Gold Cross


By The Rev., Modestus Wirtner, O. S. B.

1850 1875




1900 1925



Cicero, a pagan author says: "not to know what happened before you were born is to remain always a child." How shall we know the things that happened here since they have not been handed down to us neither have they been written.

In the following pages such facts have been chronicled as could, in the short time spent at the work, he gathered, lest they also share the same fate as the date when the Cistercian Monks, also called the Trappist Monks, lived here near Carrolltown. Let us hope that the present generation will appreciate the great sacrifices which our forefathers made in forming a settlement that has preserved the faith to its descendants. That the congregation of St. Benedict at Carrolltown, has been blessed by God and is therefore in a prosperous condition, we can all see. Let us therefore return thanks to God for all these blessings.

The works consulted were the Baptismal Records, the Book of Minutes of the Building Committee, the Church Account Books, the Sunday Announcement Books, Father Lemke's Autobiography in the Northern Cambria News, Carrolltown's first paper, Sarah M. Brownson's Life of D. A. Gallitzin, The Rev. Oswald Moosmiller's St. Vincenz and his Life of Erzabt Wimmer, O.S.B., St. Vincent Journal, the Carrolltown News, many Church Records in other towns. Thanks are also due to the following persons for their information: John Wirtner and wife, Francis Buck, also to Bernard Carl, Mrs. Simon Huber and Mrs. Walburg Scanlan, three pupils of the first school here, which was a parochial school, also to Mrs. George Waltz who lived, in 1848, in Father Lemke's house. There were also a few other persons who affirmed what these related. The Records in the Recorders Office at Ebensburg were also consulted.


St. Benedict's Church




Carrolltown and the church of St. Benedict owe their existence to the noble and energetic work of the Rev. P. Henry Lemke, O.S.B. The Rt. Rev. Bishop Kenrick, D. D., of Philadelphia sent the Rev. Lemke to the Rev. Prince Gallitzin to be his assistant. Father Gallitzin of Loretto at once installed Father Lemke as pastor of the congregation at Ebensburg on December 23d, 1834. Bishop Kenrick administered the sacrament of Confirmation at St. Patrick's church in Ebensburg on the ninth day of July, 1835. The Bishop wrote in his diary that: "though Father Lemke is a very good man and conscientious in the care of souls, he hardly gets from the people the means of living. I decided to give him the charge also of St. Joseph's church in a place called "Hart's Sleeping Place, and the congregation in the place known as Johnstown."

St. Joseph's church was dedicated by Prince Gallitzin on Sunday, the 10th of October, 1830. The proofs will be given in the Centenary of St. Joseph's Church, 1930. Rev. Lemke was also given charge of all the stations in the County which had been attended by Prince Gallitzin. On one Sunday of the month Rev. Lemke attended the German Catholic settlers at Loretto, one Sunday at St. Joseph's, the third at Johnstown and the last at Ebensburg. (42.)

Father Gallitzin urged the Rev. Lemke to do at St. Joseph's what he had done at Loretto, found a town there (43.) In the spring (44) of 1837 Rev. Lemke bought a farm adjoining St. Joseph's church from one of old John Weakland's sons and removed there. Here he began the work of clearing the forest for the building of a town which he wished to call GALLITZIN, but when humble Prince Gallitzin found this out he emphatically refused his consent and insisted that it should be called CARROLLTOWN in honor of Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic Bishop of the United States, who was also a cousin of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, Md., the last survivor of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. (45.)

On May 6th, 1840, the Rev. Demetrius Augustine, Prince Gallitzin died. Father Lemke was then appointed by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Kenrick, D. D., pastor of Loretto. He was the only priest stationed in Cambria County. Dr. Aristide Rodrigue, who attended Father Gallitzin wrote to his sister Aline Rodrigue, of Philadelphia, on November 29, 1839. "The Rev. Mr. Gallitzin told me that there were upward of 5,000 Catholics in Cambria County, three or four churches . . . (46). This gives us some idea of the work performed by Prince Gallitzin and Father Lemke, and now to be done by Father Lemke alone.

Father Lemke came to the conclusion that St. Joseph's church was not in the center of the Catholic settlement. He was confirmed in this opinion by Americ (in German Emericus) Bender, who had bought at a tax sale, June 30, 1834, for 92 cents and costs, the Hannah Shoefield tract, patented March, 1793. This Shoefield, 432 acres and 18 perches, adjoined the Curtis Clay Tract of land, which was now


The Very Rev. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B.
The Very Rev. Celestine Englbrecht, O. S. B.
Dedicated St. Benedict's Church, December 25, 1850


for sale. Father Lemke sold his farm at St. Joseph's church to John Ivory of Ebensburg and on June 22, 1840, bought from William S. Vaux, the Curtis Clay Tract of land, then also known as the estate belonging to the heirs of George Vaux. It is a mistake to call this land the Drinker Land or the Richard Ashcraft Tract. (47.)

Father Lemke encouraged settlers to locate in the vicinity of his prospective town. Farmers, who had not much of the earthly goods gave him in labor what they could not in money.

Seven years after he had bought this land he laid out a portion in town lots and called the town Carrolltown (47) in honor of Bishop Carroll, the first Bishop of Baltimore. On April 27, 1847, he sold two lots to Peter Urban (48), on December 24, he sold two lots to Martin Schroth and eight lots to Mrs. Mary Catherine Koch. On January 27, he donated ten acres of land to Rt. Rey. Michael 0 Connor, D. D., in trust for the Catholic congregation of Carrolltown, and also sold a lot on January 22, 1848, to John Itel and another to John Sharbaugh. On September 21st he sold two lots to Mrs. Mary Catherine Koch and one lot to Peter Strittmatter, also two lots to Francis H Strittmatter and one to Peter McDade. On September 22nd he sold a lot to Jacob Huber and one to Paul Strittmatter and on the 28th of the same month one lot to Peter Strittmatter and another to John Sharbaugh. On the 28th of March, 1850, he sold another lot to Francis Strittmatter and finally on January 30th, 1805, one lot sold to Jacob Zorn. The other lots he sold to the Benedictine Order on the 9th of October, 1848. By an act of Assembly on the 30th of March, 1858, the Towns of Carrolltown and Campbellstown in the County of Cambria were incorporated into the Borough of Carrolltown.

