Allegheny County



Diamond Jubilee

1863 - 1938

Saint Augustine Church

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



This Page was last updated 23 May 2011



Transcribed and contributed by Nan Smith


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The Coming of the Brown-Robes—1873

Going they went and wept, casting their seeds. But coming they shall
come with joyfulness carrying their sheaves.—Ps. CXXVI, 7.

     While the founding of St. Augustine's Parish was in peaceful progress in the growing city of Pittsburgh, there raged across the waters in Germany a Kulturkampf similar to that of today. Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor, bent on absolute unification of Germany, had decided in his infamous May Laws of 1873 to expel from Germany all religious Orders not actually engaged in the care of the sick.

     In Bavaria there flourished a large province of Capuchin Sons of St. Francis whose provincial, the Very Rev. Francis Xavier Kapplmayr of Ilmmünster, had for some been dreaming of releasing some of his brethren for work in the missions. The sad outlook for both the Church and his Order in Germany in the early seventies hastened the execution of his plan. He argued that if the threatened decree of expulsion should become a fact, at least his Province, especially its younger members, would have a place of refuge; if, contrary to all expectation, the decree should be stayed, then the Bavarian Province would have its mission abroad for which it would toil and sacrifice.

     As a matter of fact, the decree of expulsion never appeared. But in the meeting held at Altoetting in 1873, the Provincial and his Council had nevertheless decided to send Capuchins to the United States. The Provincial had already corresponded with the Right Reverend Abbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., of St. Vincent's Abbey, Latrobe, Pa., and had the assurance that the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Most Reverend Michael Domenec, was ready to give the Capuchins of Bavaria a church in the city of Pittsburgh where they could begin their foundation. To begin this work in the new world two Fathers and a lay brother were chosen: Father Hyacinth Epp, O.M.Cap., of Durach, Father Matthew Hau, OM.Cap., of Almishofen, and Brother Eleutherius Guggenbichler, O.M.Cap., of Reichenhal.(1)

     Father Hyacinth, the Superior of the new foundation, was born on November 23, 1836, in Durach, Bavaria, and received the name John of the Cross. He studied in the gymnasium of Kempten and entered the Capuchin Order on March 9, 1858. On March 25, of the following year, he made his religious profession, continued his studies and was ordained priest on April 23, 1862. At his ordination he was so frail and sickly that his superiors, despairing of his recovery, sent him to the friary of Lohr to prepare for death. But God decreed otherwise. Contrary to all expectation, the youthful friar regained his health and developed a strong constitution which was to serve him unto ripe old age. Strong of body again and no less vigorous of mind, his superiors entrusted him with offices normally suited to men of maturer years. He held the office of Guardian in the friaries of Karlstadt, Dillingen and Burghausen; was Novicemaster and Counselor of the Province before he was thirty-seven years old. Little wonder, that when the superiors of the Bavarian Province decreed a new foundation in the new world, they chose Father Hyacinth Epp, O.M.Cap., as best fitted for the task.(2)

(1) Geschichte der Pennsylvanischen Kapuzinerprovinz zum hl. Augustinus. Unpublished MS. of Rev. Hyacinth Epp. O.M.Cap., Founder of the Province, 1906, pp. 3-4. Capuchin College Library, Washington, D.C. Hereafter cited: Hyacinth Epp, MS. Cf. also: Geschichte der Bayerischen Kapuziner-Ordensprovinz, 1592-1902, by Angelicus Eberl, O.M.Cap., Freiburg im Breisgau, 1902, pp. 629-633. Cf. also: "The Capuchins in English-Speaking Lands" in The Seraphic Child of Mary, serial, vol. VI, Feb., 1907-Aug., 1908, by Severin Scharl, O.M.Cap.
(2) "Trauerrede bei der Begraebniszfeier", by Rev. Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, O.M.Cap., in Seraphischer Kinderfreund, vol. IX, pp. 184-185.


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St. Anthony Convent, Sister's Residence

Built 1898



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     Father Hyacinth and his two brethren landed in New York on October 12, 1873, the anniversary of America's discovery by Christopher Columbus, an eminent tertiary of St. Francis. It was also the feast of St. Seraphin of Monte Granario, a Capuchin Saint. Commending Father Matthew and Brother Eleutherius to the hospitality of the Capuchin Fathers of St. Joseph's Province in New York, Father Hyacinth proceeded to St. Vincent's Abbey in Latrobe to confer with Abbot Wimmer, O.S.B. It must be confessed that while Father Hyacinth welcomed the episcopal offer of a church and friary in Pittsburgh, his heart was set on something else. Probably he had visions of a large convent without a parish, surrounded by a garden on the outskirts of the city, affording the friars opportunity for confessional and missionary work in the parishes of the city. Such a life would be more in keeping with the Capuchin Constitutions. But Abbot Wimmer gave other advice. "Take the parish of St. Augustine's as offered by the Bishop and the other will come later."

