
his mixed term of labor and study. This happened in 1839, when he 
was not yet 17 years of age. No less studious than he was indus- 
trious, in due time he was admitted to his first and second degrees. 
After graduation, he was retained in the college as a teacher until 
1846, when the Jesuit fathers left Kentucky for New York, where 
they afterwards remained. With the idea of entering upon a course 
of medical studies under the direction of the late Dr. Moses L. 
Linton, formerly of Springfield, Kentucky, but then a leading professor 
in the medical department of the University of St. Louis, the young 
man repaired to the city named, saw his old friend, now in the zenith 
of his fame, was received by him kindly, and was given by him 
opportunity to carry out his design. He had scarcely begun his 
studies when he felt that he had made a mistake. His next step was 
to acknowledge the blunder he had committed, and to seek the 
advice of his preceptor. Happily for him. Dr. Linton was a no less 
conscientious Catholic than he was a skillful physician. He saw, 
or thought he saw, that the young man's true vocation was the 
sacred ministry, and seeing this, he advised him to study for the 

■* If I could but find words wherein to shape my thoughts of the late Dr. 
M. L. Linton, it would please me well to present him to my readers as the 
entire man, form and features, mind and manners, affections and principles, is 
piciured in my memory and in my heart. I would like to be able to per- 
petuate, if that might be, the memory of this true man and true Catholic 
in the State in which he was born, and among the children and grandchildren 
of those who were his patients forty years ago in the district of country 
watered by Cartwright's creek, I knew him well when he was a young man, 
and when, if I mistake not, he was also a young convert to the Catholic faith. 
I knew him better when, in the city of his later and last residence, he was 
equally honored for his skill and conscientiousness as a physician and teacher 
of his art, and for his devotion to his religion and his sterling qualities as a 
man. He was one of the comparatively few that are to be met with in this 
world of crookedness and sham and so-called policy, who are in the habit of 
speaking their thoughts after having shaped them to the measure of truth and 
christian charity. No man was then bolder in his denunciation of wrong- 
doing and wrong-thinking, or more commendatory of what is just before God 
and men. I never heard him lecture, but I can well believe, from the speci- 
mens of his writings that have come under my notice, that he had a happy 
faculty of imparting knowledge of his art in the hearing of his students. In 
the year 18^9, when circumstances led to my acceptance of the editorship of 
The Catholic Guardian^ published in Louisville by authority of the late Most 

76 cartwright's creek settlement. 

He hesitated just so long as was requisite to bring the matter before 
God in prayer while he performed the exercises of a spiritual retreat. 
At its close, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at 

Father Hill's ordination to the priesthood took place August 24, 
i86t. He has since occupied many important positions in the houses 
of the Society in the West. He pubhshed in 1873, a valuable Treatise 
on Moral Philosophy, a book that has already run through several 
editions. In 1878, he published his Ethics, or Moral Philosophy, a 
much more elaborate work, and a most valuable contribution to the 
higher literature of the country. In the pulpit, Father Hill is 
singularly unpretentious. His manner is easy, to be sure, but it is the 
ease of nature rather than of art. Learned above most men, his 
vocabulary for use in preaching would seem to include only the 
simplest terms known to the language. His felicitousness as a 
speaker, and there are few better able to attract and rivet attention, is 
as much owing, possibly, to the fact mentioned as it is to his mastery 
of the art of logic* 

The Edelins, the Clarksons and the Worlands, of Cartwright's 
Creek Catholic settlement, between which families there was kinship 
by marriage, deserve special mention in these annals from the fact 
that they were the progenitors of men and women who devoted, and 
are now devoting, their lives to the service of God, either as priests or 
as members of religious communities. The surname Edelin is sup- 
posed to be unaffiliated with any form of personal nomenclature that 
has its derivation from sources not distinctly English. It is generally 
believed by those who own the patronymic, that when Christianity was 
first preached to the Britons by missionaries sent from Rome, these 
had for their hearers and after converts men to whom the name was 
as familiar as were the voices of their children. It is supposed, too, 
and this supposition has the support of coincidence, there having been 
Edelins in Maryland time out of mind and without record of their 
coming, that one or more of the name answered at roll-call on that 
memorable March 27th, 1634, when Leonard Calvert and his pilgrim 

Rev. M, J. Spalding, then bishop of the See, I was indebted to him for a series 
of papers, to which publication was given, on The Incongruities, Contradic- 
tions and Absurdities that are to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of the 
Anglican Church, and in the Presbyterian Confession of F.dth. Dr. Linton's 
style, as showh in these articles, is epigrammatic and forcible ; he abounds in 
wit, and his logic is invincible. In St. Louis, as in Springfield in our own 
State, Dr. Linton was as much respected by non-Catholics as he was beloved 
by his own co-religionists. Such a man should have a more enduring monu- 
ment than any I can raise to his memory ; but I do what is possible to me in 
in this direction, by giving to his name honorable association in my narrative 
with those of hundreds of others who were like him in their love of truth and 
in the stability of their Catholic faith. 

■■■•"I cannot but fear that Father Hill will deprecate what I have here 
written concerning him. Should that be the case, let him lay the blame upon 
our ancient friendship. 


associates took rejoicing possession of their Canaan in the wilds of 

In the year 1795, three of the name came to Kentucky, who bore 
to each other the relation of cousin. One of them, and most likely 
the elder of the three, Joseph Edelin, settled on Pottinger's creek, 
near the then recently constructed church of Holy Cross, f The 
other two, Samuel and Robert Edelin, settled in the neighborhood 
of Springfield. Of the last named, litde that is reliable has come to 
the knowledge of the writer. He is inclined to the belief, however, 
that he died early, and that several of his children were reared by 
Protestant relatives and friends, and thus lost their faith. | 

Samuel Edelin, whose wife was Molly Smith, was the father of 
nine children, four sons and five daughters. Of these, it will be 
necessary to speak of but two, viz: Theresa, afterwards Sister 
Magdalen, a Dominican nun ; and Charles Fennel, whose wife was 
Ann Worland, a daughter of Henry and Margaret Worland, the last 
named of whom was regarded as an exemplar of piety and prudence 
and practical religion for all the matrons of the setdement. Sister 
Magdalen, or Mother Magdalen, as she was ordinarily addressed for 
the greater part of her long life as a religious, was a woman of rare 
administrative talents, and to her, possibly, more than to any other 
of her associates, is to be ascribed the sterling reputation that attaches 
in our day to the Sisterhood of St. Catherine of Sienna as a teaching 
community. II 

Charles Fennell and Ann Edelin were the parents of James and 
Richard P. Edelin, both living. The first named, Rev. James 
Edelin, is a well known priest of the Order of Preachers, and the 
second, R. P. Edelin, is living near Springfield. He is a brother-in- 
law of the writer, his wife being Susan McGill,- youngest daughter of 
the late James McGill, Sr. , of Bardstown, and a sister of the late Rt. 
Rev. John McGill, of the diocese of Richmond. 

*0f course I can neither know nor be supposed to know in hoW far either 
hypothesis stated in the text is reasonably held. 

fThis Joseph Edelin was my maternal grandfather, 

X Instances such as the one here referred to have been common, alas ! in all 
the old congregations of the State. The Hamilton brothers, so well known in 
business circles in Louisville a few years ago, and all of them amiable and 
much respected citizens, would have been Catholics, undoubtedly, had they 
been reared in their father's faith. As notable an instance of defection, 
accidental it is to be presumed, is to be found in the case of a great-grand- 
daughter of Thomas Gwynn, of Nelson county, than whom the early Church 
of Kentucky was represented by a no more worthy or consistent member. 
This young lady, married as a non-Catholic, is the daughter-in-law of a leading 
non-Catholic officer in the army of the United States. 

II I first saw Mother Magdalen in 1837, twenty-eight years before the date of 
her death. She reminded me at the time, in some respects, of the late Rev. 
Mother Catharine Spalding, of the Sisterhood of Charity of Nazareth. The 
frame was larger, the face more angular, and she was decidedly more abrupt 
in both manner and speech. Hard as had ever been Mother Catharine's 
experiences in building up, out of nothing, as it were, the great conventual 

78 cartwright's creek settlement. 

Knotley Clarkson, another of the early emigrants from Maryland 
to the settlement on Cartwright's creek, had for wife Lucy, a sister of 
Samuel Edelin, who bore to him three sons, Henry, Edward and 
Lloyd, and two daughters. Henry Clarkson took to wife Elizabeth 
Worland, of whom was born James and Sidney Clarkson, both of 
whom became Dominican priests.* 

Of the surname Smith, there were several fathers of families settled 
-at a^ early day on Cartwright's creek. Among these were Samuel, 
Benjamin, William, Richard and Giles Smith. They were all Catho- 
lics, and the writer has no knowledge of the degree of their relation- 
ship, if any. Of but two of them has he any information that would 
be now considered of interest. In an old prayer-book, that had 
evidently been the property of the father or mother of Benjamin 
Smith, he reads this announcement : "B. S. left me to go back to 
Kentucky this 2nd day of April, 1793." Benjamin Smith's wife was 
Christiancy Blandford. Among the children of Giles Smith were 
Daniel Smith, afterwards a leading Catholic citizen of Louisville ; Dr. 
John Smith, a physician of prominence, of Washington county ; and 
Levi Smith, than whom few men were better known in his native 
county, t 

and educational establishment with which her name was connected from the 
beginning, I judged that those ot Mother Magdalen had been still more 
exacting and more wearyful. They were alike in their gravity and in that 
indefinable something that makes one feel that he is in the presence of person- 
ified purity and goodness and truth.. Mother Magdalen died at the convent 
of St. Catherine of Sienna, near Springfield, June 2ist, 1865. 

»Rev. James Clarkson, O. P., died of cholera in the year 1833. His 
brother, Rev. Sidney Clarkson, is still living, a greatly beloved and most useful 
member of his order. Edward Clarkson, son of Knotley, married a Miss 
Buckman ; one of his sons is still living. Lloyd Clarkson, third son of Knot- 
ley, married Elizabeth, daughter of Hoskins Hamilton, and he had for second 
wife, Elizabeth Duncan. The daughters of Knotley Clarkson married, respect- 
ively, Constantine and John Sutcliffe, of Nelson county. Washington 

Worland, a brother, if I mistake not, of Harry Worland, mentioned in the 
text, first settled in Woodford county, but soon afterwards removed to the 
settlement on Cartwright's creek. He was best known for his exact corres- 
pondence with the precepts of his faith. Another of the same family name, 
James Worland, was prominent as a member of the congregation of St. Ann. 

t More than thirty years ago I was a guest for the night of Levi Smith. 
Death had then but recently invaded his household and taken from him his 
second wife, a niece of the late Rt. Rev. I. A. Reynolds, whom I had known 
from her childhood as Ann Horrell, a most interesting and amiable young lady 
of my native town. The occasion was one of interest to me by reason of an 
incident that I propose to relate. At an early hour of the evening Mr. Smith 
invited me into the room adjoining the one in which we were sitting, where the 
members of the family were assembled for night prayers. The greater number 
of these were my entertainer's colored slaves. Having prostrated ourselves on 
our knees, I was surprised to hear the prayers given out, not by the master of 
the house, but by one of his female slaves. The voice of the woman, who 
appeared to be about forty years old, was so pathetic and well balanced, so true 
in its enunciation of the words of the petitions, and so evidently a reflex of the 
emotions of a heart that had at the time no place in it for anything beyond the 
act in which she was engaged, that I caught myself wondering where she 


Daniel, son of Giles Smith, was already an old citizen of Louis- 
ville in 1832. He was then one of the trustees of St. Louis church 
in that city. His first wife was Catherine Miles, a sister of the late 
Rt. Rev. R. P. Miles, bishop of Nashville. He afterwards inter- 
married with Henrietta Palmer, a sister of the late Dr. R. C. Palmer, 
of Washington county, who long survived her husband, her death 
having taken place this present year.* 

James Rudd removed with his family to the neighborhood of 
Springfield from Prince George county, Maryland, in the year 1796. 
His children, eight in number, were named, William, Charles, Henry 
B., John, Richard, James, Margaret, and Christopher. James Rudd 
died in the year 1816, and his wife, Susannah Brooke Rudd, in 1822. f 

The patronymic Montgomery was held by quite a number of fami- 
lies settled on Cartwright's creek before the beginning of the present 

could have acquired gifts and graces which, under like circumstances, I have 
not unfrequently seen disregarded by better educated people of the white race. 
Without hurry, and with proper modulation and emphasis, she uttered the 
petitions set down in the formularies, and, with equal truth to their sentiment, 
she was answered by the rest. When we arose from our knees that night, I 
felt that I would like to ask that christian woman's blessing. Compare 
this with another meeting for family prayers at which I was present a 
year or two later. The head of the family in this case, a good and pious man, 
though an unreflecting one, occupied the position that had been taken by the 
negress in the other. The prayers were the same, but oh! how differently were 
they recited. Where the feelings of the heart, in the one case, found their 
faithful expression in the tone of the voice, and in the whole manner of the 
petitioner, there was nothing to be observed in the other beyond a monotonous 
outpouring of words, tame and spiritless, except when the stream was inter- 
rupted by such expressions as the following, given parenthetically: "We fly 
to thy patronage — " ("Nancy, that boy is asleep again! ") "Give us this day 
our daily bread, and — " (" Willie, kneel up straight!") "Suffered under 
Pontius Pilate — " ("Jane, why don't you hush that child?") How is it 
possible for anyone to pray aright who is compelled to listen to such a 
travesty of a solemn act as is exemplified in this case? A daughter of Levi 
Smith is married to Charles C. McGill, a son of Wm. F. McGill, of Bardstown. 

* Four daughters of Daniel and Henrietta Smith were, and are, well known 
in society and in the church in Louisville, viz: Mrs. Isaac Caldwell, Mrs, L. 
M. Flournoy, Mrs. E. D. Standiford, and Mrs. Warren Green. Mrs. Caldwell 
and Mrs. Green died in 1882. 

tOf James Rudd's children, it will be necessary to speak of but three. 
Richard Rudd was a soldier of the war of 1812. He was a bachelor lawyer 
of much prominence, practicing in Bardstown when I was a boy. He was 
much esteemed for his probity and for the blamelessness of his life. He died 
more than forty years ago. The late Captain James Rudd, of Louisville, was 
his father's sixth son. Of him I will have to speak in another chapter. The 
late Dr. Christopher Rudd, of Springfield, was as well known and as much 
respected as any man in the county. Having studied medicine and established 
himself as a physician in Springfield, he took to wife Nannie Palmer, a sister 
of Dr. R. C. Palmer, of Washington county. He was a skillful practitioner 
and a deservedly popular man. One of his daughters, Louisa Rudd, became 
the wife of the late Hamilton Smith, proprietor of the Cannelton [Indiana] 
cotton mills, and one of her sons, Ballard Smith, was but lately, if he is not now, 
managing editor of The World newspaper, in the city of New York. Dr. 
Christopher Rudd died in 1840. 

cartwright's creek settlement. 

century. Charles Montgomery, whose wife was an Elder, was the 
father of the Dominican priests, Stephen and Samuel Montgomery, 
ordained by Bishop Flaget in the year 1816. Basil Montgomery was 
the father of Rev. Charles P. Montgomery, of the same order. In 
addition to these, there were the families of James, John, Bernard and 
Jeremiah Montgomery, most of whom have descendants still living in 
the county of Washington. 

There were nearly as many families named Jarboe among those 
who came to the settlement from Maryland in an early day. John 
Jarboe and his wife, Dolly Hill, were the parents of the venerable 
and Very Rev. J. T. Jarboe, O. P., still living, who is known so favor- 
ably to the clergy of the entire country. Others of the name among 
the settlers were: Henry, Stephen, Benjamin, and Arnold Jarboe. 

The Rineys were as numerous, numbering the families of Jonathan, 
Zachariah, Jesse, James, John, Basil and Clement Riney. 

The Osbornes numbered five famihes, viz: Those of Thomas, 
William, Walter, Joseph and Basil Osborne; the Blacklocks three, 
those of Joseph, William and Nathaniel Blacklock; the Carricos 
three, those of Joseph, Cornelius and Nathaniel Carrico; the 
Howards three, those of Richard, Charles and James Howard; the 
, Fenwicks three, those of Thomas, Cornelius and Henry Fenwick ; the 
Buckmans three, those of Joseph, Harry and William Buckman. 

There were two heads of families of the name of Adams. Eli and 
James Adams; two of the name of Blandford, Charles T. and Ignatius 
Blandford; two of the name of Spink, Ignatius and Raphael Spink; 
two of the name of Janes, John and Austin Janes; two of the name 
of Wheatly, Edward and James Wheatly; two of the name of 
Offutt, Z. B. and Augustine Offutt; two of the name of Neeley, 
James and David Neeley; three of the name of Hayden, William, 
Wilfred and Bennet Hayden; two of the name of O'Neil, Jonas and 
Thomas O'Neil; three of the name of Thompson, Gabriel, George 

and J. B. Thompson; two of the name of Knott, Joseph and 

Knott; and two of the name of Johnson, John and Simeon Johnson. 

In addition to these, there were the families of Bennet Bean, 
Walter Bell, Mathew J. Boyle, Thomas Clements, Thomas Craycroft, 
John and Zachariah Edelin, Hugh Fitzpatrick, Wilfred Field, Mc- 
Kenzie Gettings, Clement Gallihan, William Gau (a teacher), Walter 
Hamilton, Peter Higdon, William Jenkins, John Kelly, Charles 
Kennett, Zachariah Lanham, Thomas Mudd, Jacob McAdams, Joseph 
Mattingly, John S. Miles, Peter Powell, Patrick Payne, Joseph 
Pierceall, Hezekiah Roby, Richard Ryan, Abram Rhodes, Basil 

Speaks, Sweeney, Nicholas Sansbury, John Simms, Josiah 

Turner (father of Rev. J. P. Turner, O. P.), Kenrick Williams, Joseph 
McDaniel, John Willett and William White.* 

*It is not unlikely that a few of the names given above were those of men 
born in Kentucky. They were all recognized, however, as patriarchs 01 the 
settlement, and as having been among the elders of the congregation of St. 
Rose, which, after the year 1808, was identical with that of St. Ann. 


A lady friend of the writer, and a descendant of one of the early 
emigrants to the settlement on Cartwright's creek, thus describes, as 
the story was told her by an ancient dame of her kindred, the manner 
of life of the women of the Catholic settlements at the beginning of 
the present century: 

"Five miles to church was considered exceptionally convenient. 
All, or nearly all, walked; the women as well as the men plodding 
along the road with shoeless feet. Some of the former, however, 
carried in their reticules pairs of coarse cloch slippers, fashioned by 
themselves, to be put on when they came in sight of the church. 
Their tiring-room was ordinarily in the shadow of a clump of trees in 
the vicinity of the chapel, where their simple toilets were made, and 
whence, with their cotton bonnets pulled closely over their faces, they 
marched demurely to the church. Under other circumstances, the 
natural curiosity of the sex would have indicated itself by furtive 
glances directed toward their neighbors; but here and now, every 
sentiment that had not reference to the Great King whose earthly 
tabernacle they were approaching, was smothered in their hearts, and 
neither turning to the right nor to the left, they entered the chapel 
with bowed heads and silently took their places. 

"Service over, and beyond the precincts of the church, absorbed 
recollection in the minds of these unsophisticated beauties gave place 
to the mingled feelings that ordinarily prompt human action. They 
were still modest and sedate, to be sure, but the "return from 
church " was always for them a pleasant time. Then it was that the 
family groups found themselves minus the young men of their own 
households and plus those of their neighbors. Not unfrequently on 
such occasions, and under the eyes of observant and well-pleased 
parents, words were spoken that bound young hearts together for life. 

"The chief employment of the women in those days was spinning 
and weaving. When the flax was mature in the field, it was, as a 
general thing, the task of the young girls to ' pull ' and ' spread it to 
rot.' The process of 'breaking' was the only one in connection 
with the manipulation of the flax fiber that was considered too 
laborious for the hands of women. Separated by this process from the 
stalk of which it had been the covering, it was again taken in hand 
by the girls of the family, assisted, it may be, by their younger 
brothers, by whom it was ' swingled' and 'hackled' and made ready 
for the spinning wheel. The spinning and weaving was equally the 
work of the mothers and elder daughters, but it rarely happened that 
the latter were intrusted with work in either line that required delicacy 
of manipulation. The elders were always regarded as the experts, 
and when it was a question of 'wedding raiment,' it was considered 
their exclusive privilege not only to spin the yarn that was destined to 
enter into the finished fabric, but to weave it as well, and to dictate in 
everything relating to its after make-up. A curious mode had our 
great-grandmothers of testing the fineness of the thread they were 
spinning. When a hank, comprising fifteen hundred distinct threads, 


82 cartwright's creek settlement. 

could be run through an ordinary finger-ring, the yarn was con- 
sidered fine enough to answer for shirt fronts and wedding dresses. 
It was a rare circumstance, indeed, to find a young girl of the 
period clad in other than coarse, unbleached cotton; but I have 
litde doubt that such an one, thus dressed, appeared just as charming 
in the eyes of her friends, including her male admirers, as does the 
belle of our own day, clad in silks, in those of her more fastidious 

' ' The amusements of our grand and great-grandmothers were not 
unmixed with an element of thrift. 'Apple peelings,' 'quilting 
frolics' and 'corn-shuckings' were in those times terms that severally 
meant 'a good time generally.' On these occasions fathers and 
mothers accompanied their sons and daughters to the place of enter- 
tainment, and if the nominal object of the meeting happened to be the 
peeling of apples or the husking of corn, all hands were expected to 
take part in the work. Ordinarily a couple of hours were given to 
labor, and double the number to the dance that followed. 

"I do not know whence our progenitors of the times acquired the 
taste they had for dancing; but it is quite certain that it was the 
a.musement par excellence in which they were in the habit of engaging. 
In vain did Father Badin and the other early missionaries of the State 
inveigh against the custom as nonsensical and fraught with danger to 
sound morals. They could not suppress it; and they wisely under- 
took to surround it with safeguards. These were the presence of 
parents at all parties of the kind, and the diminution of the hours 
that were commonly devoted to the pastime. The young women of 
1800, if reliance is to be placed upon the statements made to me by 
certain elderly ladies known to me in my own girlhood, were very 
generally expert dancers. It is to be doubted, however, if their style 
of dancing was not more energetic than graceful. 

"The use of coffee was so little known in Kentucky at the time of 
which I am writing, that many persons, born in the State, grew up to 
be men and women before they ever saw a specimen of the berry or 
tasted of its infused principle. All, however, had knowledge of the 
taste of tea, a small store of which was regarded as a necessity by all 
the elderly women of the settlements. I remember being told when 
a child, by a great-aunt of mine, that she had known many young 
women who had never seen the reflection of their faces in a looking- 
glass. Tutania tea-pots or plates, rubbed to the point of reflection, 
served them for mirrors. 

"In the year 1800, and for two decades thereafter, wives and 
daughters in the Catholic settlements of Nelson and Washington 
counties had no other resource for pin-money than the labor of their 
own hands expended in certain privileged industries, over the financial 
results of which neither husbands nor fathers were supposed to have 
any control whatever. Among the most important of these industries 
were the preservation of fruits by sun-drying and the spinning of 
shoe-thread. Twice a year the accumulations of these products were 


intrusted to local traders and shipped off, ordinarily by flat-boat con- 
veyances, down the Beech and Rolling Forks of Salt river, and from 
the mouths of these through the larger streams to the city of New 
Orleans, where a ready market awaited them at remunerative prices. 
Thus it was that the matrons of the settlements were enabled, inde- 
pendently of the purses of their husbands, to purchase many small 
comforts for themselves, and bits of finery with which to trig out 
their daughters. 

" I will now tell you of a wedding in the olden time, the account 
of which came to me from my grand-aunt at an epoch in my own life 
when such recitals are supposed to be of uncommon interest. The 
bride was the daughter of one George Brown, a respectable member 
of one of Father Badin's congregations in Washington county. She 
had been 'promised' to a young man who had come from Maryland 
with her father, but who had stopped short of Washington county by 
a hundred miles or more. He had been told that he might come and 
claim his wife whenever he could give assurance of his ability to pro- 
vide for her. Two years had passed since the engagement, and 
neither had heard a word from the other. How could they ? There 
were no postoffices in the country, and the expectant bridegroom, 
poor fellow, was too busy fixing up things for the time when he would 
be able to demand his wife in accordance with the terms to which he 
was pledged, to think of making her a visit of mere ceremony. 
He came at length, however, mounted on a serviceable horse, but 
without an attendant. With no greater delay than the time needed 
by the bride's mother to prepare the wedding-feast, the twain were 
made one by Father Badin, and the next morning found them 
mounted for their journey to their future home. The father's gift to 
his daughter was a horse, properly caparisoned, and that of the mother 
was forty yards of linen. From the pommel of the young wife's 
saddle swung a canvass bag containing her somewhat extravagant 
store of extra clothing, and loosely flung across that of her husband, 
appeared her mother's gift, the treasured bolt of linen. For the 
reason that the wedded pair, on this occasion, were enabled to make 
their journey homeward on separate horses, this was considered by 
their neighbors a wedding in high life. 

"The extent and character of the bride's trousseau, as described 
by one who was in her confidence, should be a study for those who 
are contemplating matrimony in our own day. Permit me to figure it 
out for your readers : Two suits of underwear of home-made Hnen ; 
a wedding dress of cotton, with blue and white stripes ; a yellow and 
white dress, 'second best,' of the same material ; another of linen, of 
butternut color, to serve as a traveling suit; a blue-striped cotton 
sunbonnet; home-knit gloves of linen thread colored yellow, and 
white cotton slippers. The parents' parting gifts to their daughter 
should not be forgotten : From her father she received a tea-pot of 
britannia metal of the capacity of about a pint, and from her mother 
a blue calico cape that ha,d been brought from Maryland. 

84 cartwright's creek settlement. 

"Among the 'women of mark' of the Cartwright and Hardin's 
Creeks settlements, the most notable, possibly, was Mrs. Margaret 
Thompson, otherwise known as ' Dr. Peggy,' whose husband, John 
Thompson, would appear to have derived from his connection with 
her all the reputation he ever had in the neighborhood in which he 
lived. Dr. Peggy was an expert accoucheuse, and her services were 
in periodical request by half the married women in the two settlements. 
She was a wonderful gossip, but by no means a mischievous one. 
There was nothing that transpired within a circuit of ten miles of her 
nominal home that she did not know all about, and she had to go no 
further than the threshold of a sick-room to find listeners to her 
recitals. She was a faithful, pious soul, and it is to be said of her that 
she never allowed an infant to die on her hands without first making 
of it a christian by the administration of lay baptism. I have a 
number of anecdotes of Dr. Peggy Thompson, but as these would 
be found more interesting to a conclave of old-lady tea-drinkers than 
to the general public, I will not burden your history with any one of 

Among the names hitherto given of emigrants to the neighborhood 
of Cartwright's Creek, will be found that of John Janes, who is said to 
have been an Englishman by birth. A great-granddaughter of his, a 
resident now of Marion county, writes me this concering him and a 
member of his family whose death took place as late as the year 1845 • 

"My great-grandfather came to Kentucky in 1798. He was 
accompanied by his wife and children, the latter being mostly grown 
at the time. It was his idea to make the falls of the Ohio his future 
home, but after a short stay in Louisville, he concluded that he had 
better seek further for an abiding place. Eventually he secured lands 
a few miles removed from the church of St. Ann, and about equally 
distant from St. Stephen's, the residence of Father Badin. Mr. Janes 
was not a Catholic then, but his wife and children were, and in the 
course of time the family came to be recognized as important factors 
in whatever was of local popular enterprise respecting the welfare of 
the Church. Father Badin was a frequent visitor at Mr. Janes', and 
sometimes said mass there for the benefit of the neighborhood. On 
one of these occasions took place an incident that ought not to be 
omitted from your historical sketch of St. Ann's church and its first 
pastor : 

"Julia Janes, her father's youngest "daughter, was as remarkable 
for her industry as she was for her piety. Her mind was comprehen- 
sive, and she was quick to execute what she had decided on as being 
the right thing to do. Having celebrated mass one morning, and 
afterwards partaken of breakfast with the family. Father Badin was 
invited by Miss Julia to enter the best room in the house in order to 
look upon a piece of her handiwork, in which, as the priest soon 
discovered, she took no little pride. Spread out on the floor of the 
room was a veritable carpet. Such articles of home garniture and 
comfort were uncommon enough in those days 'to attract any one's 


attention when seen, and there was just so much show of surprise on 
the priest's face when his eyes fell upon it as to induce the young girl 
to ask : ' What do you think of it, Father Badin ? Is it not handsome ? ' 
'It is both handsome and comfortable looking, Jooly,' replied the 
priest. 'I Hke it so well, my child,' he immediately added, 'that I 
would not object to having one like it for my own room. It would 
certainly make it more comfortable in the cold nights of winter.' 
Nothing more was said at the time, and the priest began to say his 
office, pacing the carpeted floor during its recitation. 

"Returning afterwards to the family room, he was met and thus 
accosted by his clever and sprightly young friend : 'While you were 
saying your office. Father, I was studying out a plan to get you a 
carpet without money. I have got it all here,' she added, tapping her 
forehead with her finger, 'and if you will but follow my directions, I 
will engage that you shall have a carpet for your room before winter 
sets in, and without the cost of a sixpence.' 

-' ' Do you say so?' exclaimed the priest, with a grave smile on 
his face; 'and pray, young miss, how are we to go about this grand 

" ' Easy enough,' replied the girl, ' and with no longer delay for a 
beginning than next Sunday a week, when you are going to keep 
church at St. Ann's. When you will have finished your sermon, you 
will just say to the women of the congregation that you want a carpet 
for your room. You will tell them what I know to be a fact, that the 
flooring puncheons of the room have so shrunken as to leave gaps 
between, through which the winds of winter sweep so continously as to 
render you uncomfortable, whether waking or sleeping. You will tell 
them further that you want each of thirty among them, mothers and 
daughters, to bring with them the next time they come to church two 
pounds of rag carpeting, cut into strips and wound into balls. You 
will then tell the other women of the congregation — there are more 
than sixty of them, all told, you know — that you want them to furnish 
you, in the aggregate, with thirty cuts of tow thread, reeled off into 
hanks. I will weave the carpet and see that it is put down properly. 
That's my plan. Father Badin.' she added gleefully. 'What do you 
think of it?' 

" 'It's an admirable plan, Jooly; an admirable plan, indeed!' 
replied the priest; 'I could wish that others might plan as well in 
matters of much more importance.' 

"The announcement as suggested was made in due form, and very 
soon thereafter, for the first time during his missionary career in 
Kentucky, Father Badin's room at St. Stephen's was provided with a 
carpet. But this was not the end of the matter. The very next visit 
paid by the priest to the Janes family, his young friend observed that 
he seemed out of sorts. 'What troubles you. Father Badin?' she 
asked ; ' are you not well ?' 

" 'Well enough in body,' he replied, 'but not a little troubled in 
mind, Jooly. I fear that I have been thinking more of myself than of 

86 cartwright's creek settlement. 

our dear Lord in the Sacrament of His love. The home in which He 
abides for the love of us is bleak and bare. He, the Master of all, is 
meanly lodged, and I, His poor servant, am provided with comforts. 
Jooly, my child, you must take up the carpet you put down in my room 
and transfer it to the sanctuary floor at St. Ann's.' 

"While the priest was speaking, Julia Janes could scarcely restrain 
her tears ; but when he had concluded, she promptly opposed the 

" 'No, Father,' said she, 'your carpet is not half good enough 
for the sanctuary. We will do better than that for our dear Lord! 
Just listen to me. You will repeat your call upon the women of the 
congregation; but, instead of rags, you will tell them to fetch woolen 
yarns. They will do it. Father, never fear ; and when the yarns and 
thread come in, I will take the lot and weave it into such a carpet as 
was never turned out of loom in all Kentucky ! ' 

"Looking at the girl in astonished admiration, Father Badin 
exclaimed : ' God bless the child ! She shames me as much by her 
practical good sense as she does by her christian confidence! Ah, 
Jooly,' he added, ' the labor that is undergone for God is never vainly 
expended. Remember that, my child, and let your heart rejoice that 
you are able and wiUing to do something for Him who has endowed 
you so richly.' 

"The second appeal was made as Julia Janes had suggested, and 
the result was even more gratifying than on the former occasion. The 
women of the congregation, recognizing the fact that their handiwork 
was to be put to a sacred use, not only selected the best of their 
fleeces, but they sought to give to the finished yarn every requisite of 
smoothness, strength and durability. Warp and woof having come 
into the hands of Julia Janes at length, that tasteful young woman 
searched the woods for vegetable dyes with which to give to them 
tone and color, and, a little while later, she cut from her loom a carpet 
that was long regarded as a wonder of textile art. 

" I do not know that the incident related below will enhance 
respect for the memory of Father Badin, or have a contrary effect. 
You have not now to learn that he displayed at times toward his 
penitents a spirit of severity that would be characterized in our day as 
downright tyranny. Father Badin was an excellent judge of character, 
and it may be that, in the case to be related, he saw that there was 
little hope of reformation through recourse to measures less marked by 
severity. The facts related are of such authenticity as to warrant me 
in vouching for their truth : 

"Once on a time, Father Badin had an appointment to keep 
church at the house of a lady of distinction, residing at no great 
distance from my grandfather's place. She had acquired the title, 
possibly, from the fact that she had a larger house than any one of 
her neighbors, and possibly from the circumstance that she was the 
happy possessor of certain articles of table garniture, fashioned out 
of sterling silver, that had been brought by an ancestor from England, 


and were kept by her, not so much for use as for tokens of ancestral 
respectability. She had brought with her to Kentucky her ancient 
Catholic faith, which was well; but she had also brought with her an 
uncommon stock of worldly pride, which was bad. 

" Now it was known by Catholic colonists in Kentucky, far and 
wide, that Father Badin had peculiar notions respecting the whole- 
someness and unwholesomeness of certain articles of diet. For 
instance, he was a veritable Israelite in respect to the use of swine's 
flesh; "and he never would partake of poultry unless it had been 
killed previous to the day upon which it was served. On the occasion 
referred to, my lady had invited a number of her neighbors, my 
grand-aunt, Julia Janes, among the number, to meet the priest at 
dinner, which was fixed for an early hour in order to give penitents 
opportunities of going to confession during the afternoon and even- 
ing. When dinner was announced, Father Badin asked a blessing 
on the company and on the food that had been set before them ; and 
then plunged his fork into a fowl that had been placed near his plate. 
He was seen to recoil with something of disgust in his looks. Laying 
down his knife and fork, he abruptly asked, ' When was this fowl 
killed?' ' Last night,' answered his hostess, boldly. Turning to the 
colored girl in waiting, he put to her the same question, to which she 
answered as had her mistress, ' Last night. Father. ' Looking straight 
into the face of his hostess, the priest exclaimed: ' The mistress tells 
an untruth, and the maid swears to it.'* Blushing scarlet, the mistress 
of the house managed to say : ' Indeed, Father, I ordered the fowls 
to be killed last night, but the servants were kept busy till a late hour, 
and they deferred the job till morning. I hope you will be able to 
make out your dinner on roast lamb.' ' Yes,' returned the priest, ' I 
can readily dine on roast lamb, and I will; but you, for having told an 
untruth before all these people, will have to say this evening, before 
you come to confession, mind you, twelve pairs of beads; and unless 
you do so, I will not grant you absolution.' 

' ' The witnesses to this public rebuke were far from satisfied that it 
had been wisely rendered; and Julia Janes went so far as to give the 
priest afterwards a piece of her mind in opposition to its propriety. 
With a manner that was half serious and half comical, he turned to 
her and said: ' Go your ways, Jooly! I did it for her soul's sake. I 
wished to humiliate her, lest she should be lost ! A priest is God's 
surgeon, and he must cut to cure.' 

"When the last of the penitents, after having gone to confession, 
was mounting his horse to return home, the poor woman was still to be 
seen traversing the orchard and saying her beads." 

*One can readily imagine how perplexing the housewives of the time often 
found these notions of sanitary propriety on the part of Father Badin. To 
use the expression of an old lady of my acquaintance, at the house of whose 
father the missionary occasionally visited, " Mother was often put to her wit's 
end to find something he would eat." 




Hitherto the writer has had encouragement in the performance of 
his assumed task of historical research in the richness of the deposits 
that have been laid open to his sight. Here and now, he has to 
acknowledge that there is little presented to his vision that is for 
edification. The Scott county Catholic settlement of Kentucky, 
so-called, is an anomaly in the Catholic religious history of the State. 
Judged by the standard that is ordinarily received by reasoning men, it 
should have led all others, not only in numbers and influence, and in 
the adherence of its members to the faith in which they had been 
reared, but also in its display of practical religion. Alas! that it should 
have to be said of it, no earnest Catholic can follow its history, up to 
the very day of the transfer of its territory in 1853 to the authority of 
the bishop of the then newly created See of Covington, and not feel 
humiliated. Situated in a beautiful and fertile district of country, 
with a Catholic people who, so to speak, had but to stir the surface 
of the ground in order to secure a hundredfold the measure of their 
seed-time plantings, waxing rich by yearly accumulations of property, 
and hence better able to do something for God and the christian 
education of their children, we find its Catholic standard of well-being 
and propriety at no time in the ascendency, and at last so lowered 
as to bring shame and reproach on the diocese itself. 

To what cause or causes are to be attributed results so humiliating, 
and so evidently indicative of God's displeasure— whether to the 
preference given by the first settlers to their personal and merely tem- 
poral interests when they refused to follow their fellow emigrants from 
Maryland to a less favorable situation in a worldly point of view, but 
where they had been promised the ministrations of a priest; to 
worldly pride that has too often its root in the love of riches, or to the 
evil influence of pastors who were at times weak and vacillating, and 
at others themselves the provokers of scandals— it is not for the writer 
to say. He can but give place in his history of the settlement to the 
record as he finds it, leaving to others more competent in analysis to 
draw from it, if little for edification, something at least by which to 
show that there are in this world things more valuable than riches ; 
that pride is dishonorable to the christian, and that the service of a true 
and competent pastor of souls is one of the greatest blessings God can 
bestow upon a people. 


The earlier of the Catholic settlers in Woodford, afberwards Scott 
county, are supposed to have come to the State in the years 1786 and 
1787. It is said that the first colony of these was made up of men 
of some means, who were also wide-awake farmers. Their destina- 
tion, when they started on the journey from Maryland, was Pottinger's 
creek, whither had gone, a year or two before, quite a number of their 
farmer neighbors, who were at the time expecting the arrival of a 
priest to be sent to them by Dr. Carroll. They left the flatboat which 
had conveyed them down the Ohio river and thus far on. their 
journey, at the landing known as Limestone, now Maysville. Their 
road from that point took them directly across the beautiful, fertile 
and then virgin soil that lay east of the Kentucky river. They 
stopped to admire, and their admiration was soon followed by the 
determination to seek no further for an abiding place. The fair land 
that lay stretched out before them, offered them every worldly advan- 
tange they could hope for through more extended journeying. 

It is not likely that the settlement in Woodford, or Scott county, 
numbered over twenty-five families in the year 1793, when it was first 
visited by the missionary priests. Fathers Badm and Barrieres. The 
names borne by the greater part of these have been kindly furnished 
the writer, together with personal points respecting a few of them, and 
these are hereto appended : 

The first of the colonists are supposed to have been James Leak, 
Thomas Courtney Jenkins, James, Ignatius and John B. Gough, Robert 
and James Combs, Jeremiah and George W. Tarleton, Thomas and 
Bernard Worland, Bennet and Henry S. Greenwell, and Mrs. Ann 

In the year 1808, James Leak, T. C. Jenkins, James Gough and 
Thomas Worland, applied by letter to Bishop John Carroll for instruc- 
tions in regard to a proposed sale of the church property in Scott, and 
the investment of the proceeds of the sale in more desirable realty for 
church purposes. From a copy of Dr. Carroll's answer to this letter, 
the writer is permitted to quote: "The property must be vested in 
three persons, in trust for the congregation, and these should be Rev. 
Mr. Badin, Rev. Mr. Angier (the pastor) and one layman, to be 
selected by the clergymen named." 

Mrs. Ann James would seem to have been a widow when she 
came to Kentucky, and it is said that mass was celebrated in her 
house by Father Badin before the little chapel of St. Francis was 
erected in the year 1794 or 1795. It is quite certain that she was an 
intelligent and pious woman, and that the early missionaries of the 
State were at all times joyfully welcomed under her roof. Her 
daughter, Theresa James, became the wife of James Twyman, a 

*The wife of Thomas C. Jenkins was a Miss Elizabeth Tarleton. John B. 
Gough died in 1869, aged 102 years. James Leak, who is said to have settled 
on the site of the present town of White Sulphur, died in Missouri. Bennet 
Greenwell died in 1838, aged 67; James Gough, Sr., in 1826, aged 78, and 
Jeremiah Tarleton in the same year, aged 91 years. 


survivor of the battle of Blue Licks, then a leading lawyer practicing 
in the courts of Eastern Kentucky, and afterwards a convert of 
Father Badin, and a judge of the courts of the district. The ancient 
homestead of the James and Twyman families is now owned and 
occupied by Stephen Theodore Twyman, a son of Judge Twyman. 

From 1793 to 1810, in addition to the families named above, there 
were attached to the settlement in Scott quite a number of others and 
of unmarried Catholics, the names of whom, as far as could be 
ascertained, were: John B. Gough, Jr., who died in 1828, at the 
age of 53 years; Henrv Clarvoe, who died in 1808, aged 33 years; 
Walter Bearing, who died in 1841, aged 60; Fielding Jones, who died 
in 1844, aged 66; Junius Combs, who died in 1852, aged 80; S. 
Todd, who died in the 80th year of his age; Keene O'Hara, after- 
wards of Frankfort, one of the most noted instructors and classical 

scholars of his day in Kentucky ; Jamison ; Solomon H. Moon ; 

John Manning; James Green; John McManus; Bernard and James 

Dougherty; Abner Richardson; Patrick McDonough; Mrs. 

Gardiner ; Robert Lee, and Mrs. Martha Ruth Powell. 

The two last named, both of whom were converts, intermarried 
about the year 1807, as is supposed. The conversion of Mrs. Powell 
was brought about so curiously that an account of it is not likely to 
be found otherwise than interesting. Her family consisted of four 
children, three girls and one boy; she was the owner, besides, of a 
number of slaves. Among these latter was a negress who was dying 
of consumption, and who was anxious to be baptized. Mrs. Powell 
was a Baptist, but she felt that the poor invalid was in no condition to 
be introduced into her church through the administration of the 
ordinance by the formula of immersion. She was greatly troubled, as 
was the invalid herself, and neither knew what to do. Going into her 
room one morning, Mrs. Powell found the negress very much excited 
over a dream that had come to her in her sleep. She dreamed she 
had been approached by a man singularly dressed and of a most 
affable countenance, who proffered to make a christian of her without 
requiring her to submit to the formulary of immersion. By some 
means, not wholly unaccountable to those who have knowledge of 
certain peculiarities that are inherent in female character, the story of 
the negress' singular dream was soon known to the entire neighbor- 
hood. Upon hearing it, a Mrs. Gardiner, a pious Catholic of the 
village, thought it worth her while to carry it to Rev. Edward Fen- 
wick, who happened to be in the neighborhood at the time, and this 
zealous servitor of the Great Master was not prepared to say that it 
might not be in the direct line of his duty to heed even so intangible 
a call as a dream formulated out of the disturbed mind of a dying 
negress. He called upon Mrs. Powell, by whom he was received 
kindly, and having stated his wish to be permitted to see her dying 
dependent, he was introduced by that lady to her presence. Upon 
seeing her visitor, the negress exclaimed in great excitement: "You 
are the man I saw in my dream, and I want you to baptize me ! " 


Her wish was gratified, and she died as die the elect of God. Mrs. 
Powell was so affected by the coincidence that she soon afterwards 
sought for herself and her entire family instruction in Catholic 
doctrine and admission to the Church.* 

It would appear from Dr. Spalding's account of the visit made by 
Fathers Barrieres and Badin to the settlement on that memorable first 
Sunday of advent, 1793, that the missionaries found the people 
already "contemplating the erection of a church." It will be remem- 
bered, too, that the same writer states in his Sketches, that the order 
of missionary duty arranged between the two at the time Avas to the 
effect that while Father Badin was to make his nominal residence in 
Scott county, that of his co-laborer was to be with the main body of 
Catholic emigrants in the county of Nelson. This arrangement was 
followed out, and, says Dr. Spalding, "Father Badin remained in 
Scott county for almost eighteen months." It is reasonably certain 
that the church of St. Francis, said to have been built of boards, 
thirty by thirty feet, was put up as early as the year 1795. This little 
chapel stood on a knoll, near the residence of Thomas Courtney 
Jenkins. As has already been seen, negotiations were entered upon 
in 1808 for other property upon which to build a larger church, and 
we find that, in 18 15, one hundred and eighty-six acres of land were 
bought for the use of the congregation, the deed for which is executed 
in favor of Rt. Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget. The present church of 
St. Pius was built in the year 1820, under the pastorate of Rev. 
Samuel H. Montgomery, of the order of St. Dominic, and its entire 
cost is stated at $3,600. f 

*The late Rev. E. W. Powell, whose death took place in Breckinridge 
county in 1840, was the only son of Mrs. Martha Ruth Powell. " His last 
conscious words," says a clerical friend, " were these: I am in the hands of 
an all-wise and all-merciful God ! May his will be done ! " Father Powell's 
body rests beneath the floor of the church of St. Romuald, in Hardinsburg. 

Later lists — from 1820 to 1827 — of heads of families and individual Cath- 
olics attached to the church of St. Pius, in Scott county, give the following 
additional names: Michael Algair, Walter Bowles, Joseph Bell, John Burke, 
James Bell, Wilfred Cissell, Ann Carter, Thomas Dolan, Paul Dufriend, John 
Dooley, Cornelius Donnelly, John Durham, James Elliott, Cornelius Fenwick, 
Henry Green, John Gross, Andrew A. Harper, John Howard, John A. Holton, 
George Hall, Austin Jenkins, B. Lynch, William Little, Patrick McGowan, 
Richard McAtee, Jansen Musgrove, David Mulholland, Dennis Morgan, 

William Mudd, Joseph P. Newton, Florence O'Driscoll, Miss Palmers, 

William Pulliam, David Palis, Christopher Reid, Samuel Riddle, James Tarle- 
ton, Anderson Taylor, Thomas Thompson and James West. 

tin early days in Kentucky, as is well known, tobacco was made to assume, 
in the settlement of debt, the characteristic of a legal tender. In the congre- 
gation of St. Pius, among whom there was little tobacco raised at the time 
referred to in the text, another commodity would seem to have entered into 
competition with the currency of the country in the dischargement of pecuniary 
obligations. The records of the church of St. Pius reveal the following 
singular agreement : " We, the undersigned, agree to advance whatever money 
and pork may be needed to pay workmen — the same to be returned to us in 
rent of pews — each of us to pay one-tenth in money and the remainder in 


Up to the year 1806, it is doubtful if another priest tnan Father 
Badin had been in the habit of visiting the Catholic people of Scott 
county. After that time, it is supposed that the congregation was 
frequently served by the Dominican Fathers, Fenwick and Angier, 
and at times, too, by Rev, Father O'Flynn, an Irish Franciscan of 
great piety and worth, but of a frail physical organism, who came 
to Kentucky in 1808 and remained till 18 16, when ill health compelled 
his return to Europe. In 1808, the congregation was temporarily 
transferred to the Dominican fathers of St. Rose, by whom it was 
cared for until 1823. 

That there was at an early day an element of turbulence in the 
congregation of St. Francis, afterwards St. Pius, is primarily proved 
by a single sentence embodied in a letter addressed to Rev. G. I. 
Chabrat by Father Badin, in 1823. The latter was then in France, 
and the former had been sent to Scott county by his bishop with the 
hope of healing a formidable dissension in the congregation that had 
already driven from it its last Dominican pastor. Says the writer of 
the letter, alluding to the congregation of St. Pius: "No one con- 
gregation in Kentucky has given more exercise to my weakness " — 
by which term he meant, no doubt, his patience. 

Father Robert Angier, O. S. D., took charge of the congregation 
in 1808. His mission included small settlements and isolated Catholic 
families in the counties of Fayette, Woodford, Bourbon, Franklin, 
Gallatin and Madison.* His connection with the mission is supposed 
to have ended in the year 181 7, when he was observed to be suffering 
from serious mental disorder, brought about, it is not unlikely, by his 
efforts to control the troublesome elements in his congregation. He 
was at once taken back to St. Rose's, whence he was afterwards sent 
to one of the houses of the order in England. 

Father Angier's successor v.'as Rev. Samuel H. Montgomery, O. 
S. D., ordained the previous year. Up to the year 1822, Father 
Montgomery's pastorate was considered at least moderately efficacious 
of good results. He had a trying mission, however, and being young 
and inexperienced, and possibly a little impulsive, if not imprudent, 
in the manner of his control over the disturbing spirits of his congre- 

pork.'" It will be interesting to learn that the price put upon the commodity 
named, was just one-fourth of its present commercial worth in the great 
provision marts of the West. 

*The most important of these minor settlements were those of Madison 
county and the town of Lexington, in Fayette county. The former, which 
was sixteen miles above Boonesboro, was made up of a half dozen families, 
viz: Christopher Durbin, with his family of six sons and six daughters, most 
of whom were fully grown at the beginning of this century ; Elisha Logsden, 
with six sons and seven daughters; Joshua Brown, Edward Logsden, Clement 

Howard and Spink. With here and there an exception, the early Catholic 

settlers of Madison county afterwards found homes in one or another of the 
other Catholic settlements of the State. The venerable Father E. J. Durbin, 
who was born in Madison county in the year 1800, and who, when a youth, 
was a penitent of Father Angier, speaks of him with unstinted praise. 


gation, he found himself in the year named involved in difficulties 
with a considerable minority of his people, that threatened not 
only to destroy his usefulness as a pastor, but to disintegrate the con- 
gregation itself. The malcontents, numbering thirty-seven persons, 
some of whom were men of social standing and influence, believed, 
or pretended to believe, that the grievances of which they complained 
were due to unjustifiable acts on the part of the pastor, and the latter, 
with the majority of his congregation standing in his defense, was as 
earnest in declaring that he had been traduced and unjustly arraigned. 
Petitions were sent to his superior and to Bishop Flaget, calling for 
his removal, and even hand-bills were struck off and distributed 
broadcast by the disaffected, rehearsing the story of their grievances. 
Father Thomas Wilson, the pastor's superior, was too wise a man not 
to see his own direct line of duty. He recalled Father Montgomery, 
and notified Bishop Flaget of his action; and the latter, hoping to heal 
the dissension that had now grown scandalous, sent to St. Pius 
another pastor in the person of his compatriot and friend. Rev. G. I. 
Chabrat. While the change was acceptable to many, it was distasteful 
to more, and there was little abatement of the troubles. 

It was not until the Jubilee promulgated in 1825, and preached 
in Kentucky the year following, and the after appointment of Rev. 
Francis Patrick Kenrick, afterwards Bishop of Philadelphia and 
Archbishop of Baltimore, as their temporary pastor, that the Catho- 
lic people of Scott county were brought into charitable relations with 
each other.* 

* I have in my possession three letters, all bearing upon the disturbances 
mentioned in the text, and all written in the month of June, 1823. The first 
of these is addressed by Father Chabrat to Rev. W. T. Willett, O. S. D., 
who had been previously sent by his superiors to assist Father Montgomery in 
the care of his outlying missions. In this letter the new pastor of St. Pius 
animadverts severely against his predecessor in office; but beyond saying that 
he had been guilty of conduct unbecoming a priest, he says nothing from which 
can be drawn the least knowledge of the causes that led to his displacement. 
The second letter is in answer to Father Chabrat's communication, and it 
embodies a strong defence of the writer's late colleague on the mission, and of 
his priestly integrity. Father Willett says, in effect, that the former pastor's lead- 
ing accuser was angered against him for the reason that the priest had been 
obliged to labor for the frustration of an attempt that had been made by him 
to secure to himself certain property to which the church of St. Pius had title. 
The third of these letters is addressed to Rev. G. I. Chabrat, and bears the 
signature of the then leading Catholic convert of the State, the late Judge 
James Twyman. The Judge appeals to the new pastor to be prudent in every- 
thing he may be called upon to say or do touching the disturbances in the con- 
gregation. " I fear," he writes, "that our troubles are by no means near their 
end, and that there are some amongst us who are rife for mischief and rebel- 
lion." He cautions him to use circumspection when speaking on the subject, 
and not to incur suspicion of partisanship, by giving too free expression to his 
own views. From the fact that the disturbances were in no wise allayed 
while Father Chabrat had charge of the congregation, it is to be inferred that 
the future Coadjutor Bishop of the See of Bardstown was not sufficiently appre- 
ciative ol Judge Twyman's wise counsels. 


Father Chabrat was recalled in 1824, and a young priest, six years 
ordained, was sent to supply his place. For reasons that have 
appeared satisfactory to the writer, the name of this greatly erring 
ecclesiastic will not appear in his pages. He fell as fell the angels, not 
to outward seeming while he officiated at the altar of the church of 
St. Pius ; but here he was confronted by the occasion of his great dis- 
aster, and here its effects were most seriously felt in the disaffection of 
weak and wavering souls. The length of his stay at St. Pius' is uncer- 
tain, but, more than likely, it was of short duration. So long as his 
pastorate lasted, there was no dissatisfaction on the part of the congre- 
gation, and none was heard as having come from his superiors. It was 
otherwise a little later, and after his bishop had charged him with the 
care of another mission, in the southwestern part of the State. Sud- 
denly, and most unexpectedly, word came to his Ordinary that he had 
abandoned his mission and the Church together, and had taken to him- 
self a wife. So extraordinary a circumstance was well calculated to 
fill Catholic minds with horror; and there were many who refused 
credence to the story when it first reached their ears. It was true, 
alas ! In an evil hour he had listened to the voice of the tempter, cast 
his vows to the winds, crushed the hopes of his friends, and abandoned 
his (jod. Shortly afterwards he was publicly excommunicated— the 
first and last time the awful ceremonial was witnessed in the diocese — 
from the high altar of the cathedral church of St. Joseph, Bardstown.* 

*I was present on this occasion, and occupied a place in my father's pew, 
immediately in front of the sanctuary. I was under twelve years of age at the 
time, but I can say that, from that day to this, the scene I witnessed, in all its ter- 
rible significance, has remained firmly impressed in my memory. It had become 
publicly known that something extraordinary was to take place in the cathedral 
on that day, and the building was filled by a dense and expectant crowd, many 
of whom were non-Catholics. In the sanctuary appeared Bishops Flaget and 
David, accompanied by a numerous retinue of priests and seminarians. While the 
dread formulary was being read by the late Rev. I. A. Reynolds, afterwards 
raised to the See of Charleston, the attitude of the venerable Bishop of Bards- 
town was itself a study. His face was stern, but very sad. As it has since 
appeared to me, it was as if another Abraham, at the voice of God, was on 
the point of sacrificing the beloved of his heart. As was their head, so were 
the ecclesiastics by whom he was surrounded. One could discern the sorrow 
that was in their hearts by its pictured impress on their faces. The stillness 
that pervaded the church was so profound that the reader's voice, rendered 
tremulous and deeply pathetic by his own emotion, was audible in every part 
of the sacred edifice. The saddest of obsequies could not have been more 
impressive, nor more significant, indeed, of death and the grave. In very 
truth, then and there were consigned to a grave of dishonor the name and fame 
of one who had been called by God to a high estate, and who, in a moment of 
rebellious passion, had turned away from his loving spiritual mother and gone 
into outward darkness, there to be the companion of despair. 

Little is known of the after life of this unhappy man and priest, and the 
best that can be said of him is this: He never attempted to justify his action by 
impugning Catholic faith and practice in any particular ; and he died, as is 
generally believed, heartily repenting his great sin and the scandal he had 


The Jubilee preached in Scott county in 1826, by Bishop Flaget and 
Fathers F. P. Kenrick and I. A. Reynolds, was considered at the 
time a gratifying token of restored peace in the congregation. During 
its continuance two hundred and fifty was the registered number of 
communions at the church of St. Pius. That nothing might be left 
undone by him to give permanency to the work of reconstruction, 
Bishop Flaget, much as his services were needed in the diocesan 
seminary, was induced, a few months later, to send Dr. Kenrick to St. 
Pius as temporary pastor. Father Kenrick was at the time a young 
priest, but his zeal was as earnest and as judiciously directed, and his 
perception of duty and propriety was as clear, as when, in later years, 
he was esteemed a fitting subject for the honors and responsibilities of 
the archiepiscopacy. What he did and what he strove to do for his 
congregation all over the district will never be known, but it will 
appear to his credit on the scrolls of God at the last day. 

Father Kenrick's connection with the mission of Scott and other 
counties east of the Kentucky river ended with the summer of 1827, 
when Rev. George A. M. Elder, up to that time President of St. 
Joseph's College, was named pastor of St. Pius. A fragment of a 
letter addressed to the incoming pastor by Dr. Kenrick, which has 
happily fallen into the writer's hands, will give the reader some idea 
of the extent and difficulties of the mission, and also of the earnest- 
ness which was so characteristic of the writer. The initiatory pages 
of this letter, all that have been preserved, read as follows: 

"St. Pius, Scott County, August 14, 1827. 
' ' Rev. and Dear Sir : 

"In delivering over to your pastoral care the congregations which, 
for the last six months, I have visited, I deem it proper to detail in 
writing the different points which I have visited, that you may have no 
difficulty in ascertaining locahties in the extensive district which is to 
be the theater of your zeal. To the south of Frankfort, five miles the 
other side of the river, reside two Catholic families, viz : the Odriens 
and the Carlisles. I celebrated mass at the house of the latter, which 
I think it expedient occasionally to do, that the younger part of the 
family, who can scarcely be deemed Catholics, may be informed of 
our principles, and that the others may receive the sacraments, their 
distance preventing their frequent approach thereto. A widow lady 
named Ellis lives four miles from Mrs. Carlisle's, on South Benson 
(creek), who is attached to our religion, and who endeavors to instruct 
in it her four children. I feel interest in procuring her opportunities 
to approach the sacraments, for the reason that her husband, on his 
death-bed, was admitted by me into the Church at Gethsemani over a 
year gone by, and because she appears anxious to become a member 
herself. The only opportunity she can have will be when you keep 
church at Mrs. CarUsle's, or at Mrs. Dearing's, near whose place her 
brother-in-law lives, and the means to acquaint her of your expected 
visit will be to send a line by Mr. Wheat, the son-in-law of old Mr. 


"In Frankfort, Mrs. Barton professes the Catholic religion. She 
embraced it in an English nunnery, but she has not as yet practiced 
it. Mr. Byrne, an Irish carpenter, and his family, are also Catholics. 
I have preached in the town, and I think it expedient that you shall 
do so two or three times a year; and, when accommodations can 
be procured, it will be well to give the few Catholics living in the town 
and neighborhood the opportunity of hearing mass. Kean O'Hara, 
of Woodford county, means to settle in Frankfort next January, and 
to make every arrangement for that purpose. Two miles below 
Frankfort, on the river, resides the West family. Mr. West is not a 
Catholic, but his daughters were at one time fervent communicants. 
Since their pious mother's death, they have in some manner abandoned 
the practice of their religion. However, they manifest some dis- 
position to embrace it once more, and as they were converts, and 
cousins of our worthy seminarian, Mr. Powell (the late Rev. E. W. 
Powell), they deserve our attention and sympathy. The fathei is 
a pohte gentleman, and will welcome a priestly guest. 

"Four miles east of Frankfort resides Mr. Cornelius Fenwick, an 
aged and pious Catholic. His home has been for many years the 
church-station for the neighborhood, though no Catholic family lives 
nearer to it at the present time than one and a half miles. I think it 
fitting to keep church there in journeying to and from Bardstown. 
The old gentleman, by reason of his infirmities, cannot otherwise 
receive the sacraments, and his sons, who neglect their reUgion, may 
be induced thereby to practice it. 

"At the Forks of Elkhorn resides Mrs. Holton, and several 
nominal Catholics live in the neighborhood. They now manifest a 
desire to attend to their religion, which most of them had seemed to 
abandon. I shall keep church there next Monday, and I think it 
would be well to continue the practice, say four times a year, for the 
convenience of the aged and the excitement of the neglectful. 

"There are no vestments or church utensils at any of these places 
save -at Mr. Fenwick's, which is supplied with two suits. One of 
these might be left at Mrs. Helton's. 

"Five miles from Frankfort, on the Versailles road, lives Mr. 
Walter Bearing, whose family is CathoHc. They are converts, of 
exemplary piety, and merit the particular attention of the clergy. It 
would be expedient to keep church there at least four times a year ; 
otherwise they cannot conveniently receive the sacraments. _ They 
are provided with vestments and altar-stone, but not with missal or 
chalice. In theii neighborhood resides a Catholic family by the name 
of Morgan. 

"On Flat creek, in Franklin county, at a distance of about 
seventeen miles from St. Pius', Uve six or seven famiUes of Catholic 
origin, few of whom attend to the practice of any religious duty. 
Other families of like character are living a few miles removed from 
this point. If church were occasionally kept at Mr. Dennis O'Nan's, 
the lingering spirit of faith might thereby be revived in some who, even 


there, sigh for the consolations of reHgion. James O'Nan, Jr., and 
his wife are strongly attached to their religion. There are no vest- 
ments or church utensils, you will remember, and. in order that the 
people may know when you will keep church at Mr. O' Nan's, it will 
be necessary for you to leave a notice with Mr. Fenwick. When I 
last visited this people, I heard near upon fifty confessions. The 
O'Nans are related to one of the Sisters of Nazareth. Mrs. Fenwick, 
or Mr. Jameson, of Scott county, will give you directions as to your 
way to the neighborhood. 

' * As you return from Flat creek, about eight miles from home, you 
will be able to visit two families of the name of Newton. I intend to 
keep church at Joseph Newton's next week, and I think it advisable 
that you should favor the families named in the same way, at least 
occasionally. The distance to church renders it impracticable for the 
younger members to hear mass otherwise, 

' ' In Georgetown, I have kept church at Mr. Algair's, for the 
benefit of a few CathoHcs who live in the town, and especially 
for that of a Mrs. Nord, who lives in the vicinity. Her daughter, 
nevertheless, lately married out of the Church. 

' ' Of the four Sundays of the month, three I give to Scott county ; 
and also all the great festivals. Lexington has the first Sunday of 
each month, unless some great festival occurs. In Scott I hear 
confessions on Saturdays and Sundays, on the eves of festivals, on the 
festivals themselves, and whenever else penitents apply. I go to 
Lexington on Saturday evening, and I leave the place after mass on 
Monday morning — hearing confessions until lo o'clock on Sunday, 
then celebrating, afterwards preaching, and, at 3 o'clock p. m., 
teaching and explaining the catechism. In Scott, I teach the children 
from 9 to 10 o'clock on Saturday morning, and, on each church 
Sunday, I instruct the servants at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. 

"Madison county might be visited four times a year. The 
first congregation is on Little Otter creek, twenty-one miles from 
Lexington, on the Richmond road. You take the road corresponding 
to the Main street of Lexington, and continue on to Clay's upper 
ferry, observing that, about five miles from town, where the road 
forks, you take the one to the right. Two and a half miles further 
on, after having crossed the river, the road again forks, and you will 
take the one to the left, which you will continue until it leads you to 
the humble habitation of Edward Logsdon, the progenitor of more 
than two hundred descendants. You will here find vestments which, 
for their poor material are worthy of the Apostolic age. I take 
every requisite with me, even the wine for celebrating, since it is 
often impossible to secure them in the neighborhoods visited. 

' ' From Otter creek you will be guided to Drowning creek, sixteen 
miles distant, where you will be plainly and heartily welcomed by a 
famous controvertist, Mr. Philip Durbin, whose humble mansion, 
consisting of one apartment, will accommodate the priest and his own 
numerous family. I have kept church in this lowly dwelling twic©; 



twice in the church of St. Christopher, four miles distant and near 
Muddy creek. Five or six Catholic families are in this neighborhood, 
and there are no church utensils. 

' ' Ten miles thence, at Station Camp, in Estill county, lives Mrs. 
Wagers. Here you will be comfortably accommodated and have a 
numerous auditory. Seven or eight Catholic families reside in the 

' ' From Station Camp, twenty-one miles distant, is Silver-creek 
Station, in Madison county, the last you will have to visit. You 
might so manage as to stop in Richmond and give them a sermon. 
Col. Smith, the brother-in-law of Cassius Clay, will welcome the 
ex-president of St. Joseph's college.* In Richmond, Mrs. Woods 
professes the CathoUc religion, and Mrs. Anderson, near the town, 

still calls herself a Catholic. Her sister, Mrs M , of Richmond, 

has abandoned her faith, and has submitted herself to the ' plunging 
law.' Her husband, too, is said to have forsaken his religion; but he 
applied to me when I preached there, and expressed a wish to 
converse with me. If you would call on him, I have no doubt but 
that he, and his wife, possibly, will return to duty. 

' ' I will not attempt to describe the Silver-creek congregation, as 
your reverence already knows its value. 

"To these visits, and those to Harrodsburg and Danville, I will 
add the propriety of an annual visit to other scattered Catholics. In 
Owensville, Bath county, resides an ardent Catholic lady, Mrs. Coyle, 
and some few famiHes in the vicinity. She would receive you as a 
heavenly spirit descending to diffuse the blessings of Deity. You 
could acquaint her previously by letter, and you could go thither from 
Lexington, by Winchester and Mount Sterling ; or from Station Camp, 
by Irvin, Mount Sterling, etc. The distance from Station Camp is 
above seventy miles. 

"Thence, you might direct your course by Flemingsburg to 
Washington, in Mason county, where you will find the amiable family 
of the O'Neils. As they are in reduced circumstances, and almost 
all females, I put up at a public tavern while there, and paid all 
expenses. The desire of fostering the inclination which they still have 
for the faith of the departed generous head of this family, and the 
wish to inspire the O' Doughertys, the Mitchells and others with a like 
inclination to the faith of their fathers, made me willingly assume the 
costs and fatigues of this troublesome route. Whenever you propose 
to visit them, it will be well to give previous notice by letter addressed 
to the unmarried O' Dougherty, whose name, I think, is Thomas. His 
cousin, who resides in Scott county, will inform you. 

"In Maysville reside Mr. Chambers and Mr. Thompson, who 
were baptized in the Catholic church, and retain, I am informed, some 

* Cassius Clay, an advanced emancipationist before the late civil war, and 
since and now well known in Kentucky as a politician of liberal ideas, was my 
fellow-pupil at St. Joseph's college previous to the date ot Dr. Kenrick's letter 
in which reference is made to his name. 



regard for religion. It may be well for you to preach there, and also 
in Washington, and to apprise Mr. O' Dougherty of your intention, in 
order that he may be able to call attention to it. In Washington, 
though I said mass in the house of Mr. O'Dougherty, so unaccustomed 
were they to Catholic practices, that I heard no confessions. 

"On your return from Washington, a family of the name of 
Brewer will gladly receive the favor of a visit. The gentleman is not 
a Catholic ; at least he does not profess or practice our religion, though 
he was baptized by Rev. Mr. Angier previous to his marriage. His 

family are Catholics, the wife being the daughter of ." [Here 

ends all that has been preserved of this admirable letter.]* 

Father George A. M. Elder's pastorship in Scott county continued 
for three years, and there is no record that it was not acceptable and 
beneficial to the Catholic people with whose spiritual guardianship he 
had been charged. If there were still in the congregation men who 
were disposed to make trouble, these must have felt themselves awed 
by the pathos of his pulpit appeals, or had their malignity melted 
away under the influence of his exhausdess amiability. In 1830, he 
was succeeded in the pastorship by the late Rev. Edward McMahon, 
a man of most sterling quahties, and a priest of more than ordinary 
zeal and discretion, f 

*When the future archbishop of Baltimore wrote the communication, of 
which the above is a happily preserved fragment, he had no thought that any 
part of it would fall under others' eyes than those of his clerical colaborer, the 
late Rev. George A. M. Elder. But great as was his after fame, acquired as a 
theologian and writer, and as a successful administrator of ecclesiastical affairs 
in two of the most important of the Sees of the United States, never did he 
give more convincing proofs of his worth as a man, and the truly apostolic 
character of his ministry than when he wrote and dispatched this letter to his 
friend. In it is exemplified the spirit that should animate the "embassador 
for Christ." He was earnest in the service of his Lord and Master, and he had 
charity unfeigned for those of the household of faith whose helplessness he pitied 
and sought to relieve. Elsewhere will be found a short sketch of the life of 
Dr. Kenrick, and especially of his career as a priest in Kentucky. I would 
here but allude to the fact that I was of the number of those to whom he gave 
lessons in christian doctrine nearly sixty years ago ; that it was under his 
direction I made my first communion, and that if I have since been animated 
by a spirit of perverseness, or of apathy in the service of God, it has been 
in defiance of his teachings. 

1 1 iiave in vain sought for material for a sketch of the life of Father 
Edward McMahon. Beyond my own personal knowledge of him, acquired at 
St. Joseph's college, of which he was one of the professors for several years, 
and afterwards president, and the not unfrequent occasions"upon which I heard 
him preach in the former cathedral of the diocese, I had primarily little upon 
which to build even a commonplace biographical notice of one who was so 
much worthy of honor while living, and no less worthy of remembrance since 
he has passed away. It is my impression that he was already grown when he 
entered the seminary of St. Thomas, under Father John B. David, and that his 
ordination took place about the year 1823. I am inclined to think, too, that 
he was engaged in teaching in the college of St. Joseph both before and after 
the year named, and that his first mission was to Scott county. He was after- 
wards transferred to Lexington, and, a few years later, again to St. Joseph's 


In the year 1836, a young clergyman, educated and trained in the 
diocesan seminary, and then but recently ordained, was charged by 
his ordinary with the mission of Scott county, of whom the writer 
finds it most painful to speak. His first thought was to pass over his 
name and to leave a hiatus of a dozen years in the history of the 
mission which he helped to demoralize. This idea of his was opposed, 
however, by a number of his most trusted clerical advisers. They 
seemed to think that the sad story of his degradation, however painful 
it was to relate, and however shocking it would certainly prove to every 
sensitive Catholic mind, was still a matter of history and a part of a 
record that should be in no wise mutilated. Besides, said they, the 
law of compensation applies to this case, as it does to every other that 
is burdened with shame for the faithful followers of Christ. Young 
clerics will learn from it to trust less to their own strength, and much 
more to the assistance of God, to enable them to resist the approaches 
of evil, whether from inward impulse or social blandishment, and they 
will pray the more earnestly to be delivered from the malediction that 
is threatened by Divine Justice against the provokers of scandals. 
Not less than with the young and inexperienced of the priesthood, com- 
pensation will come to the laity through your recital of an episode in 
the history of the Church of Kentucky that will show them the folly of 
adhering any longer to a standard of social ethics out of which has 
grown, in the case you represent and many others, the most deplorable 
of consequences. Neither will the Church, nor the priesthood, nor 
Catholics of any grade be at all prejudiced in the general public mind 
by the acknowledgment on the part of any Catholic writer that here 
and there men in holy orders have disgraced themselves and 
dishonored religion by acts that were degrading to their ministry. So 
long as a statement of this kind covers but the simple facts, without 
any admixture of uncharitableness on the part of the writer, it is not 
only admissible in any record of Catholic history, but its omission 
would invalidate the writer's title to fidelity as a historian. 

With the explanation given, the writer hereby submits the pages 
written by him five years ago in reference to a priest to whom he was 
at one time much attached : 

Young Father J. H. D was a man of fine presence, of more 

than ordinary talents, and of excellent acquirements. He was, no 

college. His connection with the diocese ceased in 1850, when he paid a short 
visit to his native Ireland, and on his return was named pastor of the cathedral 
church of St. Paul, Pittsburg. Whatever was the position to which he was 
named, whether ia our own diocese or that of his after adoption, its duties 
were performed by him with zeal and fidelity, and also with tact and discretion. 
In Lexington and Pittsburg, where he was best known as a pastor, his praise, 
even to this day, is on the tongues of all who knew him. Rev. Abraham 
McMahon, a brother of his, also educated and raised to the priesthood in 
Kentucky, but in no wise as talented or efficient, succeeded him in ihe pastor- 
ship of the congregation at Lexington, and, I am inclined to think, of that of 
Scott county, also. Both have been dead for a number of years. 


doubt, told by his superiors, before entering upon the duties of the 
mission to which he was accredited, that it was a difficult one to 
manage, and that his own line of duty would be found precisely that 
which had led to success elsewhere, the example of a zealous, prudent, 
prayerful and mortified life. No one having any knowledge of Father 

D , doubts now that he entered upon his pastorship with the single 

idea of fulfilling, in the fear of God, every duty pertaining to his 
sacred office. In point of fact, his work was satisfactorily performed 
for a number of years, and there was scarcely a priest in the diocese 
who was esteemed more efficient, or less likely to become, as he after- 
wards did, a spectacle of shame in the sight of Catholics, and of 
scorn and ridicule in the eyes of the enemies of the Church. 

Unfortunately for this most misfortunate of priests, he possessed 
social characteristics that made him welcome in every grade of Caiholic 
and non-Catholic society. He was courted and made much of wher- 
ever he went, and those who know what was meant, forty and odd 
years ago, by the term Kentucky hospitality^ will have no difficulty in 
understanding the constant temptations to excess to which he was 
exposed. That he should have fallen, and fallen repeatedly, will not 
be a subject of wonder with those who have witnessed in their fellows 
the pernicious effects of over-indulgence in drink. From one low 
estate he descended to another still lower, till at length the very men 
who had contributed to his fall by their unguarded panderings to his 
one weakness, were obliged to ask for his removal. Deprived of his 
faculties at length, degraded in his own eyes, and looked upon with 
scornful pity by those whom he had so inadequately served, he drifted 
away, God knows whither.* 

It would seem needless to ask what were the effects of his fall upon 
a congregation that had previously been torn by dissensions. Men are 
prone to lapses of practical religion when they see that those who have 
been sent to them as guides are themselves leading lives of sin; and, 
with total suspension of religious duty, comes, not unfrequently, first, 
indifference to the soul's needs, and then practical infideUty. There 
are numbers of persons in Scott county, now known either as Protest- 

» My thoughts often recur to Father D , not as I saw him last, when 

the visible effects of the vice that had mastered his faculties were prominent in 
his features and his general appearance, but as I remember him, keen-eyed and 
bright and hopeful, when he left Bardstown for the seat of his mission. I 
never dreamed then that he carried with him, in the geniality of his nature,' the 
germ of his own fall. As the assistant of a prudent and competent rector, 
there is no telling the exaltation he might have reached in the ranks of the 
clergy of the United States. Left to himself and his own devices for the pro- 
tection of his virtue, and being surrounded by the very element of society that 
is the least careful of its own or another's reputation, he naturally fell to a cor- 
responding depth of degradation. Though I have inquired about him often, 
and as often searched for his name in the lists of the clergy of the country that 
are of annual publication, I have had but my pains for my reward. Not one 
word concerning him has reached my ears since he left the diocese, now nearly 
forty years ago. 


ants or indifferentists in religion, whose parents, grandparents and 
great-grandparents found sepulture in the grave yard attached to the 
church of St. Pius.* 



The Catholic settlement designated as that of the Rolling Fork, 
dates from the year 1788. It is not unlikely, however, that a few of 
the emigrants were on the spot a year or two earlier. It would appear 
to be the general opinion of such as have had opportunities of research, 
that Clement and Ignatius Buckman and Basil and John Raley, or 
Raleigh, preceded all others of the Catholic settlers in the district. f 
In 1788, Robert Abell, a man of no inconsiderable note in the early 
annals of the State, emigrated with his family to Kentucky and settled 
on lands bordering on the Rolling Fork. His father, Samuel Abell, a 
Protestant, had been high sheriff of St. Mary's county, Maryland, at 
a time when a Catholic could not hold office without first taking the 
test-oath, as it was called, which was equivalent to the renunciation of 
his faith. His mother, whose maiden name was Ellen O'Brien, was a 

* I am told that through the indefatigable labors of Rt. Rev. Dr. Toebbe, 
late Bishop of the See of Covington, and of the painstaking priests whom he 
had commissioned to exercise their ministry of reconciliation in the parishes of 
Scott county, the devastation of the past is gradually becoming obliterated. 

tOne account received by me is to the effect that the emigrants whose 
names are given in the text were members of the Maryland "Colonization 
League," and that they belonged to the first colony sent out underits auspices. 
Ignatius Buckman, mentioned above, was killed by the Indians. I have been 
furnished with the following account of the tragedy: "About day-light one 
morning, Buckman left his cabin for the purpose of feeding his stock. He had 
been gone but a few minutes when the sharp report of a rifle, followed almost 
immediately by three more shots in quick succession, alarmed the family greatly. 
Hastily closing and fastening the door, and placing above it a medal of the 
Blessed Virgin, snatched from her own neck, the distressed wife and mother 
threw herself upon her knees in the midst of her children, and prayed to be 
delivered from the danger she had already apprehended. Venturing at length 
to peep out through a loop-hole Jeft in one of the sides of the house, she saw 
four stalwart Indians striding rapidly away, followed by two others mounted on 
the only horses owned by the family. Close behind the stable door was found 
the body of the husband and father, pierced by four bullets and his scalp 
gone. The body was buried where was afterwards laid off the Holy Mary's 


fervent Catholic, however, and though she was permitted by her hus- 
band to bring up her daughters in the knowledge and practice of her 
own religion, she was allowed no such control in shaping the faith of 
her sons. When Samuel Abell's oldest son, Philip, had grown to man- 
hood, he was taken to Leonardstown by his father to have him sworn 
in as deputy sheriff. When the oath was read to him, he declared 
he could not take it, and would not; that it "would choke" him to do 
so. The father was greatly displeased, and he tried hard to shake the 
young man's constancy. Finding that impossible, he let him have his 
own way. On his death-bed Samuel Abell became himself a Catholic. 
The facts, as here stated, are to be found on pages 13-14 of Rev. J. 
L. Spalding's Life of Archbishop Spalding. By courtesy of a friend, 
the writer is enabled to lay before his readers an incident that closely 
followed the one that was enacted in the colonial court-room in Leon- 
ardstown as above related. Says this authority : 

" Samuel Abell and his wife, considering their anomalous position 
in respect to religion, are said to have got along with fewer jars than 
ordinarily come to married people much more favorably situated. It 
was the habit of the father of the family upon entering the room in 
which his wife was sitting, to draw up a chair beside her own and tell 
her the news of the day. On that upon which their son had declined 
the proffered oath of office^ he came into the presence of his wife with 
a look on his face that betokened more of anger than conjugal confi- 
dence. Having taken a turn or two of the room in silence, he brought 
a chair to a stand as far distant from his wife as the opposite corner of 
the fire-place, to which domestic usage had given her prescription. 
Noisily banging it down on the floor, he cried — • 

" * Ellen Abell, you have deceived me ! In defiance of my known 
will, you have made Phil a Catholic. He has to-day brought disgrace 
upon me, and shown his contempt for the law and the religion of 
the State, by refusing to take the oath of office. It is to you, 
deceiving and deceitful woman that you are, that I am indebted for 
the shame that has this day come upon me !' " 

" ' Samuel Abell,' returned the wife, her eyes raining tears as she 
spoke, but with a look of extreme thankfulness on her face, * I have 
never deceived you ! Not once since you took me for a wife have I 
disobeyed you ! If Phil has learned to respect the religion of his 
mother, it is .0 God's grace, and not to that mother's instructions that 
both son and mother are indebted for a result that I had indeed hoped 
for and prayed for from the hour of his birth, but which seemed so far 
distant to my despairing heart.' Falling upon her knees, she raised her 
eyes and hands to heaven and exclaimed : ' I thank Thee, oh my God, 
that Thou hast remembered me in mercy ! From a full heart I give 
Thee thanks that Thou has led the son Thou gavest me to render obe- 
dience to Thy law rather than to that which Thy erring creatures have 
set up in the land! ' Convinced that his wife had spoken but the truth, 
and awed by an exhibition of faith that was inexplicable to him at the 
time, the husband said no more ; neither did he ever afterwards indi- 



cate by his manner that there was anything between them out of which 
strife could be evoked." 