In 1847 Father Lemke resigned his pastorate in order to go to a lower altitude. The Rev. Nicholas Stauber was appointed by Bishop O'Connor as the pastor of St. Joseph's. He recorded his first baptism at St. Joseph's on the 19th of September, 1847. Father Lemke stated in his autobiography that before he had taken his vacation to Germany in 1844, he had built the foundation of the church. Father Lemke had no use for church trustees. He had seen too much of the bad results of that system in Holy Trinity church at Philadelphia. So he would have none in building the church. Father Stauber, however, appointed so called trustees and sent them forth with a subscription list to solicit funds to build the church.

Carroll Township, Cambria County, Pa.

November 20, 1847.

We the subscribers promise to pay towards the erection of a Roman Catholic Church the sums annexed to our names. The erection of this church has been granted by the Rt. Rev. Michael O'Connor, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and will be under the direction of the Rev. Nicholas Stauber. The Church will be built on the ten acre lot given by the Rev. Peter Henry Lemke, situated on the leading road to Ebensburg and Hart's Sleeping Place. There will be four payments of the subscriptions as follows, viz: the first payment to be made on the first day of April, A. D. 1848, the second payment to be made on the first day of April, 1849, the third payment to be made on the first day of April, 1850, the last payment to be made on the first day of


April, 1851. And these Trustees viz.; Emericus Bender, Peter Urban, and John Elder have been appointed to manage the above transaction. Emericus Bender will act as Treasurer. (49),

Anna, Francis $5.00   Fagan, James 20.00
Baker, Frederic 10.00 Farrel, Andrew 5.00
Baker, John 5.00 Farrel, Cornelius 10.00
Baker, Joseph 4.00 Farrel, Thomas 10.00
Baker, Philip 2.00 Flick, John 100.00
Ballweber, Michael 5.00 Fresh, John 25.00
Bannan, Joseph 20.00 Fresh, Clement 25.00
Zarbrich, Joseph 29.00 Gantner, Bernard 25.00
Barnicle, Ambrose 5.00 Gantner, Joseph 25.00
Bearer, Francis 20.00 Gantner, Peter 30.00
Bearer, John 15.00 Gelaspie, Mark 8.00
Bearer, Joseph 3.00 Gelaspie, Patrick 5.00
Bender, Emericus 100.00 Gill, Jacob 4.00
Bender, Henry 8.00 Gill, Joseph W. 8.00
Bender, Joseph 25.00 Gill, Mark 2.00
Bishop, M. 100.00 Glass, William 20.00
Boslet, Melchior 30.00 Glasser, Francis 5.00
Bostlet, Peter 15.00 Glasser, George 10.00
Buck, Christopher 40.00 Glasser, Jacob 5.00
Buck, Henry 40.00 Glowig, Sebastian 5.00
Buser, William 15.00 Goss, Joseph 5.00
Byrne, James 25.00 Gutwalt, George 3.00
Byrne, Barnabas 20.00 Gutwalt, Landolin 25.00
Byrne, Henry 10.00 Helfenritter, Henry 6.00
Byrne, Francis 5.00 Heintz, Jacob 25.00
Byrne, Jacob 10.00 Herzog, Philip 10.00
Campbell, Henry 10.00 Hogue, Joseph 20.00
Campbell, John 50.00 Hopple, Henry 40.00
Chardon, John 10.00 Hott, Augustine 5.00
Chardon, Michael 5.00 Huber, Francis 5.00
Cratin, Joseph 5.00 Huber, Jacob 30.00
Craver, Augustine 10.00 Huber, Jacob Sr. 5.00
Craver, Lewis 14.00 Huber, John 10.00
Cunningham, Joseph 5.00 Huber, Karl 5.00
Delozier, Daniel 8.00 Huber, Michael 20.00
Delozier, John 2.00 Huber, Peter 50.00
Denny, Peter 10.00 Huber, Philip 25.00
Dick, James 5.00 Kane, James 40.00
Dietrich, George, Sr., 5.00 Kane, Patrick 20.00
Dietrich, John Adam 15.00 Keefer, John 4.00
Dietrich, Matthias 5.00 Kennedy, James 50.00
Dishard, Emanuel 20.00 Kennedy, Michael 15.00
Douglas, Washington 2.00 Kibler, Jacob, Jr. 5.00
Dumm, Daniel 5.00 Kibler, Michael 2.00
Dumm, Solamon 16.00 Kirkpatrick, James 10.00
Eckenrode, John 30.00 Kirkpatrick, Thomas 25.00
Egart, Jacob 2.00 Kirsch, Joseph 25.00
Eger, Dominic 35.00 Kline, Daniel 2.00
Eger, Luke 5.00 Kline, Jacob Sr., 2.00
Eger, Thomas 20.00 Kline, Jacob Jr., 5.00
Elder, John 100.00 Koch, Henry 25.00
Elick, John 20.00 Kohl, Henry 25.00