     Not without some misgivings did the anxious friar agree to follow the advice of the more experienced Abbot. But the more he thought of Pittsburgh with its shops and factories spitting fire and smoke and soot over the city, the more gloomy and discouraging did the outlook become. Indeed, while not declining the episcopal offer, he nevertheless, decided to look elsewhere for a more encouraging prospect. Moreover, he had a good incentive to reconnoitre since he could not meet the Bishop for two weeks and he was scheduled to bring to the' Capuchin novitiate of Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, a novice whom the Kulturkampf had expelled from the novitiate at Dieburg. Accordingly, he went West, entrusted the novice to the Capuchins of Mount Calvary and in the company of the Very Rev. Francis Haas, O.M.Cap., Commissary of the St. Joseph's Commissariate, proceeded to Dubuque, Iowa, to lay his request before Bishop Hennessy. His hopes were high for he carried a letter of the warmest recommendation from the Most Rev. Pancratius Dinkel, Bishop of Augsburg, who had made the acquaintance of Bishop Hennessy at the Vatican Council. But his visit was a failure. There was no place for a Capuchin friary in the diocese of Dubuque and the disappointed friars retraced their steps, Father Francis, 0-M.Cap., to Mount Calvary, and Father Hyacinth to Pittsburgh. On the way-back Father Hyacinth, still optimistic, visited Chicago, Cincinnati and Covington, only to be informed, however, that there was no prospect for his plans. In his memoirs he says:

     Non viae vestrae viae meae were evidently fulfilled. Father Hyacinth had his own thoughts and plans but they were all frustrated because according to the plan of Divine Providence, the new Capuchin Province was to be founded at Pittsburgh. He realized later that, had he been received in Dubuque, his undertaking, humanly speaking, would have failed. But his journeys were not in vain for he gathered rich experience which strengthened him to carry more courageously the burdens which accompanied his acceptance of St. Augustine's Parish.(3)

     After the elapse of two weeks Father Hyacinth returned to Pittsburgh and presented himself to Bishop Domenec. The latter received him graciously and gave him and his brethren the growing parish of St. Augustine. However, the Bishop stipulated that Father Hyacinth and Father Matthew serve as curates to the pastor, Father Tarnchina, until Easter of 1874, when the latter would retire leaving the parish entirely in their hands. In this way they would have the opportunity to become more proficient in English and to acquire a knowledge of American parochial methods. On November 7, 1873, Father Hyacinth began his work of curate. By November 16, Father Matthew and Brother Eleutherius had arrived from New York to begin their work at St. Augustine's. In addition to the parochial work, they took over the chaplaincy of St. Francis Hospital where they said Mass on Sundays and two days of each week and administered the Sacraments to the sick. Brother Eleutherius performed the duties of sacristan. A carver of exceptional skill, he built and carved a mahogany prie-dieu which Father Hyacinth presented to Bishop Domenec in token of his friendship and benevolence to

(3) Hyacinth Epp, MS., I Teil, pp. 8, 9.



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the Capuchins. In 1906 the prie-dieu was still in use at St. Paul's Cathedral.(4) In gratitude to Abbot Wimmer, Father Hyacinth obtained from the Bavarian Provincial a letter of affiliation entitling the Abbot to participate in all the prayers and good works of the Capuchin Order.

     Thus passed the winter of 1874, and the time for taking over the pastorate of St. Augustine's was at hand. During the previous five months the two friars as curates had co-operated so fully with the pastor and their relations were so peaceful and pleasant that as the time grew nigh, Father Tamchina was loath to relinquish the pastorate. He even indicated to a parishioner his intention of permitting the existing arrangement to go on indefinitely. But Father Tamchina with all his zeal was a peculiar character, and as the parishioners had learned to love the friars with their brown robes and patriarchal beards, they persuaded him not to interfere with the Bishop's arrangement. Accordingly, on April 19, 1874, the pastor called a meeting of the trustees and presented Father Hyacinth as the new pastor.

     The following trustees were present: Messrs. Titus Berger, Secretary; C. Schiff-hauer, Treasurer; John Elsesser, Leonard Vogt, Jacob Wagner, and Franz William Besselmann.(5) Before tendering his resignation Father Tamchina made a donation of $500 to the parish.

     From now on Father Hyacinth acted as pastor. The debt on the church was £32,788.10. In the fall of 1874 Father Tamchina became pastor of Holy Trinity-Church in Riceville and remained there till July, 187S, when the Carmelites took over the parish.(6) He then retired to his small cottage and farm at Glenfield, near Pittsburgh. He died on April 6, 1882, and was buried from St. Joseph's Church in Manchester. A requiem was sung for him at St. Augustine's and a delegation attended the funeral.(7)

     As a true son of St. Francis, Father Hyacinth lost no time in introducing into the parish the Third Order of St- Francis. The first meeting took place on May 17, 1874, with Father Hyacinth as director. The Third Order was not entirely unknown in the parish, for sixteen people, received in Germany, resided within the parish, while other members lived in parishes throughout the city. As soon as these tertiaries heard that sons of St. Francis were in charge of St. Augustine's, and that the Third Order met every third Sunday, they too, affiliated with the fraternity which by the end of 1874 numbered forty members.(8)

     In 1874 the Portiuncula Indulgence was gained for the first time in St. Augustine's. On this occasion a great concourse of people gathered and Father Maurice, O.M.Cap., a forceful speaker, explained the Indulgence. August 15, 16, and 17, saw another Franciscan celebration in the triduum commemorating the six hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Bonaventure, an illustrious patron of all the Orders of St. Francis. Sermons were delivered both morning and evening and the triduum closed with procession, benediction and Te Deum. Despite the recent celebration of the Portiuncula, the attendance at the services and the reception of the sacraments were quite general.(9)

     About this time the membership of the parish had noticeably increased. In 1865, the erection of the Union Depot by the Pennsylvania Railroad had necessitated the razing of several hundred houses in that locality. Many of the families thus deprived

(4) Ibid., p. 10.
(5) St. Aug., Feb., 1923, p. 18. Titus Berger, the secretary, is distinguished as one of the founders of the Catholic Historical Society in Pittsburgh in 1882. Cf. Cath. Hist. Review, April, 1937, p. S3. He was born in Wuerttemberg, Germany, in 1844. Married Mary Helbling on May 25, 1865. Died March 11, 1909.
(6) St. Aug., May, 1922, p. 6., citing Baptismal Record of Holy Trinity Church. Lambing, Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, p. 175.
(7) St. Aug., July, 1924, p. 145.
(8) Cyprian Gehrling, O.M.Cap., "A Short Sketch of the Third Order of St. Francis in St. Augustine's Church", in St. Aug., August, 1924, p. 178; Kurze Geschichte des Deutschen Dritt-Ordens-Zweiges in der St. Augustinus Kirche, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1874-1925, pp. 30; Analecta, O.M.Cap., Vol. XLI, pp. 208-2111.
(9) Hyacinth Epp., MS., II Abschnitt, p. 104.



