Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives


The History


St. Francis of Assisi Parish


Compiled for the

Centenary of the Founding

of the Parish


and the

Golden Anniversary

of the

Laying of the Cornerstone

of the Present Church


1832     1936     1886


July 23, 1936


transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by

Ellis Michaels



This page was last updated on 23 Apr 2011

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Introduction - page V
Clearfield - page VII
Saint Francis of Assisi - page XI
Founding of St. Francis - page XV
Bishop Kenrick's Diary - page XIX
Deed to St. Francis Property - page XXIII
Early Catholics - page XXV
Old Records - page XXIX
Clearfield and Father Gallitzin - page XXVI
St. Francis Centenary Hymn - page XXXIII
Golden Anniversary of St. Francis Church - page XXXV
St. Francis Benefactor - page XLI
Catholic Education - page XLII
Most Rev. John Mark Gannon - page XLVII
Very Rev. John D. Coady - page LI
Right Rev. Monsignor Peter J. Sheridan - page LII
Reverend Thomas W. Cavanaugh - page LV
Rev. Michael A. Ryan - page LVI
Priests Who Served St. Francis - page LIX
Clearfield's Contribution To Priesthood - page LXVII
Our Sisters - page LXX
The New Convent - page LXXVI
St. Francis Cemeteries - page LXXVIII
Catholic Daughters of America - page LXXXI
Blessed Virgin Sodality - page LXXXII
Rosary and Altar Society - page LXXXIII
Saint Francis Choir - page LXXXIV
Girl Scouts - page LXXXV
Knights of Columbus - page LXXXVI
Committee for Jubilee Celebration - page LXXXVII
Our Patrons - page LXXXIX

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     The following are recorded in the History of Clearfield County of 1887 as early Catholic settlers:

     ROBERT COLLINS. We have not the exact date of his coming to Clearfield, but the records of the county and borough tell us that he purchased a lot in 1807 and was one of the first to erect a house. Later when plans were laid to erect a courthouse, Mr. Collins received the contract and in the year 1814 commenced its erection. He is reported to have conducted the first hotel. Mr. Collins was buried in the old cemetery, but his grave was unmarked, and no record has been preserved with regard to its location.

     JOSEPH BOONE. The records are not clear with regard to the arrival of Joseph Boone in this part of the country. There is a story that he came here from the locality which is now Washington, Pa. It is said that he endorsed a note for a friend and later assumed the responsibility for its payment. He and the friend then made an agreement whereby Mr. Boone was given the property on which our first church was erected. Mr. Boone conveyed to Bishop Conwell of Philadelphia the title for the ground on which the old church was erected.

     CHRISTOPHER KRATZER. Came to this country soon after 1824. He was a cabinet-maker by trade, and took up his residence at the corner of Front and Cherry streets. Mr. Kratzer, during his many years of life in the town, had been identified with much of its progress. He founded the first newspaper in the county, in 1827; had engaged extensively in lumbering and other branches of trade; was twice made county treasurer, and otherwise prominently before the people for over half-century. His son, Harry A. Kratzer, was one of the leading merchants of the borough, having had a place of business on Market Steet.

     JOHN LYTLE was one of the family of George Lytle, a pioneer of the "upper country" in the vicinity of Lumber City, and came to Clearfield town about 1840. He lived on Cherry street, back of St. Andrew's Church. John G., William J., and James H. Lytle were sons of John Lytle. The firm of Lytle Brothers had been composed of John G. and James H. Lytle.









J. A. Breth,   J. S. Beahan,   LouisT. Gaulin

A. E. Leitzinger,   Walter Welch,   Lawrence Rougeux,   S. J. Waterworth, M. D.





     HUGH LEAVY came from New York about the time the Catholic Church was built. He was a bricklayer by trade, and was employed on the church edifice. He married Sarah Wrigley, by whom he had several children. Of these, James L. Leavy was an extensive lumberman, and one of the firm of Leavy, Mitchell & Co. He was proprietor of a livery stable at Clearfield, and conducted stage lines between Clearfield and DuBois, and Curwensville and DuBois. He also had a business as undertaker and funeral director.