Krumenacker, Joseph 50.00   Sharbaugh, John 29.00
Koontz, Jacob 20.00 Seymour, Nicholas 40.00
Lancy, Joseph 15.00 Seymour, Valentine 25.00
Luther, Jacob Sr., 50.00 Snyder, George 25.00
Luther, Jacob Jr., 15.00 Snyder, Nicholas 20.00
Luther, John Sr., 100.00 Snyder, Peter 25.00
Luther, John Jr., 5.00 Stolz, Adam 30.00
Luther, Levy 5.00 Strassler, Ulrich 40.00
Luther, M. Francis 1.00 Strittmatter, Francis 15.00
Luther, William 50.00 Strittmatter, Paul 10.00
McCombie, Robert 5.00 Strittmatter, Peter 10.00
Meyer, F. 100.00 Strohmeyer, John 4.00
Meyer, Louis 50.00 Swam, Francis 15.00
Miller, Andrew 1.00 Swam, Martin 15.00
Miller, Henry 10.00 Swam, John 5.00
Miller, John B. 25.00 Thomas, John 4.00
Miller, Joseph 10.00 Trenkle, George 20.00
Miller, Michael 2.00 Urban, J. Peter 100.00
Nitzel, John 40.00 Waltz, John 2.00
Noel, Blasius 10.00 Wanner, John 6.00
Noel, Christopher 2.00 Wasser, Aloysius 25.00
Noel, Simon Sr., 2.00 Weakland, John of M. 5.00
Noel, Simon Jr., 2.00 Weakland, Jephaniah .50
Parrish, John P. 25.00 Weibel, Peter 75.00
Parrish, Leo J. 10.00 Wentz, John 40.00
Platt, Jerome 10.00 White, Jacob 10.00
Platt, John Jr., 2.00 Wirauch, Francis 1.00
Preastly, Thomas 10.00 Woodley, Peter 25.00
Rulza, Christopher 10.00 Yaeger, Anthony 10.00
Rhoddy, Patrick 1.00 Yahner, Martin 5.00
Schimpf, Francis 10.00 Yost, Jacob 50.00
Schroth, Martin 25.00 Zimmermann, John 25.00
Sharbaugh, Jacob Jr., 100.00 Zorn, Jacob 40.00
Sharbaugh, Jacob Sr., 40.00

The following subscription was taken up by Rev. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B., and Mr. Thomas Kirkpatrick in August, 1851.

Aubel, John $ 2.00   Fehrnabach, George 10.00
Anna, Joseph 30.00 Gantner, Joseph 5.00
Bearer, Joseph 5.00 Kittel, William 10.00
Becker, Anton 2.00 Litzinger, Francis 5.00
Behe, Joseph 5.00 Luther, D. A. 5.00
Boslet, Matthias 5.00 Nagle, John of Jacob 1.00
Buck, John 15.00 Schroth, Martin 6.00
Byrne, Henry A. 10.00 Seymour, Nicholas 10.00
Carroll, James 5.00 Sharbaugh, John 10.00
Campbell, Henry 5.00 Singer, William 40.00
Collis, Nicholas 10.00 Snyder, Michael 40.00
Cunningham, Joseph 1.00 Smeltzer, Peter 2.00
Driscol, James 20.00 Strittmatter, Francis 15.00
Dumm, George 1.00 Stolz, Jacob 5.00
Eberstaller, Dr. Joseph 5.00 Stitmen, William 2.00
Eckenrode, Joseph 12.00 Sulzbach, Emanuel 8.00
Eckenrode, John 10.00 Trenkle, John G. 5.00
Fehrnabach, Augustine 30.00 Weakland, Silas 10.00


Subscription taken up in 1854.

Bauman, John 1.00   Maucher, Dr. John E. 3.00
Binder, Gabriel 1.00 Schroth, Lawrence 5.00
Gantner, Francis 1.00 Strittmatter, Joseph 5.00
Kuntzman, Gerome 1.00

Father Boniface Wimmer, whose idea was to build the monastery and seminary at Beatty, Pa., and a college at Carrolltown, held divine services in St. Bernard's church, at Indiana, on the second Sunday of October, 1848. From there he went to Carrolltown to visit his friend Father Lemke and also to see what progress the place here had made. On this occasion he offered to buy the farm from Father Lemke. The offer was accepted. Bishop O'Connor had requested Father Wimmer to make the purchase. The Bishop then transferred the care of the souls of St. Joseph's and of Carrolltown into the hands of the Benedictine Fathers. The deed for the land was made on October 9, 1848.

The Very Rev. Peter Lechner, O.S.B.

The Very Rev. Peter Lechner, O.S.B., was sent as Pastor and Prior of this place and Rev. Charles Geyerstanger, O.S.B., as assistant. Father Peter recorded his first baptism on November 21, 1848. He engaged Haden Smith, an architect, to make the plans and the specifications for a brick church. Haden Smith was a fervent hater of every thing Catholic during the beginning of the "No Nothing Days". One day he picked up Father Gallitzin's "Defence of Catholic Principles". His first impulse was to tear it to pieces but on second thought he concluded to read it for arguments against the church. Having read it carefully through, he discovered that the Catholic Church which he hated was not the Catholic Church of Rome, so he took instructions in the faith from Father Gallitzin, was received into the church and became a fervent and devout Catholic. This was the man who was the architect engaged.

On December the 12th, 1848, bids were advertised, for making brick, sash and frames, delivering stone, lime and so forth. Some of the work was let on these bids received but not much headway being made, new bids were advertised for the erection of the church completed with three altars, altar railing, pulpit and pews. Five bids were received. The contract was given on March 15, 1849 to Peter Urban for $6700.00, he however was to take over the subcontracts already let. (50).

"Article of agreement made, concluded, constituted and agreed upon this fifth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and forty nine by and between J. P. Urban of Carrolltown, Cambria County, Pa., of the one part and the undersigned forming the Building Committee in the name of the Congregation for a new Catholic Church of the County and State afore said, of the second part (vis). The said J. P. Urban promise and agree to Build, Put up and finish in good workman like manner and according to draft and specification drawn by Haden Smith, a Catholic Church in Carrolltown on the Premises Deeded by the Rev. P. H. Lemke to M. O'Connor, Bishop of Pittsburgh for


the use of said Church and it is to be 102 feet long, 56 feet wide and 28 feet high to the roof from base. The roof to be framed sufficient strong and according to draft and a wall across the braith of the . church to form an entry. This wall to rise to the ceiling of the gallery and one and one half brick thick. The Pulpit to be Built on one corner of the Sanctury and a pair of Stairs to the pulpit from the sanctury. The other stairs and Gallery finished according to Plan.