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of homes were German Catholics and they found their way to Lawrenceville where property could be more reasonably purchased. Then, too, the establishment of the Lucy Furnace in Lawrenceville, which was the first of the Carnegie Steel Plants, increased the population both of German Catholics and of others. While the bulk of Germans that came to affiliate with St. Augustine's was of the ordinary, plodding, thrifty type, nevertheless, among their number were found some of the most outstanding people of Pittsburgh.

     The Carnegie Firm that contributed so greatly to the development of the city was composed originally of Thomas Miller, Henry Phipps, Andrew Kloman and Andrew Carnegie.(10) The man who interests us most in this partnership is Andrew Kloman, because he was a Catholic and a member of St. Augustine's Church. Born in 1827 in Mariabuetten, a village not far from the old city of Trier or Treves in Rhenish, Prussia, he came to this country as a young man and soon won the interest of Andrew Carnegie owing to his proficiency in metallurgy.

     The records of St. Augustine's Church contain several items concerning Andrew Kloman and his family. The Finanzbuch of 1864, credits him with a donation of $125.00 for a monstrance and of $10.00 for the altar.(11) Likewise he served as a trustee of the church from 1868-1871.(12) The Family Register of 1880 records the following: "Andrew Kloman, widower, residing on Penn Avenue and Thirty-sixth. Street, renting six pews in the church. Children: Bertha, born 1860; Theodore, born 1862; Amalia, born 1864 went to Sewickly in January, 1881; another son (no name given) married a Presbyterian.(13) Andrew Kloman has the distinction of having purchased the old Foster mansion and of having spent his last days within its historic walls. He died on December 19, 1880, and was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery. Father Felix Maria Lex, 0-M.Cap., officiated at his funeral.(14) Another prominent name that looms large in the history of Pittsburgh and of St. Augustine's Parish of the time is Leopold Vilsack. His parents, Jacob Vilsack of Carlsruhe, Baden, and Catherine Farmarie of Alsace, married in this country. Leopold was their third son and was born in Pittsburgh on March 3, 1838. He attended the public school in Sharpsburg and St. Philomena's. In 1863, he married Dorothy Blank of Etna and thirteen children were born to the couple. He commenced his active career in the Bennett Brewery, at the corner of Seventeenth and Liberty Streets in 18SS. After three years he had an interest in the business and was associated with Edward Frauenheim, John Miller and August Hoeveler. Later Messrs. Vilsack and Frauenheim purchased the interest of the others and established the Iron City Brewing Company. These gentlemen also associated with themselves their sons—E. J. Vilsack, J. G. Vilsack, Aloysius Frauenheim, E. J. Frauenheim 'and A. A. Frauenheim. Later the business merged with the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and Leopold Vilsack became president. Leopold Vilsack was prominent in many other concerns that made history in Pittsburgh. He was president of the Epping-Carpenter Company, manufacturers of pumping machinery, and also associated with the Aliquippa Steel Company of Aliquippa, Pa. He was president of the Vilsack-Martin Company, makers of ornamental iron work, and a director of the Allegheny Plate Glass Company located on the Allegheny River near Hite Station.

     Mr. Leopold Vilsack was also identified with numerous banking institutions and financial concerns. For years he was Vice-President and leading stockholder of the German National Bank and President of the East End Savings and Trust Company at Penn Avenue near Sheridan, East End. He was interested in Insurance Companies

(10) John W. Jordan, A Century and a Half of Pittsburgh and Her People, Lewis Co., 1908, p. 52.
(11) St. Aug., June, 1922, p. 7.
(12) Ibid., Feb., 1927, p. 31.
(13) Familien-Buch, St. Augustine's Parish, p. 191.
(14) Anthony Kloman, the younger, was also active with his brother Andrew in manufacture of metals. Born March 29, 1826; married Anna Maria Schillo. The Familien-Buch lists one son, Andrew, born Nov. 13, 1868, and baptized by Fr. Kircher on Nov., 15, 1868. The elder Anthony lived on Liberty Ave. Rented two pews in the church. Died Feb. 13, 1897. Buried in St. Mary's Cemetery by Rev. Matthew Savelsberger, O.M.Cap.



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Mr. and Mrs Franz Xaver Helbing, in whose home the first Catholic School in Lawrenceville was opened in 1854


Helbing's House and Store Room, First School 1854



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and was director of the National Union Fire Insurance Company and of the City Insurance Company. He was also director of the Ohio River Improvement Company and was considered one of the largest real estate holders in the city. He died on December 26, 1907, and was buried from St. Paul's Cathedral into which parish he had moved sometime before. Father Joseph Anthony Ziegel-mayer, O.M.Cap., sang the solemn requiem.

