Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Compiled for the
Centenary of the Founding
of the Parish
Laying of the Cornerstone
of the Present Church
1832 1936 1886
July 23, 1936
transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by
History of St. Francis Parish
Most Reverend John Mark Gannon, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D.
Bishop of Erie
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
As we have said above, this history has been
compiled. No attempt has been made by us to write a history of this parish;
those who have been called to Eternal Rest have written it for us. Therefore we
feel that an attempt on our part to write anything into it would be to place an
ugly blot on a most beautiful picture. Our efforts consist in supplying a word
of introduction or of explanation where we deemed necessary.
When one endeavors to compile a complete record of a
parish like St. Francis, he at once regrets that more was not committed to
writing by those who accomplished so much in their own quiet and humble way. He
has, therefore, to be content with the material at hand. Aside from this, in
almost every work of this kind, after its publication it is found that something
has been omitted which has had a great bearing on the life of the congregation.
If this so happens, (and we fear the possibility of such an event) we trust that
you will be indulgent with us.
In presenting this brief history of St. Francis Parish we wish to acknowledge the aid given to us by the following and to extend our appreciation to them for their kindness: Mr. Walter Welch, Raftsman's Journal, Mr. Lewis Cass Aldrich, Very Rev. R. T. Guilfoyle, Miss Mary Malloy, Miss Barbara Usher, and to those now deceased, Clifford Beahan and John Short.
Rev. Martin N. Glynn
the same time, but not on the Locust Street lot. It stood on the site
for years occupied by Dr. Burchfield's residence on Second Street. This jail was
built of logs one story in height, and served the required purpose until the
stone jail was built in the rear of the courthouse on Market Street, about 1841-
In 1810 the town had a population of about
twenty inhabitants and received no considerable increase up to 1822. In the year
1836 the town had only about three hundred population.
In 1822 there were three taverns within the
town limits of Clearfield. From the best information obtainable Robert Collins
commenced keeping a public house about the year 1817, soon after the completion
of the courthouse. Collins made an addition to his house, part frame and part
brick, and there entertained the traveler at what was for many years known as
When the town had acquired a population
sufficiently great to warrant the establishment of a post-office, Thomas
Hemphill, proprietor of a hotel on Market Street, was appointed postmaster.
The first election of borough officers was
held at the prothonotary's office on Monday, January 1, 1841, at which the
following officers were elected: Burgess, Dr. Henry Loraine; town council,
William Big-ler, James Alexander, William Merrill, George R. Barrett, and Robert
Wallace; town constable, Joseph Schnell; overseers of the poor, Thomas Hemphill
and Alexander Irvin.
The outstanding contribution of Clearfield to
the political life of the state was William Bigler who was elected governor in
The chief occupations of the people of
Clearfield until about fifty years ago were lumbering and farming. There were a
few mines being operated, but only on a small scale. The greatest of these
industries was lumbering. The lumber was cut in the winter time, hauled over the
snow to the river banks and floated down to the mills on the spring flood.
Farming occupied the men's time during the summer, as food had to be supplied
for the families and for the stock. The mills for manufacturing flour and for
sawing the logs were operated by water power.
Today Clearfield offers a wide and varied field of manufactures to anyone wishing employment. The largest silk mill and one of the largest Refrigerator Works in the state are located here. A million dollar sewer pipe plant is in constant operation. There are four large brick plants here. These plants demand large quantities of coal and clay and are supplied with them from the mines in the surrounding hills.
Kurtz Bros, manufactures school supplies on a large scale. Aside from
these industries there are many others contributing to Clearfield's prosperity.
They are, chiefly, the Machine Shops, Knitting Machine Factory, Overall Factory,
Underwear Factory, Planing Mills, Tanneries, and the railroads.
These industries could not possibly find a
better location, as Clearfield has great possibilities as a mining, business,
manufacturing, and railroad center. To begin with, Clearfield is in the very
heart of the bituminous coal fields and there are millions of tons of coal and
clay that are as yet untouched. Next, Clearfield is the meeting point of three
great railroad systems, the Pennsylvania, the New York Central, and the B. & O.