Robert Abell was a man of sterling qualities of heart and mind, 
agreeable in disposition and manners, and popular with all classes of 
society. The maiden name of his wife, whom he married in Maryland, 
and where several of their children were born, was Margaret Mills. 
She is said to have been a woman of a determined will, and not a 
Uttle exacting of service, as well from her children as from her 

In 1799, Robert Abell was elected, together with Felix Grundy, as 
a representative from Washington county to the constitutional conven- 
tion that framed the organic law of the State until it was modified and 
changed by the convention of 1849. He had previously represented 
Nelson county in the State legislature of 1792, the first meeting of that 
body after the admission of Kentucky into the union of States, and 
the county of Washington in 1795. Dr. Spalding relates in his very 
interesting "Sketches of Kentucky," the following anecdote in con- 
nection with the constitutional convention of 1799, of which FeUx 
Grundy and Robert Abell were members : 

"Robert Abell was the only Catholic in that body. It had been 
agreed that each member of the convention should be at liberty to 
present such clauses as he thought worthy of insertion in the organic 
law they had met to perfect, and that, after debate on the clauses 
proffered, those should be accepted which would be found carried by 
the votes of a majority of the delegates. Robert Abell's roommates 
were the late distinguished lawyer and statesman, Felix Grundy, and 
a lesser legal light who had abandoned the Presbyterian pulpit for the 
forum of the courts of civil law. The last named party one day 
called the attention of his companions to a provision it was his desire 
to have embodied in the constitution. This provision ran about as 
follows : " It is further provided that no Papist, or Roman Catholic, 
shall hold office of profit or trust in the Commonwealth.' . Seizing his 
pen, Felix Grundy immediately Indited the following: 'It is also 
provided that no broken-down Presbyterian preacher shall be eligible 
to any office in this Commonwealth.' Having read the clause, he 
assured the quondam minister that he would lay it before the conven- 
tion and advocate its adoption the moment the provision he had 
shown them should be presented to that body. This incident was 
related to a son of Robert Abell by FeHx Grundy himself."* 

* Intellectually considered, Felix Grundy was one of the foremost men of 
his day in the whole country. He had the reputation, too, of being at all 
times an honest and fearless advocate of the right. He came with his father to 
Kentucky when a boy, was educated in the Bairdstown (Bardstown) academy, 
studied law, and was only twenty-two years old when he was elected a member 
of the first Kentucky legislature. He afterwards served in the State constitu- 
tional convention, and was, for several terms, the representative from Washing- 
ton county in the State legislature. Later, he filled the offices of judge of the 
supreme court and chief justice. Removing to Nashville, Tennessee, he there 


The extracts that follow, all referring to Robert Abell and his 
family, are taken from an interesting, gossipy letter, written by a lady 
friend who has had exceptional opportunities of learning matters of 
interest in connection with the old Catholic families of Marion 
county : 

"Robert Abell's wife, Margaret, had many excellent traits of 
character. She was energetic in purpose as well as in action, and she 
permitted no one to interfere with her plans, whatever was their 
character. To the core of her heart she was a Catholic, but it is not 
to be denied that she was at times lacking in christian forbearance. 
Especially was that the case in reference to her own children. For 
them her will was law, and she brooked no disputation of that fact. 
Her firmness, it is said, gave to the Church of Kentucky one of its 
brightest ornaments, in the person of the late Rev. Robert A. Abell; 
but it also lost to the Church two of her other children. Robert and 
Margaret Mills Abell were the parents of ten children, seven sons and 
three daughters. These were named: Samuel, Jesse, James, Robert, 
Ignatius, Benjamin, John, Mary, Ellen and Janet. Robert Abell 
went on a visit to Maryland in 1802, where he was taken sick and 
died. Upon his wife the news of his unexpected death produced a 
singular effect. She never lifted up her head afterwards. Her grief 
was sincere, and it was thus she indicated it: She took off her shoes 
and stockings, and she never resumed them again. She donned a 
coarse cotton gown, and she lived thenceforth the life of a penitent.* 
In the Calvary cemetery a monument is to be seen on which is 
inscribed: ''■Sacred to the Memory of Robert and Margaret Abell.'' 
The filial piety of the late Father Robert A. Abell induced him to 
erect this monument. But neither of his parents rest beneath its base. 
The father's remains have long since assimilated with the soil of his 
native Maryland, and those of the mother are awaiting the resurrec- 
tion in the old graveyard of St. Thomas, in Nelson county." 

It is not the writer's purpose to speak here of more than two of 
Robert Abell's children, briefly of the one, since his knowledge con- 
cerning him is limited, and extendedly of the other, who was his 
friend from boyhood, and for the reason that the preservation of the 
well-earned fame of such as he has been one of his leading motives 
for the attempt he is making to write a history of the Church of his 
native State. 

became a successful practitioner in the courts of the State. Again entering 
the field of politics, he served a term in the legislature of Tennessee, 
represented his district in the federal congress from 181 1 to 1814, and in 1829 
he was elected to the senate ol the United States. This position he held for 
nine years, when, in 1838, he was appointed by President Van Buren Attorney 
General of the United States. He died in Nashville, December 19th, 1840, 
being at the time in the 70th year of his age. 

* My correspondent, I think, mistakes the occasion of these manifestations 
of grief on the part of the widow of Robert Abell, It is more than likely 
they were caused by the apostacy of one or more of her children. 


Jesse Abell, second son of Robert and Margaret Abell, was held 
in his Ufe time in marked popular esteem for his vigorous intelligence 
and his moral worth. He was specially known and admired for his 
strong native sense and his ability to comprehend and explain matters 
relating to either politics or religion. He is said to have rivaled his 
reverend and eloquent brother as a talker, and it is the opinion of some 
that, with equal opportunities for culture and display, he would have 
surpassed him. That he was a popular man is evinced by the fact that 
he represented Washington county in the sessions of the legislature of 
183 1-2, and Marion county in that of 1842. Jesse Abell was married 
in the year 1803 to Susannah Wimsett, Rev. Michael J. C. Fournier 

Robert A., son of Robert and Margaret Abell, was born in Wash- 
ington, now Marion county, in the year 1792. He was but ten years 
of age when his father died, and whatever knowledge he had of letters, 
up to that time and a year or two later, was doubdess acquired through 
his mother's instructions. He was afterwards sent to a country school 
in the neighborhood, but only during the winter months, when there 
was little work to be done on the farm that was not considered too 
heavy for his physical strength. An incident that took place in the 
spring of the year 1807 is said to have been the occasion of his being 
sent to the best school then in Kentucky, and, incidentally, to his after 
connection with the ministry of the Catholic church. The account of 
this comes to the writer in the shape of a letter from an altogether 
respectable source, and this communication is here quoted in its entir- 
ety for the reason that it contains all that is to be now learned of the 
boyhood of one of the most remarkable men that Kentucky has hith- 
erto furnished to the ministry of the church. 

" Robert was a thoughtful, observant boy, and he early acquired a 
taste for analysis. He was fond of reading, and he greedily devoured 
everything that came in his way in the shape of books. It is not likely, 
to be sure, that the entire literary pabulum of the settlement exceeded 
at that time a hundred volumes, but it is quite certain that the boy, 
before he had attained his fourteenth year, had digested the contents 
of every one of these upon which he could lay his hands. 

"At the time referred to, society in Kentucky was burdened with 
few drones. All were workers — men, women and children. To these 
latter, to be sure, tasks were assigned that were not beyond their 
strength. A boy of twelve years, for instance, was not unfrequently 
found to be just as available at the plow as a youth of twenty. The 
widow Abell was just as exacting of service at the hands of her children 
as she was at the hands of her colored slaves. Had she understood 
the extent of her son's capabilities she might have acted otherwise in 

* One of Jesse Abell's daughters intermarried with the late Edward Parsons, 
a highly respected citizen of Lebanon, and afterwards of Louisville, where 
several of their children now reside. One of his grandsons is Rev. J. J. Abell 
of the diocese of Louisville. 


his regard, and spared him the time for mental improvement under the 
tuition of competent educators in her own native State. As it was, 
when the neighborhood school was closed in the spring of 1807, she 
found for him labor on the farm, the tangible results of which she had 
no difficulty in appreciating. 

' ' But weeks before the close of the school the elders among its 
pupils had arranged for a debate to come off in the school-house at an 
appointed future day that should be indicative to their parents and 
friends, as well of their advancement in learning as of their native talent. 
Robert Abell would have been highly delighted had his own name 
appeared in the list of prospective debaters, but for some reason, pos- 
sibly for lack of self-assertion on his part, he was set aside for much 
weaker disputative material. The question to be debated — there is no 
record of what it was — had taken a strong hold on the boy's mind. 
He studied it as thoroughly as he could, determining, if he might vol- 
unteer a speech an the occasion, to show the neighborhood what stuff 
he was made of 

"The afternoon fixed upon for the debate arrived at length, but it 
proved to be an unpropitious one for the poor boy and his high-wrought 
anticipations. The careful mother of the family had found that the 
meal-bin was empty, and that in order to refill it in time for the mor- 
row's baking it was a matter of necessity that some one should be 
started off at once with a grist to the mill on the Fork. Singularly 
enough, so thought Robert, her choice of a messenger fell upon him. 
He made no complaint, for he had been early taught to defer his own 
will to that of his parents; but there was a gulp in his throat as he pre- 
pared to obey his mother's mandate. 

"Basil Hayden's mill was not far away, and the boy suddenly 
bethought him that he might be able to execute his commission and 
return in time for the debate at the school-house. Without waiting to 
change his clothes, which consisted of two dirt-begrimed garments and 
a suspender, he hurried off, and, to use his own expression in after 
years, ' better time was never compassed by equine creature so weighted 
down than was made that day by the horse I was bestriding.' Disap- 
pointment awaited him at the mill. Other customers were there before 
him, and he had to abide his turn. Before he could be accommodated 
the afternoon was more than half spent, and he was forced to recognize 
the futility of his former hopes. On his return road at last, he was 
unable to overcome the temptation with which he was seized to turn 
his horse's head in the direction of the school-house and there learn, at 
least, how the debate had terminated. Nearing the rude structure, his 
ears were greeted by sounds of boyish declamation, followed by clap- 
ping of hg.nds and other demonstrations of applause. Beside himself 
with excitement, and forgetful, if not utterly regardless of the unpre- 
sentableness of his appearance, he alighted from his horse; hitched 
him to a convenient sapling near by, and entered the building. There 
was a crowd of rustics about the door, and he stood among them, 
unnoticed by others, until the last of the appointed debaters had deliv- 


ered his speech. After a short interval, the presiding officer of the 
meeting announced that ' volunteer speeches, pertinent to the question 
that had been debated, would now be heard.' No sooner had this 
announcement been made than the lad pushed his way to the front of 
the circle of standing auditors, and planting himself immediately in the 
center of the open space that had been left for the debaters, he assumed 
the attitude of a contestant. Shouts of laughter and rounds of deris- 
ive applause greeted him from the moment he was recognized by his 
late school companions. They were in some sense excusable, for there 
was nothing in his appearace that was not ludricrous. Little disturbed, 
apparently, by the jeering sounds in his ears, the boy patiently awaited 
a pause in the uproar to address the chairman. This came at length, 
and he modestly said: ' I suppose I ought to be ashamed to come into 
such company dressed like a beggar; but I had no time to fix myself 
up. I had to come just as I am, or not at all. But my clothes 
can tell you nothing, and I can; and I hope you will all shut your 
eyes to what's outside of me, and open yours ears to what I have to 

"He was no longer subjected to the least annoyance, and the 
speech he made that day was for years commented on and praised by 
those who heard it. Young as he was, his voice was of good compass, 
and his enunciation distinct and harmonious. He treated his subject 
logically, and he even went so far as to quote, in support of his posi- 
tions, the opinions of writers of whom not one of his auditors had ever 
heard. He astonished everybody, and the most surprised of his hear- 
ers was the gentleman to whom had been assigned the position of 
judge of the debate. Dr. McElroy was a man of liberal educa- 
tion, high minded, and of an affable disposition. There was nothing 
he liked better than to furnish opportunities of improvement to the 
young. He had been the first to fall in with the boys' notions regard- 
ing the debate, and it was because of his admirable fitness for the 
office that he had been asked to preside over the meeting and to 
decide from the general argument the relative merits of the debaters. 
The good doctor was bewildered. Looking at this unkempt boy as he 
proceeded with his argument, now swaying his angular body to and 
fro in suggestive measurement of his flow of words, and now enforcing 
a thought by a gesture that was not altogether ungraceful, he could 
but wonder where he had acquired his knowledge, and how he had 
learned without a master the trick of oratorical effect. But Dr. 
McElroy was altogether mistaken regarding Robert Abell's opportuni- 
ties. The lad yet remembered his father's pohtical harangues ; he had 
been present in the church of St. Ann when Dr. Thomas Wilson, the 
English Dominican father, a learned and eloquent divine, had moved 
men by the power of his persuasive oratory to forsake the ways of sin 
and to enter upon those of righteousness; he had heard, too, a single 
political address made by the famous FeHx Grundy, the foremost man 
of his time in the entire State. It was upon these models, doubtless^ 
that he had built his style of speaking. 


"His argument finished, the decision of the judge of the cause was 
promptly rendered in favor of the side whose voluntary advocate had 
won for it the chief part of its victory. The applause that followed 
was prolonged and hearty, and when it was noticed that the leading 
personages present were so little disdainful of master Robert as to 
take his unwashed hand in their own and to congratulate him on the 
effort he had made, the lad had a nobler triumph in the frank apolo- 
gies proffered by his school-fellows for having previously made him the 
butt of their jeering laughter. 

"But Robert Abell was not permitted to depart for his home 
alone. Dr. McElroy accompanied him on the way and into his 
mother's presence. Subsequently he had an interview with that lady, 
the subject of which was her son and the propriety of sending him to 
college in Maryland. Mrs. Abell, for the reason, possibly, that the 
expense of the project was beyond her resources, could not be brought 
to look upon it wiih favorable eyes. She agreed, however, that the 
boy should be sent to the school of St. Rose, then but recently estab- 
lished near the village of Springfield, in Washington county, under the 
direction of Rev. Thomas Wilson, of the Order of St. Dominic. 
Thither he was sent sometime during the following year, and there he 
remained until his transfer to the diocesan seminary of St. Thomas, 
near Bardstown, in theyear 1811."* 

In the year 1790, Robert Abell was followed to Kentucky by his 
brother-in-law, Benedict Spalding, who came at the head of a colony 
of emigrants from St. Mary's county, Maryland, most of whom settled 
on the RoUing Fork. Benedict Spalding's wife, Alethia Abell, was as 
extraordinary for her practical good sense as she was for the firmness 
of her faith and her truly christian manner of life. She had learned 
from her mother, the Ellen O'Brien Abell of whom mention has 
been already made, and whose name should be held in blessed remem- 
brance by all Kentucky Catholics, how to compass her whole duty in 
respect to the rearing of her children. She taught them by word the 
tenets of their faith, and she moved them by her example to render 
true service to their Creator, f Benedict Spalding was possibly, next 

* What I shall have to say hereafter of Robert A., afterwards Father Abell, 
will come more appropriately under other headings. 

fThe direct issue of Benedict and Alethia Spalding comprised six sons and 
six daughters. The names of these were: Richard, married to Henrietta 
Hamilton; Thomas, married to Susan Abell; Joseph, married to Elizabeth 
Moore; William, married to Elizabeth Thompson; Ignatius A., married to 
Ann Pottinger ; Benedict, married to Mary Hamilton ; Ann, married to 
Clement Hamilton; Ellen, married to Basil Riney ; Elizabeth, married to John 
Wathen ; Catherine, married to Col. Richard Forrest ; Mary, married to Henry 
H. Wathen ; and Alethia, married to Francis Sims. 

Richard, the eldest son, was thrice married. The issue of his first marriage 
with Henrietta Hamilton, daughter of Leonard Hamilton, who settled on the 
Rolling Fork in 1791, comprised five sons and two daughters, viz: Leonard, 
Richard M., Martin J., Benedict J., Clement, Constantia and Julia. Of these, 
only the first named, one of the most prominent and respected citizens of 


to Robert Abell, the most active and influential of all the emigrants 
from Maryland living on the Rolling Fork. He represented Washing- 
ton county in the sessions of the legislature of 1806, 181 1 and 181 2. 

The next most important influx of emigrants from Maryland to the 
settlement on the RoUing Fork took place in the year 1791. At the 
head of this colony came Leonard Hamilton, who was the maternal 
grandfather of the late Archbishop Spalding, of Baltimore, and of 
the late \^ery Rev. Benedict J. Spalding, administrator of the diocese 
of Louisville at the date of his death. 

Other colonists followed in quick succession, until the greater part 
of the available lands in the neighborhood were taken up and occu- 
pied. The annexed list of emigrants Uving on the Rolling Fork at 
some time previous to the year 1800 is beHeved to be fairly correct: 
Robert Abell, Jesse Abell, Barton Abell, Abner Abell, Absalom 

Abell, Bowles, Ignatius Buckman, Clement Buckman, James 

Dolan, Michael Fagan, Richard Fenwick, Richard Forrest, Thomas 
Forrest, John Hayden, James Hager, Leonard Hamilton, Clement 
Hamilton, Basil Hayden, William Hayden, John Hayden, James 
Hayden, Samuel Hamilton, Jarboe, Henry Luckett, Samuel 

Marion county, survives to the present day. Both Leonard and Richard M. 
Spalding, the latter for several sessions, represented their native county in the 
State legislature. Richard Spalding's third and fourth sons became priests, 
and the first alluded to, a bishop and an archbishop. The fifth son was a prom- 
ising attorney at the time of his early death. Through his son, Richard M. 
Spalding, who married Mary Jane Lancaster, Richard Spalding, the elder, 
was the grandfather of two priests, John Lancaster and Benedict J. Spalding, 
the first named of whom is now bishop of the See of Peoria. Thomas Spald- 
ing left behind him when he died an honored name. He was greatly esteemed 
for his piety and worth. In the year 1821, William and Ignatius A. Spalding 
removed to the county of Union, where they lived useful and honorable lives, 
raised families of dutiful children, and were lamented in their deaths by all 
classes of society. Both were honored by their fellow citizens with seats in the 
State legislature, and one, Ignatius A., was a member of the State consti- 
tutional convention in 1849. Two of the latter's sons, Robert A. and Ignatius 
A., have also served in the legislature of the State. Joseph Spalding, son of 
Benedict Spalding, through his son, Samuel Spalding, Esq., married to Isabella 
Lancaster, was the grandfather of a priest. Rev. Samuel B. Spalding, of the 
archdiocese of Philadelphia. The late Raphael L, Spalding, another son of 
Samuel Spalding, twice represented Marion county in the State legislature. 

Benedict Spalding, who bore his father's name, outlived all his brothers. 
In 1813 he owned the land upon which is now situated the town of Lebanon. 
He caused it to be surveyed into lots, reserving one of four acres for a Catholic 
church, and it was not long before many of these were sold and built upon, 
and this was the beginning of what is now one of the most flourishing inland 
towns of the State. He was a prominent merchant and successful trader, and 
he exerted in political and social affairs as well, a healthy influence. He was 
a member of the Kentucky legislature in 1835, and also from 1861 to 1865. 
Col Richard Forrest, who married Catherine, youngest daughter of Benedict 
Spalding, was a man of note in the annals of Washington county, which was 
almost continuously represented by him in the State legislature from 1819 to 
1829. His son, the late Dr. Green Forrest, whom I remember well, was also a 
man of wide reputation and influence in Marion county. 


Lee, Benj. Morgan, Bernard Mills, Moore, Ignatius Mills, 

Melton, Clement Pierceall, Richard Pierceall, Basil Raleigh, John 
Raleigh, Henry Raleigh, Roger Roney, Benedict Spalding, Francis 
Sims, John Wathen, Henry H. Wathen, Joseph Wimsett, Raphael 
Wimsett, Stephen Wimsett, Edward Wathen, Enoch Yates and Zach- 
ariah Yates.* 

Between the Rolling Fork and the site of the present town of 
Lebanon, there were living at the time referred to, Zepheniah Forrest, 
father of Col. Richard Forrest, Clement Parsons, and Walter and 
Hoskins Hamilton. Into this same neighborhood moved, a few years 
later, Clement Hill and his brother-in-law, John Jarboe, of the Cart- 
wright's Creek Cathohc settlement. 

The Rolling Fork station, or fort, built to secure the safety of the 
settlers from attacks by Indians, was on the south side of the river, 
almost opposite the present Calvary convent. It is generally believed 
that this fort was built after the Buckman tragedy, to which reference 
has been made. It is certain that neither before nor after the death 
of Buckman were the people of the settlement molested by Indians. 

It is beyond question that the Catholic settlement on the Rolling 
Fork was often visited by Father Whelan previous to his withdrawal 
from the mission of Kentucky. It is probable, too, that Father de 
Rohan, occasionally, at least, administered to the spiritual necessities 
of the people of the settlement. After the year 1793, it is reasonable 
to suppose that there were houses in the settlement where Father 
Badin was in the habit of saying mass and administering the sacra- 
ments. _ In 1797, Father Michael J. C. Fournier made the settle- 
ment his nominal home, and, until the date of his death in 1803, the 
spiritual wants of the people were well cared for. His house, like 
that of Father Badin at St. Stephen's, had at least a room in it in 
which he could say mass, and to which the people resorted in order to 

*0f the emigrants above named, not commented upon in the text, the 
sum of my information may be brieily stated: The land upon which stands 
Holy Mary's church and the Calvary convent, was bought by Rev. M. J. C. 
Fournier of Michael Fagan, as of deed bearing date January 29, 1802, recorded 
in the Washington county court. John Hayden and James H.iger were sur- 
veyors. Clement Hamilton died in 185 1, aged eighty years; his widow in 
1863, aged ninety-two years. Basil Hayden was, most likely, a son of the emi- 
grant of the same name who was at the head of the colonization movement to 
Pottinger's creek. This is the more likely, since the latter, as early as 1798, 
was in the habit of writing his name Basil Hayden, .S;-. The one named in the 
text was the proprietor of the first mill put up on the Rolling Fork. He died 
of cholera in 1833. The death of Samuel Lee took place in 1863, ^t the age 
of eighty-five years. It is known that two priests bearing each the name of 
George A. Hamilton, one of the diocese of Boston and the other of that of 
Fort Wayne, and both long since deceased, were born in Marion county. The 
parents of one of these was Leonard Hamilton, possibly a son of the emigrant 
of that patronymic, and Mary Beaven. The name of the father of the other 
was George Hamilton, and he is said to have removed with his family to 
Missouri nearly sixty years ago. 


fulfill the obligations imposed on them by their religion. It was at a 
later day, however, and through the instrumentahty of another who 
was more capable than Father Fournier of undergoing exhaustive 
physical labor, that they were provided with a suitable church 

It is now eighty years since Father Fournier exchanged his mortal 
life of toil and mortification for that which the God of all consolation 
has prepared for His servants in the kingdom of His glory; and it is 
doubtful if there is memory left among the living of to-day of his 
kindly face. But go where you will in the district of country in which 
our Kentucky forefathers in the faith set up rude tabernacles in which 
to dwell, and you will find not only general recognition of his name, 
but some knowledge, also, of facts connected in some way with his 
short career as a missionary priest in the State. Rev. Michael J. C. 
Fournier was a priest of the diocese of Blois, in France. Obliged to 
flee his country in the revolutionary era, he escaped to London, 
where, for four years, he earned a livelihood by teaching French. 
Feeling that it was to another character of labor he had been called, 
he came to America toward the end of the year 1796, and proffered 
his services to Bishop Carroll, by whom they were gladly accepted. 
For just such an occurrence the bishop had long been waiting, in order 
to send an assistant to his overtaxed subordinate in the wilds of Ken- 
tucky, and very soon afterwards this new acquisition to his laboring 
force was on his way to the seat of his mission. His journey was 
prosecuted in winter, and it was filled with discomforts. He presented 
himself before his superior of the mission in February, 1797, was 
joyfully received, and from that time to the end of his life the two 
were fast friends, and sought with equal dismterestedness to render 
their ministry a blessing to the Catholic people of the State. In 1798, 
Father Fournier purchased one hundred acres of land on the Rolling 
Fork, upon which he erected a cabin of logs, with a small chapel 
attached, as is supposed, and this was his nominal home, for the five 
years that remained to him of life.* 

Between Fathers Badin and Fournier a division was effected 
of ministerial labor. To the latter was assigned that part of the Ken- 
tucky mission that included the settlements on the Rolling Fork, 
Hardin's creek, Cartwright's creek. Rough creek, in Hardin county, 
and those of Lincoln and Madison counties. Father Fournier was by 

* There is doubt in my mind whether the contract of purchase of land by 
Father Fournier, as referred to in the text, was made with Benedict Spalding 
or with Michael Fagan. It is my impression that the first purchase was of 
forty acres, bought of Benedict Spalding in 1798, and that the remainder of 
the one hundred acres owned by him at the date of his death, was deeded to 
him, as has heretofore been related, by Michael Fagan, on the 29th January, 
1802. It is quite certain that Holy Mary's church, and the convent and school 
of Calvary, as these appear to-day, are situated upon lands of which Father 
Fournier was the owner, and that these were left by him in perpetuity to the 



no means a man of robust physical conformation; and yet it is known 
that he traversed and retraversed the wide district of country in which 
these distinct congregations of CathoHcs had their homes for nearly 
six years, and that the souls committed to his charge were served with 
exact punctuality and with all faithfulness. In order to do this, he 
must have borrowed strength of the Holy Spirit to supplement that 
, which was of his own nature. 

Speaking of his personal characteristics, Dr, Spalding says of him 
in his Sketches of Kentucky: "He was an excellent priest, pious, 
zealous and laborious. He was of the ordinary stature of men, had a 
thin visage, furrowed with care, but still beaming with habitual cheer- 
fulness. His manners were extremely popular. He soon caught the 
spirit and adapted himself to the ways of the people. He had 
no personal enemies. He spoke English remarkably well, and his 
sermons had the triple merit of being solid, short and intelligible to 
the meanest capacity. When not engaged on his missions, he was 
almost constantly to be found laboring on the little farm attached to 
his residence. His death was caused by the rupture of a blood vessel 
through over-exertion in raising logs to be sawed into planks. So 
sudden was it, that Father Badin arrived only to assist at his funeral. 
He was not yet fifty years old when he died. The body of this most 
exemplary priest was taken to Holy Cross cemetery and there 
( interred." 




It is supposed by many that the settlement on Cox's creek, Nelson 
county, was begun as early as the year 1792. Others are of the opin- 
ion, and the writer is disposed to agree with them, that the first Catho- 
lic emigrants to the district only reached their destination toward the 
close of the year 1795. These were composed of a dozen famiUes, 
more or less, under the leadership of Clement Gardiner and Nicholas 
Miles. Previous to the year 1800 the colony was much enlarged by 
other arrivals, mostly of personal friends and former neighbors of the 

In the year 1800, the Cox's Creek Catholic settlement, afterwards 
better known as that of Fairfield, was composed of between forty and 
fifty families. The names borne by the heads of these families, so far 
as the writer has been able to secure them, were : Clement Gardiner, 
Nicholas Miles, Thomas Elder, Francis Coomes, Zachariah Aud, 
Thomas Aud, James Knott, Austin Montgomery, Richard Adams, 
Thomas Higdon, Austin Clements, Wilfred Wathen, Raphael Hagan, 
Richard Coomes, Walter Simpson, James Simpson, Archibald Pitt, 
Richard Jarboe, Valentine Thompson, John Payne, James Speaks, 
Benedict Smith, Joseph Gardiner, Charles Wathen, Thomas Lilly, John 
Lilly, Thomas Brewer, Richard Clark, Daniel Rogers, Clement Clark, 

Ignatius Drury, Mitchell, Charles Warren, James Spalding, 

Joseph Clark, Dougherty, Hezekiah Luckettand Hilary Drury. 

To many of these names are attached histories that should be of 
more than local interest. From what follows concerning a few of 
them. Catholics everywhere in the country will be enabled to gather at 
least something for edification. Our first reference should be to 


The example of a Christian life is of priceless value to humanity. 
If this axiom required proofs, the lives of the couple named would 
abundantly furnish them. These admirable Christians did not live for 
their own day alone, and not merely for the well-being of their own 
families and those of their immediate neighbors. The future of all 
these and the future of the Church in their adopted State were alike 
the subjects of their anxious consideration. Their influence for good 
was great, and not even when they ceased to live was that influence 
materially lessened. It was only in 1878 that two of their grand- 


daughters, Mother Frances Gardiner and Sister Clare Gardiner, of the 
Nazareth community of Sisters of Charity, full of years and full of 
merits, and leaving behind them for the edification of the thousands 
of their sex whom they had lovingly led along the paths of useful 
knowledge and Christian perfection, the memory of their virtues, 
passed from earth to heaven. 

Clement Gardiner was born in Maryland, most likely in St. Mary's 
county, about the year 1748. When of the proper age, he intermar- 
ried with Henrietta Boone, who was of the family from whom descent 
is claimed for Daniel Boone, whose name is so notably identified with 
the early history of Kentucky. Both were of English extraction, and 
both were able to trace their ancestry to the colony of St. Mary's, the 
first established in the country by Catholics and through Catholic 
influence. It is scarcely necessary to say that neither of them was 
either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the obligations imposed upon them 
by their religion. 

Clement Gardiner was provided with ample means for his own 
comfortable maintenance in Maryland, and there was certainly no 
worldly and selfish reason requiring at his hands the abandonment of 
his home and the association of his friends for a life of meagre advan- 
tages in the wilderness. It was his parental solicitude, no doubt, that 
caused him to follow the fortunes of his sons and sons-in-law, who 
had yet their own way to make in the world, and whose determination 
had become fixed to remove to Kentucky. It was well for Catholicity 
in the State that the aging parents chose rather to share their children's 
discomforts and privations in the homes of their adoption than to end 
their lives in quiet inactivity in the land of their birth. With the 
exception, possibly, of Anthony Sanders, of Bardstown, there was not 
another Catholic in Kentucky whose means were so freely applied to 
Church and charitable purposes as were those of Clement Gardiner. 
His benefactions were as important as they were unceasing. He not 
only subscribed liberally for the personal maintenance of the early 
clergy of the State, but he was never invoked in vain for aid in the 
construction of churches and for other undertakings in the interests of 
Catholicity, whether special to the people among whom he Hved, or 
having reference to the wants of his brethren in other parts of the 

The tract of land upon which he lived, embraced in whole, or 
in part, the site of the present town of Fairfield. Though a few of 
his fellow-colonists entered upon surveys lying from four to six miles 
distant in the direction of Bardstown, the greater number of them 
sought and occupied farms in the immediate vicinity of his own place. 
The original dwelling house of logs put up by him was built with 
special reference to the religious wants of the settlers in the neighbor- 
hood. For eleven or twelve years the largest of its rooms was made 
to do service as a chapel. * It was most likely in 1806 that measures 

* Among the church stations assigned by Father Badin to Rev. Anthony 
Salmon in 1799, not the least important was that known as Gardiner's Station. 


were first taken for the erection of a church in the hamlet of Fairfield, 
which was then made up of a few shops for the manufacture of farm- 
ing implements and household utensils. Mr. Gardiner not only made 
a deed of gift to the congregation of a site for the church, but he 
added to his benefaction grounds for a cemetery, and the greater part 
of the funds required for the building of the church. The church of 
St. Michael was most likely opened for divine service in the spring or 
summer of 1807, and though Father Badin was then the nominal 
pastor of the congregation, it is more than likely it was more frequently 
served by Father Nerinckx and by Fathers Wilson and Tuite of the 
not far away Dominican convent of St. Rose. Up to the date of his 
death, which took place, as is supposed, in 18 19 or 1820, Clement Gar- 
diner never counted as a cost whatever was required of him for the 
support of religion. He recognized to the full his accountability to 
God for the proper use to be made of the riches with which he had 
been blessed.* 

Henrietta Boone Gardiner is fairly to be classed among the 
extraordinary women of the early church of Kentucky. She was not 
only an exponent of christian courage and meekness and piety, but she 
was an exponent of that charity which has God for its supreme object, 
and which has for its standard of social equity the welfare of the neigh- 
bor. After her husband's death, her thoughts were wholly abstracted 
from objects of worldly solicitude. The last act of her life for rhe 
good of others was worthy of the name she bore and of christian remem- 
brance. Her husband and herself had long entertained the thought 
of founding a first-class school for girls in the neighborhood of Fair- 
field. The difficulty had been that they were unable to secure compe- 
tent teachers. Early in 182 1, Mrs. Gardiner consulted with Bishop 
Flaget on the subject, and the result of their conference was a pledge 
on her part to make to the Bishop a deed of gift of three hundred 
acres of land near the town, and a counter pledge on the part of the 
latter that a school building should be put up on the land and teach- 
ers furnished for the conduct of the school. Both pledges were fulfilled 
before the close of the year, and in December, 1821, the property was 

*The children borne to Clement Gardiner by his wife were: first, Joseph, 
who was married in Maryland to Winefred Hamilton. Three of the daughters 
of this marriage, reared almost from childhood by their step-mother, Catharine 
Elder, were Sisters of Charity of the Nazareth community. Second, Polly, who 
was married in Maryland to Benedict Smith. Third, Theodore, married in 
Kentucky to a daughter, as is supposed, of Captain James Rapier. Fourth, 
Harry, who became a member of the Trappist Order in 1807, and whose death 
took place during his noviciate. Fifth, Francis, who was married in Ken- 
tucky to Ann Smith Sixth, Ellen, who was married in Maryland to James 
Spalding. Seventh, Ignatius, who removed to Louisiana when a young man, 
and of whose after life little is known. Eighth, Christine, who was married in 
Kentucky to Thomas Miles. Ninth and last, Ann, married in Kentucky to 
Edward Jenkins. The late Thomas E. Jenkins, a scientist of some note, who 
was one of the Commissioners of the United States to the Paris Industrial 
Exposition, of 1878, was a grandson of Ann Gardiner, as is also the Rev. T. J. 
Jenkins, a priest of the diocese of Louisville. 


placed in the possession of a colony of eleven sister's of the Loretto 
Society, of which Sister Bibiana Elder was named superior. In close 
proximity to the convent, Mrs. Gardiner caused to be erected a small 
brick cottage for her own occupancy, and there she remained until the 
institution was abandoned in 1827. The school of Bethania — such was 
the name given to the establishment — was fairly prosperous for several 
years; but owing to continued sickness among the sisters, accompa- 
nied by a fatality that was alarming, it was at length determined by the 
superiors of the Loretto Society to recall the survivors of the sister- 
hood. Grieved beyond measure on account of the nonrealization of 
her hopes, and the afflictions that had fallen on the little community, 
Mrs. Gardiner concluded to accompany the sisters to Loretto, where 
she was offered a home, and there, concerning herself about nothing 
beyond her own sanctification, pass the remainder of her days. She 
lived for several years afterwards in retirement and prayer, and then, 
mourned by the entire sisterhood, she was called to her reward. * 


Of this early emigrant to the settlement on Cox's creek, who was 
reckoned among the more influential Catholic citizens of Nelson county 
at the beginning of the present century, the writer has been unable to 
learn much that would be considered of interest at the present day. 
He is to be remembered as the father of a well-known priest, Rev. 
Richard Pius Miles, of the order of St. Dominic, afterwards first bishop 
of the See of Nashville. 


In these days, when to be exalted in the eyes of men is but too 
often to be suspected of infidelity to God, it is not to be supposed 
that the ordinary mind will be able to find any of the essentials of great- 

* During its short existence of seven years, the convent of Bethania lost 
eleven of its members by death. These were, in the order of their demise : 
Sisters Aloysia, (Elizabeth McAtee); Defrosia, (Mary Ernis); Felicitas, (Bar- 
bara Dieffendell); Gertrude, (Catharine Bowles); Melina, (Bridget King); Mar- 

celline, ( Drury); Justine, (Mary Cook); Berlindas, second Superior, (Mary 

Bickett); Liberata, (Eliza Pike), Berthildes, (Catharine Mitchell); and Ever- 
eldes, (Eliza Aud). An aged sister of the Nazareth community, conversant 
with the facts, tells me that several causes contributed to this extraordinary mor- 
tality. In the first place, the mortifications imposed upon the members of the 
community by the rules of the society were at the time exhaustive of the phys- 
ical strength of those among them who were obliged to labor in the fields and 
in the performance of other menial out-of-door offices. In the second place, 
the poverty of the sisters compelled them to live meanly and cheaply. Not 
only was their food of the least generous character, but their clothing was often- 
times inadequate to proper protection against the inclemencies of a climate that 
is subject to sudden changes. With physical organizations weakened and 
impaired by self-imposed mortifications, and by constant exposure, disease and 
death found in them ready victims. 


ness in characters such as the writer now proposes to depict. And 
yet there was not one of those who are mainly to claim the reader's 
attention in this sub-chapter, who was wanting in those characteristics 
and qualities of heart and mind, which combine to make the just and 
true, and therefore the truly great man. They were alike faithful to 
God and to right reason, to the Catholic traditions of their race, and 
to truth, probity and honor. Their sympathy was equally assured, 
whether the sentiment was elicited by human suffering, or by the 
groping of a soul after verity in religion. Even as they prayed for 
mercy to themselves, they ceased not, while they lived, to scatter in 
the way of others the seeds of mercy garnered in their own souls. 

The surname Elder is not uncommon in the United States ; neither 
is it in England and Ireland. Singularly enough, however, while the 
patronymic is owned in England almost exclusively by Catholics in 
religion, it adheres, very generally, at least, to Protestant dissenters 
in Ireland. In the United States, and so far as it is Catholic, the 
name is represented by the descendants of one, or, as some say, of 
two individual Catholics, who emigrated from Lancashire, England, 
to the colony of Maryland, not earlier than the year 1720.* 

Of members of the family now living in the United States, by far 
the greater number would seem to be impressed with the idea that the 
patriarch of their race in America was one William Elder, an English- 
man, born in Lancashire in 1707, who emigrated to Maryland, not 
earher than 1728, and not later than 1732. Without stopping here to 
record his doubts of the correctness of this notion, and for the reason 
that the patriarch referred to has a defined history, wanting in the case 
of another, if there was really another source of descent for some 
Catholics who bear the name in this country, the writer proposes to 
begin his series of personal sketches with one of 

WILLIAM ELDER, 1707-1775. 

William Elder, so to say, was a born Catholic. His descent was 
from those who had kept the faith when its rejection would have 
insured their worldly prosperity. Before his birth, and long after his 
expatriation, indeed, there was little freedom for Catholics in England. 
They were not then subjected, to be sure, to such remorseless perse- 
cutions as had distinguished the days of their fathers; but they were 

*I am unable to agree with certain members of the family who assert that 
their American progenitor was a fellow-voyager with Leonard Calvert, and one 
of the original colonists of St. Mary's. It is well known that the three heads 
of families of this name who emigrated to Kentucky claimed no more distant 
relationship with each other than second cousin, and that the father of the 
most conspicuous amongst them was a native of Lancashire, England, born in 
1707, who had reached his majority before he came to America. As a question 
of fact, it it is difficult to determine whether or not all Catholics in this country 
who bear the name of Elder, have descent from a single or from two parent 
founts on this side of the Atlantic. This point will be found treated in a note 
further on. 


Still sufficiently hampered in the exercise of their liberty, civil and 
religious, to render their situation one of great trial and of constant 

No one who is familiar with the history of the Church of God has 
failed to discover that the noblest examoles of fidelity to the law of 
conscience are to be found precisely where divine wisdom has taught 
us to look for them: "Blessed are you ;.hen men shall revile you 
and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely 
for My sake." It was in an atmosphere o/ hostility to his religion that 
William Elder first drew breath, and in which he lived and moved 
from infancy to early manhood. Well for him, possibly, and well for 
his posterity, that such was the case. As self-reliance is most readily 
learned in the school of adversity, so devotion to principle has its 
greatest expansion where its suppression is sought through the medium 
of persecution. 

It was most likely soon after he had reached his majority that 
William Elder left his native land and came to America. As early as 
the year 1733, we find him living with his first wife, Ann Wheeler, who 
had already borne him several children, in St. Mary's county, Mary- 
land.* In the year 1734, as is supposed, he removed to Frederick 
county, where he bought and cultivated a farm, upon which he built 
for the occupancy of the family a comfortable residence. To this 
house, which stood in close proximity to the site now occupied by the 
college of St. Mary, is attached an interesting history. 

Upon leaving England, William Elder had not left behind him, as 
he had fondly hoped, the proscriptive laws enacted by the home 
government in contravention of the rights of its Catholic subjects. 
The old colonial laws giving to all men unrestricted liberty to worship 
according to conscience, to which Catholics in religion had given form 
and shape, force and effect, were now abrogated in Maryland, and in 
their stead a law was in force by the terms of which Catholics were 
forbidden to build, hold or occupy structures designed for public 
religious worship. In ordei; to acquit themselves of their religious 
obligations, the proscribed Catholic people of the colony were obliged 
to resort to the expedient of fitting up chapels in private houses. In 
constructing his dwelling, William Elder had in view the anomalous 
situation in which himself and his co-religionists were placed by the 
law referred to. His parlor chapel was not only the largest room in 
his house, buf its area was equal to the aggregate of all its other 
rooms. Here it was that, the Catholic residents of the district were 
wont to meet for divine service, and here they were shriven, and after- 
wards fed with bread from heaven, until the dawn of a brighter day 
witnessed their release from civil degradation and official espionage, f 

*I am inclined to the belief that the marriage of William Elder with Ann 
Wheeler took place in England, and that, soon after that event, the pair took 
passage for America. 

t The Elder mansion, near Emmittsburg, though then tottering to its fall, 
was still standing as late as the year 1850. For many years before, it had been 


In 1739. death invaded the home of the pioneer, taking from him 
the mother of his children. The pair had been very happy together, 
and the survivor naturally felt deeply the great loss he had sustained. 
Ann Wheeler Elder is represented as having been a woman of rare 
good qualities, faithful to every duty pertaining to her state of life, 
diligent in the management of her household, and of singular piety.* 

Having remained a widower for several years, William Elder took 
to wife, most likeiy in 1744, Jacoba Clementina, daughter of Arnold 
Livers, Esq., genfleman. This Arnold Livers, an Englishman by 
birth, had been an active and noted partisan of James IL Upon the 
collapse of that weak and unfortunate monarch's cause, he had been 
obliged to fly his native land, and now he was the proprietor of a large 
estate in Maryland, f Of this second wife of William Elder, the tra- 
ditions preserved in the family speak nothing but praise. She bore to 
her husband four sons and two daughters, and not by these was her 
motherly influence felt more beneficially than it was by her step- 
children. While her husband lived she shared with him the respect 

an object of interest to the Catholics of the State, and especially to such of 
them as were able to claim descent from its builder and first proprietor. There 
is scarcely a trace of it to be seen at the present day. On the spot where it 
stood, however, a descendant of the family has lately placed a memorial 
tablet that is indicative of its past history. 

* Ann Wheeler Elder bore to her husband five children, four boys and one 
girl. These were named : William, Guy, Charles, Mary and Richard. Of 
the first named, I have been able to learn nothing beyond the fact that his wife 
was a Miss Wickham. Guy Elder was twice married. By his second wife he 
had thirteen children, viz : Joseph, Judith, James, Polly, Benjamin, Patsey, 
Ellen, Rebecca, Guy, Priscilla, Edward, Thomas and George. "The four first 
named," a Maryland correspondent writes me, "all went to Kentucky." The 
wife of Charles Elder was Julia Ward, of Charles county, Maryland. The de- 
scendants of the pair are very numerous, and they are scattered all over the West 
and South. Their immediate offspring numbered twelve children, eleven sons 
and one daughter. One of the sons married Catharine Mudd, of Maryland, 
and one of their children was the late Rev. Alexius I. Elder, a most estimable 
priest, who was long identified in an official capacity with the Sulpician college 
of St. Mary, Baltimore. The only daughter of Charles Elder intermarried 
with Charles Montgomery, who removed with his family to Kentucky about 
the year 1795. Two of their sons, Samuel H. and Stephen Montgomery, were 
ordained priests of the order of St. Dominic by Bishop Flaget, at the semi- 
nary of St. Thomas, in Kentucky, in September, 1S16. Mary Elder, the only 
daughter of Ann Wheeler Elder, intermarried with Richard Lilly, of Mary- 
land, and through her children the family became connected with that 
of the McSherrys of Virginia. Of Richard, son and youngest child of William 
and Ann Elder, I have been able to learn only that his wife was a Miss Phcebe 

t It is said of Arnold Livers, in explanation of the singular name given by 
him to his daughter, that he had registered a vow that his first child, whether 
boy or girl, should be called James. The good priest to whom the child was 
presented for baptism found no difficulty in complying with the father's wishes, 
and so the babe was christened Jacoba Clementina. The Livers family of 
Maryland was afterwards represented in Kentucky by quite a number of the 
latter's leading Catholic citizens. Among these were Robert and Henry 
Livers, of Nelson, and Thomas Livers, of Washington county. 


and confidence of ?.ll to whom the)^ were known, and during her long 
widowhood of thirty-two years she was venerated as a true mother in 
Israel.* The names of her children were Elizabeth, Arnold, Thomas," 
Ignatius, Ann and Aloysius. It was from the second named that title 
came to the ecclesiastical authorities of Maryland for the farm upon 
which now stands the structure known as Mount St. Mary's college. 
Of her children, the writer has no knowledge of the after life of 
either, with the single exception of Thomas Elder, who removed to 
Kentucky in 1799. t » 

THOMAS ELDER, 1748-1832. 

The merits and demerits of men are rarely recognized to their full 
extent while they are yet Hving. Good and evil dispositions and 
habits are not only transmissible, but they are ordinarily transmitted 
to one's children. Hence it is that the stream of human being that 
has its source from a pure fountain is very generally found to be pure 
throughout its reaches. We have already seen what manner of man 
was the father of Thomas Elder. Equally admirable was the character 
of the son, and equally upright in the sight of God and men was his 
walk in life. 

Of the very many former Catholic citizens of Maryland who emi- 
grated to Kentucky at an early day in the history of the State, there 

*In the old Catholic cemetery, about half a mile below St. Mary's college, 
and near the town of Emmettsburg, three stones mark the graves of William, 
Ann Wheeler and Jacoba Clementina Elder. The inscriptions, which are still 
distinct, record the names and dates of birth and death: William Elder, born 
in 1707, died April 22(1. 1775; Ann Wheeler Elder, born 1709, died August 
nth, 1739; Jacoba Clementina Elder, born 1717, died September 19th, 1807. 

t Through the kindness of Mrs. Mary Horrell Dawson, one of her great- 
granddaughters, I was recently permitted to examino a letter written by Jacoba 
Clementina Elder, and addressed to her granddaughter, Nancy Elder, who, a 
short while before its date, had accompanied her father to Kentucky. The 
letter bears date, " Maryland, at Harry Spalding's, November 21st, 1800." She 
begins complainingly, first in respect to her own bodily infirmities, and then 
of her inability to do certain things for lack of money. "Nevertheless," she 
goes on, " I would have gone in debt for five pounds of snuff to send you, 
could I have found a conveyance for it. I saw Rev. Mr. Smith yesterday," 
she continues, "and I gave him jour message. He was glad to hear from 
you." (This Rev. Mr. Smith was none other than the Prince Priest, Rev„ 
Demetrius A. Gallitzin, who, for some time previous to her father's removal to 
Kentucky, was charged with the mission of the district in which the family 
resided.) From what follows, it would appear that Miss Nancy Elder, in 
writing to her grandmother, had instituted a comparison between her then 
Kentucky pastor and the one who had discharged the duties of the office for 
her in Maryland, which was not especially favorable to the former. "'I do 
hope," she writes, " that you will all learn to have the same opinion ot that 
father (Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin, no doubt) that you did of Rev. Mr. 
Smith." After giving her correspondent much grandmotherly advice, she thus 
concludes her epistle : "You are the only one who is good enough to write to 
me. Write often, dear Nancy, and never do you forget me in your pious 
prayers. With my blessing to you, I remain your ever affectionate grand- 
mother, Clementina Elder." 


was not one who left to his posterity the record of brighter virtues 
practiced in Hfe than did Thomas Elder, of Cox's Creek settlement. 
Writing to the compiler of this history, an aged priest of the diocese 
of Louisville thus refers to him: "Of course you have heard good 
things of Thomas Elder." Regarding others of the same settlement, 
he speaks in detail of their good qualities, and of the special charac- 
teristics which entitle them to commendation and christian remem- 
brance. Of this patriarch only he has nothing to say beyond his 
words quoted. He was evidently unable to conceive that any Catholic 
born and raised in the county of his residence should be less familiar 
than he was himself with whatever was distinguishing in a character so 
elevated as was that of Thomas Elder. 

The subject of this sketch was born at the Elder homestead, near 
Emmittsburg, Maryland, on the 4th day of January, 1748. His 
childhood and youth were passed with his parents, by whom he was 
trained in love of knowledge, especially of the knowledge which is 
necessary in the service of God. In the year 1771, he took to wife 
Elizabeth Spalding, a sister of Basil Spalding, Esq., of Charles 
county, and shortly after that event he moved to and occupied a farm 
in Harbough's Valley, Frederick county, where he lived for twenty- 
eight years, and where his family of eleven children had their birth.* 

It was most likely in the year 1799, that Thomas Elder broke up 
his establishment in Harbough's Valley and removed to Kentucky. 
He was, doubtless, moved to this step by his solicitude for his chil- 
dren's temporal interests. His own worldly circumstances had hith- 
erto barely enabled him to live in comfort, and he was naturally 
anxious regarding the future of his large family of sons and daughters. 
He had already friends in Kentucky, and it is to be presumed that 
these had written to him glowing accounts of the wholesomeness of 
the climate, the fertility of the soil, the cheapness of the lands, and 
of the reasonable assurance he would have, should he conclude to 
follow them to the West, that he would be enabled thereby to give to 

'^■The names of these, in the order of their birth, were : I. Annie or Nancy, 
born July i, 1772; lived single, and died in Bardstovvn, Kentucky, March 25, 
1842, 2. Basil Spalding, born October 29, 1773; married Elizabeth Snowden, 
November 18, 1801 ; died in Baltimore, October 13, 1869. (The death of his 
wife occurred February 20, i860.) 3. Catharine, born March 7, 1776; was the 
second wife 01 Joseph Gardiner, Esq., of Nelson county, Kentucky. She 
died at the home of her son-in-law, Thomas Merimee, March 7, 1866, at the 
exact age of 90 years. 4. William Pius, born May 4, 1778; died in Baltimore, 
August 22, 1799. 5. Clementina, born June 16, 1780; married Richard 
Clark; died in Nelson county, Kentucky, on the 21st of August, 1851. 
6. Ignatius, born July 21, 1782; married Monica Greenwell ; date of death 
unknown. 7. Theresa, born March i, 1785; died unmarried, in Nelson 
county, Kentucky, December 19, 1816. 8. Thomas Richard, born June 14, 
1789; married Caroline Clements; died July 11, 1835. 9. Christiana, born 
October 30, 1791 ; married John B. Wight ; date of death unknown. 10. Mary 
Elizabeth, born May 15, 1794; married John Jarboe ; date of death unknown. 
II, Maria M., born April 29, 1791 ; married John Horrell ; date of death 


his children at least a start in life. They told him something else, 
without the knowledge of which, it is fair to say, he would have 
remained a fixture in Maryland for the remainder of his life. He 
learned from them that they were provided with a pastor of souls, 
whose visits to the settlement were not less frequent than once in the 
month. With the exception of his oldest son, Basil S., who was 
already engaged in business in Baltimore, Thomas Elder was accom- 
panied to Kentucky by his entire family. He was also accompanied 

by Mrs. Spalding, a widowed sister-in-law, and her two infant 

daughters. In due course of time, and without disaster by the way, 
the travelers reached Gardiner's Station, on Cox's creek, where they 
were warmly welcomed by their former neighbors of Maryland, and 
where the father of the family set up his tabernacle for life. 

The traditions of the times, still preserved in the congregation of 
St. Michael's, Fairfield, are filled with references of Thomas Elder. 
They represent him as a man whose every appearance was suggestive 
of the idea of sanctity. In his face there were no hard lines to index 
the workings of a passionate nature; no expression that was not 
attractive of love and confidence. He was an austere man, but his 
austerities were practiced in the privacy of his own house. With 
those who knew him best he was most remarkable for his mildness 
and amiability, and for his habits of practical goodness. It was his 
delight to take Httle children by the hand and to lead them in the 
ways of holiness. So conspicuously upright was the whole tenor of 
his life, that he was held in almost as much esteem by non-Catholics as 
he was by his own co-religionists. Sixty years ago there were few 
Catholics in Kentucky who had not "heard good things of Thomas 
Elder; " and to this day his name is blessed by thousands because of 
his transmitted virtues — virtues derived from the parent fount by the 
children, and by them transmitted to their offspring to the present 
generation. To make this idea clear, it is but necessary to point to 
the lives of two of his children, and to that of his adopted daughter, 
the late Reverend Mother Catherine Spalding, of the Nazareth com- 
munity of Sisters of Charity. 

For more than sixty years, and to the date of his death, there was 
not in the entire country a Catholic citizen who was more widely 
known or more deservedly esteemed, than the late Basil Spalding 
Elder, of Baltimore. From the days of Dr. Carroll to those of Dr. 
M. J. Spalding, there was not an occupant of the Metropolitan See of 
that city who did not recognize in him a power for the general good 
of the entire Catholic body of the United States. He was not alone 
an example for Catholics in the performance of specific duty, but he 
led them through his own earnestness to the heights beyond, where 
the virtues of the christian grow lustrous in the light shed from 
heaven. Like his father and grandfather, he sought to train his 
children in knowledge and virtue, to the end of their welfare for 
eternity. The survivors of these are scattered now, but wherever 
they are, not one of them is to be found who has abandoned his faith, 


or has ceased to walk in the self-same way of salvation that was traced 
by the feet of his fathers.* 

Clementina Elder, so named from her grandmother, was as 
remarkable for her intelligence as she was for her filial devotion, and 
for the exactitude with which she performed every duty of her state 
of life. Her religion was for daily and hourly wear, and from child- 
hood to old age she was a pattern of christian piety and meekness. 
About the year 1807, she became the wife of Richard Clark, whose 
father, Clement Clark, had emigrated from Maryland, and settled on 
Simpson's creek. Nelson county, in the year 1788.! 

When she was fairly settled in her new home, Mrs. Clark induced 
her father to transfer to her care and guardianship his adopted daugh- 
ter, Catharine Spalding, whose mother was now dead. It is beyond 
doubt that the latter was indebted to her foster mother for the training 
by which she was prepared for the important work of charity to which 
her life was devoted after her nineteenth year. Among the many of 
the gentler sex in Kentucky who gave up their entire lives to the 
service of God and their neighbors, not another has lived and died in 
peace whose name is held to the present day in greater reverence than 
is that of Mother Catharine Spalding. From the day she vowed her- 
self to God, and was named superior of the little religious community 
which has grown, in our day, into one whose influence for good is coex- 
tensive with the State, and reaches far beyond its borders, to that upon 

* Basil S. Elder and his wife, Elizabeth Snowden, were the parents of 
thirteen children, three of whom died in infancy. One of his daughters, 
Eleonora, became a sister of charity. She still survives at the mother house 
of the order, Emmittsburg, Maryland. Another daughter, Mrs. Jenkins, 
died in Havana, in 1846; another, Mrs Baldwin, in Baltimore, in 1872. Of 
their male children seven survive to the present day, viz : Francis W., in 
Baltimore; Basil T., in St. Louis; James C, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; 
Joseph E., in Denver, Colorado; Thomas S., in New Orleans; William 
Henry (late bishop of Natchez, and now archbishop of the See of his resi- 
dence), in Cincinnati, and Charles D., in New Orleans. Basil S. Elder lost his 
wife in February, i860, when he had himself reached the eighty-seventh year 
of his age. He felt the bereavement keenly, and a little later, when the war 
of the rebellion was at its height, the old gentleman happened to lose the time- 
piece he had been in the habit of carrying for more than sixty years. While 
making an ineffectual search for the missin;^ article, he was heard to exclaim: 
"I have lost my precious wife. I have lost my good old watch, and I have lost 
my country! It is time I was myself called home." His death, as stated 
elsewhere, took place on the 13th October, 1869. 

t One of their descendants tells me that immediately after their marriage 
the pair set out for the home that had been prepared for their reception, near 
the residence of the groom's parents. The cabin was new, but it had been 
neither finished nor furnished. Upon reaching their destination the husband 
thus improvised their bridal bed : Upon the bare earthen floor he laid three 
rough slabs,, or puncheons, of the requisite length. On these he spread a layer 
of flexible withes, cut from the undergrowth of the forest by which the place 
was surrounded, and upon these he laid his tow-linen straw-filled bed. Their 
covering was a buffalo robe. On awaking in the morning, they found them- 
selves under a mantle of white — two inches of snow having fallen upon them 
in the night. 


which, reclining upon ashes, she surrendered her soul to her Heavenly 
Bridegroom, she appeared to have no other object in life but to render 
faithful service to her divine Lord and Master, and to His afflicted 
representatives in the world, the poor and the fatherless.* 

Of Clementina Clark's children, most of whom were known to the 
writer, reference here need be made but to one, the late Rev. William 
Elder Clark, of the diocese of Louisville. The most lovable character 
that has hitherto adorned the holy ministry in Kentucky was this fourth 
remove from the American patriarch of his family.' So free was he 
from asperities that he was loved of every one, and so pure was his life 
that there was an element of reverence intermixed with the love he 
incited in the breasts of all who were happy enough to be of the num- 
ber of his acquaintances. He was not unfrequently referred to as 
"the pet of the clergy of Kentucky." He was much more than that, 
however. He was for them an exemplar of piety unaffected, of purity 
that was angelic, and of goodness that was Umitless. His entire char- 
acter was a reminder to those who knew him intimately, and especially 
to his associates of the clergy, of that given by sacred history and tradi- 
tion to "the beloved disciple." He hved a life that was useful to 
thousands, and when he died, strong men wept like children. 

Ripe for heaven, and leaving behind him the record of a Hfe that 
was as remarkable for its social amenities as it was for its near approach 
to the perfection of Christianity, Thomas Elder passed to his reward in 
the eighty-eighth year of his age, December 27th, 1832.1 

JAMES ELDER, 1761-1845. 

James Elder, the first Catholic of his name to emigrate to Ken- 
tucky, was born in Frederick county, Maryland, in 1761. The name 
of his father was Guy Elder, and that of his grandfather, William Elder. 
But, by some of the descendants of the latter named patriarch, a 
sketch of whose life has already been given to the reader, it is regarded 
as doubtful whether his paternity is to be properly traced to their 
American progenitor. J 

* Mother Catharine Spalding died on the 20th of March, 1858, at the St. 
Vincent's Orphan Asylum, Louisville, which institution she may be said to 
have founded. 

tThe widow of Thomas Elder and her oldest daughter, Nancy, passed the 
last years of their lives in Bardstown. I remember them well, and of wonder- 
ing, as I saw them creeping with feeble steps to and from church, which of the 
two was the older. They were greatly venerated, as much by the clergy as 
by the laity, and the peaceful deaths they had hoped and prayed for from 
childhood to extreme old age, came to them at length. The daughter died in 
1842, aged 70 years. The death of the mother, at the advanced age of 98 
years, took place on the 30th day of August, 1848. 

t In the United States, where, it is safe to say, not one in ten of the popula- 
tion knows anything about his ancestry beyond the names of his grandparents, 
the attempt to designate degrees of consanguinity between families of a com- 
mon origin in the long past cannot be otherwise than a work in which "the 
compiler of family history is beset with doubts at every stage of his inquiry. 


In 1 7 91, James Elder, who had shortly before taken to wife Ann 
Richards, a non-Catholic, of Frederick county, emigrated to Ken- 
tucky, and settled on lands bordering on Hardin's creek. For several 
years before the date mentioned there had been a stream of emigration 
from the Catholic counties of Maryland to the same district of country, 
and now the colony was considered one of the most prosperous in the 
State. Young and energetic, and more than ordinarily intelligent, the 
new-comer soon came to be regarded by his fellow colonists as a most 
valuable acquisition to their ranks and society; and sooner still he 
became endeared to them on account of his extraordinary civic and 
christian virtues. His residence was only a few miles removed from 
St. Stephen's, the nominal home of Father Badin, and between the two 
there was not only fixed friendship, but unity of purpose in everything 
having for its object the exaltation of the Holy Church in the eyes of 


As has been already said, James Elder's marriage had been with a 
non-Catholic. Very shortly after his removal to Kentucky, however, 
he had the happiness of witnessing the reception of his wife into the 
Church by baptism. From that day until the one upon which the aged 
woman, then a disconsolate widow, knelt beside the Hfeless form of her 
husband and besought God's mercy in behalf of the departed soul, the 
wife and the husband were equally noted for their devotion to Catholic 
truth, and for their correspondence with the sublime laws of morality 
and charity established by the Church and its Divine Head.* 

But for a single well-attested fact, I could readily believe with the majority of 
Catholics who now bear the name in the United States, that they are all the 
descendants of the patriarch already referred to. That personage, it will be 
remembered, had a son by his first wife to whom was given the name of Guy. 
He had also a son by his second wife who was called Thomas. These two were, 
consequently, half brothers, and the relationship between either and the chil- 
dren of the other was certainly that of uncle and nephews. James and William 
Elder, reputed sons of Guy, and grandsons of William, removed to Kentucky 
in 1 791. Eight years later, their reputed uncle, Thomas, emigrated to the State 
and settled on Cox's creek, in Nelson county. They were well known to each 
other, and unless their relationship was very distant, it is not to be supposed 
that they were not aware of its exact degree. But it is quite certain that the 
two first were in the habit of referring to the last named as their cousin, and he 
to them in like manner. The inference naturally arises that the acknowledged 
patriarch of one branch of the Elder family of the United States was not the 
first of his race and religion to come to America. It is my conviction that he 
was preceded to the colony of Maryland by a cousin, older than himself, whose 
Christian and surnames were identical with his own, and that it is from this 
now unknown progenitor that numbers of Catholics bearing the name in this 
country have their descent. I am strengthened in this opinion by the testi- 
mony of the surviving children of James Elder. One of these, J. Reason 
Elder, of Spencer county, Kentucky, writes me: "My father and Thomas 
Elder', of Fairfield, were cousins." The venerable Sister Emily Elder, of the 
Nazareth community, writes : " My father and Thomas Elder were distantly 
related. I think they were second cousins." 

*The children borne to her husband by Ann Richards Elder were named, in 
the order of their birth: Ellen, George, Guy, Thomas, Benedict, J. Reason, 
James and Ann. The second named became a priest, and the last a Sister of 


Though there were certainly shades of difference in the char- 
acters of the two, James Elder resembled in much his relation of the 
Cox's Creek settlement. In a no less degree than was the case with 
that earnest christian, he was a lover of the truth and a faithful son 
of the holy Church. Like him, too, he was indefatigable in his 
efforts to imbue the minds of his non-Catholic neighbors with correct 
notions respecting religion. He was like him in the devotion he 
made of his time and knowledge to the religious instruction of 
Catholic children. He was more excitable than Thomas Elder, 
much fonder of controversy, and had a readier wit. He was an 
incessant reader, especially of the Bible, and so exact was known 
to be his knowledge of Holy Writ that even Protestants, not unfre- 
quently, were in the habit of making him the arbiter of their disputes 
regarding the proper application that was to be attached to certain 
of its passages. He was never known to decline an overture to 
discuss points of doctrine with any leader of Protestant opinion 
in his neighborhood, and it is to this day a tradition in the congre- 
gation of St. Charles, that he was never worsted in any one of 
his polemical combats. His zeal, too, was ordinarily governed by 
prudence, and it is doubtful if there was another Catholic in the 
State who rendered more efficient service to religion by preparing 
converts for baptism. 

Writing of her parents. Sister Emily, of the Nazareth com- 
munity, thus refers to their manner of life: "My father was regular 
in his habits. He arose every morning at 3 o'clock, and he called 
the family an hour later. The interval was given to his private 
devotions. When the family was assembled he gave out morning 
prayers, and from this exercise, as well as that with which the 
labors of the day were closed, he would permit none to be absent 
without a valid excuse. I shall never forget the short admonition 
he was in the habit of addressing to us every night after prayers. 
'My children,' he would say, 'let your last thoughts before you go 
to sleep, and your first when you awake, be of death, judgment, 
heaven and hell.' In lent he was in the habit of adding to our 
evening devotions the Litany of the Saints and a chapter from the 
sacred scriptures. Night and morning before retiring to rest and 
before going about our usual occupations, it was a custom with us 
children to kneel and ask the blessing of father and mother. Even 
after his ordination to the priesthood, our elder brother never 
omitted this formulary when he visited his parents. My father 

Charity. Two only survive to the present day, viz.: J. Reason Elder, of Spen- 
cer county, Kentucky, and Ann (Sister Emily), of the Nazareth community. To 
both of these I am indebted for much valuable information touching their 
family history. Sister Emily became a pupil of the Nazareth school at its foun- 
dation in 1814. She afterwards entered the community, of which she has been 
a most useful and deserving member for more than fifty years. That will be a 
sad day for the sisterhood when her pleasant face and cheery voice shall have 
become but memories of the community's recreation-hall at Nazareth. 


used to say that he was ' proud of his children, proud of his stock, 
and proud of his farm.' I think it was the opinion of all those 
who knew him best, that he was still more proud of being a Catholic 
christian. " 

James Elder died on the 15th day of August, 1845. His widow 
survived him twelve years, her death having taken place, in the 
96th year of her age, on the 8th day of January, 1857. * 

WILLIAM ELDER," 1757-1822 (sUPPOSEd). 

Together with his wife and several children, William Elder came 
to Kentucky in 1791, a few months after the arrival in the State of 
his brother James, and settled near the latter's residence on Har- 
din's creek, f In the year 1804, he removed to what is known as 
Flint Island, Breckinridge, now Meade county, where he passed 
the remainder of his life, and reared a large and interesting family 
of children. J A number of Catholic families had previously settled 
in the county on or near a stream known as Long Lick, but these 
were too far removed to admit of close association with their core- 
ligionist, whose solitary cabin overlooked the Ohio at Flint Island. 
The isolated family was not neglected, however, by Father Badin, 
and in the course of time, the house of Mr. Elder became a church- 
station for that ubiquitous missionary priest, and a litde later, for 
his younger associates. Fathers Nerinckx, Schreffer, and Abell. 
William Elder did not live to see the organization of the now large 
and flourishing congregation of St. Theresa, Flint Island, but he 
is justly regarded as its patriarch. Like the others of his race, of 
whom it has been the writer's privilege to speak, he lived an earnest 
christian life ; he was held in the highest esteem by his neighbors, 
and his children, one and all, were representative Catholics in the 
localities in which their lives were passed. § 

* The above would be incomplete without reference being made to James 
Elder's oldest son, the late Reverend George A. M. Elder. The reader is 
referred to the chapter on "St. Joseph's College," for a .sketch of his life. 

t Lafayette Elder, Esq., of Owensboro, Kentucky, writes me that William 
Elder, who was his grandfather, was a cousin, and not a brother of James 
Elder; but both of the latter's living children assure me that this is a mistake. 

X Four of his sons grew to manhood, married, and had families. These 
were: Arnold, who died in 1830; William whose death took place in 1854; 
Samuel, who died in 1843, and John, who lived near Hardinsburg, Kentucky, 
and whose death took place as late 1876. The descendants of these are numer- 
ous in Breckinridge, Daviess and Meade counties. Of William Elder's 
family of daughters I have only learned that one became the wife of Peter 
Jarboe ; that another married Walter Read ; and a third, Peter Bruner. 

^One of them, Samuel Elder, married for his second wife, Susan McGill, a 
daughter of Joseph McGill, a most estimable Catholic resident of Breckinridge 
county. Their second son, born in 1829, was the late Rev. Joseph Elder, of 
the Diocese of Louisville, who was raised to the priesthood by Dr. M. J. 
Spalding, then Bishop of Louisville, in 1855. Almost immediately afterwards 
he was commissioned by his ordinary to organize a congregation of English- 



The Lilly family of Nelson county has long stood a representative 
one among the Catholics of the State. Its progenitors in Kentucky 
were Thomas and John Lilly, of the settlement on Cox's creek, who 
were brothers, and among the first emigrants to the locality. Since 
they were nephews of Thomas Elder, there should be no question of 
the pains that had been taken by their mother to rear them aright. Of 
the last named, John Lilly, the writer has not been able to learn a great 
deal, though he has memory of acquaintanceship with at least one of 
his children, than whom he has known few who were better men or 
more consistent Catholics. It is his impression, however, that he was 
much more a man of the world than his brother. John Lilly repre- 
sented the county of Nelson in the session of the legislature of Ken- 
tucky that assembled in the year 1807. Thomas Lilly was married in 
Maryland to Elizabeth Jenkins, in whom he found an excellent wife, 
a helper in everything that had relation to his temporal interests, a 
woman of rare piety and patience, and a careful mother to his chil- 
dren. So long as he lived, Thomas Lilly was regarded as one of the 
solid men of the county, and a leading member of St. Michael's con- 
gregation of Fairfield. ^ 

speaking Catholics for the eastern wards of the city of Louisville. The older 
members of the congregation of St. John, Clay and Walnut streets, of which 
Rev. Lawrence Bax has been pastor for more than a quarter of a century, will 
remember with what earnestness he labored to establish the parish, and the 
gratifying results that followed his efforts. In 1856 Father Elder was trans- 
ferred to St. Mary's college, of which institution he was for several years the 
vice-president. It was in 1861, if I mistake not, that he was named pastor of 
the church of St. Francis Xavier, Raywick, where the remaining eight years 
of his life were passed, and where he endeared himself to his parishioners, as 
much by his amiability as by the interest he exhibited in their spiritual advance- 
ment. Father Joseph Elder died of consumption in the 39th year of his age, 
June 29th, 1868. The Elder homestead, near Flint Island, is now owned 
and occupied by Samuel T. Elder, Esqr. a grandson of the original pro- 

* The children born to Thomas Lilly were: John, formerly of the Cathedral 
congregation, Louisville; Thomas, in his time a physician of note in Nelson 
county; Richard, a highly esteemed farmer of the same county; Harriet, who 
married the late Noble Wight, of Breckinridge county; Matilda, who married 
the late James Parsons, of Louisville; Eliza, whose husband was John Johnson; 
Mary, who became wife of Sylvester Bowman; and Ann, whose husband was 
the late M. J. O'Callaghan, of Louisville. With several of those named my 
acquaintance was at one time intimate; but years ago the last of them passed 
away. Of the youngest of them, Mrs. Ann O'Callaghan, whose death took 
place fully forty years ago, I feel authorized to speak from having witnessed, 
during the years immediately preceding its early occurrence, her exemplary 
manner of life. To this day, my thoughts often recur to her as one of the mos't 
perfect exemplars of christian life and deportment I have ever known. Two 
of Thomas Lilly's grandchildren, Joseph B. Lilly, Esq.. and Mrs. E. S.Dovle, 
a daughter of Mrs. O'Callaghan, each with families of grown-up children 'are 
now of the Cathedral congregation, Louisville. 



Raphael Hagan, before coming to Kentucky, and previous to his 
marriage with Rebecca Lavielle, had been a soldier in the ranks of the 
army of the revolution. At the close of the strife he was honorably 
discharged, and, happily for himself and his descendants, he brought 
back with him into civil life a reputation that was golden for high and 
honorable qualities. Seven children were born to him, four sons and 
three daughters.* 


Was already an old man when he came to Kentucky, but he survived 
many of the younger of his associates of the Cox's Creek settlement. 
It is said that he was born previous to the year 1720, and it is known 
that he died and was buried in the cemetery of St. Michael, Fairfield, 
in 1822. Reference is elsewhere made to Francis Coomes, and also 
to his son, Richard Coomes, a still more extraordinary member of a 
family, each one of whom has claims to the remembrance and grati- 
tude of Catholics in the district wherein their lives were passed. 


Were sons-in-law of Francis Coomes. The first named was the father 
of the late Rev. John C. Wathen ; and the venerable chaplain of Cal- 
vary convent. Rev. A. A. Aud, is a son of the other. Thomas Aud, 
named in the list of settlers on Cox's creek, was the grandfather of 
Father Aud. The name of his wife, whom he married in Maryland, 
was Priscilla Duvall. 

James Knott was the father of Leonard Knott, who removed after- 
wards to Daviess county and settled on the site of the present town of 
Knottsville, from whom its name is derived. 

Austin Montgomery removed to Washington county, taking 
him his orphan nephew and ward, Thomas Montgomery. The latter 
afterwards married Clotilda, a daughter of Zachariah Aud. One of 
their sons, George Montgomery, is an ecclesiastic of the archdiocese 
of San Francisco. 


Residence was on the road leading from Bardstown to Louisville, and 
several miles from the first church of St. Michael, to the building fund 
of which he was a liberal subscriber. In the year 181 2, in conjunction 
with Walter Blandford and others living near the line of Bullitt county, 

* These were: Thomas, Basil, Sylvester, Joseph, Elizabeth, Susan and 
Tlicresa. Elizabeth Hagan became the wife of Joseph Mitchell; Susan, of 
Philip Aud, and Theresa of John Lilly. Several of the daughters of both Mrs. 
Mitchell and Mrs. Aud became members of the Loretto society. Frank Hagan, 
Esq., a prominent lawyer of Louisville, is a grandson of Raphael Hagan. 


he secured the erection of the church of St. John, BulUtt county, of 
which congregation he continued a member up to the date of his death. 


Was the father of the late Rev. Joseph Adams, who was ordained 
priest in the cathedral of St. Joseph, in 1840. He afterwards attached 
himself to the Society of Jesus, and was for many years a professor in 
Spring Hill college, near Mobile. His death took place about the 
year 1855. 


Were the fathers, respectively, of the late Rev. William E. Clark and 
the late Rev. Joseph Rogers, of the diocese of Louisville. Both of 
these priests will have reference elsewhere. 


Was a man of intelligence and piety. For years he was the catechist 
of the children of the settlement. He had a good voice and a fair 
knowledge of music, and it fell to his lot, when the old log church of 
St. Michael was erected, to organize a choir and to give shape to its 
musical renderings. He not only did this in his own parish, but, as 
new churches sprung up in the surrounding districts, his services were 
always available in the same direction. He died at the home of his 
son, George Luckett, in the 86th year of his age. Having given 
instruction in sacred things to the greater part of the community, it 
will surprise no one to learn that there was very general mourning 
throughout the parish when it became known that he had passed away. 
On his death-bed he requested that his remains should find sepulture 
at Calvary convent, Marion county, where, as was evidently his hope 
and belief, the good sisters, among whom he had both relatives and 
friends, seeing his grave occasionally, might be thereby reminded to 
pray for the repose of his soul. 

Walter Blandford was a carpenter, and he had direction of the 
building of the old church of St. Michael. Though his residence was 
in Bullitt county, at some distance from Fairfield, he remained a mem- 
ber of the congregation of St. Michael until the completion of the 
church of St. John, in 181 2. * 


It is a noteworthy fact that, in the entire list of canonized saints of 
whose early lives there remains any record, there is scarcely to be 
found a single one who was not indebted, primarily and under God, 

*For many of the facts related in this Chapter, I am indebted to the care- 
ful investigations, carried on for a series of months, of Mrs. Mary A. Ball, a 
granddaughter of Walter Blandford, 


to his mother's instructions, influence and example, for whatever was 
needed to lift his mind out of the depths of earthly desires to the 
contemplation of the admirable things of God. The mother's influ- 
ence in forming the character of her child is surpassingly great. If 
she be worldly-minded and frivolous, over-indulgent at times and 
unnecessarily harsh at others ; unmethodical in the discharge of the 
duties of her state of life and careless in respect to the associations 
formed by her children ; then it is reasonably certain that these latter 
will be subject to similar or still more extravagant faults of character 
and habit. Just the reverse is ordinarily the case when the mother is 
actuated by motives that have their origin in her sense of religious 
duty. Such a mother says nothing, does nothing, in the presence of 
her children, but after duly considering the effects of her speech and 
action upon those toward whom she bears the dual relation of natural 
and heaven-delegated guardian. 