     A man of integrity, Leopold Vilsack was always interested in what would advance the financial, social, educational religious interests of his native city. Deeply engrossed in secular affairs, he was no less solicitous for the advancement of religious and charitable institutions. For many years he served as director of St Paul's Orphan Asylum, of St. Joseph's Protectory and of St. Francis Hospital. He was also one of the originators of the Columbus Club. He was especially devoted to St. Augustine's parish and to the Capuchin Fathers, as we shall see in the progress of our story. Jordan's history of Pittsburgh has paid him the following well-merited tribute: "His successful business career has not made him sordid and unmindful of his fellowmen. His charities and true benevolences have extended far and near."(15)

     No less prominent in the history of Pittsburgh and of St. Augustine's Parish is the Frauenheim Family. The first of this branch to come to America was Edward who was born at Osnabrueck, Germany, on October 1, 1820. Previous to his coming to America, he taught school. On July 4, 1840, he arrived in America and soon found employment as a carpenter at St. Philomena's Church which was then under construction. Soon after he clerked for a time, then established a grocery business at the corner of Logan Street and Fifth Avenue, then known as Butler Road. In 1851 he married Mary Regina Meyer. In 1861, he purchased an interest in the brewing business and became associated with Leopold Vilsack in the Iron City Brewing Company. He was also president of the Keystone Pump Works, later the Epping-Carpenter Company, president of the Pittsburgh Commercial Company, and was one of the founders of the German National Bank. He represented his ward in the City Council for many years and was also treasurer of the Sixteenth Ward School Board. He died suddenly on June 16, 1891, a victim of paralysis of the heart, and was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery.(16)

     Mr. Edward Frauenheim was the father of seven children—Aloysius, Mary, Rose, Clara Josephine, Edward, Agnes A., and Clementine who on November 28, 1894 married William N. Epping, another prominent name in the history of Pittsburgh. William Epping was born in Pittsburgh on October 12, 1869, and was the son of Henry Epping and Amanda King. Upon completion of his education, he was employed as purchasing agent by the Carbon Steel Company. From this position he later advanced to the office of general manager and secretary of the Epping-Carpenter Company.(17)

     It was to accommodate these and many other German Catholics flocking to Pittsburgh to find employment in the rising mills and factories, that led Father Hyacinth shortly after his appointment as pastor to undertake the enlargement of the church. In a meeting of August 4, 1874, Father Hyacinth discussed the proposition with the committee and the prominent men of the parish and all agreed that the church should be enlarged. In the autumn of 1874, Brother Eleutherius sketched the plans and the contract was awarded to Mr. J. Wolz. He was to build a transept of 100 feet in width and 32 feet in depth, to which the sanctuary should be attached. The old sanctuary was razed and the opening boarded so that services could be held during the period of construction.

     On July 4, 1875, the enlarged church was re-dedicated by the Most Rev. Bishop Michael Domenec. It was the feast of the Most Precious Blood and at the same time the feast commemorating the dedication of all the churches of the three Orders of St. Francis. The celebration rivaled the most elaborate of those days. Hours before, the

(15) Op. at., 211.
(16) Jordan, op. cit., 152.
(17) Ibid., 156.



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societies of St. Augustine's, St. Philomena's, St. Mary's, Forty-sixth Street and of St. Mary's, Sharpsburg, assembled at the cathedral and escorted the Bishop to the church. Each society displayed its own banner and marched to the tune of its own band. Despite a drenching rain, the parade moved resolutely to St. Augustine's where a vast throng had assembled. The ceremony began with the blessing of the church and continued with Pontifical Mass. The Capuchin Fathers, Felix Maria and Maurice, assisted as deacon and subdeacon of the Mass, and Fathers A. P. Gibbs(18) of St. Mary's, Forty-sixth Street, and Nilus, C.P., of the Passionist Monastery, were deacons of honor. Father William Löwekamp, C.SS.R., of St. Philomena's was assistant priest, and Father Sebastian Arnold, O.S.B., and Father Matthew Hau, O.M.Cap., were masters of ceremonies. The following assisted in the sanctuary: Fathers S. G. Mollinger(19) of Troy Hill, Joseph Strub, C.S.Sp., F. Faessler of London, England, assistant at Holy Trinity, Riceville, Hyacinth Epp, O.M.Cap., and Joseph Calasance Mayershofer, O.M.Cap.,

    Father Joseph Strub, Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers, delivered the German sermon on the dignity and benefit of the Catholic Church. After the Mass the Bishop in full Pontificals and sitting at the altar spoke in English, congratulating the people for their fine spirit of co-operation and urging them to correspond to the graces of which this church would be the fruitful source. In the afternoon the Bishop pontificated at Vespers and confirmed seventy-four persons. The choir on this occasion was directed by Mr. Aloysius Frauenheim.(20)

      Now that the church was enlarged, the parishioners had plenty of room since it had a capacity of one thousand. Although not purely Romanesque, the building had a devotional and attractive appearance. Exclusive of furnishings, the addition cost $30,000. This increased the church debt at the end of 1875 to $52,515.50. Between August 18 and 25, 1875, Father Hyacinth had taken up a house collection which netted $4,500. A fair from December 17-January 9, brought $4,309.19. These two items plus the $3,000 donated by the Capuchins for the remodeling of their friary, amounted to $11,809-19. The rest of the expense for the transepts was met by loans. Brother Eleutherius drew all plans for the building and carved the altar, pulpit and communion rail. His work was valued at $4,000 and was donated by the Capuchin Fathers. Moreover, in order to aid in liquidating the debt and to induce others to generosity, Father Hyacinth reduced the pastor's salary by three hundred dollars yearly for the space of four years. In this period he saved the parish $1,200. (21)