The Lakes-to-the-Sea Highway also passes through Clearfield and offers good
roads for motor transportation. Through Bus Lines operate over this highway.
Clearfield has direct communication with other towns and cities through the Bell
Telephone and the Western Union Telegraph Companies.
The men of Clearfield are alert and
progressive as shown by the number of social and business clubs which they
support. The Commercial Club is a business man's club and is interested in the
welfare of the town. The motto of the Rotary Club is "Service above Self." The
Kiwanis Club supports the same principles. They are organizations of
broad-minded business and professional men, devoted to the rendering of service
to the community. The American Legion has gained much publicity for Clearfield
by its wonderful Legion Post, and especially by its Band which has been highly
acclaimed throughout the State.
The students of Clearfield receive their education through a well organized system of public and parochial schools. The public high school offers many courses to their pupils. The chief courses are Academic, Commercial, General, and a course in Manual Training for the boys. The St. Francis High School, though small in size, is well equipped and up to date in every way. It is noted for the completeness of its courses and for the high positions which its graduates are always able to obtain. The students of St. Francis are instructed not only in their studies. but in that great factor so necessary to education—that is religion.
HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
St. Francis of Assisi
The reform of the Church undertaken by Pope
Gregory VII had not cleared the field of all abuses; unmistakable moral evil
still existed. But Christian consciousness was restive; reform was in the air.
Individual reformers appeared, and not infrequently ran their course to
exaggeration and heresy. Some struck out in open opposition to the Church. Her
wealth and the use of it made by individual members, evoked angry protests.
The great struggle of the Church and the
Empire was still going on- And within the broader struggle there were minor
ripples on the surface of society. Towns were growing. The bonds of feudalism
were loosening, for with the growth of the towns a new and important class, the
merchants, was making its influence felt. These important men, the merchants,
were chafing under the power of feudal lords. In Assisi open conflict flared out
between them. Perugia had been looking on and then suddenly sided with the
feudal lords. There was a battle. Assisi was defeated. Among the prisoners taken
was the merchant's son, Francis. That was the first association of our Saint
with the history of Assisi.
He was then almost twenty years of age. He was
a natural leader. In the merry crowd of young Italians who roused the little
town with strains of music and of song Francis stood out preeminent. He had a
marked affection for display in dress, and in his partiality for song and music
the romantic temperatment of his mother, Pica, was showing itself.
On his first return after imprisonment he had fallen ill, and illness revealed much to him. After it, everything seemed changed; his amusements became distasteful, and frequently he found himself considering what God required of him. At Spoleto he asked St. Paul's
Rev. J. Leo Anderton
His vocation took precise form after two years
of a hermit life of penance. It took place in this way: Francis was at Mass one
morning when he heard the gospel of St. Matthew read where it is said "Do not
possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses: nor scrip for your journey,
nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff." When the priest had explained its
meaning, Francis, with that quick decision which was characteristic of him, saw
that here at last was the ideal life that was drawing him. He threw aside his
hermit's garments, he cast away the staff he had with him, took off his shoes,
and set out to preach the Gospel.
He contented himself with one poor coat, which he girt about him with a cord. This was the habit which he gave to his friars the year following. It was the dress of the poor shepherds and peasants in those parts. The saint added a short cloak over the shoulders, and a capuche to cover the head.
He also enjoyed the Pauline vision of things
as symbols of realities, and understood the grand fraternity of creation. But it
was vestiges of Christ particularly which he sought. Little lambs he ; loved
with special affection because they symbolized for him the Lamb 'God; he would
tread gently on the very stones because in Scripture Christ was called a Rock;
the fluttering taper he could scarcely extinguish because Christ had been
called tire Light of the World; and on his way he would gently lift the worm by
the path, mindful of the text: "I am a worm and no man."
On Alverna, his imitation of Christ was rewarded: he became himself a living crucifixion. And yet, in the midst of all, Francis was the saint of joy. This great saint passed to the glory of his God on October 4, 1226. The Order of Franciscans which he founded was constituted as such by Pope Innocent III and since then has spread rapidly throughout Christendom.
Ellis Michaels, Clearfield County PAGenWeb Archives File Manager
Copyright 2009, USGenWeb Archives