It is well for Catholicity in Kentucky that the first Catholic fathers 
of families who emigrated to the State were so generally provided with 
helpmates who had proper notions of the dignity and responsibilities 
of christian motherhood. As a very general thing, these were at 
once well instructed in the tenets of their faith, and faithful to its 
practice. Where the children in after life, or some amongst them, as 
was the case in very many instances, were led to devote themselves to 
the sacred ministry, or to cloistered contemplation " and works of 
christian charity and mercy, it rarely happened that they were not, 
under God, indebted for their vocation to the training they had 
received at the hands of their pious mothers. The names of many of 
these faithful, painstaking and God-fearing mothers are no longer 
remembered, not even by their descendants; but circumstances have 
preserved those of others to the present day. Alethea Abell Spalding, 
Henrietta Boone Gardiner, Ann French Reynolds, Elizabeth Spalding 
Elder, Winifred Hamilton Gardner, Clementina Elder Clark, Mary 
Hamilton Hill, Ann Richards Elder, Winifred Coomes Wathen, 
Ellen Hutchins Bowlin, Ann Coomes and Ann McAtee Miles — these 
are names that should be pronounced with reverence by all Kentucky 

It is not at all likely that the name of Grace Newton Simpson will 
appear in the least degree familiar to one in a hundred readers of this 
sketch. And yet it was borne by one of the most extraordinary 
CathoHc women of her day in all America. Her fame was local while 
she lived ; and, happily for her, she was utterly regardless of posthu- 
mous notoriety. Her features, which were more engaging than beau- 
tiful, were indicative of a bright intellect and a sympathetic disposition. 
In manner, she was neither bold nor shrinking, neither presumptuous 
nor servile. She was not to be numbered, either, among the silent 
good of her sex. On the contrary, she had the gift of speech in a 
wonderful degree. In her praise be it said, however, she was no idle 
talker. Of all her Catholic sisters of the settlements, she was pre- 
eminently distinguished for her successful efforts at propagandism. It 


was through her earnest inteUigent and prudent advocacy of Catholic 
teachings that many trouoled souls found rest in the bosom of the 
Church. How it was that she became so accomplished a contro- 
versialist may be learned from an incident that will appear in the 
annexed very imperfect sketch of her life. 

Grace Newton was born about the year 1773, in Georgetown, then 
an important town in that part of the Territory of Maryland which was 
afterwards ceded to Congress, and which now forms an integral part 
of the District of Columbia. Her father was a respectable tradesman 
of the town, and an earnest Catholic in religion. Soon after the pass- 
age of the act of Congress by which a survey was ordered of the site 
upon which now stands the city of Washington, very many of the 
former citizens of both Maryland and Virginia removed to the District, 
with the intention of becoming residents of the future capital of the 
country. Among these were several families of Catholics, and notably 
that of Mr. Newton. This gentleman claimed kinship with the family 
of which the renowned Sir Isaac Newton was the most honored repre- 
sentative. His own marriage with an exemplary Catholic wife was 
blessed with a family of four children, three daughters and one son. 
The latter, Hugh Newton, used to say of nis sisters: "One of them 
(Susan) is very beautiful; the second (Sarah) is very industrious; and 
the third (Grace) is very smart."* 

At the time referred to, Grace Newton was a piously inclined 
young woman, well educated for the times, and of good social 
position. f She had been well instructed in the principles of her faith, 
and there never was any question with her as to its divine character. 
She had not learned enough, however, to be able to displace doubt 
and set up conviction in the minds of honest inquirers. A simple 
incident, that took place, most Hkely, in the year 1795, served to open 
her eyes to her ignorance, and to the possibility, likewise, that she 

* Susan Newton became the wife of Archibald Pitt; Sarah Newton, of 
John Lilly; and Grace Newton, of Walter Simpson. All of these removed 
together to Kentucky near the close of the last century. In describing his 
sister Grace as "smart," Hugh Newton was more witty than wise. He only 
meant that her gifts of intellect were too profound for his own following. 
Susan Pitt was a beautiful woman; beautiful as a maiden, equally beautiiul as 
a matron, and scarcely less beautiful after the snows of seventy winters had 
whitened her hair and laid the impress of their cruel coldness on her mortal 
frame. She possessed, however, a more enduring characteristic of loveliness 
than that of form and features in her christian modesty and quiet goodness. 
She survived both of her sisters, her death having taken place only twelve years 
ago. Her descendants are numerous in Kentucky, as are, also, those of her 
sisters. Sarah Newton Lilly was the Martha of her father's household. The 
service she rendered to others, however, did not prevent her from rendering 
true service to God. Her husband, John Lilly, represented the county of 
Nelson in the State legislature of Kentucky during the session of 1807. 

tShe was afterwards in the habit of referring with some degree of pride to 
her personal acquaintance with the first president of the Republic. The 
exalted character of George Washington was a favorite theme with the good 
woman to her dying day. 


might be enabled through its removal to lead, here and there, a bewil- 
dered soul into a restful haven. 

While hastening one morning towards the little chapel that was the 
humble forerunner of the dozen stately churches that now adorn the 
national metropolis, the young lady was overtaken on her way by a 
then recently appointed judge of one of the district courts, who was 
also a personal friend of her father. 

"Whither so early. Miss Grace?" asked the judge. 

" I am on my way to early mass," answered the young lady. 

*' But what is the mass?" demanded the official. 

"It is the renewal and continuation of the Great Sacrifice of 
Calvary," answered the girl. 

" How do you know that it is anything of the kind?" queried the 

" Because the Church so teaches me," returned the lady. 

"But what is the basis of your confidence in the teachings of your 
Church ? " asked the official. 

"Your question," answered the girl, "is too complex to admit of 
a hasty answer. If you will renew it hereafter, I here promise that I 
will endeavor to convince you that the Church has not only the right 
to command my assent to her doctrinal teachings, but my obedience 
likewise to her disciplinary laws." 

With the understanding that the subject was to come up between 
them at a later day, the twain here parted, and Grace hurried on to 
mass. But her short colloquy with her father's friend was never for- 
gotten by her, never once lost sight of until her knowledge of the 
principles of her faith was equal to its defense against all phases of 
opposition. Happily for herself, and happily for the many she after- 
wards led into the Church of God, hers was a bright intellect ; a heart 
that was true and sympathetic, and a disposition that was more than 
ordinarily amiable. She sought and she found, she asked and she 
received, she knocked and it was opened to her. She not only read 
with care and profit the few books of Catholic controversy that were 
to be had at the time, but, under wise direction, she studied the sacred 
Scriptures, and she learned from their perusal the ill uses to which 
human pride, not unfrequently, had put the oracles of God. 

In 1797, as is supposed by her descendants, Grace Newton inter- 
married with Walter Simpson, a scion of one of the old CathoUc 
families of Maryland ; and shortly afterwards she came with her hus- 
band to Kentucky and settled in Nelson county, near the site now 
occupied by the little town of Fairfield. From that time to the day 
of her death, she was regarded by her Catholic acquaintances, and 
these were numerous throughout Nelson and the adjoining counties, 
as an authority scarcely less reliable than their immediate pastors on 
all questions relating to dogmatic differences between the Church and 
the sects. Not a few were of the opinion that, in her limited sphere of 
action, she was even more successful than was any single member of 
the clerical body of the State in her efforts to spread the influence of 


her faith among those who had been reared outside the pale of the 
Church. This was attributed, not to her superior knowledge, but to 
her superior prudence, and to the uniform sweetness of her disposition. 

Among the anecdotes that are related of Mrs. Simpson, the follow- 
mg is, perhaps, oftenest referred to by the elders of the congregation 
of St. Michael, Fairfield, by all of whom the remembrance of her 
singular virtues is preserved to the present time : 

Walter Simpson was somewhat of a wag. At one time he was the 
proprietor of a tavern-stand in the town of Fairfield, which was as 
much noted for its orderly conduct as it was for the excellence of its 
accommodations for man and beast. One day an itinerant Methodist 
preacher alighted from his jaded horse at the tavern door, and 
announced to the landlord that it was his intention to stop over night, 
and possibly, until after the coming Sabbath. Protestant ministers of 
the present day are rarely distinguishable from men of other pro- 
fessions ; but such was not the case seventy years ago. Then, sancti- 
moniousness not only characterized their features, but it pervaded 
their speech, and was to be seen in the cut of their clothes. The 
utterance by his guest of the single word Sabbath was all that Walter 
Simpson needed to enable him to give to the man his exact professional 

One morning during the itinerant's stay under his roof, tempted 
thereto, doubtless, by the evil spirit of mischief that was his constant 
familiar, Mr. Simpson suggested to his guest that he had a job for him 
in the line of his vocation. The Romanists of the town, he said, had 
become not a litde aggressive of late. "I have reason to believe," 
he continued, "that they have designs upon my own wife; and from 
the way she receives their attentions, it would not surprise me, at any 
time, to learn that she had been seen waiting her turn to go to con- 
fession to the little French priest who comes here once in the month, 
and puts up his horse in old Clemmy Gardiner's stable. It may be too 
late for interference in the matter, but if you would like to have a talk 
with Mrs. Simpson, it would please me to have you do so." 

The minister plunged headlong into the pit that had been dug for 
him by his jocular host. He became at once deeply interested, fairly 
reveling in the idea, no doubt, that opportunity was to be given him to 
do battle against the " Man of Sin " and the "Mystery of Iniquity. " 
The very next morning, in the presence of her graceless spouse, he 
approached Mrs. Simpson and begged to be allowed to interview her 
on a subject of grave importance. The lady was not a little surprised, 
but she answered promptly, that she was then and there ready to listen 
to what he had to say. His opening speech, pompous and inflated, 
after the manner of his tribe, would have opened the lady's eyes to his 
purpose, even though she had not been able to detect it by a glance she 
gave toward the face of her husband, in which immobility was vainly 
striving to hide the tricksy spirit that rufiled the muscles beneath, and 
revealed itself still more plainly in the cunning flashes of his eyes. She 
knew at once that the oartner of her life's joys and sorrows had been 


playing upon the gullibility of their guest, and this knowledge deter- 
mined her to treat him with the utmost courtesy and consideration. 

"Mrs. Simpson," began the preacher, "I have been surprised to 
learn that you have ventured almost into the very jaws of the Popish 
beast, that has been sent all the way from Rome to ravage this land, and 
to fill his rapacious maw with the blood of the saints of our new-found 
Israel. When I heard of your peril, the spirit wrestled inside of me, 
and I felt myself inspired to tackle with the beast, and to pluck this 
brand from the burning." 

" I don't know about the brand and the burning, Mr. ," said 

the smiling hostess, "but if you can convince me that the Roman 
Catholic is not the true Church of Christ, I stand ready to become your 
disciple without an hour's delay. " 

"Then, madam," returned the gratified minister, " I have only to 
point out to you the texts of scripture in which the Church of Rome 
is likened to the 'Abomination of Desolation,' the ' Evil woman of 
Babylon, ' the ' Man of Sin, ' the—" 

" Stay, my good sir," interrupted the lady; "your quotations from 
the Bible, as well as many others of like character which the enemies of 
the Church are in the habit of referring to for proofs of their untenable 
positions, are entirely familiar to me. I deny that any one of them is 
applicable to the organization known as the Roman Catholic Church, 
whether as she now exists, or as she has existed in the past. If you 
would convert me to your way of religious thinking, ypu must prove to 
me that you have authority, and all authority, to teach me what I am to 
believe and what -I am to do in order to save my soul." 

"Why, madam," returned the itinerant, "you may learn all that 
from the word of God." 

"But the word of God, " replied Mrs. Simpson, "being truth itself, 
cannot be otherwise than inflexible. It cannot teach opposing or 
even slightly divergent doctrines. It cannot, above all things, teach 
me that one thing is true, and that another and very different thing is 
equally true. It cannot, for instance, teach that Christ was God, and 
that He was a mere man ; that apostolic succession in the order of the 
christian ministry is of absolute prescription, and that it is wholly irrele- 
vant; that baptism into the Church maybe administered by sprinkling, 
and that it cannot be rightfully administered otherwise than by immer- 
sion. You and Elder Nathan Hall differ widely on the subjects of grace 
and free will. Neither of you will accept the views of Dr. Chambers, 
of Bardstown, on the doctrine of Apostolic succession. And all three 
of you denounce as preposterous Elder Stone's declaration that there is 
no baptism unto Christ and His Church unless the subject of the ordi- 
nance be plunged, neck and crop, into a pool of water. And yet you 
and they, severally and collectively, are in the habit of appealing to the 
Bible for evidences to sustain your divergent notions regarding religious 
truth. If Christ had intended that a book which had no existence 
when He ascended into heaven should become the sole rule of faith 
for His disciples for all time. He never would have uttered the words, 


afterwards transcribed by His evangelist : ' And if he will not hear the 
Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.' 

" Now, reverend sir, " continued the lady, *' it is sheer waste of time 
on your part to seek to draw me away from the reasonable faith in 
which, so to speak, I was born, to the unreasonable one which, accord- 
ing to all Protestant teachings, would require me to arraign the God 
who made me at the bar of my own weak and finite judgment. It is 
not upon God's word, believe me, that you build your systems of faith, 
but upon your own earth-gathered heaps of intellectual pride. " 

At this point the preacher, who had kept his eyes fixed upon the 
face of his hostess from the beginning of her harangue to its end, hap- 
pened to turn his gaze upon that of her husband, which was now all 
one broad grin. It is not likely that the vulgar aphorism, "sold," now 
so common among practical jokers, had other than the natural meaning 
attached to the word in the popular parlance of the times, but it is quite 
certain that the itinerant then and there experienced- all the effects that 
are supposed to follow applications of the term in certain coteries of 
modern society. 

It is said of Mrs. Simpson, that she occupied at one time an anoma- 
lous position in relation to ecclesiastical affairs in Kentucky. In the 
year 1808, when it became generally known that a bishop was to be 
appointed for the then newly created See of Bardstown, the charge was 
brought against her that she was using her influence with Bishop Car- 
roll to ind'u'ce that* prelate to recommend some other ecclesiastic than 
Father Badin to the occupancy of the post. Though it is not at all 
likely that she was guilty of any such indiscretion, it may be considered 
certain that she answered, honestly and truthfully, whatever interroga- 
tories were put to her by Dr. Carroll, in regard to the estimate in which 
Father Badin was held by the Catholic people of the State. 

It is a singular circumstance, in connection with the history of 
Catholicity in Kentucky, that the most extraordinary missionary priest 
that ever exercised his ministry on the soil of the State was regarded by 
very many sensible people with at least moderate disfavor when there 
was question of raising him to the rank of a prince of the Church. It 
is fair to say that the opposition of most of these was not based upon 
personal considerations; neither was it, in the case of anyone of them, 
based upon anything in the character of the missionary that could be 
construed into a moral defect. The great majority of them were sim- 
ply unable to reconcile to themselves the idea of a bishop whose per- 
sonal appearance was not suggestive to them of that dignity, which, as 
they conceived, should characterize the episcopal office. It is not to 
be doubted that the notions of these had their origin in their remem- 
brances of Dr. Carroll, of Baltimore. That eminent prelate was per- 
sonally known to many of them, and a few amongst them, notably 
Mrs. Simpson, had been so far favored by him as to be numbered 
among his correspondents. The opposition of these to the nomination 
of Father Badin was honestly entertained, and it was in no degree 


Others, however, were more demonstrative in their opposition to 
the appointment. These were impressed with the notion that Father 
Badin was naturally tyrannical, and that, if invested with supreme dio- 
cesan authority, his rule would be one of exaction and arbitrariness. 
The greater number of these, no doubt, were persons whose irregular 
lives had been made the subject of the good missionary's denuncia- 
tions, which, it is well known, were not always prudently rendered. * 

Grace Newton Simpson lived a widow for many years after the 
death of her husband, and during all these years she kept the promise 
of her youth of unswerving faith and unostentatious piety and good- 
ness. She was a great favorite with the young of her acquaintance, 
many of whom were in the habit of exchanging with her confidence 
for counsel. At the age of sixty years she was just as capable as she 
had ever been of holding her own in a conference upon dogma in 
religion, and just as earnest, too, in her efforts to open the eyes of the 
erring to the distinguishing marks of holiness and truth that are inher- 
ent in the one Church of Christ. Her life was no less useful than it 
was held in honor by those among whom many of its years were passed, 
and she died in the firm hope that He in whom she had beUeved, and 
whom she had served with all her strength, would incline His face to 
her in mercy when she appeared before His dread bar of judgment. 
She passed to her reward in the year 1835. 

Previous to the year 1799, it is little supposable that any other 
priest than Father Badin had visited the settlement on Cox's creek.. 
In the year named, and for a brief interval of nine months, and till his 
tragic death, an account of which will be found elsewhere, the station 
at Clement Gardiner's was attended by Father Anthony Salmon. Upon 
the death of this exemplary priest. Father Badin again gave to the 
mission such service as was compatible with his pastorate over other 

*In reviewing the lives of the early missionary priests of Kentucky, and 
notably those of Fathers Badin and Nerinckx, one is compelled to acknowledge 
that their will-power over the consciences of their parishioners and penitents 
was at times exerted to the verge of arbitrariness. Possibly, however, it was to 
the very rigor of their rule that was due the solidity of Catholic faith by which 
the vast mnjority of those to whom they preached and ministered were so pre- 
eminently distinguished. If excuse be wanting for the severity of their spiritual 
sway, it is to be found in the fact that they were even more exacting in respect 
to themselves than they were in respect to others. Then, their education and 
training had been acquired in schools where rigid discipline was both enjoined 
and enforced. It is to be remembered, too, that they were in the exercise of a 
power that was at once confined to themselves and necessary to the people. 
They were priests, it is true, but they were also men ; and as it is human to 
use authority, however possessed, according to one's own way of thought, 
it ought not to be considered wonderful that they should have been led at 
times into arbitrariness of speech and action. Father Badin's integrity of pur- 
pose was never questioned by any one. Neither was he believed to be ambitious 
of episcopal distinction. Everybody thought that his nomination would follow 
the establishment of the See, but there were numbers of well-meaning Catholic 
men and women of the settlements who, for the reason above stated, deprecated 
his appointment. 


congregations which were equally depencent upon his ministry. A 
much better condition of affairs ensued upon the appearance in the 
State of Father Charles Nerinckx in 1805, and of Father Edward Fen- 
wick and his companions, of the order of St. Dominic, in the follow- 
ing year. From the latter date to some time in the year 18 12, one or 
another of those named or alluded to is supposed to have visited the 
congregation at monthly intervals. In 181 2, Father Guy Ignatius 
Chabrat, then but recently ordained, took charge of the congregation, 
of which he retained the nominal pastorship till 1824. When engaged 
in other duties, however, which was frequently the case, and some- 
times for months together, his place was supplied from either St. 
Thomas' or Bardstown. Among the names most frequendy referred to 
in this connection by the elders of the congregation of St. Michael, 
are those of Rev. M. Derigaud, Rev. Philip Horstman (known to the 
people as Father Austin), and Rev. Francis P. Kenrick. It often hap- 
pened that sick-calls coming all the way from Louisville, were answered 
by priests temporarily stationed at St. Michael's.* 

In 1825, Rev. David MulhoUand, then but a short time ordained, 
was named by his bishop pastor of St. Michael's church. He was an 
excellent and painstaking priest, and he soon won the love and respect 
of his parishioners. But, much to their regret, and not a little to their 
astonishment, after having served them most satisfactorily as pastor for 
about five years, he abandoned his mission and left the diocese, f 

■••■ In connection with Father Chabrat's pastorate of the church of St. 
Michael, my readers will find amusement in the reproduction here of one of 
his lists of appointments. They will remember, however, that absurdities in 
language are to be expected of those who are unfamiliar with the idiom used 
by them for the conveyance of their thoughts. "To-morrow," said the pastor, 
"I will say mass at Richard Coomes'; on Tuesday, at Dicky Clark's ; and on 
Wednesday, at Molly Drury's ; on Thursday, I will be in Clear creek, and on 
Friday, I will be no where." An aged priest of the diocese, then a youthful 
member of the congregation, vouches for the exactness of this announcement. 

t Rev. David MulhoUand was educated for the priesthood in the diocesan 
seminary, then removed to Bardstown, and he was ordained priest in 1824 or 
1825. I remember to have heard it stated, years ago, that his motive for leav- 
ing the diocese was some serious trouble in which he was involved with a mem- 
ber of his congregation, and a fellow-countryman, the late Bernard McCane. 
For the reason that I knew Mr. McCane somewhat intimately in 1836-7, when 
he resided in the vicinity of Bardstown, and found him at all times a man of 
honorable bearing, as he was certainly devoted to his religion, I have always 
doubted this story. Of its absurdity I was further convinced when I learned, 
some years later, that Mr. McCane was living in Manayunk, near Philadelphia, 
in the parish of St. John the Baptist, of which Father MulhoUand was the 
pastor. They must have been intimate friends, since the estate of the priest, 
when he died, most of which was bequeathed to objects of Catholic charitv, had 
been left by him to Mr. McCane's care for distribution. This same Mr. McCane 
died but a few years ago, possessed of a very large estate, the greater part, if 
not the whole of which, was left by him to charitable uses. I have myself 
little doubt that Father Mulholland's motive for leaving Kentucky was his 
desire to be associated in the ministry with his former preceptor in the semi- 
nary, then bishop of Philadelphia, the late Most Rev. Francis P. Kenrick. 


In 1829, Rev. James Elliott, ordained the same year, was charged 
■with the pastorship of St. Michael's church. That he was liked by 
his parishioners, was himself pleased with his position, and gave to 
his superiors no cause for complaint, are points sufficiently evidenced by 
the fact that he retained his pastorship for forty-three years, and only 
laid it down with his life. Almost immediately after his appointment, 
he applied himself to the task of building a new church in Fairfield. 
Happily, he had a willing people to second and sustain his efforts, and 
it was not long before the unsightly log chapel, put up twenty-three 
years before, gave place to the handsome and commodious structure 
of brick that has since served all the needs of the congregation in 
respect to church accommodations. * 

* I liave vivid recollections of Father James Elliott, and these extend to 
the tinaes when he was a student of the diocesan seminary, a tutor and a pre- 
fect in' the college of St. Joseph, and a priest newly ordained. His ecclesiastical 
studies were begun, as near as I can remember, in 1821. After his ordination 
and subsequent appointment to the pastorship of St. Michael's church, and, I 
may say, up to the very last year of his life, my relations with him were of a 
character to warrant me in saying that he was a true priest and a faithful guar- 
dian of the better interests of his people. He was by no means a brilliant man ; 
neither was he a very learned one ; but he was possessed of all the knowledge 
and every necessary quality of mind and heart that is indispensable to the faith- 
ful discharge of priestly duty. 

In physical conformation, Father Elliott may be said to have been stalwart. 
His height was fully six feet, and his ordinary weight was not less than two 
hundred pounds. He was slow of speech, and a little lethargic in action. He 
was an enthusiast on the subject of church music. When he was but a youth, 
1 remember well, he was regarded as one of the most efficient members of the 
seminary choir in the former cathedral of St. Joseph. It is not unlikely that his 
musical tastes had their primary development when he was a child in Holy Cross 
church, where the choir singers in that primitive temple were kept in time and 
tune by the measured movements of Clement Johnson's fiddle-bow. It is 
equally probable that when a youthful student in the seminary, the good Father 
David found relaxation at times from his wearisome task of teaching in further 
opening his willing pupil's mind to a better understanding of the art he loved 
so well himself. Without other tutor, if indeed Father David did give him 
instructions in music, the young ecclesiastic came in time to be a fair 
organist and a composer of simple hymns and chants suitable for small choirs. 
These compositions of his were published more than thirty years ago, and some 
of them have not yet lost their places in the repertories of many Catholic choirs 
in the diocese of Louisville. 

In addition to the care of his immediate parish. Father Elliott attended 
several stations in the neighboring country, the principal of which were those 
of Taylorsville, in Spencer, and Mount Washington, in Bullitt counties. He 
was enabled, long before his death, to build churches in both of these towns. 

The circumstances attending the death of Father Elliott are thus related : 
He spent the greater part of Holy Week of 1871 in Louisville. He felt that he 
was no longer able to cope alone with the labors of his mission, and that 
an assistant was a necessity that ought not longer be deferred. Thus he 
stated his case to his bishop, who promised to send him one with the least 
delay possible. On Wendesday morning, he again referred to the matter in a 
conversation with Dr. McCloskey. He had evidently been considering in the 
interval whether or not there might be other missions in the diocese in greater 
need of help than his own. He told the bishop that, upon consideration, he 




The county of Breckinridge was formed and established out of a 
part of Hardin county, in the year 1799. Eight years previous to 
this date, however, at least one Catholic family had settled on lands 
that were afterwards included in its territory. This was the family of 
Leonard Wheatley, who removed to Kentucky from Loudon county, 
Virginia, in 1791, and lived thereafter on a farm twelve miles south of 
the present town of Hardinsburg.* 

Richard Mattingly, born in Maryland in 1756, removed to Ken- 
tucky in 1 791 and settled on Long Lick, within the present boundaries 
of the county of Breckinridge. With him came Mr. Veitchel Hinton, 
who lived to be over a hundred years old, and whose death took place 
only a few years ago.f 

had concluded to try to get along, for a year or two longer, without an assist- 
ant. He spent the afternoon and night of Wednesday with his friend, the late 
Rev. Walter S. Coomes, chaplain of the St. Vincent's orphan asylum. He 
was unwell the next day, but after assisting at the ceremonial of Maunday 
Thursday in the cathedral, he insisted upon his ability to resist the fatigues of 
a journey by stage-coach to Fairfield. For the last time, he preached to his 
people on the evening of Good Friday. The morning of Holy Saturday found 
him so seriously ill that a messenger was dispatched to Bardstown for a priest. 
Rev. Charles Eggermont hastened to his assistance, and he had little more 
than time to administer the last sacraments, when the venerable pastor of St. 
Michael's closed his eyes in death. Five priests were present at his funeral, 
as was also his sister — Sister Claudia of the Nazareth community — and there 
was general grief among those whom he had so zealously sought to serve, many 
of them from childhood to middle life. Father Elliott had made a will, and 
when this was opened, it was found that he had divided his little property into 
three parts, one of which was left to the diocesan seminary, one to the St. 
Vincent's orphan asylum, and one to the male orphan asylum of St. Thomas. 

•'■Leonard Wheatley's family, at the date given in the text, consisted of his 
wife, Ann, and their two young children, Sarah and James. Their other chil- 
dren, born in Kentucky, were: Thomas, Mary, Wilfred, John, George and 
Arthur. "All of these and their descendants, with a single exception," writes 
an esteemed correspondent, "have preserved their ancient faith. One of the 
sons removed to an adjoining county and married a Protestant wife. The 
mother became a Catholic, but the children have strayed away from the fold." 

t Richard Mattingly was far advanced in yea'rs when he died. His chil- 
dren, nine in number, were named : John, Margaret, Zachariah, Edward, 
William, Thomas, Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah The first marriage celebrated 
by any minister of religion that is of record in the office of the county clerk 
of Breckinridge, is that of John, oldest son of Richard Mattingly, with Sarah, 


About the same time, came Zachariah Mattingly, the first resident 
Catholic of the town of Hardinsburg. One of his daughters became 
a sister of the Loretto society, and is said to be still living and still 
engaged in teaching in one of that community's invaluable schools. 

In 1795, the late Elias Rhodes, then a young man, emigrated to 
Kentucky from Maryland, and shordy afterwards settled on Long 
Lick, where he became favorably known for his Catholic spirit and for 
his general intelligence.* With him came Barton Mattingly, also 
from Maryland. 

Ignatius Coomes removed to Breckinridge county in the year 1800. 
His wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Stuart, was a widow Lewis 
at the time of her marriage, and she had a family of her own, consist- 
ing of two daughters, who afterwards became the wives of their step- 
father's brothers, Joshua and Henry Coomes, and two sons, "William 
and Thomas Lewis, afterwards highly respected citizens of the county, 
where their descendants are numerous to the present day.f 

Among the earlier Catholic settlers of Breckinridge county, some 
of them coming as early as 1810, and none later than 1820, were the 
following: Joshua Coomes, Henry Coomes, another Ignatius Coomes, 
John Clark, Joseph McGill, John Elder, Samuel Elder, Thomas 
McGill, Arnold Elder, Samuel Beaven, Benj. Beaven, John Casseday 
and Mudd.t 

oldest daughter of Leonard Wheatley. The return made to the county clerk 
reads as follows: "Sir— In compliance with the law respecting marriages, the 
undersigned makes you a return of the marriage of John MaUingly and Sarah 
Wheatley, celebrated this day according to the rites of the Roman Catholic 
Church, by, sir, y'r obed't serv't, Stephen Theodore Badin, Rom. Cath. 
priest. i8th Feb., 1805." 

Mr. Hinton, above named, was twice married. He had issue by his first 
wife: Polly, Ann, Ellen and another daughter, known in religion as Sister 
Gabriella, of the Loretto society. By his second wife the children were: 
John, Sarah, Austin, Ezechiel, Joseph, Allan, William, Catherine and Nancy. 

*On the first day of June, 1807, took place the marriage of Elias Rhodes 
and Margaret, oldest daughter of Richard Mattingly. The ceremony was per- 
formed by Father Badin, and the tradition runs that it took place in the open 
air and in the presence of a great crowd of spectators, men, women and 
children, who had been invited to the wedding from miles around. Mr. 
Mattingly's house was the church station of the neighborhood until Father 
Charles Nerinckx built a church on Long Lick, as is believed, in the year 1818. 
The children born to Elias Rhodes were: Ellen, Richard, Nancy, John, 
Thomas, Francis, Winifred (Sister Macaria of the Loretto society), Ely and 
Agnes. The latter, as also Richard and Nancy, died in infancy, and the two 
last named were the first that received interment in the Catholic cemetery 
attached to the church of St. Romuald, in Hardinsburg. 

t The children of Ignatius and Sarah Coomes were : Walter, Linus, 
Francis and Matilda. The two first became priests, and served the diocese 
faithfully to the end of their days. I shall have occasion to speak of them 
hereafter. A granddaughter of Sarah Coomes, Matilda Lewis, is now known 
as Sister Marcelline, of the Loretto society. 

J Some of these latter arrivals were, undoubtedly, from the older Catholic 
settlements of Nelson and Washington counties, as were, also, very many 
Catholics who came for permanent residence at a later day. John Clark, 



■ The first representative of the now large Irish Catholic element of 
society in Breckinridge county was William McGary, born in Ireland 
in 1769. Coming to the United States in 1790, he settled near 
Hagerstown, Maryland, where he married Ann Daly. He removed 
with his family to the neighborhood of Bardstown in 1809, where, in 
the later years of his residence, he was employed with others in the 
construction of the cathedral. In 18 18, he removed to Breckinridge 
county, where his descendants are very numerous.* 

The next of the same nationality to come to the county was 

Lacy, a previous resident of Rome, Indiana, to which point he had 
emigrated in 181 9. His progeny is not numerous in Breckinridge. 
It was not, however, until the year 1855, that there was any general 
movement of Irish emigrants to the county. At first, few were to be 
seen outside of the town and neighborhood of Cloverport, on the 
Ohio river; but in i860 a stream of them set in towards Hardinsburg, 
and now the number of Irish Catholics, with their offspring, is fully 
equal to that of native born and bred children of the Church. The 
more numerous families of these are the Meaghers (their progenitor, 
Stephen Meaghei;, died less than ten years ago), the Sheerons, the 
Haffeys and the Teaffs. 

The first priest to visit Breckinridge county was undoubtedly 
Father Badin. The date of his first visit, however, is altogether 
uncertain. It is not likely to have taken place earlier than the year 
1798, when, through the assistance rendered him by Father M. J. C. 

mentioned in the text, used to tell of an extraordinary penance that was once 
imposed upon him by Father Badin. At the time referred to, after a long 
intermission of duty, John made up his mind to go to confession. Having 
recounted his sins, he was told by his confessor, by way of penance, to dig a 
pit two feet deep, long and wide enough for the reception of his body, and to 
recline himself therein a certain length of time each day for a fortnight. The 
lesson Father Badin wished to impress on his penitent's mind is sufficiently 

Among the old Catholic people there were extant within my own memory 
not a few stories in reference to Father Badin's extraordinary penances. I am 
not prepared to say that there was no truth in these stories. On the contrary, 
knowing how eccentric he was in many things, I can readily believe that he 
may have imposed 'at times penances just as extraordinary as the one above 
referred to. It was not uncommon, seventy years ago, for confessors to exact 
public penances for what they regarded as public scandals. A case of this 
kind happened in Breckinridge county about the year 181 1. A certain Cath- 
olic young woman had created a public scandal by uniting herself in marriage 
with a non-Catholic without having first asked for and received a dispensation 
in accordance with the laws of the Church. She was required by Father 
Badin to appear in the room in which he proposed to say mass for the Catholic 
people of the neighborhood, clad in a coarse sack and sprinkled with ashes. 
The curious part of the case refers to the action of the husband. He accom- 
panied his wife to mass, similarly habited, and is said to have declared that if 
she had to suffer mortification on his account, he would share it with her. 

*The children of William McGary, born in Maryland, were William, 
Ellen and John. Those born in Kentucky were Mary, Margaret, Joseph, 
Martin, Elizabeth, Anselm and James. 


Fournler, he was enabled to extend his visitations beyond the more 
thickly settled Catholic neighborhoods of the State. The house of 
Richard Mattingly, the church station of the county, was situated on 
Long Lick, a tributary of the north fork of Rough creek. 

It is reasonably certain that the mission, with others, was trans- 
ferred to Father Charles Nerinckx in 1811, since, after that date, his 
name, and not that of Father Badin, appears on the marriage licenses 
granted to Catholic parties and returned to the custody of the clerk of 
the county court. Mass continued to be said in the house of Richard 
Mattingly until the year 181 2, when Father Nerinckx took in hand the 
project of building a church in the immediate vicinity.* 

It is a well known fact that when Father Nerinckx had made up 
his mind to build a church, no matter where, it was as good as done. 
As had been his previous habit, and as that habit was continued 
almost to the close of his life, he labored with his own hands in the 
construction of the church on Long Lick, and ceased not until he was 
able to gather the people together in the finished building and offer up 
for them and in their presence the Holy Sacrifice of the mass. Only a 
short time before, he had built, almost literally with. his own hands, a 
small log church at Clifty, in Grayson county, which he placed under 
the protection of St. Paul. A singular adventure happened to him on 
the occasion of one of his journeys from Long Lick to Clifty. He 
lost his way, and, to increase his perplexity, night closed in upon 
him. Utterly bewildered, he knew not which way to turn. After 
awhile, a pack of hungry wolves from the forests around gathered at 
his horse's heels, and for a whole winter's night he kept his saddle, 
every moment anticipating an attack from the animals. Only with the 
morning's sun was he left to pursue his way. 

"When Father Nerinckx built a church," says his reverend 
biographer, "he made different persons subscribe one or two logs, 
hewn and of prescribed dimensions, and deliver them on the ground. 
Then all assembled with him for the 'house-raising,' as it was called. 
The fitting of the prepared logs to their places was the work of one, 
or at most, two days. Father Nerinckx was able to lift agamst two 
men opposite to him at the hand-spike. As the people had great 
veneration for him, and were even in awe of his spirit, he could 
accomplish anything he undertook with them." 

In 1810, there were but two Catholic families residing between the 
settlement on Long Lick, in the southeastern, and Cloverport, in the 

* A friend writes me: "There are twenty families of Richard Mattingly's 
posterity living to-day in the lower part of Breckinridge county. I have myself 
seen the dilapidated building once occcupied by the family; and the priest's 
room, cut off' from the large apartment in which the Catholics of the neigh- 
borhood were wont to assemble for divine service, was still to be traced among 
the ruins." In a list of churches and congregations prepared by Father 
Nerinckx in 1808, is the following entry, as stated by his biographer, Father 
Maes : " St. Anthony has twenty-five families, no church, but three hundred 
acres for a priest." The disposition of this property will be referred to here- 



northwestern parts of the county. These were those of Zachariah 
Mattingly, in the town of Hardinsburg, and Henry Beaven, Hving 
three miles from the town. The first log chapel at the county seat 
was certainly used for divine service as early as the year 181 2. The 
ground for both the church and the cemetery was most likely a gift to 
the church from Zachariah Mattingly. The building of the church 
was begun in 1810, the two gentlemen named taking the leading part 
in its erection. They were materially assisted, however, by Samuel 
Force and Ignatius and Joseph Mattingly, of Long Lick. These 
three not only got out the heavy timbers for the church, and hewed 
them into shape, but they sawed the planks by hand that were to be 
used in the flooring. For some reason, possibly for lack of skill on 
the part of the builders, the structure was allowed to remain for six 
years without a roof. Mass was often said in it, however, during 
these years, and it answered very well for a "summer" or "fair- 
weather" church. Completed at length in 181 6, the building served 
the purposes of the congregation, now somewhat increased, until 
1841, when the present church of St. Romuald was built by the late 
Dr. Benjamin Wathen, liberally assisted by the non-Catholics of the 
town and vicinity. The church was solemnly dedicated by Bishop 
Flaget in October, 1841.* 

Bishop Flaget first visited Breckinridge county in the year 1814, 
and it was on this occasion that was noticed the striking personal 
resemblance between himself and one of the most honored Catholic 
citizens of the county. Reference is here made to Elias Rhodes, a 
representative Catholic, a man of noble bearing, of rare good sense 
and fair culture, and of conceded piety and worth. In physical con- 
formation, he is said to have been almost the counterpart of the fi»st 
bishop of the See of Bardstown. It is said, too, that this similitude 
extended to voice, manner and disposition. It is quite certain that 
Bishop Flaget ever afterwards entertained for this son of his in Christ 
a sentiment of ardent affection, and that he was in the habit of speak- 
ing of him as one whose christian character entitled him to the venera- 
tion of the Catholic people of his diocese. 

In the year 181 6, the charge of the missions of Breckinridge and 
Grayson counties was transferred to Rev. Peter Schaeffer, whose 
ordination was among the first that took place in the church of St. 
Thomas. Unlike his countryman and predecessor on the mission, 
he was of a feeble physical conformation, and his general health was 
bad rather than indifferent. Some time in the year 181 7, as is sup- 
posed, he was relieved of his mission because of ill-health, and soon 

* Recurring to the fact that an infant child of Elias Rhodes was the first 
seed of the general resurrection planted in the Catholic cemetery at Hardins- 
burg. my friend and correspondent is reminded by the circumstance of the 
substance of a remark made by Father Nerinckx when addressing the congre- 
gation on the occasion of blessing the graveyard attached to St. Romuald's 
church. Said he: "It is a happy circumstance when the ground intended 
for christian burial is first broken for the reception of an innocent child." 



afterwards he returned to Belgium, where he is said to have died a, few 
years later.* 


The year 18 18 began a remarkable epoch for the scattered missions 
of Southern and Southwestern Kentucky. On the 14th of August of 
the year named, Rev. Robert A. Abell was ordained priest by Bishop 
Flaget, and soon afterwards he was charged with the pastoral care of 
the faithful living in the extended district named, whose spiritual needs 
had hitherto been supplied by the ministrations of Father Nerinckx. 
By pre-arrangement, the retiring pastor and the young priest to be 
installed set out together for a visitation of the widely scattered Cath- 
olic people of the district. Their first objective point was the station 
of St. Ignatius, in Hardin county, where they remained for several 
days. From this point Father Abell went to Elizabethtown, where it 
had already been announced that he would preach in the court-house, 
and where, as only he could in those days, he opened the eyes of his 
almost exclusively non-Catholic hearers to the fact that Catholicity has 
nothing to fear from honest investigation. The favorable impression 
made by this one discourse is said to have been extraordinary. He 
was not only treated with the utmost courtesy and hospitality, but he 
was promised material aid toward the erection of a church in the 

Twenty miles from St. Ignatius' station they stopped at the house 
of a Protestant gentleman who had previously promised Father Ner- 
inckx a gift of five hundred acres of land on condition that he should 
cause to be erected on it a church and a convent, f They were kindly 
received, and Father Abell was invited to address a promiscuous crowd 
that had been hastily assembled around the house. This he did to the 
satisfaction of everybody. Their next stopping-place was Hardins- 
burg, where, as has been seen, there was already a church, and where 
land was further secured for a priest's house and school. Setting out 

*I have a letter in my possession written to a fellow-clergyman in Septem- 
ber, 1815, in which Father Shaeffer commissions him to buy for his use a new 
chalice. In it he speaks of having been very ill. I am inclined to the belief 
that Father Shaeffer was the first priest ordained at St. Thomas', and that his 
ordination dates not later than the year 1814. 

fin this case the gentleman referred to in the text was not without an hon- 
orable motive for his generosity. With him, a convent implied a school to 
which he could send his children. It was not so in a case in which I was 
myself appealed to by a prominent member of one of the Protestant churches 
of Louisville to use my supposed influence with the then bishop of the See to 
accept a much smaller gift on a like condition. Mr. M'C. was the owner of an 
immense tract of land on the Tennessee river which he was very anxious to get 
into market at remunerative figures, and he imagined that if he could but 
induce the bishop to accept his proffered gift and place thereon a church, there 
would soon be a rush of Catholic purchasers for his wild and out-of-the-way real 
estate. He was an indignant man when I expressed my belief that folly was no 
characteristic of the bishop, and that, as for myself, he had no reason to suppose 
that I was altogether a simpleton. 


for Morganfield, in Union county, they made a brief stoppage at the 
small mission of St. Francis Xavier, and thence hurried on to their des- 
tination. Father Abell preached a lengthy sermon at the court-house 
in Morganfield. which was listened to with enthusiasm by very many 
who, until that day, had known nothing whatever of the Church and its 
doctrinal teachings. The preacher was the hero of the hour, and as a 
result of the joint labors of the missionaries in the town, one hundred 
and five acres were donated toward the erection of a Catholic school. 

The missionaries went no further west, but after a stoppage of three 
weeks in Union county, proceeded to the missionary station of St. 
Theresa, at Flint Island, in Meade county, where Father Abell preached 
and where they were presented with three hundred acres of land for a 
church, etc. Thence their journey led them to Long Lick creek, 
Breckinridge county, where Father Nerinckx had erected the church 
of St. Anthony as early as the year 1812.* At Litchfield, in Grayson 
county, Father Abell preached to a large concourse of people. A 
Protestant minister of some repute was among his hearers, and he was 
there, as was supposed, to indulge in a bit of controversy with the 
young priest. Courteously inviting the preacher to a seat on the ros- 
trum. Father Abell began his address, which happened to be on the 
subject of penance. He was not interrupted, as had been his expec- 
tation, and when he had Hnished one of the most convincing argu- 
ments of his pulpit career, the parson opened not his mouth in reply; 
and at no time afterwards did he manifest the least desire to engage in 
controversy with a Catholic priest. 

Father Abell's first mission included the counties of Hardin and 
Grayson and all the counties west of Jefferson, Bullitt and Nelson, and 
south as far as the city of Nashville, in Tennessee. But before follow- 
ing him to Breckinridge county, and the church of St. Anthony, where 
he had fixed his home and the central point of his mission, it will be 
necessary to refer to his seminary life after the comparatively brief term 
of schooling he had passed in Father Thomas Wilson's academy at St. 
Rose. It was undoubtedly a happy circumstance that his first precep- 
tor was so thoroughly acquainted with the structure and proper use of 
the English idiom. He was wont in after life to attribute whatever 
felicitiousness he had as a speaker to his gifts from nature; but there 
can be no doubt that he was gready helped in this respect by the 
intelligent culture to which his mind had been subjected while he was 
counted among the pupils of Father Wilson. 

The seminary of St. Thomas dates from the year 181 1, and it is 
reasonably certain that young Abell was among the earlier of its 
inmates. The writer has himself heard him speak of the part taken 

* I am indebted for all the facts connected with the missionary peregrina- 
tions of Fathers Nerinckx and Abell as rehearsed in the text to Father C. P. 
Maes' admirable life of the former, published in 1879. These facts, as 
related, are quoted from letters written by Father Nerinckx himself, in 1818, 
and they correspond with the Catholic traditions of the people of Breckinridge 
county. Maes gives both 1S12 and 1818 as the date of St. Anthony's erection. 


by him in the construction of the church of St. Thomas and the semi- 
nary buildings. There, as at the school of St. Rose, the time of the 
young students of theology was apportioned equally to labor and study. 
A few skilled workmen were employed, to be sure, but everything that 
entered into the construction of the buildings was brought upon the 
ground and rough-shaped to their hands by the young men of the 
establishment. At this time young Abell was a stout and active youth 
of twenty, and so capable was he of undergoing severe physical toil 
that he ordinarily imposed upon himself a double share of whatever 
was to be wrought through the exercise of bodily strength. In this 
way he passed his six years of seminary life and prepared himself for 
ordination. To say that he was thoroughly fitted by education for the 
office of the priesthood would be to ignore the disadvantages under 
which he had labored from the beginning to the end of his seminary 
life. His natural gifts were of the very highest order, and there is no 
telling to what height of honor and renown he might have arisen had 
his opportunities for acquiring been commensurate with his capacity 
for retaining knowledge. As it was, his recognized capabilities and the 
zeal with which he entered upon his missionary labors were accepted by 
his bishop, as well as by his no less interested preceptor. Rev. John B. 
David, as tokens of great future usefulness. 

The Green river country has always been noted for its men of 
large growth, but it is doubtful if the people of the district, so called, 
ever set eyes upon a more noble specimen of physical manhood than 
they beheld in the person of Father Abell when he first came among 
them. His personal appearance at the time is well worth describing : 
He was of commanding stature, six feet four inches in height, and 
admirably proportioned. His features were expressive of great intelli- 
gence, to be sure, but they were still more expressive of candor and 
helpfulness. His eyes, of bluish gray, had in them little of daring, 
but much of sympathy. The fount of his tears was as free as is that 
of childhood to whatever was distressful. His voice in conversation 
was always modulated to the key that was precisely suited for the con- 
veyance of his emotions as well as his thoughts. In public speaking, 
its intonations, full and clear, rose and fell in chromatic order. In the 
pulpit, he appeared to have power to move men's minds in any precon- 
ceived direction. He could be indignant, and then the terrible threats 
of Divine Justice seemed as thunderbolts issuing from his mouth. He 
was more inclined, however, to the persuasive and the pathetic in his 
pulpit utterances. God's love toward His fallen creatures ; the beauty 
of holiness ; the sufferings endured by the Son of God for sinners : 
these and kindred subjects he loved to treat, and he seldom failed to 
treat them effectively. The remembrances of the few still living who 
had occasional opportunities of hearing Father Abell preach during the 
first fifteen years of his ministerial life, and even at a much later day 
when he was in the mood, are uniform in attributing to him oratorical 
powers of the highest order. Later on, there was certainly inequality 
in his pulpit deUverances. At times he would rise to as lofty heights 


of eloquence as were ever reached by mortal man, and at others he 
would sink to the level of mediocrity. 

With a good horse, and an otherwise sHm outfit, he reached the seat 
of his mission in the fall of 1818. He found plenty to do in attending 
to the three churches already built in the district, and in visiting the 
outlying stations in his own and other contiguous river counties. 
Occasionally, too, he made flying trips to Hardin, and as far west as 
Union county. In the last named, there were already as many as 
twenty Catholic families, the greater number having removed thither 
from the older Catholic settlements of the State. Once only, while 
stationed at St. Anthony's, he was called as far south as Nashville. At 
the time referred to there were few Catholics in Tennessee, and not 
over five families, nominally Catholic, in the little city that was his 
journey's limit. On this occasion — the story has been told differently, 
but the writer having heard it from the lips of the missionary himself, 
naturally prefers the evidence of his own ears — an incident took place 
that is at least worth teUing. The story, as related by Father Abell, 
runs as follows : 

" I had been riding for several weeks," said he, "and the effects 
of time and wind and weather were beginning to tell disastrously upon 
my habiliments. My pantaloons were threadbare, and my coat and 
waistcoat were things of threads and patches. I was really ashamed 
of my appearance, and while I remained in the town its streets saw little 
of me except after nightfall. One evening, I went out for a walk, and 
accident brought me to the vicinity of what I took to be a Protestant 
chapel or meeting-house. The doors were open, and many persons 
were passing into the building. Without thought of the propriety or 
impropriety of the step I was taking, in I went with the rest. A small 
rostrum at the farther end of the hall was indicative of the use that was 
to be made of it on this occasion. I managed to get a seat near the 
door, and there, comparatively unnoticed, I waited for developments. 
By and bye, a hymn was given out and sung with a will, the greater 
part of the audience, which was quite orderly, taking part in the per- 
formance. After a prayer had been offered up, about which I shall 
say nothing, a dapper little fellow mounted the stand and announced 
the subject of the discourse that followed. He was going to prove to 
his hearers that the Roman Catholic Church is a system of idolatrous 
worship, and that the Pope of Rome is the veritable ' Man of Sin ' 
referred to in the Bible. I was interested. I had never before had 
so favorable an opportunity of learning the estimate that was placed 
upon my religion by its enemies. The preacher, for such he turned 
out to be, was as ignorant as dirt, and insufferably conceited. As he 
proceeded, you may be sure that I was more astonished than con- 
founded. His whole discourse was made up of misstatement and tra- 
vesty of Catholic doctrine, and of denunciation of Catholics, and 
especially of the Pope. The poor man, it is to be hoped, was guilt- 
less of intentional lying; his ignorance was beyond conception, and 
possibly beyond remedy. 


" His harangue coming to an end at last, I anticipated the motion of 
the audience in the direction of the door by rising to my feet and beg- 
ging their attention for a moment. 'Ladies and gentlemen,' said I, 
' there is no trait of the American character more conspicuous than its 
love of fairness. You have heard to-night a most violent attack on 
the religion that is professed by two-thirds of the christian world. You 
behold in me a minister of that religion, and an American born citizen. 
If I may speak here to-morrow night, or if you will provide me with 
a hall in which to speak, I think I can promise to prove to you that 
the religion I profess is not idolatrous, and that neither is it unreason- 
able.' Retaining my place till the greater part of the audience had left 
the hall, I soon found myself surrounded by a knot of young men, 
each one of whom appeared to be anxious that I should carry out the 
announcement I had made. It was at once arranged that, on the fol- 
lowing evening, I should occupy the stand from which the attack had 
been made. 

"The report of the forthcoming lecture had been so well circulated 
by my young stranger friends that, on reaching the hall I found it so 
crowded that it was with difficulty I secured passage-way to the 
stand. After a few words of thanks for the courtesy that had 
been extended to me, I began my discourse. I never felt myself more 
equal to an occasion in my life, and I soon had both my subject and 
my audience well in hand. I found it easy enough to demolish the 
structure of falsehood that had been reared the previous evening, but 
I fear it was another thing when I attempted to awaken the interest of 
my hearers in a system of religion they had heard traduced from their 
cradles. I sought to plant, indeed, but only God could give the increase. 
The reverend preacher of the evening before had declared that the 
priesthood of the Catholic Church were in the habit of requiring of their 
penitents specific sums of money for the forgiveness of specific sins. 
My answer to this charge was a non seqiiitur. ' Think you, my friends,' 
said I, ' if this allegation were true, that I should be constrained, for 
absolute lack of the money-price of a new suit of clothes, to present 
myself before you thus shabbily attired ? I might consider myself pass- 
ing rich indeed had my exchequer been replenished with fees, even at 
the rate of fourpence a head, from all those who have confessed to me 
since I was commissioned to sit in the tribunal of penance. Let me 
tell you, my hearers, that penance, which includes the confession of 
one's sins to a minister who has authority to pronounce the formulary 
of absolution, is a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church ; and that, 
were I to exact money, or other thing of value, for its administration, 
I would thereby be subjecting myself to the heaviest censures known 
to the Church, and to even deprivation of my priestly faculties.' 

"I think my auditors were well enough pleased with my effort, and 
I am quite certain that I had myself no reason to be dissappointed with 
the result of my unpremeditated incursion into the camp of the enemy. 
It gained for me a number of friends, and, what was just about as wel- 
coi)ie at the time, a complete suit of clothes, delicately presented by a 


committee of gentlemen duly appointed to carry out the will of the 
obliging donors, which did me excellent after-service." 

Had the entire Catholic population of Western Kentucky and Mid- 
dle Tennessee been brought into his own county, the pastorate of 
Father Abell would not have involved a tithe of the labor he was 
obliged to expend on it. Happily, he was strong and vigorous, and his 
zeal was only limited by the impossible in its exercise. He had not 
been long employed on the mission before he conceived the idea of 
establishmg a day and boarding school for girls at Long Lick. In 
furtherance of the idea, he purchased of Richard Mattingly his farm 
of three hundred acres, with the dwelling house thereon, and induced 
the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth to occupy the building with a small 
colony of sisters.* But scarcely was the institution opened for the 
reception of pupils, when its founder was prostrated on a bed of sick- 
ness. His disease, a low nervous fever, brought on by exposure in 
traveling and by severe toil in preparing the house for the new purpose 
to which it was to be devoted, was of a most malignant character, and 
for weeks his life was despaired of. Word having been sent to Bishop 
Flaget of the condition of affairs, that fatherly prelate hastened to the 
bed-side of his subordinate, and there he remained till the danger was 

It was not until the winter of 1820-21 that Father Abell found him- 
self in a condition to begin anew his long suspended missionary labors. 
And here another trouble awaited him. Owing to his long illness, his 
school had not prospered, and an order had come from their superiors 
directing the sisters to close the establishment. This was at once done, 
and on the last day of the year 1820, they left in a body for 
Union county, where, in conjunction with Sisters Angela Spink, 
Frances Gardiner and Cecily O'Brien, they laid the foundations of St. 
Vincent's academy, now, and for many years past, one of the most 
prosperous branch estabUshments of the Nazareth sisterhood. 

Disappointed, but not cast down. Father Abell made immediate 
application to the superiors of the Loretto community for a colony of 
sisters to supply the places of those who had left. His prayer being 
granted, he undertook the erection of a building which would serve the 
sisters for a convent. This finished, eight Lorettines, with Sister Agnes 
Hart for their superior, took immediate possession of their prepared 
quarters. The "Monastery," as it was called, was a great blessing 

*This school was established early in the spring of 1820. Sister Elizabeth 
Sutton was the superior, and Sisters Barbara Spalding and Susan Hager were 
her associates. All are now dead. Sister Elizabeth survived until a few years 
^go. passing the last years of her life at the convent of Nazareth, where she was 
held in great veneration by the entire community 

t No one ever had heartier sympathies with the suffering than Bishop 
Flaget. In the case of Father Abell, he was no doubt as much actuated by the 
feeling that the Church of Kentucky could ill spare one who had already given 
such rich promise of future usefulness in the sacred ministry, as he was by per- 
sonal affection. 


and a great delight to the simple-minded Catholic people of the neigh- 
borhood, and it was a day of sorrow for them when it was deserted for- 
ever. But, so long as Father Abell remained at the head of the mis- 
sion, there was no faltering on the part of the community having 
charge of the establishment, nor, indeed, on that of the Catholic peo- 
ple upon whose patronage it was mainly dependent. It was a hard life, 
however, that the good sisters were obliged to lead in their then 
impoverished condition, and their lot was less endurable from the fact 
that the primitive severe rule of their order had not yet been in any 
degree relaxed. It was not their school alone, nor the domestic 
requirements of their large establishment, that most severely taxed their 
energies. They had but themselves to look to in every emergency. 
They Hterally plowed and planted and reaped and gathered the pro- 
duct of their toil into barn and crib. In 1832, after eleven years of 
almost fruitless labor and trial, the establishment was abandoned and 
the sisters removed to Hardin county, where they began the foundation 
of the now well-known Bethlehem Academy.* 

A water-mill on the north fork was run for several years on the very 
site of what is still called "Monastery Ford." The convent also 
gave its name to the road leading past the farm upon which it was built. 
In time the mill was moved to a point more convenient to the convent, 
and from that time it was run by horse power. Its ruins are still to be 
seen near the pastor's residence. 

*The ruin of the convent of Mount Carmel is to this day an object of inter- 
est to the Catholic people of Breckinridge. The building was thirty feet 
square, two and a half stories high, and constructed of huge poplar logs. It 
was apparently divided into seven rooms, and an immense irregular chimney, 
with hre places on the level of each floor, pierced one of its ends. I he top half 
story, which appears to have been roughly plastered, was no doubt used for a 
dormitory. The still fresh looking old walls seem strong enough to with- 
stand the assaults of fifty more winters; but the roof's back is hopelessly broken 
and swags to the floor beneath, each plank of which looks unsafe to tread. 

Several young women of the country round attached themselves to the order 
of Lorettines at its branch convent of Mount Carmel. One of these. Sister 
Clare Cassiday, is still living. Sister Clare belongs to a class of religious old 
women, of whom I have known several in my day, whose spirits would seem to 
be unaffected by either age or long continued labors undergone for the good of 
others. With these, cheerfulness is so natural a characteristic, that I can 
imagine them passing away with smiles on their faces, and just as if their part- 
ing glances in the direction of their sisterly attendants were but pleasant 
tokens of good-night wishes to be followed, with the morrow's sun, by re- 
newed greetings. A conversation of five minutes with an aged christian 
woman of this character, whether she be vowed to religion or only serving 
her Lord, as it were, from a distance, and compassed by worldly cares, is 
worth much to many a complaining laggard on the roadway to Heaven A 
correspondent thus writes me of the convent of Mount Carmel: "I have been 
greatly interested in listening to the reminiscences of elderly ladies of St. 
Anthony's congregation who were but slips of girls when the establishment was 
supposed to be in a flourishing condition. One of these tells me how she impor- 
tuned her mother to take her over to the convent-school, how her request was 
refused, and how she consoled herself by listening to the convent-bells and the 


In 1824, Father Abell was transferred to Louisville, and from that 
time till the year 1829, neither of the churches of Breckinridge county- 
was supplied with a resident pastor. In the latter year, the Rev. 
Charles J. Cissell, only about twelve months ordained, took charge of 
St. Anthony's church and congregation. Long Lick, and was named 
chaplain of the convent of Mount Carmel. In the interval of five 
years, however, both churches were occasionally visited, either from 
Louisville or Union county. In 1832, Father Cissell was transferred to 
Hardin county, with residence at Bethlehem convent.* 

Father Joseph Rogers succeeded Father Cissell in the pastorship of 
St. Anthony's church. He turned the monastery building into a school 
liouse for boys, in which he was himself the principal teacher. This 
school was kept up for several years, and it was of much benefit to the 
Catholics of the neighborhood. The health of Father Rogers, always 
delicate, failed at length to such a degree as to force him to close his 
school and to relinquish his pastorship of the church, f 

After the retirement of Father Rogers, the missions of Breckinridge 
county were for two years without a resident pastor. They were visited 
however, as often as once a month, by either Rev. E. J. Durbin, from 
Union county, or by Rev. A. Degauquier, from Grayson. In 1837, 
Rev. John C. Wathen was charged with the missions of Daviess and a 
part of Breckinridge counties, with residence at Owensboro.J 

faint and far oft" music that was borne to her ears from the convent chapel where 
the nuns were singing the praises of God at eventide." The farm upon which 
the convent stood reverted to the church. It was afterwards sold, with the 
exception of thirty acres, and the proceeds applied to the construction of the 
present church of St. Anthony, which was finished and dedicated in the year 

* Rev. Charles J. Cissell, son of Wilfred Cissell, of Union county, entered the 
diocesan seminary about the year 1822. His ordination, as is supposed, took 
place in 1828. He was a young man of excellent promise, and his memory is 
to this day revered by the survivors of his old parishioners in Breckinridge, Har- 
din and Grayson counties. His days were few on earth, but they were filled 
with happy results for the people of his mission. His death took place at 
Elizabethtown, Hardin county, November 23d, 1833. 

fRev. Joseph Rogers was a son of David Rogers, one of the first emigrants 
from Maryland to the Cox's Creek settlement of Nelson county. He began 
his seminary course at St. Thomas', most likely, in 1821, and his ordination 
took place not later than 1827. In 1836, he was one of the professors at St. 
Joseph's college. In 1840, he had charge of a parochial school in connection 
with the church of St. Louis, Louisville. His last days were passed at St. 
Thomas', Nelson county, where he died in September 1846. 

JThe diocese of Bardstown had not at that time a more devoted priest, nor 
one of brighter promise, than Rev. John C. Wathen. He was born in Ken- 
tucky, his parents, Wilfred Wathen and Winifred Coomes, daughter of Francis 
Coomes, having emigrated to the neighborhood of Fairfield, Kentucky, a 
little before the beginning of the present century. He entered the diocesan 
seminary about the year 1825, and he was ordained priest in 1831. His first 
labors in the ministry were prosecuted in the parish of St. Charles, Marion 
county, where he was for some time the assistant of the then pastor of the con- 
gregation. Rev. D. A. Deparcq. In 1834 he was employed on the missions of 
Daviess county, with residence at Owensboro. In 1837 he was named pastor of 


From 1848 to 1850 the missions of Breckinridge county were under 
the direction of Rev. WilHam Fennelly, whose pastoral residence was 
Hardinsbu-g. * From this time till 1856 the mission was attended by 
Rev. Pacrick McNicholas, from Flint Island. From that date the 
Breckinridge county churches have had for their pastors, Rev. P. Bam- 
berry, Rev. M. Power, Rev. Patrick Cassidy, Rev. William Bourke, 
Rev. N. Ryan, and others. 

From 1854 to 1870 three new churches were erected in the county. 
The first of these was the church of the Guardian Angels, a frame 
structure, erected in 1854, at Mt. Merino, under the supervision of 
Dr. Ben. Wathen.f This point was formerly the seat of a flourishing 

the church of St. Lawrence, Knottsville, and charged additionally with the 
mission at Hardinsburg, and, also, with the care of thirteen outlying stations. 
He was imbued with a heroic spirit of self-sacrifice and of earnest missionary 
endeavor, and the fruits that crowned his labors were in no sense ephemeral. 
Having known him as I did, and having known, too, the high hopes enter- 
tained by his superiors of his future exceeding usefulness, I can at least under- 
stand" the feelings of even others than his parishioners when they sorrowfully 
murmured on hearing of his death: "He was called away too soon ! " The 
illness by which this exemplary and courageous young priest was carried off 
came upon him while he was engaged in preaching a retreat to the Catholic 
congregation at Flint Island. Everything that love could suggest to save his 
life was freely done by his assistant and cousin, Rev. Charles I. Coomes, and by 
the members of the congregation, but his malady was found to be as resistless 
as it was malignant. His life's work ended on the 17th of October, 1841. 

Beyond a choice selection of books, which had been to him a source of both 
profit and pleasure in his few leisure hours, he had little to bequeath to any 
one, and these he left in perpetuity to the church of St. Lawrence. Only a 
few years ago, his body was removed to the cemetery of St. Lawrence, and, 
soon afterwards, his grateful parishioners, or such of them as survived, erected 
over his grave a substantial stone monument. Three of Father Wathen's sisters 
became members of religious communities, one in that of the Sacred Heart, and 
two in that of Loretto. His brother, Charles Wathen, resides on the home- 
stead farm, near Fairfield. 

* If Father Fennelly was raised to the priesthood in Kentucky, I have no 
remembrance of the fact. It is my impression that he was a priest when he 
came into the diocese, and that his connection with it was not of greater dura- 
tion than three or four years. My correspondent would seem to imply that he 
is remembered in Breckinridge more for his personal peculiarities, and espec- 
ially for his enormous physical strength, than for the display of extraordinary 
zeal in missionary work. 

tl have no remembrance of other two former citizens of Breckinridge who 
were more worthy of popular respect when living, than the brothers and phy- 
sicians, Benjamin and Richard Wathen. Among the Catholics of the county, 
especially, there should be none now to forget how much they did for religion 
in their day that has not yet ceased to reflect benefits on the living. It was 
principally to the zeal of Dr. Benjamin Wathen, as has been already seen, that 
was due the erection of the present church of St. Romuald, in 1841. His 
brother, I am quite sure, seconded his efforts at that time, as he did on every 
other occasion when help was needed for any undertaking in the interests of 
the Catholic people of the county. Their Catholic zeal was proverbial, and 
in no emergency were they ever known to respond ungenerously. The 
brothers Wathen were born in Washington county, Kentucky, Benjamin in 
1801, and Richard in 1803. The christian name of their father is unknown to 


school known as Mount Merino seminary. Its first conductors were 
Rev. W. E. Powell and Rev. John B. Hutchins. Upon the death of 
Father Powell, in 1840, his place in the management of the school 
was assumed by Rev. Benedict J. Spalding. Than the priests named, 
there were not in the State more capable and experienced educators of 
youth. While the school was in existence, some five or six years, the 
patronage it received was Hberal in the extreme ; and when it was at 
length abandoned, it was not because of diminished support, but for 
the reason that the services of its conductors were required in the more 
important work of the holy ministry.* 

The fourth church in Breckinridge county was built in 1857, at 
Cloverport, by the late Rev. M. Power, who was for many years pre- 
vious to his death the beloved pastor of the church of St. Michael, 
Louisville. The church at Cloverport is a neat brick edifice, and its 
erection was principally paid for by contributions from the laborers in 
the coal mines, near Bennettsville, a few miles bac;Jc of Cloverport. 
Father John A. Barrett, a later pastor of the church, added to it im- 
portant improvements. 

The fifth church of Breckinridge county, that of St. Mary, was 
built by Father N. Ryan, in 1870. 

me. Both attended the school at St, Rose, and had Father Thomas Wilson 
for their first teacher. Both became physicians, and both intermarried with 
daughters of Ben. Chapeze, Esq., of Bardstown. Removing soon afterwards 
to Breckinridge county, they entered upon the practice of their profession, 
and, in time, became leading physicians. Dr. Richard Wathen died on 
March 5th, 1870, and the elder brother, named in the text, on the 27th of 
June, 1880. I knew these brothers well, and I know how highly they were 
esteemed by their contemporaries of the clergy of the diocese, especially of the 
Cathedral parish. The last referred to are all dead. 

*Rev. Wm. E. Powell, the first principal of the Mount Merino seminary, 
was a convert to the Catholic faith. He was born and raised to youthful 
■lanhood, in Franklin county, Kentucky, and soon after being received into 
the church he entered the diocesan seminary, at Bardstown. While a stu- 
dent in the seminary, a part of his time was devoted to teaching in St. 
Joseph's college, where he was exceedingly popular with the inmates of the 
institution. He was regarded by his preceptors of the seminary, and es- 
pecially by its venerable founder, the then Bishop Coadjutor of the diocese, as 
exceptionally talented, and he was even permitted, while only yet in deacon's 
orders, to preach in the Cathedral. By the congregation at the time, I remem- 
ber well, he was looked upon with extreme favor as a preacher. His ordina- 
tion to the priesthood took place in conjunction with that of his after-associate, 
Rev. John B. Hutchins, on the 1st day of July, 1838. Soon after their ordi- 
nation, ihe two, with the approbation of their ordinary, went to Breckinridge 
county, where they established the school referred to in the text. This they 
had conducted but two years, when one of the brightest and most be- 
loved of the youthful clergy of the State, sickened and died. I have often 
heard the late Father Hutchins, who survived his associate for more than forty 
years, speak of Father Powell with a tenderness that was more than brotherly. 
Father Powell died September 15, 1840. 




The first missionary priest to reach Kentucky was Rev, M. Whelan, 
an Irish Franciscan, living at the time of his appointment with the 
Jesuit fathers at New Town, Maryland. He had been educated in 
France and had come to America while acting as chaplain on one of 
the French ships sent to the aid of the colonies in their struggle for 
independence. He was a cleric of good attainments and of more than 
ordinary force of character, gentlemanly in his manners, exact in the 
performance of duty, and altogether fitted for a position that was as 
much exacting of physical as mental capabilities. 

By agreement of certain of the more prominent of the emigrants, 
Father Whelan was to receive a salary of one hundred pounds in cur- 
rency, a sum equal to two hundred and eighty dollars of our present 
money, and for the yearly payment to him of this sum, six heads of 
families bound themselves in writing. 

It is generally supposed that Father Whelan came to Kentucky in 
the spring of 1787 in company with a band of emigrants under the 
leadership of Edward Howard. His appearance in the Pottinger's 
Creek settlement was. hailed with joy by the entire colony. For days 
nothing was thought of by the colonists but the favor that had been 
vouchsafed them of making their peace with heaven through the recep- 
tion of the sacraments. As it was there, so was it on Hardin's creek, 
and in the neighborhood of Bardstown, when the priest was given time 
to visit these districts. Deprived, as the emigrants had been, of 
all spiritual succor for two years, they felt as if the pitying eye of 
heaven had found them out at last, and there was no room in their 
hearts for other sentiments than those of joy and gratitude. 

For the missionary, there was much consolation, and also excess of 
labor. From the latter he shrank not, nor thought of shrinking. He 
set himself to work, and that vigorously, to root out disorders, that like 
weeds in a long neglected garden, had sprung up in the hearts and 
minds of his people and were found hard of eradication. Having no 
church in all the State in which to offer up the Holy Sacrifice and 
administer the sacraments, he was obliged to "keep church" in private 
houses, often little adapted to the purpose, and rarely with apartments 

*The subject-matter of this chapter is drawn, principally, from Dr. Spald- 
ing's "Sketches of Kentucky." 


sufficiently large to admit of the presence of a third of those who 
desired to hear mass. But what he could do, he did. He visited 
again and again the Catholic settlements of the State; he traversed the 
forests after the estrayed lambs of the fold, and he rested not until he 
had wrought upon them the work of renewal of spiritual life ; he spent 
days in the saddle, and often gave up hours needed for bodily rest to 
the necessities of occasions; he suffered heat, and cold, and hunger, and 
thirst, and fatigue, and even danger, in order to comfort his people; and 
he did this continuously for more than two years, and until a most 
lamentable condition of affairs arose between himself and an influential 
minority of his parishioners that caused him to abandon the mission 

The trouble referred to had its origin in the unwillingness of one or 
more of those who had become bondsmen for the payment of the 
priest's salary to liquidate the debt. These were found so regardless of 
moral obligation as to seek release from their contract through the 
courts of civil law. The case was tried before a jury, and this, singu- 
larly enough, while deciding that the contract was binding, decided also 
that the sum called for should be paid, not in money, but in produce. 
Father Whelan was, no doubt, indignant, and it is not unlikely that he 
may have, under the circumstances, given forcible expression to his 
indignation. Whether that was so or not, he was soon afterwards sued 
for slander by the parties interested in the former suit; and this action 
coming to trial, resulted in a verdict against him for five hundred 
pounds, with imprisonment until the sum should be paid. "It is not 
likely," says Dr. Spalding, "that there was so much money in all Ken- 
tucky at the time." In point of fact, the priest was about to be sent to 
prison when the principal prosecutor, a nominal Catholic, offered to 
become his bail. This man was afterwards heard to boast that he had 
now an abundant offset to the amount he had agreed to pay in the first 

Father Whelan left Kentucky in 1790, returning by way of New 
Orleans to Maryland, where he labored on the missions of that State 
until his death, which took place in 1805 or 1806. 

Dr. Spalding intimates that Father Whelan, whose services, he 
acknowledges, were invaluable to the CathoUcs of the State, "may 
have had his faults." These faults were, undoubtedly, indisposition 
to leniency with his creditors and irritability of temperament. Not 
taking into account the poverty of his debtors, he insisted upon their 
compUance with the letter of their bond ; and when the money was 
not forthcoming, he grew indignant. Mutual uncharitableness was 

* Ten years after the occurrence related in the text, Father Badin stopped 
over night with one of the jurymen who had decided the case. In the course 
of conversation, the man, not knowing that his guest was a priest, began to 
talk about the trial. " I tell you, " said he, " we tried hard to have the priest 
hanged, and we were sorry we could find no law for it. " This anecdote will 
show the extent of bitter prejudice that Catholics had to contend against in 
those days. 


engendered; unkind thoughts were put into unkind words, and the 
end was reached by absurd suits at law, followed by absurd verdicts 
from absurd juries, and, finally, by the abandonment of his mission by 
the first priest absolutely known to have trod the soil of Kentucky. 


For six months after the departure of Father Whelan, the Catholic 
people of Kentucky were wholly without pastoral care. At the end of 
the term named, in company with a number of emigrants from North 
Carolma and East Tennessee, came Rev. Wm. de Rohan, unaccredited 
to the State, but bearing faculties from Dr. Carroll for the exercise 
of his ministry in Virginia. He was of Irish parentage, but born in 
France, and, most likely, there educated. Leaving Virginia, he 
traveled into Tennessee, where he remained for about a year, and 
afterwards came to Kentucky, as stated. Dr. Spalding tells us 
that Father de Rohan ' ' said mass for the Catholics, visited the sick, 
and administered the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony," but he 
abstained from hearing confessions, as he did not believe that his 
powers extended to this distant mission. He adds: "He subse- 
quently changed his opmion on this point, on the ground that Ken- 
tucky was a county of Virginia at the date of his faculties, which had 
been given for the latter State, or a portion of it. On being informed 
of this fact. Dr. Carroll, then but lately consecrated bishop of Balti- 
more, disapproved of his proceedings. M. de Rohan cheerfully sub- 
mitted to the decision of his superior." 

To this extract may be added the additional sentence from Dr. 
Spalding's "Sketches : " "Father de Rohan passed the last years of 
his life at the theological seminary of St. Thomas, where he died 
piously about the year 1832." The account is brief enough, audits 
very brevity is suggestive of something that has been left untold. 
Historical verity requires at the hands of the writer this explanatory 
reference : The appearance in Kentucky of Rev. William de Rohan 
was, in some respects, a happy circumstance for the abandoned 
mission. In others, it was unfortunate. He may be said to have 
been a clerical waif, borne to the State on the rapidly advancing 
tide of emigration. But for a single personal fault, he might have 
filled toward the infant church of Kentucky a position alike cred- 
itable to himself and serviceable to the people. He belonged to 
an unfortunate class of priests — not common anywhere at that day, nor 
since, but not wholly unknown to the history of the missions of the 
country — whose appetites for stimulants lead them to excesses in their 
use. In the suggestive language of the day, "he was his own great- 
est enemy." Alas, he was also a stumbling-block in the way of 
those who had been taught to regard their pastors as models of every 
christian virtue. His wretched infirmity was the cause, doubtless, of 
his wandering away from his appointed mission in Virginia ; first into 
North Carolina, then into Tennessee, and, finally, into Kentucky. It 


was the cause, too, of his subsequent forfeiture of his priestly facul- 
ties, as well as of the years of comparative inutility that filled up the 
measure of his after life. But in reviewing the career in Kentucky 
of Father de Rohan, there are to be found points upon which the eyes 
of Catholics of the present day may look with complacency. He 
preached no false doctrine. He taught the children the rudiments of 
their faith. He visited the sick and consoled the dying. Finally, he 
erected, or caused to be erected, the first building put up in the State 
for Catholic worship. To this may be added: Very many of the 
earliest born in Kentucky of our forefathers, had of him all the knowl- 
edge they ever acquired of letters. As late as the year 1822, he was 
teaching school, near the town of New Hope, in Nelson county. 
With the region of country in which he was best known, and where 
he was pitied as only are the children of misfortune, his name is 
indelibly connnected. He bought him a little farm at the foot of the 
rocky peak that lifts its head high over the surrounding country, not 
far away from Holy Cross church, and now, for well nigh a hundred 
years, the peak is known by no other title than Rohan! s Knob. 

With the brief interval of Rev. William de Rohan's quasi-control 
of the mission of the State, after the departure of Rev. M. Whelan, 
the Catholic colonists of Kentucky were without pastoral guidance 
until the close of the year 1793. Then there were sent to them by 
Dr. John Carroll, first bishop of Baltimore, two priests — Rev. M. 
Barrieres and Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin — the last named of whom 
acquired, in time, the distinctive title : The Apostle of Kentucky. 

Before proceeding further with the history of the mission, after the 
arrival in Kentucky of the priests named, it is necessary that the 
reader shall be first made acquainted with their antecedents, and the 
circumstances that preceded their appointment to the distant field of 
their missionary labors. Of Rev. M. Barrieres, the elder of the two, 
the simple story of his short connection with the mission of Kentucky 
will appear in its proper place hereafter, and he may otherwise be dis- 
missed from this somewhat lengthy review : 


Out of the gigantic evil of the French Revolution, there were 
evoked by Providence blessings for other peoples and other nations ; 
and for this interposition of divine power and mercy, none other has 
such reason to be grateful to God as the Catholic population of the 
United States. It is the old, old story of "the stone rejected by the 
builders," and removed elsewhere to become "the head of the cor- 
ner." Denied the privilege of laboring for God and humanity in their 
own land, the persecuted French clergy gave to others, and else- 
where, the incalculable benefits of their christian ministry. It is to 
this providential circumstance, primarily, that Catholics are indebted, 
both here and in England, for the gratifying picture to-day presented 
by the condition of the Church in both countries. 


Toward the latter end of November, 1791, three ecclesiastics 
emembarked together, at Bordeaux, for the United States, each one of 
whom was destined, in time, to exercise his ministry in Kentucky. 
These were: Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget, Rev. John B. David, 
and Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin, the last named theri in sub- 
deacon's orders. The two first mentioned were Sulpician priests, and 
the last had been studying for the holy ministry in the seminary of 
the order, at Orleans. The exiles reached Philadelphia on the 26th, 
and Baltimore on the -iSth of March, 1792. Arriving late at their 
destination, they rested for the night, and, early the next mornmg, 
they proceeded together to wait on Dr. Carroll. They had gone but 
a short distance when they were met by that eminent prelate, hurry- 
ing to welcome them to the country. Fearing they had been remiss 
in not presenting themselves at his residence the evening before, they 
began to apologize. With much graciousness. Bishop Carroll waived 
excuse, and said: "It is surely little enough that I should be the 
first to' visit you, seeing that you have come fifteen hundred leagues to 

see me." 

How it was that one of these stranger priests, nineteen years later, 
became a bishop, and ruled in spirituals the Catholic people of Ken- 
tucky for nearly forty years ; and how it was that his priestly com- 
panion accompanied him to the State, and did praiseworthy service 
for the same people to the end of his days, are matters that will claim 
our attention further on. Our present subject must be the youthful 
sub-deacon who came with them to America - 

Stephen Theodore Badin was born \v( Orleans, France, July 17, 
1768. He was the third of fifteen children, and the oldest son. He 
early developed mental gifts that were regarded by his parents as 
extraordinary, and they determined to give him a classical education. 
When of the proper age, he was sent to the College Montaigu, Paris, 
where he remained for three years, and where he acquired a thorough 
knowledge of classical literature.* In the year 1789, having deter- 
mined to devote himself to the sacred ministry, he entered the Sulpi- 
cian seminary at Orleans, where he remained until the establishment 
was dissolved, two years later, through the acceptance by the bishop 
of that See of the odious constitutional oath. The great body of the 
seminarians, being unwilling to receive ordination at the hands of 
such a prelate, left for their homes and other safe places of retreat, 
early in July, 1781. Three months later, we find young Badin sail- 
ing the sea, in company with his future bishop, on his way to 

* Almost to the end of his days, Latin metrical composition had its fascina- 
tions for Father Badin. Quite a number of his Latin poems are extant, and 
they are said to betray not only extraordinary idealistic power, but a still 
more extraordinary acquaintance with the idiomatic peculiarities of the Latin 
tongue. Not long ago, one of the most erudite of the clergy of Kentucky 
remarked in my hearing, that Father Badin's short poem on the Holy Trinity 
was equal, as well in strength as beauty of expression, to anything that had 
been left us by either Horace or Virgil. 