     JOHN McLAUGHLIN was born in the county Donegal, Ireland, and came to this country in 1825, and to the county in 1832, where he settled on the ridges south of the town. In his family were ten children. James McLaughlin, son of the pioneer, became proprietor of the Smith House in 1872, but made extensive alterations and changed the name to the St. Charles.

     PETER A. GAULIN, one of four children, sons and daughters of Francis Augustine Gaulin, was born in France, and came to this country in 1832, locating in Centre County. Peter A. Gaulin enlisted in Co. G. 51st Pennsylvania Vol. Inf., as a private, but by several promotions for meritorious service was raised to the rank of captain. About the year 1848 the family moved to Karthaus Towship, this county. He came to Clearfield Borough in 1865. The succeeding year he was appointed postmaster and held the office sixteen years.

     THE HAMILTON AND DAUGHERTY FAMILIES came to this locality from the County Tyrone in Ireland and settled just outside of Philadelphia at a place called Leepers which is now known as West Chester. After remaining there for some time they decided to go to Ohio for the purpose of farming. They reached our neighboring town of Tyrone and there learned that the bridge was out and that they could not proceed further at that time. They came therefore, to Clearfield and settled here.

     JOHN DAUGHERTY was born in 1806 in county Tyrone in Ireland and came here with the Hamiltons in 1822.

     WILLIAM MORGAN, a laborer, is recorded in Clearfield about 1840. He had married Sarah, a sister of Hugh Leavy. He came to Clearfield, no doubt in order that he might be with the other members of the Leavy family.

     GEORGE NEWSON was the husband of one of the sisters of Hugh Leavy. He came here about 1840.

     JOSEPH SCHNELL is recorded as the first town constable.








St. Francis Altar Boys - 1936








     On October 10th, 1831, I baptized John, the legitimate son of Christopher Kratzer and Mary Rock. The sponsors were Joseph Boone and Eleanor Collins. —Patrick Leavy.

     The same day I baptized Thomas, the legitimate son of Hugh Brady and Mary Greene- The sponsors were John Rafferty and Josephine Schnell. —Patrick Leavy.



     On April 10th, 1834, I joined in matrimony John Baptist Royer and Johanna Girardeau. The witnesses were Francis Royer and Anna Bronoel. —Patrick Leavy.



     The death records state that the following passed away and were buried in the old cemetery:

Jane Anne Collins
Mr. Hines
Anna Collins
Joseph Daugherty
George Newson
Jane Ann McGhee
John Lawrence Leavy
Hugh J. Leavy
Hyman Winslow
Sarah Louisa Cabella

John Gilligan

Adaline Boone

Priscilla Boone

Joseph Boone

James Hamilton

Mary Jane Hamilton

Mrs. Wimer

Amanda Kratzer

Bernard Kiegan


     The sacrament of confirmation was administered by Bishop Kenrick on June 8th, 1834 to the following:

Sebastian Francis Renaud age 13
John Baptist Bronoel age16
Joseph Valentine Doll age 14
Francis Patrick Reidenback age 13
Joseph Peter Doll age 11
Louis Augustine Reidenback age 10
John Francis Doll age 9
George Weber age 30







     Received the fifteenth day of May, 1831, of Rev. Patrick Leavy, Eighty-seven Dollars in full for a note I now hold against him which I am to destroy. William Irwin.



     Adaline Boone departed this life Sept. 7, 1829 — aged 17.


     Mr. H. A. Kratzer, Chestertown, Md., is the oldest living person who was baptized in the old St. Francis Church. He was born on April 25th, 1848, and was baptized in August of that year by Rev. J. A. Gallagher. He is the son of Christopher Kratzer and Mary Rock.



     Mr. Hugh Daugherty of 308 Park Avenue is the oldest member of St. Francis at present. He has been living a retired life since 1931. He was born on April 18, 1855, and was baptized by Rev. T. Ledwith. Ten years of his life was spent working in hotels and nineteen years was spent working for the New York Central.