"The cupola finished according to plan and properly framed in the roof and painted white. Pews to be finished with one and a half inch boards. The ceiling to be arched from each side about six feet wide. The sanctury to be arched according to the circle and every thing completed according to Specification. And said church is to be under roof until the first day of October 1849 and to be finished by the first day of April 1852 unavoidable Execende excepted to the contractor. The said J. P. Urban will take the contracts from the Committees as follows . . . . . Niclaus Snyder for cutting stone 31 cts. per foot. John B. Miller for rafter and joists for roof $6.20 per thousand. Francis Bearer for forty thousand joint shingles at $2.25 per thousand. Joseph Bender for ten thousand lath at $24.00 and five thousand spruce boards at $6.00 per thousand. Barnabas Byrne for edging sleepers $13.16. John Luther for hauling sleepers 18 cents a piece. John Luther for hauling 7 girders $15.00 Jacob Luther for hauling 110 cord wood $27.50, for hauling cut stone to the church place $24.11 cents. John Campbell for edging seven girders $7.84, for sand delivered to the church place $13.50, for quarrying stone $18.75 cts. and for every thousand brick delivered on the church ground four dollars and fifty cents per thousand. No charge for brick yard for what brick is yet wanted to be made. Said Building Committee bind themselves to pay said J. P. Urban the sum of six thousand and seven hundred dollars and to be paid as follows for said church: One thousand dollars on the first day of April, 1850; One thousand dollars on the first day of April, 1851; One thousand dollars on the first day of April, 1852; and the balance which will be due after taking off what is paid as per receipts by the committee on contracts given to J. P. Urban on the first day of 1853 at which time the whole amount shall be paid in full of the within amount named.

"In witness whereof we here unto set our hands and seals this day and date above written.

  Jacob Luther, President.
Emericus Bender, Treasurer.
Jacob Sharbaugh.
Francis Bearer,
Peter Huber,
John Elder,
James Kennedy,
John Flick,
Thomas Kirkpatrick,
J. P. Urban,

Nicolas Snyder was assisted by his brothers Frederic, George, Michael and Charles Poss in quarrying and dressing the stone and building the foundation. The beautiful, large stone in front of the


door was presented by Mr. Poss. John Keppler (who then lived in a house standing on the spot of Michael Farabaugh's photo gallery), made the brick. The brickyard was located on John Flick's farm, on the lower side of the road north of the present railroad. The men took their meals in the old log school house, situated down in the hollow, at the railroad tunnel. A restaurant was conducted in the building by Miss Margaret Schimpf (Mrs. Lawrence Schroth) and Miss Mary Hipsch (Mrs. Peter Woodley). (51).

The church was built upon the highest spot in the town and can be seen for many miles away. The corner stone was solemnly blessed and laid by Rt. Rev. Michael O'Connor on June the 10th, Sunday within the octave of Corpus Christi, 1849.

Father Peter also looked after the spiritual welfare of Glen Connell (52). There the people gave evidence of faith and piety but missing the leadership of Father Lemke, had not yet begun to build their church. Father Peter appointed a building committee and during his absence John Thomas was to direct the work. Father Peter was a pious and very learned man, the author of many books and also of a commentary on Holy Scriptures.

The Very Rev. Benedict Haindl, O.S.B.

In the end of June 1849 the Very Rev. Benedict Haindl, O.S.B., a very zealous priest was appointed pastor. In August his new assistant, the Rev. Thaddaeus Brunner, O.S.B., a strenuous laborer in vineyard of the Lord arrived. Like his predecessor he attended to nearly all the missions but now also attended the German Catholic settlers in Clearfield County. At the Cooper Settlement mission he began the erection of a church. His successor here, the Rev. Maurus Zacherl, O.S.B., completed the building. The Rt. Rev. Michael O'Connor, D. D., dedicated the church in honor of St. Severin on Tuesday, the second day of September 1851.

The Very Rev. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B.

The Very Rev. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B., entered upon his duties as pastor in December 1849. Seeing what progress had been made with the church he concluded that it was possible to complete it in 1850. On July 6th, 1850, he offered J. Peter Urban, the contractor, to advance the next payment of $1000.00 with one year's interest at 6 per cent, if he would complete the building this year. The offer was accepted and the church was finished on time. (53). The Rt. Rev. Bishop O'Connor, D. D., being unable to go to the mountains, delegated Father Celestine to bless the church. On Sunday, the 22nd day of December, Father Celestine celebrated High Mass at St. Joseph's and announced that the new church would be dedicated on next Wednesday, Christmas Day, 1850. After Mass he baptized the following children: "I baptized at St. Joseph's on December 22, 1850, William Lancy, born in Susquehanna township on Dec. 7, 1850, legitimate child of Joseph Lancy and Mary Ann nee Bagley. Sponsors: Simon and Mary Ann Kirsch. At the same time I also baptized at St. Joseph's on December 22, 1850, Elizabeth Huber, born in Susque-


hanna township on December 10, 1850, legitimate child of John Huber and Eva nee Heil. Sponsors: Charles Huber and Elizabeth Heil. P. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B."

In 1845 Father Lemke brought along from Germany several boxes of church goods, containing a chalice, cibotium, ostensorium, cruets, altar linens, in fact about everything needed for the altar. These goods were stored in the ware room of John Wirtner's tannery, about a half mile south of Bradley's Junction. Before Father Lemke left for Lancaster, Augustine Farabaugh again hauled them, but this time to St. Joseph's church where they were to remain until needed at Carrolltown. (54).