On the 25th day of May, 1793, the old Cathedral church of St. 
Peter's, Baltimore, was the scene of an interesting ceremony— the 
first of the kind that had taken place in the territory of the United 
States. On that day, and in the church named, Stephen Theodore 
Badin was raised by Bishop Carroll to the dignity of the priesthood. 
Taking the fact stated as a standpoint of retrospection, how 
wonderful must appear the present status of the Catholic church in 
the United States! Till that time, there was not a single priest in the 
whole country whose ordination had not taken place abroad. Of 
these, there were not more than thirty-five, all told, and the entire 
Catholic population of the country was not reckoned at more than thirty 
thousand souls. It will be well to remember, too, while comparing 
the present of the Church in the United States with its past, that the 
first priest ordained in the country died but a little more than thirty 
years ago, and that there are hundreds yet living to whom that 
priest was personally known. 

It may well be conceived that the extended deprivation of pastoral 
guidance, suffered by the Catholics of Kentucky, was a constant 
source of regret to Bishop Carroll. It is more than possible, in- 
deed, that his distant children were in his mind when his consecrat- 
ing hand was employed in the act whereby the future ' ' Apostle of Ken- 
tucky " was empowered to preach, and to teach, and to call down 
from the right hand of His Eternal Father, the very Word of God to 
be the sustenance of christian souls. Be this as it may, it was but a 
few months after his ordination, that Father Badin was selected by his 
ordinary for the mission of Kentucky. The order could not have 
been peremptory, however, since, as Dr. Spalding observes, the young 
priest was permitted to remonstrate against his appointment, affirming 
his unfitness for the position on account of his youth, his inexperience 
and his limited acquaintance with the English language. Having 
listened to his reasons with much condescension. Dr. Carroll pro- 
posed that no decisive step should be taken for nine days, during 
which, both should unite in prayer, and recommend the matter to God 
by performing a novena in unison. To this, Father Badin readily 

At the close of the novena, they met again, when the followmg 
characteristic conversation took place : " Well, Father Badin," be- 
gan the bishop, " I have prayed, and I continue still in the same 

" I, too, have prayed," returned Father Badin, "And I am, 
likewise, of the same mind as before. Of what use, then, has been 
our nine days' prayer? " 

Bishop Carroll' smiled, and, pausing for a moment, thus resumed: 
" I lay no command upon you, but I think it is the will of God that 
you should go." 

" I will go, then," Father Badin exclaimed, with much earnestness ; 
and, forthwith, he set about the necessary preparations for his journey. 
— (Sketches, pp 61-62.) 



No more suitable appointment could have been made for the mis- 
sion, than the one selected. He was young, active, energetic, and, 
above all, fired with zeal for God's glory, and the salvation of souls. 
But Bishop Carroll did not permit him to depart alone for his distant 
mission. He gave him for a companion, Rev. M. Barrieres, an older 
and more experienced priest, whom he constituted his vicar-general 
for the remote district. 

Leaving Baltimore on the 6th of September, 1793, the two mis- 
sionaries traveled on foot to Pittsburg, where they arranged for trans- 
port for themselves and luggage on a flatboat. In company with six 
others, all well armed, for fear of the Indians, they began their voy- 
age down the Ohio on the 3d of September, and, passing two small 
towns, Wheeling and Marietta, they reached Gallipolis after seven 
days. In and around this town had settled, four or five years previ- 
ously, a colony of French emigrants, numbering about seven thou- 
sand souls. The titles to their lands proving defective, the greater 
part of them had left the country in disgust, most of them returning to 
France. The remnant of the colony had long been without a pastor, 
and there was joy among them when it became known that two 
priests had reached their landing. During their brief stoppage of 
three days at Gallipolis, their time was wholly occupied in rendering 
priestly service to the forlorn inhabitants of the town and neighbor- 
hood. They sang high mass in the garrison of the place, and bap- 
tized forty children. 

Proceeding on their way, in due course of time they reached 
Limestone — now Maysville — the end of their voyage by river, whence 
they journeyed on foot to Lexington, a distance of sixty-five miles. 
Their first night out, a cold one late in November, was passed in an 
open mill, where they slept upon grain-bags, without covering. On 
the next day they reached the Blue Licks battle-ground, whence 
Father Barrieres brought a human skull, afterwards retained by him as 
a rehc of a disastrous battle, and a memento of death. 

Father Badin's first mass in Kentucky was celebrated on the first 
Sunday of advent, in the house of Dennis McCarthy, at Lexington. 
"The missionaries," says Dr. Spalding, "had but one chalice, and, 
after having offered up the holy sacrifice at Lexington, Father Badin 
rode sixteen miles to the Catholic settlement, in Scott county, where 
Father Barrieres said mass on the same day." 

Father Badin remained in Scott county, where he continued to 
reside for more than a year, constituting the Catholic settlement therein 
established the central point of a widespread missionary district. 
Father Barrieres proceeded on to Nelson county, where he was received 
with every demonstration of joy by the Catholic settlers. After a brief 
service of four months, however, he grew weary of his position, and 
determined to leave the country. The excuse has been made for him 
that "his habits had been already formed," and that he found himself 
unable to adopt the manner of life of the simple people of the settle- 
ments. Leaving Louisville in April 1794, he attempted to reach New 



Orleans by the rivers, floating the distance in a pirogue, a large species 
of canoe, in common use at this period on the larger of the western 
waters. Louisiana was then in possession of the Spanish government, 
at war at the time with that of France. Father Barrieres, being a 
Frenchman, was subject to arrest on Spanish territory ; and that was 
the fate that awaited him at New Madrid. Immediately after his 
arrest he wrote Baron Carandolet, the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, 
representing to him the circumstances of his case and the objects 
of his visit. He was soon liberated, and permitted to continue his 
journey. Shortly after his arrival at New Orleans, he went to the Atta- 
' kapas country, where he did valuable service as a missionary priest for 
nearly twenty years. Worn out at length by his arduous missionary 
labors, he took passage for Bordeaux some time during the year 1814, 
where he died eight days after his arrival. Twenty-three years before, 
he had escaped from a prison of this same city, in which he had been 
incarcerated by the French Jacobins, and embarked for America. He 
returned to it now only to die. [Sketches, pp 63-64.] 

Father Badin now found himself in a position nearly analogous to 
that in which the CathoHc setders of the State were placed before his 
own arrival amongst them. There was no one of his own order to 
whom he might look for either counsel or spiritual consolation. 
But, happily for him, and happily for his people, he accepted his isolated 
position with entire resignation to God's will, and he nerved himself to 
the work that was before him with the firm conviction that He in whom 
he trusted, in despite of the weakness of His chosen instrument, would 
consummate it to His own greater glory. For nearly three years he 
remained the only priest in Kentucky ; and for twenty-one months of 
that time he had not even one opportunity of going to confession. 
He retained his courage, however, under all his difficulties, and was 
indefatigable in his endeavors to bring all under his charge to a proper 
sense of their privileges and their obligations as Catholic christians. 

At the time referred to, theie was stationed at Post Vincennes a 
French priest. Father Rivet, who had received his appointment to the 
mission shortly after the departure from that station of Rev. B. J. 
Flaget, afterwards bishop of Bardstown. The distance that separated 
the two isolated priests was under two hundred miles; but we do not 
hear that they ever met. They corresponded by letter, however, and 
each was encouraged to generous effort in his missionary labors by the 
other's friendly advice. 

Father Badin estimated the number of Catholic families in Ken- 
tucky at three hundred. These, as has already been seen, were much 
scattered. Emigration from Maryland was still going on, however, 
and it did not really diminish to any great extent until after the year 


The first object of the zealous missionary was the restoration of the 
strict and paternal discipline of the Church among those to whom he 
had been sent. It may be said of him that he reorganized the family 
wherever he went. Where there were disorders, he probed and cured 


them. Where customs of piety had grown into disuse, he reinstated 
them. Where parents were neglectful of their duties toward their chil- 
dren and servants, he chided them until the fault was corrected. 

It is a gratifying fact in the history of Catholicity in Kentucky that, 
with rare exceptions, the descendants of the early colonists from Mary- 
land are keeping up in their families to the present day the pious prac- 
tices introduced into those of their forefathers by Fathers Badin, 
Nerinckx, Fournier and Fenwick. Still, night and morning, the 
households meet for prayer in common. Still, the Rosary of the Blessed 
Virgin is recited at fixed intervals. Still, once in the week, and 
sometimes every day, the children are brought together for catechetical 
instruction. Still, when the family, or certain of its members, are pre- 
vented for any cause from being present at the Holy Sacrifice on Sun- 
days or holidays of obligation, the custom remains of reciting the 
prayers for mass in common at home. Still, the chapter of pious read- 
ing follows the evening orisons, and men and women and children sink 
to slumber only after having made emblematic profession of their faith 
by signing themselves with the sign of the cross. All these practices, 
inculcated with so much persistency upon the minds of their fathers 
by Father Badin and his early associates of the priesthood in Ken- 
tucky, have rarely been suffered to fall into disuse in the households 
of their descendants. 

Father Badin's mission, it will be seen, extended over hundreds 
of miles of territory. No one man, not provided with a physique 
capable of the most surpassing endurance, could have resisted the 
exactions which his position was constantly making upon his energies. 
From first to last, as he was wont to say, his missionary journeyings on 
horseback in Kentucky had exceeded one hundred thousand miles. 
And yet, though he often found himself physically exhausted by 
excess of labor, he was never seriously ill. Throughout his life, how- 
ever, he was exceedingly exact in the observance of the generally 
accepted rules for the preservation of health. He would often say 
that it is better to fast than to eat unwholesome food. He was 
especially disaffected toward a custom, too common among 
housewives, of placing upon the table bread that is not thoroughly 
cooked, or "done." On a certain occasion he stopped at a farmer's 
house and asked if he could be accommodated with supper and lodg- 
ings for the night. The master of the house had not yet returned 
from the field, but his wife, as was usual with almost every one at that 
day, being hospitably inclined, willingly engaged that no objections on 
his part should be made to his request. At supper time a plate of 
half-cooked biscuits was placed on the table. Father Badin took up 
one, and, seeing that it was not sufficiently cooked, begged the good 
lady to put them again in the oven. She did as she was requested; 
but, on returning them to the table, the priest again expressed his 
wish that they should be further baked. This, much to the annoy- 
ance of the lady, was repeated for a third time. On placing them at 
last before him sufficiently "done" to suit his taste, she exclaimed, 


with a displeased toss of her head: "There, sir; I hope you are 
suited at last ! Your wife must have a happy time of it!" 

Among the social customs of the day, which were not, in them- 
selves, necessarily pernicious, but which, too often, led to grave dis- 
orders, that of promiscuous dancing was especially obnoxious to 
Father Badin. Finding it impossible to put a stop, altogether, to this 
favorite pastime of the young people of the settlements, he wisely 
sought to regulate it — to confine its exercise to proper hours, and to 
compass it with the safeguard of parental watchfulness. It is related 
of him that, on a certain Saturday afternoon, he found very few per- 
sons awaiting his arrival at the station on Pottinger's creek, whither 
he had gone for the purpose of hearing confessions. The young men 
and women of the settlement were particularly noted for their atisence. 
He soon learned that these latter were attending a dancing-class, 
gotten up by an itinerant professor of the art, in a neighboring school- 
house. With him, to resolve was to act; and no sooner was he dis- 
engaged from duty in the confessional, than he quickly moved off in 
the direction of the structure indicated. His appearance, a little 
later, in the midst of the throng of merry dancers, was the signal, 
promptly obeyed, for a stay of proceedings. " My children." said he, 
smiling blandly in their discomposed faces, "this is all very well; but 
where the children are, there the father must also be ; where the flock 
is, there must also be the pastor ! " In a little while, he had them sit- 
ting in a circle around him, and answering questions out of the cate- 
chism. — [Sketches-p 67.] 

Compelled to continued action, in order to fulfill toward his 
widely scattered flock his pastoral office, Father Badin rarely 
lodged two consecutive nights in the same house ; and it was his 
invariable custom, wherever he stopped for the night, to devote all 
his time, that was not absolutely needed for repose, to the instruction 
of the household, both parents and children, in the things that per- 
tained to their daily religious life. His famiUar proverbs, addressed 
to children on such occasions, are to this day remembered and 
appreciated in hundreds of Catholic families in Kentucky. " My 
children," he would say, "remember this: No morning prayer, no 
breakfast; no evening prayer, no supper !" At other times he would 
address them: " Be good, my children, and you will never be sorry 
for it." 

"On reaching a station. Father Badin would, generally, hear 
confessions till about one o'clock. Meantime, the people recited the 
rosary at intervals, and the boys, girls and servants, were taught 
catechism by the regular catechists. Hearing confessions was the 
most burdensome duty he had to discharge ; and he was fully aware 
of its deep and awful responsibility. He spared no labor nor pains 
to impart full instructions to his penitents, who thronged his confes- 
sional from an early hour. So great, in fact, was their number, that 
he found it expedient to deliver among them tickets, fixing the order 
in which they should approach the holy tribunal, according to prior- 


ity of arrival at the church. He was inflexible in maintaining this 
order. Not unfrequently persons would be obliged to make several 
attempts before they could succeed in going to confession. — [Sketches, 
p 68.] 

In those days, blank ignorance was common among non-Catho- 
lics, not only of the faith of Catholics, but in respect to the personal 
appearance of the Church's ministers. Men, women and chil- 
dren, and, especially, the negro population, would walk miles to have 
a good look at the " Romish priest; " and these were often heard to 
express their astonishment at having found him no bugaboo, but as 
other men. 

Hardship could not have- been otherwise than the portion of any 
one situated as was Father Badin during the first ten years of his life 
as a missionary priest in Kentucky. It is related of him that he often 
suffered for the "very necessaries of life," that his food was always "of 
the coarsest kind;" that " he was compelled to grind his own corn on 
a hand-mill ; " that he was scantily provided with clothing fashioned 
from the rough fabrics of the country ;" that though the heads of fami- 
lies of the Catholic setdements had agreed to set apart for his support 
the "hundredth bushel of grain" yielded by their lands, he did not 
actually receive " the thousandth ;" that at one time, while residing at 
St. Stephen's, he was for days together "without bread" — until, in 
fact, Mr. Anthony Sanders, of Bardstown, hearing of his condition, 
"sent him the necessary supply." 

These statements are made by Dr. Spalding on the 70th page of his 
"Sketches of Kentucky ; " and it is not to be doubted that he received 
his information from the lips of Father Badin himself. Unexplained, 
they present in a most unfavorable light the great body of the faithful 
then residing in Kentucky. It is hard to believe that the Catholics 
of the settlements, knowing of his destitution, and having the power 
of relief in their hands, should have permitted him to suffer for a single 
day for the necessaries of life. It is much more reasonable to suppose 
that they were either altogether without knowledge of his wants, or that 
they were themselves in an equally suffering condition. The failure of 
the crops for a single year would explain this latter hypothesis. In 
regard to the hundredth bushel of grain which the Catholic farmers had 
contracted to set apart for their pastor's personal support, the writer has 
httle idea that it was withheld in any instance with fraudful intent. It 
is to be remembered that the early settlers, for the most part, were 
unprovided with facilities for the transportation of commodities from 
one part of the country to another ; and that, in many instances, the 
cost of such transportation would have exceeded the worth of the 
articles delivered at their destination. It may well be conceived that 
this single circumstance prevented many from paying their obligations 
in kind; but the fact that they did not so pay, should not be accepted 
as evidence that they gave nothing toward their pastor's support. 

Soon after Father Badin's removal from Scott county to Pottinger's 
creek, he selected a plot of ground, about three miles distant from 


Holy Cross church, upon which he afterwards erected a presbytery, or 
priest's house, and to which he gave the name of St. Stephen's. This 
was his home for many years.* 

Father Badin's disinterested zeal and apostolic spirit are well exem- 
plified by a circumstance that occurred in the year X796, as related by 
Dr. Spalding: 

"In the year named, when his sufferings and hardships were the 
greatest, Father Badin received a letter from the Spanish governor of 
St. Genevieve, earnestly pressing him to leave Kentucky and come to 
that place, where he was offered an annual salary of five hundred dol- 
lars, with valuable perquisites. The situation was easy and inviting, 
and the offer was tempting. Father Badin, in fact, viewed the whole 
matter in the light of a temptation to abandon the field of labor which 
divine Providence had assigned him , and he accordingly threw the 
governor's letter into the fire, and did not even return an answer. His 
motto was: Follow Providence/'f 


In 1797, after nearly three years of sole occupancy of his field of 
missionary labor. Father Badin was greatly relieved by the arrival in 
Kentucky of Rev. Michael C. J. Fournier, a most exemplary priest, 
whose labors on the mission have already been sufficiently referred to 
in the chapter entided "The Rolling Fork settlement." It had long 
been the earnest wish of Rt. Rev. Dr. Carroll to send relief to his 
over-taxed subordinate in Kentucky, and to the end indicated, he had 
gladly availed himself of Father Fournier's proffered services. Ani- 
mated with the spirit of the true missionary, the priest asked for no 
delay, but set out at once for the seat of his distant mission. Reach- 
ing the humble presbytery of St. Stephen's in February, of the year 

*St. Stephen's has often been alluded to as a church. It was neither 
designed nor used for the public services of the Church. This first pastoral 
residence built in the State was a rough affair of logs, fully as unpretending as 
the cabins occupied by the neighboring farmers on the creek. Its site was on, 
or very near, that of the present convent and academy of Loretto, fifty-seven 
miles from Louisville, on the Knoxville Branch railroad. 

t Father Badin was undoubtedly a learned theologian; but as I have been 
told by competent authority, one of his first decisions after his arrival in Ken- 
tucky was a theological blunder. It will be remembered that his immediate 
predecessor, Father de Rohan, supposing that his faculties from Dr. Carroll — 
given to him for Virginia when Kentucky was a county of that State — 
empowered him to administer the sacrament of matrimony in the new common- 
wealth, had united in marriage a number of couples in the different Catho.lic 
settlements. His superior having afterwards disapproved of his action, Father 
Badin concluded that all these marriages were irregular and null. He insisted 
that the couples should be married over again. But, in one particular case, and 
perhaps in others, the parties decided that if they had not been married in the 
first instance, they would take advantage of the circumstance and remain 
single. One of these removed to Missouri and there contracted marriage, and 
the other did the same thing in Kentucky. 


named, he i^v^as received by its occupant, not only with brotherly kind- 
ness, but with demonstrations of joy that brought tears to his eyes. 
From that moment the two were one in purpose and one in affection ; 
and each, supported and strengthened by the other, labored with such 
efficiency that the entire faithful of the State were given opportunities 
of making their peace with God. 


Before the close of this same year, 1799, the clerical working force 
of the mission was further augmented by the arrival at St. Stephen's 
of Rev. Anthony Salmon, another refugee priest from France, and 
an old friend and former fellow-seminarian of Father Fournier. This 
latter had written to him in London, where the two had first found 
refuge from the persecution to which the entire priesthood of France 
had been subjected under the revolutionary government, asking him 
to come to America, and detailing the great needs of the mission in 
which he was himself engaged. It is more than probable that his 
appearance at St. Stephen's was the first intimation that his friend had 
that his letter had reached the hands of Father Salmon. At this time, 
Father Badin held the office of vicar-general of the bishop of Baltimore 
for the region in which lay his extended mission, and it was a pleasure 
to him to welcome and assign to duty the new recruit that had come 
to his assistance so unexpectedly. Another division of labor was at 
once effected between the three, the stations on Hardin's creek and 
Poplar Neck, and those of Bardstown and Fairfield falling to the lot of 
the newly arrived missionary. 

Equally with his predecessors of the mission. Father Salmon exhib- 
ited earnestness in the discharge of his duties toward those who had 
been committed to his charge. He labored with great perseverance, 
and also with happy success, in promoting the spiritual good of his 
people ; and especially was he actively alive to the needs of children 
and servants. He appeared at times overwhelmed with fear lest the 
souls of some of these should be lost through his own remissness. He 
appealed to parents and masters and mistresses to see that they were 
instructed in the dogmas and precepts of their holy religion; and he 
missed no opportunity that was offered to catechise them himself, and 
to point out to them the paths that would lead them to happiness here 
and hereafter. 

Father Salmon's missionary career and life ended together only 
nine months after his arrival in Kentucky. He was killed by a fall from 
his horse in November 1799. Dr. Spalding's account of this lament- 
able occurrence is here appended. 

"A violent cold, contracted in the discharge of his duties, had 
confined him to his bed for six weeks in the house of Father Badin. 
When convalescent, he determined to visit the station at Mr. Thomas 
Gwynn's, in the neighborhood of Bardstown, where he had an appoint- 
ment with a Protestant lady whom he was instructing and preparing 


for baptism. He was not a good horseman, and he was still feeble 
from his previous illness. It was the 9th of November, and the snow 
covered the ground and concealed the road beneath, which was natur- 
ally rugged and difficult. About a mile from Bardstown, on the road 
to Mr. Gwynn's, he was thrown violently from his horse, and was 
dashed against a tree. He was stunned, and mortally wounded in the 
breast and head. In his struggles, he succeeded in dragging himself 
to a tree, against which he leaned his head and shoulders, and thus sat 
upright near the road-side. From noon till night he remained in this 
dreadful situation, benumbed with cold and in the very agonies of 
death. A lad, cutting wood in the neighboring forest, discovering him 
during the afternoon, asked permission of his employer to go to his 

assistance. But the man brutally replied that it was ' only a priest, 

who was probably drunk ! ' * Near sunset, this man saw Mr. Gwynn 
passing and told him that his 'priest was lying in a certain spot, per- 
haps dying.' 

" Deeply affected, Mr. Gwynn flew to the spot indicated, and dis- 
covered that his worst fears were more than realized. Father Salmon 
seemed at the very point of death. He was immediately placed on 
horseback, and conveyed, with as much tenderness as possible, to the 
residence of Mr. Gwynn, about a mile distant. Messengers were 
immediately dispatched for physicians, and for Father Badin. The 
latter arrived at two o'clock the same night, having rode sixteen miles 
in little more than two hours. He found Father Salmon insensible, 
reciting occasionally prayers in Latin, and acting as if he fancied him- 
self at the holy altar. Father Badin administered to him the last sacra- 
ments, and remained with him till his death, which took place on the 
following night, the loth of November. His remains were conveyed 
to the church of Holy Cross, where they were interred with all the 
ceremonies of the Roman ritual. 

' ' Father Badin wept bitterly over the death of his friend and fel- 
low-laborer, to whom he was sincerely attached. He composed for 
him this epitaph in Latin :" 

" Hie jacet Antonius Salmon, virtute verendus, 

Presbyter e Gallis ; praetulit exilium 

Schismaticis opibus ; fratres, matrem arvaque linquens : 

Det Pietas fletus, Religioque preces." 


The first American priest to exercise his ministry in Kentucky was 
Rev. John Thayer, a native of Massachusetts, and a convert to the 
Catholic faith from some form of Protestantism, of which he had pre- 
viously been a licensed minister. Latterly, there has appeared in the 

*'*For the honor of human nature," adds Dr. Spalding in a note, "we 
must observe that this man was of no standing in the country; and that his 
brutality is almost singular in the early history of Kentucky. The lad of whom 
mention is made is now {1844) one of our most repectable citizens." 


" Ave Maria, " a periodical published at Notre Dame, Indiana, the full 
account, as written by himself, of Father Thayer's remarkable con- 
version. Reading it, as the writer lately did, one must arise from its 
perusal with fixed ideas of the honesty of the man and of his rare 

Father Thayer tells us — his pamphlet was written and published in 
1787 — that he had formed the notion of traveling extendedly in Europe 
and there ' ' acquire knowledge of the constitution of States and of the 
manners, customs, laws and governments of the principal nations. " He 
wanted knowledge of all these things in order to insure his future use- 
fulness in his own country. While in Paris, he was attacked with ill- 
ness, and, says he, " fearing it would be attended with serious conse- 
quences, my first concern was to forbid that any Catholic priest should 
be suffered to come near me." He visited England, returned to 
France, and finally went to Rome.* 

In Paris, and still more in Rome, he saw things that gave him "a 
more favorable idea of the Catholic religion." Wherever he went, he 
was received hospitably and kindly. " Such goodness, such cordiality, 
to a stranger and an avowed Protestant, " says he, " at once touched 
and surprised me." By degrees, the inclination came upon him to seek 
information touching the religion of the people. Those to whom he 
first applied, he writes : "had more piety than light." But eventually, 
he was referred to others who were capable of stating in precise terms 
what constitutes the sum of Catholic faith, and of defending that 
aggregate against the assumptions of the enemies of the Church. Par- 
ticularly striking is his account of the difiiculty he experienced in 
adapting his mind to the sentiments he found embodied in a prayer 
attached to a little work of controversy that had been placed in 
his hands by a father of the Society of Jesus, upon whom he had called 
for information touching certain points of Catholic doctrine. This 
prayer, so well adapted to similar exigencies, is here reproduced : 

"Almighty and eternal God, Father of mercy. Saviour of man- 
kind, I humbly intreat Thee by Thy sovereign goodness to enlighten 
my mind, and to touch my heart, that by true faith, hope and charity 
I may live and die in the true religion of Jesus Christ. I am sure that 
as there is but one true God, so there can be but one faith, one relig- 
ion, one way of salvation, and that every other way which is opposite 
to this can only lead to endless misery. It is this faith, O my God, 
which I earnestly desire to embrace, in order to save my soul. I pro- 
test, therefore, before Thy divine Majesty, and I declare by all Thy 
divine attributes, that I will follow that religion which Thou shalt show 
me to be true ; and that I will abandon, at whatever cost, that in which 
I shall discover error and falsehood, I do not deserve, it is true, this 

* "While still in Paris, " says Dr. Spalding, he had an interview with Ben- 
jamin Franklin, minister of the United States to the court of France, lie 
wanted the minister to appoint him chaplain of the mission. The philosopher 
statesman could not see the wisdom of any such appointment. He "would say 
his own prayers, and save his government the expense of the chaplaincy," 


favor, on account of the greatness of my sins, for which I have a pro- 
found sorrow because they offend a God so good, so great, so holy and 
worthy of my love ; but what I do not deserve, I hope to obtain from 
Thy infinite mercy, and I conjure Thee to grant through the merits of 
the Precious Blood which was shed for us poor sinners by Thy only 
Son, Jesus Christ. Amen." 

It is not to be doubted, however, that the trend of the after con- 
vert's mind to investigation of Catholic doctrine and practices, was the 
result of his desire to analyze the reports of certain miracles said 
to have been wrought through the intercession of the Venerable Labre, 
then but recently deceased, about which all Rome was speaking at the 
time. What he says on this subject will be found interesting : 

"Notwithstanding the instructions which I had received, and the 
lights which I had acquired, I was nowise disposed to credit the public 
reports concerning this truly extraordinary person. Of all my preju- 
dices against Catholics, the deepest rooted was a formal disbelief of the 
miraculous facts which are said to have happened among them. I had 
been brought up in this persuasion common to all Protestants, who, 
never having been able to attain the gift of miracles, like the fox in the 
fable, disdain it, and deny its existence. Not content with denying 
those which were publshed at that time, I made them the subject of my 
raillery, and in the coffee-houses passed some very unbecoming jests on 
the servant of God with whose poverty and uncleanliness I was 
shocked; and on this head I went farther than any, even, of my Protes- 
tant friends. However, the number and weight of the evidences 
increasing daily, I thought that it was my duty to examine the matter 
myself. I frequently conversed with the confessor of the deceased, 
from whom I learned a part of his life. I visited four persons who 
were said to have been miraculously cured; I was convinced by 
my own eyes of the state in which they then were ; I questioned them 
concerning the state in which they had been; 1 informed myself of the 
nature and continuance of the illness with which they had been 
attacked, and the circumstances of their cures, which had been oper- 
ated in an instant. I collected the evidence of those to whom they 
were known ; and after all these informations, made with the greatest 
care, I was fully convinced that the reality of each one of these 
miracles was at least as well proved as the most authentic facts. One 
of these persons, a nun in the convent of St. Apollonia, had burst a 
blood-vessel. She daily grew weaker and weaker for the space of 
eighteen months; and at length was so reduced that she could bear no 
nourishment. She invoked Venerable Labr6; took with a lively 
faith a draught into which one of his relics had been dipped, and was 
cured in an instant. The same day she went to choir with the rest of 
the religious, ate without feeling any pain, and with ease performed the 
most painful offices of the convent. This was attested by the superior 
and six other nuns of the same community. I often saw the nun who 
had been cured, spoke to her, and found her in perfect health and 
strength. Not content with these proofs, I visited the physician who 


attended her during the whole course of her illness; he confirmed all 
that the community had said, and added that he was ready to take his 
oath on the Gospel that the illness was naturally incurable. I con- 
tinued to see the nun during the rest of my stay at Rome, that is, for 
about four months. I had time to convince myself that her cure was 
lasting, and at my departure I left her in perfect health." 

One of his most serious difficulties appears to have been the doctrine 
of the Church respecting the invocation of saints, and especially of the 
Virgin Mother of God. Though convinced in his mind that the doc- 
trine was reasonable, and that it was in no wise detractive of the 
supreme honor and worship that are due to the Creator, so strong 
a hold had custom and prejudice on his mind, that it was long before 
he was able to accept and act upon it in a Catholic spirit. This is 
apparent in his first prayer addressed to the Queen of Heaven, the 
form of which he has left us : 

"Oh, tender Mother, (said I,) if it be lawful for me to implore thy 
succor, help me in the miserable state in which I am. It was through 
thee that the Saviour came to us; it is through thee that I desire to go 
to Him. The scriptures teach me that by thy means was wrought the 
first miracle of the evangelical law in the order of grace (the sanctifi- 
cation of St. John the Baptist), and the first in the order of nature (the 
change of water into wine). Here remains another to be performed; 
do not refuse to employ thy credit; I do not deserve it; too long have I 
not known thee ; but now, though with fear and trembling, I begin to 
address thee. Intercede for me with thy divine Son." (Then, 
returning to God,) "O Lord, (said I,) I miplore Thy light. Thou 
hast promised to listen to those who invoke Thee ; I do it from the 
bottom of my heart; Thou art my witness that I seek truth at 
whatever expense. I cannot err in addressing my supplications to 
Thy Blessed Mother: Thou Thyself wouldst be the cause of my 

Confidence and tranquility were the fruits of this prayer, and as 
he tells us himself, "From that time I have always had recourse to the 
Blessed Virgin, and I am confident that I have received grace through 
her intercession ; gratitude obliges me to make this acknowledgment. 
I endeavor to join in every institution which tends to her honor, and 
I have pledged myself, and study as much as can depend on me, to 
extend the devotion to this dear Mother of God." 

Soon afterwards, he made his abjuration, and was able to declare : 
"The truths which I had most difficulty in believing, are those in 
which I now find the greatest consolation. The mystery of the Euch- 
arist, which appeared to me so incredible, is become an ever-flow- 
ing source of spiritual delight; confession, which I considered as an 
unsupportable yoke, seems infinitely sweet, by the tranquillity which it 
produces in the soul." 

His after-Hfe is thus depicted by Dr. Spalding, in his " Sketches 
of Kentucky:" " Earnestly desiring to make good use of his new- 
found knowledge, he determined to devote the remainder of his life 


to the enlightenment of those who, hke himself, had long taken evil for 
good, darkness for light. In order to do this the more effectually, he 
resolved to enter the Catholic ministry. Placing himself under com- 
petent direction, he finished the prescribed studies, and was ordained 
priest in Paris, most likely, in the year 1784. Immediately after his 
ordination,, he returned to the United States, and entered upon 
his true ministerial life in Boston, where he had formerly devoted 
his misdirected energies to the propagation of a false theory of 


" He held weekly conferences on the truths of the Catholic faith; 
and his discourses, delivered with much earnestness and eloquence, 
attracted great crowds of his Protestant fellow-citizens. He published 
a detailed and well-written account of his conversion, in which he 
clearly and forcibly stated the motives that had led him to take this 
important step. He thus endeavored to convey his own convictions 
to the minds of his countrymen, both from the pulpit and through the 
press. His zeal led him into various controversies with the Protestant 
preachers ; and he always showed himself able to give an account of 
'the hope that was in him.' Still, he had the mortification to find 
that Americans, who are so easily misled by novelties of whatever 
species, are very slow to change their religious opinions, especially in 
favor of what is old and painful to human nature. He found that 
conviction and conversion were two different things ; and that, though 
he could flatter himself that he had brought about the former state of 
mind in many, he was cheered by but few evidences of his having 
secured the latter." 

In 1799, Father Thayer left Boston and offered his services to Dr. 
Carroll, in any position to which he might assign him. Toward the 
close of the year 1799, he was sent to Kentucky, where he remained 
for four years, "only two of which," says Dr. Spalding, "were 
devoted to missionary duty." He left the State and the country in 
1803, first going to England, where he labored for a year or more, 
and, subsequently, to Ireland, where he devoted the last years of his 
Ufe to the welfare of the poor of Limerick. In the city named, and 
up to the date of his death, which took place in 1815, he lived as a 
member of the family of Mr. James Ryan, a gentleman of high stand- 
ing and character, a pious Catholic, and an ardent humanitarian. It 
was while residing in Limerick, that Father Thayer conceived the 
idea of founding in America a conventual establishment for females. 
I'_ is said that arrangements to this effect had been concluded between 
himself and the late Cardinal Cheverus, who was, at that time, bishop 
of Boston, some short time before the priest was called out of life. It is 
certain that four of the daughters of his friend and host subsequently 
reached Boston, where, with the approbation and active assistance of 
Dr. Cheverus, they established a community of Ursuline nuns, of 
which they were themselves members. At a later era, when what- 
ever was material of the Ursuline establishment in Boston, was 
destroyed by a fanatical mob, it is not likely that either of the sisters 


alluded to was able to see the desecration with mortal eyes. * 
It should be mentioned here, that Father Badin's former priestly 
correspondent at Vincennes, Rev. M. Rivet, was now dead. He 
had sickened and died at his post of duty the previous winter. 
Referring to the death of this admirable priest, Dr. Spalding says: 
" He had won the respect of General William Henry Harrison, 
afterwards president of the United States, who was then residing at 
Vincennes, and occupying the post of governor of the Northwestern 
Territory. " The dying priest had received from Governor Harrison 
marked attention during his sickness, and, it is said, "he received 
his last breath." The death of Father Rivet left but three priests in 
the entire northwest, including Kentucky. Those were; Rev. 
Donatien Olivier, at Prairie du Rocher, IlUnois ; Rev. Gabriel Richard, 
at Detroit, Michigan, and Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin, in Ken- 

* I have in my possession a letter written in 1816, by Rev. Simon Gabriel 
Brute, afterwards first bishop of the See of Vincennes, in which reference is 
made to the death of Father Thayer, and the services he had rendered the 
poor of Limerick. The writer mentions, as a fact, that the deceased priest had 
left what remained to him of his considerable estate, to the diocese of Boston, 





In the year 1803, the Church in Kentucky suffered an irreparable 
loss in the sudden and unlooked-for death of Father Fournier. Ever 
since his arrival in the State, he had been, as it were, the right hand 
of Father Badin, taking upon himself a full share of the labor of 
the mission, and undergoing all manner of fatigue and solicitude, in 
order to fulfill toward the Catholic body every duty pertaining to his 
ministry. The death of this model priest, and the subsequent with- 
drawal of Father Thayer from the mission, left Father Badin again 
alone in Kentucky. From the spring of 1803, to the summer of 
1805, his labors were so multiplied that relaxation, even for a day, 
was, with him, out of the question. He literally "lived on horse- 
back," departing from one station, when his work was done, to find 
at another a repetition of the labors of the previous day. Happily, 
he was in vigorous health, and labor, however unremitting, did not 
appear to affect him detrimentally. It was not his nature to be 
despondent, and hence the traditions of his uniform cheerfulness. It 
is not to be implied, however, that he was void of anxiety, or that he 
had not cares to perplex him, and sorrows to grieve his heart. He 
tells us himself, as Dr. Spalding relates, in the sketch he has given 
us of his life, that at this particular time, he was overwhelmed with 
grief on account of the death of his friend and co-laborer. Father 
Fournier; that his own lonely position, with no priest nearer to him 
than Prairie du Rocher, in Illinois, and Detroit, in Michigan, was the 
occasion to him of great concern, and that he was naturally ' ' solici- 
tous for the churches," which were now solely dependent upon him- 
self for ministerial aid and consolation. Of the missionaries referred 
to in this paragraph, the following may be briefly stated: 

Father Olivier lived to the advanced age of 95 years, and, at the 
date of his death, January 29th, 1841, was said to be the oldest mis- 
sionary priest in the whole valley of the Mississippi. He was for 
many years the pastor of the churches at Prairie du Rocher and Kas- 
kaskias, lUinois; but his missionary field covered the entire territory of 
the Northwest. Age and infirmity forced him to retire from the active 
duties of the ministry about the year 1828, and the remaining portion 


of his life was passed at the seminary of the Barrens, in Missouri, by 
the inmates of which he was venerated as a saint. For several years 
previous to his death, he had been deprived of his sight; "but," says 
the writer of the notice of his death, "notwithstanding this affliction, 
he continued during the greater portion of that period to offer up the 
Holy Sacrifice of the mass with a truly edifying devotion." 

Father Gabriel Richard, a French Sulpician priest, came to America 
after the French revolution. In 1798 he was sent to Michigan by 
Bishop Carroll, where he labored upon the missions of the State until 
the date of his death. In 1823 Father Richard was sent as a delegate 
to congress from Michigan. While exercising his ministry in Detroit, 
it became his duty on a certain occasion to pronounce sentence of 
excommunication against one of his parishioners, who had been 
divorced from his wife. The parishioner prosecuted the priest for 
defamation of character, and the court awarded him damages in the 
sum of one thousand dollars. This money Father Richard could not 
pay, and he was imprisoned in the common jail for the default. As he 
had already been elected to the house of representatives, he went 
from his prison direct to his seat on the floor of congress. In 181 2, 
after Hull's surrender, he was taken prisoner. After his release, find- 
ing his people suffering for food, he purchased wheat and gave it to the 
destitute. He spoke and wrote several languages, and he was a man 
of superior ability and rare benevolence. He died of cholera, during 
the first visitation of that scourge to this country in 1832, at the age of 
68 years. 

The Catholic population of Kentucky was now three times greater 
than it had been when Father Badin was first appointed to the mission; 
and when one considers how wide apart were the homes of his parish- 
ioners; how difficult, and sometimes dangerous, were the ways of com- 
munication between station and station, and how next to impossible it 
was for one man to serve so many, a truthful idea may be had of his 
anomalous position during the two years and more that preceded the 
arrival in the State of his after co-laborer. Rev. Charles Nerinckx. 
When, as not unfrequendy happened, his special friends, fearful of his 
health under such burdensome exactions, would beg him to take a little 
rest, he was in the habit of replying: "I look for no repose in this 

It is doubtful if there ever was a priest better qualified for the 
peculiar work of his peculiar mission than was Father Badin. His 
people were poor, but not the poorest among them ever complained 
that he was neglectful of their spiritual welfare. His rebukes of the 
master and mistress for neglect of duty toward their slave dependents 
were deUvered with as much earnestness as were his counsels to 
patience and obedience addressed to the latter. He lived in the sight 
of all the life of a christian ; zealous, patient, resigned, humble. He 
was at all times no less watchful over himself than he was observant of 
whatever was calculated to weaken the faith or taint the morals of those 
who had been committed to his pastoral care. The precepts which he 


was in the habit of insisting on in all his instructions were these: morn 
ing and night prayers in common ; regularity in approaching the tribu- 
nal of penance and the holy table ; devotion to the Blessed Virgin and 
frequent repetition of her rosary; punctuality in hearing mass on 
Sundays and holidays of obligation ; instruction of children and ser- 
vants in the principles of their faith. 

His regulations, in respect to the duty of hearing mass, would 
likely be considered somewhat exacting at the present day. He 
excused only those who, having horses, would have to ride more 
than ten miles in order to be present at the Holy Sacrifice. For such 
as had to walk to church, the exonerating point was set at the five- 
mile limit. * 

Alone and unaided. Father Badin could not have possibly secured, 
to their full extent, the great results which followed his missionary 
labors in Kentucky. He had earnest helpers among the laity. In 
every congregation he had a corps of catechists, men and women, 
whom he had trained to represent ecclesiastical authority and guid- 
ance over the children, and such among the adults as were little 
instructed in the principles and practice of their faith. On Sundays, 
in the absence of their pastor, the greater parts of the congregations 
were wont to repair to the nearest church, or station, and there 
engage in exercises of piety. Often, on such occasions, in lieu of a 
sermon, one of the catechists would read a chapter from some work 
of Catholic piety ; and thus were formed in all habits of punctuality 
in the performance of religious duty that have not yet lost their 
influence for good upon their children's children. 

Even among those who had been brought up in servitude. Father 
Badin had his trusted helpers. Conspicuous among these, was 
" Uncle Harry," an elderly negro servant of one of the earliest of the 
colonists, whose whole life was an example of the sublimest christian 
virtue. Dr. Spalding thus refers to Uncle Harry: 

"On the death of his master, he became the property of infant 
heirs; and he was left by the executor of the estate to his own choice 
in the selection of his employment. He determined to go to the Salt 
Licks, thinking he could there earn more by his labor for the benefit 
of the young heirs. Father Badin, to whom he had applied for 
advice, endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, and repre- 
sented to him the hardships he would have to undergo ; the distance 

* The frivolous excuses by which so many Catholics of the present day 
attempt to justify their absence from church on the days prescribed as of 
obligation, were almost wholly unknown among our Catholic progenitors of 
three-quarters of a century ago. Sacrifices of convenience and comfort were 
cheerfully made in those days for the privilege of kneeling before God's holy 
altar, and of worshiping the truly present Deity reposing thereon. In those 
times, the early hours of Sunday mornings found the roads leading to the 
churches literally alive with detached parties, mostly on horseback, but many 
on foot, moving decorously toward a common center, where the holy mass was 
to be offered up for the living and the dead, 



he would be from church, and the danger to which his salvation would 
be exposed. 

" ' Uncle Harry' replied to this last consideration, with admirable 
simplicity of faith : ' God would protect him from danger, and the 
Blessed Virgin would take care of him. ' Father Badin yielded. At the 
Licks ' Uncle Harry ' was a model of piety for all. When any one of 
his fellow-servants was sick, it was he that was always called for. On 
these occasions, he did everything in his power to console and instruct 
the sick person, by the bed-side of whom he was wont to recite his 
beads, and to say all the prayers he knew. Sometime afterwards he 
was pubhcly sold, and purchased by a man who was not a CathoHc. 
He obtained permission to see Father Badin, whom he induced to 
purchase him, promising that his labor should indemnify him for what- 
ever expense he might incur. A year or two later Father Badin paid 
him a visit. He was found laboring in the field, and apparently much 
dejected. Being asked the reason of his sadness, he answered, that he 
was fearful lest he should die before he could repay his kind master the 
amount he had expended for his purchase. It is needless to say that 
he was soon comforted. 

" He said prayers, morning and night, with the other servants, all of 
whom had for him the greatest respect. He gave them the most com- 
fortable beds, and often spent the night in prayer, taking but a brief 
repose on the hard floor. In the church, he always knelt as immovable 
as a statue, and was often there for hours before the rest of the congre- 
gation. His whole life appeared to be one continual prayer ; and he died 
as he had lived, praying. One morning he was found dead, sitting 
upright on a stool, his hands clasped in prayer, holding his beads, and 
his countenance irradiated with a smile." [Sketches, pp 11 6-1 17.] 

Father Badin was well known to most of the public men of Ken- 
tucky, by many of whom he was held in the highest esteem. Among 
his earlier non-Catholic friends may be named: Richard M. Johnson, 
afterwards vice-president of the United States; Wm. T. Barry, after- 
wards senator in congress, postmaster general and minister to Spain; 
Judge John Rowan, afterwards judge of the court of appeals and 
senator in congress; Gen. Robert Todd, Judge George Robertson 
and Robert Alexander, of Lexington; Col. Joe Daviess;* Judge 
George M. Bibb; Hon. John Pope^ Worden Pope, Esq.; and Judges 
Stephen Ormsby and John P. Oldham, of Louisville. It appeared 
a real pleasure to these non-Catholic gentlemen, and to many like 

* His first acquaintance with Col. Joe Daviess, than whom, in his day, there 
were few more deservedly popular men in Kentucky, was the result of an acci- 
dent. Col. Daviess had missed his way while traveling, and accidentally called 
at St. Stephen's for direction. The acquaintance thus began, soon ripened into 
a warm mutual friendship. Col. Daviess had never before seen a Catholic 
piest, and he was astonished to find in Father Badin a man so thoroughly 
intelligent and polite. The priest loaned him several Catholic works, and he 
promised to make himself better acquainted with the Catholic doctrine. Col. 
Daviess was killed in the battle of Tippecanoe, November 7th, 181 1. 


them in different parts of the State, to have Father Badin a guest 
in their houses; and, not unfrequently, he was liberally aided by them 
in his efforts to provide church accommodations for the poorer of his 

In his intercourse with non-Catholics, Father Badin followed a rule 
that rarely failed to win for him their confidence and respect. He 
was always courteous, and there was neither boldness nor condescen- 
sion in his manner of addressing them. He met them simply as 
equals. He never obtruded upon them either his opinions or his con- 
victions; but when asked the reasons for the hope that was in him, he 
was as careful to state the exact truth as he was to guard his tongue 
against language that was in the least calculated to give offence. It 
was only towards the rudely impertinent that he was in the habit of giv- 
ing full play to his uncommon powers as a wit and satirist. In such 
cases, he rarely failed to send his adversaries discomfitted from the 
field. Here are two cases in point: 

Once, when a Protestant minister and one of his friends were riding 
along a country road, they espied in the distance, approaching them 
in the direction from which they were riding, the well-known form of 
Father Badin. He was reading his office — the reins fallen from his 
hands and loosely dangling from his horse's neck. When the parties 
met, the Protestant minister addressed him politely, inquired after his 
health, and they were soon engaged in a conversation which culmi- 
nated in the following dialogue : 

''Father Badin," said the minister, "you are yet a strong and 
vigorous man, and moderately good-looking ; why don't you marry? " 

" I am married — I have long been married," said the priest. 

"Is it possible!" exclaimed the minister. "I always thought 
that you were a bachelor. Whom did you marry ?" 

" I was married to the Holy Church of God when I became, by 
virtue of ordination, one of her ministers," said Father Badin. 

'* O," said the minister, " I too am married to the church; but I 
have a woman for my wife." 

"Ah," said Father Badin, "You are married to the church, and 
you are married to a woman! You have two wives, then. All I 
have to say is, that one or the other of them must be a s 1." 

Father Badin was once met by a Presbyterian clergyman, on the 
road leading from Bardstown to Fairfield. The priest had his saddle 
strapped upon his back, and was trudging along on foot. 

"Where's your horse, Father Badin? " asked the minister. 

" He was taken sick and died on the road," answered the priest. 

"Did you give him absolution before he died?" questioned the 

"O no," answered Father Badin; "it would have been useless; 
the silly animal turned Presbyterian /// articulo mortis, and went straight 
to hell." 

The reader will not understand Father Badin as implying by this 
answer that he was ever in the habit of passing judgment upon the 


question of any deceased person's salvation. Catholics never do this, 
since it is impossible for them to measure either the mercy of God or 
the disposition of a man at the moment of his death. His answer, the 
wit of which will not be denied, was meant simply as a proper rebuke 
to a most impertient question. 

It will not surprise Catholics to learn that the number of converts 
brought into the church by baptism, during Father Badin's public min- 
istry in Kentucky, were reckoned by hundreds. His own example 
and that of the great majority of those for whose spiritual elevation he 
was constantly laboring, were ever present incentives to similar upright- 
ness of walk before God for all such as had opportunities to witness 
their every-day manner of life. In very many cases, conversion was 
the result of zeal displayed by certain pious laymen and women; and, 
not unfrequently, the pastor's first knowledge of any such conversion 
came with the presentation of the party before him sufficiently instructed 
for baptism. 

Among the most noted of Father Badin's converts, may be named 
Judge James Twyman, a soldier of tried courage in the Indian wars of 
the State, and afterwards a lawyer of great distinction. He was at 
once a reasoning and a reasonable man, and when he had once con- 
vinced himself of the truth of a propostion, it was not his habit to shirk 
the responsibility of its open and prompt acceptance. After having 
had the doctrines of the Church explained to him by Father Badin, he 
sought for other light through the medium of books; and, with the 
removal of doubt, he presented himself for baptism with proper chris- 
tian humility. * 

Another of Father Badin's converts was a Mrs. Onan, a 

woman of strong practical sense, and having an excellent memory. 
Though she was wholly ignorant of letters, she had, so to speak, 
almost the entire Bible at her fingers' ends. After her conversion. 
Father Badin was in the habit of occasionally saying mass at her 
house. Her defection, as they called it, was very unpalatable to her 
old Protestant friends, and the preachers among them were indefatig- 
able in their endeavors to convince her that she had blundered in 
changing her religion. When they sought to overwhelm her by dis- 
plays of their scriptural knowledge, she met their onslaughts by fling- 

*0n a certain occasion, while he was attending court in the town of Wash- 
ington, Mason county, Judge Twyman was sitting at the table in the public 
tavern of the place with a number of his professional brethren and others, 
when the conversation happened to turn on the subject of religion, and, 
eventually, on what some of the company were pleased to call " the stupidity 
of Catholics in worshiping images, and in paying divine honors to the Virgin 
Mary." During a lull in the table-talk, which, under the excitement of the 
theme, had been somewhat boisterous, and decidedly abusive of the "Romans" 
and their religion, Judge Twyman arose to his feet and exclaimed : " Look at 
me ! Do you take me for a fool ! I am a Roman Catholic ! I was raised a Pro- 
testant; and I embraced Catholicism, only after long and careful examination! " 
The announcement created a sensation, and not another word was said touch- 
ing either Catholics or their religion. 


ing in their faces other passages of the Bible ; and she often did this to 
their manifest confusion.* 

Father Badin had litde respect for pubHc oral controversy as a means 
of enlightenment on the subject of religion. But in the state of pub- 
lic sentiment, which was then largely hostile to the Catholic Church, 
it will not be thought surprising that he was forced at times to act on 
the defensive. He was often "challenged to appear in public debate 
with the more pugnacious of the Protestant ministers of the day ; and, 
on a few occasions, he was known to lend an unwilling ear to their 
solicitations. Vastly more learned than any of them, and far better 
versed in biblical literature, his victories were invariably assured and 
easy. It was a habit with him, when he happened to hear that a par- 
ticular Catholic doctrine had been the subject of discourse from some 
neighborhood Protestant pulpit, to instruct his own people upon the 
point that had been controverted, so that the intelligent among them 
might be able to give to honest inquirers a satisfactory explanation of 
the doctrine impugned. 

He had ordinarily too much to do to bandy words with the Protes- 
tant ministers of his acquaintance ; but he never shirked their advances 
nor treated them with discourtesy. When, however, they made too 
great exhibition of either ignorance or insolence, none knew better 
than he how to put a stopper upon their wordy or offensive outpourings. 
An apt inuendo, a sharp stroke of wit, or a cutting satire delivered in 
a single sentence, was generally all that was necessary to induce them 
to defer to a more fitting opportunity their predetermined and prear- 
ranged onslaughts upon "the Romish priest." The anecdotes that 
follow will give the reader a fair idea of his capabilities as a wit : 

On a certain occasion, a preacher who, in addition to his clerical 
calling, pretended that he was able to discover the presence of water 
in the earth by the use of the divining-rod, asked him pompously, 
profanely using the words of our blessed Lord: " Who do men say 
that I am?" Father Badin answered immediately: " They say that 
you are a preacher and a water-wizard." 

Father Badin had stopped at Danville, on another occasion, with 
the intention of visiting the family of the late Daniel Mcllvoy, the 
only Catholic resident of the town. A Mr. Vardiman, a well-known 
Protestant minister of the day, was then in the place, and on the eve- 
ning before had preached a sermon in ridicule of Catholic practices, and 
had been especially severe on that of the rosary or beads. Vardiman 

* On the occasion of a visit paid by Father Badin to this lady sometime dur- 
ing the year 1808, she informed him that a Baptist preacher, living in the 
neighborhood, had declared from his pulpit on the Sunday previous, that 
he was able to prove from the written word of God that the "Romans" — 
by which term was implied the Catholics — had actually crucified the Savior of 
the world. The poor man had confounded the Roman soldiers serving under 
Pilate with the modern " Romans " who had captured Mrs. Onan. This good 
lady wanted to go at once and refute the absurd charge; but Father Badin per- 
suaded her that it would be best for her to stay at home, to say her prayers, and 
tQ permit the preachers to be as absurd as they pleased. 


had often met Father Badin before, and seeing him enter the house of 
Mr. Mcllvoy, determmed to have a talk with him. He was perceived 
before reaching Mr. Mcllvoy' s door, and that gendeman had barely 
time to inform Father Badin of the sermon of the previous evening, 
when he entered the room. With true Irish hospitality, Mr. Mclvoy 
set refreshments before his visitors, including a bottle of brandy, 
remarking incidentally that he believed the latter to be a good article. 
Father Badin took up the bottle, shook it for a moment, and holding 
it up to the light remarked, with a sly look at his host, "Ah this is 
good Catholic brandy; I see that it has the beads. '^ 

A characteristic anecdote of Father Badin runs thus: A church 
had been long needed in a certain Catholic neighborhood, and he deter- 
mined to make an effort to secure enough to build it from the heads of 
families in the congregation. Having written out proposals for sub- 
scriptions, and headed the paper with his own name, he handed it to a 
gentleman of known liberahty by whom it was signed, and after whose 
name appeared figures constituting a respectable sum of money. To 
one after another of his parishioners the hst was presented by the priest, 
until all had signed it; but where he had expected subscriptions of 
tens, the record called only for units. Exhibiting the list afterwards to 
his single parishioner who had shown reasonable interest in the contem- 
plated work, that gentleman remarked: "Why, Father Badin, one 
might suppose that the people whose names are here were heretics and 
not Catholics, so little do they give evidence of christian charity." To 
this the priest made answer: "I don't know if they be tainted with 
heresy or not; but of one thing I am quite certain — they are not of the 
sect of the Donatists." 

It is not to be denied that the first Catholic settlers in Kentucky 
were not proverbial for their liberality to the Church. But there are 
excuses for them to which much weight should be attached. It is to be 
remembered, in the first place, that they and their forefathers of the 
old colony of St. Mary's had been served by priests whose stipends 
were paid out of funds raised for the purpose in Europe. The calls 
made upon them for money to be expended for religious purposes had 
been infrequent and for trifling sums. In their new homes, they rightly 
considered that the first requisite of their isolated situation was a legi- 
timate pastor; but it required years for them to learn the full extent of 
their obligations in respect to his proper maintenance and that of the 
altar at which he served. In the second place, the emigrants were 
very generally poor, at least in the sense that they had very little 

Upon the declaration of peace, after the war of 1812, there was 
great rejoicing in Kentucky. In many of the Protestant churches 
extraordinary services of thanksgiving were held in commemoration of 
the happy event. Father Badin happened to be in Scott county in the 
height of the excitement, and a number of his parishioners suggested 
to him the propriety of holding a similar service according to the Cath- 
olic ritual. 


He agreed at once ; and a day was appointed, and notification given 
to the neighborhood. A commodious school-house, near the Great 
Crossings, was fitted up for the occasion; and, at the appointed hour, 
a large crowd was in attendance, mostly made up of Protestants or 
non-Catholics. Conspicuous among these were Richard M. Johnson 
and William T. Barry. At the close of the mass of thanksgiving, 
Father Badin turned to those present and said : " Now, my friends, you 
will kneel down with me, and we will give thanks to the good Lord for 
His mercies." The Catholics present, of course, came to their knees 
at once ; but these did not number one in ten of the audience. Again 
the priest lifted up his voice and said : ' ' All you who are christians 
will kneel down with me and thank the Lord for His mercies ! " Thus 
apostrophized, the greater number of the standers fell upon their knees. 
But there was a goodly number still standing, and among them were 
the parties above named. Fixing his eyes upon those leaders of 
societv and political action, Father Badin exclaimed: "All you who 
are gentlemen will kneel down with me and return thanks to the Lord 
our God who has remembered us in mercy ! " It is needless to say 
that there was no more faltering in that assemblage.* 

*This anecdote comes to me from Patrick Joyce, Esq. of Louisville, a 
Protestant 'riend, who had it from one who was present on the occasion referred 
to in the text. 

Among my earliest recollections of persons, there are few that remain to the 
present time more distinct than those that refer to Father Badin. He was often 
at the house of my father, in Bardstown, when I was a child; and, as he took 
occasion to tell me a quarter of a century later, the two had been devoted 
friends. It is quite certain that I have no memory of the time when I did not 
know him. I am not sure, however, that the picture I propose to give of his 
person, is not to be referred raiher to what I have heard concerning his appear- 
ance than to my own early impressions. In 1819, the time to which I allude, I 
was not yet six years old, and Father Badin had entered upon his fifty-second 
year. He was a little under the average height of men, and though compactly 
built, I doubt if his average weight was over a hundred and forty pounds. His 
face was healthfully florid ; his eyes, hazel in color, and kindly in expression, were 
often seen flashing with humor; and his hair, slightly streaked with gray, with 
here and there an independent lock that appeared half disposed to curl, hung 
disorderedly about his forehead and ears. He was impulsive in both speech and 
action, and not a little given to jesting when in the company of his friends. 
There was at this time no indecision in his movements, and no appearance of 
loss of physical energy. 




By many persons, Rev. Charles Nerinckx is regarded equally enti- 
tled with Rev. Father Badin, to the honor and distinction of having 
consolidated the Catholic faith in Kentucky. His name is to this day 
associated in the minds of the Catholic people of the State with the 
idea conveyed by the term robusttiess. He is still looked upon by 
numbers of the faithful of the country, as having h^Qn, par excellence, 
the missionary of his day in the west; as having imbibed in a greater 
degree than others, the spirit of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and as 
having labored unceasingly, as did his great prototype, to render his 
ministry profitable to those to whom he had been sent. It is not the 
purpose of the writer to give here any extended sketch of the life of 
this extraordinary priest. That has already been admirably done by 
Rev. C. P. Maes, whose "Life of Rev. Charles Nerinckx" has been 
before the public since 1880. Besides, elsewhere in this history, and 
in many places, his labors in connection with many of the early 
missions of the State, have been abundantly referred to. 

Charles Nerinckx was the oldest of fourteen children born to their 
parents, Sebastian Nerinckx and Petronilla Langendries, of the village 
of Herffelingen, in Belgium. The father was a physician of some 
note, and he was still more notable for his many christian virtues. 
The mother is compared, by the biographer of her son, to the 
"valiant woman" of Holy Writ. That the comparison is just, is 
implied by the fact that two of her sons became priests, and three of 
her daughters nuns. Soon after the birth of their first child and son, 
October 2d, 1761, the family removed to Ninove, in East Flanders, 
where, as the author of the " Life of Father Nerinckx," tells us, "the 
couple lived secluded and without ostentation; distinguished, if at all, 
from their neighbors, more by the earnestness and priest-like zeal 
which the doctor brought to the discharge of his duties, and the 
unobtrusive piety and conscientious care with which the young mother 
governed her household, than by any exterior show." Charles 
Nerinckx was sent, first to the college of Enghein, near Ninove, and 
afterwards to that of Gheel. The third school entered by him was 
the Catholic University of Louvain, whence, in 1781, he became a 
student in the theological seminary of Mechlin. His ordination took 


place toward the end of the year 1785; and, a year later, he was 
appointed vicar of the Metropolitan parish of St. Rumoldus, Mech- 
lin. In 1794, he was promoted to the pastorship of Everberg- 
Meerbeke, where he entered upon his work with such earnestness as to 
soon bring about many needed reforms. He remodeled the church, and 
changed the aspect of the parish from one of recognized disorder and 
irreligion, to one in which was to be seen regularity and a high degree 
of practical piety. In 1797, the armies of the French revolution 
reached Belgium, and all was confusion. Warned that an order for 
his arrest had been issued, he fled by night, disguised as a peasant, 
and was enabled to secrete himself in the hospital of St. Blase, Dender- 
monde, where his aunt. Mother Constantia Langendries, was of the 
sisterhood in charge. For four years, says his biographer, Father 
Nerinckx devoted himself in secret to labors in the interests of 
religion and humanity. Unknown, except to the members of the 
community, and to those to whom he was introduced by them, 
mosdy patients in the institution, his ministrations bore abundant 
fruits. After his mass for the community, which was said at two 
o'clock in the morning, he visited the wounded prisoners shut up in 
the hospital, and awaiting execution. He administered to them the 
last sacraments, and blessed them from his secret hiding-place, as 
they passed through the portals of the hospital to unmerited death. 
Often, too, at the peril of his life, he visited, by stealth, his abandoned 
parish of Meerbeke, administering the sacraments to his forlorn 
people, and encouraging them to bear their trials with patience. He 
was often in proximate danger of discovery, but trustful in the protec- 
tion of Providence, he persevered, taking his rest in the day and 
laboring at night. This was continued for four years, and then 
there came a change that left him free to labor in his native land, but 
not untrammelled by conditions that he looked upon as burdensome to 

As early as the year 1800, Father Nerinckx had thoughts of devot- 
ing himself to the foreign missions. On the 20th ot November, 1803, 
he applied to Bishop Carroll, by letter, for admission to the ranks of 
his clerical force, and upon the receipt of that prelate's assurance 
of welcome, he made preparation for his voyage to America. On the 
14th of August, 1804, he embarked for the United States from Amster- 
dam, and on the 14th of October he arrived at Baltimore and was 
kindly received by Bishop Carroll. 

The hapless condition of the Catholic people in Kentucky was at 
this time a subject of grief and embarrassment to Bishop Carroll. For 
more than two years his vicar in that distant mission had been over- 
whelmed with work. With none to assist him for that length of time, 
he had vainly striven to stretch his ministry so as to make it available 
to all. There was no neglect, no lack of energy on his part, but the 
field was too great to be gone over by any one man, and the number 
of the faithful too many to enable any one priest to minister to the 
spiritual needs of all. People were left for nionths without any oppor- 


tunlty of hearing mass ; they were even dying without the grace of the 
Sacraments, and there was no help for it. Father Badin had repeat- 
edly implored his superior to send him an assistant ; but, anxious as 
had been Bishop Carroll to do so, he had hitherto been wholly unable 
to comply with his wishes. The coming of Father Nerinckx under 
such circumstances, was regarded by him as providential ; and when 
the good ecclesiastic was told of the urgency of the case, he did not 
hesitate for a moment, but announced his readiness to go at once to 
the assistance of his over-worked brother priest in the wilds of 

Father Nerinckx reached the humble residence of Father Badin on 
the 1 8th of July, 1805, and at once the two priests became fast friends 
and energetic co-workers in the wide field of missionary duty to which 
they had been assigned. The Belgian priest was at this time in the 
45th year of his age, and knowing little as yet of the spoken language 
of the country, it is presumable that most of his time for a few 
months after his arrival at St. Stephen's was given to the study of 
English. He never did acquire a correct pronunciation of the lan- 
guage, but he was soon able to make himself understood, and for the 
rest, the man and his manners were all sufficient to impress favorably 
all listeners to his sermons and exhortations. 

Nominally, the residence of Father Nerinckx was with Father 
Badin, at St. Stephen's, until the arrival of Bishop Flaget in Kentucky 
in the summer of 181 1. In fact, he was only to be found there when 
his associate was engaged on one or another of his distant missions. 
For the rest of the time he was a true nomad, here to-day and there 
to-morrow, but always where his services were most needed. His first 
winter in Kentucky was spent in preaching the jubilee, and the fruits 
of his labors were of sufficient importance to fill his heart with joy and 
thankfulness to God. A characteristic letter written by him early in 
December, 1805, and copied by Rev. C. P. Maes in the history he 
has given us of his life, should have in it much of interest to Catholics 
of the present day in Kentucky : 

' ' On the second of December, we opened the first jubilee ever held 
in this part of the New World. About i p. m., we walked in proces- 
sion from the parish church, now called Holy Cross, to the house 
where the Trappists live, a distance of nearly a mile. I had the hap- 
piness of carrying the most blessed Sacrament, and gave benediction 
from an altar built alongside the street (road). The priests of the 
Trappist community assisted, and the people showed much devotion. 
The good work is eminently successful, but it is impossible to do jus- 
tice to it ; it is as much beyond our strength as the sun is above our 
heads. We find out scores of people of twenty years and over who 
never made their first communion. Early rising, hard work and late 
meals tell on us all, and we are so lean that we will soon be able to 
worry through the narrow gate of heaven. God grant it ! " 

In April, 1806, Fathers Nerinckx and Badin visited Post Vincen- 
nes, where they remained for seven days engaged in missionary work. 


Before this time, Father Nerinckx had serious thoughts of joining the 
Trappists. Happily for the thousands who were afterwards benefitted 
by his ministry, he was dissuaded from his purpose by the remon- 
strances of Bishop Carroll and Father Badin. He had not been ten 
years in the State before he was known by the tide of the "church 
builder." Dr. Spalding tells us that he put up, or caused to be \mt up, 
ten churches during the nineteen years he was connected with the mis- 
sions of the State. These were : Holy Mary's, on the Rolling Fork ; 
St. Charles', on Hardin's creek; St. Augustine's, in Lebanon, and the 
renewed church of Holy Cross, all in the present county of Marion ; St. 
Anthony's and St. Romuald's, in Breckinridge county; St. Clare's, in 
Hardin county; St. Patrick's in Mercer county; St. Bernard's on 
Casey creek, in Adair county, and St. Augustine's, in Grayson county. 
The traditions respecting Father Nerinckx that have come down to 
the present time and are common among Catholics living in the cen- 
tral parts of the State, represent him as a wonder of zeal, of piety and 
of physical and intellectual energy. According to these traditions, he 
gave to his work the full measure of his time and the utmost strength 
of his faculties. He was so much a stranger to sloth that he gave to 
repose but half its dues, and this grudgingly. No sooner did he find 
his work done at one church or station than he was off to another. * 
He appeared to court the things that were less agreeable to the natural 
man. Toil was the element in which he lived, and the more he found 
to do, the more he also appeared to give himself up to his work, and 
to praise God for having given him the strength to compass it. A ride 
of fifty miles without breaking his fast was with him a common occur- 
rence; and then, it might be, after having partaken of a cup of milk 
and a corn dodger, or probably as much bread and a slice of bacon, 
cold from the dinner of the day, he would hear confessions till far in 
the night, and be up to resume his work by day-break in the morning. 
He was Uttle dainty in respect to the food he ate, eating but to sustain 
life, and often preferring to endure hunger rather than to give trouble 
to others, f Reaching a station after the household was asleep, he 

* Father Nerinckx was of the average height of men, but heavily and com- 
pactly built. His weight, added to the speed at which he traveled and the 
length of his journeys, would have been too much for ordinary equine resist- 
ance. Satisfied himself of this fact, he was on the constant look-out for a 
horse that would enable him to go swiftly on sick calls, and to fulfill the least 
and greatest of his engagements. He was fortunate enough to secure, in the 
early years of his missionary career in Kentucky, an animal that never failed 
him, no matter how exacting were the tasks required of his heels. In time the 
ubiquitous priest was a no more familiar object in the Catholic settlements of 
Central Kentucky than was his famous horse, Printer. Anecdotes of this 
animal's extraordinary performances were rife in the State sixty years ago ; but 
since my present business is not with the horse, but his master, I will have to 
forego their repetition here. 

t Writing to his parents in 1807, he thus describes his bodily ailments and 
their cause : " I feel that my strength of body is diminishing, and my vigor of 
mind giving way under the constant pressure of hard work. I am frequently 
troubled with diarrhoea and indigestion, owing to reasons which I cannot 


would Stable his horse and take his own rest under no more favorable 
conditions ; and when the inmates of the house arose next morning, 
they would find him up, and either saying his office or making his med- 
itation before mass. 

Father Nerinckx was an austere man, but he was singularly free 
from moroseness. Whatever he did or said, few, if any, ever misin- 
terpreted his motives. It was plain to all that he was at once forget- 
ful of self and mindful of his neighbor. His very severities, and no 
one could be more severe on occasion, appeared to be drawn from him 
by the jealous regard he had for truth and the honor of his Divine 
Master. His estimate of his own capabilities was modest in the extreme. 
Eminently successful as a pastor of souls in his own country, and 
equally so as a missionary priest in Kentucky, he appeared to be filled 
with distrust of the adequateness of his labors; and when, in 1808, he 
was informed of his appointment to the See of New Orleans, he rested 
not till he had secured release from the designated honor. He was 
ready to accept the labors of the Louisiana mission, but he shrank 
from the idea of episcopal responsibility in giving to them shape and 

Anecdotes of Father Nerinckx's great physical strength are quite 
numerous. It is safe to say that the labor of his hands was equal to 
that of any other two twice told in the building of every church in 
Kentucky with whose construction his name has been connected. His 
adventure with a rough character named Hardin is well told by Dr. 
Spalding. It would seem that the priest was in the habit of speaking 
plainly of breaches of decorum in church, and one day he animad- 
verted severely against the ill conduct of a knot of young men who 
were disturbing the solemnity of the place and the occasion. One of 
them, the party named, took serious offense at the reprimand, and 
vowed vengeance against the priest. He was a stalwart fellow, and not 
a little of a bully, and he took occasion to waylay the priest and to 
demand his submission to a drubbing. Before Father Nerinckx was 
aware of his motive, however, he had seized the bridle of his horse, 
and by a dexterous use of his knife, parted one of the stirrup-leathers 
that hung from his saddle-flaps. To the young man's imperious demand 
that he should dismount and engage with him in a fist-fight the 
priest answered mildly, as became him ; he assured him that he had 
not intended personal offense by the language he had used ; and he 
begged him to remember that he was a minister of religion, and that it 
would he wholly unbecoming in him to accept his challenge. The 
bully would not be put off, and the priest was forced to dismount. 
Avoiding the blow struck at him by the infuriated man. Father Ner- 
inckx clasped him in his arms, and, with more of gentleness than the 
occasion demanded, laid him flat on the ground. The fellow did not 

avoid : among others, long fastings and very irregular meals. Many a day I 
have only one very late meal, entirely different from the food I was used to." 
[Life C. N. p 128.] 


care to experiment further with a man whose hug was resistless, and 
upon his promise to behave himself for the future, he was permitted to 
rise and go about his business. 

In rail-making, as is well known by woodsmen, the first insertion 
into the log of the iron wedge used for splitting it apart, can ordinarily 
be accomplished only by gentle taps of the maul, delivered upon the 
head of the wedge. A hard blow at this early stage of the operation 
is almost sure to end disastrously, as many a discomfitted tyro in the 
business has found out to his cost. One day, when the country was 
new to him. Father Nerinckx witnessed for the first time the operation 
of splitting rails on the farm occupied by Mr. Basil Mattingly. Observ- 
ing the singularity of the process, he asked to be permitted to attack 
the wedge without the preliminary of easy tapping as described. ' ' But 
the wedge will rebound, Father Nerinckx, and it may strike and hurt 
you," cautioned Mr. Mattingly. The priest persisted, and having struck 
the edge of the instrument through the bark until it stood upright, he 
took the maul in hand and with a single blow drove it more than one- 
half its length into the stiff wood. There was no rebound of course, 
because there could not be; and Mr. Mattingly was afterwards in 
the habit of declaring that in all his experience he had never witnessed 
an exhibition of such wonderful physical power. 

Dr. Spalding tells us that though Father Nerinckx had charge of 
but six congregations, the stations served by him were many, and that 
these were "scattered over the whole extent of Kentucky." Wherever 
he could learn that there were Catholic settlers, however few, there he 
established a station. The labors he thus voluntarily assumed would 
now be esteemed incredible. He was a swift rider, and he was never 
known to waste an hour of his time, but it ordinarily took him six 
weeks to make the circuit of his churches and stations. 

The terms "rest," "recreation," "sociality," had no meaning for 
one who had given himself altogether to God and to the interests of 
the souls purchased by the blood of His Son. He lived and labored 
as if the words of the beloved disciple were ever before his eyes in 
letters of fire: " I must work the works of Him that sent me whilst it 
is yet day; the night cometh when no man can work." He recked not 
of personal danger at any time when it was question of priestly duty. 
More than once when he had been called to the sick, he swam rivers 
at flood-tide, and on one such occasion he was swept from his horse's 
back and only saved himself from drowning by a fortunate grasp he 
made at the tail of the noble animal he was riding. 

Wherever he went, his confessional was thronged with penitents. 
His very appearance was a suggestion of God's mercy and goodness 
to sinners. Then it was his habit before entering the confessional 
to address those who had assembled for the reception of the sacrament 
on its nature, conditions and the dispositions with which it should be 
approached. Austere elsewhere, in the sacred tribunal he was kind 
and tender and patient. It is still of tradition in those parts of Ken- 
tucky in which he labored that it was a rare thing to find one of his 


penitents backsliding into grievous sin ; and it is quite certain that the 
present descendants of those who were once his penitents are among 
the most pious and exemplary of their respective congregations. 

One of the most noteworthy characteristics of Father Nerinckx was 
his attentiveness to the spiritual needs of the "little ones of Christ" — 
the children and servants of the congregations served by him. With 
these he took infinite pains, firmly, yet gently, leading them by the 
pathway of knowledge to the love of their religion, and to a rightful 
appreciation of duty. It is said that his manner of dealing with chil- 
dren was most winning, and that the affection they had for him was 
everywhere remarkable. "In Kentucky, as in Belgium," says Dr. 
Spalding, ' ' he sought to inculcate a tender devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin. Under her invocation was dedicated the first church built by 
him in Kentucky, that of Holy Mary's. His churches were generally 
built in the form of a cross, the two arms of which, with one half of 
the body, were occupied respectively by the men and the women, who 
were always kept separate. After mass, he was in the habit of practic- 
ing a devotion that was as beautiful as it was touching and impressive. 
In the center of the Church, and surrounded by the children of the 
congregation, he would place himself on his knees, and with arms 
extended in the shape of a cross, the attending children assuming the 
same position, he would recite prayers in honor of the five wounds of 
our divine Lord. The parents often joined with their children in this 
moving devotion. After this, he would lead his little congregation 
into the adjoining graveyard, where he caused them to visit and pray 
over the graves of their deceased relatives and friends." 

Quoting from letters of Bishop Flaget, Dr. Spalding inserts the fol- 
lowing in his sketch of the life of the renowned missionary : " the con- 
tinual traveling which M. Nerinckx was obliged to undergo, at all 
seasons of the year, and exposed to every inconvenience, would have 
terrified the most enterprising pioneers. . . . He made two journeys 
to Europe, and the valuables he secured for the Church of Kentucky, 
were equivalent to the sum of $15,000.* 

"Nothing could exceed his devotion to the Holy Sacrament of our 
altars. Never did he permit a day to pass without celebrating mass, 
when that was possible ; and a* rule of his monasteries is, to keep up, 
even during the night, the perpetual adoration by a succession of two 
sisters to two sisters before the Holy Sacrament. This good man had 
also great filial piety toward Mary, the Mother of Jesus. . . . Often 
did the pious ejaculation, which he was in the habit of teaching to 
others, escape from his own lips : ' Oh, suffering Jesus ! Oh, sorrowful 
Mary ! ' In all the churches attended by him he established the society 
of the Holy Rosary and the confraternity and sisterhood of the Scap- 
ular ; and almost all the Catholics of his congregations are still enrolled 

* A single one of the pictures presented to him for the cathedral of the dio- 
cese, and now to be seen in that of the Assumption, Louisville, is intrinsically 
.worth more than half this sum. 


in one or more of these pious societies. . . . Nothing could be more 
edifying than his piety toward the dead. He never permitted a week 
to pass without offering up the mass for their repose." 

Father Nerinckx was a wonderful man ; and he was alike wonder- 
ful in what may not be inappropriately termed the audacity of his 
courage and in his extraordinary humility. He was a giant to labor, 
and a child to receive and profit by instruction. But his labors in the 
field of missionary enterprise, great beyond computation as they were, 
were dwarfed by a single work of his, the beneficial results of which 
have gone on increasing to the present day. He was the founder of 
the institute of Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, better known 
in his own lifetime, as the Sisterhood of Loretto. Had he done noth- 
ing else for Catholicity in the United States, this one consummation 
of his zeal and charity were still enough to perpetuate his fame with 
the Catholic people of thf country. This noble institute, still guided 
by the spirit he infused into its rules, has now its arms stretched out 
till its finger tips, so to speak, are touching the sea to the West ; and, 
wherever the sisterhood has been established, its members are to be 
found teaching the young of their sex what they owe to heaven, to 
their parents and to themselves. 

We come now to the facts, alleged and ascertained, which induced 
Rev. Charles Nerinckx to abandon the diocese in 1824, and which 
shortly preceded his death. There was, undoubtedly, divergence of 
opinion between Rev. G. I. Chabrat, local superior of the convent of 
Bethania, near Fairfield, a branch establishment of the Loretto insti- 
tute, and himself in regard to the rules he had promulgated for the 
government of the community. Father Chabrat looked upon these 
rules as unbearable because of their severity, and he repeatedly called 
the attention of Bishop Flaget to them with a view to their modifica- 
tion. On the other hand, as is alleged, the sisters were themselves 
opposed to the change. They had memory of their associates who had 
already reached heaven by the way of mortification, and they seemed 
to fear that their own progress toward perfection would be impeded in 
proportion to their deviation from the paths they trod. Dr. Chabrat, 
says the biographer of Father Nerinckx, was trying to arrogate to him- 
self the right of altering, at Bethania, the rules of the society ; he cen- 
sured the piety of its ecclesiastical superior as visionary and over-done ; 
he urged his removal; and, in 1824, " he wrote to Bishop Flaget a 
lengthy letter in which he enumerated all his complaints against him 
and his style of piety, censuring him for excessive rigor in his govern- 
ment of the community, and for unnecessary severity in the direction 
of souls. The bishop was much embarrassed, for he held both 
priests in great esteem. He made known to the superior, however, 
the complaints that had been made against him, but left his future 
course to his own prudence." 