    After the remodelling, St. Augustine's was considered one of the finest churches in Pittsburgh. The interior was frescoed by

(18) Andrew Patrick Gibbs, born in Queens County, Ireland, 1815. Came to America in 1839. Ordained Sept., 20, 1840, by Bishop Kenrick in Philadelphia. Exercised the ministry in Western Pennsylvania, especially in Allegheny and Cambria Countries. Organized St. Mary's Parish, on Forty-sixth Street in 1853. Spent more than thirty-two years in this parish and died there on July 19, 1885. Lambing, "Necrology of the Diocese of Pittsburgh" in Cath. Hist.Researches, Vol. II, Pittsburgh, 1886, p. 102; Souvenir  of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Foundation of St. Mary's Church, Forty-sixth Street, Pittsburgh, May, 1854-May,  1929, pp. 6, 12, 25.  Lambing, Foundation Stones, 180, 183-184; Church in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, pp. 110-112, 218, 219, 331; Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee and History of St. Augustine's Church, Cambria Co., 1922, pp. 52, 68-69. On Rev. Fathers: Löewekamp, Arnold, Savelsberger, Cf. Enzlberger's Schematismus, 1892. pp. 267, 90, 88;
     On Rev. Strub see Hoffmann's Cath. Directory, Milwaukee, 1891, pp. 39, 40 Rev. Suitbert G. Mollinger, born at Malines, Belgium. May 29, 1830. Came to the United States in June, 1850. Ordained at Erie on April 30, 1859. Rector of Holy Name Church from 1868-1892. Died June 15, 1892. Founded St. Anthony's Chapel, Troy Hill. "He became widely known for performing many miraculous cures both by medicine and by a relic of St. Anthony of Padua." Hoffmann's Directory, Milwaukee, 1893, p. 36. See also Enzlberger, op. cit., 241; Fussenegger, Sixtieth Anniversary of Most Holy Name Church, Troy Hill, pp. 35-37.
(19) Lambing, Foundation Stones, pp. 316-317.
(20) Die Stimme der Wahrheit, Catholic weekly founded at Detroit in 1875. First editor, Mr. John B. Mueller, published the second Schematismus, 1880.
(21) St. Aug., August, 1924, p. 166.

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Mr. Adolph Stübner. The organ was rebuilt by Mr. Felix Barkhoff who added new stops and bellows. Especially attractive was the high altar carved by Brother Eleutherius, and which Mr. Titus Berger, in Die Stimme der Wahrheit(22) pronounced no eighth Wonder of the World, yet "the most beautiful in the city." The good Brother had set himself the ambitious task of carving five altars and a pulpit for the "new" church. However, the pulpit alone was finished for the dedication while the high altar and the Blessed Virgin's altar were installed in the course of the year. The other three altars the good Brother did not live to finish for he died at the youthful age of thirty-eight on June 18, 1877, a victim of the smallpox. Brother Eleutherius was the first of the three pioneers of the Pennsylvania Capuchins to depart this life. He is buried in the priest's plot in St. Mary's Cemetery. The people of St. Augustine's mourned his untimely passing and in gratitude for his many artistic contributions to their church took up a collection for his tombstone and had Requiem Masses sung at St. Augustine's. Die Stimme der Wahrheit(23) carried the following notice of the Brother's death:

     On June 18, the Capuchin Fathers of St. Augustine's Church in Lawrenceville suffered a great loss. The Ven. Brother Eleutherius Guggenbichler, known as an excellent wood carver and builder of altars, died after an illness of only ten days of smallpox. On June 19 he was buried. Brother Eleutherius was born March 27, 1839, at Reichenhall in Bavaria, and had made his religious profession November 8, 1862. The Brother was about to be sent to St. Mary's Monastery, Summit, Butler County, by the Commissary, Father Hyacinth, to assist in building the choir for which he had already made the drawing. The Brother was just working on the new St. Joseph's altar of St. Augustine's Church when he took sick. The premature death of the zealous Brother, who was known as a skillful builder of altars and had done much carving work for the St. Augustine Church, is a great loss to the good Fathers.

     In 1877, the church was enriched with four new bells. In a meeting with the committee of July 15, the pastor had reported that a member of the parish had offered to donate the price of one large bell provided that others contribute the fund for other bells. Almost immediately the donors appeared and four bells were purchased. The largest bell weighing 1,743 Ibs., and costing $435.75 was the gift of Messrs. Edward Frauenheim and Leopold Vilsack; the second weighing 866 lbs., and costing $216.50, was donated by Mr. John Stumbilling; the third, with a weight of 462 lbs., and costing $115.50, was presented by Mrs. Rose Helbling, and the fourth of 213 lbs., costing $53.25, was given by Mr. William Helbling and his sister, Mrs. Mary Spahn.(24) Bishop Tuigg solemnly blessed the bells on September 16, 1877. The sermon was delivered by Father Aloysius Hune of East Liberty.(25)

     On the occasion of their dedication an order of ringing the bells was established which has been maintained for more than half a century. Three times daily the Angelus is rung with the addition of a shorter ring after the evening Angelus to commemorate the departed souls. A half hour before any service one bell rings and at the time of the service three or on solemn occasions all four bells ring. When a man of the parish dies one of the larger bells rings for several minutes with two short pauses, while for a woman's death just one pause is made. In case a child's death, a smaller bell announces it to the parish. In this way those within hearing distance are informed that a fellow-parishioner has passed from this life and that prayers should be offered for the repose of the soul. Again, on Thursday evenings after the Angelus the large bell sends forth its mournful reminder of the Lord's agony as on Friday at three o'clock the same bell tells of the Lord's death. Many, indeed, must be the graces won for souls through the bells of St. Augustine's.