On Monday, Father Celestine sent a team to bring these goods to St. Benedict's church. However William Weakland refused to hand over the keys to open the church. When Father Celestine heard this he consulted his staunch friend, Jacob Luther, the 'Squire of the town. 'Squire Luther advised him to take them. Father Celestine then appointed the 'Squire his deputy to bring the church goods. 'Squire Luther left, taking with him two of the Mass servers, John Wirtner, Jr., who still lives, and Xavier Spronger and from Campbelltown, another boy, John Stolz. They went their way north, traveling the old road through Sunset Park, and arrived at St. Joseph's church. The 'Squire entered the church by a rear window, handed out such goods as were needed to the boys and left. (55).

On Christmas morning at 10 o'clock Father Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B., assisted by the Rev. Hugh P. Gallagher, of Loretto, and Father Maurus Zacherl, O.S.B., solemnly dedicated the church in honor of St. Benedict, Patriarch of the Monks of the West, and then celebrated Solemn High Mass (56). It was just 51 years to the day when Father Gallitzin dedicated the first church at Loretto. The Mass servers were John Wirtner, Xavier Spronger, Matthias Dietrich and John Yahner. Old John G. Miller and his wife were among the leading singers on this occasion. The priests of Carrolltown were under great obligations to the hospitality of this couple when on their visits to St. Joseph's church.

The first baptism administered in St. Benedict's church is the following: "On the 29th of December, 1850, I baptized Christina Mary Soisson, born in Carroll township on the 13th day of October, 1850, legitimate child of John Soisson and Mary Magdalin nee Lambour. Sponsors: Joseph Soisson and Christina Lambour."

P. Maurus Zacherl, O.S.B.

Christina Mary Soisson is now known as Sister M. Martha, O. S. F. On the feast of the five stigmata of St. Francis in the year 1924, Sister Martha celebrated her Golden Jubilee of Profession as a Sister. After an absence of 51 years she visited her old home at Nicktown in October, 1924.

The first marriage ceremonies in the church are recorded thus: "On the first day of January, 1851, I united in marriage Francis Strittmatter, legitimate son of Andrew Strittmatter and Francisca nee Maier, and Elizabeth Huber, legitimate daughter of Theobald Huber and Elizabeth nee Amen. The wittness were: Peter Strittmatter and Mary Kirsch."

P. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B.


The Missions

From now on the priest who attended St. Lawrence held services at St. Joseph's once or twice a month until the church at St. Boniface was dedicated on June 5, 1860. After that services were held only on the feast of St. Joseph, until September 6, 1903, when the Rev. Boniface Wirtner, O.S.B., opened the church again for the usual Sunday services for the benefit of the people of the town of St. Benedict.

The work of Father Maurus was an arduous one, but he did not shirk his work. In order to protect his health, for he was none too robust. The Rev. Placidus Doettl, O.S.B., was sent here as second assistant in May 1851. From here the two assistants continued attending the missions at Glen Connell, later called St. Lawrence, the German Catholics at Loretto, Hollidaysburg, Summit, and New Germany; in Clearfield County, Clearfield, Cooper, Curwensville, Frenchville, Kylertown, Luthersburg, Snow Shoe, etc. Some of these missions are very arduous, while wild animals, bears, wolves, panthers and poisonous reptiles infest these forests. The Fathers go 40 to 80 miles on horseback to their missions and seldom see a house along the road. The scattered Catholics of these districts had not seen a priest for years, some of them had never seen one. Civil marriages were quite common; children from 10 to 15 years of age had not yet been baptized and had not received any instruction whatever; parents were careless regarding their religion and often attended protestant services. Mixed marriages with their evil consequences were frequently found. Churches were none, but now churches and schools are being erected. The priests come regularly on fixed days to say Mass, preach, baptize, bless marriages, instruct the children, hunt up the scattered Catholics, try to make them acquainted with each other and organize them into congregations, distribute good books and Catholic papers, ward off or destroy bad literature and endeavor to awaken the dormant faith of the settlers by introducing confraternities and societies. And really their labors have been successful, and the Know-nothing movement has not diminished but rather increased the fruit of their labor. (57). A Catholic Paper and at least one or more Catholic Magazines should be found in each Catholic home as reading matter for the young people.

On July 13, 1851, the Rt. Rev. Bishop O'Connor, D. D., administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a class of 55 boys and 57 girls. During the month of September the board of trustees introduced pew rent as a means of raising money to pay off the debt of the church.

In January 1852 the Rev. Odilo van der Green, O.S.B., replaced Father Placidus as assistant. He has only one baptism here to his credit, but during each month his name appears several times in the Baptismal Books at Glen Connell, Loretto, St. Augustine, Hollidaysburg, Indiana, etc., until August when he was appointed pastor of St. Bernard's church, Indiana, Pa.

During the first week of February, 1852, the Rev. Maurus Zacherl, O.S.B., was sent as assistant to St. Mary's, Elk County. From this time on all missions between St. Mary's and Snow Shoe were attended from St. Mary's, Pa. (58).


Father Maurus' place was now filled by the Rev. Father Henry Lemke, O.S.B., who had entered the Order of St. Benedict as a novice on February 2nd, 1852. Towards the close of the year Rev. Francis Greimer came here for the benefit of his health and remained until the 18th of August, 1853. He succeeded in the work of Father Charles Geyerstanger, O.S.B., who had been stationed here from the beginning of November, 1852, to some time in February, 1853.

The church at Glen Connell was being used for some time but was not yet dedicated. Bishop O'Connor delegated the Very Rev. Celestine to perform this ceremony. Father Celestine blessed the church and dedicated it with the usual solemnity of the Roman Ritual in honor of St. Lawrence on January 9, 1853, Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany, assisted by the Rev. Francis Greimer (59). On that Sunday Father Charles celebrated High Mass at Carrolltown. In the beginning of June Father Celestine left for St. Bernard's church, at Indiana.

The Very Rev. Ildephonse Boeld, O.S.B.