Under the circumstances related, Father Nerinckx concluded that 
it would be best for all concerned that he should leave Kentucky and 
devote the remainder of his days to his former and abandoned project 


of Indian conversion. He left Loretto on horseback on the i6th of 
June, 1824, accompanied by Brother James Van Rysselberghe, whom 
he had brought with him to the country in 1821, and he reached the 
convent of Bethlehem, in Perry county, Missouri, where had been 
established, the year before, a branch house of his beloved sisterhood 
of Loretto, on the 20th of July following. He told the sisters he had 
come to pass the remainder of his days with them, and to have his 
bones rest in their graveyard. 

The remnant of life that was left to him after his removal to Mis- 
souri was not idly spent. He arranged with the Indian agents in St. 
Louis for the education of twelve Indian girls at Bethlehem, the 
government to pay for tuition. A house was even put up for their 
accommodation, but the Indians never occupied it.* On his return 
way to Bethlehem he heard of a settlement of Catholics that had not 
been visited by a priest for more than two years. Reaching a house 
to which he had been directed, he had the Catholic people of the 
neighborhood called together ; and, says his biographer, he was 
engaged with them from an early hour in the morning till three in the 
afternoon, giving them instructions, hearing their confessions and 
administering to them the holy communion. He wound up this last 
day of his active ministry by inducing those present to take up a sub- 
scription for the building of a church, toward which he subscribed 
himself ten dollars, and those immediately interested not far from a 
thousand. That evening he was taken so severely ill that he was 
obliged to give up the idea of saying mass the following morning. 
The morning of the day after, he did say mass, and, soon afterwards, 
still accompanied by Brother Rysselberghe, he rode twelve miles to St. 
Genevieve, to the residence of Rev. A. Dahmen, pastor of the con- 
gregation, where he was received with the greatest kindness and 
affection. He heard mass on Sunday, August 8th, and on that day and 
part of the next he appeared to be better. From Monday noon to 
Thursday he gradually grew worse, and on that day, the 12th of the 
month, he received the last sacraments from the hands of Father 
Dahmen and peacefully fell asleep in Christ. 

The announcement of his death in Kentucky was the occasion of 
general sorrow among Catholics. He was personally known by the 
greater number of these, and where that was not the case, there were 
none who had not knowledge of his reputation for sanctity. The fact 
of his death was announced from the pulpit of the cathedral. Bards- 
town, by Bishop Flaget himself, and as he told the story of his life and 
death, of the services he had rendered to the diocese, and of the chris- 
tian virtues that ennobled his character, his eyes overflowed and the 
tones of his voice were indicative of deep anguish. The cathedral 
congregation had seen less, possibly, of Father Nerinckx than any 
other in the State ; but a stranger in their presence that day would have 

* Father Nerinckx's biographer tells us that this breach of contract was 
owing to the death of the priest a few days later. 


thought that the dead priest had been bound to them by long-established 
pastoral ties. Among the people of his own congregations there was 
felt much keener sorrow, but to this was added a sentiment that was 
akin to triumph. They had been served by a saint! — thus they reas- 
oned — and they had now an intercessor in heaven who would pity them 
because they had been his children. His orphaned daughters of Mary 
were inconsolable. They prayed for him, to be sure, and they offered 
up their communions for his eternal repose ; but there was not one of 
them that did not believe in her heart that she was more in need of 
prayers than he. They had before treasured the rules he had given 
them, but they now esteemed them a legacy that was beyond price. 
But it was not in Kentucky alone that the death of the laborious and 
saintly Nerinckx was regarded with peculiar sorrow, and that the life 
that preceded it was held to have been patterned after that of the Great 
Model of perfection, Christ himself. The odor of his sanctity had 
penetrated the whole western land, and the faithful and generally over- 
worked clergy had been encouraged to perseverance by his example.* 
In December, 1833, the body of Father Nerinckx was exhumed by 
Brother Charles Gilbert and removed to Kentucky. It now rests in the 
center of the conventual graveyard of the Loretto sisterhood, within a 
short distance of the former St. Stephen's, where the missionary first 
had his home in Kentucky with Father Badin, and where a monument 
of white marble covers his grave. 

* Sixty years ago it was no uncommon belief among the Catholic people of 
Kentucky that Father Nerinckx had power given him of God to work miracles. 
To this day marvelous things are related of him in this connection in the locali- 
ties wherein he was best known. Without vouching for the absolute truth of 
the relations, I care not to express my personal conviction that there is enough 
in them to give pause to doubt. The idea that the Church of Christ, since the 
last of the apostles of our blessed Lord was transferred from earth to heaven, 
has suffered privation of all the attestation of its divine character that is to be 
derived from miraculous events, is wholly unacceptable to Catholic christians. 
These know and feel that for the honor and glory of God and the welfare of 
souls redeemed by the blood of His Son, there is not a day that passes in which 
divine power is not manifested in the sight of men in ways that are not to be 
comprehended by the finite mind. They believe that now, just as was the case 
when the shadow of St. Peter fell upon the sick and they were cured of their 
maladies, God deigns to invest certain of His servants with power to work 
wonders in His name. Father Nerinckx was undoubtedly a man of very great 
sanctity, and when it is said of such a one, as his biographer declares it to 
have been the case with the saintly missionary, that his hands raised in blessing 
over those who had been bitten by venomous reptiles was all sufficient to 
destroy the poison that was commingling with their blood, the consistent 
Catholic will discover in the fact nothing repugnant to his faith-enlightened 





The first attempt of the Order of Our Lady of La Trappe to estab- 
lish itself in America was made in the year 1804. In that year, in 
order to escape persecution, its French members were obHged to flee 
their country, and a colony of them, under the leadership of Father 
Urban Guillet, came to America and settled at Pigeon Hills, near Cona- 
wago, Pennsylvania. This colony was composed of eight priests, 
seventeen laybrothers, and a number of boys who had been taken in 
charge by the Order in France, to be reared religiously and in the 
knowledge of one or another of the useful trades. After a residence 
of a single year at Pigeon Hills, the entire colony removed to Ken- 
tucky and settled on lands about one mile removed from Holy Cross 
church, in Nelson county. Writing of their arrival in Kentucky, under 
date of November — 1805, Rev. Charles Nerinckx thus speaks of their 
journey from Pennsylvania: " The Trappists have had a sad and 
expensive journey ; most of them have been sick, and two, to whom I 
gave the last sacraments, have died in their present residence. . . . 
Had I remained with them I would have arrived here a month and a 
half later, and, most likely, sick of the same fever. ... In my opin- 
ion. Father Urban, their superior, is not a man in the right place." 

It is not to be doubted that the manner of living adopted by the 
severe Order of La Trappe was wholly unsuited to the exigencies that 
were natural to the position in which these religious found themselves 
at the time. The clearing of their lands, and the erection of proper 
buildings in which to live, involved waste of energy that was not to 
be renewed by the use of lentils for food, and only lentils. Besides, 
the people of the settlement had not yet learned the process of stor- 
ing vegetables and fruits for winter use, and it is not improbable that, 
owing to their inability to procure what was allowable under their rules, 
their aliment was meagre in both quantity and quality during the fall 
and winter months immediately following their appearance in the State. 

Under such circumstances, it is little wonderful that there was suf- 
fering in the home of the Trappists on Pottinger's creek, and that there 
should have appeared amongst them many cases of severe and even 
fatal illness. 


But not void of happy results was the short Stay of the Trappists 
in Kentucky. They established a school for boys in which these were 
taught, in addition to the elementary branches of useful knowledge, how 
to make themselves favorites of God and exemplars of christian piety. 
They reconciled sinners to God, and they visited the sick in the neigh- 
borhood of their monastery. People were taught by them, without any 
formulary of words, to measure values : the world to come with that 
present; the joys of heaven with the pleasures of sense; the narrow way 
that leads to life with the broad thoroughfare, trod by many feet, whose 
end is destruction. 

It is a happy circumstance for Catholicity in Kentucky that very 
many of those who were to become in time fathers of families were 
indebted for their christian education and training to the monks of 
La Trappe. What they learned of their faith from the mouths of these 
religious was scarcely more valuable to them in after-life than was the 
memory they retained of their contempt for the world and their absorp- 
tion in divine things. Removing to other parts of Kentucky, as many 
of them did, and some to other States of the Union, they carried with 
them memories of sanctified life, familiar to their perceptions in boy- 
hood, that were invaluable to them as reminders that it is only by the 
way of the cross that heaven is to be reached and felicity secured. 

The extreme rigor of the rule of the Order of La Trappe, in no wise 
relaxed by its followers in Kentucky, is thus described by Dr. Spalding: 
" They observed a perpetual silence; they slept on boards, with nothing 
but a blanket for covering and a canvass bag stuffed with straw for 
a pillow; their hours for repose were from 8 p. m. till midnight; they 
took but one meal a day, and they neither ate meat nor fish, nor eggs 
nor butter. Their life was thus a continued penance and prayer." He 
goes on to say that the climate of Kentucky was not compatible with 
such austerities, and that five of the fathers and three of the laybrothers 
"fell victims to disease and were buried in Holy Cross church-yard." 

Father Urban was undoubtedly a man of great sanctity; but just as 
undoubtedly his judgment was faulty. After three years he became 
possessed of the notion that it was his duty and that of his brethren, 
to labor for the conversion and civilization of the Indians. He would 
go further west, build a monastery upon the plains, and gather the 
nomads about it to learn of him, and others of his associates, the perfec- 
tion of Christianity. The impracticability of the scheme never once 
presented itself to his mind. While he knew nothing whatever of 
Indian nature and habit, he was unable to resist the impulse by which 
he was moved to attempt his evangelization. In the spring of 1809, he 
caused to be built on the banks of the Beech Fork of Salt river, about 
three miles from Bardstown, a flat-boat, and having launched his craft 
and placed upon it all the movables of the establishment, he and his 
brethren embarked on the frail vessel and proceeded to the Ohio river, 
and down that stream as far as the present town of Cairo. After many 
delays and discouraging difficulties, their boat was towed up the Mis- 
sissippi to St. Louis, and thence up that stream and the Missouri river 


to the landing nearest the town of Florissant, where Father Urban had 
determined they should remain. A year later they again removed, this 
time to Looking-glass prairie, a point on the Mississippi about six miles 
above St. Louis, in the State of Illinois, where a Mr. Jarot, a resident of 
Kahokias, had presented them with a farm. The striking feature of 
this farm was, that upon it stood a number of Indian mounds, to one of 
which, larger than the rest, from the time the monks of La Trappe 
held possession of the place, was given the name of Monks' Mound. 
On the open prairie, around the bases of these artificial hills, the Trap- 
pists built up a little village.* 

The good monks were not here given opportunity to carry out 
their design of Indian conversion. There were red men in plenty, to 
be sure, all along the banks of the upper Mississippi, and sometimes 
they came almost to their very doors; but they were all hostile and 
dangerously so. "The monks," says Dr. Spalding, "were never 
molested in their establishment, but many persons were killed and 
scalped in the immediate vicinity of the place ; and the youths belong- 
ing to the establishment were often compelled to join parties of white 
people who were organized for the pursuit and chastisement of the 

savages, "t 

For more than a year of their residence in Illinois, there was war 
between the whites and the savages of the Northwest. Dr. Spalding 
relates that on the occasion of the defeat of the Indians at Tippecanoe, 
Nov. 7th, 1 8i I, by the forces under Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison, the 
Trappists, though two hundred miles from the scene of strife, distinctly 
heard the reports of the cannon fired during the batde. This anomaly 
is explained by abnormal atmospheric conditions at the time of the 
action. With their hopes frustrated in regard to the conversion of the 
Indians; with the strife between the whites and Indians, soon, to be 
followed by the conflict of 1812 between Great Britain and her savage 
aUies and the United States; with even severer trials from the presence 
of sickness and death in their own ranks than they had been called 
upon to endure in Kentucky, the Trappists became gradually more 
and more satisfied that the time was not yet ripe for the successful 
establishment of their Order in America. The discouragement felt by 
themselves was communicated to their superiors in Europe, and the 
survivors were finally called home.| 

I *'<In excavating for the foundations of their houses," says Dr. Spalding, 
" the monivs discovered bones, idols, beads, implements of war, and many other 
Indian antiquities." 

tDr. Spalding adds to the above : " The savages appeared to feel awe of 
the monks. They often paused in the vicinity of the Trappists' chapel while 
the monks where chanting the praises of God in the midst of the bones of their 

J The establishment was broken up in March, 1813, and the greater num- 
ber of its members proceeded by keel-boat down the Mississippi to its junction 
with the Ohio, and up the latter river to Pittsburg, whence they finally reached 
the seaboard and sailed for France, Their journey np the Ohio was botb 


But the white-robed monks of La Trappe came to Kentucky at a 
later day, and this time their superior, Rev. Father Maria Eutropius, 
proved himself a man of determination, no less than of prudence and 
courage. He and his associates formed a colony sent to America from 
the Abbey of Melleray, near Nantes, Loire Inferieure, France, and they 
settled on a farm previously purchased by the order from the sister- 
hood of Loretto, and formerly occupied by them as the seat of a 
nunnery and female academy, which was then, and is still known by its 
title of Gethsemani. The farm referred to has an area of sixteen 
hundred acres; it lies in Nelson county, near the line of the Knoxville 
branch of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, and the grand estab- 
lishment which is now its commanding feature may be reached in three 
hours from Louisville. It was near the close of the year 1848 that the 
second and successful attempt was made to establish in Kentucky a 
house of the Order of La Trappe. A little less than three years there- 
after the late Most Rev. M. J. Spalding, then bishop of Louisville, 
thus wrote of the young establishment at Gethsemani and of those from 
whose coming he augured happy results for his diocese. 

"The religious belonging to this community, whose lives, like those 
of all who belong to the ' More Strict Observance of the Cistercian 
order,' are passed in solitary silence, labor and prayer, employ the time 
not given to religious exercises in manual labor. They work at various 
handicraft trades and as tillers of the soil. Men who are not encum- 
bered by wives or children, or by obligations to labor for the support 
of others, may be received as novices, providing they accept the rule 
and are willing to abide by the established customs of the monastery. 
The superior of the community, Rev. Father Maria Eutropius, went 
to Rome last year to recommend the new colony to the fatherly protec- 
tion of the Sovereign Pontiff. He was most kindly received by his 
Holiness, who was pleased to place in his hands a rescript bearing date 
July 2 1 St, 1850, by which the new monastery, before ranked only as a 
Priory, was raised to the dignity and concomitant privileges of an 
Abbey. Upon his return, Father Eutropius was unanimously elected 
Abbot of Gethsemani, first of that name, and the first election to the 
office of Abbot on the continent of America. The proceeding was 
afterwards confirmed by Rome, and full power was granted to the 
Bishop of Louisville to consecrate the Abbot-elect in accordance with 
the rites and ceremonies of the Church. 

" The fathers have already established a school for the gratuitous 
education of male children of any denomination, and there are now 
inore than sixty children being taught therein reading, writing, arithme- 
tic and English grammar. Every Sunday they give religious instruc- 

fatiguing and dangerous, hut it ended without any serious mishaps. The 
prior at the time, Father Maria Joseph Durand, remained for some time after 
the departure of his brethren engaged in the work of the holy ministry at 
St. Charles, Missouri. Quite a number of the young men who wer^ attached 
to the establishment, remained in the United States and prosecuted the trades 
they had learned under their monkish masters. 


tion to a large congregation composed of people living within a few miles 
of the church. Their offices and religious ceremonies are conducted 
with much decorum; their exterior, denoting as it does the very spirit 
of mortification, does not hide from the looker-on the lively joy that 
inflames their countenances; and altogether, edification has been the 
result of their appearance in Kentucky, as well for Protestants as for 
Catholics. Among the former there have been instances of those ' who 
came to scoff, and remained to pray.' " 

The remainder of the account given by Bishop Spalding may be 
condensed into short space. They are cramped, he tells us, for room, 
in respect to both church accommodation and family living. They 
are in need of funds to build a suitable church and a monastery expan- 
sive enough for their needs. They had been obliged hitherto to con- 
tent themselves with a number of log-cabins, mostly disconnected, 
that had formerly sufficed for the lesser wants of the former owners of 
the place, the sisters of Loretto. Their church was too contracted to 
admit the attendance of others than the members of the community. 
On extraordinary occasions, in order to afford the people of the 
neighborhood opportunity to hear mass, they were under the necessity 
of erecting an altar in the open air. He thus concludes : "When it is 
considered that these humble followers of the God-man are filled with 
but zeal and charity, the first for God's glory and the last for the wel- 
fare of their fellow-men, it may be easily imagined with what anxiety 
they wait for the necessary means of realizing their hopes — the funds 
requisite for the building of a church and monastery. . . . If unceas- 
ing industry, heart-felt piety toward God and habitual charity toward 
God's creatures meet with just reward, even in this world, it may 
be expected that their church and monastery will soon rise in the 
wilderness of Gethsemani, beacon-lights to guide erring sinners on the 
way to salvation." 

The thirty-four years that have elapsed since the above was written 
have witnessed a wonderful transformation at the Abbey of Geth- 
semani. The buildings since put up are on a magnificent scale. 
Including church, convent and guest-house, they form one immense 
square, and the approach to the pile is through an avenue of trees and 
shrubbery, in the center of which is a life-size statue in white marble 
of Mary Immaculate. The church is a beautiful Gothic structure, so 
arranged as to form two chapels, one for the community and one for the 
congregation.* The lay -brothers of the Order cultivate the large farm 
attached to the Abbey, and they have charge also of a flouring mill, 
to which the neighboring farmers are in the habit of repairing with their 
grists for grinding. 

One feature of the establishment is worthy of special mention ; and 
that is, the facilities it affords to the thoughtless and the sm-laden for 

* For many years the laics who attend church at the Abbey have been 
served by Father Louis Hoste, a venerable secular priest, formerly of the dio- 
cese of Nashville, who is passing the closing years of his long and useful life at 


temporary retirement from the world, and reflection on ''the one thing 
necessary," the affair of their salvation. It has become a habit with 
many persons, clergymen as well as laics, to avail themselves yearly of 
the privilege here offered them of engaging, under wise direction, in the 
exercises of the spiritual retreat. 

In 185 1 there were connected with the Abbey of Gethsemani nine 
priests and forty-two lay-brothers, eleven of the latter being novices. 
In religion, the names of the priests were : Rev. Maria Eutropius, 
abbot ; Rev. Maria Paulinus, prior , Rev. Maria Euthemius, sub-prior ; 
Rev. Maria Emmanuel, procurator ; Rev. Maria Jerome, secretary ; 
Rev. Maria Joseph, master of novices ; Revs. Maria Placidus and 
Maria Theotimus, choir-masterr^ and Rev. Maria Basil, master of 
German novices. In 1852, Rev. Maria Benedict succeeded Rev. 
Maria Paulinus in the office of prior, and Father Maria Simon in that 
of confessor of laics. The number of fathers attached to the abbey 
was at that time eleven. 

The statistics of the institution for the year 1883, are as follows : 
Rt. Rev. M. Benedict, abbot; Rev. M. Edward, prior; Rev. Em- 
manuel, Rev. Benoit, Rev. Stanislaus, Rev. William, Rev. Augustin, 
Rev. Henry, Rev. Maurus, Rev. Aloysius, Rev. L. Hoste. Ten 
professed choir religious, four novices, three oblates ; twenty-two lay 
brothers, three novices, four oblates ; and several boarders, clergymen 
and laymen. 




The remote cause of the appearance in Kentucky of the Domini- 
can fathers is to be ascribed to the revolutionary troubles in Europe, 
which reached Bornheim, in Belgium, sometime during the year 1803, 
where there was then a flourishing college of the Order under the 
direction of the fathers of the English Dominican Province of Belgium. 
The college was seized and plundered by the French revolutionary 
troops, the fathers, with a single exception, escaping to England under 
the lead of the president of the institution. Rev. Thomas Wilson. The 
procurator, Rev. Edward Fenwick,was arrested and thrown into prison; 
but, for the reason that he was an American citizen, he was soon after- 
wards released. 

Upon their arrival m England, Father Wilson and his brethren peti- 
tioned their general to be sent to America. The request was granted ; 
and Father Fenwick, for the reason that he was an American by birth, 
was appointed superior. With the least possible delay their prepara- 
tions were made, and the colony, comprising Rev. Edward Fenwick, 
Rev. Thomas Wilson, Rev. William Raymond Tuite and Rev. Robert 
Angier, at once embarked for the United States. 

In due time the four fathers reached the American shores and pre- 
sented themselves before Bishop Carroll, by whom they were received 
with becoming kindness, and with hearty thanks for having, in the 
presence of their own severe trials, bethoughi themselves of his 
necessities and those of his widely scattered people, 

"•■■ It is to be regretted that, in the preparation of the matter contained in this 
chapter,! have been unable to secure any assistance whatever from members of 
the Order of Preachers in the United States. This renowned Order would seem 
to be governed by rigid rules respecting the dissemination of facts relating to 
its houses and missions. Were it not so, I cannot but think that my earnest 
endeavor to secure more exact information in regard to the lives and labors of 
members of the Order in Kentucky than was open to me outside of its own 
archives would have been met otherwise than by kind resistance. So much I 
am constrained to say, not in any complaining spirit, and certainly not in 
deprecation of a rule of procedure adopted by the organization, if there be 
such, of the wisdom of which I am clearly incompetent to judge, but in apology 
to my readers for the meagerness of my recital touching so important a factor 
as that of the Order of St. Dominic in the religious history of the State. 


Father Fenwick and his associates were anxious to begin at once 
the establishment of a house of their Order in the United States, but 
circumstances prevented the immediate reahzation of their wishes. For 
two years after their arrival in Baltimore, they were employed on the 
missions of Maryland and the neighboring States. Long before the 
end of this term, however, they had asked and received advice from 
Bishop Carroll upon the question of a suitable point for their proposed 
new province. Up to this time there had been no abatement of the 
tide of emigration from Maryland to Kentucky which had set in just 
twenty years before ; and Bishop Carroll well knew the needs of that 
distant mission. He had, to be sure, already sent Father Nerinckx to 
the assistance of Father Badin; but he knew that not even a half dozen 
priests could adequately discharge toward the greatly augmented Cath- 
olic population of the State the functions of their sacred ministry. 
Kentucky was the point to which he directed the eyes of Father Fen- 
wick and his companions. There they would be afforded, even from 
the beginning, a field of missionary enterprise commensurate with their 
zeal for the salvation of souls, and a fitting spot for the foundation of a 
house of their venerable Order which would assuredly, in time, extend 
its happy influence in other directions. 

In deciding upon the question of locality for the new Dominican 
province. Father Fenwick would seem to have been influenced by 
three leading considerations. The first of these was undoubtedly the 
expressed desire of Bishop Carroll that he and his companions should 
set up their tabernacles in Kentucky. The second had its origin in 
his abounding Christian charity : He had pity for those who were 
struggling in the wilderness without the grace of the sacraments to sus- 
tain them. The third was divinely human : Many of the emigrants 
had been known to him in his own early youth, and some of them 
were of his own kindred. 

In order to fully satisfy himself as to the availability of the State 
for the establishment he contemplated, Father Fenwick first came to 
Kentucky in the autumn of the year i8o5.' After having visited his 
ne.arer relations among the Maryland emigrants, then settled in Scott 
and Frankhn counties, he turned his face toward the principal Catho- 
lic settlements of the State, in Nelson and Washington counties. In 
the last named county he found many acquaintances and several rela- 
tives, among the latter being Mr. Basil Clark and Mrs. Rebecca Hill, 
wife of Thomas Hill, of whom mention has been already made. 

Having passed some time with these and others of his old neigh- 
bors of St. Mary's county, Maryland, during which he never lost sight 
of the main object of his journey to Kentucky, Father Fenwick at 
length secured by purchase the farm upon which he and his corn- 
panions afterwards built the church and convent of St. Rose. This 
property, with the grist-mill upon it, which was its main feature, 
belonged to a Mr. John Waller, a Protestant, and, as some say, 
a preacher of some reputation in the early annals of Kentucky. The 
money paid for the property was derived from Father Fenwick's patri- 


mony.* Immediately after the execution of the legal forms by which he 
became the owner of the property mentioned, Father Fenwick 
returned to Maryland in order to arrange for the transfer of the mem- 
bers of the Order and their effects to Kentucky. This was happily 
accomplished in the spring of the following year, 1806, when the con- 
struction of a church on the land previously secured was at once 

The new establishment was called St. Rose, after St. Rose of Lima, 
the first of the Dominican Order in America whose name had been 
enrolled on the Church's calendar of saints. Begun in 1806, the 
church of St. Rose was not finished until 1808. Then immediately 
followed the building of a convent. The costly character of these 
works, costly for the times, at least, not only rendered their progress 
slow, but exhausted the resources of the good fathers long before their 
completion. When their straits were greatest, they learned that a 
legacy had been left them by a former member of their Order, Rt. 
Rev. Luke R. Concanen, who had been appointed first bishop of the 
See of New York, and whose death had taken place at Naples on the 
eve of his embarkation for America. This legacy comprised two 
thousand dollars in money and a valuable library of several hundred 
volumes. But before the news of this bequest had reached them, the 
fathers had established a school, into which they had gathered a large 
number of pupils from the surrounding Catholic settlements. 

The plan of education adopted by the fathers was well suited to 
the remunerative capabihties of the patrons of the school, few of whom 
were able to pay their tuition-bills in ready money. These bills were 
ordinarily paid in kind. Then there was an industrial feature added, 
which at once reduced the fees to parents and furnished the Fathers 
with young and willing hands to aid them in the necessary work of con- 
struction and farm improvement and culture. The pupils were required 
to devote four hours each day to such manual labor as was not unsuited 
to their years and strength. During the time occupied in building the 
church of St. Rose, the fathers took upon themselves the care of St. 
Ann's congregation, and thus relieved Fathers Badin and Nerinckx of 
a part of the heavy burden they had been previously carrying. 

* Fifteen years later, Father Fenwick, then Bishop Fenwick, who was at 
the time seeking charitable aid in Europe for the support of the missions of his 
diocese of Cincinnati, thus wrote to Father Badin : 

" I wish you, also, my dear sir, to contribute your mite for relieving my 
distresses. . , . You know a little of my exertions, sacrifices and labors in 
Kentucky ; that I devoted my whole paternal estate, and all I could collect, 
scrape up and save ; that I really debarred myself of comforts, and even neces- 
saries; that I undertook long and painful jaunts to found and promote the 
establishment of St. Rose ; and behold I am now deprived of all right and claim 
on the Order, being taken out of it. I was obliged by my rule and vows to 
render an account of all property, even of books and furniture, that I had been 
allowed to use," — (Biographical Notice, published in 1848.) There is a tradi- 
tion among the Catholic people of Washington county that the consideration 
paid for the St. Rose farm was an even half bushel of silver money. 


Having founded the establishment of St. Rose, Father Fenwick 
began to tire of his position of authority. He felt, as the truly hum- 
ble before God are apt to feel under such circumstances, that he was 
fitter to follow than to lead, to render obedience than to issue com- 
mands. Under the pressure of these sentiments, he wrote to the gen- 
eral of the Order, begging that official to relieve him of his office and to 
appoint in his stead his associate, Father Thomas Wilson. Both of 
his requests were granted : Father Wilson was appointed provincial 
usque ad revocationefn, and Father Fenwick took his coveted place in 
the ranks of the subordinates of the establishment. 

Father Wilson's administration of the foundation of St. Rose was in 
all respects admirable. He seemed to have felt in advance that the 
great coming want of the country, in respect to Catholic interests, 
would be a properly trained and educated clergy ; and his grand idea 
was to make the institution over which he had been placed a source 
of supply to the ranks of the priesthood. His first thought, after his 
appointment to the office of provincial, referred to the establishment 
of a noviciate, and from that moment he gave himself up to the work 
of searching after and inducting into the institution proper subjects for 
the sacred ministry. For the most part he found these subjects in the 
school that had been previously established. 

The noviciate of St. Rose dates from the latter part of the year 
1808, or the beginning of that of 1809. The novices drawn from the 
school still continued to labor as before ; but their studies were differ- 
ent, as was also their manner of life. They were now subjected to the 
rules of the Order and its conventual dress. As was afterwards the 
case at the seminary of St. Thomas, there was no species of labor, 
whether in connection with the farm or the establishment itself, to which 
the hands of the young aspirants to the priesthood did not become 

In his life of Rev. Charles Nerinckx, Father Maes introduces a let- 
ter written in 1807 by that renowned missionary priest, in which occurs 
this passage : ' ' The fathers of St. Dominic have already ten or twelve 
students, out of whom they may perhaps gain a few to increase their 
community. This appears to be their only object, they do not intend 
to serve on the missions." It is not unlikely that Father Fenwick and 
his companions did not at first contemplate pastoral engagements 
beyond the parish in which they were located. But, if such was 
indeed their idea, it is quite certain that they soon abandoned it. 
Father Fenwick made long journeys in the interests of religion in both 
Kentucky and Ohio, and at an early day after their arrival in the 
State, Eastern Kentucky was largely dependent upon the fathers of 
St. Rose for pastoral service. In later times, they went to the assist- 
ance of the bishops of Cincinnati and Nashville, both of whom, but 
for their kindly aid, had vainly endeavored to conserve in their fullness 
the spiritual interests of their widely scattered flocks. 

Father Wilson was not over forty-five years of age when he came 
to Kentucky. He was a- very learned man; more erudite, possibly, 


than any divine that had preceded him to the shores of America. He 
was withal, amiable, modest, retiring and highly polished in his man- 
ners. His zeal was quiet, but constant ; and he was assiduous in both 
prayer and study. His place was with the novices, and by these he was 
revered and loved for his saintly life and for the unvarying interest he 
displayed in their advancement in knowledge and virtue. 

On the twenty-fifth day of December, i8i i, a remarkable event took 
place at St. Rose. This was the ordination of a priest. Dr. Benedict 
Joseph Flaget, the newly consecrated bishop of Bardstown, who had 
only reached his diocese the preceding spring, had brought with him to 
Kentucky a young French cleric, Rev. Guy Ignatius Chabrat, who 
was already in sub-deacon's orders. During the intervening months, 
the young man had been, no doubt, gradually qualified to take his 
place in the ranks of the working clergy by that admirable master of the 
science of theology, Rev. John B. David. With the exception of the 
Dominican church, there was at the time no other in the State of suf- 
ficient capacity to accommodate a great number of persons — Catholics 
everywhere being anxious to witness the ceremony — and hence Bishop 
Flaget gladly avail&d himself of Father Wilson's suggestion that the 
ordination should take place at St. Rose.^ 

As will have been seen, it was to the zeal and liberality of an 
American priest, sustained, it may be by patriotic impulse, that is to be 
ascribed the establishment of the Order of Preachers in the United 
States. Its after expansion, and the happy results of its foundation, 
now to be seen in the heart of the country, and extending from sea- 
board to seaboard across its face, are to be attributed, in a great 
degree, at least, to the wise direction given to the httle community of 
St. Rose by its second provincial three quarters of a century ago. It 
was not often that more than two of the fathers were employed within 
the precincts of the St. Rose establishment, and these, in addition to 
their duties in the novitiate and in the school, were burthened with the 
charge of the congregation, one of the largest in Kentucky at the 
time, and with the care of several neighboring missions, f 

Fathers Fenwick and Angier found ample employment in traversing 
the State after what the former was in the habit of denominating " stray 
sheep." In addition to the older Catholic settlements in Nelson and 
Washington counties, there were minor settlements in Scott, Madison, 
Fayette, Jefferson, Bullitt and Breckinridge counties, and isolated Cath- 
olic families living in almost all the other organized counties of the 
State. Many of these settlements and families had rarely or never been 
visited by a priest. Father Fenwick saw and appreciated the danger 
to which these hapless persons were exposed, and he sought to lessen or 

* This was the first ordination to the priesthood witnessed in the whole 
territory of the West. The assisting clergy were, no doubt, Fathers Wilson. 
Fenwick, Tuite and Angier, of the Dominican Order, and Fathers David, Badin, 
Nerinckx and O'Flynn, of the secular priesthood. 

fin their conduct of the school, no doubt. Fathers Wilson and Tuite were 
largely assisted by the more advanced in learning among the novices. 


avert it. With the approbation of his superior, he became an itinerant, 
and from that time to the date of his installation as first bishop of the 
See of Cincinnati, he may be said to have literally lived in the saddle. 
His zeal was as restless as it was earnest. It was a common thing with 
him to ride a distance of fifty miles, sustained by the mere hope that he 
might be of spiritual service to some out-dweller in the wilderness, 
whose name, casually heard, was associated in his mind with that of 
some Catholic family he had known in Maryland. He traversed and 
retraversed Kentucky, in all directions, everywhere accomplishing his 
purpose, which was but to give opportunity to isolated Catholic families 
of reconciling themselves with God through the worthy reception of the 
sacraments. He had a wonderful gift of persuasion, and being able to 
adapt himself and his discourse to the individual pecuHarities of his 
hearers, he was rarely known to fail in his endeavors to infuse into 
them something of his own spirit. 

The ministry of the Dominican fathers of St. Rose came in time to 
be regarded as lenient, just as that of Fathers Badin and Nerinckx was 
by many looked upon as severe. It is certain that the latter, in their 
private correspondence, expressed their fears lest the disciplinary relax- 
ation noticed might prove harmful to the Catholic people of the settle- 
ments. This idea of theirs was not verified by after events. The 
congregation of St. Ann, the first over which pastoral supervision was 
exercised by the Dominican fathers, and that of St. Rose, by which it 
was succeeded in 1808, and which is still subject to their care and guid- 
ance, has at no time been regarded otherwise than as a model aggrega- 
tion of Catholic christian souls. As early as the year 1826, on the 
occasion of the jubilee preached that year in Kentucky, it exceeded all 
others in the State in the number of those who approached the 
sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharist. Whereas the highest 
number of communicants in any one of the other congregations of the 
diocese on the occasion referred to, was but four hundred and ninety- 
five, (that of Holy Cross,) no fewer than eight hundred received holy 
communion in the single church of St. Rose. 

In his many journeys in Kentucky, Father Fenwick was necessarily 
thrown much into the company of Protestants; and he learned by 
degrees to appreciate the principal obstacles to their conversion. To 
remove these obstacles, without incurring the suspicion of intrusiveness, 
was always one of the most painstaking of his employments. In 
countries denominated christian, there have been few missionary priests 
who were more successful than Father Fenwick in inducing returns to 
Catholic unity.* 

The missions of the State of Ohio were the fruits of Father Fen- 
wick's earnest toil. His first visit to the State was in the year 18 10. 

* Though Father Fenwick, from and after the year 1810, was jn the habit of 
paying regular twice a year visits to Ohio, he only removed permanently to that 
State in 1818. In his letter to Rev. S. T. Badin, written in 1823, from which a 
passage has already been quoted, he says : " I think we may count two or three 
hundred converts since I have resided in Ohio." 


Near the town of Somerset, he found three Cathohc families, of German 
extraction, numbering in all about twenty persons.* He afterwards 
traversed the greater part of the State with the single object of search- 
ing after and finding the dispersed "sheep of the Catholic fold." Few 
points were reached by him in these wearing journeys in which he did 
not find one or more families of Catholics. 

Father Thomas Wilson was fitted by nature and grace, as well 
M as by culture, for the position to which he had been appointed. 
He commanded both admiration and respect, the first on account of 
his great learning and acknowledged talents, and the last because of 
his adherence to the right on all occasions, and the virtues he practiced 
in the sight of men. It were impossible that between such a precep- 
tor and his pupils there should not have grown up affection on the one 
hand and reverence on the other. That he loved them was shown by 
his solicitude in everything that concerned them, and most especially 
in their advancement in the knowledge of divine things ; and that he 
was held by them in the most profound reverence is evidenced by the 
fact that in their after-lives they never appeared weary of rehearsing 
his praises. 

Notwithstanding the many and great disadvantages attending their 
course of study, Father Wilson was enabled, in 1816, to present before 
the Bishop of Bardstown four of his novices for priestly ordination. 
These were : Rev. Richard P. Miles, afterwards first bishop of Nash- 
ville, Rev. Samuel H. Montgomery, Rev. William T. Willett and Rev. 
Stephen Montgomery. Shortly afterwards another was added to the 
list in the person of Rev. N. D. Young, a nephew of Father Fenwick.f 

It is necessary here to speak somewhat in detail of those to whom 
Catholics are indebted for the foundation of the Order ol St. Dominic 
in the United States. 

Edward Fenwick was born in St. Mary's county, Maryland, in 1768. 
He was of distinguished English ancestry, and his own parents were 
wealthy and of the highest respectabihty. In 1784, his mother, then 
a widow, sent him to Flanders for his education. He entered upon 
his studies at the college of Bornheim, and having finished his course, 
he sought admission to the Order with the view of becoming a priest. 

* These persons were occupied in clearing lands, and they had not seen a 
priest for ten years. Father Fenwick heard at a great distance the stroke of the 
axe interrupting the silence of the forest, and following the sound, he was over- 
joyed to find that the workers were Catholics. The joy of these people at see- 
ing a Catholic priest was so great that the good missionary could never recall the 
circumstance without experiencing the greatest consolation — [Catholic Tele- 
graph, Vol. Ill, p 86.] 

t The after-life of Father Dominic Young, though for the most part passed 
in the State of Ohio, would be a theme both pleasant and profitable for Catho- 
lic biography. He established a house of his Order near Somerset, in the State 
named, where he had previously labored with wonderful missionary success. 
He lived to be the patriarch of his Order in the United States, if not of the 
entire prieshood of the country, and it can be said of him that no man ever 
labored with greater earnestness in the cause of religion. 


This Idea, as has been seen, he carried out, and circumstances brought 
him again to his native land, after an absence of twenty-one years. 
What he did for reUgion and his Order in Kentucky has already been 
referred to. In 1810, and often subsequently, he visited Ohio, and 
to him and his nephew. Rev. N. D. Young, is to be ascribed the credit 
of having laid the foundations of Catholicity in that State. 

In 1822, Father Fenwick was named bishop of Cincinnati. This 
appointment, no doubt, was brought about by the direct appeal to 
Rome of Bishop Flaget, who is known to have felt most keenly the need 
there was of another bishop in the west, and who knew, too, how 
admirably fitted for the position was his friend and co-worker, who 
had so often come to his relief in bearing religious consolation to his 
spiritual children living north of the Ohio river. It was with extreme 
reluctance that the humble Dominican father accepted the dignity 
proffered. He was unable to see, what was plain to others, wherein 
he was worthy of such distinction. His consecration took place in the 
church of St. Rose on the 13th day of December, 1822, and he left 
immediately afterwards for the seat of the spiritual authority he exer- 
cised so wisely for a littte more than ten years. 

The late Rev. John B. Hutchins, who was present at the conse- 
cration of Bishop Fenwick, and who, in company with Rev, Vincent 
Badin, then in deacon's orders, and his own foster brother, afterwards 
Father C. D. Bowlin, O. S. D. , followed the newly consecrated pre- 
late to Cincinnati, described to the writer several years ago many inci- 
dents connected with this second episcopal consecration that had 
taken place in the west. The church was much too small to afford 
even standing room for the crowds that had flocked thither with the 
hope of witnessing the ceremony. The lay choir on the occasion was 
under the direction of Rev. R. P. Miles, who was esteemed then quite 
a musical prodigy. The ceremony was taken part in by the greater 
number of the clergy of the diocese of Bardstown, and when it was 
concluded, dinner was served to their guests by the hospitable fathers 
of St. Rose. It was at this entertainment that the newly consecrated 
prelate, in answer to a congratulatory speech of Bishop Flaget, thus 
addressed his consecrator : "The Holy Father, your Lordship, has 
appointed me a diocese, and you have to-day, by divine authority, 
made me a bishop. But where am I to find priests to help me bear 
my message of peace over the immense field that has been assigned 
me ?" There was an appeal in his words that went straight to the 
heart of the venerable prelate addressed, but no answer came from his 
lips. After a brief silence, a young cleric arose, and, with a modest 
bow to his ordinary, thus delivered himself: "If you will permit me, 
bishop, I will go to Cincinnati with Father Fenwick." Dr. Flaget 
was touched, and he then and there consented to the transfer. The 
cleric alluded to was Rev. Vincent Badin, not yet in priest's orders, a 
brother of " the apostle of Kentucky " of that name, and his ordina- 
tion to the priesthood took place a few weeks later in Bishop Fenwick's 
own modest cathedral of Cincinnati. 


Bishop Fenwick was confronted from the first with labors and 
vicissitudes to which before he had been a stranger. He was called, as 
he well knew, to discomfort and toil — to the building up of a church 
without resources, either in hand or prospective, and with assistance 
little adequate to the immensity of the undertaking. Repressing his 
human fears as best he could, and placing all his reliance on the pro- 
tection and guidance of heaven, he grappled with the work before him, 
and finally, after having been permitted to see the dawn of a better 
day for the diocese and his charge, he laid down his burden and his 
life together on the 26th day of September, 1832. He died of chol- 
era at Wooster, Ohio, and his last words were : " Co7)ie I Lei us go to 
Calvary P' 

Of the four fathers who formed the nucleus whence has been 
developed the Order of Preachers as it exists in the United States at the 
present day, the more admired of the people, as well as of the clergy 
of Kentucky, was certainly Father Thomas Wilson. With the laity 
of all classes, this was due to the fact that he was a man of superior 
natural gifts and an eloquent preacher. The more pious among them, 
to be sure, had other reasons for their admiration. They were the 
witnesses of his exhaustive ministerial labors, of his habits of prayer 
and mortification, and of his tenderness toward those who sought 
rehef at his hands, whether from troubles of body or soul. By the sec- 
ular clergy of the diocese he was esteemed for all these reasons and 
many more. He was a man of varied learning and an accompfished 
theologian, and not even Father David was esteemed more capable 
than he of advising them when they were in doubt as to proper modes 
of ptocedure in particular emergencies. 

What he did for secular education in the congregation of St. Rose 
and far beyond its limits, and what he did for the Church in Kentucky 
in supplying it with zealous priests to uphold and continue God's 
work in the land of his adoption, must in the future, as in the present 
and the past, make his name a by-word of honor among Catholic 
christians all over the country. Dr. Spalding tells us that this admirable 
priest, but a short time before his death, was known to have in his 
possession writings of his own on various religious subjects that it had 
been the hope of his associates to see one day in print. No such 
manuscripts having been found among his effects, it was supposed that 
in the excess of his humility he had destroyed them. The death of 
Father Wilson took place at the convent of St. Rose in the summer of 
1824, when he was in the 63rd year of his age. 

Of Father William Raymond Tuite and his labors, the writer's 
knowledge is confined to the simple fact that he was a most amiable 
and praiseworthy priest. It is his impression, however, that for many 
years after the establishment of the convent of St. Rose he was 
employed in the offices of the public ministry, with occasional hours 
devoted to teaching. He remembers having heard him spoken of by 
a friend, years ago, as one toward whom naturally tended the affection 
of his parishioners of the congregation of St. Rose, and as having lived 


a life filled with merits, and having died the death of the just. The 
date of his death is given by Dr. Spalding as " 1836 or 1837." 

Father Robert Angier, after a residence of some years at St. Rose, 
where he was most likely engaged in teaching in the boys' school 
therewith established by Father Wilson, was given charge of the mis- 
sions of Scott, Mercer, Fayette and other counties north and east of 
the Kentucky river. For further particulars concerning him the 
reader is referred to the chapter on the ' ' Catholic Settlement of Scott 

About the yeari825, the Order of preachers in the United States 
was re-enforced by the arrival in the country of three Spanish Domini- 
cans, driven from their own country by its then irreligious and semi- 
infidel rulers, whose after-service in the cause of religion has made 
their names familiar in clerical circles from one end of the land to the 

other. These were : Rev. Munoz, Rev. Francis Cubero "and 

Rev. Joseph S, Alemany, all men of exalted character, acknowledged 
talents and unaffected piety; and all, at one time or another, connected 
with the estabUshments in Kentucky and Ohio, and with the missions 
of the last named State. In 1828, Father Munoz was named prior of 
the convent of St. Rose, over which institution he exercised a most 
healthful influence. At the time of his death, which took place a year 
or two later, he was the chief assistant of the first bishop of Cincinnati. 
Father Cubero's labors were mostly confined to Ohio until the year 
1872, when he retired to the convent of St. Catherine of Sienna near 
that of St. Rose, of which institution he was chaplain until called out 
of life ten years later. Of the venerable Dr. Alemany, the only sur- 
vivor of the three, who has filled for so many years the archiepiscopal 
See of San Francisco, it is not necessary that anything should be here 
said. His admirable work in the field committed to his charge speaks 
more loudly in his praise than can tongue or pen. God grant that he 
may long survive to edify those he has so earnestly endeavored to 

But for the fact that the writer has little data upon which to base 
biographical notices of numbers of the deceased members of the St. 
Rose establishment of the Order of Preachers, it would be to him a 
grateful task to refer here to many among those with whom his 
acquaintance was more or less intimate. Of one of them. Rev. Rich- 
ard P. Miles, afterwards first bishop of the See of Nashville, he finds 
among his unpublished personal and descriptive papers, written more 
than twenty years ago, the following : 

" Richard P. Miles was born in Prince George county, Mary- 
land, May 17, 1791. His father, Nicholas Miles, removed with his 
family to Kentucky when the boy was but four years of age. In the 
year 1807, he was sent to St. Rose's academy, in Washington county, 
a school but that year established by the Dominican fathers. He 
afterwards attached himself to the Order as a candidate for the priest- 
hood. His ordination took place in the year 18 16, and from that time 
to the day of his death he was actively engaged in ministerial and 



administrative labors. His consecration as bishop of Nashville took 
place in the cathedral of St. Joseph, Bardstown, on the i6th of Sep- 
tember, 1838. The prelates present on this occasion were : Rt. Rev. 
Joseph Rosati, consecrator ; Rt. Rev. Simon Gabriel Brute, bishop of 
Vincennes; Rt. Rev. John B. David, and Rt. Rev. Guy Ignatius 
Chabrat, of the Kentucky episcopate. The sermon was preached by 
Very Rev. John Timon, C. M., afterwards bishop of Buffalo. 

' ' My personal acquaintance with Dr. Miles began in the year 
1837, the year before his consecration, when I had occasion to call 
upon him at his convent of St. Rose. His hearty and cheerful wel- 
come, and the readiness he evinced to serve me, are among the most 
pleasant memories of my young manhood. In the earlier years of his 
ministry he was regarded as the most talented controversialist of his 
order in the State, and I have it from good authority that he rarely 
declined a challenge to discuss matters of christian dogma with the 
belligerent Protestant ministers of his day. Much of his time, previ- 
ous to his episcopal appointment, was spent at the house of his order 
in Somerset, Ohio. Once he served as prior of the convent of St. 
Rose, and for one term he was provincial of the order in the United 

" After the Reverend Robert A. Abell, I have known a no more 
entertaining conversationalist among the clergy of Kentucky than was 
Dr. Miles. With his intimate friends, and on proper occasions, he was 
somewhat given to jesting. I have memory of an exhibition made 
by him of that peculiarity of his mind at my own table about ten years 
ago, where he was dining with Dr. M. J. Spalding, bishop of Louis- 
ville. The two were relating to us the incidents of a trip they had 
made a short time before to St. Louis. On their return journey, 
owing to some accident to the boat upon which they were passengers, 
they were compelled to stop for the half of an afternoon and the fol- 
lowing night in the city of Evansville. Leaving the boat together, 
they determined to call on their old friend, Father Anthony Deydier, 
of the church of the Assumption. The apparition of two bishops at 
once in the apartments of that venerable priest set him thinking how 
he might best do them honor. ' You must lecture before my people 
to-night,' said he to Dr. Spalding. ' I want them to see and hear 
you.' 'But how will you get them together?' asked the bishop. 
' Never do you mind about that,' repHed the priest. ' Only say that 
you will oblige me in this, and my word for it you will have an audi- 
ence.' Having consented to the arrangement. Father Deydier pro- 
ceeded to 'scare up his people,' as Bishop Miles expressed it, and the 
two prelates to take a walk through the growing little city. Returning 
from their walk, an hour later, their attention was attracted to an 
oddly dressed negro fellow who was vigorously swinging a bell and 
shouting at the top of his voice : ' O yes ! O yes ! The great Bishop 
Sprawlding is a gwyin' to lecter to-night at Priest Dydiee's church! He 
knows how to talk for sure! Jest come along and have the har lifted 
oflf your heads ! Twenty-five cents to hear the great Doctor Sprawld- 


ing!' The bishop of Louisville did not laugh when he heard this 
announcement ; the bishop of Nashville did ; and when the latter 
repeated it at my own table, and described the antics of his episcopal 
friend's avant courier, as he called him, their relative demeanor, as I 
conceived, presented undistinguishable differences from that described 
as having marked their bearing that day on the streets of Evansville. 
" But there was another recital in store for us, brought out, as I 
then thought, by Bishop Miles' love of fairness. ' I have had my joke 
at your expense, Dr. Spalding,' said he, 'and now I will tell you one 
that bears a little hardly on myself. You know how fond I am of 
music; but you do not know how strongly I affect the old-time refrains 
sung by the negroes at ' 'house-raisings, " and ' 'corn shuckings. " Shortly 
after I went to Nashville, a couple of my parishioners, knowing my 
predilection for this style of singing, persuaded me to accompany them 
one evening to a concert to be given by a troupe of negro minstrels. 
Without takmg time to think of the impropriety of the proceeding in 
one so situated, I accompanied them to the hall. We were early, and 
taking our places in a corner the farthest removed from the stage, 
we conversed in whispers and awaited the rise of the curtain. The 
weather was cold, and wrapped in my cloak and muffler, I congra- 
tulated myself upon the likelihood that I would remain unnoticed, 
even though there might be some there who, knowing me, might feel 
scandalized at my presence in such a place. For some reason, the 
concert was delayed for many minutes beyond the time announced for 
it to begin, and many persons in the audience showed their impatience 
by noisy demonstrations. They stamped and yelled and whistled, 
and fairly turned the place into a pandemonium. In a lull of the 
uproar, a rough fellow — I had never before set eyes on him to my 
knowledge — arose and cried out, "I move that Bishop Miles be 
requested to open this meeting with prayer ! " You can imagine what 
I felt of shame and regret that I had allowed myseb' to be drawn to a 
place where such impropriety was possible.' Bishop Miles laughed, 
indeed, when he had finished his narrative, but it was evident to us 
all that he had not yet learned to enjoy his joke. 

" In person. Bishop Miles was tall — fully six feet in height — and of 
a moderately full habit. His features were significant of character more 
than comeliness, I am told that he could be stern on occasion, but it 
so happened that I never saw him in any such mood. To me he 
always appeared either pleasantly interesting, or in the highest degree 
entertaining. He had a warm heart, and his sympathy was easily 
evoked. His death took place in the city of Nashville on the first day 
of February, i860." 

A character among the Dominicians of Kentucky was the late 
Very Rev. M. D. O'Brien. Without any claim to strong intellec- 
tuality, much less to brillancy, and with but little claim to learning, and 
none at all to personal attractiveness in a worldly sense, it is doubtful 
if there ever was a priest in the State whose ministry was effective of 
results more wonderful. Marvellous are the stories told of conver- 


sions and reclamations wrought through his instrumentality. It was 
as if a child had been endowed with the might of the athlete, a weak- 
Hng in reason with intelligence to lead aright the intellectually strong. 
Father O'Brien was born in 1802, in Nenah, Tipperary county, Ire- 
land. He was educated at St. Rose, where he was ordained, and his 
death took place in Louisville on the 15th of December, 1870. 

Of Father Polin, who died on the 24th of December, 1839, the 
writer has heard in his day much that would interest his readers could 
he trust to his memory for the details. He was a man of scholarly 
attainments, and before entering upon his noviciate at St. Rose, he had 
been a school teacher. In their boyhood, the sons of Judge John 
Kelly, an Irish Catholic of distinction living in Springfield before and 
after the year 1820, had him for their preceptor. 

In one respect, the establishment of St. Rose has had a remarkable 
record of late years. It has lost more of its members by their atten- 
tion to the sick during the prevalence of epidemic diseases than any 
other in the whole country. These deaths occurred, for the most part, 
in the city of Memphis, where the Order of Preachers has charge of 
the extensive parish of St. Peter's. 

The Episcopacy of the country, from first to last, has drawn from 
the Order of St. Dominic five of its members. These were and are in 
the order of their consecration : 

Rt. Rev. Edward Fenwick, first bishop of Cincinnati ; consecrated 
December 13, 1822; died September 26, 1832. 

Rt. Rev. Richard Pius Miles, first bishop of Nashville ; consecrated 
September 16, 1838; died February i, i860. 

Most Rev. Joseph Sadoc Alemany, present archbishop of San 
Francisco; consecrated bishop of Monterey June 30, 1850; afterwards 
transferred to San Francisco. 

Rt. Rev. James Whelan, consecrated second bishop of Nashville in 
May, 1859; resigned four years later, and since deceased. 

Rt. Rev. Thomas L. Grace, second and present bishop of the See 
of St. Paul, Minnesota; consecrated July 24, 1859. 

These prelates were all, at one time or other, connected with the 
establishment of St. Rose. 

At the present day, the Dominicans have two houses in Kentucky 
— one, the first estabUshed in the United States— that of St. Rose, near 
Springfield, and the other, that of St. Louis Bertrand, in Louisville; 
one in Ohio, that of St. Joseph's, near Somerset; one in New York, 
that of St. Vincent Ferrer's, Lexington Avenue; one in Tennessee, that 
of St. Peter's, Memphis ; one in Washington City, that of St. Dominic's, 
and one in New Jersey, that of South Orange Avenue, Newark. 




It was early in the year 1807 that Bishop Carroll's first movement 
was made toward a division of episcopal authority in the United States. 
He wrote the Holy See, suggesting the erection of four additional Sees 
in the country, one to be located in Boston, one in New York, one in 
Philadelphia and one in Bardstown. In recommending a proper per- 
son for the occupancy of the See last named, he was measurably 
influenced, no doubt, by the wishes of his vicar in Kentucky, Rev. 
Stephen Theodore Badin. Writing to the cardinal prefect of the 
propaganda, under date of June 17, 1807, he thus speaks of his own 
and his vicar's choice of a bishop for Kentucky : 

"For several years he (Rev. Benedict Joseph Flaget) was stationed 
at a placed called Post Vmcennes, lying between the waters of the Ohio 
and the lakes of Canada, where with the greatest industry and the 
most hearty good will of all, he labored in promoting piety, until, to 
my great regret, he was recalled to fill some office in the seminary. 
He is at least forty years of age, of a tender piety towards God, of 
most bland manners; and if not profoundly, at least sufficiently imbued 
with theological knowledge." 

All of Bishop Carroll's recommendations were adopted by Rome. 
The Sees named were created, and to the ecclesiastics suggested by 
him were sent bulls for their consecration. Those of Bishop Flaget 
were dated April 8, 1808, and they reached the hands of Bishop Car- 
roll in September of the same year. When he heard of his appointment, 
the bishop-elect was temporarily stationed at Emmittsburg, Maryland. 
The news filled him with perturbation, no less than with astonishment. 
Hastening to Baltimore, he went direct to the seminary, where he fell 
into the arms of his after-life long associate of the Kentucky mission, 
Rev. John B. David. They had scarcely embraced when Father 
David removed his doubts and increased his dismay by thus address- 
ing him: "They told me that I was to be bishop of Bardstown ; I did 
not believe it, but I determined, should this happen, that I should 
invite you to accompany me to Kentucky. The case being happily 
reversed, I tender to you my services without reserve."* 

Wholly regardless of distinction in the church, and entertaining a 
most modest estimate of his own merits and capabilities, the bishop- 

* Life of Bishop Flaget by Rev. M. J. Spalding, p 60. 


elect felt that it was his duty to seek to be relieved of the responsibility 
that had come to him unsought and unheralded. In order to avert 
what he feared would prove a misfortune to the Church of the young 
republic, he besought his Sulpician brethren to come to his relief, and 
by their united action to induce Bishop Carroll to recommend to the 
Holy See a change in the person of its representative. As a result of 
this appeal, a delegation from the society, headed by its American 
superior, M. Nagot, waited on the bishop and urged his favorable 
consideration of their prayer that, through his recommendation, another 
than the one appointed might be substituted for the bishopric of 
Bardstown. They told him that, before they had conceived it to be 
their duty to ask this favor at his hands, they had prayed for divine 
direction, and the deliverance they sought for their brother had come 
of the effect of prayer created in their own minds. 

Bishop Carroll was as unmoved by their solicitations as he had 
previously been by those of the bishop-elect. "Gentlemen," said he, 
" you tell me you have prayed! Think you, then, that before pro- 
posing your brother I did not pray ? That the Cardinals who surround 
the Holy Father, and the Sovereign Pontiff himself, did not pray ? I 
tell you plainly that M. Flaget must accept !" 

But Dr. Flaget, honestly entertaining the idea that he had no tal- 
ent for direction, and that he was otherwise wholly unfitted for the 
post to the occupancy of which he had been called, still resisted. He 
wrote to the superior of the Sulpician Order in France, M. Emery, to 
whom he stated his reasons for declining the position, and upon whose 
kind offices he relied for the relief he had hitherto vainly sought at the 
hands of the head of the Church in America. He waited so long for 
an answer to this letter that he grew impatient, and, with the consent 
of his brethren, embarked for France in the fall of 1809. On pre- 
senting himself before M. Emery, his confidence in the tenableness of 
the position he had taken was wholly destroyed. The first words 
addressed to him by the stern superior were these: " My lord, you 
should have been already in your diocese ! Know you not that the 
Pope has commanded your acceptance of his appointment?" The 
contest was ended; his conscience was clear, and he recognized in the 
command of Christ's Vicar on earth the expression of God's will. In 
his new position he would give to the Church all that had been vouch- 
safed him by heaven, whether of strength or zeal or prudence, and for 
the rest, he had faith in God's direction to lead him aright, and in His 
strength to enable him to bear the heavy weight of responsibility that 
had been laid upon his shoulders. 

The bishop-elect of Bardstown reached Baltimore on his return 
journey to America and the seat of his future labors early in July of 
the year 1810. He was accompanied by six ecclesiastics, but one of 
whom was in priest's orders.* 

♦Bishop Flaget's companions on his return voyage to America were: Rev. 
Simon Gabriel Brute, afterwards first bishop of the diocese of Vincennes ; 


The forty days preceding his consecration, which took place in Balti- 
more on the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, November 4th, 1810, were 
passed by the bishop-elect of Bardstown in the exercises of a spiritual 
retreat. At his consecration three prelates — all there were then in 
the country — took part in the ceremony. These were : Rt. Rev. John 
Carroll, bishop of Baltimore, consecrator, and Rt. Rev. John B. Che- 
verus (afterwards Cardinal Cheverus ), bishop of Boston, and Rt. 
Rev. Michael Egan, bishop of Philadelphia, assistants. 

Before following Bishop Flaget to Kentucky, it is important that the 
reader shall be made acquainted with the principal events chronicled 
by his biographer in the sketch he has left us of his life previous to the 
date of his consecration.* 

"Benedict J. Flaget was born of respectable parents at Contour- 
nat, a village in the commune of St. Julien, near the town of Billom, 
France, on the 8th of November, 1764. He was the youngest of three 
sons ; and he survived his two elder brothers, both of whom, however, 
lived to a very advanced age. At the age of about two years, he was 
left an orphan; when a pious aunt took charge of him and his brothers, 
and devoted herself assiduously to rearing them up piously, and bestow- 
ing upon them the blessings of a christian education. God bestowed an 
abundant benediction upon her exertions ; and her three nephews all 
became distinguished members of society, and two of them bright and 
shining lights in the Church of God. 

" Having thus become an orphan himself at so early a period of 
his life, the subject of this sketch ever afterwards cherished sentiments 
of the most lively sympathy for those left by Providence in a similar 
condition. It was the object dearest to his heart to provide for their 
temporal and spiritual comfort. He often spoke most feelingly on the 
subject, in the latter years of his life; and nothing was more grateful 
to his feelings, than to see assembled around him those little ones, for 
whom he had been able to provide a shelter in establishments erected 
under his auspices. 

" He never forgot the good aunt, who had taken the place of his 
mother. In a letter to one of his brothers, written nine years after his 
arrival in America, he speaks of her in the following terms : 

" My heart bounds at the very remembrance of my aunt. If she 
be yet living — and I hope that God has preserved her life till now — I 
cast myself on her neck ; I water it with my tears ; words fail me to 
express to her my gratitude. . . . The idea that she is with you and 
your virtuous wife, assures me as to her well-being. . . , Now 

Rev. Guy Ignatius Chabrat, in sub-deacon's orders, afterwards coadjutor of 
Bardstown ; M. Anthony Deydier, afterwards for many years pastor at Evans- 

ville, Indiana; M. Derigaud, who followed his chief to Kentucky, and 

was raised by him to the priesthood on the first day of January, 1817; and two 
young men who afterwards attached themselves to the Society of Jesus at their 
establishment in Georgetown. 

* "Sketches of the Life, Times and Character of Rt. Rev. Benedict Joseph 
Flaget: By M. J. Spalding, D. D. Louisville, 1852." 


that the Americans have free intercourse with the French, please see 
some banker at Clermont, who has business transactions with a mer- 
chant at Bordeaux or Havre, in order that I may be able to contribute 
something to the comfort of this good aunt. I would despoil myself 
to clothe her; I would deprive myself of nourishment to feed her; and 
I would thus be doing only what she has done a thousand times for me. 
I think I do not flatter myself on this point; my heart is not ungrate- 
ful ; it seeks but the occasion to manifest its gratitude. * 

" Having conceived, from his most tender years, an ardent wish 
to devote himself to the service of God in the holy ministry, and hav- 
' ing taken all the precautions, dictated by christian prudence, to be 
enabled to decide wisely in a matter of so much importance, he at 
length determined to embrace the ecclesiastical state. In order to 
enjoy greater facilities for pursuing the course of studies required for 
this subhme vocation, at the age of about seventeen he was sent to the 
episcopal city of Clermont. Here he made his course of philosophy, 
and attended the class of theology for two years, in the university; 
boarding, in the meantime, with two young men of wealth, towards 
whom he discharged the office of private tutor, in consideration of their 
defraying his expenses. 

"It was here, also, that he had the happiness of receiving the sac- 
rament of confirmation from the hands of Monseigneur De Bonald, 
bishop of Clermont, whose age and infirmities had not permitted him 
to visit Billom. He was, at the time, in his eighteenth year. Having 
long cherished a tender devotion towards St. Joseph, the special patron 
of youth and especially of orphans, he took his name in confirmation. 
He received the sacrament with sentiments of the most lively faith, and 
with those emotions of tender piety for which he was always distin- 
guished. He was thereby greatly strengthened in his purpose of devot- 
ing his whole life to the service of God and the salvation of his 

" The congregation of the Sulpicians, so celebrated for their ability 
in training youth for the ecclesiastical state, were then conducting in 
Clermont a seminary for the higher clerical studies. The young can- 
didate for the ministry was forcibly struck by the learning, piety, and 
strict observance of this body of priests; and he determined to place 
himself under their direction. He accordingly entered their sem- 
inary, having obtained a free scholarship established by Bishop De 
Bonald. Under the enlightened guidance of this venerable prelate, 
he pursued his ecclesiastical studies with great confidence; and without 
his advice he took no important step. 

"He was so much pleased bj- che manner of life followed by his new 
instructors, that, with the permission of Bishop De Bonald, he resolved 
to apply for admission into their congregation. They likewise had 
conceived a high opinion of his piety and other good qualities; and his 
application was favorably received. He became a member of their 

♦Letter, May i8, 1801. French Life, pp 8, 9. 


congregation on the ist of November, 1783; when he had almost 
completed his twentieth year. He now continued his studies with 
renewed ardor, and daily advanced in the path of perfection. 
Obedience, to which he had been trained from his infancy, had become 
a settled habit with him ; and it now cost him comparatively but little, 
no matter how painful to nature the object of the command. 

"At the canonical age, he received the holy order of sub-deacon- 
ship; and thereby bound himself irrevocably to the service of the 
Church at her holy altars. 

" Having remained for nearly two years under the instruction of the 
Sulpicians at Clermont, and completed the course taught in that semi- 
nary, and not having as yet reached the age required for the priest- 
hood, he was sent to the solitude of Issy, near Paris, to prepare himself 
for ordination. Here he remained about three years; continuing his 
studies, and grounding himself more in the sublime principles and dif- 
ficult practices of the spiritual life. 

"These were, perhaps, the happiest years of his life. He always 
viewed religious solitude as ' a paradise upon earth ' ; and he never 
tired of being near the holy altar, and paying his homage to Jesus, 
reposing thereon in the sacrament of His love. The office of sacris- 
tan, with which he was charged, afforded him the opportunity he so 
much coveted ; and it was here that he grew up, under the shadow of 
the altar, in that tender and abiding devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, 
which, through all the vicissitudes of his long life, he always so warmly 
cherished and so constantly practiced. 

* ' The Rev. Gabriel Richard, afterwards for so many years an 
American missionary, stationed chiefly at Detroit, was then superior 
of the seminary at Issy ; and here both these distinguished ecclesias- 
tics imbibed in solitude that spirit of prayer and fortitude which fitted 
them to become apostles in the new world. 

"After his promotion to the priesthood at Issy, Monsieur Flaget 
was sent by his superiors to the seminary of Nantes; where he 
was for two years professor of dogmatic theology. He here also 
filled, for a time, the office of procurator during the illness of the 

"The professor of moral theology in the seminary of Nantes having 
been appointed superior of that of Angers, asked that Monsieur 
Flaget, for whom he had conceived a special friendship, might be per- 
mitted to accompany him to the latter city, as professor of dogma. 
The request was granted. In a few months, however, the storm of 
the French revolution broke out with fury in that portion of France ; 
and the seminary of Angers was closed. The professors sought 
shelter in private families, or wherever they were most safe against the 
rage of the infuriated Jacobins, who thirsted for the blood of every 
priest of God. 

"In this sad emergency. Monsieur Flaget applied for counsel to 
Monsieur Emery, the superior general of the society, and under his 
advice he retired for a time to the bosom of his family at Billom. 


This occurred in the year 1791, when he was in tne twenty-eighth 
year of his age. 

" While all was confusion and bloodshed around him, strong in faith 
and in hope, he possessed his soul in peace. His heart was indeed 
torn with anguish by the news of desecrated temples, of violated 
altars, of priests massacred while faithfully ministering to God, and of 
holy virgins immolated in the cloister ; but his confidence that God 
would protect His Church never for a moment faltered. He infused 
much of his own serenity amidst the storm into the minds of others. 
Better days were coming." 

We have already seen how Dr. Flaget, having determined to devote 
his life to the missions of America, reached Baltimore in 1792, and 
together with his companions, Revs. John B. David and Stephen T. 
Badin, was welcomed to the country by the then vicar apostolic of the 
London district, Dr. John Carroll. Six months later, he may be 
said to have begun his missionary life by his acceptance, at the hands 
of Dr. Carroll, of the charge of Vincennes post, an important military 
station in the territory of the Northwest. The journey to the seat of 
his mission was long and difficult. It was usually prosecuted by over- 
land travel to Pittsburg; thence, by flatboats, down the Ohio river to 
Louisville, and thence through an almost unbroken forest to Vincennes. 
Reaching Pittsburg, the missionary found the river too low to 
admit of further progress, and in that condition it remained for nearly 
six months. His enforced delay constituted no period of idleness, 
however. The general government was engaged at the time in an 
effort to enforce its authority over the hostile Indian tribes of the 
Northwest territory, whose savage instincts had led them to the com- 
mission of acts of barbarity that had already involved the lives of 
numbers of white settlers in the western wilds. Pittsburg was then a 
military post and recruiting station, under command of Gen. Anthony 
Wayne, whose ideas of discipline were peculiarly rigid. It so hap- 
pened during the missionary's stay at the post that four soldiers of the 
command were tried for desertion and condemned to death. When 
he heard of the dreadful situation of these miserable men. Dr. Flaget 
hastened to the commander of the post and begged to be permitted to 
see and prepare the guilty unfortunates for their fast approaching end. 
Singularly enough, there was but a single one of the condemned men 
who had not been the recipient of Catholic baptism. Two of these, 
together with the non-Catholic, submitted themselves to the direction of 
Dr. Flaget, and went to execution sustained by the hope that, through 
the merits of Christ, their sins were forgiven them. The fourth, 
rendered reckless of the future by the stubbornness of his unbelief, was 
a Frenchman. In vain did the good priest seek to soften his obdurate 
heart. Remonstrances and tearful pleadings were thrown away on 
one who had drunk in as water the barren philosophy that had been 
so long the curse of his native land. In vain, too, did he appeal for 
mercy to the condemned at the hands of Gen. Wayne. He accom- 
panied the men to the ground upon which their execution was to take 


place, but his sensibility was too great to permit him to witness the 
dreadful finale. Having prayed with and for the three who had 
hearkened to his voice and that of their consciences, and administered 
to them the last absolution, he turned and fled from the harrowing 
scene. The death-dealing shots by which three of the condemned 
were launched into eternity fell not on his ears. He had fainted by 
the wayside. A little later, the good missionary learned that the least 
worthy and the most necessitous of the condemned men had been 
granted a reprieve by the commandant. He was thankful for this 
mercy to his compatriot, and it is not to be doubted that his conversion 
was for many days afterwards the theme of his prayers. 

After a delay of six months at Pittsburg, the missionary was enabled 
to continue his journey westward, which was made by flatboat convey- 
ance as far as Louisville. In due time he reached the then little settle- 
ment at the Falls of the Ohio, where he became the guest of an 
emigre from France who was the owner of a compact body of land of 
one hundred acres at the mouth of Beargrass creek, now covered by 
improvements aggregating millions of dollars in value. This gentle- 
man, whose name has not transpired, not even in the records of the 
bishop's life as given to the public by his biographer, would seem to 
have been so much impressed by the admirable character of his guest, 
as to propose to him that he should remain with him in the capacity of 
chaplain, promising in that case to constitute him the heir to his estate. 
The missionary was in no wise tempted by this generous offer. He 
was under the law of obedience, and that which had been set for him 
to do demanded and should receive the limit of his care, irrespective of 
personal and temporal interests. This embodied his answer to his 
compatriot's proposal. 

The short interval of his journey passed in Louisville, was in one 
respect providential to Dr. Flaget. There he fell in with Fathfirs 
Levadour and Richard, both sent by Dr. Carroll to pastorates in the 
far west, the one to Kaskaskia, and the other to Prairie du Rocher. 

Having been commended by Gen. Wayne to the attention of Col. 
George Rogers Clarke, who was then in command of a garrison at the 
Falls of the Ohio, the missionary was treated by the last named officer 
with marked civility. He even accompanied him to Vincennes, giving 
him on the way the privilege of reposing in his own tent. From that 
time. Col. Clarke exhibited on all proper occasions much personal 
interest in Dr. Flaget, and their mutual friendship was only interrupted 
by the death of the renowned soldier in 1818. 

Reaching Vincennes on the 21st of December, 1792, Dr. Flaget 
immediately set about the work of reconstruction which had led to his 
appointment. The church building, a rough structure of logs, was an 
affair rickety from long neglect, leaky and altogether wretched in its 
appointments. The altar, badly constructed from the first of unsea- 
soned boards, was falling to pieces, and but for the uses to which it 
had formerly been put, was well calculated to disgust even a christian 
neophyte. The congregation was found to be in as bad a condition 


as the church. Having fitted up the latter to the best of his ability for 
the festival of Christmas, he was enabled to induce twelve out of the 
seven hundred persons who acknowledged themselves Catholics, to 
approach the table of their Lord on the feast of His Nativity. 

Sorrowful, but in no wise discouraged, the zealous priest gave him- 
self no rest in his efforts to revive in the hearts of his people the half- 
forgotten Catholic traditions of their race. The greater part of the 
fathers of families under his spiritual jurisdiction were French Cana- 
dians, many of them married to Indian women and having large fami- 
Hes of children. It was through these latter that he was enabled 
eventually to reach the hearts of the parents. He brought them 
together in a school and gave them instruction in the rudiments of 
secular learning. He gave to them lessons in the art of singing, and 
he caused them to assist with their voices in the services of the church. 
He could not have conceived more adequate means to the end he had 
in view. Just the reverse of repellent in both manner and speech, it 
was an easy task for him to win the affection of the children, and, so 
much accomplished, his way was open to the confidence of the parents. 
Turning his attention to these, he sought to improve their social con- 
dition by encouraging them in the application of their energies to pur- 
suits that promised something better than the half-savage modes of Hfe 
to which they had been accustomed. He sought to wean them from 
dependence upon the chase for their Hvelihood and that of their fami- 
lies, and to introduce among them habits of domesticity founded upon 
home industries and home comforts. His success was beyond his 
hopes, and it might have been still greater had he not been recalled to 
Baltimore by his superiors after two and a half years of conscientious 
and exacting toil in the wilderness. 

Dr. Flaget left Vincennes toward the end of April, 1795. He first 
journeyed to Kaskaskia, whence he embarked on a flatboat for New 
Orleans. Here he remained a guest of the Capuchin fathers until he 
was enabled to secure passage in a sailing vessel bound for northeast- 
ern ports. It was not until the fall of the year named that he reached 
Baltimore. With little delay, he was sent to Georgetown college, 
conducted by priests of the suppressed order of the Society of Jesus. 
Here he remained for about three years, teaching geography and 
French, and filling the post of college discipHnarian. One of his pupils, 
to whom he became much attached, was Benedict J. Fenwick, after- 
wards successor to the late renowned Cardinal Cheverus, in the bishop- 
ric of Boston.* 

* "While engaged at Georgetown college," says Dr. Spalding, "he had 
twice the pleasure of seeing and shaking by the hand the first president of the 
United States, George Washington. The first occasion was when he accompa- 
nied the faculty of the college on a complimentary visit paid by them to the 
president ; and the second was when the latter returned the visit to the college. 
His estimate of the character of Washington had before been exalted, but hav- 
ing once seen him, and listened to his wise reflections on subjects that had for 
himself and his co-religionists a peculiar interest at the time, he was ready to 
give to him the title that has since inured to him by popular favor, ' the father 
of his country.' " 


In 1798, by accessions to their ranks from Europe, the Jesuit 
fathers having control of Georgetown college were enabled to dispense 
with the services of those of St. Sulpice, who were wanted at the time 
to take charge of a proposed college in the Island of Havana. Three of 
the fathers were sent to the island, first Rev. William Dubourg, after- 
wards bishop of New Orleans, who was soon followed by Fathers 
Flaget and Babade. The welcome received by these fathers from the 
ecclesiastical authorities of the island was anything but assuring. The 
administration was at the time in the hands of two brothers, the vicars- 
general of the archbishop, who was incapable, by reason of age and 
blindness, of attending to the duties of his office ; and these were 
dominated by extreme prejudice against the French clergy. On the 
plea that the Sulpician fathers were foreigners, they were refused the 
privilege of saying mass. Fathers Dubourg and Babade withdrew 
from the city at once and took immediate passage for Baltimore. It 
so happened that their companion was prostrated with yellow fever 
at the time of their departure, and they were under the necessity of 
leaving him on the island. The story of Dr. Flaget's after residence 
in Havana is here condensed from his biographer's more extended 

In this extremity he was neither forgotten nor neglected His own 
sufferings and the hardships to which himself and his associates had 
been subjected had awaked for him and them a lively sympathy in 
Havana. He was waited on and nursed during his illness by an aged 
and wealthy lady of the city, who not only did everything in her power 
to render his situation less deplorable than it really was, but proposed 
to him, in the event of his recovery, that he should be to her as a son. 
Regaining his health, he became a member of the household of Don 
Nicholas Calvo, a man of affluence, who had earnestly appealed to 
him to take charge of the education of his son. This he contracted to 
do, but only on the condition that his superiors should be satisfied with 
the arrangement, and that within three months thereafter, liberty 
should be restored to him to offer up the holy sacrifice of the mass. 
The answer from his superiors was favorable, but vainly had M. Calvo 
and his other friends sought a reversal of the order restricting the priest 
from saying mass. But a few days remained of the three months during 
which he had agreed to wait the hoped-for permission, when the aged 
archbishop was called out of life, and the administration fell into the 
hands of the chapter of the cathedral. Accompanied by Don Calvo, 
Dr. Flaget attended a meeting of the chapter and stated his wishes. 
The decision cf the dean was prompt and to the point: "Yes, Senor 
Abbate," said he, "I grant you these faculties; and I rejoice that the 
first act of my administration is one of justice." The two former 
vicars of the archbishop were present when these words were spoken, 
and it is to be presumed that the rebuke they then received was felt by 
them to their after profit. 

Dr. Flaget's first mass in Havana was celebrated in the church of 
the Capuchins, and it was made an occasion for rejoicing by very many 


person s who had become interested in his welfare through their obser- 
vation of his singular piety and modest demeanor from the time of his 
arrival in the city. The greater part of his time, during his after resi- 
dence in Havana, was given to the observance of his compact with M. 
Calvo in relation to the education of his son. While so employed, an 
incident took place that was destined to affect favorably the diocese 
over which Dr. Flaget was afterwards called to rule. Louis Philippe, 
of Orleans, afterwards king of France, together with his two brothers, 
exiled from their native land and slimly provided with means for their 
maintenance, arrived in Havana, and became in some sense, pension- 
ers upon the charity of a stranger people. Sympathizing with them 
in their misfortunes, the more wealthy of the citizens undertook a 
private subscription for their benefit, the presentation of which was 
assigned to Dr. Flaget. This was a graceful admission on the part of 
the friends of the Orleans princes that there was no one more capable 
of representing them than the modest ecclesiastic who had so lately 
come to reside amongst them. The service required of him was per- 
formed with so much tact and discretion, and so feelingly withal, that 
it secured to him the lasting friendship of the exiled princes. This was 
afterwards evidenced in a tangible manner when the elder of the 
princes became king of France, and the spokesman of the almoners 
was bishop of Bardstown. 