     John Miles Kratzer and Pemberton Kratzer were the first altar boys in Clearfield and Miles Kratzer was succeeded by A. E. Leitzinger.


     Miss Louisa Kratzer, the oldest daughter of Christopher Kratzer, raised the flowers which were used on the altar in the early days.


     According to reliable information, the "Angelus" was rung in Clearfield for the first time in the early fifties. The "Angelus" is that beautiful prayer through with a Catholic is reminded over and over again of the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce her selection as the Mother of God's Only-begotten Son and the Birth of the Saviour.

     At the time mentioned above the men of the parish assisted in the erection of the bells. Among them was John F. Wachtel, an uncle of A. E. Leitzinger and Mrs. Mary Usher. After their erection Mr. Wachtel rang the "Angelus" for the first time.







     No history of the planting of the Catholic Faith in the State of Pennsylvania is complete without treating at length of the life and of the career of that great Prussian Nobleman, the Priest-Prince, Demetrius Gallitzin.

     The reading of his hardships and labors while extending God's Kingdom in the Keystone State presents a picture almost unbelievable. To us who have the comforts of home, the enjoyment of companionship, smooth-surfaced highways and the advantages of city life, this pioneer of God seems like a fictitious character. We read in render of his accomplishments and the effect of his zeal.

     Frequently the name, Clearfield, appears in his biography and many of us at once take him for our own and are proud to think that he labored in this vicinity. While it would appear that he passed in out of our locality still we have found no records which would early indicate that this good priest labored in our own town.

     In clearing up the mystery of how the name, Clearfield, is connected with the term, "Clear Fields," mentioned frequently in the correspondence of Rev. Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin and which various historians have attributed to designate Clearfield, Clearfield County. Pennsylvania, the error appears to be from the fact that the settlement in the forest known as "McGuire's Settlement" at the time Father Gallitzin arrived was also known as "Clear Fields," and Father Gallittzin's correspondence with Bishop Carroll was dated as "Clearfield Settlement" in 1801 and signed "Parish Priest of Clearfield."

     In a letter addressed to Bishop Carroll, we find the following:

     Headed— "Clearfield Settlement, February 5, 1801. My Lord:" Ends with "I have the honor to remain with profound respect, my lord, Your most humble and obedient servant, Augustine Demetrius Gallitzin, Priest of Clearfield"

     Again we read concerning Father Gallitzin:
     "Shortly after the holidays Father Gallitzin had occasion to go to Conewago, for he was now full of business. So many were coming into the neighborhood of the "Clear Fields" or "McGuire's Settlement," most of them very poor, every one whom he held in his thoughts, anxious to provide for the spring planting on which their whole dependence was placed. From there he wrote to the Bishop, John Carroll, mentioning simply the completion of his house and church."


     (The above information was taken from Sarah M. Brownson's Life of Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin—pages 132, 129, 121).








Girl Scout Troop No. 4


Senior Banquet in St. Francis Auditorium








Sweet Seraph-Saint, the Shepherd's weal,

The People's stay in hours of woe:

Full many a wound thy word did heal,

With Christlike Love and Peace aglow.

Thou gavest to the Poor and Lowly

Bright realms of Gladness pure and holy:

O let thy Charity's golden ray

Illumine our own love-lost day!

Sore Hate has quenched the Light of Heaven,

The days are dark with Strife and War:

The Bonds of Faith are discord-riven

And Right and Hope are fled afar.

O stir with Songs of a happier Morrow

Men's souls, bowed low in Sin and Sorrow,

And in thy Festive Year restore

The Love that ruled in Days of Yore!

Severin Scharl, O. M. Cap.