     Having enlarged the church, Father Hyacinth turned his attention to the needs of the school. The efficiency of the Sisters had become better known and many children hitherto attending the public schools sought

(22) Nov. 12, 1875; St. Aug., July, 1923, p. 102.
(23) Undated excerpt found in scrapbook in parish archives.
(24) Hyacinth pp, MS., II Abschnitt, p. 106.
(25) St. Aug., Nov., 1923, p. 177; On Rev. A. Hune, see Lambing, Church, in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, p. 177; Suehr, A Short History of Sts. Peter and Paul's Church, E. E., Pittsburgh, 1909, pp. 20, 21.





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Lawrenceville Academy - Second School 1855



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admission to the parochial school. Soon it became necessary to start a fifth and a sixth grade and, crude as it may seem, a stable facing Church Alley was renovated and made to serve as a school room. But as the number of applicants continued to increase, it became evident that in the not too distant future, additional provision would be necessary. Happily across the street the Teese property, with a brick house and two contiguous lots, was for sale and the pastor purchased this property in the spring of 1876. The cost was $6,500. The brick house was repaired for the Sisters who took up residence on May 31, 1876.

     This convent was not at all adequate for the Sisters- Besides the kitchen, there were just six small rooms, one of which had been turned into a chapel. Nevertheless, the six sisters bore the inconvenience until 1879, when better provision was made for them. In the latter year the need of more school rooms became more imperative. Accordingly, a brick building measuring 90 by 40, the present Casino building, was erected on the ground purchased from the Teese family in 1876. The old Announcement Book of 1879 mentions on August 10 the following reasons for building at that particular time:

   1. To give the parish its own hall for holding better-paying entertainments, for until now the rents for other halls have been very high.
   2. To supply several needed school-rooms. The school is too small, but in this way we can meet the needs without building a new school.

     Building material was low at the time, hence it was possible to erect the building for little more than $8,000.00. Toward the end of autumn this combination building was finished and put to use. The first floor was the parish hall while in the upper story two rooms became classrooms and two other rooms were fitted out as chapel and dormitory for the Sisters. In this way school and convent problems were at least temporarily solved.

     Father Hyacinth took the greatest interest in the school for he realized that the personal touch of the priest with the individual pupil made for the strengthening and propagating of the faith. Hence, he wanted the parents to be interested in the school and in the progress of their children in both religious and profane instruction. Once a year he invited the parents to attend a public examination of the pupils and insisted on all pupils attending the catechetical instruction until their sixteenth year. This instruction was given in the church every Sunday before the Vespers. The old Announcement Books contain many references to the obligation of parents to send their children regularly to the catechetical hour and more than once the threat is made to publish from the pulpit the names of delinquent children.(26)

     No less zealous was the pastor for the instruction and culture of the parish as a whole- We have mentioned the introduction of the Third Order which was to recruit its members from the entire parish. Then, in 1875, and 1876, the pastor assigned four Sunday afternoons of the month for special conferences for men and women both married and unmarried. As early as 1881, the Knights of St. George, a beneficial society, was introduced and recommended to the men of the parish. Realizing the benefit of the Catholic Press, Father Hyacinth called meetings and urged the parishioners to buy stock in the projected German Catholic Newspaper under the auspices of the German Catholic Press Association. Shortly after, when the Pittsburgher Beobachter(27) received its charter, he urged every Catholic family to subscribe.

     Since St. Augustine's continued to be the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Capuchins, the personnel of the friary was steadily increased from abroad. For the first decade the Mother Province in Bavaria continued to send a few priests and brothers to the American Mission. In 1876, two deacons, Fr. Joseph Anthony Ziegelmayer, and Fr. Anastasius Mueller, arrived and were ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. Bishop J. Tuigg in St. Paul's Cathedral on September 23, 1876. Father Joseph Anthony sang his first solemn Mass at St. Augustine's on September 24. Father Anastasius celebrated at St. Mary's Herman on the same

(26) Hyacinth Epp, MS., II Abschnitt, p. 104; Seraphscher Kinderfreund, IX, pp. 23-25; 4546.
(27) Published first as a Catholic daily in 1880. Mr. Charles J. Jaegle editor. Later reduced to SL weekly and suspended altogether in April, 1923. Enzlberger's Schematismus, p. 331.



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day. Other Capuchin Fathers arrived later, singing their first solemn Masses at St. Augustine's, viz.: Fathers Anthony Berger and Didacus Rottlaender on May 23, 1880, and Angelus Baumgartner on July 24, 1881.

     Most of these Fathers busied themselves at least for a time at St. Augustine's, or in other parishes of the city.(28) Thus from 1874-1877, one of the Capuchin Fathers was acting pastor of St. Joseph's Bloomfield. For a time in 1878 one of them was chaplain at St. Joseph's Orphanage, Troy Hill. The Fathers also, taught Latin and other branches to boys showing an inclination to the priesthood, especially in the Capuchin Order. From these classes the St. Fidelis Seminary developed. Mr. August Haas, the later Father Mark Haas, O.M.Cap., and the first son of the parish to become a Capuchin priest, profited in this way. On June 25, 1878, he was invested with the tertiary habit and sent to the Herman friary to begin his theological studies. The lay brothers, too, worked in behalf of the parish. Besides the carving performed by several, they were active as sacristans and in 1881 Brother Arsenius was the organist.