M. Calvo died in May, 1801. He had previously sought to secure 
the permanent services of Dr. Flaget by proposing that he should 
travel with his son for some years, and visit with him the several 
kingdoms of Europe- 

The stipend, extravagant for the times, proposed to be given him, 
and the character of the service itself, so grateful to his natural long- 
ings, were no temptation to one who had long before surrendered his 
will for the glory of God. Says his biographer: " He wisely left all 
to the decision of his superiors." Soon after the death of his friend. 
Dr. Flaget was recalled to Baltimore by his superiors. On leaving 
Havana, twenty-three youths were entrusted to his care by their 
parents, all designed for Georgetown college. Among these was the 
son of Mr. Calvo, whose education had been his principal care up to 
that time since his recovery from the serious illness of which men- 
tion has been made. When he presented himself before his superiors 
in Baltimore, toward the end of the year 1801, he was enabled to give 
to these reverend gentlemen tangible evidences of the respect and 
confidence that had been reposed in him by the good Catholic people 
of Havana. Gifts, aggregating a large sum of money, had been 
forced upon him by these latter, and without reserving to himself 
anything, the whole was handed over to the treasurer of the 

Again charged with college duties and frequent missionary labors. 
Dr. Flaget spent the seven years of his life immediately following his 
return to Baltimore with little intervening that was calculated to disturb 
its quietude. Had it not been for his natural anxiety concerning his 


relatives in France — that country being involved at the time in what 
is historically known as Napoleonic wars — his peace of mind would 
have been well-nigh perfect. For much of the time he could not 
hear from them, nor they from him ; and when it so happened that their 
letters did reach his hands, he found them made up of importunities 
for his speedy return to his native country. The thought that he was 
separated from, and little likely to be ever reunited to them in life, was 
very bitter to him; but his earthly work had been fixed for him; he 
had set his hands to the plow, and he felt that he would be recreant to 
duty should he abandon his field of toil. Writing to one of his 
brothers, he says : " It is difficult to uproot a tree that has been for 
seventeen years in a good soil. Let that be said, my dear brother, 
in order that we may both accustom ourselves to the thought of never 
seeing each other in this lower world. My heart is very heavy in 
making you such an adieu; but it is as well to make it to-day 
as to-morrow. The sorrow would be always the same; and the 
sacrifice once made, we would labor seriously, both of us, to be 
reunited, as soon as possible, in the bosom of God." 

''The new bishop," says Dn Spalding, "now ardently desired to 
repair immediately to the theatre of his future labors ; but insuperable 
difficulties arose, which delayed his departure till the following spring. 
The principal obstacle was his truly apostolic poverty; he had not 
wherewith to defray the necessary expenses of his journey. 

"He corresponded on the subject with M„ Badin,now his vicar 
general in Kentucky; and the latter opened a subscription, with a view 
to raise the requisite sum. But the poverty of the Catholics, most of 
whom were new settlers, subsequently induced him to suspend the col- 
lection. The bishop approved of this proceeding, for he was aware of 
the destitution of his new flock, and he wished to do notliing to alienate 
their affections, 

" He wrote to M. Badin: ' May the will oi God be done! I would 
prefer a thousand times to walk, than creatf the slightest murmur.' 
And agam : ' Be pleased to take notice, that we ar : seven or eight per- 
sons, and have but one horse among us, I in;end tr let M. David, as 
being the slowest of foot, have the use of this horse, I and my other 
companions will perform the journey on foot, with the greatest pleasure, 
and without the slightest reluctance. This manner ot pilgrimage will 
be more to my taste; and unless I am greatly deceived, it will not dero- 
gate from my dignity, I, however, leave everything to your prudence.' 

"While he was placed in these difficulties, a number of generous 
friends in Baltimore came to his relief, by contributing the necessary 
amount. We will here let him speak for himself; laying before our 
readers an extract from a letter to the directors of the Association for 
the Propagation of the Faith, in France; 

" ' To give you a clear idea of the bishoprics of the United States, 
I propose to lay before you a brief statement of the condition in which 
I found myself, after the Holy See, on the representation of Bishop 
Carroll, had nominated me to the bishopric of Bardstown. I was 


compelled to accept the appointment, whether I would or not ; I had 
not a cent at my disposal ; the pope and the cardinals, who were dis- 
persed by the revolution, were not able to make me the slightest pres- 
ent; and Archbishop Carroll, though he had been bishop for more than 
sixteen (twenty) years, was still pQorer than myself; for he had debts, 
and I owed nothing. Nevertheless, my consecration took place on the 
4th of November, 1810; but for want of money to defray the expenses 
of the journey, I could not undertake it. It was only six months 
afterwards, that, through a subscription made by my friends in Balti- 
more, I was enabled to reach Bardstown, my episcopal See.' 

"At length, on the nth of May, 1811, the bishop and his suite left 
Baltimore for the west. They traveled over the mountains to Pitts- 
burg; whence they embarked on the 2 2d in a flatboat, chartered spec- 
ially for the purpose. They were thirteen days in descending the Ohio 
river to Louisville, where they arrived on the 4th of June. 

"A Canadian priest, M. Savine, had joined them; and, on the 
boat, all the exercises were conducted as in a regularly organized 
seminary. Though 'M. David's health was in as bad a condition as 
the bishop's funds' — it having been greatly shattered on the missions 
of Maryland — yet he presided over all the spiritual exercises, the 
order of which had been previously fixed by the bishop. 

*" The boat on which we descended the Ohio became the cradle 
of the seminary, and of the church of Kentucky. Our cabin was, at 
the time, chapel, dormitory, study room and refectory. An altar was 
erected on the boxes, and ornamented so far as circumstances would 
allow. The bishop prescribed a regulation which fixed all the exer- 
cises, and in which each had its proper time. On Sunday, after 
prayer, every one went to confession ; then the priests said mass, and 
the others went to communion. After an agreeable navigation of 
thirteen days, we arrived at Louisville, next at Bardstown, and finally 
at the residence of the vicar-general.' 

"At Louisville, the bishop met the good M. Nerinckx, who had 
come to welcome him in the name of the clergy, and to escort him to 
Bardstown and St. Stephen's. 

"We cannot better relate his journey to Bardstown, or describe 
his sentiments on taking possession of his See, than in his own words, 
contained in a letter — half playful and half serious — written to his 
brother in France, a few days afterwards : 

" 'While we were there, (in Louisville,) the faithful of my epis- 
copal city put themselves in motion to receive me in a manner con- 
formable to my dignity. They despatched for my use a fine equip- 
age drawn by two horses; and a son of one among the principal 
inhabitants considered himself honored in being the driver. Horses 
were furnished to all those who accompanied me, and four wagons 
transported our baggage.' 

" ' It was then, for the first time, that I saw the bright side of the 
episcopacy, and that I began to feel its dangers. Nevertheless, God 
be thanked, if some movements of vanity glided into my heart, they 


had not a long time to fix their abode therein. The roads were so 
detestable, that, in spite of my beautiful chargers and my excellent 
driver, I was obliged to perform part of the journey on foot ; and I 
should have so traveled the entire way, had not one of my young 
seminarians dismounted and presented me his horse.' 

" ' The next day, the sun was not yet risen when we were already 
' on our journey. The roads were much better ; I entered the carriage 
with two of my suite. I was not the more exalted ifier) for all this ; 
the idea that I was henceforward to speak, to write and to act as 
bishop, cast me into a profound sadness. How many sighs did I not 
breathe forth while traversing the lour or five remaining leagues of 
our journey ! ' 

" ' At the distance of a half league (a mile and a half) from town, 
an ecclesiastic of my diocese, accompanied by the principal inhabit- 
ants, came out to meet me. So soon as they had perceived us, they 
dismounted to receive my benediction. I gave it to them, but with 
how trembling a hand, and with what heaviness of heart ! Mutual 
compliments were now exchanged, and then we all together proceeded 
towards the town. This cortege, though simple and modest in itself, is 
something very new and extraordinary in this country. It was the first 
time a bishop was ever seen in these parts (deserts) ; and it was I, the 
very last of the last tribe, who was to have this honor ! ' 

" ' In entering the town, I devoted myself to all the guardian 
angels who reside therein, and I prayed to God, with all my heart, to 
make me die a thousand times, should I not become an instrument of 
His glory in this new diocese. O, my dear brother, have compassion 
on me, overloaded with so heavy a burden, and pray fervently to God 
that He would vouchsafe to lighten it.' 

"The bishop entered Bardstown — where there was as yet no 
church — on the 9th of June; and he reached St. Stephen's, the 
residence of M. Badin, on the nth. Here he was met by the clergy 
of his diocese, and was greeted by a large concourse of his people, 
anxious to see their bishop. The ceremony of his installation is thus 
described by M. Badin : 

" ' The bishop there found the faithful kneeling on the grass, and 
singing canticles in English ; the country women were nearly all 
dressed in white, and many of them were still fasting, though it was 
then four o'clock in the evening; they having entertained a hope to be 
able on that day to assist at his mass, and to receive the holy communion 
from his hands. An altar had been prepared at the entrance of the 
first court, under a bower composed of four small trees which over- 
shadowed it with their foliage. Here the bishop put on his pontifical 
robes. After the aspersion of the holy water, he was conducted to 
the chapel in procession, with the singing of the Litany of the Blessed 
Virgin; and the whole function closed with the prayers and cere- 
monies prescribed for the occasion in the Roman Pontifical.' 

"Under circumstances so simple, yet so touching, did the first 
bishop of the West enter into formal possession of his See. " 



It is not deemed necessary here to pursue the after history of the 
See of Bardstown. That will appear as the record progresses. Neither 
will the writer refer further in this place to the after life of its venera- 
ble first bishop. In another chapter will be given, in his own words, 
a full account of his labors and their fruits up to the year 1820; and 
therein, too, will be found a pen-portrait, drawn by the author from his 
personal recollections, of one of the most saintly men that has yet 
adorned the history of the Church in America. 



On finding himself clothed with the purple of a bishop, and with 
the powers, privileges and responsibilities that pertain to the office, 
Dr. Flaget's first concern had reference to a source of ministerial supply, 
in order that the fruits of his labors might remain after himself and 
his co-workers should be called out of life. As has elsewhere been 
seen, Providence had favored him from the first with the services of 
an ecclesiastic possessing every requisite needed for the special work 
of seminary foundation. Father John B. David was not only learned 
in theology, but he had previously, and for long years, been connected 
with institutions wherein he had acquired much experience as a teacher 
and trainer of young men who were being prepared for the work of 
the holy ministry. The name of Father David is so intimately 
connected with the history of the diocesan seminary of St. Thomas, 
that the writer finds it impossible to treat separately the man and his 
work. The life of the venerable ecclesiastic referred to, up to the 
date of his consecration as coadjutor bishop of Bardstown, is thus 
epitomized by Dr. M. J. Spalding : 

"John Baptist David was born in 1761, in a little town on the 
river Loire, in France, between the cities of Nantes and Angers. His 
parents were pious, exemplary, and ardently attached to the faith of 
their fathers. Though not wealthy, they were yet blessed with a com- 
petence for their own support and for the education of their offspring. 
Sensible of the weighty responsibility which rests on christian parents, 
in regard to those tender ones whom heaven has intrusted to their 
charge, they determined to spare no pains nor expense that might be 
necessary for the christian education of their children. 

"Young John Baptist gave early evidences of deep piety, of solid 
talents, and of an ardent thirst for learning. At the age of seven he 



was placed under the care of an uncle, a pious priest, who willingly 
took charge of his early education. By this good priest he was taught 
the elements of the French and Latin languages, and also those of 
music, for which he manifested great taste. He was enrolled in the 
number of en/ants de chmir, or of the boys who served at the altar, 
and sung in the choir. He thus passed the first years of his life in 
the church, where he was reared up under the very shadow of the 

" At the age of fourteen, he was sent by his parents to a neighbor- 
ing college, conducted by the Oratorian priests. Here he distinguished 
himself for regularity, close application to his studies, solid talents, 
and, above all, for a sincere piety, which soon won him the esteem 
and love of both professors ^nd fellow students. But what all 
admired in him most was that sincerity and candor of soul, which 
formed throughout his long life the distinctive trait in his character. 

"From his earliest childhood, the young John Baptist had mani- 
fested an ardent desire to embrace the ecclesiastical state, that he 
might thus devote his whole life to the service of God and of the 
neighbor, in the exercise of the holy ministry. His parents were 
delighted with these dispositions of their son ; and to second his pur- 
pose, they sent him to the diocesan seminary of Nantes. Here he 
entered with ardor on his sacred studies, in which he made solid pro- 
ficiency. In the year 1778, the eighteenth of his age, he received the 
tonsure, and, two years later, the minor orders from the hands of the 
bishop of Angers. 

"In the theological seminary he remained for about four years, 
during which he completed his course of studies, and took with honor 
the degrees of bachelor and master of arts. In the twenty-second 
year of his age, after having duly prepared himself by a retreat of 
eight days, he bound himself irrevocably to the sacred ministry, by 
receiving the holy order of subdeaconship. He now considered him- 
self as belonging wholly to God; and throughout the remainder of 
his life he never regretted nor recalled that first act of entire consecra- 
tion, by which he had bound himself forever to the service of the 

" Shortly after he had taken this important step, with the advice of 
his superiors, he yielded to the earnest solicitation of one among the 
most wealthy and respectable citizens of Nantes, and became, for 
some years, private tutor in his family. Accustomed to enter heartily 
into everything he undertook, he discharged this duty with such 
assiduity and zeal, as to win the respect of the parents and the love of 
the children under his charge. On the recent visit of Bishop Flaget 
to France, one of these came to inquire about his old preceptor, for 
whom he manifested feelings of love and gratitude which long years 
had not weakened nor diminished. 

" M. David was ordained deacon in the year 1783; and, having 
shortly afterwards determined to join the pious congregation of Sulpic- 
iaus, he went to Paris, and remained for two years in the solitude of 


Issy, to complete his theological studies, and to prepare himself, by 
retirement and prayer, for the awful dignity of the priesthood. Dur- 
ing this time, he edified all by his exemplary virtues, by his assiduity 
in study, and by the punctual regularity with which he attended to 
every duty of the seminarian. He was raised to the priesthood on 
the 24th of September, 1785. 

"Early in the year following, he was sent by his superiors to the 
theological seminary of Angers, then under the direction of the Sul- 
picians. Here he remained for about four years, discharging with 
industry and ability, the duties of professor of philosophy, theology, 
and the holy scriptures : always enforcing his lessons by his good 
example. At length the storm of the French revolution broke over 
Angers; and, late in the year 1790, the seminary was seized on by the 
revolutionary troops, and converted into an arsenal. The professors 
and students were compelled to fly for their lives ; and M. David took 
shelter in a private family. In this retreat he spent his time in study, 
and in constant prayer to God, for light to guide him in this emer- 
gency, and for his powerful aid and protection to abridge the horrors 
of a revolution which was everywhere sacrificing the lives of the 
ministers of God, and threatening the very existence of the Catholic 
Church in France. 

* ' After nearly two years spent in this retirement, he determined, 
with the advice of his superiors, to sail for America, and to devote the 
remainder of his life to its infant and struggling missions. As we 
have already stated, he embarked for America in 1792, in the company 
of MM, Flaget and Badin. On the voyage he applied himself with 
such assiduity to the study of the English language, as to have already 
mastered its principal difficulties ere he set foot on American soil. 
This is but one in a long chain of facts, which prove that he made it 
an invariable rule never to be idle, and never to lose a moment of his 
precious time. 

"Very soon after his arrival in the United States, Bishop Carroll 
ascertained that he knew enough of Enghsh to be of service on the 
missions, and he accordingly sent him to attend to some Catholic con- 
gregations in the lower part of Maryland. M. David had been but 
four months in America, when he preached his first sermon in English, 
and he had the consolation to find that he was not only well under- 
stood, but that his discourse made a deep impression on his hearers. 
For twelve years he labored with indefatigable zeal on this mission, in 
which he attended to the spiritual wants of three numerous congrega- 
tions. He was cheered by the abundant fruits with which God every 
where blessed his labors. 

"Feeling that mere transient preaching is generally of but little 
permanent utility, he resolved to commence regular courses of instruc- 
tion in the form of retreats ; and so great was his zeal and industry, 
that he gave four retreats every year to his congregations. The first 
was for the benefit of the married men ; the second, for that of the 
married women 3 the third and fourth^ for that of the boys and girls. 


To each of these classes he gave separate sets of instructions, adapted 
to their respective capacities and wants. 

" His discourses were plain in their manner, and soHd and thorough 
in their matter. He seldom began to treat, without exhausting a sub- 
ject. At first, but few attended his retreats; but gradually the number 
increased, so as to embrace almost all the members of his congrega- 
tions. But he appeared to preach with as much zeal and earnestness 
to the few, as to the many. He was often heard to say that the con- 
version or spiritual profit of even one soul, was sufficient to enlist all 
the zeal, and to call forth of all the energies of the preacher. 

"Great were the effects, and most abundant the fruits, of M. 
David's labors on the missions of Maryland. On his arrival among 
them, he found his congregations cold and neglectful of their christian 
duties; he left them fervent and exemplary. Piety everywhere 
revived; the children and servants made their first communion; the 
older members of the congregations became regular communicants. 
Few that were instructed by him could soon forget their duty, so great 
was the impression he left, and so thorough was the course of instruc- 
tion he gave. To the portion of Maryland in which he thus signalized 
his zeal, he bequeathed a rich and abundant legacy of spiritual bless- 
ings, which was destined to descend from gener-ation to generation : 
and the good people of those parts still exhibit traces of his zeal, and 
still pronounce his name with reverence and gratitude. 

" In the year 1804, Bishop Carroll found it necessary to recall M. 
David from the missions, in order to send him to Georgetown college, 
which was then greatly in need of his services. The good missionary 
promptly obeyed the call, and for two years discharged, in that institu- 
tion, the duties of professor, with his accustomed fidelity and ability. 

" In 1806, the Sulpicians of Baltimore expressed a wish to enlist 
his services in the theological seminary and the college of St. Mary's 
under their direction in that city. M. David belonged to this body, 
and he promptly repaired to the assistance of his brethren. He 
remained in Baltimore for nearly five years, discharging various offices 
in the institutions just named, and devoted all his leisure time to the 
duties of the sacred ministry. He labored with so great zeal and 
constancy, that his constitution, naturally robust, became much 
impaired. Still, he was not discouraged, nor did he give himself any 
rest or relaxation. A pure intention of promoting the honor and glory 
of God, and a constant spirit of prayer, sustained him, and hallowed 
his every action. 

"When his intimate friend, the Rev. M. Flaget, was nominated 
first bishop of Bardstown, M. David, as we have already seen, cheer- 
fully offered himself to accompany the bishop to his new diocese in 
the West. Though then in his fiftieth year, and though his previous 
hardships had greatly weakened his health, yet his zeal had not abated; 
and he was fully prepared to share with his dear friend in all the hard- 
ships and privations of his rugged mission. The bishop gratefully 
accepted the tender of his services ; and cheerfully entered into the 


design of M. Emery, the venerable superior-general of the Sulpicians, 
who had already named him superior of the theological seminary to be 
organized for the new diocese of Bardstown. 

"'Occupied solely with the wants of his flock,' says M. David, 
' the principal end and object of Bishop Flaget was the foundation of 
a seminary. Without this, it was impossible for him to have a clergy 
sufficient for a diocese which extended to the sources of the Mississippi 
and the lakes of Canada. He arrived in Baltimore in July, 18 10, 
accompanied by a subdeacon and two young laymen, the elements of 
his seminary, which I had been already charged with by M. Emery, 
the superior-general of the Sulpicians. My health then was in as bad 
a condition as our funds. ... A Canadian priest had joined us; 
and the boat on which we descended the Ohio became the cradle of 
our seminary and of the Church of Kentucky.' 

" Having reached St. Stephen's, the residence of the vicar-general, 
* our seminary continued there for five months. The bishop lived in 
a log cabin, which had but one room, and was called the " Episcopal 
palace." The seminarians lodged in another cabin, all together, and 
myself in a small addition to the principal house. A good CathoUc, 
who had labored for sixteen years to make an establishment for the 
Church, then bequeathed to the bishop a fine plantation; and in 
November, (181 1) the seminary was removed thither. After five 
years, we finally succeeded in building a brick church, sixty-five feet 
long, by thirty wide. The interior is not yet sufficiently ornamented 
for want of means; it is, however, in a condition sufficiently decent 
for the celebration of the divine offices. The bishop officiates in it on 
all the great feasts, and in it three ordinations have already taken place.' 

" He next proceeds to state that, at the date of his letter — Novem- 
ber, 18 1 7 — there were at St. Thomas' fifteen seminarians, of whom five 
were studying theology, and of whom but two were able to pay 
annually the sum of fifty dollars each. The number might have been 
doubled if the means of the bishop had allowed him to receive all 
who had applied for admission. Notwithstanding the poverty with 
which the infant institution had to struggle, God watched over it, and 
his providence did not suffer its inmates to want for any of the neces- 
saries of life. 

' • The young seminarians corresponded well with the parental 
solicitude of their good superior. They caught his spirit, and entered 
heartily into all his plans for their spiritual welfare. They united 
manual labor with study. They cheerfully submitted to lead a painful 
and laborious life, in order to fit themselves for the ministry, and to 
prepare themselves for the privations they were destined to endure on 
the missions. On this subject, we will translate for our readers a por- 
tion of M. Badin's account of the early missions of Kentucky : 

" 'The seminarians made bricks, prepared the mortar, cut wood, 
etc., to build the church of St. Thomas, the seminary, and the convent 
of Nazareth. The poverty of our infant establishments compelled 
them to spend their recreations in labor. Every day they devoted 


three hours to labor in the garden, in the fields, or in the woods. 
Nothing could be more frugal than their table, which was also that of the 
two bishops, and in which water was their ordinary drink; nothing, at 
the same time, could be more simple than their dress.' 

" Father David continues his account of the seminary, over which 
he presided, as follows : 

' ' ' We have at length succeeded, thanks to God, in building a semi- 
nary thirty feet square. The second story, which is a garret, serves as 
a dormitory, and may contain twenty-five persons ; it is habitable in 
winter. For about a year we have been able to give in it hospitality to 
twelve persons belonging to the suite of the bishop of Louisiana, who 
is daily expected to arrive with twenty-three other companions. These 
will be lodged with difficulty ; but our hearts will dilate with joy ; and 
these good missionaries will perform with us an apprenticeship of the 
apostolic life.' 

' ' As superior of the seminary, Father David was a rigid discipli- 
narian. Both by word and by example he enforced exact regularity in 
all the exercises of the house. He was himself always amongst the 
first at every duty. Particularly was he indefatigable in discharging 
the duty of instructing the young candidates for the ministry in the 
sublime maxims of christian perfection. He seemed never to grow 
weary of this occupation. A thorough master of the interior life him- 
self, it was his greatest delight to conduct others into the same path of 
holiness. He was not satisfied with laying down general principles; he 
entered into the most minute details, with a zeal equalled only by his 

' ' He sought to inspire the young seminarians with an ardent desire 
of aspiring to perfection ; and of doing all their actions for the honor 
and glory of God. To arouse and stimulate their zeal, he often dwelt 
on the sublime grandeur of the ministry, which he delighted to paint as 
a co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. A favorite pass- 
age of the holy scriptures with him, was that containing the words of 
our blessed Lord to his apostles : ' I have placed you, that you may go, 
and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit may remain ; ' as also this other 
declaration of the Saviour : ' I have come to cast fire upon the earth, 
and what will I but that it be kindled?' 

"Though he sometimes rebuked faults with some severity, yet he 
had a tender and parental heart which showed itself on all occasions. 
For all the seminarians he cherished feelings of the most paternal 
affection. It was his greatest happiness to see them advance in learn- 
ing and improve in virtue. He rejoiced with those who rejoiced, and 
wept with those who wept. No one ever went to him for advice or 
consolation in vain. As a confessor, few could surpass him in zeal, in 
patience, in tenderness. But what most won for him the esteem, con- 
fidence, and love of all under his charge, was his great sincerity and 
candor in everything. All who were acquainted with him, not only 
believed, but felt, that he was wholly incapable of deceiving them in 
the least thing. 


* ' He was always even better than his word : he was sparing of 
promises, and lavish in his efforts to redeem them when made. If 
he rebuked the faults of others, he was free to avow his own ; and 
more than once have we heard him publicly acknowledging his imper- 
fections, and with tears imploring pardon of those under his control 
for whatever pain he might have unnecessarily caused them. He was 
in the constant habit of speaking whatever he thought, without human 
respect or fear of censure from others. This frankness harmonized 
well with the open character of the Kentuckians, and secured for him, 
in their bosoms, an unbounded confidence and esteem. 

"Those under his direction could not fail to profit by all this ear- 
nest zeal and devotedness to their welfare. They made rapid advances 
in the path of perfection, in which they were blessed with so able and 
laborious a guide. Even when he was snatched from their midst, they 
could not soon forget his lessons nor lose sight of his example. 

"We may say of him, what he so ardently wished should be veri- 
fied in others : that he ' has brought forth fruit, ' and that ' his fruit 
has remained.' He has enkindled a fire in our midst, which the 
coldness and neglect of generations to come will not be able to quench. 
He has impressed his own earnest spirit on the missions served by 
those whom his laborious zeal has reared. Such are some of the fruits 
produced by this truly good man, with whose invaluable services God 
was pleased to bless our infant diocese. 

With each succeeding year, the number of those whose aspira- 
tions were leading them to the service of the altar, went on increasing; 
and as early as 181 4, at least one of these received priestly ordination 
from the hands of Bishop Flaget. From and after the date given, up 
to the year 1823, the ordinations at St. Thomas were of the following 
named priests : Revs. Peter Schasffer, M. Derigaud, M. Champonier, 
Anthony Gahill, David A. Desparcq, Philip Horstman, Robert A. 
Abell, George A. M. Elder, William Byrne and Elisha J. Durbin.* 

•"Among the writer's sketches of individual life, character and personal 
appearance, given to the reader further on, will be found one of the venerable 
founder of the diocesan seminary of St. Thomas. 




It is a singular circumstance in the history of the three first estab- 
lished and more widely known of the Catholic sisterhoods of Kentucky, 
that the experiences of those who founded them, as well as of their 
earlier members, should present features so identical as to render the 
story of one but the repetition of that of each of the others. Literally, 
and in accordance with natural laws, these sisterhoods began their 
work, now co-extensive with the western part of the country, upon 
capital comprised of willing hands and individual determination. 
Without money or resources of any kind, were laid the foundations of 
these now magnificent establishments, each with its hundreds of mem- 
bers, its numerous affiliated houses, wherein the children of the poor 
and of the rich are being taught whatever is needful for them to know, 
whether for their happiness here or hereafter. No day-laborer, on farm 
or street, or in any one of the multifarious occupations in which strong 
hands find employment, ever earned to himself commendation for 
more ready acceptance of the divine decree, ''in the sweat of thy 
face, thou shalt eat bread," than did these humble virgins of the early 
Church of Kentucky. Enlightened by the divine spirit, they surren- 
dered everything for God, and elected to serve Him by devoting their 
lives to the service of those upon whom was to depend in so great a 
measure, the future of Catholicity in the State. Some of the experi- 
ences to which reference has been made, will appear in the accounts 
that follow of the organizations now known as those of the Sisterhood 
of Loretto, the Sisterhood of Charity of Nazareth, and the Sisterhood 
of St. Catharine of Sienna. 


The organization of the Sisterhood of Loretto, or as it was first 
called, The Little Society of the Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, 
antedates that of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth by a little more 
than eight months, and it preceded that of St. Catharine of Sienna, 
known at first by the title of St. Mary Magdalen's, by just ten years. 
Inclinations to conventual life are not ordinarily brought about by 
mere self-reflection. On the contrary, they are generally the result of 
influence brought to bear upon the plastic minds of the young by those 
who gave themselves up to a celibate life in their own youth, and 
have since walked by faith and found their joys increased, the nearer 


they approached the hill of Calvary, and the more distinctly was 
reflected in their hearts the drama of salvation thereupon enacted. 
The founders of the three orders of religious referred to were all men 
of eminent sanctity ; men who were devoted to prayer, to labor, to the 
Church and its Divine Head, and to the work of the holy ministry to 
which they had been pledged. They were men who not only preach- 
ed — but practiced, mortification. 

The labors of Father Nerinckx in Kentucky, were most nobly 
crowned by the foundation he made of the Loretto society. Here it 
is that the spirit of the great missionary still lives and abides, still 
leads the children of his adoption to the foot of the cross, and still 
evokes out of their hearts and minds and mouths that tribute of love 
and sympathy, the most pathetic ever conceived or uttered: "0, suf- 
fering Jesus! O, sorrowful Mary!" As early as the year 1808, 
Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin undertook the construction of a convent 
for women near his residence of St. Stephen's, wherein, it had 
been already arranged between him and his co-laborer. Father 
Nerinckx, certain pious souls among the young women of the settle- 
ment were to find a home and employ themselves in teaching the chil- 
dren of the neighborhood, both white and black. He prosecuted 
the work successfully, but on the very day the house was ready for 
occupancy, it took fire and was burned to the ground. The destruc- 
tion of the building was felt by both missionaries to be a loss for 
which there was no immediate remedy. But a remedy was found, the 
facts connected with which are thus simply told by an aged sister of 
the Loretto society : 

" Father Nerinckx determined this year, {181 2) to establish a little 
day school for the children of his congregation of St. Charles, and he 
appHed to Miss Mary Rhodes, then living with her cousin, James 
Dant, on the farm now occupied by the Trappists, to remove to Hardin's 
creek, live there, with her brother, Bennet Rhodes, and take charge 
of his school. Mary Rhodes was a good and pious girl, and having 
received her education in a convent, she had nothing to learn to fit 
her for the position she was invited to fill. The arrangement was 
perfected, and the school was opened in a couple of abandoned cabins 
that stood on an eminence, on the opposite side of Hardin's creek 
from the residence of Mr. Rhodes, and half-way between it and St. 
Charles' church. They were wretchedly dilapidated, and without 
other flooring than the bare ground. They were roofed with rough 
boards that had shrunk so far apart as to afford but slight protection 
against the intrusion of wind and snow. The playground for the chil- 
dren was a diminutive affair, separated from the near forest by a few 
sections of rail fencing." 

The school was begun, and soon bare-footed children from miles 
around were to be seen treading the forest paths, and racing with each 
other toward the improvised academy building above described. It 
was not long before an assistant teacher was needed, and Father 
Nerinckx had no difficulty in his search after a proper one. Christine 


Stuart was well known in the neighborhood as a sensible and pious 
girl, and none knew better than her pastor how well suited she was for 
the life to which he hoped in the end to attach both herself and Miss 
Rhodes, The two maidens were alike in many things. They were 
alike capable, alike pious and alike unworldly. They boarded and 
roomed together at the house of Bennet Rhodes, and, imperceptibly 
to themselves, it may be, there was developed in them something of 
conventual order, especially in respect to their devotions. 

In the meantime, the young women named had discovered that 
their residence with Mr. Rhodes was throwing them too much into the 
company of the worldly-minded and the frivolous, and they con- 
cluded to fit up a lodging-room, and to remain for the future, isolated 
from worldly associations. They were joined about this time by Miss 
Ann Hevern, an exceedingly pious young woman, and they began to 
talk freely among themselves and with their pastor, of the propriety of 
banding themselves together in religious life, and thus forming the 
nucleus of a community vowed to specific duties, under ecclesiasti- 
cal authority and discipline. Father Nerinckx saw in all this the 
begmning of the realization of his hopes, entertained for years, for 
the christian education of the girl children in his own and the neigh- 
boring congregations. He hastened to Bardstown, laid the matter 
before Bishop Flaget, and returned home with the authority to receive 
as novices the three postulants and those who might elect to follow 
their example, and to write out- rules for the government of 'the new 

On the 25th of April, 1812, the three postulants walked over to 
the church of St. Charles, where mass was said by Father Nerinckx, 
and where they were received by him as novices in the community to 
which he then gave the name of Friends of Mary at the Foot of the 
Cross. Among those who witnessed the ceremony in the church, 
were Nancy Rhodes and Sally Hevern, and a few days later, these 
were admitted into the community as postulants. Previous to this 
date, mostly by the work of their own hands, the youthful teachers 
had made many changes in the cabins on the hill. They had impro- 
vised rooms for a few boarding pupils, and they had done much to 
render the entire establishment less uncomfortable to its inmates. 

Now that their numbers had more than doubled in a few months, 
they were encouraged to labor with still greater efficiency, arid soon 
they had a garden laid out, enclosed, and in a good state of cultivation ; 
they were seized with a mania for rearing pigs and poultry, and all the 
little income that came to them from the parents of the children they 
were teaching was devoted to reconstruction. Now and then, a 
kind-hearted neighbor would proffer them service for a day or two, 
and again, when the work was wholly beyond their strength, they 
were helped out of their difficulty by the appearance on the place of 
a number of male members of the congregation, who had been pre- 
viously notified by the pastor, of the need there was for their united 
charitable action. 


And now another addition was made to their number, in the person 
of Miss Nellie Morgan, of the congregation of Holy Mary's, on the Roll- 
ing Fork. This young woman had asked for admittance into the con- 
templated society several months before, but she had contracted with 
several of her mother's neighbors to teach their children for a given 
time, and the period ended only on the ist of June, 181 2. Nellie was 
a great acquisition to the little community. She was a fairly accom- 
phshed young lady, easy and pleasant in her manners, and of a cheer- 
ful disposition. In addition to her graces of mind and person, she 
could sing well, had some knowledge of music, and was able to instruct 
others in the art. 

On the 29th of June, the entire community, novices, postulants 
and pupils, repaired to the church of St. Charles, where a like cere- 
mony to that of the preceding 25th of April, was performed and wit- 
nessed in the reception of Nancy Rhodes, Nelly Morgan and Sally 
Hevern as novices. In the afternoon of the same day, as is supposed, 
the six novices, in the presence of Father Nerinckx, went into an elec- 
tion of one of their number to preside over the community. Their 
choice fell upon Ann or Nancy Rhodes, the younger sister of Mary 
Rhodes, who, up to that time, had been at the head of the school. 
When Father Nerinckx announced the result of the election, he 
remarked: "You have chosen the youngest among you." "Yes, 
Father," answered one of the number, "but she is the most virtuous." 
There was no display, no feeling, indeed, of jealousy on the part of the 
elder sister. She knew her sister's capabilities, and she knew also how 
humble of heart she was, and how just was her sense of both duty 
and propriety. Father Nerinckx had selected for the title to be borne 
by the superior, that of Dear Mother. Each of the others, with the 
exception of Nelly Morgan, elected to assume in religion her baptismal 
name. The exception had chosen the name of Sister Clare. 

On this same memorable 29th day of June, was felled the first 
tree designed for the construction of a new convent. This work had 
been blessed by Bishop Flaget,and he had appealed to the good will 
and charity of the people, especially of the congregation of St. 
Charles, for contributions in aid of the undertaking. Quick and 
generous response had been made to this appeal, and those who could 
give nothing in money were liberal of the work of their hands. The 
proposed buildings were to be of logs, and close at hand stood the 
monsters of the forest, out of whose stately shafts was to be shaped 
the material for their construction. The aged sister already quoted, 
thus describes the progress of the work : 

' * Small stones from the creek formed the foundations, and these 
were made solid by being filled in with mud and straw. This work 
was mostly done by Father Nerinckx himself. Through reverence for 
God, the logs intended for the chapel were hewed flat and smooth. 
The houses were built at short distances from each other on either 
Side of a square and were of good dimensions. The school house stood 
first in the row at the right hand side of the entrance gate; and 


Immediately opposite to this, heading the left hand row of houses, was 
one intended for the pastor's residence. Like the school buildings, 
this was a double cabin of one story, and a single chimney formed of 
forest cuttings, daubed inside and out with mud. In the construction 
of this house Father Nerinckx had little assistance from others, and 
the entire work was done at a cost of six dollars and fifty cents." 

According to the same authority, the novices were not a little 
troubled on a subject that is supposed to be of absorbing interest to 
women of every condition living in the world. Their rule as pro- 
mulgated by their superior, required them to appear in habits that 
were uniform in shape, color and material. To supply these imme- 
diately was simply impossible. They had first to secure the wool, 
cotton and flax out of which to elaborate fhe finished cloth needed for 
their clothing. This they succeeded in doing eventually, and in time 
they were able to appear in dresses which were the absolute product 
of their own intelligent industry. 

Months before the new convent was finished. Father Nerinckx had 
removed from St. Stephen's to St. Charles', where, so to say, he kept 
house in the sacristy of the church. A good woman of the neighbor- 
hood prepared his meals in her own house and sent them to him 
whenever it happened that he was not absent on ministerial duty. 
When at home, on week-days, his whole time was given to instruction 
of the novices and their pupils. Whenever it was possible, he said 
mass for the little community, in the most eligible room of the larger of 
the two cabins, whither he had caused to be transferred a statue of 
the Blessed Virgin which he had brought with him to this country. 

In so far as Father Nerinckx can be said to have had a home at 
all on earth, the two-roomed cabin hitherto described served him for 
that purpose up to a short time before his death. Here it was that 
his thoughts were concentrated upon the work that was destined to 
live after him, and where he begged for divine guidance, in order to 
see clearly his way to the ends of his ministry, the greater glory of 
God and the salvation of the souls of men. Here were considered, 
and sometimes worked out, his homilies, afterwards addressed to the 
sisterhood he had established, in which he sought to direct their 
minds, first of all to the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who 
had inspired them to undertake their labor of love ; then to Jesus' 
suffering, who had shed His precious blood for their redemption ; and 
then to the Sorrowful Mother, under whose protection they had been 
placed, and whose aid he would have them invoke in all their trials and 
for the accomplishment of all their just desires. 

The chapel of the new convent was blessed under the title of Little 
Loretto; this name attached as well to the convent itseit, which was not 
finished for some time after. There was now room sufficient, how- 
ever, for all the needs of the community and their pupils, both board- 
ers and day-scholars. The work of improvement about the place went 
on slowly enough for a number of years, but there was something of 
progression nevertheless. Though the Sisters were in no wise lacking 


in industry, their hands were kept too busy with their legitimate tasks 
to permit them to attend to those that referred to house construction 
and change. For all that, they had to depend upon hired help. Their 
savings — how small they were will be better understood from the state- 
ment that the sum of thirty-two dollars was all they received for an 
entire session of board and tuition — were devoted wholly to these 
objects and the purchase of supplies for their table. 

The number of their pupils was still steadily increasing. The 
boarding pupils were principally from the congregation of Holy Mary's, 
on the Rolling Fork, and from points in that of St. Charles' which were 
too distant from the school to enable the children to walk thither daily. 

The summer months had passed away, and now the forest trees were 
beginning to put on tints of red and yellow, sure harbingers of their 
swift decay. There was quietude in Little Loretto, too much, indeed, 
for accordance with the natural joyousness of youth. The sisters — 
there was one now of their number missing — went about their usual 
avocations with energies unabated, but there were foreboding shadows 
on their faces, and there was dread in their hearts. Dear Mother 
Nancy Rhodes was ill, it was feared unto death. This child of 
predilection had been extremely delicate for years, and now her active 
spirit, which had kept her up since her entrance into the society, 
was asking release from its tenement of clay. No wonder there was 
deep sorrow in the hearts of her associates; and no wonder, too, there 
was less noisy demonstrativeness among the pupils while at their play. 
Dear Mother Nancy Rhodes was one of that class of women whose art- 
lessness makes them attractive. Of herself, she never thought, but 
always of others. She sought for herself no exemption from labor, 
none from the stern rules of the house in reference to fasting and prayer. 
By those who were striving with all their might after perfection, she was 
regarded as one who had already reached as high a standard of 
virtue as is attainable by struggling humanity in its efforts to reach 
heaven, through the fulfilment of duty as prescribed by its King. 

Day by day, it became more evident to the distressed community 
that the misfortune they dreaded was approaching them nearer, and 
still nearer. They were inconsolable, but in no wise rebellious. 
They prayed earnestly that the threatened cup might be removed 
from their lips, but they were able to say with Him who had subjected 
Himself to a greater trial, " not mine, Father, but Thy will be done." 
The dear mother Ungered long, and though she often sought from her 
bed of suffering to direct the thoughts of her sisters into channels that 
had reference to present wants and daily duty, without speech she 
inculcated upon their impressible minds lessons of even greater 
importance. These were lessons of patience, resignation to the Divine 
will, of charity that grew stronger with the lessening breath, and of 
faith triumphant over death. They came to regard her as one so far 
separated from themselves, because of her greater sanctity, so ripe for 
Heaven, that their natural desire to retain her longer in their midst 
might be in reality both selfish and sinful. 



The victory was gained at last. In the train of the Lamb found 
place another spotless soul, and the newly laid off community grave- 
yard at Little Loretto, received its first seed for the resurrection. The 
death of this holy religious took place early in the morning of Decem- 
ber II, 1812.* 

Soon after her sister's death, Mary Rhodes was elected superior, f 
Up to the 15th day of August, 181 2, there was neither change in the 
little community nor in its routine of labors. The aged sister, often 
quoted, tells us something to be sure, of the manner of life the 
novices were leading. In order to earn the cost for the raw material 
of their clothing, they undertook the spinning and weaving of fabrics 
for the neighboring families. Their table was sufficiently meagre in 
all conscience. Breakfast consisted of bread without butter, a veg- 
etable soup and an imitation of coffee in which rye formed the princi- 
pal ingredient. At dinner there was meat, but only of one kind, and 
vegetables if they were able to procure them. Supper only differed 
from breakfast in the substitution of the infusion of sage for the decoc- 
tion of rye as a beverage. Plates of tin and cups of the same metal 
served them in place of delf and china. Their beds were of straw, 
without sheets or pillows, and these were laid upon the floor. 

On the 15th of August, 181 2, the church of St. Charles was 
' crowded with people, some of whom had come from the neighboring 
Catholic settlements, all desirous of witnessing the ceremony which was 
to bind to their religious state for life, those whose noviciate was now 
at an end. The sight was an affecting one, and many wept ; but there 
was joy in the hearts of those who on that day consecrated themselves 
for life to the service of God, and to the sublime work of christian 

A little later, the society was increased by the admission into its 
ranks as novices, of Monica Spalding and a Miss Hayden, the last 
mentioned being from Missouri. But it became evident to Father 
Nerinckx that there would be slow progress unless he could induce 
others than the members of his own poor congregation to assist in the 
extension and solidification of his institute. His thoughts reverted to 

* The money with which the land had been bought upon which stood ihe 
establishment of Little Loretto had been the gift of its first superior, Dear 
Mother Nancy Rhodes. 

t Mother Mary Rhodes must be accounted the first of her sex in Kentucky 
to whom grace was given to consecrate herself to a life that has no affinity 
with the world and worldly desires and pursuits; she lived to see the forty-first 
year of her religious profession. Her death took place at the convent of 
Loretto on the 27th day of February, 1853. Those who have borne the title 
of dear mother in the community from the beginning have been: Ann 
Rhodes, 1812 ; Mary Rhodes, 1812-22; Juliana Wathen, 1822-24; Isabella 
Clark, 1824-26; Sabina O'Brien, 1826^32; Josephine Kelly, 1832-38; Isa- 
bella Clark, 1838-42; Generose Mattingly, 1842-43 ; Perlindis Downs, 1843- 
52; Bridget Spalding, 1852-58 ; Berlindis Downs, 1858-641 Bertha Bowles, 
1864-70; Elizabeth Hayden, 1870-76; Dafrosa Smith, 1876-82; Ann Joseph 
Mattingly, 1882. 


his own countrymen, and to them he determined to appeal in person. 
Before leaving on his mission, however, he managed to finish the 
church and to render habitable the new convent building. 

Reaching Baltimore on his way to take passage for Europe, he was 
constrained to defer his journey on account of the war that was then in 
progress between Great Britain and the United States. Returning 
home after a few weeks, content to await God's good pleasure for 
the realization of his hopes respecting his institute, he resumed his 
accustomed duties. 

Living not far away from the church of St. Charles, was a Mr. 
Vincent Gates, an elderly man of great piety, and with him lived his 
widowed sister, Mrs. Ryan. The two thought it would be best for 
them, if permitted, to repair to Little Loretto, the one to assume charge 
of the garden and grounds of the establishment, and the other to enter 
upon her noviciate in the sisterhood. No more excellent arrangement 
than this could have been effected by the community, and the proffer 
made was willingly accepted. Under the intelligent direction of 
Brother Vincent, as he was afterwards called, and in a great measure 
by the labors of his hands and those of the indefatigable founder of the 
establishment, the entire place soon appeared both pleasing to the 
eye and suggestive of increased comfort to the household. 

During the first eight months of the year 181 5, four young women 
were received as postulants in the institute. These were Ann Hart, 
of Breckinridge county, who was designated in the community. Sister 
Agnes; Ann Clark, Sister Isabella; Esther Grundy, Sister Theresa, 
and Ann Wathen, Sister Juliana. The four named had previously 
been pupils in the institution. 

Early in September, 181 5, Father Nerinckx arranged with Bishop 
Flaget for a journey to Europe, the good bishop agreeing to supply his 
place, as well in the congregation attended by him as in his position of 
superior of the Loretto sisterhood. He left on the loth of the month, 
with only a sufficiency of means to reach Maryland. Arriving among 
his old friends in that State, he was able to secure a sum sufficient to 
take him to his native Belgium. Here, for a year and a half, sinking 
his natural disinclination for the employment, he became a solicitor of 
alms for the churches of Kentucky, and for his own little community. 
He was successful beyond his hopes, and soon he had collected not 
only a considerable sum of money, but many articles, all useful and 
some indispensable to ritualistic worship and ceremonial. Among 
these were a number of magnificent paintings, several statues, vest- 
ments in great variety, altar plate, church bells, altar linen, tabernacles, 
candlesticks, lamps, books and prints, crucifixes, beads, etc., etc. 

While in Europe, Father Nerinckx visited Rome and got the 
approval of the Holy See for his institute. But this was not done 
without a promise on the part of the priest that the rules he had 
estabhshed for the government of the sisterhood should be modified in 
certain particulars, which were regarded as too severe by the sacred 
congregation. He also visited the House of Loretto in Italy, where 


he said mass and earnestly besought the protection of the Virgin 
Mother in behalf of the far away sisterhood who had borrowed the 
title of her early home on earth for their own rude convent and 

After an absence of nearly two years, Father Nermckx reached 
Loretto on the 4th of September, 181 7. His coming was anxiously 
watched for, and when he was discovered at the main entrance gate, 
the entire household, sisters and pupils, went forward to meet him. 
He led the crowd to the church; all fell on their knees and gave 
thanks to God, the missionary that he had been protected while away 
and permitted again to resume his interrupted duties, and the rest, 
that their father and friend had been restored to them in health. 

During the absence of their founder, the sisterhood, by advice of 
Bishop Flaget, had established a branch house of the order at Holy 
Mary's, on the Rolling Fork. This house dates from June loth, 

18 1 6. The community numbered fourteen when he left, and now it 
numbered twenty-four.* The articles contributed in Beligum for the 
churches in Kentucky reached Loretto toward the close of the year 

1 81 7. Their distribution was at once begun, the finest of the paintings 
and a church organ going to the cathedral of St. Joseph, Bardstown, 
and the other articles to various churches and congregations. Two of 
the statues, those of St. Joseph and St. Barbara, were given to the 
church of Little Loretto, and one, that of St. Francis de Hieronymo, 
to the congregational church of St. Charles. f 

In the spring of 181 8, was established, on a farm given to the 
sisterhood by Mr. James Dant, an uncle of dear Mother Mary 
Rhodes, the little convent of Gethsemani. The colony at this pomt 
was made up of six sisters, under the direction of Mother Teresa 

Grundy, t 

On the 2 1 St of December, 182 1, a colony of ten sisters, with 
Mother Bibiana Elder for their superior, were sent to take charge of a 
house near Fairfield, in Nelson County; in February, 1823, was 

* Among the postulants for the time referred to in the text were: Misses 

Miles, Mary Drury, Mary Phillips, Catherine Clark, Christine Clements, 

Henrietta Clements, Margaret Thompson and Elizabeth McAtee. Shortly 
after the return of Father Nerinckx, three sisters, previously pupils in the 
institution, were received as postulants. These were Helen Clark, Sister 
Eleanora; Bridget Morgan, Sister Anastasia ; and Annie McBride, Sister 

tThe stand for this statue was the handiwork of the pastor. It would seem 
that the good father had great faith in prayer addressed to this saint for the 
protection, through his intercession, of persons sorely tried, whether by sick- 
ness or other affliction. It became a practice among the people of the congre- 
gation, to pray before this statue when they were suffering from any species of 
illness, and even now, there are living men and women, formerly the victims 
of disease, who refer their cure to the intercession with God of St. Francis de 
Hieronymo, humbly invoked before his statue in the church of St. Charles. 

JThis establishment was sold to its present occupants, the Monks of La 
Trappe, in the year 1848. The first mother superior of the house died soon 
after its foundation. ^ 


established the house of Mount Carmel, on Long Lick, in Breckin- 
ridge county.* On the 12th of May, 1823, the first attempt at colo- 
nization outside of the State was made by the society. This was 
done at the instance of Bishop Dubourg, who was anxious to have a 
house of the order at the Barrens, in Perry county, Missouri. After 
a journey that proved not a little perilous, the sisters reached their 
destination on the 21st of May, and about the middle of the follow- 
ing month, they took possession of the new house that had been built 
for them. This colony was under the direction of dear Mother Juh- 
ana Wathen. 

In 1 81 9, Father Nerinckx went again to Europe, and on his 
return, brought with him to Kentucky three young men, two Belgians 
and one Englishman, with whom he hoped to begin a brotherhood 
that should prove as serviceable to boys in the matter of education as 
had proved his convent of Little Loretto for girls. The project 
having been abandoned, the Englishman referred to, known after- 
wards as Brother Charles Gilbert, was induced to take charge of the 
Loretto farm, and to become on occasion, the agent of the sisterhood 
in the transaction of business affairs, f 

After the death of Father Nerinckx, in 1824, Rev. G. I. Chabrat 
became ecclesiastical superior of the sisterhood. | He induced 
Bishop Flaget to remove the convent of Loretto from its location 
on Hardin's creek, to the farm formerly held by Father Badin, upon 
which stood the dwelling and chapel to which still adhered the title of 
St. Stephen's. The writer does not propose to follow in detail the 
future of the Loretto institute after this date. It will suffice to 
say that its progression has since been wonderful. The society 
numbers now about five hundred members. It has under its control 
in Kentucky, seven branch establishments ; five in Missouri ; six in 

* An account of these schools will be found in the records already given of 
the Cox's Creek and Breckinridge County se'tlements. 

1 1 was intimately acquainted with Brother Charles Gilbert, and I am able 
to say of him that I have rarely known a man whose capabilities so well fitted 
him for the position he occupied in reference to the affairs of the Loretto 
society. He was intelligent and of gentlemanly address, was prompt to learn 
whatever was needful to a delegated duty; he was a mechanic of great skill 
and ingenuity, and, withal, a sincere, practical and well informed Catholic. 
Engaged for more than forty years in the service of the society, sometimes at 
one of its houses and sometimes at another, he came to be very generally 
known by Catholics all over the State, and it is safe to say that he was 
respected wherever he was known. The last years of his life were passed at 
Cedar Grove academy, now known as Mount St. Benedict, in Louisville, 
where he died in 1867. 

J The Loretto society, since the death of its founder, has been governed 
spiritually by six ecclesiastics, viz: Rev G. I. Chabrat, from 1824 to 1834, and 
the same after his consecration as coadjutor bishop, from 18315 to 1846; Rev. 
Walter S. Coomes, from 1834 to 1835 ; Rev. David A. Deparcq, from 1846 to 
1864; Rt. Rev. P. J. Lavaille, from 1864 to 1867 ; Rt. Rev. Wm. McCloskey, 
from 1867 to 1869; Rev. J. F. Wuyts, from 1869 to the date of this publi- 


New Mexico ; three in Colorado ; one in Kansas ; two in Illinois ; 
one in Alabama and one in Texas. The greater number of these 
have attached to them large and flourishing boarding-schools, in which 
hundreds of pupils are yearly educated. The sisters also have charge 
of three parish schools in Louisville, Kentucky, three in St, Louis, 
one in Florissant, one at Cape Girardeau, one at Springfield and one 
at Edina; the five localities last named being in the State of Missouri. 

The mother house in Marion county, has grown in fifty years into 
an immense establishment. The farm which it beautifies with its 
stately and picturesque buildings, and which has an area of hundreds 
of acres, has been reclaimed from barrenness to fertility and now pre- 
sents to the eye a pleasant rural scene. The convent chapel is a 
handsome structure and rivals, both in size and appointments, many 
city parish churches. The history of the Church is full of contrasts 
no less wonderful than that here presented in the record of the Loretto 
society. In every age of the world since Christ founded His Church, 
the parable of the mustard seed, repeated by Him in the hearing of 
His disciples, has had its solution in the sight of men. In each and 
every one of these instances, He has Himself given the increase, and 
it is tor the creatures He has redeemed to praise His beneficence. He, 
God all powerful, was with His humble handmaidens when they began 
their work of earnest charity, and were content to live in poverty and 
wretchedness, if they might thereby do something for His honor and 
glory, by leading to Him little children, and teaching them how 
worthy He was of their love. To no other end than this is the sister- 
hood they established laboring to-day. 

Of the life and labors of one of the ecclesiastical superiors of the 
Loretto societyp the writer prefers here to speak somewhat in detail : 


The record of the life of the earnest, faithful priest, though he 
may have lived and died unknown to others than the parishioners in 
whose service his days on earth were passed, should be of interest to 
all Catholics. Such a life is filled with instruction, with incentives to 
meritorious action for the young levites of the sanctuary and altar, and 
with edification for faithful souls of every class and position in the 
world. Such a priest was Father David A. Deparcq. Of his par- 
entage and early education, the writer has been able to learn only 
that he was a scion of a race with whom religion was no mere senti- 
ment, but a reahty that takes in and accounts for whatever is compre- 
hensive of human happiness here on earth, and all that is to be hoped 
for of felicity in heaven. 

He came to the United States in 1818, and he was ordained priest 
by Bishop Flaget the ensuing year. His ordination following, as it 
did, so quickly upon his arrival in the country, the implication is 
unavoidable that he had about finished his ecclesiastical studies before 
embarking for America. The first mission of the newly ordained 


priest was that of Lebanon, in Marion county, where he finished the 
church building previously begun by Father Nerinckx. He also 
attended Holy Mary's church, on the Rolling Fork, and filled for the 
sisters of Calvary convent the office of chaplain. 

It may be said that, with short intervals given to the preaching of 
retreats at the calls of one or others of the pastors of souls stationed 
elsewhere, and until, in 1846, he was named by his bishop superior of the 
Loretto society, his entire ministerial life was passed in the service of the 
Catholic people residing in the counties of Marion, Casey, Mercer and 
Adair. He was of the class of priests known and honored as workers. 
Whatever was of duty first claimed and received his attention; 
but this term included for him the exercise of every power for good 
with which he had been endowed by heaven. One by whom Father 
Deparcq was well known, writes thus concerning him : 

"He was of medium height, and stoutly built. I am inclined to 
think he had never been sick in his life until his last and fatal illness. 
He was in the habit of judging only after deliberation; and hence 
was applied to him the saying, 'slow, but sure.' He was charitable 
both in word and action. Though at one time, as you know, he was 
most grossly slandered, no word was ever heard from his lips in 
denunciation of those by whom he had been defamed.* As a preacher 
he spoke well and to the point, without notes and without 
previous committal of his thoughts to paper. His sermons were 
always short, solid and practical; and they were delivered with 
unction — his gestures, eyes, countenance, utterance and entire man- 
ner in the pulpit, giving evidence of the absorption of his mind in his 
work. He most affected in preaching, such subjects as confession, 
remission of sin, redemption and death, and the least agreeable to 
human nature of all the duties of the priesthood — that of hearing con- 
fessions — appeared to be the one in which he took most delight. 

"Reared under Bishop Flaget and Father Nerinckx, he seemed to 
have caught the spirit of these saintly men. People liked to hear him 
preach; they liked to seek his advice, in the confessional and outside 
of the sacred tribunal; and as well in matters temporal as spiritual. 
I have seen and read letters of Bishop Flaget referring to the good 
qualities of Father Deparcq and the implicit confidence he reposed in 
him, which go to show that there was no priest in his diocese that 

*This was in 1836, when Rev. N. L. Rice, a Protestant minister and 
editor, published in his paper a libelous charge against the priest similar to 
that which, a few years later, was perpetrated against the martyr priest of 
Evansville, Rev. R. Weinzoepfle. Father Deparcq was absent in Europe at 
the time, on business connected with diocesan affairs ; but so monstrous was 
the charge, the clerical friends of the maligned priest — notably Rev. George A. 
M. Elder and his then associates of the faculty of St. Joseph's college — felt 
themselves impelled to apply in his behalf for redress through the medium of 
the courts of law. Suit was instituted, and the action came to trial in 1837. 
The jury pronounced the defendant guilty of libel, and assessed against him 
nominal damages. 


Stood higher in his esteem. But it is not worth while to cite quota- 
tions from these. He lives yet among us ; his niemory is fresh in our 
minds ; we knew the man, and what we testify is true : He was just, 
impartial, charitable, truthful, most forgiving of injuries and most 
tender toward the repentant sinner." 

The death of Father Deparcq took place at the convent of Calvary, 
whither he had retired to await that event, on the 9th day of Novem- 
ber, 1 86 -I. His spiritual daughters of the Loretto society, of whom 
he was the ecclesiastical superior for twenty years, have placed over 
his grave a neat monument with an inscription embodying the record 
of his meritorious life of forty-four years spent in the discharge of the 
duties pertaining to his office of embassador for Christ. 



The first subject for consideration with the true missionary refers 
to the education and training of youth. He knows that upon this 
depends the conservation of religion and morals in all established 
society. It is not surprising therefore, that Bishop Flaget, from the 
moment he set foot upon the soil of Kentucky, should have not only 
felt and deplored his lack of facilities in this direction, but that he 
should have sought by every means in his power to supply for his 
people a want so indispensable to the welfare of their children, both 
for time and eternity. His thoughts recurred to his native 
France and the multiplicity of her teachers and charitable orders. 
Especially did he regret his absolute inability to secure and provide 
for a colony of Daughters of Charity for his poor diocese. But the 
transportation of these over thousands of miles of land and ocean 
was not to be thought of by one who had no means of his own, 
and whose people were able to render him but small assistance. 
There was no other resource left him than that which he happily 
adopted, and which gave Kentucky the organization known as The 
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. 

In making choice of the director of his seminary, and after coad- 
jutor. Rev. John B. David, to establish for his diocese a body of 
religious women, Bishop Flaget showed discernment, as well of the 
object he had in view, as of the capabilities of his trusted agent. He 
knew his subaltern for what he was, tireless in zeal, constant in piety. 


admirable as an educator and incomparable as a director of con- 
sciences. As for Father David, he might have shrunk from the task 
to which he was invited, had he not felt, equally with his superior, 
that in no other way than the one proposed, was it possible to secure 
results worthy of the great cause in which they were enlisted. 

On the I St day of December, 181 2, the Society of Sisters of Char- 
ily of Nazareth had its beginning. On that day, two young women, 
Teresa Carico and Elizabeth Wells, took possession of a small log 
cabin, on the seminary farm of St. Thomas, which had been previ- 
ously prepared for their reception by Father David and his semina- 
rians. On the 2 1 St of the following month these were joined by 
Catharine Spalding, whose name was prominently connected with the 
community up to the date of her death, March 20, 1858. On Easter 
Monday, 1813, the little band having increased to six members,* 
Father David gave them certain provisionary rules for the government 
of the society, and directed that an election should take place imme- 
diately for the offices of superior, assistant superior and stewardess. 
This was done, and Catharine Spalding, Harriet Gardiner, and Eliza- 
beth Wells were severally elected to the positions in the order named. 
As soon as the arrangement could be perfected, a house somewhat 
more comfortable than the one hitherto occupied by the postulants 
was provided for them, at a distance of about a half a mile from the 
church of St. Thomas, and to this modest conventual home, Father 
David gave the name of Nazareth. The establishment of a school 
was deferred for the very sufficient reason that the sisters were them- 
selves to be instructed before they would be capable of teaching. 

* The names of these postulants were : Teresa Carico, Elizabeth Wells, 
Catharine Spalding, Harriet Gardiner, Mary Beaven and Mary Gwynn. One 
of these, Elizabeth Wells, retired from the community a year later. Her 
career, however, both before and after the date given in the text, was suffic- 
iently extraordinary to warrant me in giving here some of its details. Eliza- 
beth, or as she was generally called, Betsy Wells, was a sister of General 
Wells, of Jefferson county, and of Captain Wells, who was killed by Indian 
allies of the British in the war of 1812. At the age of sixteen years, she hap- 
pened to be thrown in the company of Catholics, and she afterwards made the 
acquaintance of Father Badin, who, a few months later, gave her instruc- 
tions and received her into the Church. From that time to the day of her 
death, her energies were devoted to the service of religion. After her conver- 
sion she lived on the Rolling Fork, near the present site of Calvary academy, 
toward the purchase of which she is said to have contributed a considerable 
part of its cost. In 1802, she was housekeeper for Rev. M. J. Fournier, and, 
I have heard it said she acted afterwards in the same capacity for Father 
Nerinckx. She was a pure and noble soul, somewhat eccentric in her ways, 
possibly, which explains her retirement from the Nazareth community; but 
pious withal, and exceedingly practical. One who knew her well once wrote 
of her: •' Beyond food and clothing, she would accept nothing for her labor. 
She held with St. Paul that 'Piety with sufficiency is great gain; having food 
and wherewith to be covered, we are content.'" For many years previous to 
her death, which took place at the convent of St. Rose, in Washington county, 
on the 6th of June, 1851, sister Betsy Wells was associated with the sisterhood 
of St. Magdalen, now known as that of St. Catharine of Sienna. 


Upon Father David fell all the labor of preparing these well-disposed, 
and naturally bright and talented young women for their future work. 

In the meantime, they were not idle. They had none to depend 
upon but themselves for subsistence. They spun and wove and plied 
their needles from morn till night, stopping only for the two hours of 
confinement to the class-room, and to take their meals. The garments 
worn by the seminarians were mostly of their fashioning, as was, 
also, much of the clothing needed in the families living around the 
church of St. Thomas. Thus they procured means for their own 
maintenance, and aided in providing for the seminary. They were to 
be seen in field as well as garden, laboring with a constancy that made 
up for their lack of strength, and in the forest, gathering fuel for the 
kitchen and winter supply. Their food was often scanty, and it con- 
sisted, for the greater part, of bacon and corn-bread. Condiments, with 
the exception of salt, were almost wholly unknown to these unsophisti 
cated maidens. Their table beverages were a decoction of parched 
rye in the morning, and an infusion of sage or sassafras in the even- 
ing, without sugar, and often without milk. It was not long before 
they felt themselves able to care for a few aged and helpless men and 
women. To do this was in the direct Une of duty to which they 
had devoted their lives. 

Early in the year 1814, a most valuable acquisition was made by the 
sisterhood in the person of Miss Ellen O'Connell, a young lady who 
had experienced the benefit of Father David's spiritual direction when 
he exercised the holy ministry in Baltimore. Her father was an emi- 
nent professor of languages and rhetoric. Ellen, his only child, left 
motherless at a tender age, was the object of his greatest solicitude. 
He cultivated her gifted mind with care and delighted in her progress. 
She became herself a teacher of rare merit, and when through the cor- 
respondence she kept up with Father David, she learned of the little 
community growing under his direction, she determined to unite her- 
self to it. Her scholarly training and experience in school manage- 
ment removed a great obstacle to successful effort on the part of the 
sisterhood that not even Father David, zealous and learned as he 
certainly was, could have wholly set aside. Mother Catharine, Sister 
Harriet and one or two others were already able to assist her. With 
the aid of the seminarians, among whom the late Rev. Robert. A. 
Abell was conspicuous, a school house of logs was put up near their 
residence, and on the 14th day of September, of the year referred to, 
the classes were commenced, Cecily O'Brien, a young girl who lived a 
short distance away, being the first to present herself as a pupil.* The 
school grew rapidly in numbers and reputation; several boarders came, 
and after four years, the sisters were able to erect a comparatively 
large brick building. Sister Ellen O'Connell continued to direct the 
school for a period of nearly twenty years; but her death took place 

* Cecily O'Brien became a member of the community in after years, and 
lived to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of her religious profession. 


at St. Catharine's academy, Lexington, Kentucky, in the year I841.* 
About the beginning of the fourth year of their association, the 
sisters adopted as a permanency, the rule drawn up by St. Vincent of 
Paul for the Daughters of Charity of France. They adopted, too, a 
religious dress; the same is still worn by the members of the com- 
munity, with the exception of the cap, which was at first black and is 
now white. On the 2nd of February, 1816, Mother Catharine Spald- 
ing and two of her associates were permitted to take the three ordinary 
simple vows of the order. Throughout her life. Mother Catharine 
was in the habit of associating the event that brought to her the 
greatest joy she had ever known, with the festival of the Purification, 
that is celebrated by the Church on that day. The community was 
now increased by the entrance into its novitiate of Ann Spalding, 
Mother Catharine's sister, Mildred Stuart and Harriet Sutde.f 

The first attempt at colonization, made by the community, took 
place in 1819. In September of that year, the sisters purchased a 
house in Bardstown, and therein established a day school, to which 
they gave the title of Bethlehem.;|: In 1820, a colony of four sisters, 

*From a letter written by the late Mrs. Eliza Crozier Wilkinson, who 
graduated at Nazareth in 1836, I am permitted to extract the following 
reference to Sister Ellen O'Connell : "I write the impressions of a child 
of ten ; but these were afterwards confirmed by years spent at Nazareth. 
Sister Ellen was directress of studies, and it was to her care that I had 
been specially confided by my mother, who I knew regarded her with 
great admiration and respect. Young as I was, I saw that Sister Ellen's 
labors were incessant — teaching all of the higher classes in the school, as 
well as writing, tapestry, embroidery and painting, for which she had a true 
and cultivated talent, she was at the same time preparing the young sisters for 
teachers, and was mistress of novices. A few years later, I learned more fully 
to appreciate this gifted women. Brilliant in wit and repartee, her literary 
taste was highly cultivated. She was quite stout, but very light in her move- 
ments. Her features possessed great regularity; lovely brown eyes and 
teeth of perfect shape and whiteness — a hand that would have been a model 
for a sculptor. All of these things, I saw as a child. To-day I can recognize 
her high poetic talent, especially in two of her compositions : An Elegy on the 
Grave Yard at Nazareth and Alone. Her English was perfect. Positive in 
character as one of such talent and experience must be, she was peculiarly 
fitted for her position, that of the first accomplished teacher of Nazareth. 
Great in mind, a thorough scholar in christian doctrine and biblical lore, she 
had no superior — a heart melting to charity — a humility that led [her even to 
wash the feet of the erring, rebellious child. She was the proud teacher, too, 
of Sister Columba Carroll, whom she loved as a mother loves her own child. 
All honor to the memory of Sister Ellen O'Connell at Nazareth! She shall 
live in my heart forever." 

fMiss Suttle was known in religion as Sister Elizabeth; she was a woman 
of exceedingly pleasant manners, cultivated mind and solid piety ; she was 
much beloved by her associates. Her beautiful life, superabounding with 
charity, closed at the mother house, near Bardstown, in 1873, 

t This house was purchased of Nehemiah Webb, and in it the writer was 
born. It stood within a few hundred yards of the then recently consecrated 
cathedral of St. Joseph, before the opening of which it had served as the 
church station for the congregation. 


among whom was Sister Elizabeth Suttle, was sent to Long Lick, in 
Breckinridge county, where an attempt was made to estabhsh a school. 
It proved unsuccessful, however, and in a short time the enterprise 
was abandoned. A happier result followed a similar attempt made 
a few months later, to colonize the sisters in Union county. At the 
head of this delegation of the order, was placed Sister Angela ^pink, 
well remembered in the institution for her indomitable energy and 
practical piety. She was a lover of poverty, and practiced it to the 
letter. It is related of her that, in the infancy of the estabhshment of 
St. Vincent, in Union county, she never allowed herself more than 
four hours of sleep. Long before day, she was up and at work, now 
in the garden she had herself planted, and now in the performance 
of household duties. She passed to her reward in the year 1844. 

An important event, in the history of the Nazareth community 
took place in 1822. The success of the institute was now considered 
as assured, and it became necessary that its members should look 
forward to something of independency in regard to tenure of property. 
For more than ten years, they had lived on the farm of St. Thomas, 
of which the ordinary of the diocese had no power to transfer any 
part to them in fee-simple. With the full concurrence of their 
ecclesiastical superior, they determined to buy suitable grounds else- 
where, and to build for themselves a home that they might call their 
own. Their choice fell upon a tract of land, about two and a half 
miles north of Bardstown, upon which there was a fairly comfortable 
residence, then occupied by a Presbyterian minister, known as Elder 
Lapsley. The purchase was made of Wm. R. Hynes, then a promi- 
nent citizen of Bardstown. The sisters had spent their earnings on 
the brick house and other improvements made on their home at St. 
Thomas, which they now had to relinquish, and they would have been 
unable to pay for this new property, but for the assistance of Sister 
Scholastica O'Conner.* 

When the sisters moved to their new quarters, June nth, 1822, 
they numbered thirty-eight, including novices and postulants ; an'd they 
had under their care twenty-five boarding pupils. Minister Lapsley's 
former study was hastily fitted up for a chapel, and the following morn- 
ing, having first blessed the entire house Bishop David here said mass 
for the community. 

* Sister Scholastica was a young widow and a convert to the Catholic faith. 
She had made Father David's acquaintance in Baltimore ; he guided her first 
steps in the spiritual life, and she soon became a pattern of exact piety. At 
the time of her husband's decease, she conceived the idea of devoting the 
remainder of her life to God's service in the religious state. In spite of the 
opposition of her relatives, she presented herself to Father David in 1820, and 
begged admission to his little society. She brought with her what she could 
of her small fortune, a few thousand dollars. She was highly accomplished and 
proficient in music, which she was the first to teach at Nazareth, where she 
lived but three years after her profession ; these years were filled with labors, 
with mortification and with merit. The community looked upon her as a 
bright example of every virtue. 


On the 13th of April, 1823, Mother Catharine, accompanied by 
three sisters, went to Scott county, where they opened the school of St. 
Catharine, a tract of land having been given for that purpose by Mr. 
James Gough, on condition that the sisters should pay him a small 
annuity while he lived. This school was afterwards removed to Lex- 
ington, where it soon acquired a high reputation, and where it 
is still regarded as one of the community's most important establish- 

In 1824, an attempt was made to establish a house of the order 
at Vincennes, Indiana, but after two successive trials, the enterprise 
was given up. This place was without a resident priest, and some- 
times for weeks together the sisters were deprived of the strengthen- 
ing influence of the sacraments. There died Sister Harriet Gardiner, 
the local superior at the time. * 

In the meanwhile, the sisterhood as a whole was fairly prosperous. 
It had its share of difficulties, to be sure, but none of these were 
insurmountable. The venerable coadjutor Bishop was still their direc- 
tor, and on every Wednesday evening, he came to hear the confessions 
of his children and to encourage them to perseverance. The com- 
munity room was provided with neither chairs nor benches ; hence the 
sisters humbly seated themselves on the floor, while they listened to the 
weekly instructions given to them by their father. Here it was that 
he sought to open their minds to the knowledge of divine things, and 
their hearts to the promptings of holy charity. It was his delight to 
mark their generous correspondence with grace and to foster its fruits. 
They were rich in their poverty, for they learned to love a con- 
dition that made them more acceptable in His sight who had not 
"a stone whereon to lay his head." There was no repining among 
these heavenward toilers, but trusting confidence in God and His pro- 
tecting providence. 

Time passed, and the Nazareth academy began to be quoted for 
its educational advantages in other states than Kentucky, and the num- 
ber of pupils increased. The thoughts of the sisters were now turned 
to reconstruction. The unsightly log cabin that served for a chapel, 
and similar additions to the original frame house, were no longer large 
enough; they must be removed, and stately buildings put up in their 
stead. " My children," said Father David, "build first a houee for 
your God, and He will help you to build one for yourselves. "f 

* Sister Harriet Gardiner was a sister of the late Mother Frances Gardiner; 
her name appears the fourth on the membership rolls of Nazareth. She was 
assistant mother during two terms, and mistress of novices. To this day, there 
are kept up in the society, many interesting traditions of her care and watch- 
fulness while she was endeavoring to lead her charge along the upward paths 
of christian perfection. She also exercised a very happy influence in the 
class-room, were she was universally respected and beloved. 

t This advice was not forgotten, when, in 1852, the community and school 
requiring still greater room, the beautiful gothic chapel now in use, was erected 
first, and soon after, the present spacious building known as the academy. 


These words found ready echo in the sisters' hearts, and soon after- 
wards, they had the happiness of kneeling before the altar of a neat and 
commodious church on their own premises. Their confidence was not 
misplaced. Early in the summer following, four pupils were sent 
them from the South, and the board and tuition fees, paid in advance 
for a whole year, enabled them to lay the foundations of a large 
school building. 

This same year, 1824, brought tribulation as well as joy to the 
sisters. Five of their number died; among those summoned, were 
Mother Agnes Higdon, whose active energy had been of material 
assistance to the community, and Sister Columba Tarleton, whose 
extraordinary personal holiness is held among the traditions of the. 
order. She was a pupil of the school, of which her superior mental 
gifts made her an ornament; she lived only four years after her 
entrance into the community. The story of her sanctified life reminds 
one of what has been written concerning the virgin saints and martyrs 
of the early Church. 

In the fall of 183 1, the sisterhood began its since continued career 
of usefulness in Louisville, with the establishment of the academy of 
the Presentation. Mother Catharine was first placed at its head, and 
here it was that this christian woman was at last able to carry out her 
long conceived idea of founding a home for orphan girls. A pecu- 
liarly distressing case coming to her notice one day, she sought out 
the victims of misfortune and had them temporarily provided for in 
the houses of a couple of personal friends. But, two motherless little 
girls were to be brought up ; she took them, and out of this incident 
grew the noble charity known as St. Vincents Orphan Asylum, wherein 
provision is now made for the maintenance of two hundred orphan 

In 1833, during the epidemic of cholera, the sisters of the mother 
house were distributed as nurses in Bardstown and the neighborhood, 
and in Louisville. Three of their number, sisters Joanna Lewis, 
Patricia Bamber and Generose Buckman, contracted the disease 
while thus engaged, and died from its effects. 

Having watched over the community from its infancy, Bishop 
David was constrained to resign the office of ecclesiastical superior of 
the society in 1833. He was now an octogenarian, and his worn out 
body was no longer able to bear the fatigue incidental upon that office. 
Writing about this time to Sister Elizabeil Suttle, then superior of the 
branch establishment of St. Vincent, in Union county, the venerable 
prelate said : ' ' Tell the sisters that I have not ceased to be their 
father because I have surrendered my awful responsibility as guardian 
of their souls ; that I entertain for them that love which will reunite 
me to them in the eternal kingdom of God."* 

* In 1841, when in a dying condition, he requested to be conveyed from 
Bardstown to Nazareth, and made the journey on a litter. He had come to 
die among his daughters, whom he had taught both how to live and how to 


The second ecclesiastical superior of the Nazareth community, 
was Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds, afterwards bishop of Charleston. 
On the 27th of November, 1835, ^^ ^^^ succeeded by the late Rev. 
Joseph Hazeltine, whose retention of the office ended with his death, 
February 13, 1862.* 

The next to hold the office was the late Rev. Francis Chambige, 
who, equally with his predecessors in the position, was tireless in his 
endeavors to promote the interests of the institution and to secure the 
sanctification of those over whom his spiritual authority extended, f 

Rev. M. Coghlan held this office for a short time ; it has since 
devolved on the Very Rev. M. Bouchet. 

From the incipiency of their conventual establishment, neither 
Father David nor Mother Catharine lost sight of the primary object of 
the order, which is the succor of the sick, the orphan and the poor. 
There was no idea with them of making the institute they were 
endeavoring to found, a mere channel of accretion. Up to the year 
1832, to be sure, the needs of the community swallowed up its earn- 
ings, and left it still poor and struggling. In each of their houses, the 

die. They surrounded him with all the care their deep and filial reverence 
could suggest; it was a precious though sorrowful privilege to soothe their ven- 
erated father's last hours on earth. His appointed day of rest from labor came 
to him at length, and all that was mortal of its founder reposes in the commu- 
nity's burying-ground. The death of this holy priest and bishop, this faithful 
instructor in sacred science, this amiable and admirable man of God, took 
place on the 12th day of July, 1841. 

* My remembrances of Father Hazeltine extend to the time when I was a 
ten year old learner in the primary department of the college of St. Joseph, 
in which institution he was econome and disciplinarian. He was accounted 
overly severe and exacting at the time, but it is doubtful if any one charged 
with the execution of necessary disciplinary laws in a school where there were 
many unruly boys could have escaped like censure. Though he was certainly 
the terror of these at the time, very many of them became in after life his 
most devoted friends and admirers. Father Hazeltine was born in New 
England, of non-Catholic parents. It was from Canada, however, where he 
had been converted to the Catholic faith, that he came to Bardstow.n for the 
purpose of associating himself with the officers of St. Joseph's college and the 
students of the seminary. This was most likely as early as the year 1822. He 
was deficient in neither talents nor learning, but he had a special gift for 
finance and management, and his elevation to the priesthood was held in abey- 
ance for years because he was kept too much occupied with the business affairs 
of the college to gi»e him time to prepare for ordination. He was already 
advanced in years, when he became a priest, and with the exception of a brief 
interval after his ordination, his whole after life was given to the duties of his 
superiorship at Nazareth, and to the pastoral care of the small congregation of 
St. John the Baptist, in the neighboring county of Bullitt. In person, Father 
Hazeltine was tall, over six feet in height, and of a moderately full habit. I 
have no memory of another priest in the diocese who was more dignified in 
appearance. He was reserved without being haughty, and he was the embod- 
iment of Older, exactness and punctuality in everything he did or promised 
to do. His government of the community was admirable, from the first, and- 
he soon came to be venerated b" the sisterhood only in a second degree to 
their illustrious founder. 

t Elsewhere will be found a sketch of the life of Father Chambige. 


sisters taught and boarded some destitute children; they could do 
no more till the orphan asylum was established. In 1836 Mother 
Catharine thought of opening an infirmary for the sick of Louisville. 
She began this work in an apartment of St. Vincent's orphan asylum, 
and it was there conducted under the skilful management of the late 
Sister Apollonia McGill, until the number of patients applying for 
admittance forced the sisters to remove it to its present admirable 
location on Fourth street. 