The Very Rev. Ildephonse Boeld, O.S.B., of Indiana, was our next pastor. His first baptismal record was written on the 13th of June, 1853. During this year the last payment on the church building subscription became due, also the final payment to J. Peter Urban, the contractor.

"November 1, 1854. The Board of St. Benedict's Church, of Carrolltown, met. The following were present Jacob Luther, President, E. Bender, Treasurer, John Flick, Jacob Shabacher, Christian Buck, and Peter Huber. It was agreed by the Board that Emericus Bender, Treasurer and Jacob Luther, President, should proceed to settle the accounts of the Church and that we should make our charge for the sum, and to give notice to meet, and look over the same. They said after the next meeting that they would never meet again. Jacob Shabacher Jr., gave up being Secretary and John Flick, Collector.

(Emericus Bender Pro Tem.)"

Nov. 15th, 1854. The Board met at the Rev. Ildephonse House on Fifteenth of November A. D. 1854. Those present were Jacob Luther, President, E. Bender, Treasurer, Jacob Shabacher Jr., Francis Bearer Esq., John Flick, Peter Huber, John Luther and Christian Buck, and they agreed "that the within Account shall Stand finally Settled to this date." (60).

Moneys Received on Subscription of the Congregation $4,125.97
Moneys on Pew Rent of Said Church for 3 years 1,478.23
Moneys from Rev. Peter H. Lemke 845.00
Moneys from Missionaries 65.00
Moneys from Collections on Christmas 39.00
Moneys, Legacy of Jacob Zorn, by his Will 25.00
Moneys, Rev. Boniface Wimmer, left by 210.00
Moneys, for Bricks and Boards 194.24


Amount Debt of the Church.

To Work at the Brickyard, Wood hauling, etc. $1,168.78
Extra work to said Church Spouting, etc. 481.43
Monies paid on Interest and Cost first November 193.34
J. Peter Urban Esq. Contractor 6,700.00

Summarized Statement by Emericus Bender, Secretary.

The Debt of the St. Benedict Church $8,543.55
Received from Subscription, Pews and otherwise 6,982.54
Moneys not Paid with Interest 1,698.28
Moneys due from Subscribers on Subscription $724.96
Moneys Amount due on Pew Rent 270.02 994.98

  Copy and Signed.
  Jacob Luther, President.
  Emericus Bender, Treasurer.
  Francis Bearer, Esq.
  John Luther.
  Jacob Shabacher, Jr.
  Peter Huber.
  Christian Buck.

The statement shows that four-fifths of the cost was paid. If the indifferent members had placed themselves in the class with the willing workers more than halt of the remaining debt would have been paid.

Father Ildephonse went once a month to Loretto for the spiritual welfare of the German Catholics of that congregation. On horseback, in company with the Rev. Amandus Kramer, O.S.B., he made such a visit to Loretto. On his return, about a mile out of town, he showed that he was no match for Father Lemke's horse, which, shying, threw him, injuring him mortally. He was taken to Carrolltown, received the last sacraments and died the next day, June 14, 1855. (61) He was a priest of true worth. All catholics sorrowed at his death and spoke well of his good life. He was the first priest to be buried at Carrolltown.

The Rt. Rev. Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., being then on a visit to Rome, the Very Rev. Demetrius de Morogna, O.S.B., Prior of St. Vincent Abbey sent the Rev. Valentine Felder, O.S.B., of Indiana here to fill the vacancy until the Abbot would return. Father Lemke attended to the affairs of the congregation and Father Valentine to those of the missions. Like Prince Gallitzin, Father Lemke insisted upon upholding the authority of the pastor. And more so as Pope Pius VII in "Non sine Magno" issued Instructions to the Rt. Rev. Bishop Marechal, his Suffragrans, all Boards of Trustees and to the Faithful in General: "Trustees ought to bear in mind that the properties, which have been consecrated to divine worship for the support of the church and for the maintenance of its ministers, fall under the power of the church; and since the Bishops, by divine appointment, preside over their respective churches, they cannot, by any means, be excluded from the care, superintendance and administration of these properties . . . . (to act otherwise) the church would be governed,


not by Bishops, but by laymen; the shepherd would be made subject to his flock; and laymen would usurp that power which was given by Almighty God to Bishops. But those who are desirous of remaining in the bosom of their Mother, the Holy Catholic Church, and of providing for their eternal salvation, are bound religiously to observe the laws of the Universal Church."

On September 22, the Rt. Rev. Bishop O'Connor, D. D., was here and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a class of 117 boys and 93 girls. During the month of October, 1855, Father Lemke left for the State of Kansas to the great regret of the people. During the latter part of the month of November, three young ladies left for the Benedictine convent at St. Mary's Pa. On the 21, March, 1857, they made their perpetual vows as Sr. M. Placida Graeber, O.S.B., Sr. M. Gregoria Moser, O.S.B., and Sr. M. Teresia Vogel, O.S.B. (62).

The Very Rev. Celestine Englbrecht, O.S.B.

As soon as the Rt. Rev. Abbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., arrived at home he appointed Father Celestine again as pastor, January, 1856. The mood of the church trustees was not changed by this selection of the priest who had completed and dedicated the church. On October 19, 1856, they met at the residence of the president, the ex-Philadelphia member and passed the following resolutions, which were to stand as future bylaws: "First there shall be no order granted unless the full board is present. Second, the secretary is to keep the books and do the writing. Third, no one of the Board to receive any money except the collector. Fourth, no money to be paid out except by the Treasurer. Fifth, the borad is to meet in a year from this date and settle with Collector and Treasurer. Sixth, by order of the Board of St. Benedict's church the president is to call meetings when it is necessary."