     Scanning the old chronicles of the parish we find several items that throw interesting sidelights on the customs of those days. Take, for instance, the requirements prescribed by Bishop Domenec for gaining the jubilee indulgences of 1875. From October 3-17, special devotions were to be held in the churches. During that period twenty sermons were preached at St. Augustine's by five of the local Capuchins and one sermon on the Mother of God was delivered by the Jesuit, Father George Hieber. On the day of the solemn close more than 1,000 communions were distributed. In order to gain the Indulgence, sixty visits, fifteen to each of the following churches were prescribed: the Cathedral, St. Philomena's, Holy Trinity, Riceville, and St. Mary's, Allegheny. By visiting all four churches in one day it would take fifteen days to gain the indulgence. Keeping in mind the distance separating these four churches and the slowness of transportation in those days, one can appreciate the extraordinary hardships attached to gaining the Indulgence. Even today when distance is no consideration, it is questionable whether these requirements would find so ready a response as they did among the Catholics of a half century ago.(29)

     Remarkable, too, was the stricter observance of Lent in those days. In addition to the restriction as to quality of food, no meat was permitted on the four last days of Holy Week. Again, the time for performing the Easter Duty extended only to the second Sunday after Easter-

     On July 4, 1876, the centenary of the Declaration of Independence was observed by special services prescribed by the Bishop. In announcing this celebration to the people Father Hyacinth said: "We Catholics have special reason to thank God for the religious freedom which we enjoy."(30) These words had more than ordinary significance on the lips of the Capuchins practically driven from their homeland because of persecution.

     A clipping from The Pittsburgh Dispatch, undated but referring to the children's picnic on Thursday, July 6, 1876, gives an edifying and human picture of the occasion:

     The basket picnic arranged for the children of the school at Steeb's Grove, Thursday, July 6, was a pleasant affair throughout. The Rev. Fathers Hyacinth, Maurice and Felix Maria were present from the start. Fr. Joseph appeared later in the day. Fr. Maurice was the life and fun of the occasion and was constantly surrounded by the children, forming a striking illustration of our Divine Lord's beautiful words: "Suffer the little children to come unto me." The refreshments were in charge of our genial friend, Titus Berger who left nothing undone to appease the hunger and quench the thirst of the little ones. It is to be regretted that the management was not prepared to accommodate the grown folks, of whom quite a number were present, to witness the sport. All such games in which children's hearts delight were provided for them and when they had tired, the Messrs. Frauenheim, Vilsack and Smith Co.. kindly furnished their wagons to take them home, for which act they deserve meritorious mention,(31)

     Here it may be interesting to recall with Father Hyacinth those days of terror,

(28) Seraphischer Kinderfreund, IX, p. 161.
(29) Hyacinth Epp, MS., II Abschnitt, p. 104.
(30) Announcement Book, July 2, 1876, Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. St. Aug., August, 1923, p. 129.
(31) St. Aug., August, 1923, p. 129.



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July 21 and 22, 1877, when the striking employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad led a riot in Lawrenceville. The authorities had ordered out the militia to protect the railroad property and to preserve order. The mob, however, attacked the militia and forced a retreat toward the arsenal. In the fray Mr. William Gottschalk, a parishioner of St. Augustine's was fatally shot as he sat at his door, and one of the soldiers was seriously wounded in front of St. Augustine's Church on Butler Street. The wounded soldier was hurried through the church into the monastery where the friars provided medical aid and hurried him off to St. Francis Hospital. The wounded man became a convert of the Fathers and recovered. It is said that the mob tried to gain entrance to the monastery to kill the soldier but was repulsed by the appearance of Father Maurice Greek, O.M.Cap., a former officer of the German army, who appeared in the doorway and in stentorian language ordered the rioters to depart. At the time of the shooting Father Felix was approaching the altar for the 7:30 Mass but had to retire at once as the congregation, composed largely of Christian Mothers who were to receive communion in a body, was panic-stricken and rushed through the sanctuary into the monastery. During this and succeeding riots a total of thirty persons were killed and property destroyed to the extent of several millions.(32)

     Father Hyacinth continued as pastor till August, 1881, when he was succeeded by Father Maurice Greek, O.M.Cap. Since it was customary for the Capuchins to change the Guardian or Superior of the friary every three years, and since the office of pastor was usually united with that of Superior, we must from now on expect a new pastor every three years. Father Maurice was born at Fristingen, Bavaria, on April 3, 1843, and entered the Capuchin Order in 1869. He was ordained in Dillingen on August 10, 1871, and arrived in America on May 1, 1874.(33) With an eye to future building the new pastor purchased the Schlipp property opposite the parish house for $2,000 in 1882. He also renovated the fresco work in the church for the sum of $1,450. In 1884 he erected a new iron fence on the top of the wall on Butler Street. Under Father Maurice three Franciscans from the Sacred Heart Province, Fathers Vincent Halbfas, Augustine Henseler and Felix Hosbach, preached a mission from February 22-March 5, 1882. To commemorate the canonization of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, a Capuchin priest and General of the Order, a triduum was preached from November 26-28, 1882. On August 24, 1884, the Rev. Francis Joseph Bauer, whose parents lived in the parish, sang his first solemn Mass. Father Michael, O.S.B., preached the sermon.

     The successor of Father Maurice was Father Felix Maria Lex, O.M.Cap., who came into office in August, 1884 and continued until August, 1887. Father Felix was born at Zill, a frontier town of the Bavarian Alps, on April 21, 1833, and took his solemn vows in the Capuchin Order in the friary at Burghausen on December 8, 1855. He was ordained on August 8, 1857, and labored zealously in the Bavarian Province until 1875 when he joined his brethren in the American Mission.