What was regarded at the time as the supreme misfortune of the 
society took place on the 20th of March, 1858. On that day died 
the leading spirit of the Nazareth sisterhood, and its first superior, the 
gentle Mother Catharine Spalding. She was with her ' ' dear orphans " 
at the time; among them, it had always been her delight to dwell, and 
there was no thought, either in her own mind or theirs that she "was so 
soon to be removed out of their sight. About two weeks previous 
to her death, she had been called to visit a poor family in the neigh- 
borhood of the asylum. Impelled by charity, she ventured out on 
her errand of mercy at a time when the snow that covered the ground 
was fast melting, and, she thereby contracted the illness of which she 
died. Day after day, the malady increased until it was apparent to 
all that her life's work was ended. When told by good Sister Apol- 
lonia, with whom she had been associated for well nigh forty years, 
that her hour was approachmg, she received the intelligence with the 
calmness and resignation that was to be expected of one whose whole 
life had been but a preparation for the change that was at hand. She, 
who had never intentionally given pain to any one, was now imploring 
the forgiveness of her weeping sisters, for whatever might have been 
amiss in her conduct in their regard ; from the bottom of her heart, 
she told them, she forgave all who had given her pain or caused 
her anixety. She gave directions for the distribution of some little 
alms and clothing left at her disposal for the poor. The last sacra- 
ments were administered by the then chaplain of the asylum, the late 
Rev. Walter S. Coomes, and the last benediction and plenary indulg- 
ence, by her friend and distant relative, Rt. Rev. M. J. Spalding. 
Her agony was painful beyond expression; but when she felt that 
death was even at the door, she signed to her attendants to lay her 
on the floor. Heaven's pity found her there, and from that level, her 
soul mounted to companionship with the angels.* 

♦Among the female religious of the West, the name of Mother Catharine 
Spalding must long stand pre-eminent. In native goodness, in practical piety, 
and in devotion to the interests of the society she did so much to establish and 
perpetuate, her rivals were many. But she was endowed with attributes of 
mind that fitted her, beyond others, for leadership. In purpose, she was 
straightforward, never vacillating ; she had a clear understanding of duty, 
and her will power was always equal to the occasion, whatever that might be. 


On the 23d day of April, 1858, Sister Teresa Carico, the oldest 
sister of the community, the foundation-stone, as her associates often 
called her, laid down the burden she had joyfully carried for the sake 
of Christ for forty-six years, and was given rest from her labors. Her 
place in the society had been a lowly one from the first. Her depart- 
ment had been the kitchen, and here she had wrought and prayed, 
and found sanctification. Her cheerful disposition, her piety, her 
simplicity, her disregard of toil; the earnestness with which she 
sought at all times to conserve the interests of the society ; her clear, 
practical mind and exact observance of every rule — these were the vir- 
tues in which she excelled; and because of these, there was manifested 
toward her by the members of the community, especially during the 
declining years of her life, an affection that was at once tender and 
filial. She looked upon the death of Mother Catharine as a warning 
of her own approaching end, and only a month later they were reuni- 
ted in eternity. 

During the war of the rebellion, so called, an avenue was opened 
to the sisters in direct harmony with the object of their vocation. 
Wherever they happened to be, they proffered their services as nurses 
in the hospitals. They took charge of those in Louisville, in Lexing- 
ton, in Paducah and in Bardstown, and a number of them laid down 

She was just and reasonable, and true to principle. She was conciliatory in 
manner and speech. She discovered quickly and a(5ted promptly. She sym- 
pathized deeply with poverty and suffering, and it was the comfort of her life 
to be able to relieve the one and assuage the other. It is impossible that one 
in her position, so qualified, should not be able to command willing support. 
This she did, from the beginning to the end of her career. She lived to see 
the unpromising seedling she had helped to plant, and to which her tender 
care was given at every stage of its growth, lifting its branches in the free air of 
heaven, and scattering its fruits broadcast for the refreshment of multitudes. 
This was enough for her, and it was enough for Him who had been her inspir- 
ation, and was Himself to become her exceeding great reward. 

Catharine Spalding was born in Charles county, Maryland, December 23, 
1793. Her father, Ralf Spalding, was a second cousin of Richard, father of 
the late Most Rev. M. J. Spalding, archbishop of Baltimore. She and a 
younger sister, Ann Spalding, who was her after associate in the Nazareth com- 
munity, having early lost their parents, were cared for by their aunt, Mrs. 
Thomas Elder of the Cox's Creek settlement. Upon the marriage of Clementina 
Elder, daughter of Thomas Elder, with Richard Clark, about the year 1809, 
the orphaned children were transferred to the newly married pair. At the 
age of nineteen years, she left her comfortable home to become the companion 
of the two young women who had preceded her to St. Thomas', with the 
avowed purpose of devoting themselves to the religious life and its unselfish 
pursuits. By the suffrages of her associates, she was placed at the head of the 
community for eight terms of three years each. Indeed, Bishop Flaget, Father 
David and the sisters wished that she should retain the office all the days of 
her life, and they had decided in her case, to overlook the rule, which limits to 
two successive terms of three years the eligibility of the mother superior. She, 
however, pleaded so eloquently the importance of strictly adhering to the rule 
from the beginning, that the matter was dropped. But whether in authority or 
not, there was nothing important undertaken by the society about which she 
was not consulted. 


their lives, while striving to save the sick and wounded sent to them 
from the camps and battle-fields of Kentucky and Tennessee. 

In 1865, the Nazareth school recovered its prosperity, which was 
necessarily lessened during the war : more than three hundred board- 
ing pupils were now enrolled in the ranks of its scholarship; since 
that year the patronage has been satisfactory. 

The sisters have since opened many houses, notably, in 1873 the 
Hospital of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth, the munificent gift of the late 
Wm. Shakspeare Caldwell, as seen elsewhere in this work. 

The year 1878 was a trying one for Nazareth. It opened with the 
obsequies of Rev. F. Chambige, and ere it closed, twenty of the best 
members of the sisterhood had been laid in the grave. Nineteen con- 
tracted the yellow fever while caring for the victims of that scourge 
in Holly Springs and Yazoo City, Mississippi ; nine of them succumbed 
then, two some time after, and the remaining eight survived with health 
impaired for life. Eleven more were laid in the Uttle grave-yard at the 
mother-house, and death garnered for heaven among these virginal 
souls the ripest and choicest fruit of this vine planted by the Lord — 
Mother Frances and Mother Columba. 


Out of a family of four children, all daughters, born to Joseph 
Gardiner and his wife, Winifred Hamilton, who came to Kentucky and 
settled near the site of the present town of Fairfield in 1795, three 
became members of the community of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. 
The baptismal names of these, in the order of their birth, as well as 
those borne by them in religion, were : Harriet, so called also in com- 
munity Ufe; Charlotte, Sister Clare; and Elizabeth, Sister Frances. 
Never was the religious life adopted, and the world and its allurements 
abandoned with a fuller understanding of what was to be gained and 
relinquished by the step taken, than in the case of these three aspirers 
after places in His retinue whose resurrection to glory was preceded 
by a life on earth of toil and suffering endured for the creatures His 
hands had made. They were all women of more than ordinary natural 
intelligence, and each of them sought, in an humble spirit, to put to 
profit the talents with which she had been endowed. Sister Harriet, 
waited on by the virtues she had cherished and taught others to cher- 
ish, sank peacefully to rest more than half a century ago ; Sister Clare, 
noted for the religious spirit with which her whole life appeared to be 
regulated, passed to her reward on the 30th day of July, 1878; and 
four months later, the remaining sister, the venerable Mother Frances, 
bade her weeping daughters farewell, and fell asleep in Christ. 

This good mother had a talent for administration ; but it was not 
on that account that the hearts of her associates of the society went 
out to her, laden down with affection and reverence. It was rather 
because there was to be observed in her every word and act, the habit- 
ual rest of her mind in God and duty. When engaged in prayer, 


especially in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament, a glance caught 
of her face, often streaming with tears, was a poem of edification 
ever afterwards to be remembered and treasured by the beholder. 
The holy rule she had embraced when a girl appeared to grow more 
and more dear to her with each recurring day of her conventual life; 
and a model of punctuality from the beginning, at no previous tinie 
had she been more regular in her attendance at the exercises therein 
prescribed than when, a few days before her death, she was to be 
seen, always among the first, taking her appointed place in the con- 
vent chapel or community room. The firmness of her faith was 
evidenced by a recollection that appeared almost seraphic ; by acts of 
piety, of divine compassion and of entire submission to the will of God, 
that could have had no other source than her consciousness of His 
ever abiding presence, of her own needs, and of His infinite mercy. 
Naturally timid and shrinking, Mother Frances may be said to have 
cultivated in her soul the virtue of humility. The terms preeminence 
and precedence were, for her, words of frightful import. These, in 
their turn actually came to her, not only unsought, but as the severest 
of trials, accepted and borne only as crosses, and because such was the 
will of God. After nearly sixty years passed in the community, 
during twenty-five of which she filled the office of superior. Mother 
Frances found rest in God on the 7th day of November, 1878. 


After Mother Catharine Spalding, there has certainly been no 
superior of the Nazareth community, whose name is so familiar to 
Catholics all over the country as that of Mother Columba Carroll. 
There are reasons for this that the story of her hfe will explain. 
With worldlings, the wonder will always be, as it it has always been, 
that they who are esteemed humanly perfect, should ever subject 
themselves to ways of living from which are eliminated all display, 
all self-seeking, and all worldly emulation ; that they should 
elect to live for God and God only, who are most fitted in mind and 
manners to adorn society. No Catholic christian can thus reason. 
He knows that the world was made for man, and he for God ; and he 
neither feels nor exhibits jealousy toward the Great Master when He 
calls to His service that which is esteemed by mortals the most perfect 
of His creation. 

Margaret Carroll, known in religion as Sister, afterwards, Mother, 
Columba, was born in Dubhn, Ireland, on the 5th day of June, 1810. 
Her parents, James Carroll and Eliza Cooney, were natives of Wicklow 
county ; they had removed to DubUn soon after their marriage. The 
father, a relative of Dr. Murray, archbishop of Dublin, was a mer- 
chant of known integrity, and a Catholic in practice as well as profes- 
sion. The mother, who was of remote Spanish ancestry, was a 
woman of more than ordinary personal beauty, highly accornplished 
and exceedingly pious. When Margaret was yet a child, an incident 


took place which is thus related : Her mother had given to her a new 
cloak, and her first wearing of the garment was on an occasion when 
she had accompanied her to church. Leaving the edifice together 
after mass, the child was struck by the appearance of a little beggar 
girl about her own age, who was standing near the door, clad in rags 
and shivering with cold. Turning to her mother, she begged to be 
allowed to transfer to the shoulders of the hapless child of misfortune 
the cloak she prized so much. The good mother hesitated for a 
moment before answering, and then there seemed to flash upon her 
mind a revelation, as it were, of tne immense value to her little one 
of the lesson she was conning, and she was too wise not to permit her 
to pursue it to the end. 

Mr. Carroll removed with his family to New York iri 1815, and 
after residing in Albany for a single year, he came to Louisville, Ken- 
tucky, and established himself in business. This did not prove remun- 
erative, but he was still able to live in comfort, and to extend generous 
hospitality to the clergy, who were in the habit of visiting the town at 
irregular intervals, and giving opportunity to its few Catholic inhabi- 
tants of fulfilling their religious obligations. The entire family, com- 
prising four persons, the parents and two girl children, was held in 
high esteem by all who were happy enough to come within the range 
of its influence. Margaret and Esther were doubtless taught to read 
and write by their parents. Afterwards, most likely in the year 182 1, 
and thereafter, they attended the school of a Mrs. O' Kelly, a compe- 
tent instructress of the day. 

In 1822, as related elsewhere, Father Philip Hortsman, while 
attending the sick of the epidemic fever of that year in Louisville, was 
himself prostrated by the malady. He was immediately brought by 
Mr. Carroll to his own house and attended by himself and wife with 
filial care ; but in despite of their efforts for his relief, he succumbed 
to the disease after a few days of suff"ering. Mr. Carroll himself was 
soon seized with the fever, and also Mrs. Carroll. The husband died, 
and the wife rallied, and was spared to her children for two years 
longer. When she, too, was carried out of life, letters of administra- 
tion over Mr. Carroll's estate were granted to a friend of the family, 
Mr. J. McGilly Cuddy, an Irish-American citizen of high stand- 
ing then engaged in business in Louisville. This gentleman, who 
assumed legal guardianship over the orphaned children, knowing 
what had been the mother's views in regard to the education of her 
daughters, sent Margaret to Nazareth, and Esther to Loretto, for the 
completion of their education.* 

* Sometime after her graduation at Loretto, Esther came to pay a visit to 
her sister at Nazareth, where she was seized with a serious illness. Upon her 
recovery, she sought the privilege of joining the Nazareth community, in which 
she bore the name of Sister Sophia. She is still referred to by her associates of 
the time, as an admirable religious, and a most capable teacher. Sometime 
before her death, which took place on the 28th of November, 1841, there hap- 
pened to be in the school a young niece of her former guardian, Mr. Cuddy, 



From her entrance into the school of Nazareth, the sensitive nature 
of Margaret Carroll found that which she most needed — sympathy 
and affection. These came to her, not dribblingly and at intervals, 
but plenteously and continuously. She attributed all this, not to any- 
thing that was lovable in herself, but to the innate goodness of those 
by whom she was surrounded. The modesty with which she accepted 
kindness increased the more her attractiveness, and soon, herself 
supremely unconscious of the cause of the phenomenon she esteemed so 
extraordinar}-, she became an object of interest, as well to her teach- 
ers as to her classmates. 

Under the circumstances related, it will cause no one to wonder 
that such admirable teachers and religious as Sisters Ellen O'Connell 
and Columba Tarleton, should have taken exceeding pains to lead 
aright the mind and heart of one who appeared to them so full of 
promise of future usefulness. They took to their hearts the fruitful 
bud that had fallen at their feet, and they watered it with the tenderest 
care. They sought to satisfy her cravings after knowledge, and also 
her yearnings after that perfection which has its approaches from the 
foot of the hill of Calvary. To Sister Columba Tarleton, most likely, 
is to be ascribed the greater part of the direction by which Margaret 
Carroll was influenced in embracing the life of a religious. Not by 
words was this impulse awakened, but by the silent force of example. 
It is related in the annals of the community that when this long-suffer- 
ing religious lay on her bed of death, Margaret Carroll was permitted 
at times to watch beside her. Lying there, sweetly patient, wait- 
ing for her release, and happy in the thought that she was being led 
by the Master's hand, through suffering to rest, her pupil's mind is 
believed to have been opened by the sight, not only to the futility 
of earthly strivings, but to the contemplation of His boundless per- 
fections who is able to fill the hearts of His rational creatures with 
peace and joy under every condition of their being. Sister Columba 
Tarleton died; and a year later, immediately after her graduation, 
Margaret Carroll assumed the name by which she had been known in 
the community ; and m time, too, the tasks she had laid down in the 
labors of the school.* 

whose name was the same as had been given to herself in baptism. She held 
this little girl in great affection, and said to her one day, " Esther, my child, 
after awhile you will come to Nazareth and be a sister, and then you will be 
called by my own name." And so, after fifteen years, it came about. Esther 
Carton, as known in society, became Sister Sophia, of the Sisters of Charity 
of Nazareth. No introduction to Sister Sophia of the Presentation academy 
will be needed by my readers of Louisville. 

* From all that afterwards came to my knowledge of Margaret Carroll, and 
from all that I subsequently saw of her, under an aspect far different, she must 
have presented a queenly appearance on the day of her graduation. Among 
those who were the witnesses of what was regarded as a triumph, there was one 
whose admiration was characterized by a still warmer feeling. Unwittingly she 
had planted in her guardian's heart a sentiment which she was powerless to 
reciprocate. To his proposals of marriage, in no wise objectionable under 
ordinary circumstances, she told him that she had other views and higher 


For very many years, Sister Columba was engaged in teaching the 
more advanced classes of learners in the institution. She filled the 
office of directress of studies, was elected mother's assistant five times, 
and, in 1862, she succeeded Mother Frances Gardiner in the office of 
mother superior. The terms during which she governed the commu- 
nity aggregated ten years and five months. She was at the head of 
the sisterhood in the disastrous days of the war, and it is generally 
conceded that her admirable conduct of affairs at that time prevented 
much of apprehended trouble to the institution. 

With a single allusion to a trait in the character of Mother Columba 
that is simply admirable wherever found, we will close this sketch of 
her life. There was in her no more evidence of exaltation over any- 
thing she ever did that subjected her to praise, than if the merit of the 
act performed belonged to another and not to herself One who had 
known and observed her for years gives this evidence to her superhu- 
man abnegation of a principle in man's nature that is almost ineradi- 
cable. Mother Columba was seized with the illness of which she 
died in the fall of 1878, and, on the 18th of December of that year, 
was extinguished the light of her beautiful life. 


The little plot of ground in which lie buried the dead of the com- 
munity of Nazareth is situated to the right as one approaches the 
entrance gate of the establishment, and is but a few hundred yards 
from the convent chapel. Within the enclosure has been built an ora- 
tory, to which the sisters are in the habit of repairing in their leisure 

aspirations. Though I have no words by which to picture, as she really 
appeared to me throughout a personal acquaintance of nearly fifty years, this 
latest of the deceased mothers superior of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, 
a word or two of personal description, however the attempted delineation 
may be unworthy of its subject, will not be considered by my readers wholly 
out of place: Mother Columba was of the middle stature, perhaps a little 
above it. She was very fair, and her features were of that Regular order that 
is adjudged by artists as comprehensive of all needed requisites to facial 
beauty. Her eyes were of a light blue, mild and encouraging where her con- 
fidence was either given or sought, and piercing, with modifications of aspect 
that spoke of sorrow as well as grievance, when she felt called upon to repress 
among her pupils either levity in speech or breaches of decorum. No one 
could look into her face, and not discern therein intellectuality of a high 
order and neither could any one hold intercourse with her and not discover 
that her nature was all noble. In manner, she was dignified beyond any 
woman I have ever known, but her dignity left no impression of either pride 
or hauteur. Her voice was as pleasant as anything in nature that is most 
grateful to the ear, and her conversation was of the precise character that one 
would expect out of the mouth of an intelligent christian woman. Looking 
at her and listening to her, as I have often done, i have felt that there was no 
earthly dignity to which she might not have aspired and of which she was not 
worthy ; and I have felt, too, that it was meet that such excellence, with its 
wealth of capacities and capabilities, should have been reserved for heaven and 
its King. 


hours to pray God's mercy upon themselves and the souls of the 
departed whose mouldering clay surrounds them. Not here are their 
orisons ended; for well they know that to many a one of the sleepers 
below has been opened a pathway to heavenly beatitudes, and that 
power has been given them, unknown and insignificant as they were 
living and in the sight of men, to help by their prayers their struggling 
sisters of earth. There rests for its resurrection the mortal vesture in 
which was clothed the saindy Bishop David, the founder of the society; 
and prone at his feet, as was her habit in life, has been laid away the 
body of the good Mother Catharine Spalding, whose steady hand and 
loving heart had led and inspired with something of her own courage 
her associate daughters of St. Vincent from the infancy of the com- 
munity to its adolescence. There sleep the Sisters Gardiner and 
O'Connell and Tarleton and Carroll and Sutton, and many more, still 
so lovingly referred to in the traditions of the Nazareth society. 

Of the clergy of Kentucky, the cemetery at Nazareth encloses the 
remains of quite a number. The names and dates of death of these 
are here appended: 

Rt. Rev. John B. David, coadjutor bishop of Bardstown — died 
July 12, 1 84 1. 

Rev. George A. M. Elder, first president of St. Joseph's college — 
died September 28, 1838. 

Rev. William E. Clark — died at St. Mary's college, March 5, 1850. 

Rev. Joseph Haseltine, ecclesiastical superior of the institution — 
died February 13, 1862. 

Rev. Joseph H. Elder — died at Raywick, Kentucky, January 29, 

Rev. F. H. D'Hoop, S. J. — died at St. Joseph's infirmary, Louis- 
ville, March 23, 1853. 

Rev. F. O'Loghlin, S. J. — died at Bardstown, July 20, 1862. 

Rev. J. Graves, S. J. — died at St. Joseph's infirmary, Louisville, 
August 21, 1869. 

Rev. M. M. Coghlan, president of St. Joseph's college — died at 
Bardstown, March 11, 1877. 

Very Rev. Francis Chambige, ecclesiastical superior of the institu- 
tion — died at Nazareth, December 30, 1877. 




This noted convent and school, up to the year 1852, bore the title 
of Sf. Mary Magdalene's. Its location is near Springfield, in the county 
of Washington, and it is distant from Lebanon, on the Knoxville 
branch of the Louisville and Great Southern railroad, about eleven 
miles. It is beautifully situated on a large and well cultivated farm, 
and its buildings are at once stately and imposing. For the founda- 
tion of a house of the Third Order of St. Dominic in America, and in 
Kentucky, credit must be given to the late Rev. Thomas Wilson, O. 
S. D. , who had previously established in the State, not only its first 
Catholic school for boys, but also its first seminary for the education 
of clerics, t 

In 1822, just seventeen years after the estabHshment of the con- 
vent of St. Rose, Father Wilson's mind was turned to the pressing 
necessity then existing in his large congregation for adequate educa- 
tional facilities for female children. It was just as perceptible to him 
as it had been to Fathers Nerinckx and David under circumstances 
precisely similar, that the full complement of good to be hoped for as 
a result of his labors was beyond his reach so long as he was unable 
to secure to the young of his congregation proper culture for both mind 
and heart. With this idea uppermost in his mind, he consulted with 
Bishop Flaget, who gladly authorized him, if that might be, to 
establish in his diocese a community of nuns of the Third Order of St. 
Dominic, He next applied to the master-general of the order of St. 
Dominic, residing in Rome, who not only granted his request, but 
was pleased to accord to the members of the proposed organization 

* In its proper chronological order, this chapter should be preceded by the 
two immediately following ; but it has appeared appropriate to the author that 
the more ancient of the orders of female religious established in Kentucky 
should be grouped together. 

tAdmiration for Father Wilson is a sentiment I contracted early in life. 
By all the earlier of the native priests of the State he was regarded with pecu- 
liar veneration. Rev. Robert A, Abell had been a pupil in his school of St. 
Rose, and it was his pleasure to speak of him on all proper occasions, not only 
with profound respect, but with admiration of his abilities and learning, and 
especially of his eloquence. He was certainly the leading spirit among those 
who introduced to the country the great Order of Preachers, now become so 
efficient as earnest workers in the vineyard of the Divine Master, and so form- 
idable as earnest defenders of the faith. 


all the privileges ordinarily conceded to those of the Second Order.* 
Armed with all the requisite powers, Father Wilson proceeded to 
lay the foundation of the institute of St. Mary Magdalene, having 
for its object the sanctification of such christian women as might elect 
to associate themselves together in religious community-life and spend 
their days in forming the hearts of youth to virtue, and storing their 
minds with useful knowledge. In his large congregation of St. Rose he 
had little difficulty in selecting the proper material out of which to 
form the initiatory links of the chain with which he hoped to bind heaven 
to earth for innumerable souls. The names borne by his postulants 
were : Maria Sansbury, in religion. Sister Angela ; Mary Carico, Sister 
Margaret; Teresa Edelin, Sister Magdalen; Elizabeth Sansbury, 
Sister Benvenuta; Ann Hill, Sister Ann; Rose Tenley, Sister Frances.! 
The first year of their community-life was passed by the sisters in 
an old log cabin that had been prepared for their use on the farm 
attached to the convent of St. Rose. At the expiration of this term, 
they removed into a house of their own, built upon lands secured to 
the association by one of their own number. Sister Angela Sans- 
bury. J This second house was more desirable than their first for 
the reason that it was divided into three rooms. One of these 
served them for a chapel ; the second for kitchen and refectory 
combined, and the third for work, for sleeping, and for recreation. 
When not engaged in out-of-doors work, it was here their busy hands 
found employment in the varied processes by which the staples of 
wool, cotton and flax are transformed into wearing apparel. Their 
first out-of-doors employment was the tansportation of drift-wood from 
the creek to serve for winter firing. The process was the primitive 
one of "sticks to shoulders and an up-hill tramp to the wood-pile." 
There had been left standing on the place an old still-house, and this 
was transformed by them into a school house. Here it was that on the 
memorable day of the opening of their school, they found assembled 
fifteen pupils. The year's provisions, required to be deposited in 
advance by the parents of the pupils, unaccountably gave out before 
the end of the year was reached; and now began a season of suf- 
fering for the poor sisters. It was only by God's grace that they 
were enabled to beat back the intruding thought that they had mis- 
calculated their powers of endurance. Confiding in His help, who had 
made perennial the widow's cruse, they labored on. They tilled the 
soil, gathered in their scanty crops, pulled and housed fodder for the 
cattle, and did man's work for less than child's recompense 

■■'The ancient order of St. Dominic is composed of three distinct sections, 
or branches. First, the ministry and those preparing for its exercise ; second, 
the enclosed nuns; third, and the more numerous, such as devote themselves 
to the instruction of youth. Both St. Catharine of Sienna and St. Rose of 
Lima were members of the Third Order of St. Dominic. 

t According to another account furnished me, to the above names should be 
added that of Ellen Whalen. 

J The father and an uncle of Maria and Elizabeth Sansbury were among the 
earlier emigrants to Cartwright's creek. 


It was not its semblance, but true heroism that these weak women 
were exhibiting. Having given themselves to God, they regarded 
neither discomfort nor privation so long as by these they were brought 
nearer to Him, nearer to the bleeding feet of His Son, their thorn- 
crowned Lord and Master. They multiplied their prayers and they 
besought more urgently the aid of Heaven's Queen to enable them to 
walk firmly on in the rough ways that God's providence had opened 
for their feet; but they neglected not the ordinary means of rescue 
from peril which this same providence had placed within their reach 
and that of all His rational creation. Such courage and perseverance 
was worthy of blessing, and this came to them in the measure of their 
absolute needs. 

For six or eight years after its establishment, the office of chap- 
lin of the convent of St. Mary Magdalene was filled by Rev. 
Richard P. Miles, afterwards first bishop of the See of Nashville. 
During these years, and to the end of his life. Bishop Miles interested 
himself greatly in everything that concerned the community and its 

Six years passed away, and though the sisters had accumulated 
nothing by their labors, they were not now subjected to so great trials 
nor to such incessant toil as had hitherto marked the course of their 
young organization. Their school was becoming better known and 
more highly appreciated, and now there was no longer room in their 
improvised school building to accommodate their pupils, and the chil- 
dren whom parents had signified their intention of sending for the 
coming session. Without a dollar in hand, but filled with confidence 
in God, they began the erection of a more commodious building. 
The details of the labors undertaken and successfully prosecuted by 
these unskilled women would scarcely be credited by any of their sex 
of the present day. They bent to their work, arduous as it was, not 
only uncomplainingly, but with spirits surcharged vvith joy. They 
thought not of themselves, but of Him who was their strength, and 
of the " little ones" of His blessed humanity whom it was their privi- 
lege to bring to His feet that He might bless and save them. To raise 
the walls of the new building was beyond their strength, but this 
they did in effect through their personal solicitation of alms. Two 
and two they tramped the country round for miles on their pitiful 
errand, and though they were often rebuffed, and sometimes harshly, 
they secured in this way what was needed to finish the building. 

An occurrence took place about that time — in 1829, most likely — 
that is thus related by one of the sisterhood : 

"The sisters were in much need of a teacher of drawing and 
painting, one who would be capable of instructing in the art a class of 
two or three of their own number. One day a gentlemanly young 
man called to apply for the position. He was not a Catholic, but his 
recommendations were satisfactory, and he was at once employed. 
The room assigned to him in which to give his lessons was next to the 
sisters' chapel. Here, day after day, he sat in the hearing of the 


sisters while engaged in chanting the prescribed offices. They soon 
learned that he was a native of New England, and that he had been 
reared to detest the rehgion of Catholics. He was a very capable 
young man, and notwithstanding his prejudices, which he took no 
pains to conceal, he was retained in the institute for a little more than 
a year. At the end of this time we were astonished to find that he 
was a changed man. He had often, to be sure, asked the meaning of 
certain observances of which he had taken cognizance, and the proper 
answers had been given him; but it turned out that he had reflected as 
well as observed, and that, little by little, his prejudices had given way 
and left him a Catholic at heart. But that was not enough ; he would 
be one in the face of the world. He wrote to his father, stating the 
change that had taken place in his convictions of religious truth and 
his purpose to unite himself with the Catholic Church. The father was 
a bigot, and alienation between himself and his family followed the 
consummation of his high purpose."* 

What has hitherto been said of the experiences of the sisterhoods 
of Loretto and Nazareth in respect to personal hardships, coarse and 
scanty food, and all manner of inconveniences, will equally apply to 
that of St. Mary Magdalene; at least up to the year 1834. Then, 
indeed, the sisters began to feel that the roughest of their trials were 
of the past. They were now less often called upon to labor in 
the fields ; their table was beginning to present a more generous apear- 
ance, and now and then they were able to treat themselves to wheaten 
bread and real coffee. Thus passed for them a decade and a half of 
years, each one of which was an improvement on its predecessor, 
bringing with it realities for which they had long hoped and patiently 
waited. In 1848, they felt themselves able to begin the construction 
of a church ; and, a year later, they had the happiness of contemplat- 
ing the finished edifice — beautiful it would have been considered any- 

* The young man referred to in the text was the late Rev. H. V. Brown, who 
died pastor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 187-. After his baptism by one of 
the Dominican fathers of the convent of St. Rose, he went to Rome, where he 
was a student in the college of the Propaganda. From the fact that the late 
Very Rev. B. J. Spalding was one of Father Brown's most intimate friends, I 
have been led to the belief that they were at one time fellow-students in Rome. 
There was something of facetiousness about Dr. Brown. The last time I met him 
was on the occasion of the consecration of the then newly erected church of the 
Trappist fathers at Gethsemani, where we and others, clerics and laymen, 
were guests of the establishment. Though born and reared in the North, 
Father Brown's life as a priest had been altogether spent in the South ; and 
though I feel quite sure he was cosmopolitan in his love of country, he affected 
on this occasion, for jest's sake, to be extremely southern in his sentiments. 
The rooms of the guests' house at Gethsemani have inscribed over them the 
names of the apostles and evangelists, and that into which Father Brown was 
ushered happened to bear the name of St. Thaddeus. Looking attentively at 
the name for a moment, he wanted to know of me whether I thought the monks 
intended to insult him by putting him into old Thad. Stephen's room. Thad. 
Stephens, it will be remembered, was a leading republican congressman dur- 
ing the war. 


where, and to them it appeared grand and imposing — and of uttering 
their thanksgivings before its altar, in the very presence of their 
Creator and Redeemer. After a brief two years, the pupils of the 
institution, now vastly multiplied, were ushered into a new academy 
building, constructed for durability, and large enough to accommo- 
date a still greater number.* 

In 1 85 1, the corporation was empowered by grant of the legisla- 
ture to change the title until that time borne by the institution, to that 
of "The Academy of St. Catharine of Sienna." 

The annexed summary of incidents and personal recollections of 
individuals in some way connected with the establishment of St. Mary 
Magdalene, coming as they do from one to whom the facts related are 
wholly familiar, connot prove otherwise than interesting reading for 
Catholics : 

"Sister Angela Sansbury, the first prioress, was born in Prince 
George county, Maryland. Her parents were Alexius Sansbury and 
Elizabeth Hamilton. Long before she received the habit from the 
hands of Father Wilson, she was noted for her piety and extreme 
modesty. As she had before been for the young women of the con- 
gregation of St. Rose a model of virtue and christian propriety, so, 
after she had consecrated herself to God, she was for her associates of 
the community a model of patience and christian confidence. When 
these were well nigh in despair, not knowing whence was to come the 
food for which they were almost famishing, she never once lost cour- 
age, never doubted that Providence would provide for their absolute 
wants. One day the sister whose duty it was to prepare food for the 
community went to her with the information that there was nothing in 
the house out of which she could even make an ash-cake — not a mor- 
sel of meat nor a dust of meal. Mother Angela looked at her reassur- 
ingly and said: 'Be not troubled, sister; God will provide!' And 
so He did. Before the hour of noon, a man who was to them an entire 
stranger, brought to the convent a hundred weight of meat, and begged 
the sisters to accept it as a gift. Occurrences such as this were not at 
all uncommon in the early days of the institution. Mother Angela 
Sansbury was a strict disciplinarian, but a loving one. She led the 
sisters in all their labors, and she shared with them all their 

" In 1851, at the instance of Rev. N. D. Young, O. S. D., a col- 
ony of sisters, composed of Mother Angela and Sisters Benvenuta 
Sansbury and Ann Hill, were sent to Somerset, Ohio, where they 

*The St. Catharine's academy buildings, including the convent and church, 
as they appear to-day, form three sides of a square. The grounds within are 
tastefully laid off, and they are studded with shrubs and flower-beds. The 
establishment sits, the mistress of a lovely vale, surrounded as with a crown, by 
low hills that are verdure-clad for two-thirds of the year. In the heart of this 
valley nestles the convent, and in the still of the evening the sound of its bells 
sweeps over the hills, and is heard and blessed in hamlet and farm-house for 
miles around. 


established the Convent of St. Mary of the Springs, and laid the foun- 
dation of the now flourishing academy known as St. Mary's. * 

"Sister Magdalen Edelin was remarkable for her indomitable 
energy and the excellence of her judgment. During the several terms 
she filled the office of prioress her management of the affairs of the 
institution was regarded as admirable. This was the case even when 
she was suffering from the tortures of an incurable disease. She was 
distinguished especially for her attention to choir duty. Her death 
occurred on the eve of her patronal feast, and her burial on the feast 
itself. A singular incident took place on this latter occasion. Scarcely 
had the grave been filled up, in which had been deposited the body of 
their aged associate, when, heard in the distance, came to the ears of 
the sisters the Salve Rcgina, raised by those of the community who had 
been left in charge of the house. They well knew the import of the 
sacred hymn sung at such a time. It told them that the undeniable 
call had come to another of their band ; that another soul was in its 
agony. Adding their own voices to the solemn refrain, they sped on 
their way toward the convent, but the soul in agony did not wait their 
coming. Hastening to the infirmary, they were confronted by another 
vision of death. Sister Viluna Montgomery, the life-long friend and 
associate of Mother Magdalen, had passed to her reward. 

"The benefactors of the establishment of St. Mary Magdalene, 
afterwards St. Catharine's of Sienna, were many ; but only of a few 
will it be necessary to speak. In the infancy of the institution, but 
for the charity of the good people of the congregation of St. Rose, 
the very existence of the community must have abruptly terminated. 
Insignificant, to be sure, were their benefactions, for they were them- 
selves poor ; but they sufficed to sustain life and to establish hope. 
The first of whom personal mention is necessary should be the first 
ecclesiastical superior of the sisterhood, appointed by Father Wilson, 
Rev. Richard P. Miles, at a later day bishop of Nashville. What he 
had to give was httle, to be sure, but it was mainly through his 
instrumentality that thfe needs of the sisterhood -were made known 
and relieved. Another benefactor of the house, long since passed to 
his reward, is to this day gratefully remembered in their prayers by 
the sisterhood of St. Catharine's. The story of himself and his 
benefactions is an interesting one. 

"One day, when the establishment was still in its infancy, an old 
man, sitting in a light covered wagon drawn by a staid-going little 
animal, drove up to the convent gate and asked for lodgings for the 
night. He was at once a singular-looking and singular-talking old 

*The death of Mother Angela took place at the convent named in the text on 
the 30th November, 1839. Of her associates named, the first was her own sis- 
ter. Sister Ann was a daughter of Clement Hill, of whom mention is elsewhere 
made. An aged sister of the community writes me concerning her : "Sister 
Ann was a highly gifted woman, and well educated. She was a most useful 
member of the community, and exceedinglv cious. She died at Somerset, 
Ohio, on the ist of April, 1840." 

Catholicity in Kentucky. 267 

gentleman, out there was something in his face that was attractive, 
nevertheless, and his request was granted. In the morning, he not 
only did not take himself off, but he astonished the prioress by telling 
her that he had determined to stop where he was for the remainder of 
his days. 'This is the inn,' he said, 'to which the Lord has directed 
me, and here I will remain.' So earnest and persistent was his appeal, 
that the nuns agreed at length to give him employment, and, as the 
sequel will show, they could not have been led to a wiser solution of 
what presented to them, no doubt, the appearance of a difficulty. 
Mr. Simering — such was the name by which this odd genius was 
known — was a tinsmith by trade, and he had been for years in the 
habit of going about the country, peddling his wares among the 
housewives living in Nelson and Washington counties, and, where that 
was possible, rendering again serviceable their broken and battered 
kitchen utensils. From that time, almost to the day of his death, 
sixLcen years later, all the tinware used in the place was of his fash- 
ioning. When there was nothing to do at home, he would buy a 
stock of tin, make it up into all sorts of useful articles, hitch up his 
horse and depart on a peddling expedition. These excursions began 
in time to be looked upon by the sisters as sure indexes of coming 
benefits to the institution ; for the good man never returned from one 
of them without a lading of something much needed by the com- 
munity. Whatever was the emergency, his was the hand to help 
them meet it. The first piano-forte used in the school was a gift from 
him. He was exceedingly blunt in his manners, and when he hap- 
pened to know that the community treasury was empty, and that 
debts were pressing, he would appear before the disturbed prioress, 
fumble in his pocket for his purse, and, having flung it into her lap, 
blurt out snappishly: * Is that anything you want?' On such 
occasions, and they were not a few, it was his habit to escape from 
the room at once, before the prioress could muster words in which to 
thank him.* 

"Of all the benefactors of the establishment ot St. Catharine 
of Sienna, not one, however, gave so unsparingly of his means, his 
time and his energies, as did the late chaplain of the institution, the 
venerable and beloved Father Francis Cubero. From 1872, the date 
of his appointment, to 1883, when in mercy of his infirmities, this aged 
servant of God was given rest from his labors, he had literally aban- 
doned himself to the work of promoting the interests of his spiritual 

♦This unique character was known to me when, in 1823 and a year or two 
later, he was the master of a small shop then situated at the southeastern 
corner of the square upon which stands the former cathedral of the diocese, 
Bardstown. He was exceedingly industrious, and so firmly was his integrity 
and mechanical skill established in public estimation, that he did a thriving 
business. His eccentricities were pronounced and incontrovertible, however, 
and his removal to St. Magdalene's was occasioned, no doubt^ by his desire to 
escape the ridicule and annoyance to which he was subjected at the hands of 
the thoughtless youths attending the neighboring college of St. Joseph. 


children. Almost his first act on assuming the chaplaincy of the insti- 
tution, was to lift from the over-burdened shoulders of the sisters a 
debt of nearly eight thousand dollars. This he paid, as is supposed, 
out of his own paternal inheritance. But this material help given by 
him to the sisterhood, was as nothing compared with the value of his 
labors to the end of the sanctification of his charge. His only 
thought appeared to have reference to them and their needs — the main- 
tenance of discipline among them and love of their holy rule."* 

•There are now in the United States fifteen houses of the Third Order .of St. 
Dominic, all derived from the one whose early history is given in the text. 
Two of these are located in Kentucky ; three in Ohio; five in Tennessee; one 
in Florida ; one in Washington city and three in California. The sisters have 
charge, also, of a school for colored children in Washington county, which has 
been successfully carried on for years. Though called to labor inside of con- 
vent walls, and there with special reference to the education of youth, the sis- 
terhood is not permitted to disregard the suggestions of humanity and christian 
charity in times of public calamity. The cholera epidemic of 1833 was 
frightful in Washington county, and it was then that the afflicled people of the 
country surrounding the convent, Protestan's as well as Catholics, learned to 
honor, even more than they had done before, the white habited nuns of St. 
Magdalene. Their labors throughout the epidemic were as incessant as they 
were often effective of the happiest results for individual sufferers. Only one 
of the community, and that in the fresh out-break of the epidemic in the fol- 
lowing year, lost her life by the visitation. Sister Mary Theresa Lynch died 
while attending the sick in the neighborhood in 1834. In later years the 
branch establishments of the house, especially that at Memphis, Tennessee, 
have suffered fearfully from similar visitations. In 1873, while engaged in 
nursing the sick of yellow fever, at Memphis and Pensacola, Sisters M. Joseph 
McKernan, Martha Quarry, Magdalene McKernan and Dominica Fitzpatrick 
were seized with the fever and died. The deaths among the sisters at Memphis 
in 1878, all from the same cause, were those of Veronica Glose, Bernardine 
Dalton, Rose McGary and Dolora Glose. 





Bishop Flaget had already passed six years of his episcopal life in 
Kentucky, before any effort was made by him to secure to the diocese 
a suitable and properly appointed cathedral. Without resources him- 
self, and charged with the care of a people with whom competency 
was a condition of the future, only to be acquired by continuous 
struggle, he did not feel that he was warranted in taxing them for even 
so much needed an object. He might sooner have undertaken the 
work, to be sure, had he been willing to burden the diocese with obli- 
gations to be liquidated in the future. But not the apostle himself 
who has written ou>e no man atiyihhig, had a greater horror of debt than 
he. He might have still hesitated, but for the urgent pleadings of his 
clergy, and a few of the better provided among his faithful people. 
At the instance of these, early in the year 181 7, he authorized subscrip- 
tions to be made and collections to be taken up in furtherance of the 
object throughout the diocese. When the work of construction was 
begun, the subscriptions and cash collections were found to aggregate 
the sum of $14,000. More than satisfied with a result so little antici- 
pated, the bishop left nothing undone that might by possibility facili- 
tate the work ; and the architect whom he employed, being both intel- 
ligent and energetic, was enabled, in a little over two years, to report 
the church so far completed as to admit of its consecration.* 

The day fixed for the consecration of the cathedral was August 
8th, 1 81 9. No event so interesting to Catholics having ever taken 
place in any part of the country west of Baltimore, the desire to wit- 
ness it was very general among them. In congregations the farthest 
removed from the territorial seat of episcopal jurisdiction, numbers of 
the faithful were contemplating excursions to Bardstown, in order to be 
present on an occasion that commanded their sympathy, and naturally 
excited in them sentiments of honest pride and hearty gratulation. 
Bishop Flaget knew all this, and he knew, too, that hundreds of non- 
Catholics, many of whom had contributed of their means toward the 

*The architect and builder of the cathedral of St. Joseph was Mr. John 
Rogers, who, on his removal from Baltimore to Bardstown in 1815, had brought 
with him the perfected plans of the building. He was a pious Catholic, and a 
man of high repute in his profession. The only survivors of his children, 
Charles A. Rogers, Catholic bookseller and publisher, and Mrs. Mary O'Brien, 
are residents of Louisville. 


erection of the church, were equally anxious, opportunity being given 
them, to witness a function about which they knew nothing, but were 
simply curious. \v'ishing to make the occasion one to be remembered 
with grateful joy by his own flock, and at least with tolerant considera- 
tion by his Protestant fellow citizens. Bishop Flaget spared no pains to 
give to the ceremonial and all its accessories the utmost solemnity that 
was within the compass of his limited capabilities. Among the ques- 
tions of moment considered at the time by the bishop and Father 
David, not the least perplexing referred to the proper person to be 
invited, or directed, to occupy the pulpit on the day of consecration. 
It had been previously arranged that Father David should himself 
deliver an explanatory address immediately after the ceremony of con- 
secration, but the sermon of the occasion, properly speaking, was to be 
the one after the gospel of the mass, and for this particular service, 
there were but four priests in the diocese whose qualifications and 
acknowledged capabiUties fairly entitled them to the consideration of 
the ordinary. By far the most noted of these was Rev. Thomas Wil- 
son, of the order of St. Dominic, residing at St. Rose, about sixteen 
miles from Bardstown. He was a man of exalted personal character, 
and there was, possibly, not another divine in the State who was either 
more learned or more eloquent. But being not directly subject to the 
bishop, he thought, no doubt, that it would be more appropriate to have 
the service performed by one of his own secular priests. The second 
and third. Fathers G. I. Chabrat and Anthony Ganihl, though they were 
both secular priests and able men, were objectionable from the fact 
that, being Frenchmen, the language of the country did not ' ' come 
trippingly" off their tongues; and from the further fact that their style 
of eloquence was of too staid and sober a character to be altogether 
acceptable to the people on an occasion that called especially for rejoic- 
ing and gratulation. The fourth and last to be considered was the 
first ordained of the diocesan seminary, Rev. Robert A. Abell. He 
had talents, enthusiasm, everything, indeed, to recommend him except 
deep learning ; and that was not thought to be a requisite of paramount 
importance on the particular occasion demanding his services. Both 
had long known and respected the talents of the young priest. They 
had heard him speak in the impromptu debates gotten up from time to 
time among the students of the seminary; and, on a few occasions after 
his ordination, he had caused them to open their eyes in astonishment 
at his powers as a preacher. For these reasons, he, rather than his 
elder brothers of the ministry, was chosen to deliver the sermon after 
the gospel of the first mass to be celebrated in the newly consecrated 
church. The personality of the preacher of the consecration sermon 
having been decided upon. Father Abell was notified immediately of 
the fact, and directed to report in person at Bardstown by a given date. 
That the young ecclesiastic should have felt gratification over so 
marked a tribute of confidence on the part of his superiors is not to be 
doubted. His prideful emotions, however, soon gave place to others 
that were nearer allied to pusillanimity. He began to fear that he was 


destined to disappoint the expectations of his friends, and especially 
of those who reposed in him a degree of confidence that he could 
but characterize as wonderful. It took him many hours to discipline 
his mind to the proper contemplation of his position and its require- 
ments. He had not yet fully determined upon the subject matter of 
his discourse and its mode of treatment when, in order to meet the 
appointment that had been made for him, he was under the necessity 
of mounting his horse and beginning his journey. There is no posi- 
tion in which a man can be placed that is so favorable for cogita- 
tion as riding on horseback along a little travelled highway. Father 
Abell was a true lover of nature ; and at another time, he might have 
found pleasant interest in the contemplation of many things of which 
his eye scarcely took cognizance in his lonesome ride. But his mind 
was now wholly absorbed in the ordeal that was before him and how 
to meet it to the acquittal of his conscience and the justification of 
the hopes of his friends. His thoughts soon began to take form and 
shape, and long before he reached Elizabethtown, in Hardin county, 
where he proposed to stop for the night, he began to experience a 
healthy degree of confidence. 

Retiring early, he had scarcely closed his eyes in sleep before he 
was awakened by a knock upon his chamber-door. A messenger had 
followed him all the way from his home, whither he had gone to urge 
his immediate presence at the bedside of one of his parishioners who 
was supposed to be dying. Father Abell did not hesitate. With the 
faithful priest, a call to the sick is regarded as a call from God. The 
night was passed in retracing the road of the previous day, and the 
slin had risen when he reached the bedside of the supposed dying 
man.* Having discharged the duties of his office toward his sick 
parishioner, the priest recommenced his interrupted journey, and this 
time he brought it to a successful termination. On presenting himself 
before his superiors, he was asked it he had written out the sermon he 
had been directed to preach. "No, Father David," said he, for it 
was that rigid disciplinarian who had propounded the question, " I had 

*The sick person referred to in the text was Walter S. Coomes, son of 
Ignatius Coomes, who was among the earlier Catholic settlers of Breckinridge 
county. The young man recovered from his illness, and, soon afterwards, 
entered the diocesan seminary, where he prosecuted his course of theological 
studies, interrupted for several years by his appointment to the position of tutor 
in the college of St. Joseph, and he was ordained priest in the year 1830. 
Father Coomes, or "Father Watty," as he was familiarly called by his associates 
of the clergy, was an excellent and useful priesf, and a thoroughly lovable 
man. Though he was never considered a man of marked intellectual gifts, 
the defect was unnoticed in his extreme amiability, and in the practical, com- 
mon-sense way he had of deciding questions that were supposed to affect 
Catholic interests. Up to the date of his death, which took place November 
28, 1871, in the 76th year of his age, no closer bond of friendship existed 
between any twain of the clergy of Kentucky than that by which were linked 
the hearts of Father Abell and Father Coomes. They were helpful to each 
other, and it is not unlikely that the stronger of the two benefitted most by 
their mutual friendship. 


no time for that ; but I have been revolving its matter in my mind, and 
I think I can safely promise you that it shall not fall below your rea- 
sonable expectations. " The director of the seminary was not satisfied. 
"We cannot trust your inexperience," said he; "but there is time 
yet ; go to your room at once and write out for the inspection of Bishop 
Flaget and myself what you propose to say." 

There was no help for it, and Father Abell was obliged to submit. 
From noon till dusk, he kept his room, noting down indeed the heads 
of his discourse, but litde else. After supper, having a roll of 
paper in his hand, he approached his mentors, who happened to be 
the only occupants at the time of the room set apart for the bishop, and 
proposed, then and there, to read to them the sermon he had pre- 
pared. Father David thought it would be better to have him submit 
his manuscript to them for the night, to be returned to him in the 
morning with their joint criticism upon its merits. To this proposition, 
the young priest objected by saying: " You could make nothing of 
it, Father David. In very truth," he continued, "my fingers have 
been clutching the bridle for so many hours that they are really incap- 
able of guiding a pen so as to make my chirography legible to others 
than myself. If you will but retain your places and give me the use of 
the candle that is flaming on your side of the table, I will repeat 
before you the sermon I have prepared for the day after to-morrow." 
Relating the incident afterwards. Father Abell was wont to say : 

"No objection being raised by either of my hearers, I reached 
over for the candlesUck, placed it immediately before me, and unroll- 
ing my manuscript, made a pretense of reading. In the dim light given 
out by the single candle from its place on the table, fully three feet 
beneath my organs of vision, I could not have seen a letter, to be 
sure, though the writing had been as legible as print; but that cir- 
cumstance did not matter to me, and, strangely enough, neither the 
bishop nor Father David appeared to take any cognizance of the 
anomaly. I began my sermon in a key that was suitable to the dimen- 
sions of the room, and to the proximity of those who had constituted 
themselves the judges of its merits ; but, by degrees, and imperceptibly 
to myself, my voice was raised, not to its full pitch by any means, but 
to a compass sufificiently elevated to be heard beyond the walls of the 
building. I began by recounting the vicissitudes through which the 
Church in Kentucky had passed during the thirty-four years of its exist- 
ence; and I spoke of the crosses that had hitherto pressed down the 
shoulders of both priests and people. I described the apologies 
of churches in which, for a third of a century, the great Sacrifice of 
Calvary had been repeated in an unbloody manner for the salvation of 
God's people in the wilderness of Western America. I spoke of the 
joy with which the faithful Catholic people of the State had greeted 
the bishop that had been sent to them a few years before, and of his 
hope and their own that the time was drawing near when the Savior 
whom they served would be provided with temples in which to repose, 
in some degree worthy of His exalted majesty. I gave to my hearers 


a history of the undertaking that had now been brought to a happy 
consummation. I returned thanks to those who, by their great 
hberaUty, had enabled their bishop to erect, in a country but lately 
overshadowed by interminable forests, a cathedral church that would 
be honorable to the Catholic faith of any people — a temple in which 
they and their children and childrens children would meet and pay 
homage to the living God, and where, for generations to come the 
great sacrifice of the new law would be offered up for the living and 
the dead. Once only in the course of my performance, after the 
delivery of a passage I had endeavored to make peculiarly pathetic, I 
ventured to remove my manuscript from before my eyes and look my 
mentors in the face. There they sat with their hands clasped, sobbing 
like children. I no longer felt that I had anything to fear from their 
criticism. My peroration closed at length, I asked my superiors if 
they were satisfied. 'Yes,' replied Father David, after considering 
for a moment, as if fearful of the ill effects upon youthful minds of 
unstinted eulogy, 'the sermon will answer.' There was no sugges- 
tion of change, and neither was there of praise. Had others not 
told me of their favorable comments, delivered beyond my hearing, I 
might have supposed they regarded my labored effort as common- 

Fifty years later was celebrated at Bardstown the bi-centennial anni- 
versary of the consecration of the cathedral, and on that occasion the 
writer was fortunate enough to be present. Two only of those who had 
occupied places in the sanctuary a half century before were there to 
return thanks to God for having given them length of days, and for 
having vouchsafed them power and opportunity to dispense His mercy 
to sinners. These were Rev. Robert A. Abell and Rev. Athanasius 
A. Aud, the latter of whom had witnessed the ceremony of consecra- 
tion from his place among the seminarians then in attendance. It had 
been the hope and expectation of the then pastor of St. Joseph, Rev. P. 
J. Defraine, that the voice that had filled the temple at its first open- 
ing would be heard from the same pulpit, measuring its powers over a 
new generation of hearers, and exciting in them feelings akin to those 
that had filled the hearts of the listeners of fifty years gone by. But 
the state of health of the venerable missionary was such as to disable 
him from anything beyond the delivery of a few brief sentences from 
the communion railing, at the close of the regular sermon from the 
pulpit. As he rose to his feet, the utmost stillness pervaded the 
crowded church. For a moment, he stood gazing upon the faces before 
him, and, no doubt, contrasting them in his own mind with those that 

*The sermon preached by Father Abell at the consecration of the cathedral' 
church of St. Joseph, Bardstown, created possibly, more favorable criticism 
from persons supposed to be capable of judging of oratorical display, than 
any other that had previously been delivered in that part of the State. Among 
the lawyers of the place, especially, and the bar of Bardstown included at the 
time some of the master minds of the country, the criticism evoked by it was 
in the highest degree commendatory. 



had been turned towards him on the occasion of his first sermon in 
that church. He spoke at length, not as if with an effort and feebly, 
but well and eloquently. He spoke of the Catholic zeal of those who 
had wrought and suffered to raise that temple to the service of God, 
and of their joy when they were permitted to bow their heads in ado- 
ration before its newly consecrated altars. "Where, now," he asked, 
"are those first parishioners of St. Joseph's? Where are the Sanders' 
and the Haydens, the Gwyns and the Wickhams, the Hagans and the 
Webbs, and all the other early Catholic settlers of Nelson county? All 
dead, and I am left to tell you what they did for religion." He spoke 
of his own journeyings in quest of means to pay for work done upon 
the church as that work progressed, and of the success with which 
heaven had blessed his efforts. He told his hearers of the crowds that 
had flocked to the church on the day it was consecrated, some journey- 
ing from long distances, and all rejoicing in the fact that the most 
oapacious and the most beautiful building in the State had been reared 
for purposes of Catholic worship. When he was compelled to desist, 
from lack of strength to stand longer, it is doubtful if there was a dry 
eye in the church. 

But a few months ago, in this year of grace 1884, took place another 
celebration in the former cathedral of the diocese, that was alike cred- 
itable to its present pastor. Rev. C. J. O'Connell, and to the large 
congregation that has succeeded to the use of the venerable edifice put 
up jusl two-thirds of a century ago. This was on the occasion of reopen- 
ing the church after it had been submitted to the hands of skilled arti- 
sans for extensive repairs. As originally built, St. Joseph's was an 
honestly constructed church. As firmly stand its walls to-day as when 
those who raised them laid down their trowels and looked their satis- 
faction over their finished work. But for more than a decade of years 
its more perishable parts had been a source of concern to the good Cath- 
olic people of the county of Nelson. That so grand and beautiful an 
edifice should be permitted to perish for lack of renewal of the perish- 
able material that had entered into its construction, was something that 
was not to be thought of by either pastor or people ; and it was deter- 
mined that the threatened evil should be averted. Setting themselves 
vigorously to work, in a comparatively short time the building was 
made to put on, so to speak, not only its pristine strength, but more 
than its pristine freshness and beauty. Accustomed to its sight, as 
the writer has been from his childhood, he was wholly astonished, a 
short while ago, at the transformation it presented before his eyes. 
Inside and out, its appearance is suggestive of the idea of newness. 
Its walls and ceiling are beautifully frescoed, and the empty niches in its 
facade, presumably left tenantless by the builders for lack of means to 
pay the costs of the ornamentation, are filled to-day with life-size statues 
of St. Joseph, the four Evangelists, and the representations known as the 
Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The central figure is that of St. 
Joseph, patron of the church. Next, on the right, appear in the order 
named, those of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. John and St. Luke, 


To the left of St. Joseph, the figures are those of the Sacred Heart of 
Mary, St. Mathew and St. Mark. 

Time was when St. Joseph's was undoubtedly the largest and grand- 
est church edifice in the entire western country ; and not then, nor 
now, in the opinion of very many persons supposed to be capable of 
judging of architectural merit, had or has it a rival in attractiveness. 

From the date of its erection, the line of pastors of the former 
cathedral of the diocese, includes the names of the ecclesiastics here 
given: Rt. Rev. John B. David, until about the year 1827 ; Rev. Fran- 
cis P. Kenrick, until his consecration as Bishop of Arras, and coadju- 
tor of Philadelphia, in 1830; Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds, from 1830 
to 1835; Rev. Martin J. Spalding, from 1835 to 1838; Rev. James 
M. Lancaster, from 1838 to 1840, Rev. Charles H. DeLuynes, from 
1840101841; Rev. Martin J. Spalding, from 1841 to 1845; Rev. 
Benedict J. Spalding, from 1845 to 1848. In September of the year 
last named, the Jesuit fathers of the Province of Missouri took charge of 
the church and congregation. The pastors under their rule, which 
ended in 1868, were: Revs. P. J. Verhaegan, F. X. Di Maria, Chas. 
Truyens, J. De Blieck, F. J. Boudreaux, John Schultz and Thomas 
O'Neil. Since the last given date the pastorate of the church has 
been in the hands of Rev. Peter Defraine, Rev. John F. Reed, and 
the present pastor. Rev. C. J. O'Connell. 

It is to be noticed, in connection with the pastorate of St. Joseph's, 
that the pastors of the church have at all times had the active assist- 
ance of clergymen employed in the adjoining college of the same 




From the moment of her public recognition as a power for good in 
the world, the Church of God became the chief source of intellectual 
enlightenment for the nations of the earth. Her great mission, to be 
sure, was and is to preach the gospel in the hearing of the sons of 
men, and to plant the cross in their sight and in their hearts. But 
everywhere, and at all times, she has proved herself the foe of ignor- 
ance. She has sought in the past, and she still seeks, to bring to the 
service of the Most High all the capabilities of man's intellectual being, 
together with all the affections of his heart. But never from the begin- 
ning, nor now, nor ever till the end, has she taught, or will or can 
she teach, the heresy of divorce of intellectual culture from that which 
has for its object the opening of the minds of men to God's designs in 
their regard. 

The establishment of a school for boys of a higher grade than any 
that had before been of possible acquisition to the people of Kentucky 
had long been the subject of earnest thought with Bishop Flaget. The 
school of his thought, however, should have ecclesiastics for its con- 
ductors; but of these he had none to spare for any work less important 
than that of the holy ministry. It was not until about the close of the 
year 1819 that circumstances favored the realization of his desires in 
respect to the foundation of a school at Bardstown that would in some 
degree reflect his idea of a proper collegiate institution. He had seen 
his cathedral of St. Joseph rise from its foundations a finished struc- 
ture. His new ecclesiastical seminary building, standing in the sha- 
dow of the church, was now completed, and to its occupancy he had 
brought the professors and students lately engaged in teaching and 
study at St. Thomas'. And what was even more important to the 
educational work he was contemplating, he was now able to command 
the services of a priest whose qualifications peculiarly fitted him for 
the post of president of a popular institution of learning. This priest 
was the late 


Together wnn the late Rev. William Byrne, the greater part of 
whose life was given to duties of a precisely similar character, Father 
Elder was raised to the priesthood in the cathedral of St. Joseph by 
Bishop David on the i8th of September, 181 9. He was a son of James 


Elder, one of the early emigrants from Maryland to the settlement on 
Hardin's creek, and the date of his birth is given, August ii, 1794. 
If there ever was a home in Kentucky wherein everything was made 
subject to duty, under the divine law, that home was the one in which 
the future priest of the family passed the years of his infancy and boy- 
hood. It was an orderly home, and a quiet one, and not the less so 
because it was a cheerful one. The sounds of prayer and praise ush- 
ered in its ordinary day, and its ordinary night gave rest to a household 
fresh from communion with its God. 

It is more than likely that his father was George Elder's only 
teacher up to his sixteenth year, when he was sent to St. Mary's col- 
lege, Emmittsburg, then under the direction of Dr. Dubois, with a 
view to his education for the holy ministry. He was afterwards 
transferred to the seminary of the Sulpician fathers, Baltimore, where 
he finished his ecclesiastical studies. Immediately after his ordina- 
tion, as stated, he was charged by his ordinary with the work of 
founding a college at Bardstown. No one, not previously aware of 
the character of labor that had been marked out for him, could have 
entered upon it with such an understanding of its requirements as did 
the young priest. He had evidently learned from his former instruc- 
tors of Maryland to measure the difficulties he would have to encoun- 
ter, and how he might best overcome them. He had striven to fit 
himself for his work by study and observation, and also by schooling 
his mind to a just appreciation of the absolute duties of his position. 
One's notions of individual character drawn from his youthful impres- 
sions are apt to be colored by either partiality or prejudice ; but where 
the voice is general, it is to be accepted as truthful and just. It was 
the public conviction at the time that Father Elder brought to the con- 
duct of his responsible office of president of St. Joseph's college, 
qualifications of the rarest excellence. Together with a natural dis- 
position in which amiability was a leading characteristic, he carried 
into his work a power for discernment that instinctively led him to 
rightful methods in dealing with those who had been committed to 
his care for their education. He was gentlemanly in both manners 
and speech ; and most careful in upholding his priestly character by 
uprightness of walk and conduct. He was deeply imbued with the 
religious sentiment, and fervently pious; but he made no show of 
superior sanctity in his intercourse with others. 

Father Elder was tall and sparely built; graceful in action and 
engaging in manner. His friends were of all classes of society, and 
of enemies he had none. Though occupying, during almost the 
entire term of his ministerial life, the difficult post of president of an 
institution in which were domiciled from one hundred to two hundred 
and fifty young men — a large proportion of whom were natives of 
Louisiana and Mississippi, and consequently, if there be any truth in 
the generally accepted saying, "a hot sun breeds a hot temper," may 
be supposed to have been difficult of control — it is doubtful if he 
ever had an enemy in the college. He had evidently studied human 

278 ST. Joseph's college. 

nature to some purpose. He won hearts by making it clear to the 
perception of all that he was himself possessed of the most loving of 
hearts. As a preacher, too, Mr. Elder more frequently addressed 
himself to the sensibilities of his hearers than to their reason. He 
seemed to be convinced of the fact that a cold heart is little fitted to 
perceive either the beauties or the sublime truths of the Catholic 
faith. His voice, whether in reading or speaking, was irresistibly 
■ pathetic. On the evenings of holy Thursday he was in the habit of 
preaching the passion sermon, and on these occasions few among his 
auditors were enabled to restrain their tears.* 

It is not to be understood that in its inception St. Joseph's was other 
than a day-school for boys. In point of fact, its first classes were 
made up of boys whose parents were living in the town, but few 
of whom had other ambition than to acquire for their children the 
elements of a sound English education. During the entire year after 
the school was opened, lessons were learned and recited in the base- 
ment story of the seminary building. It was not until about the close 
of the year 1820 that what is now the south wing of the college was 
put up and occupied by teachers and learners. As late, indeed, as 
1822, the so-called primary department of the college was conducted 
in the basement of the seminary, f 

After the completion of the south wing, the president was enabled 
to take and care for a number of boarding pupils — interns, as they 
were designated by their fellow pupils residing with their parents in 
the town. In 1823, the north wing was built, and soon afterwards 
the front building, connecting the two wings, altogether forming one of 
the largest and best appointed school structures then to be found in 
the entire western country. 

* Father Elder was one of the editors of the Catholic Advocate, established by 
the writer in Bardstown in 1836. The articles written by him were principally 
addressed to parents, and referred to the training and education of children. 
He had an idea that children were susceptible of moral guidance at a very 
early age, and he urged his views on this and other matters relative to par- 
ental obligations in a series of well-written and exceedingly interesting 
papers. He continued to write for the Advocate until he was seized with his 
last illness. I shall ever remember the gloom which the report of his danger- 
ous illness spread throughout the entire community. I was seated, on the 
evening' of his death, in the parlor of a friend, since deceased, con- 
versing with several members of his family, when suddenly the tolling of the 
cathedral bell hushed our voices into awe. Not a word was spoken until the 
iron clang again thrilled through our ears, when, with a choking sob, one of 
the ladies present exclaimed, "O God, he is dead! " Few were the homes, 
indeed, wherein was heard that tolling bell in which tears and sighs and 
prayers were not the fitting accompaniment. 

tl was myself of the number of juveniles belonging to this department, 
which was presided over at the time, and for years afterwards, by the late 
Thomas G. Rapier, a grandson of Capt, James Rapier, of whom mention is 
elsewhere made. My recollections of my first teacher are altogether pleasant. 
His capabilities were fully equal to the requirements of his position. Mr. 
Rapier afterwards removed to Louisiana, of which State, up to the time of his 
death, about the close of the late war, he was a much respected citizen. 


In 1825, as we are told by Dr. Spalding, the public patronage 
extended to the institution was greatly increased by the influx of 
pupils from the Southern States. In May, of the year named, an 
ecclesiastical friend of Bishop Flaget, previously employed m a col- 
lege in Louisiana, Rev. M. Martial, brought with hmi to St. Joseph's 
fifty young men, whose names were entered by him as pupils in the 
institution.* This was the beginning of the extended patronage 
enjoyed by the college from the States of Louisiana and Mississippi. 

In September, 1827, Father Elder was appointed to the pastorate 
of the church of St. Pius, in Scott county, and the presidency of the 
college was intrusted to the hands of Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds, 
under whom the institution suffered neither in repute nor in its 
condition of prosperity. In 1830, Dr. Reynolds was restored to pas- 
toral duty, and the position of president of the college was resumed 
by its founder; the remaining seven years of whose Ufe were unselfishly 
devoted to its interests. 

But a sad misfortune was in store for the institution; and that pro- 
voked another that was still more lamentable. On the 25th of Janu- 
ary, 1838, the main college building took fire and was burned to the 
ground. During the conflagration. Father Elder exerted himself to 
a degree that caused the illness of which he died eight months later. 
This last sad event is thus feelingly referred to by his friend and suc- 
cessor in office, Dr. M. J. Spalding : 

' ' His death was, in every respect, worthy of his exemplary and 
blameless life. Those who saw him during his last painful illness of 
two weeks' duration, can not easily forget the impression the spectacle 
made on their minds. We will give, in the language of an eye-wit- 
ness, some edifying details connected with his last sickness, and his 

" ' In the midst of the most painful agonies of his sickness, he lost 
nothing of his usual calmness of mind. To his last breath, he was 
patient, without murmuring; he was even cheerful, though enduring 
the most excruciating sufferings. He received the last sacraments of 
the Church with a fervor the most edifying, answering the usual 
prayers with hands clasped and eyes uplifted to heaven. After he 
had received the Holy Eucharist, he burst forth into a canticle of 
praise and thanksgiving to God, interspersed with appropriate pas- 
sages from the Psalms, which he repeated with so much feeling and 
unction, as to draw tears from those present. When it was suggested 
by the clergymen who attended him, that he would exhaust his 
strength, he immediately acquiesced, and became silent, seemingly 
absorbed in prayer. 

*'*He frequently asked those in attendance to read to him some 
of the Psalms ; and he himself pointed out such as were his special 

* The Louisiana college alluded to had been, for some reason, broken up ; 
and Father Martial had beeh empowered by the parents of the pupils to take 
them all to Bardstown. The priest named was an officer of St. Joseph's for 
several years after the event recorded in the text. 

28o ST. Joseph's college. 

favorites: as the fiftieth, beginning, " Have mercy on me, O Lord, 
according to Thy great mercy ; " and the eighty-eighth, " The mercies 
of the Lord I will sing for ever." 

" * He retained his faculties to the last, with the exception of an 
occasional incoherency when he awoke from slumber, or when his 
pains were most acute. But even in these wanderings of mind he 
often spoke of pious subjects. During his last agony, almost every 
word he uttered showed that his mind and heart were directed toward 
heaven. Such were the following aspirations which he repeated many 
times, especially the first one: "My God and my Savior! I love 
Thee with my whole heart, and with my whole mind, and with my 
whole strength, for ever and ever! Amen." " Come nearer to me, O 
my Savior ! Come nearer!" "I am crucified with Christ, crucified, 
crucified, to the world ! " ' 

" While the departing prayer was being recited, he remained silent 
and collected, with his hands joined before his breast. Almost his 
last words were passages from the fiftieth Psalm, and the aspirations 
given above. He often looked at, and reverently kissed the crucifix 
which had been placed on his breast to remind him, in that last and 
dreadful hour, of the death of Jesus Christ. During the last half 
hour of his life he did not speak, but still held his hands clasped 
before his breast, and expired in that attitude of prayer. 

"'Such scenes as this must make even the sternest infidel 
acknowledge the power of religion ! They console the christian, and 
strengthen his faith. In witnessing them all wiil exclaim : May my 
soul die the death of the just, and may my end be like to theirs.' " 

Never before was there seen in Bardstown so impressive a funeral 
demonstration as that which was witnessed when the body of the 
beloved priest was consigned to the earth. The procession of sorrow- 
ing friends was more than a half mile long. The remains were 
taken to the community burial ground at Nazareth and there solemnly 
interred. • 

Naturally, the burning of the college had a disastrous influence on 
the prosperity of the institution. The building destroyed rose from 
its ashes, to be sure ; but debt was incurred, and this weighed heavily 
on the diocese and its bishop. Excellent and careful men were given 
charge of the institution, but it was only with the most rigid economy 
that the aggregate of debt was diminished a little as year succeeded 
year. * 

Rev. Martin J. Spalding succeeded Father Elder in the presidency 
of St. Joseph's ; and from first to last, until the institution was transfer- 
red, in 1848, to the management of the Jesuit fathers of the province 
of Missouri, its affairs were presided over by the ecclesiastic named, 
and by Revs. James M. Lancaster and Edward McMahon. 

* It will astonish some of the well-paid state school teachers of the present 
day to learn that the professors in St. Joseph's college, during the years 
indicated, were in the receipt of salaries for their services of from seventy-five 
to a hundred and fifty dollars a year. 


Among the alumni of St. Joseph's, between the years 1823 and 
1848, were many young men afterwards distinguished in the learned 
professions and in poHtics and trade. Among these may be named : 
Hon. Lazarus W. Powell, governor of Kentucky ; Hon. James Speed, 
attorney-general under President Lincoln's administration; Col. Alex- 
ander Churchill and Hon. Samuel B. Churchill, of Louisville; Hons. 
Otho R. Singleton and William R. Miles, members of congress from 
Mississippi ; Governors Roman and Wickliffe, of Louisiana ; Rt. Rev. 
John McGill, bishop of Richmond ; Alexander Bullitt, editor of the New 
Orleans /'/Vaj'?///^; Rev. Burr H. McCown, or Anchorage, Kentucky 
Hon. Charles Kelly, of Springfield, Kentucky; Hon. Charles Winter- 
smith, Judge William Lancaster and William Wilson, Esq., of Eliza- 
bethtown, Kentucky; Judge Buckner, of Lexington, Kentucky; Drs. 
Wm. Donne, Thomas E. Wilson and John J. Speed and Messrs. Joshua 
F. Speed, Henry Tyler, Daniel Dwyer, WiUiam M. , Cuthbert and G. 
Washington Bullitt, of Louisville; Hons. John Rowan and Rowan 
Hardin and Dr. Harrison McCown, of Bardstown; Hons. William B. 
Anthony, of Owensboro, and George W. Dixon, of Henderson, Ken- 
tucky; Hon. Cassius M. Clay, of Bourbon county, Kentucky; and 
very many others, all professionally or otherwise distinguished in the 
localities that knew them as citizens, whose names the writer is not now 
able to recall.* 

* For the history of St. Joseph's under the conduct of the Jesuit fathers, 
the reader is referred to a subsequent chapter. 



ST. Mary's college, 

St. Mary's college is situated near St. Mary's Station, on the Knox- 
ville branch of the Louisville and Great Southern railroad, about six 
miles from the town of Lebanon, county seat of Marion county. The 
land upon which the college buildings stand was purchased of a Mr. 
— Ray, by the late Rev. Charles Nerinckx, immediately preceding the 
last visit made by that notable missionary to Europe in 1820. He 
named the place Mount Mary, and his intention was to found upon it 
a charitable institution to be conducted by a religious brotherhood, 
competent to give instructions to boys in letters, christian doctrine and 
certain of the useful trades.* 

While Father Nerinckx was absent in Europe, in 182 1, Bishop 
Flaget had himself supplied his place at the church of St. Charles and 
the adjacent stations. Now it was in his power to give to the Catho- 
lics of the district the services of a priest who was in many respects 
singularly qualified for the position temporarily vacated by their old 
pastor. Father William Byrne was as zealous in good works as he was 
energetic in action. He never took account of labor so long as its ani- 
mus was the accomplishment of results that might, even by possibility, 
affect favorably the prime and abiding interests of those among whom, 
for the time at least, his lot was cast. Early in 1821, he conceived the 
idea of establishing a school for boys on the Mount Mary farm. Near 
the church of St. Charles, the principal seat of his mission, the sisters 
of Loretto had even then a flourishing school for girls ; and he was 
anxious to provide for the boys of the congregation and the surround- 
ing districts similar advantages. He took but time to seek and obtain 
Bishop Flaget's assent to his plans before he was busily engaged in 

•On his return from Europe in 1822, Father Nerinckx was accompanied by 
the late Brother Charles Gilbert, a man of rare capabilities as an artisan, who 
had agreed to accept the superintendence of the mechanical department in the 
proposed institution. The arrangement favored by Father Nerinckx was not 
carried out ; and Brother Charles became a most useful attache of the neighbor- 
ing convent and school of Loretto, where he remained until the year 1844. He 
took a somewhat similar position in the year named, with the Jesuit fathers, 
then having charge of St. Mary's college ; and he accompanied them to New 
York two years later. About the year 1851, he returned to Kentucky, where, 
for the remaining years of his life, he gave his services, still of great value, to 
the sisters of Loretto, managing for them, especially at their boarding-school in 
the suburbs of Louisville, most of their out-door business. 


carrying them into effect. He was neither discouraged by his own nor 
his people's poverty. He.had faith in Providence to make up for the 
deficiencies of both. Happily his primary want was already supplied; 
the Mount Mary farm, bought by Father Nerinckx, was awaiting an 

Without awaiting the slow process of subscription-raising, and 
after-building, Father Byrne took advantage of a favorable circum- 
stance to begin his school at once. 

There happened to be on the premises an old stone distillery 
house of fair dimensions; and having put this in decent repair, and 
filled it up with the roughest of school furniture, he announced from 
the pulpit of St. Charles' church, that St. Mary's academy would be 
opened next day for the reception of pupils. The school was quickly 
filled to overflowing; and after a few years it became necessary to 
put up other buildings for the accommodation of the ever increasing 
number of applicants for school privileges, f 

Without money to build, the good father's only resource was his 
parishioners. Happily, they had learned to measure their pastor's 
capabilities and worth by what he had already done for their children. 
His contracts with them were based on the plan of interchange — com- 
modities for schooling. Many of them made advances to him of the 
products of 'their farms, and these were in part shipped off and sold 
for ready money, and in part retained, to be again exchanged for the 
skilled and unskilled labor needed in the construction of the buildings. 
When these were about ready for occupancy. Father Byrne posted 
himself off to Louisville to lay in a supply of groceries and certain 
house furnishings that were not to be had in the neighborhood. He 
came back to find but ashes and fire-defaced walls where he had left 
a stately edifice. Another in his place might have given way to such 
depression, as to render himself incapable of even attempting to 
repair the disaster which had befallen him. Not so this patient, 
christian priest. He appeared to accept the misfortune as a test of 
his fidelity. Without permitting a single day to intervene between his 
resolve and its execution, he went again to work, and a few month's 
later the building was to be seen resurrected from its ashes. A pros- 
perous career attended the school for a number of years. The debts 

*Upon his return from Europe in 1822, Father Nerinckx was much disap- 
pointed at learning that his plan of forming an industrial school on the Mount 
Mary farm had been changed by the action of Father Byrne. But as the latter 
had therein acted under the authority of his bishop, he submitted with becom- 
ing humility. Dr. Spalding is mistaken in saying, as he does on page 272 of 
his "Sketches of Kentucky," that Father Byrne purchased a farm and paid for 
it by subscriptions raised among those favorable to his undertaking. 

t Dr. Spalding tells us (page 273 of his Sketches), " that Father Byrne was at 
first unassisted by anyone in the management of his school. He was quick, 
however, in discerning the talents of his pupils, and it was not long before he 
was able to form a corps of teaching assistants from their ranks." The 
author of the "Sketches," who was at the time only fourteen years of age, 
was himself, possibly, the most noted of Father Byrne's boy professors, 

284 ST. Mary's college. 

of the establishment were paid off, and a new wing to the main 
school building had just been completed when another disaster, simi- 
lar to the first, involved the good father in unlooked-for trouble. In 
the darkness of the night, the building took fire and was burned to 
the ground. Burdened now with a debt of $4,000, his position was 
in no wise enviable; but no murmuring word escaped his lips, and 
when morning dawned he repaired to the altar, and there offered up 
the Holy Sacrifice in thanksgiving to God, for having spared the main 
building. He succeeded very soon afterwards in replacing the burnt 
wing by one that was much larger; and after a few years of pros- 
perous activity, not only was the institution free from debt, but it was 
regarded everywhere, and by all, as an honorable fixture among the 
educational institutions of the State. 

Twelve hundred youths — so Dr. Spalding tells us — were either 
wholly, or in part, educated at St. Mary's during the twelve years that 
Father Byrne remained at its head. From the beginning to the end 
of this term, the school was regarded with favor by CathoUc parents 
all over the State. The popular feeling in regard to it was due, in 
the first place, to the fact that discipline was preserved in the school. 
Moral and religious obligations were as faithfully impressed on the 
minds of the pupils, as was that knowledge which is merely intel- 
lectual. The boys were returned to their parents not only with capaci- 
ties improved, but with souls uncontaminated. Then the tuition 
cnarges were placed at figures barely sufficient in the aggregate to 
cover the necessary and very moderate expenses of the establishment. 
Father Byrne valued money only for the good he could do with it, and 
that good was always associated in his mind with the glory of God 
and the salvation of souls. It was for the reasons enumerated that 
St. Mary's academy was deservedly popular throughout the State. 

In the beginning of his career as an educator, and for several 
years afterwards, as Dr. Spalding observes. Father Byrne had little 
assistance from any one. ' ' He was president of the institution, sole 
disciplinarian, sole prefect and almost sole professor." His rest was 
often interrupted by sick calls, and his waking hours by other minis- 
terial duties. " Yet," says the same authority, "he found time for 
everything." In the latter part of the year 1831, he gave a most con- 
vincing proof of the utter unselfishness of his character by contract- 
ing with the fathers of the society of Jesus, two associates of which 
order had reached Kentucky in answer to an invitation sent to their 
provincial in France, by Bishop Flaget, to surrender to them the 
entire ownership and control of the St. Mary's academy property. 
He felt that more was being expected of the institution than it was 
capable of giving under his direction. He was not himself a learned 
man ; nor were his finances in a condition to enable him to employ a 
competent corps of professors. He had labored in the past, not for 
the lucre that perishes, nor yet for human glory, but with a view 
singly, so far as he was capable of conserving them, to the interests 
for time and eternity of those who had been entrusted to his guardian- 


ship and tuition. But another and a better standard of education was 
now needed and expected by parents ; and he thought righdy that he 
should take advantage of the presence of the Jesuit fathers to promote 
scholarship among the youth of the State. 