In June, 1856, we find the new assistants, the Rev. Ulrich Spoettl, O.S.B., and the Rev. Oswald Moosmiller, O.S.B., at active work. Father Oswald, in his St. Vincents page 203, describes this place thus: "The quality of the land is not of the best, hence cultivation of the same requires strenuous labor and patience. A wise economy and above all holding to the principle: 'Rather less but well', is a necessity. The forest, as a rule, is very dense. The white pine and the hemlock trees are the most prominent, they spread their root far and wide on the upper surface of the ground; chestnut, oak and poplar are also common and are often so large that they measure four feet in diameter. The wood of these trees is very valuable whenever there is a possibility and opportunity to taking it to a saw mill. A new settler knows that his first duty is to bring the land under cultivation as soon as possible. As a rule he has no means of transporting the logs to a saw mill, nor is there a ready market here, but he would be obliged to haul his lumber to a railroad or city and perhaps even then sell on credit. For these reasons a new settler, who must use his cash reserve to buy what is necessary for the house, cattle farm, food and perhaps hire help, cannot enter the lumber business, but will burn all timber not necessary for the construction of his buildings or for making rail fences. Hence he barks the trees and leaves them to


die. This is the reason why the neighborhood of Carrolltown and in fact a wide district on the mountains presented so dreary an aspect and fearful dread during the high wind storms.

"As assistant at Carrolltown it was my duty to go to St. Lawrence once a month. On a very stormy Saturday I was on my way, which leads to Elder's Mill (Now Thomas Mill), traveling between the rail fences when there fell a tree, not a hundred steps in front of me, directly across the road, throwing the dead limbs and fence rails in every direction, whilst the far spread roots threw up an immense pile of dirt and stones. On the following day, Sunday, a boy, of about twelve years, was sent to Hollidaysburg to return a borrowed horse. A tree fell, struck the horse across the saddle and killed the horse, but the boy escaped. unhurt, thanks no doubt to his Guardian Angel.

"On Monday I returned to Carrolltown. I saw an immensely large tree lying across the house of Jacob Krois, the grave digger. The active tanner, Benjamin Wirtner, had often warned him of the danger, but he retired as usual to find himself, this time, a prisoner in bed. The tree fell in such a manner that in crushing the roof and breaking the beam, which fell beside the bed, made him a prisoner in his own bed, until some of the neighbors came with a ladder, cut a hole in the roof and freed him."

The Father might had added, that the people, when going to the church, carried their shoes in their hands until they arrived at the outskirts of the town. At home they walked bare footed even in the winter. It was a common thing to see a bare footed person walk in the snow to the stable to feed the cattle or run to the spring for a bucket of water. Even the shoemakers family was no exception. These sturdy, robust people did not often require the services of a doctor.

The church services at Carrolltown were held in a manner becoming a Catholic settlement. Corpus Christi procession was always held in the open air with great pomp. On occasion several persons wished to add a greater solemnity to the occasion and borrowed a canon from Ebensburg; but as the Rt. Rev. Bishop O'Connor had forbidden, in the diocesan statues, the use of fire arms at any ecclesiastical celebration, it was not repeated (63). In 1856 a new reed organ was bought for the church to the great delight of our first organist, Mr. Francis Grasberger. During the vacation months of this year the Rev. Leonard Mayer, O.S.B., professor of music at St. Vincent's College, was here and instructed the choir to sing a four voice Mass and Vespers.

The Parochial School

The religious instructions for the school children attending the township schools was under the direction of the Ven. Brother Martin Beck, O.S.B., our sacristan. Although all these schools were taught by Catholic teachers, Br. Martin visited them every week, namely, Peter Strittmatter's school near Patton, the cross roads school north of town, Francis Luther's cross road school south of town, John Cole's


High Altar, St. Benedict's Church


school on the old Loretto road, and Hopple's school on the road to Nicktown. In those days the school term lasted only three months.

For several years beginning in 1855 the Ven. Brother Raphael Eigner, O.S.B., taught school in the house built by Father Lemke. The school term was a four or five month term during the summer months. Here also Brother Martin taught the catechism class. Among the first pupils to attend this school were Bernard Wesnitzer, Nicholas Eckel, Henry Lohr, Albert Bostlet, James Sharbaugh, Erhart (Rev. Anthony) Wirtner and his sister Helena (Mrs. Simon Huber), Luke Binder and his sister Walburge (Mrs. Scanlan), Bernard Karl and his sister Annie, two of Joseph Barbrich's girls, Barbara and Walburge Beringer, Catherine Gantner an orphan child, Joseph Zollner, etc. (64).

The first to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in Glasser's settlement in George Glasser's house, and the honor of gathering the people together and urging them to build a church in honor of St. Boniface belongs to Father Celestine (65). In 1858 he passed around the subscription list. Jacob Glasser donated two acres of land to the church. On November 10th work was begun on the foundation, but the corner stone was not blessed by Father Celestine until Sunday, May 22, 1859. The settlement is now called St. Boniface.

On October 19, 1858, the Rt. Rev. Josua M. Young, D. D., Bishop of Erie, Pa., administered the sacrament of Confirmation in St. Benedict's church to 62 boys and 57 girls. On this occasion the Bishop came from St. Augustine, where he had administered the sacrament in the morning. Preparations had been made for a grand reception of the Bishop; children and their elders were to conduct him to the church; several horsemen were to meet him on the way, but one was to return and give the signal at the proper time for all to fall in line for the procession. When the horsemen met the Bishop's carriage, the Bishop was pleased, and expressed his wish of riding on horseback to the church. Mr. Benjamin Wirtner offered him his horse and exchanged places. The bishop accompanied by Father Prior Celestine rode on ahead directly to the sacristy. In due time the Bishop's carriage arrived with Benjamin Wirtner as the person of honor, who received all honors intended for the Rt. Rev. Bishop. Thus it came to pass that he was called "bishop" and Carrolltown had now a bishop of its own. (66).