     Father Felix was well known and loved when he became pastor in 1884. For some years previous he had worked in St. Augustine's as curate and had taken great interest in the Women's Conference established as early as 1864. Desirous of enriching the Conference with indulgences and thus increasing its appeal to all Catholic mothers, he succeeded in 1881 through the good office of the General Secretary of the Propaganda, Rev. Ignatius Persico, the later Capuchin Cardinal, in having the Women's Conference raised to the dignity of an Archcon-fraternity with power to affiliate confraternities in all the dioceses of North America.

     It was also while curate at St. Augustine's that Father Felix received into the church Baron Frederick von Gagern, the brother or at least near relative of the celebrated Austrian statesman and convert, Maximilian Baron von Gagern. While still laboring in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, Friar Felix had

(32) Kinderfreund, IX, pp. 223-224.
(33) Sigmund Cratz, O.M.Cap., Hist. of St. Mary's Church, Herman, Pa., p. 53; Enzlberger, op. cit., p. 135. Catalogus Capucinorum Provinciae Pennsylvanicae, Summit (Herman, Pa.) 1898, pp. 20, 21.



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Rev. George Kircher, Organizer (1861), Pastor (1868 - 71)


Robinson Hall, Third School 1858 - 1961


August Hoeveler and Alexander Wirth, Members of Committee of 1860



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made the acquaintance of Baron Maximilian and used this acquaintance to good purpose when he joined the American friars at St. Augustine's. Since Baron Maximilian had become an official of the Leopoldine Society of Vienna for the aid of the missions, Father Felix appealed to him in 1877 for aid for the struggling friars at St. Augustine's and received financial help.(34)

     During his pastorate Father Felix purchased the Ross property for $3,500 and the Gutendorf property for $3,000. Both properties were bought as a building site for the present school. In 1887, a new organ was installed. The organist, Mr- Aloysius Frauenheim, had collected about $2.700 and supervised the purchasing of the instrument. The old organ was sold to St. Alphonsus' Church, Wheeling, W. Va., The terms of the contract struck by Father Hyacinth, then pastor of St. Alphonsus', are interesting. He agreed to buy the old organ of St. Augustine's for $1,500 but insisted that St. Augustine's buy his old organ for $500 and also stand the expense of about $300 to set up the new organ in his church. In this way the Wheeling parish had to pay just $700 for an organ far superior to its own and which it could not otherwise so conveniently purchase. The new organ of St. Augustine's cost $6,600 but with the sale of St. Alphonsus' organ and the collection of Mr. A. Frauenheim the parish treasury was taxed for less than $2,000.

     On April 24, 1887, St. Augustine's was the scene of a beautiful celebration commemorating the silver jubilee of Father Hyacinth's priesthood. Although pastor in Wheeling at the time, St. Augustine's parishioners considered him as belonging to them. Was not St. Augustine's the scene of his first .labors in America? As Father Commissary of the Pennsylvania Capuchins, was not St. Augustine's, his official headquarters? With this in mind the church committee sent a delegation to Wheeling inviting the jubilarian to a celebration at St. Augustine's. Grateful for this loyal affection, Father Hyacinth returned to the sphere of his first labors in this country, celebrated solemn Mass and held a reception at which he received the good wishes and gifts of his former parishioners.

     During the pastorate of Father Felix three priests sang their first solemn Mass at St. Augustine's. Father Mark Haas, (died July 9, 1923), the first Capuchin priest of the parish, celebrated on June 27, 1886. Two others, Fathers Thomas Kirner and Joseph Anthony Stephan, celebrated on July 24, and November 20, 1887.(35)

     Father Felix retired from the pastorate in August, 1887. Thereafter he labored zealously in the parishes of Cumberland, Md., Herman, Pa-, and Dover, Ohio. In search of health he desired to visit his native Zill and got as far as Yonkers, N. Y., where awaiting an outgoing ship he was stricken fatally on June 10, 1901. His remains repose in the friars' plot in St. Mary's Churchyard at Herman, Pa.

     With the pastorate of Father Felix another milestone had been reached. Hitherto the pastors had weathered the storms of pioneer days, but now they were ready for smoother sailing in a calmer atmosphere. Satisfied no longer with emergency measures, they were about to launch forth on the building of a larger, up-to-date school, second to none in the diocese of those days.

(34) On Max. von Gagern, see Der Grosze Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1932, Vol. IV, 1578. Also Letter of Fr. Felix in Berichte der Leopoldinen-Stiftung im Kaiserthume Oesterreich, XLVII, pp. 59-61; Friars' Mind, Dec., 1933, pp. 26-27; Register of Converts, MS. St. Aug. Archives.
(35) Rev. Thomas Kirner was born in Pittsburgh probably in 1863. Ordained at St. Vincent's on July 15, 1887. Cf. Enzlberger, op. cit., 243. Labored in the Pittsburgh Diocese at Mt. Oliver, Indiana, Munhall and Pitcairn. Died Feb. 14, 1929, Cath. Directory, Necrology, 1930, p. 1114.
Rev. Joseph Anthony Stephan was born at Koeningheim, Baden. Germany, on March 10. 1862. Came to the United States on April 15, 1879. Ordained on Oct. 28, 1887 at Yankton, S. Dakota. Labored in S. Dakota and Minnesota and died on June 25, 1923, at Breckenridge, Minn. Cf.
Enzlberger, op. cit., p. 295; Cath. Directory, 1924, p. 1163.


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