It was arranged that he should retain the presidency of the insti- 
tution for a year, after which, as his biographer of the "Sketches" 
avers, it was his expectation to establish at Nashville, Tennessee, or 
in the extreme western part of Kentucky, an institution similar to that 
of St. Mary's academy. 

Speaking one day to Bishop Flaget of this project of his, that pre- 
late raised the objection that he had no money with which to carry out 
his design. " Little will be needed, bishop," he answered, " I think 
I can manage the business with a horse that I can call my own, and 
ten dollars in money." It is doubtful if Father Byrne was provided 
with a more extravagant capital when he laid the foundation of the 
present St. Mary's college. Nothing ever came of these projects; 
they ended with his life in 1833. 

William Byrne was born in Wicklow county, Ireland, about the 
year 1780. His parents were simple laboring people, pious and of 
good repute. Upon the death of his father, his widowed mother and 
a large family of younger children were principally dependent upon the 
young man for maintenance. At a very early age he had conceived 
the idea of becoming a priest ; bui it was not until after his arrival in 
America, at the age of twenty -five years, that opportunity was afforded 
him to prosecute his studies to that end. Soon after reaching Balti- 
more, he applied for admission into Georgetown college, then and 
still conducted by the Jesuit fathers, as a candidate for holy orders. 
He was received on probation; but it was soon found that the inade- 
quacy of his scholastic attainments would prove a bar to his priesdy 
preferment in the society of Jesus. He next presented himself before 
Archbishop Carroll, by whose advice he applied for admission at St. 
Mary's college, Emmittsburg. Dr. Dubois, afterwards bishop of New 
York, received him kindly, and encouraged him to persevere in the 
design he had formed to study for the sacred ministry. Very soon he 
was appointed to an important office in the college, every duty of 
which he performed with exactitude and fidelity, and to the great 
satisfaction of his superiors. Mr. Byrne began his Latin studies when 
he was thirty years old. At an age so advanced comparatively, he 
must have found the road to learning filled with difficulties. He per- 
severed, however, and so successful were his efforts regarded by his 
friends that he was in time accorded a place among the students of 
theology in St. Mary's seminary, Baltimore.* 

*To no other similar institution is Catholicity in the United States so much 
indebted for priestly recruits as to the Sulpician seminary of St. Mary's, Balti- 
more. Bishop Flaget was himself a member of the order of St. Sulpice, and 
he was at one time a professor in the Baltimore institution. A number of our 
Kentucky priests, and notably Dr. Reynolds, late bishop of Charleston, pursued 
their studies at St, Mary's, Among the officers of the seminary during the brief 

286 ST. Mary's college. 

Owing to some difficulty, the nature of which his biographer has 
not chosen to communicate to the readers of his "Sketches," Mr. 
Byrne left the seminary a short while after having entered it. He was 
then in subdeacon's orders, and he was therefore bound to the service 
of the Church by irrevocable vows. It is quite certain that in leaving 
St. Mary's he had no idea of abandoning his chosen vocation. It was 
most likely in the spring of 1 8 13 that he journeyed to Pittsburgh, where 
he had an interview with Bishop Flaget, who was then returning from 
a visit he had paid to his metropolitan, the archbishop of Baltimore. 
Soon afterwards we find him a student in the diocesan seminary of St. 
Thomas, where, if the writer's chronology be not defective, he must 
have remained until the date of his ordination, September i8th, 18 19. 
That ceremonial took place in the then recently consecrated cathedral 
of St. Joseph, Bardstown. The ordaining prelate was Rt. Rev. John 
B. David, who, only a month before, had been himself raised to the 
episcopal dignity by the first bishop of the See. The late Rev. George 
A. M. Elder was also ordained at the same time, and by the same prelate. 
Father Byrne died suddenly of cholera at St. Mary's college, on 
the 5th day of June, 1833. This deadly plague had appeared in Ken- 
tucky the year before, but it was in the spring and summer of 1833 
that it ravaged that part of the State in which dwelt most of its Cath- 
olic population. The Jesuit fathers had possession of St. Mary's at 
the time ; but Father Byrne was still acting as president of the insti- 
tution. On Monday, the 3d of June of the year named, he was called 
to a negro woman who had been attacked with the disease, at the 
house of Mrs. Clement Hill, about five miles from the college. There 
was no faltering on the part of the good priest on account of the dan- 
ger, or supposed danger to which he would be exposed in bearing to 
the poor afflicted woman the consolations of his ministry. He admin- 
istered to her the last sacraments and returned to the college. He 
again visited the house on the 4th, and found his patient a corpse. 
Returning late at night, with the seeds of the disease in his own sys- 
tem, he retired at once to bed ; but he rose betimes in the morning of 
the 5th, and, though weak and suffering, he repaired to the altar and 
offered up for the last time the great sacrifice of the new law for the 
living and the dead. From that altar he was borne to his bed ; and 
eight hours later, he had entered into the rest after which he had been 
striving from the hour he had been capable of discerning the end of 
his creation. A day or two later. Father McGuire, S. J., and Mr. 
Hilary Clark, a brother of the late Rev. Edward Clark, who was 
studying at the time for the priesthood, died of the epidemic at St. 
Mary's college. 

A unique character was Father Byrne. He was an ascetic by 
nature. He rarely smiled, and he never laughed. Than he, no man 
ever more completely bridled his tongue against useless speeches. 

stay of Mr. Byrne in the institution, were Drs. John Tessier, Lewis Deluol and 
Edward Damphoux, all men of great learning and piety. 


But once, that was ever heard of him, during his entire career at St. 
Mary's, was he known to use language upon which it was possible to 
place a jocular construction. When the destruction by fire of one 
wing of his college building involved him in heavy pecuniary losses, 
he gave way to no repinings ; but he complained loudly when he found 
that the same conflagration had deprived him of his hat. He was a 
rigid disciplinarian, austere in manner and speech, and it must be 
acknowledged, harsh at times, in reproving the faults of his pupils.* 

But he was as faithful to understood duty as any man that ever 
lived. There was not a blot of selfishness in his nature. He was 
strong in faith, earnest in piety, and in giving himself to the service of 
God m the sacred ministry, the dedication included all the faculties of 
his mind and all the endurance of his body. The archives of 8t. 
Mary's college, while that institution was under the control of the 
Jesuit fathers, which are still preserved in one of the establishments of 
the society in New York, contain in substance the annexed reference 
to Father Byrne: "During the two years that Father Byrne remained 
at St. Mary's after his proffer of the house and farm to the society, his 
whole course of action was but an exhibition of christian disinterested- 
ness towards those who, after a brief while, were to succeed him in the 
ownership and control of the institution. While arranging to pass over 
the farm and college to us, he continued to spend all the surplus money 
he received in improving the college buildings, apparatus and acces- 
sories. He did everything as though he were himself to enjoy the 
fruits of his labor. He did this, too, in the face of the fact, that dis- 
possessing himself of his property and means, he was literally casting 
himself upon the care of Providence in his old age, which was fast 
approaching, without any human provision for his maintenance. No 
better proof than is here recorded, could be given of the truly apostolic 
character of this good priest. He led a most austere life, and he was 
as remarkable for his devotedness to duty, as for his perseverance and 
energy, "t 

* A circumstance that came within my own Observation will indicate what 
is here meant by the term harsh, as applied to Father Byrne. His biographer 
does not mention the fact, but from having been a pupil in the institution I 
happen to know that in 1825 or 1826, the president of St. Mary's was for sev- 
eral weeks, if not for several months, attached to St. Joseph's college. Bards- 
town. On the occasion to which I refer he was acting in the capacity of prefect 
of studies. Near the close of the study hour, one of the lads sitting near me, 
ordinarily a good and studious boy, was guilty of some slight breach of the 
rules. The watchful eyes of the new prefect detected the act — I forget whether 
it was a whispered remark addressed to the boy to his right, or a grimace 
directed to the one on his left — and in answer to the official's beckoning finger, 
the detected culprit, little fearing anything beyond a whispered reprimand, 
marched slowly up to the over-looking rostrum. To the surprise of the lad's 
companions, and to his own astonishment, Father Byrne seized him by the arm 
and boxed his ears soundly. I have never since doubted that on that occasion 
Father Byrne acted harshly as well as rashly. 

tThe notice of Father Byrne in Dr. Spalding's "Sketches of Kentucky. " 
is the substance of an eulogy pronounced by the author in the chapel of St. 




Though the greater number of the early Catholic colonists of 
Kentucky first touched the soil of the State at the Falls of the Ohio, 
after leaving the rude river conveyances upon which they found pas- 
sage from Pittsburgh, few, if any of them, remained in the town for a 
length of time exceeding a week. It is doubtful if there was a single 
resident of the town who pretended to be a Catholic earlier than the 
year 1790, The first Catholic, or rather nominal Catholic, known to 
have lived in Louisville as early as the beginning of the present 
century, was Patrick Joyes, the father of Thomas and Judge John 
Joyes, afterwards leading citizens of the place.* 

Among the earlier Irish and American born Catholic residents of 
Louisville are to be named, Aaron Brown, William Kearney, Zacha- 
riah Edelin, John Carroll, Kieron Campion, Peter Kearney Thomas 
Clancy, John Enos, Patrick Rogers, Edward O'Brien, Patrick Maxcy, 

Lawrence Byrne, Thomas K. Byrne, Andrew Byrne, Wybrant, 

James Kennedy, Pearce, Patrick and John Shannon, Daniel Dwyer, 
J. McGilly Cuddy, John Lyons, Thomas Haynes, Peter Rooney, 
John P. Declary, Martin Crowe, James Rudd, Frank McKay, 
James Carroll, Bernard McGhee, John O'Beirne, Daniel Smith and 

Mary's college on the 5th of June, 1843, the anniversary of Father Byrne's 
death. The occasion was the erection of a monument by the fathers over the 
grave of their benefactor. This monument is a marble prism with base about 
three feet square, rising about six feet above the pedestal. It was put up with 
becoming solemnity; the entire college, professors and students, marching in 
procession to the little grave-yard on the crown of the hill, the third of a mile 
west of the college, where rest the remains of the founder of St. Mary's, and of 
others who died about the same time. A clerical friend who was present writes 
me: "Some charming things were said on that occasion by Fathers Larkin, 
DeLuynes and Murphy. " I was honored in the acquaintance and friendship 
of these fathers and I have reason to doubt if the society was ever represented 
in this country by three more learned or eloquent men. 

* He is not supposed to have practiced his religion at all, since his children 
named, both of whom I remember fifty years ago, were never regarded as 
members of the Church. Judge John Joyes, who died about twelve years 
ago, became a Catholic on his death-bed. Patrick Joyes, Esq., a leading 
lawyer and capitalist, of Louisville, is a grandson of the Irish emigrant first 
named in the text. 


Edward Hughes. All of these are supposed to have been residents 
of Louisville, some as early as the year 1805, and all as early as 

In December, 1792, three French priests met in Louisville, each 
on his way to a different mission. These were, Fathers Lavadoux, 
Richard and Flaget. Father Lavadoux's destination was Kaskaskias, 
that of Father Richard, Prairie du Rocher, and that of Father Flaget, 
Vincennes. It is more than likely that mass was celebrated by one 
or the other of them at some point in the town, and if so, it is reason- 
ably certam that this was the first time that knees were bent in adora- 
tion of the Blessed Sacrament at the Falls of the Ohio. Old people 
assert that the first mass offered up in Louisville by a missionary priest 
accredited to the CathoHc people of the State was celebrated by Father 
Badin, in the house of Aaron Brown, some time during the year 

From the year 1806 to the year 181 1, Father Badin's visits to 
Louisville, or rather to those parts of the city as now organized, which 
were then independent suburbs, and bore the names of Shippingport 
and Portland, were as frequent, most likely, as once a month. 
During the first year named a large colony of Frenchmen, with their 
families, reached Louisville, and bought lands lying from one and n 
half to two miles south of the city on the southern bank of the river. 
The idea of their leaders, John A. and Louis Tarascon, was to use 
the power of the falls for milling purposes. All of these should h^ive 
been Catholics, and a few of them, possibly, were such. They were 
compatriots of Father Badin, at any rate ; and it was but natural that 
he should have taken interest in their religious welfare. Over some 
of them he did acquire influence enough to induce them to go to con- 
fession at long intervals, and though the great body of them, especially 
the heads of families, were even worse than neglectful of the obliga- 
tions of Catholic faith, he had but to suggest to them an expenditure 
for any worthy object in order to secure their liberal asssistance.f 

From 1806 to 181 1, when the first church of St. Louis, corner of 
Main and Tenth streets, was erected, the nominal members of the con- 

'■ This Mr. Brown was an earnest and edifying Catholic, and a special 
favorite of both Father Badin and Bishop Flaget. Mr. Thomas Carroll, of 
Louisville, whose acquaintance I have valued for more than a half century, 
who married a daughter of Mr. Brown, tells me of a conversation once held 
between his father-in-law and the proto-priest of the United States: 

"You have been a good friend to the Church, Mr, Brown," said Father 

*' I have done little enough for God, Father Badin," replied his friend. 

"Little enough, to be sure," returned the priest, "but something to be 
thankful for, and to be rewarded, too, in God's good time. He never forgets 
his friends. It is not so with men. Eaten bread is soon forgotten." 

t These are the people of whom Father Nerinckx wrote in 1807: "The 
French are the worst portion of the people, and few catechisms in that lan- 
guage are bought, few confessions heard, but plenty of curses uttered. There 
is, however, an old French dragoon of ninety years who goes monthly to his 
duty." [Life of C. Nerinckx, p 126.] 



gregation numbered three French famiUes to one of any other nation- 
ality. With very few exceptions, however, the homes of the former 
were outside of the town limits. John A. and Louis Tarascon, the 
leaders and capitalists of the French colony, built for themselves a resi- 
dence on the bank of the river, just below the falls; and on the rocky 
bed of the stream itself, where there was little water, and, in dry sea- 
sons, none at all, they put up a large and substantial flouring mill. ^ In 
the vicinity of their residence, and lower down on the bank of the 
river at the point, now occupied by the suburb of Portland, settled the 
greater number of their fellow-colonists; and in time, with accessions 
to their numbers of emigrants from France, grew up two villages, a half 
mile distant from each other, to which were respectively given the 
names of Shippingport and Portland.* 

In the year 1810, Father Badin, who had long contemplated a 
movement in this direction, appealed to his people of all nationalities, 
for such assistance as would enable him to put up a church in Louis- 
ville. His dependence was chiefly upon his French compatriots, bu' 
he saw very plainly that he could not depend upon these to fill the 
church after it should be built. Hence it was that he insisted upon a 
site for the church inside of the town limits of Louisville. The site 
finally fixed on was the lot on the corner of Main and Tenth streets, 
which Father Badin would seem to have previously secured as a place 
of burial for Catholics, and which, as the tradition runs, was a gift from 
John A. Tarascon. When the contract was made for the building of 
the church. May ist, 181 1, the sum of two thousand and one hujadred 
dollars had been subscribed toward its erection, f 

*In the spring of 1832, in the company of two lady friends of the family, I 
visited the surviving brother, Louis Tarascon, vi^ho was living at the time with 
an unmarried daughter or niece in the then somewhat dilapidated one-story 
brick cottage put up by the brothers in 1806. The mill erected by them at the 
same time was then idle. So strongly were its foundations laid, however, that 
to the present day it is regarded as substantial enough to answer all the require- 
ments of its present owners, the Louisville Cement Company, who are prose- 
cuting in it their heavy operations in the grinding of cement. Only partially 
have I been successful in my endeavor to secure the names borne by the French 
colonists of 1806. Prominent among them, however, were the brothers John A. 

and Louis Tarascon, James and Nicholas Berthoud, Dr. James Offand, 

Huguenn, Daniel and Samuel Raymond, John and Fortunatus Gilly, Marius 
Offand, John A, Honore, M. DeGallon, M. Cerode, M. DuPont and Eugene 

tl have in my possession the "plans and specifications, " submitted by the 
trustees of the church, the first for any form of worship built in Louisville, and 
the contract signed by the builders. Both of these documents are in the hand- 
writing of Warden Pope, then and for long years afterward, the county clerk 
of Jefferson. The names of the trustees as given are " Warden Pope, Stephen 
T. Badin, J. Gwathney and J. A. Tarascon. " Those of the builders are Wil- 
liam Kearney and Zachariah Edelin. It will surprise the reader to learn that 
Mr. Pope and Mr. Gwathney, both of whom I remember well, were non-Cath- 
olics. Mr. Pope, certainly, however, and possibly Mr. Gwathney, also, was 
Father Badin's personal friend, and it was from him, as often as from others, he 
accepted hospitality when in Louisville. Of the first named of the builders, 

From a crayon drawing, executed in 1819, by John James Audubon. 


The church of St. Louis was opened for service on Christmas day, 
or thereabouts, 1811. It was not finished, however, for years after- 
wards. In February, 181 7, Bishop Flaget issued a printed circular 
addressed " To the Inhabitants of Louisville," in which he informs 
them that he had appointed in place of Father Badin, who had resigned 
the pastorship, " Rev. G. I. Chabrat to take charge of the congrega- 
tion." He goes on to say. " Knowing his good will and zeal, I hope 
he will use his utmost endeavors to comply with his duty in such a 
manner as to deserve the approbation of the Catholics of Louisville 
and my own." "Considering," says he, "the pitiable and ruinous 
state your church is in, I have particularly enjoined him to set forth a 
new subscription for the finishing it; and I flatter myself that you will 
redouble your exertions (to that end), and by showing your generosity 
encourage me to provide you with the regular attendance of a good 
pastor. The Lord loves cheerful givers, and as He is the sovereign 
dispenser of all blessings. He never suffers himself to be overcome in 
acts of generosity." Since the church was soon afterwards finished, 
it is to be supposed that the bishop's appeal was heeded by Catholic 
public sentiment, and the costs promptly met by liberal donations. 

It is not believed that a regular pastor for the congregation of St. 
Louis was provided before the year 1822, when occurred a fever epi- 
demic that carried off hundreds of the population. As has always 
been the case, in this country and elsewhere, when visitations of this 
kind have decimated populations and caused people to flee their 
homes in order to escape sickness and death, there was no faltering 
on the part of the clergy. Father Philip Horstman, a young priest 
of the diocese, then but a few years ordained, had been charged by 
his bishop with the care of the churches of St. Michael, Fairfield, St. 
John, Bullitt county, and St. Louis, Louisville. On the appearance 
of the disease among his parishioners of Louisville, he was called 
immediately to the city, and there, night and day, he literally gave 
himself up to the needs of the occasion; and, with no thought of self, 
labored to make his ministry effective for the good of souls. This he 
did until, himself prostrated by the disease, he rose upon its sombre 
wings as high as heaven. * 

William Kearney, I have no Recollection. If I mistake not, he was the father 
the late John Kearney, Esq., at one time a leading lawyer of Louisville, and a 
pious Catholic, and the father-in-law, also, of the late Hon. James Speed, for- 
merly mayor of the city. Zachariah Edelin, whom I knew well in his later 
years, was a most exemplary Catholic. I am inclined to the belief that he was 
the only emigrant from Maryland among the early Catholic residents of Louis- 
ville. He lived for a half century on the corner of Jefferson and Brook streets, 
where he died about the year 1852. 

* Father Horstman was known in all the congregations served by him as 
Father Austin. Mr. Michael Rogers, an old and much respected citizen of 
Louisville, a son of Patrick Rogers, who came to the city early in the present 
century, tells me of an occasion when he was sent to Fairfield by his father to 
summon Father Austin to the bedside of one of his dying parishioners. The 
epidemic fever of 1822 was supposed at the time to be the yellow fever of the 



In 1823 Rev. Robert A. Abell was removed from his former mis- 
sion in Breckinridge county and other districts in Southwestern Ken- 
tucky, and given charge of the church and congregation of St. Louis, 
Louisville. Here there was presented to this talented young priest a 
field of labor that was altogether different from those that had hitherto 
wakened his zeal and given occupation to his hands. In the country, 
he had met with poverty, indeed, but it was not of that grinding 
character which is so frequently a phase of its presence where men 
congregate together in large numbers. On the other hand, his associa- 
tion had been with plain country people, wholly unsophisticated, good 
livers, it may be, but possessing nothing for ostentation; and now he 
found himself at times an honored guest in the houses of the rich and 
the fashionable, and sometimes in those of the intellectual and ambi- 
tious. He naturally found many new phases of life to study, did this 
student of nature, and the lessons he learned were not unfavorable to 
his ministerial efficiency. The little church was better filled now than 
formerly, and it was noticed that there were now many more Protest- 
ants and non-Catholics among the auditors when time for preaching 

Father Abell's parishioners at 'this time, were not alone the 
Catholic residents of Louisville proper, and its neighboring suburbs of 
Shippingport and Portland. He was amenable to calls at any time to 
any part of the surrounding country, as far south as St. John's church 
in Bullitt county, and to visitations of the sick in both Jeffersonville 
and New Albany, on the northern bank of the Ohio. Then his bishop 
was constantly finding for him extraneous work hundreds of miles 
away from the seat of his mission, and at times beyond the borders of 
Kentucky. On one such occasion, when he was called to a point in 
Southern Kentucky that lay close to the border line of Tennessee, an 
incident took place that will bear relating. It is to be borne in mind 
that at the time referred to, popular ignorance in respect to Catholicity 
and Catholics was much more common than now. There were then 
numbers of people to be found, honest and well-meaning men and 
women, too, who would no more willingly have admitted a Catholic to 
social companionship with them, than they would have granted a like 
boon to an untamed savage. With the presence of Catholics in con- 
siderable numbers in different parts of the State, this popular senti- 
ment of mixed hostility and fear gradually disappeared from the minds 
of non-Catholics residing in these particular neighborhoods, but u still 
retained its hold upon those of others who were living in wholly Pro- 
testant districts. Into such a neighborhood Father Abell happened to 
be thrown on the occasion to which reference has been made. The 
journey was a long one, and in order to prosecute it as directly as pos- 
sible, he was obliged, for a part of the way, to pass through a district 
of country with which he was wholly unfamiliar. About the middle 

tropics. Its fatality was so great that fully one-fifth of the population was 
carried off by its ravages. 


of the afternoon, on his second day out from home, being at the time 
much fatigued, he stopped at a comfortable looking farm house on the 
roadside, and applied for accommodations for the night. He was told 
by a negro woman who appeared at his summons, that her master and 
mistress had "gone to camp-meeting," but that she was expecting 
them soon, and she had no doubt they would "keep him over- 
night." She had scarcely ceased speaking, when the parties she had 
referred to were seen approaching the house. They soon reached the 
stile, and Father Abell repeated his request, this time to the proper 
party, by whom he was welcomed with the ordinary show of hos- 
pitality, and bidden to dismount and have his horse cared for. 

"You are just in time for a square meal, stranger," he added; 
"we have ourselves eaten nothing since breakfast, and we are going 
to have our dinner and supper all in one." Upon reaching the house, 
water and a towel were placed before the priest for his ablutions, and 
for a httle while he was left to himself. Dinner was soon served, 
however, and it proved to be both excellent and plentiful. The meal 
over, Father Abell was asked to take a seat on the porch while his host 
was attending to some business on the farm. The opportunity was a 
favorable one for finishing his office, begun in the saddle, and the 
priest did not permit it to pass unimproved. It had been threatening 
rain all the afternoon, and Father Abell had but finished his office and 
returned his book to his pocket when a storm set in that gave promise 
of long continuance. While still engaged upon his office, he had 
noticed that the children of the household, of whom there appeared to 
be fully a dozen, pardy white and partly black, were peeping furtively 
at him from the doorway, and by the time the rain had set in they had 
invaded the porch and were noisily engaged in play at its further end. 
Presently the farmer himself entered upon the scene, drew up a chair 
to the priest's side, and began to ply him with questions: 

" A minister of the Gospel, I reckon?" 

"Yes, sir," replied Father Abell. 



" Baptist, maybe ?" 


' ' You aint a Methodist circuit rider ? " 


" Nor a 'Piscopal minister ? " 


" Nor a Congregational, nor New Light?" 


' ' Then what sort of minister are you ? " demanded the astonished 
man, who had evidently reached the extremity of his knowledge of 
Protestant denominational nomenclature. 

" I am a Roman Cathohc priest," answered Father Abell. 

Had a bombshell exploded beneath his feet the man could not have 
betrayed more unqualified terror. He jumped from his chair and 


sprang toward the parti-colored group at the end of the porch as if his 
first thought was for the protection of these from the fangs of some 
ravenous animal that had suddenly found lodgement in their midst. 

" Children," cried he, " go in to your motlier ! And you," he con- 
tinued, addressing their black companions, "cut away to your cabins!" 
He then began to shout for "Joe," who turned out to be a colored youth 
of twenty, having charge of the stables. In a moment more this per- 
sonage was to be seen leaping toward the porch through the driving 
rain; and upon his approach, his master said to him in a decisive tone 
of voice : "Joe, go to the stable and get this man's horse. He can't 
stay here to-night." 

" Yes, massa," replied the boy, turning to depart. 

"Stop, Joe ! " thundered Father Abell, as he raised himself to his 
fall height and contemptuously regarded the fear-stricken farmer; 
" your master does not mean to turn me out into the rain ! He would 
treat a dog with more consideration than that. Besides, I know when 
I am well off, and my determination is fixed not to stir a foot beyond 
my present quarters to-night." Turning then to the farmer, he con- 
tinued, "Look you, sir! You pretend to be a christian, and yet, in 
defiance of christian precept and of christian usage from the day the 
Redeemer walked the earth to the present moment, you would drive a 
fellow human creature from your door and out into a storm like this ! 
The priest and the levite spoken of in the gospel only ' passed on the 
other side;' they did no personal injury to the victim of man's 
malevolence and cupidity. Had they done as you propose to do, they 
would have finished the work begun by the robbers and saved the 
good Samaritan the costs expended by him for the unfortunate 
traveler's treatment and maintenance at the inn. You know nothing 
about Catholics or their religion. You imagine both to be just what 
they are not. Catholics could do you no injury if they would ; neither 
would they if they could. Now, sir," he continued, " I am going to 
be perfectly frank with you. I shall hold you strictly to your pledged 
word to furnish me with lodgings for the night; and my advice to you is 
this : Bid this colored fellow go about his business, and show me to 
my room." The priest's suggestion was followed out by the farmer, 
but ungraciously enough, and Father Abell retired to a comfortable 
chamber and bed. He was up betimes in the morning; but early as he 
had arisen, the farmer was up before him, and the first objects that 
met his eyes upon reaching the spot where the colloquy of the even- 
ing before had taken place, were his own beast, tethered to the hitch- 
ing-post beside the stile, and the form of his disobliging host standing 
beside him. Advancing toward the spot. Father Abell bade the man 
good morning, and pulling out his purse, demanded the amount of 
his bill. 

" I want none of your money," answered the man, gruffly. 

" But I insist on paying you," returned the priest. "You need 
not fear contamination from handling the coins," he continued; 
"they have not been long enough in my possession for that." 



The man still declining, the priest laid upon the ^tile what he sup- 
posed was an ample sum to cover the costs of his entertainment, and 
then, unhitching his horse, he leaped into the saddle. Before facing 
the road, however, he ventured a parting shot at his entertainer: 

"I say, sir ! " he cried : "I think you will find your children all 
right this morning; but in case you should find on anyone of them the 
mark of the beast, I want you to understand distinctly that its impress 
is due to another than myself. Farewell, sir ! " 

Singularly enough, so runs the story, this very man and Father 
Abell became afterwards fast friends. It is even said that on one 
occasion the farmer threatened to shoot the priest should he ever pre- 
sume to accept of hospitality in his neighborhood from another than 

The jubilee proclaimed by Pope Leo the Twelfth for the second 
quarter of the nineteenth century took place in Louisville in the fall 
of the year 1826, and the result, y?/?v commufiions, was considered at 
the time as extraordinary.* The preachers of the jubilee were Rev. 
Francis P. Kenrick and Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds. They were 
accompanied by Bishop Flaget, who, at the close of the exercises, 
administered the sacrament of confirmation to twenty persons. 

Some time in the winter that followed the preaching of the jubilee 
in Kentucky, t Bishop Flaget had arranged with Dr. Joseph Rosati, 
then but recently consecrated bishop of St. Louis, to make with him 
a joint visitation of the churches of the State of Illinois. This was 
done, most likely, with a view to the transfer of these churches to 
the ecclesiastical supervision of their newly consecrated prelate. A 
close carriage was provided for the pair, and they were accompanied 
in their visitation by Father Robert A. Abell, in the capacity, as he 
used to relate, of "postillion and man of all work." While the 
bishops were comfortably ensconced inside the vehicle, his place was 
on the box, where he was a conspicuous mark for the fury of the 
elements. Not only was he required to do his full share of missionary 
work from the beginning of the visitation to its end, but he was 
expected to preach at every stopping point. On one particular occa- 
sion he came very near rebelling against this latter arrangement. 
The party had been on the road from early morning, hoping to reach 

*Let any Catholic of Louisville of to-day compare this result with the 
ordinary Sunday morning communions in his own parish church, and he can 
make his own estimate of the proportionate increase of the Catholic popula- 
tion of the city in the intervening fifty-eight years. Reckoning the present 
population of the city at 150,000 souls, it is the belief of many well-informed 
persons that all of one-half of them have been the recipients of Catholic fcap- 
tism. Here, as elsewhere, the regular attendance at the Sunday services in 
the churches, Protestant and Catholic, exhibits a most striking comparison. 
Two-thirds of the Sunday church-goers in Louisville are undoubtedly Catholics. 

1 1 am in some doubt as to the accuracy of this date. A memorandum 
made by me several years ago fixes the date of the incident to be related in 
the text a year earlier. The discrepancy will not affect the narrative, however, 
which came to me from the lips of Father Abell himself. 


Kaskaskias, where an appointment had been made fof service in the 
evening, in time for previous rest and refection. They had not pro- 
ceeded far, however, before a driving snow storm set in, rendering 
their after-progress slow and difficult. The rest of the story is pre- 
sented in Father Abell's own words : 

' ' It was a biting, blistering, driving storm, the like of which is 
seldom witnessed in Kentucky. The wind was direct from the north, 
and, charging over the level prairie, it cut like a knife. Under its 
fierce action the snow was powdered into minute crystals whose sharp 
contact with the exposed parts of my person was peculiarly discom- 
forting. In a broken and wooded country, such as I had been accus- 
tomed to in my own State, progression would have been impossible. 
Here there were no hollows to be filled by the drifting snow, and no 
heights to be laid bare. As it was, we got along slowly and painfully 
enough, and I could not help contrasting in my own mind the com- 
parative comfort of the dignitaries inside the carriage and my own 
misery. I might have complained aloud but for my conviction that 
either of the bishops would have gladly exchanged places with me 
had they not both felt themselves incapable of guiding the horses. 

" It WrtS dusk when we reached the residence of the parish priest 
at Kaskaskias, and we had but time to snatch a hasty meal before we 
were hurried off to the church. While on our way thither, I ventured 
to appeal to the bishops, for this once, to release me from the obliga- 
tion of preaching. 'Your Lordships,' said I, 'I am altogether out of 
sorts. The cold has invaded my mind, as well as my bones, and 1 
do not^ believe I could to-night muster an idea fit to be thrown to a 
dog.' They would not heed me, and though I made no complaint in 
words, my vexation was made sufficiently apparent. ' We can not 
excuse you from preaching, Father Abell,' said Dr. Rosati, 'but we 
will wilhngly excuse you from other than a brief discourse. 1 doubt if 
another Fenelon could keep me awake beyond a half-hour to-night.' 

" Reaching the church, the bishops and the resident pastor robed 
themselves and proceeded at once to the sanctuary, leaving me shivering 
over a newly lighted fire in the sacristy. I felt at the time, if it were 
only to be had, that a glass of wine would do much to relieve the 
dead feeling that pervaded me, body and mind ; and seeking diligently, 
I was fortunate enough to discover a bottle of vin ordinaire, two-thirds 
full, snugly resting on a shelf in the sacristy cupboard. It was well 
for me that there were no temperance societies, so-called, in those days. 
Had there been, and had my name appeared on any one of their rolls 
of membership, it is beyond question, in the face of circumstances so 
overpowering, that I would have incontinently backsUded and proven 
myself an unfitting subject for reform. A couple of glasses infused 
warmth, and a third, exhilaration. I was a new man ; and as I 
mounted the pulpit-stairs a few minutes later, I felt that I was equal 
to the effort I had suddenly determined to make. My sermon should 
be of the longest, and Dr. Rosati should be made to acknowledge 


that he had not slept, nor been inclined to sleep, during its delivery. 
'*I am not always certain of my capabilities while endeavoring to 
elucidate a particular topic, but on this occasion my self-confidence was 
assured. I had preached on the same subject many times before, but 
I had not felt on any one of those occasions a tithe of the impulse 
that seemed now to pervade and expand my whole intellectual being. 
A new and strange train of thought had taken possession of me, and 
it appeared as if my tongue had suddenly learned the trick of culling 
from the vocabulary of expression the precise terms that were best 
suited to convey to others the evolutions that were going on in my own 
mind. I went on and on, alike forgetful of my surroundings and the 
passage of time, until my voice began to fail; and it was then only that 
I ceased to speak. 

"The service having been hastily concluded by the bishops, we all 
repaired to the sacristy. I was beginning to feel a little nervous, and 
the looks of Dr. Rosati were not particularly reassuring. He said not 
a word, however, until he had disrobed himself and reassumed his ordi- 
nary apparel. Then, diving into his pocket after his watch, he 
approached me and held its face immediately under my eyes. I began 
to stammer out an apology, when, throwing his arms about me, he 
exclaimed: 'No apologies, Father Abell! You have to-night well nigh 
wrought a miracle! You have held me from the alpha to the omega of 
your two hours' discourse chain-bound to interest, which, as you should 
know, is death to somnolency. Ah, Father Abell, yours is a wonderful 
gift! You spoke as if you were inspired!' When I told him of the 
source of my inspiration, his fat sides fairly shook with unrestrained 
laughter. " 

From and after the year 1826 the flow of Catholic emigration to 
Kentucky was perceptibly on the increase, and almost its entire tide 
turned to Louisville. Not as formerly were the emigrants American 
born, and few of them were from France. Little by little, and increas- 
ing each year with greater force until 1855, ^^^ stream of emigra- 
tion that set toward the State was from Ireland and Germany, much the 
greater part of its volume being from the former country. The little 
church of St. Louis was becoming uncomfortably crowded at both first 
and second mass ; and Father Abell began to perceive that he would 
soon be compelled to provide in some way a more commodious church 
for his congregation. This idea of his, however, was temporarily 
displaced by a journey he made to Europe in the summer of 1826. 
Whether this journey was prompted by his desire to see something of 
the world beyond his own country, or was suggested and planned by 
Bishop Flaget, as was supposed at the time and since by a number of 
the best informed of the clergy of the diocese, in order to give his 
young cleric opportunities to learn through personal intercourse with 
certain French rhetoricians to whom it was his purpose to commend him, 
wherein there was room for improvement in his style of oratory, 
has been with the writer a question of serious doubt. 


It is a well known fact that the first bishop of Kentucky was not 
wholly satisfied with his subordinate's ofi"-hand manner, whether in 
the pulpit or out of it, and it may well be that, having such deep 
convictions respecting his mental superiority, he should have consid- 
ered it an advantage gained if he could induce him to submit to a 
toning-down process with French polish. * 

He is supposed to have reached Paris as early as June, 1826, and 
to have remained, for the better part of a year, a guest of one or 
another of his bishop's ecclesiastical and personal friends. In manner, 
Father Abell was superior to art, and though it is not unlikely that he 
learned much during his sojourn in Paris that he found afterwards of 
value to him as a priest, it is questionable if he was a whit improved 
in those particulars wherein he had been accounted most faulty. He 
could neither learn or comprehend the nicer conventionalities of soci- 
ety. Long afterwards he was wont to say of himself, ' * I am but a 
child of nature, and I owe little to education for the development of 
my mental powers. If any spark of eloquence has hitherto fired my 
tongue, it was caught up from the flints of my own native hills." It is 
more than questionable if the precise and pedantic modes of pulpit 
oratory so much affected by men of learning and piety fifty and odd 
years ago were not absolutely distasteful to him. 

The writer has often heard him relate incidents of his residence of 
nine months in Paris, but his memory retains to the present day but the 
two to which he here gives place. 

It was a bright and beautiful day in early autumn when Father 
Abell, in company with an ecclesiastical friend, set out for a walk of 
three miles beyond the city gates to keep an engagement he had made 
to visit the residence of a then well known and wealthy member of the 
city government. In due time the pair entered the wide portals of 
their host's palatial mansion, where they were met and welcomed, not 
by the head of the family, who had been unexpectedly called away, 
but by his wife and a grown-up daughter. The story of this visit 
will be better appreciated as afterwards related by the priest himself: 

"I never before fully understood what was meant in ultra fashion- 
able society, by the terms 'style' and 'etiquette.' There was no 
intimation of frigidness, much less of contempt, toward their visitors, 
evidenced in the manners of the ladies, and I am quite sure it was 
their earnest desire to treat us with marked consideration. I felt, as by 
intuition, that it would be necessary for me to conform myself, as much 
as was possible to my stubborn nature, to that which, I had wit enough 
to recognize, was purely conventional. In the course of the morning, 
with the ladies for our guides, we were shown over the house and its 
attached gardens. My companion had doubtless seen magnificence in 
art even surpassing that to which our eyes were directed. Not so 

* It has been suggested to me that Father Abell's visit to France in 1826-7 
was wholly in the interests of the missions of Kentucky, which were then much 
in need of assistance. 


myself 1 was utterly astonished, and I began to revolve in my mind the 
question of questions, ' what will it profit a man to gain the whole world 
and lose his own soul ?' Let it not be supposed that these were not good 
and pious women. No less than others, were their hearts open to the 
pleadings of the poor and to the needs of the Church. They had been 
simply educated up to the idea that they were subjected to rules of con- 
duct and procedure that had been evoked out of social prominence 
since the world was young. In our rounds we came to a garden which 
was wholly devoted to the culdvation of grapes. These appeared to 
me to be of endless variety, and I could but look and admire as group 
after group of peculiar fruitage, all ripe and luscious, and apparently 
asking to be pulled and eaten, were passed and commented on by our 
voluble hostess. We came at length to a vine the like of which never 
to this day have I seen. The clusters were enormous, of a brownish 
purple, and shaded, as it were, with a rhythm of gossamer that was made 
up of dew and sunshine. I was entranced at the sight and stood in 
wonder over a phenomenon of excellence that I had not dreamed of out- 
side of the garden of paradise. ' Try them, Father Abell, ' said the 
elder lady; 'there are no better in all France.' Knowing litde of eti- 
quette, and not caring to pluck more than my appetite craved, I con- 
tented myself with denuding a particularly fine cluster of about a third 
of its fruitage, picking and eating a berry at a time. 

" Unless for the reason that a half stripped cluster of grapes, still 
hanging on the vine, is an unsighdy object to fastidious eyes, 1 can 
give no reason for the fact that it is considered a breach of good man- 
ners in France to rob a vine by piece-meal. The younger of our 
guides, as I afterwards learned, was inexpressibly shocked at what. she 
conceived to be a breach of good manners on the part of a guest. 
She said nothing at the time, however; but she then and there deter- 
mined, before the day should be over, to administer to me a lesson in 
etiquette. A little later, followed by a servant bearing a tray, she 
entered the room in which my companion and myself were conversing 
with her mother. Approaching me, she said : ' Father Abell, I 
have brought you a choice selection of grapes, and when I tell you 
that I cut them from the vines myself for your special delectadon, I 
make no doubt that you will gratify me by partaking of them.' I 
expressed my thanks in the choicest French I could muster, and then 
turned my eyes toward the tray. The underlying clusters were so 
posed as to form a marked contrast with a half-denuded one that top- 
ped the pile. Looking at the latter intendy, I had no difficulty in 
recognizing it as a former acquaintance. At the same time the 
thought flashed upon me that its reappearance was designed for a pur- 
pose, and not impossibly for a rebuke. Taking it up tenderly, I 
thus addressed myself to my young lady hostess : ' If I mistake not 
Mademoiselle, this is the identical cluster to which I erstwhile paid 
my devoirs in the garden. To the sight, it is no longer a thing of 
freshness and beauty, but I can vouch for its sweetness and delicacy of 
flavor. In these respects it is typical of certain phases of human exist- 


ence and character. The examples are not to be judgec^ by the out- 
ward senses, but rather by the inward understanding. They are often 
lacking in the comeliness that is of earth, but they are never wanting 
of the fragrance that is of heaven. They are envious of none ; they 
suffer, and yet they give thanks ; their strength is in their patience. 
Should you ever meet with any such, Mademoiselle, I trust that you 
will give to them as honorable a place in your thoughts as you have 
given prominence to this fragmentary bunch of grapes among its more 
showy sister clusters; with your leave, I will now proceed to consum- 
mate the union that was begun in the garden between this ragged 
cluster and my own personaUty.' Seeing that her design had miscar- 
ried, the young lady wisely accepted the situation, and acknowledging 
her fault, she was at once forgiven." 

On another occasion the Kentucky priest was invited to dine with 
an army officer of high rank to whom he had brought a letter of intro- 
duction from his bishop, the late Dr. Flaget. The guests on the occa- 
sion were many, and, for the most part, were military men of 
different nationalities. The conversation that ensued at dinner and 
after dinner, relating as it did to matters connected with the science 
of war, had in it little interest for a professed advocate of the arts of 
peace. At length a subject was broached, in the discussion of which 
he would have willingly taken part had he not been restrained by a 
feeling of diffidence, caused by the strangeness of his surroundings. 
It referred to the average stature of men of different nationalities. 
The discussion was long continued and spirited, and for once in their 
lives the military men present were content to wage battle against each 
other, unsupported by other arms than such as were strictly polemical. 
The contestants, whether they were English, French, German or 
Spanish, appeared to be equally convinced that their countrymen were 
severally entitled to rank highest in the scale of physical conforma- 
tion. In a lull of the dispute the host of the occasion caught sight of 
Father Abell, and addressing him aloud, he asked to be favored with 
his impressions regarding the average stature of his countrymen as 
compared with other people. The single representative at the table 
of American institutions, manners, and altitude, who had been sitting 
during dinner in a low chair, purposely sought and found by him in 
order that he might not appear to be overlooking the company, lifted up 
his eyes in the direction of his questioner, and thus answered him : 
" I am inclined to the belief that America can beat the world for men 
of large growth." 

' ' Is that so ? " exclaimed a dapper little French officer from the 
opposite side of the table. "And pray. Monsieur," he continued, 
' ' what may be the average stature of men on your side of the 

Straightening himself up, and slowly unfolding his extremities, 
"emblems of infinitude," as Kit North would have called them, the 
Kentuckian arose to his feet and quietly answered : " Ex pede Hercu- 
lem ! In the United States I pass for a man of fair average stature ! " 


The announcement was received with shouts of good humored 
laughter, and from that moment Father Abell's reputation as a wit 
was estabhshed in certain circles of Parisian society. 

Whatever there was to be seen in travel that was grand and sub- 
lime, so much was legitimately appropriated by Father Abell to the 
great advantage of his descriptive powers, as well in the pulpit as in con- 
versation. He was no longer confined to figures of speech wholly 
drawn from the vocabulary of a people whose surroundings were 
litde ampUfied by anything that had not its birth and being within 
the wooded waste that bounded their sight, and in the patriarchal 
employments whereby their livelihood was secured. He could talk 
now of sculpture and painting ; of grand edifices reared to perpetuate 
human pride, and of grander still in which were voiced words of 
prayer and songs of praise in the hearing of God and His angels. 
He had seen, and could well describe the mighty ocean in calm and 
storm, sunsets at sea, and stars glistening and streaming in the bosom 
of " the waters that are under the heavens," which God in the begin- 
ning had " gathered together in one place." Never was there a man 
with clearer perceptions of the felicitous in description than Father 
Abell. This was the faculty, above all others, that gave to his con- 
versation its chiefest charm. 

When Father Abell reached the port of New York on his 
homeward journey, he found Bishop Flaget awaiting his arrival. The 
two remained in the city named for several weeks, and they afterwards 
visited Philadelphia and Baltimore. In each of these cities Father 
Abell preached on more than one |occasion, and always to vast 
throngs of hearers. His sermons, it 'was noticed, were much better 
appreciated by the people than they were by the learned divines, ;who 
were regarded, or who regarded themselves, as accomplished pulpit 
orators. Dr. Power, in New York, Dr. Gartland, in Philadelphia, 
and Dr. Pise, in Baltimore, looked upon him as a wonder indeed, but 
they all shrank from the idea of imitating him. They came, and 
listened, and found fault; but their fault-finding did not prevent them 
from repeating their experiences as often as opportunities were afforded 
them for doing so. His rough-shod eloquence, while it shocked their 
nice perceptions of the appropriate in manner, diction and illustra- 
tion, appeared to fascinate them. This was particularly the case with 
the well known Dr. C. C. Pise, of Baltimore, whose fastidiousness in 
the matters of dress, manner and declamation did not prevent him 
from afterwards becoming one of the most useful and highly honored 
members of the American hierarchy. 

Having heard Father Abell preach several times, Dr. Pise one day 
ventured to ask him what books he was in the habit of consulting in 
the preparation of his sermons. The Kentucky priest managed to 
evade an answer at the time, but the question was repeated when the 
two were dining at the table of the archbishop, with a number of other 
clerical guests. Turning to his interlocutor, Father Abell exclaimed : 
"Books, Dr. Pise! Why, my dear sir, we have no books in Ken- 


tucky ! And having no books, we go to nature for inspiration ! The 
elements are our books, and in them we are able to trace the designs of 
a beneficent God. Forest and field, hill and dale, sweeping river and 
purling brook; the bearded grain bending to the zephyr's breath; the 
lightning's flash and the thunder's roar; humanity itself, aspiring, 
hoping, struggling and succumbing to its inevitable bourne beneath 
the earth's carpet ; these, and a thousand other things upon which our 
eyes are accustomed to rest, and which our other senses take in, teem 
with instruction for us and with inspiration. What need have we of 
books ? And even though we had them, we would have no time to 
consult them ! Our normal condition, I would have you know, is one 
of toil; but then we know how to draw profit to our minds and hearts 
from the very touch of the implements of labor with which our horny 
hands are made familiar. That touch serves to make us humble, and 
reverent, and faithful to duty. It serves to crush out of our hearts all 
pride and all uncharitableness. And when, as some amongst us are 
called to do, we ascend the pulpit to instruct others in the ways of 
God, the Holy Ghost just tells us what to say, and we say it! " 

In his absence, Father Abell's pastorship of the church of St. 
Louis had been supplied from Bardstown. Upon his return he 
resumed his estopped efforts to secure for the congregation a larger 
and better appointed church edifice. This was the more necessary 
now than ever, for the reason that the single year of his absence had 
brought to the congregation numerous accessions, almost wholly of 
emigrants direct from Ireland. He opened subscription lists, and 
these he not only placed in the hands of the influential of his parish- 
ioners, but in those, also, of liberal-minded non-Catholics, many of 
whom had previously given him voluntary assurance of their willingness 
to assist him in an undertaking which, they were wise enough to see, 
would contribute not a little to the growth of the city and its after 
prosperity. So liberal were his own people, and so generous were the 
subscriptions of the general public outside of the pale of the Church, 
that the pastor was soon placed in a position to begin operations. 
Four lots, of thirty feet each, situated on the east side of Fifth street, 
between Green and Walnut, and having a depth of two hundred feet, 
were fixed upon as a proper site for the church, and ultimately pur- 
chased. To this purchase was afterwards added that of two other 
lots, upon which it was the pastor's design to build an asylum for 
orphan girls.* The second church of St. Louis, in Louisville, was 

* Of the lots referred to in the text, that farthest north was occupied by a 
modest parsonage; the adjoining three by the church of St. Louis, and the 
two last purchased, by the first asylum built in the State for the protection of 
orphan children. This latter establishment was at first governed by a board 
of lady trustees, of which the late Mrs. Ann Rudd was president. Its direc- 
tion was jjiven to a colony of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, with the late 
Mother Catherine Spalding as superior. A few years later the asylum building 
was purchased by the bishop of the See, and from that day to this it has served 
as a residence for the ordinary of the diocese and the clergy of tlie cathedral 


opened for divine service in 1830. From the laying of the corner- 
stone to its final completion, Father Abell allowed himself no rest. 
Early and late he was on the ground, directing and encouraging the 
workmen, and at times participating in their labors.* 

The original trustees of the second church of St. Louis were: 
Captain James Rudd, Daniel Smith, Patrick Maxcy, Thomas K. 
Byrne, John O'Berne, J. McGilly Cuddy, Edward Hughes, Martin 
Crowe, John Carrell, Zachariah Edelin, Dr. J. P. Declery and John D. 
Colmesnil; six Irishmen, five Americans and one Frenchman-! 

parish. It has been much enlarged and altered, however, since it was built. 
When this diversion from the original purpose was made, I have no doubt that 
it was by an understanding between Mother Catharine and the pastor of the 
church of St. Louis, Rev. I. A. Reynolds, that had for its object the more 
assured usefulness of the charitable foundation with which the mission of the 
former was associated from its inception. It was in 1836, if I mistake not, 
that Mother Catharine, acting in behalf of the Sisterhood of Charity of Naza- 
reth, purchased the then recently constructed residence, with a square of land 
attached, of a Mr. Thomas Kelly, who, like a great many others engaged in 
business, then and since, had built for himself a house without either reckon- 
ing its cost, or his own ability to pay th« construction bills when they should 
be presented. The St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum, of Louisville, still a depend- 
ancy of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, has now been occupying these 
grounds for fifty years. 

* An old citizen of Louisville tells me of a sight he witnessed in this con- 
nection, and of the impression it made upon him at the time. «' For some 
reason," said he, " the hod-carriers who waited on the masons were unable to 
supply the needed material as fast as it was wanted. Seeing this, Father Abell 
stripped off his coat, and, as nimble as any of his co-laborers, mounted the 
ladder with a hod filled with bricks on his shoulder, and he thus kept up the 
race for hours. I could not but feel that the purposes of such a man were as 
certain of accomplishment as the decrees of fate." 

t Other well known Catholic citizens of the day were: Daniel Dwyer, 
Elzie Beaven, Thomas Haynes, Frank McKay, Ben. I. Harrison, Thomas 
Blancagnil, Kerian Campion, John Kearney, John Lyons, Ben. Gittings, Bern- 
ard McGee, Lawrence Byrne, Carroll, M. J. O'Callaghan, John Lilly, Ben. 

Griffin, John Keagan, George Schnetz and Thomas Carroll. The last named 
of these is the only one in the list now known to me to be living. Of Daniel 
Dwyer, I have already spoken. One of his daughters, Mrs. Mary Hayes, 
widow of the late John Hayes, is still a member of the cathedral congregation. 
Amelia, a daughter of Ben. I. Harrison, was afterwards known as Sister Lau- 
rentia, of the Nazareth community. She was one of the most valuable 
teachers in the community and greatly admired and beloved by both her asso- 
ciates and her pupils. She died while in attendance on the sick of yellow fever 
at Holly Springs, Mississippi, but a few years ago. Kerian Campion was the 
father of Hon. Patrick Campion, who has served for repeated terms his con- 
stituency of Louisville in the Kentucky State legislature. He was wont to say 
that the first time he went to confession in Louisville the sacrament was 
administered by Father Badin under the shadow of a tree on the west bank 
of Beargrass creek. Ben. Gittings and Elzie Beaven were from Washington 
county. They were good practical Catholics and highly respected citizens. 
John Kearney was a lawyer of high standing and an earnest Catholic. John 
Lyons and his amiable family were special friends of the clergy and generous 
supporters of the church. One of his children, Mrs. Honora Lyon, widow of 
the late Capt. Sidney S. Lyon, has long resided in Jeffersonville, Indiana. 



Some of these were as well known in civil affairs as they were in the 
church. Capt. James Rudd was repeatedly a member of the city 
council, and in 1849 he was one of the city's representatives in the 
constitutional convention of that year, held in Frankfort for the con- 
sideration of changes then sought to be made in the organic law of the 
State. He began his business career in Louisville as a mechanic, and 
in time he became a merchant, and a successful one. The writer's 
remembrance of him dates from the year 1832, when he was regarded 
as the leading spirit, with the single exception of Patrick Maxcy, in 
all enterprises broached in Louisville, looking to purely Catholic 
interests. In everything of this nature he was more than seconded by 
his earnest convert wife, Nannie PhiUips Rudd, than whom there was 
not a more intelligent or indefatigable worker in whatever affected the 
Church and its charities. She headed the movement inaugurated 
among the Catholic ladies of Louisville in 1832, by which was secured 
the establishment of the orphanage of St. Vincent. As was meet, she 
died of old age but a few years ago in one of the houses of the 
order of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, whose introduction to the 
city she had labored for and secured nearly fifty years previous to the 
date of her own death. Capt. Rudd was more noted in his day for 
his practical, common sense views of things, than he was for his 
lingual accuracy in their presentation.* His death took place on the 
evening of May 8, 1867. 

Bernard, cr Barney McGeej as he was usually called, was a representative 
Catholic among the toilers of his race in Louisville. He lived to be a very old 
man, and though reduced to great poverty, his cheefulness never deserted him. 
So long as he could hobble to church, he seemed to be content, and when he 
died, there were those about his bed who would have been glad of the assur- 
ance that their own passage out of life would be marked by such evidences of 
peace in the present and of hopefulness of the future. M. J. O'Callaghan, who 
died but a few years ago, was a man of intelligence and high respectability, 
and exceedingly pious. One of his granddaughters is a sister of the Loretto 

*In the State constitutional convention of 1849, the late Hon. Garret Davis, 
much to the discredit of his statesmanship, as I think he saw himself at a later 
day, introduced an amendment to the organic law that affected adversely the 
civil rights of Catholics. This amendment was opposed vehemently by repre- 
sentatives Charles C. Kelly, of Washington, Ignatius A. Spalding, of Union, 
and James Rudd, of Jefferson, the only Catholics, as far as known by me, in the 
convention. The amendment was set for a hearing at a future day by the con- 
vention, and Capt. Rudd prepared a speech to be delivered on the occasion. 
It was a good speech he transferred to paper, but he bethought him that it 
would be best, before its delivery, to submit the manuscript to more critical 
eyes than his own. The late Rev. James M. Lancaster was then pastor of the 
church in Frankfort, and it was to him he submitted the manuscript of his 
proposed speech. The changes recommended by Father Lancaster were 
readily acquiesced in by the captain; but seeing the priest busy with his pen 
over a word about which he had not signified any objection, he was stopped 
by the delegate's sudden demand, "what are you doing there, Father Lan- 
caster?" "I am only putting a ^ in the word /or«;^«(rr in your manuscript," 
replied the priest. " Well," said the practical leader in Kentucky of the 
phonetic movement that is now trying to overturn the English orthography of 


Patrick Maxcy, whether considered as a Catholic or as an Irish 
American citizen, was unquestionably, for more than forty years, and 
up to the day of his death, the leading man of his religion and race in 
Louisville. He is believed, too, to have been the first of either to 
prosecute in the city heavy operations as a manufacturer. Within the 
memory of the writer, and for many years before, his establishment 
was known as the Hope Distillery, and it is said that the skilled work- 
men in his employ came over with him from Ireland. * In the course 
of time he became one of the leading dealers of the city in provisions 
and butchers' stuffs, and finally a banker. In person, Mr. Maxcy was a 
compactly built man, of about five feet eight inches, with a moderately 
florid complexion and features that were most remarkable for their 
kindly and genial expression. Looking at him, one could but feel he 
was in the presence of a man whom he would like to make his friend, 
and this was not alone the case with his fellow countrymen and his co- 
religionists, but with non-Catholics as well. There were absolutely 
none to question his integrity, and none to cast slurs upon his good 
name in any particular. The death of Mr. Maxcy took place in 
1850, after an illness of only a few days, and his funeral was attended 
by hundreds of friends of all ranks of Louisville society. The ser- 
mon on the occasion was preached by his intimate friend of the clergy, 
the late Rt. Rev. John McGill. 

Thomas K. Byrne, J. McGilly Cuddy and John O'Beirne were 
Irishmen and well to do citizens, and they were all held in high esteem 
by their fellow townsmen. Edward Hughes and Martin Crowe were 
of the same nationality, and their best eulogy should now run — they 
were earnest, practical and pious Catholics, f John Carrell was a 

past ages, " I move that that g be expunged ! " Among a score of others of 
former friends that recall my thoughts to the past, the photographed repre- 
sentations of the faces of Captain James Rudd and his wife, hung where I see 
them daily, seem to appeal to me for prayer for their eternal rest. May God in 
His mercy so part me from all inquity of earth as to enable me to raise my voice 
acceptably in His hearing and in their behalf. 

■•^Conspicuous among these were Barney McGee and John Lyons, hitherto 
referred to in a note. Both the proprietor and his employes used the Celtic 
tongue in their communications with each other. No simple occurences that 
took place in my own youth are more fixed in my memory to this day than the 
conversations held between Mr. Maxcy and one or the other of his employes 
named, while waiting for the hour of service on Sunday mornings in front of 
the former church of St. Louis. The Sunday collections in the church were 
always taken up by Mr. Maxcy. 

tThe late Professor John E. Crowe, of the medical department of the uni- 
versity of Louisville, was a son of Martin Crowe. My associations with Dr. 
Crowe for twenty-five years preceding the date of his death were of the most 
intimate character, and I can simply say he was an honor to his profession in 
the city of his residence, and to manhood itself. Much of his practice was 
with the clergy and mem'bers of religious communities, outside of the city as 
well as within its limits, whose respect and confidence followed him throughout 
his career. He died very suddenly on the 26th of September, 1881, and his 
obsequies were attended by as large a concourse of sorrowing friends as was ever 



brother of the late Rt. Rev. George A: Carrell, first bishop of the See 
of Covington. His death, at the advanced age of 87 years, took place 
in Frankfort, Kentucky, on the 14th of February, 1879. Daniel Smith 
has been referred to elsewhere. He was much respected as a citizen, 
was singularly quiet in his manners, and the early clergy of the city 
always found in him a liberal benefactor of the poor as well as of the 
Church. John D. Colmesnil, of a noble family of France, was born in 
Hayti, San Domingo, in 1787. He was a relative by marriage of John 
A. and Louis Tarascon, to whom he paid a visit in 1811, and with 
whom he was afterwards engaged in business. In time he became a 
wealthy river trader, steamboat owner and landed proprietor. He was 
a man of stern integrity and great force of character. When past 
middle life misfortunes overtook him, and when he retired from active 
business, little was left to him in the way of estate. In 1833, ^^ P^^' 
chased with what still remained to him of a princely fortune, the water- 
ing place afterwards known as Paroquette Springs, where he lived until 
a short time before his death. He died in Louisville, July 30, 1871, 
and was buried from the cathedral. Dr. J. P. Declery was a physician 
of much note, and a member of the city council of Louisville. His 
death took place in the year 1833. 

With the opening of the church of St. Louis, on Fifth street, the 
former chapel on Tenth and Main, from which it had its title, was 
left to disuse and decay. There is nothing in the present surround- 
ings of the spot upon which it stood to indicate that there had been a 
time when the Christ of our adoration had made of it an abiding place, 
and had therein given Himself to the pure and repentant in the 
sacrament of His love.* 

From the day of its dedication to that upon which, twenty-one 
years later, it gave place to the cathedral of the Assumption that now 
occupies its site and many feet of the adjacent grounds, the church of 
St. Louis was attended Sunday after Sunday, and upon each recurring 
holiday of obligation, by constantly increasing numbers of the faith- 
ful. It was the theatre, too, of much that was of interest to the gen- 
eral public. In the first place, Father Abell began in it a series of 
Sunday evening lectures, to which all were invited, in which he 
sought to explain and defend the dogmas of religion and the policy of 
the Church affecting the relations of its members with unbelievers. 

gathered together on a similar occasion in the cathedral of the Assumption, 
where, when its site was occupied by the church of St. Louis, he had served as 
an altar-boy the first pastors of the parish. 

* It was in April, 1832 — more than fifty years ago — that this little church 
was first pointed out to me. It was unused then, and had been tenantless of 
worshippers for nearly two years. I looked upon it, with its boarded-up windows 
and its quaint little belfry, with absorbed interest. The uneveuness of the 
grounds around it, with here and there a broken or levelled wooden cross, or a 
rudely chiselled headstone, at one place sunk half its depth into the yielding 
earth, and at another bending toward the ground like a mourner in despair, 
was sufficiently indicative of the uses to which it had been put. There rested, 
in the hope of a blessed resurrection, the dead of our faith of primitive Louis- 


Occasionally, too, clergymen from abroad, or from other parts of the 
diocese, were invited by Father Abell to lecture in his place, and 
these were listened to with at least respectful attention, however inca- 
pable, as most of them were, of arousing, equally with the pastor, the 
enthusiasm of their auditors by the mere force of eloquence. The 
beneficial results of these lectures may not have been especially 
apparent in the inducement of conversions at the time, but they were 
noticeable in the increased good-will accorded to CathoHcs by their 
Protestant and non-Catholic fellow citizens.* 

In 1834, it pleased the ordinary of the diocese to transfer Father 
Abell to the town of Lebanon, Marion county, not far from the place 
of his birth, where a new church was needed, and where, as was evi- 
dently the thought of his bishop, he would be able, better than another, 
to secure whatever was requisite for its construction. 

The new pastor of the church of St. Louis was Rev. Ignatius A. 
Reynolds, who, like his predecessor in the office, was a Kentuckian 
by birth. Just as had been the case with Father Abell throughout his 
pastorate, Dr. Reynolds began his ministry in Louisville without a 
clerical associate in the city. Though his labors in the legitimate 
sphere of his duties were arduous in the extreme, he found time to 
put in successful operation the orphanage of St. Vincent at its pres- 
ent location — Jefferson, above Wenzel street — to establish parochial 
schools for both boys and girls, and to attend to almost daily commis- 
sions for service of one kind or another needed in the city by his 
bishop and by the religious and educational establishments of the 
diocese, all of which were located in the interior of the State. 

In the year 1835, Rev. George Hay den was sent to the assistance 
of Dr. Reynolds, and two years later, he had for additional assistants 
Rev. John McGill and Rev. Edward Clark. In 1839 his assistants 
were Rev. John McGill, Rev. George Hayden, and Rev. M. Stahl- 
schmidt. This latter was a German priest, whose services had been 
secured by Bishop Flaget in the interest of the German element of his 
people, now becoming an important factor in whatever was to be con- 
sidered affecting the well-being of the church in Louisville. Father 
Stahlschmidt brought the German Catholics of the city together every 
Sunday morning, in the basement chapel of the church, where he offici- 
ated for them and sought to induce them to buy a lot and build a 
church for themselves. Here was the beginning of what has since 

ville. Their first resurrection was inglorious. In the course of time the little 
church was levelled to the ground, and the crumbling bones and blackened 
mould that represented all the mortal that was left of our brethren of the long 
ago, found a new place of sepulture in the St. Louis cemetery. 

* These lectures were exceedingly popular with the most intelligent and 
more liberal non-Catholics of the city. I have a distinct memory of having 
seen among the auditors, on one or another of these occasions, such men as 
Judges John Rowan, George M. Bibb and Henry Pirtle, and such lawyers, 
politicians and editors as James D. Breckinridge, Patrick H. Pope, Charles 
M. Thruston, Frank Johnson, Garnet Duncan, Alexander Bullitt and George 
D, Prentice. 


become the largest congregation of Catholics in the city, that of the 
church of St. Bonifacius, on Green, between Jackson and Hancock 
streets. Father Stahlschmidt set out in 1838 on a collecting tour for his 
proposed church, and went as for as the city of Mexico, South Amer- 
ica, where he died a year later. His collections for the church, amount- 
ing to the sum of four hundred dollars, were afterwards remitted to 
Bishop Flaget, through the bishop of New Orleans. 

In 1839, in the temporary absence of Dr. Reynolds, his chief asso- 
ciate, Rev, John McGill, was named pastor of the church of St. Louis, 
with Rev. Walter S. Coomes and Rev. John Quinn as his assistants. 
A year later, on the return of Dr. Reynolds from his visit abroad, he 
resumed the pastorship, with his assistants unchanged. Of two of 
these, Fathers Walter S. Coomes and John Quinn, the writer prefers 
to notice here what he considers of interest in their lives. 

Walter S. Coomes, then a young man of twenty or twenty-one 
years of age, was living with his father, Ignatius Coomes, in Breckin- 
ridge county, in the year 181 9, when Rev, Robert A. Abell had 
charge of that mission. About the first of August of the year named, 
he was seized with an illness of such severity as to demand on the 
part of his parents, as a precautionary measure, the calling in of 
their pastor. The messenger sent to his residence at Long Lick, found 
that Father Abell had but that morning been called to Bardstown. 
Following on in his track, he only got speech with the priest at 
Elizabeth town, after the latter had retired for the night. Without 
longer delay than the time necessary to get his horse saddled and 
brought from the stable, priest and messenger hastened back by the 
road they had come. The young man was prepared for death, but he 
was an old man and a priest himself, when he was finally called away. 
When completely recovered, he entered the theological seminary at 
Bardstown, where he remained, engaged partly in study and partly in 
teaching in St, Joseph's college, until his ordination, which is supposed 
to have taken place in 1829 or 1830, He remained an officer of the 
college until 1832, when he was given charge over the congregations 
of St, Thomas and St. Benedict in Nelson county, and that of St. 
Clare, in Hardin, In addition to these charges, he was superior of 
the seminary of St, Thomas up to the year 1839, In 1840 he was 
transferred to Louisville. Two years later, and after the location of 
the See had been changed from Bardstown to Louisville, Father 
Coomes was transferred to St. Joseph's college, and thence, in 1843, 
to the missions of Daviess county, Kentucky, where, with an interval 
of a single year, he remained up to the year 1855. With physical 
energies impaired by constant and exhaustive labors, his bishop was 
obhged at length to grant him as a measure of relief the chaplaincy of 
the St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum, Louisville, in which position he was 
found at the date of his death, November 28, 187 1.* 

*With barely a sufficiency of learning to enable him to discharge intel- 
ligently the functions of his sacred office, and unendowed with gifts of mind 



John Quinn, together with a younger brother, Francis Quinn, emi- 
grated from Ireland to the United States about the year 1830. They 
were both young men of excellent principles and faithful to religious 
duty. Though neither of them had received other than a rudimentary 
education, it was the hope of both that the elder might one day 
become a priest. Coming to Louisville a few years later, Francis, or 
Frank Quinn, as he was afterwards known, became a peddler of 
small commodities, in which business he prospered to such a degree 
as to enable him to keep his brother at school for a year or two. In 
1834, as is believed, John Quinn made application to its director for 
a place in the diocesan seminary, and his request was granted. His 
ordination to the priesthood took place, as is supposed, toward the 
close of the year 1839. A happy man was Frank Quinn when he 
was permitted to touch with his lips the hand of a priest who was his 
own brother. Father John Quinn spent the entire term of his life as 
a priest in the service of the congregation attached to the church of 
St. Louis and the cathedral of the Assumption which afterwards occu- 
pied its site. No one filling a similar position ever labored with 
greater earnestness to make his ministry acceptable in the sight of God 
and of those whom he had been commissioned to serve. Especially 
was his zeal directed to the amelioration of the bodily wretchedness 
of the poor, very many of whom were countrymen of his own, and 
to the reclamation of the vicious among them. In point of fact, he 
was a model priest, and he became deservedly popular with the well- 
to-do of the parish who were the witnesses of his indefatigable endeav- 
ors to promote the welfare of all. 

In the course of time, many meritorious working men and work- 
ing women were led, not by his own solicitations assuredly, but by the 
confidence they reposed in his integrity, to make Father Quinn the 
repository of their earnings and accumulations. Being a careful, as 
well as a just man, he not only invested these trust funds safely, but in 
such a manner as to insure to himself a small source of revenue over 
and above the sums he had bargained to return to the depositors 
whenever demanded. This step of his was but the introduction to 
after misfortune. In the course of time his accumulations increased, 
and though he saw not that it was so himself, his friends were pained 

that could be called extraordinary, it is to be regarded as doubtful if his 
ministry would have been found effective of better results had all this been 
reversed. It is a singular fact, known to me by personal observation, that the 
most devoted of his friends among the clergy of the diocese were precisely 
those whose natural gifts and acquired knowledge were the least disputable. 
Between these and their humble co-worker in the vineyard of their common 
Master there were bonds of sympathy that would be inexplicable but for my 
knowledge of the attractiveness of a character whose single ambition was to 
serve God with fidelity and to have consideration for his neighbor, as being 
equally entitled with himself to every blessing scattered Qut of heaven among 
the children of men. 



to find that he was always interested when talking of securities and 
money-values. Imperceptibly to himself, he was losing in much more 
important matters his influence for good with the unsordid of his par- 
ishioners. But this was not all, and happily for him, he did not live 
to see the last terrible consequence of his blunder. Toward the 
latter end of June, 1852, cholera appeared in Louisville, and for two 
weeks the clergy of the cathedral were kept busily employed in min- 
istering to those who had been stricken by the malady. Returning 
from a visit of this nature on the morning of the 6th of July, Father 
Quinn found that he had himself contracted the disease. Every 
effort was made to save his life, but all without avail, and the morn- 
ing of the 7 th found him a corpse. 

Father Quinn's estate was found to be even greater than had been 
expected, and the whole of it reverted to his brother, by whom the 
most of it was invested in real property on Main street, upon which he 
built a block of houses afterwards known as "Quinn's Row." The 
tragic story of this property and its proprietor forms one of the most 
disgraceful episodes that disfigure the past history of Louisville. On 
the 5th of August, 1855, a day of dishonor to the whole country, and 
since recognized by the title then won for it of "Bloody Monday, " 
Quinn's row was fired by a fanatical mob and burnt to the ground; and, 
what was far more lamentable, its wretched owner, innocent as a child 
of all offense, no matter against whom, was shot to death on his own 

It is a well known fact, that very many intelligent and pious Cath- 
olics, who are in no wise inclined to superstition, are strongly impressed 
with the conviction that the estates of clergymen have but one rightful 
line of inheritance, Christ in His Church, and Christ in his poor. 
These will tell you of instances, not a few, where such estates, left to 
or inherited by individuals, have carried with them much more of mis- 
fortune than of blessing. The writer has to acknowledge that his own 
notions have run in this direction for years. 

But there is another point, and one of great delicacy, suggested by 
what has been related above, upon which comment would seem to be 
imperative. It refers to a system that once prevailed in Louisville 
whereby priests were made the repositories of money belonging to 
individuals among their parishioners. The writer holds this to be an 
axiom : A priest abuses his credit whenever he becomes the banker of 
his people. Sad instances, in our own city of Louisville, are not want- 
ing to show how full of danger is the custom to both priests and peo- 
ple. It is all well so long as the pastor of a church, for instance, 
accepts with the approval of his ordinary deposits of money to be 
used for the liquidation of previous debt, or for any purpose of 
pressing need direcdy connected with the interests of his parish ; but 
the moment he accepts of such deposits, though they carry with them 
no cumulative interest, with the idea of investing them to his own 
individual profit, that moment he sinks his personality to the level of 
the trader in commodities. Then, venture and risk come in as set-offs 


to anticipatea profit; and how shall he, wholly uninstructed In the laws 
of finance and trade, and governed, as it ^s natural and meet he should 
be, more by sensibility than worldly prudence, know how to place 
securities so as to remain himself uninvolved in trouble of some kind, 
either with those for whom he acts, or with those with whom he is act- 
ing? True, we have all known priests who were possessed of extraor- 
dinary ability as financiers ; but who will say that the exercise of this 
talent of theirs ever added a feather's weight to the Catholic public's 
estimate of their characters as ministers of Christ ? 

It is a singular fact, however, that where misfortune has followed 
the custom referred to, its priestly victims have ordinarily been large- 
hearted men, who were devoted to pastoral duty. Impatient of pro- 
gress in the direction of church extention and other meritorious works, 
they went out of their sphere, a step at a time, and finally found 
themselves entangled in meshes of care and solicitude, out of which 
extrication appeared to them impossible. The least to be envied, as it 
appears to the writer, of such as have subjected themselves to the 
dangers of this custom, have been precisely those who have, in a 
worldly point of view, profited most by their supposed foresight. 




The church of St. Louis — second of that title in Louisville — pre- 
sents an array of names in its pastorate that is still referred to as extra- 
ordinary by those who are at all familiar with the history of the parish 
Three of these pastors were born in Kentucky, and the fourth was 
brought to the State when he was under ten years of age. To the 
first — Rev. Robert A. Abell — reference has already been made ; and 
what is further to be said concerning him will more appropriately find 
consideration under other headings. His successors in the pastorate 
in the order named, were. Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds, Rev. John 
McGill, and Rev. Martin John Spalding. Only of the first named of 
these three, the writer proposes to speak in this chapter. 

Of all the native priests of Kentucky, the late ^Dr. Reynolds was 
possibly the least understood and the least appreciated by others than 
men of discriminating judgment. Nature had not given to him the 
pleasing ways by which persons so endowed are able to attract and 
lead captive the hearts of men. Still, it was not because his own 
heart was not open as the day to all gentle influences that such was 
the case. It was for the reason, rather, that his was a peculiarly sen- 
sitive nature. No man ever had a juster appreciation of the transcen- 
dent dignity of the priesthood. He appeared, indeed, at all times, as 
it he were fearful lest, by some inadvertent act, or some frivolous 
speech, he might cause men to lose sight of the unworldly character 
of his ministry. He was a man of superior natural abilities, learned, 
thoughtful and prudent ; and neither was the confidence of his superiors 
nor the respect of his fellow-priests lacking to him for a single moment 
during his entire ministerial career in Kentucky. The reserve that was 
habitual to him in society was so modified in his intercourse with these 
latter, as it was also in respect to his intimate friends of the laity, that 
not one of either class of persons so favored ever made the mistake 
of supposing there was mixed in his character an element of unwor- 
thy personal pride. 

Ignatius Aloysius Reynolds was born in Nelson county, Kentucky 
on the 22d day of August, 1798. His parents were John Reynolds 
and Ann French, emigrants from Maryland. The farm upon which the 
family lived at the time was situated about three miles north of Bards- 


town, and almost adjoining the one now occupied by the Nazareth 
community of Sisters of Charity.* 

Happily for the child and his future, his mother was a woman of 
rare good sense, faithful, prudent and pious. It was her aim to fash- 
ion the minds of her children after that of the Divine Model, who, 
as the scriptures tell us, was subject to His own Mother, and "grew 
in wisdom and age and grace with God and men." Under her care- 
ful discipline, which was neither exacting beyond reason, nor loose 
beyond prudence, her children, one and all, grew up to be faithful 
exponents of christian life and deportment. 

It would seem to be the impression of those who have been con- 
sulted on the subject, that young Reynolds entered the diocesan sem- 
inary of St. Thomas when he was little more than fifteen years of age. 
It is quite certain that the venerable director of the seminary. Father 
John B. David, afterwards coadjutor-bishop of the See of Bardstown, 
was early convinced of the capabilities of his pupil, and that it was 
at his suggestion he was afterwards transferred to the seminary of 
the Sulpician Fathers, Baltimore, for the completion of his theological 
studies. It was, most likely, in the fall of the year 181 9 that this trans- 
fer was made. 

At the time referred to, the seminary named was under the presi- 
dency of the late Rev. John Tessier, an ecclesiastic of great learning 
and piety, and one whose every faculty was given to the servibe to 
which he had vowed himself at his ordination. His Ufe was one of 
constant labor, mortification and self-denial, and his death was as that 
of a saint, " precious in the sight of the Lord." f 

Dr. Reynolds was ordained priest in Baltimore, October 24th, 
1823, by the Most Rev. Archbishop Marechal. Almost immediately 
afterwards he returned to Kentucky, where he was employed, up to 
September, 1827, in teaching and in missionary work. He accom- 
panied Bishop Flaget in his visitation of his diocese in 1826, and, 
together with the late Most Rev. Francis Patrick Kenrick, who was 
a missionary priest in Kentucky at the time, preached the jubilee of 
the previous year, extended by papal authority for purely missionary 

«The little tumble-down building of logs in which the Reynolds family 
lived, and in which the subject of my sketch was born, was a familiar object to 
me fifty years ago. It has passed away, but not with it the memory of the 
devoted priest and zealous bishop whose infant eyes were first opened to its 
rude interior. 

t Forty years ago Dr. Reynolds related in my presence an anecdote of 
Father Tessier which, I am inclined to think, will be more appreciated by the 
older than by the younger clergy of our own day. " On a certain occasion," 
said my friend, "the seminarians, accompanied by Father Tessier, were per- 
mitted to take a long stroll into the country for recreation. It was late when 
they thought of returning, and their way led them near the residence of a 
pious Catholic lady, who, seeing the situation, as she thought, came out to the 
road and begged the priest and his charge to do her the honor of drinking tea 
with her. His answer, much to the disgust of his hungry companions, was 
simply: • Much obliged to you, madam ; we've got plenty of tea at home.' " 


countries, in all the principal congregations of the vast territory then 
under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Bardstown. In 1827 he suc- 
ceeded the late Rev. George A. M. Elder in the presidency of St. 
Joseph's college. This position he retained for three years, greatly to 
the advantage of that institution. At the expiration of the term 
indicated, owing to his earnest desire to be employed in the offices of 
the sacred ministry, he was relieved by his ordinary, and appointed 
pastor of the cathedral congregation, Bardstown. In 1834, he was 
named pastor of the church of St. Louis, Louisville, which was then 
the only house of worship for Catholics'.in the entire city. 

Without an assistant for several years, and with but little assistance 
up to that date. Dr. Reynolds continued to administer to the spiritual 
wants of his rapidly increasing congregation until the year 1840, when 
he was dispatched to Europe by Bishop Flaget for the transaction of 
business relating to diocesan affairs. Upon his return, in the follow- 
ing year, he resumed his charge of the parish, and a year later, when 
the seat of diocesan jurisdiction was remove