The Prior Celestine soon found the house building becoming rather too small for school purposes and decided to build a school near the church. After having consulted several persons in the congregation, he concluded that the best place to locate the parochial school would be in the rear of the church lot, although a part of the lot in the rear of the sacristy was used pro tem. as a cemetery. Behind the temporary cemetery was the hitching ground for horses. Behind this was a large field, full of stumps, a part of the ten acres donated by Father Lemke for church and cemetery. Now the stumps must be removed. Prior Celestine hired several men to do this work. Before the work was completed he was sent as Prior to Erie, Pa. Prior Celestine was highly esteemed for his success in spreading the faith and keeping strong the spirit of religion


St. Benedict's Parochial School


The Very Rev. Utho Huber, O.S.B.

Prior Utho, the next paster, arrived here during the second week of July 1859. Father Utho finished the work of removing the stumps from the front half of the cemetery. The ground was then plowed, harrowed, and sown in grass. Then grave lots were laid out, large enough to contain eight large graves for adults. Along Carroll Street a wide row was reserved for children's graves, in the center of the cemetery a plot was reserved for graves of priests, and a row was set aside for adult single graves.

In September, Andrew Foster left for St. Vincent's College. He was the first student from this place. (67). During the month of October we had our second mission, which was given by the Rev. F. X. Weninger, S. J. At the close of the mission he was delegated to bless the cemetery and the cross. He also gave missions at St. Lawrence, St. Joseph's and at St. Boniface. At the latter place it was held in the church which had no roof except over the sanctuary. The Baptismal Books show that a large number of converts were baptized in the district.

When Prior Utho made the announcement that on the last day of the mission Father Weninger would bless the cemetery he also said that the cemetery was now ready to receive burials, also that those, who had deceased relatives and friends buried either in the rear or at the sides of the church, should kindly remove them into the new cemetery, the grave or graves in the new cemetery to such would be free.

The first grave in the new cemetery was dug for the child of Christopher Glass and his wife Mary nee Shepherd. It is the first grave in the children's row on Carroll Street. (68). On the fifth of November, 1859, the first adult, Mrs. Thomas Dumm, was buried in the same cemetery. She is the mother of John Dumm and Mrs. Joseph Wentz. (69). With very few exceptions the Catholics, who are the very backbone of the congregation, who give most in time or money, or both, to the support and management of the church and school; the men who best understand the affairs, resources and prospects of the parish; the men who attend Mass regularily and receive the sacraments frequently; the men, who do most and talk least, removed their deceased friends in spite of the protest of the church trustees.

On June 5, 1860, Father Utho dedicated the church at St. Boniface. Father Utho was highly esteemed by the Bishop.

The Very Rev. Otto Kopf, O.S.B.

During the month of October 1860, Father Otto was appointed pastor. He finished the work of cleaning the cemetery of stumps. Some of the old timers remember him gathering the young men in the evenings and having them pile up the stumps and burn them, and put the grounds into grass.

Father Otto at High Mass now requested that the remaining dead be removed to the new cemetery, and added that later the grounds


would be leveled by a plow so that it would not be possible to know whether a grave had been removed or not. One of the trustees arose and remarked that the remaining dead would not be removed to the new cemetery. The priest kindly requested him to be silent in the church and if he had anything to say, to say it outside. These announcements were made in German and a few persons misunderstood the word plow, German Pflug, as being Fluch, a curse, but the better instructed Germans rectified the misunderstanding.

So far no stoves were in use in the churches on the mountains. In fact exceedingly few were to be found even in sitting rooms anywhere on the mountains. In order to encourage a better attendance among the children and for their health as well as that of their mothers, Father Otto requested the hardware merchant, John Wirtner, to order two stoves for the church. Augustine Farabaugh built a hanging chimney in the center of the church. When Mr. Wirtner had set up one of the stoves, a member of the trustees of the church entered and handed him an order that the stoves be taken out of the church. (70). When Father Otto heard this he said: "Set up also the other stove and if the trustees do not pay you I will."

It so happened that Sunday was an extremely cold day and the church was very warm. When Father Otto entered the church, he found the trustees occupying the prominent places around the stoves at the expense of the children and their mothers. At High Mass he announced that a collection would be taken up to pay for the stoves. One of the trustees arose and said: "There would be no collection taken up, the trustees would not pay for the stoves and that they must be removed". Father Otto ordered the man to be silent and if he wished to preach or bark to do so outside of the church. Moreover the day may come when these men would need the priest and he would not be there."

After Mass in front of the church the man stood on a stump and 'began his harrangue, but it was too cold for any one to stop and listen. Strange to relate, only one of those trustees, who later asked pardon of the priest and tried to repair the scandal, obtained the grace to make his confession and receive the last Sacraments before he died. Yet there was a priest present when each of the others died but too late to hear a confession.

This sad occurance calls to mind the life of our saintly pioneer priest, Prince Gallitzin, who did not always sleep on a bed of roses. A restless set of unprinciples ruffians, disgruntled persons, who came to Loretto traduced, calumniated, defamed, strove to drive him out of Loretto, nay finally on a certain Sunday they threatened to put him to death if he dared to enter the church to say Mass. A similar fate befell those men, as related by Sarah Brownson, (Life of Prince Gallitzin, page 211), and like the Carrolltown case only one man escaped the curse by publicly asking pardon of Father Gallitzin and making reparation.

Part 0 - Contents
Part 1 - St. Joseph's Church
Part 2a - Life of Rev. Henry Lemke
Part 2b - Life of Rev. Henry Lemke (cont'd.)
Part 3 - St. Benedict, Patriarch of the Monks of the West
Part 4 - Cistercian Monks
Part 5a - St. Benedict's Church
Part 5b - St. Benedict's Church (cont'd.)
Part 5c - St. Benedict's Church (cont'd.)
Part 6 - Carrolltown - Know your town

Contributed to the PAGenWeb Archives by Romayne Shay McMahon, 2005.
OCRed and proofread by Judy Banja

Cambria County File Managers - Lynne Canterbury and Diann Olsen
Cambria County USGenWeb Archives

PA USGenWeb Archives

USGenWeb Archives

Copyright 1997-2011, USGenWeb Archives