St. Francis of Assisi Church






Golden Anniversary of St. Francis Church

     The year 1936 marks the Golden Anniversary of the laying of the Corner-Stone of the present St. Frances Church. The Corner­stone was laid July 25th, 1886; Bishop Mullen, of Erie, officiated and was assisted by others of prominence. It was dedicated in the fall of the year 1889, and the ceremony was in charge of Bishop Mullen, of Erie, assisted by others of marked ability. From information available it seems that the plans for the erection of the new church come from Longford, Ireland. They were sent to Father Sheridan by Bernard O'Beirne. The foundation of this magnificent structure was contracted for and erected by James Lynch, of Osceola, brother of Rev. Father Lynch, of Oil City. Peter McCauley, of Philipsburg, was awarded the contract for the stone work. Before finishing, however, he threw up the contract. A committee composed of J. Frank McKendrick, J. L. Morgan, Peter A. Gaulin, Charles Mignot, James McLaughlin and Rev. P. J. Sheridan, completed the work. The total cost of the church was about $25,000.

     The old members of the church look back to the early struggles and untiring efforts of those whose work had accomplished sp much good, and it is with keen delight that their gaze is riveted upon the beautiful edifice of today. The church, itself, stands as a monument to the energy and perseverence [sic] of Father Sheridan and his co-workers. Stately and modern in every way, its beauty adds much to the attractiveness of this thriving county seat. It is substantially built of gray sand stone, and the architects are to be congratulated upon their artistic ability. The interior is a dream of art; and a stranger, who is always welcome, is at once captivated by its coziness. The finish is perfect and one wonders at the beautiful and appropriate decorations which adorn it.

     As we celebrate this great anniversary we know of no better ray to describe St. Francis Church than to publish in full an article taken from the "Raftsman's Journal," Wednesday, September 25, 1889.

     "The new St. Francis Roman Catholic Church, having been completed in every particular, was, on Sunday, dedicated with the imposing ceremonies of the Romish Church.

     The day was cool and pleasant, but threatened rain deterred my people from attending. A special train from Houtzdale brought several carloads, and when all were inside there was quite a large congregation.








Interior of St. Francis Church






     There were present the following Clergymen:

     Right Reverend Bishop T. Mullen, D. D., of Erie.

     Right Reverend Bishop McGovern, of Harrisburg.

     Rev. J. S. Gormley of Renovo, Rev. Father Brady of Osceola, Rev. W. F. Dwyer of Erie, Rev. Father Cavanaugh of Frenchville, Rev. L. P. Kumerant of Philipsburg, Rev. Father Meagher of Houtzdale, Rev. C. F. Seubert of Lock Haven, and Rev. P. J. Sheridan of Clearfield.

     Promptly at 10:30 the bell rang for the dedicatory service and a procession of those who were to perform the ceremonies was formed as follows: Censer Bearer, David Sackett. Cross Bearer, Rev. L. P. Kumerant, attended by Acolytes Leo Souders and Sheridan Beahan. Rev.'s Cavanaugh and Meagher. Rev.'s Brady and Dwyer. Rev. Gormley and Rt. Rev. Bishop Mullen.

     With solemn tread they encircled the outer walls performing the ceremony as laid down in the ritual. Entering the Church, they encircled the interior in the same manner and ended by consecrating the altar.

     The dedicatory ceremony was followed by a sermon by Bishop McGovern. (It was our intention to have published Bishop McGovern's sermon, but through a misunderstanding we failed to receive the copy until the Journal was almost ready for the press, and the great length of the sermon makes its publication impossible at this late hour.)

Solemn High Mass

     At the close of Bishop McGovern's sermon, a solemn high mass was said in the presence of Bishop Mullen:
Celebrant, Rev. Father Seubert.
Deacon, Rev. Father Gormley.
Sub deacon, Rev. Father Kumerant.
First Master of Ceremonies, Rev. Father Dwyer.
Second Master of Ceremonies, Mr. James Mooney.
Censer Bearer, David Sackett.
Acolytes, Leo Souders and Sheridan Beahan.

The Music

     The choir which furnished the music was composed of the following persons:

     Soprano, Miss Nellie Cavanaugh of Erie; Mrs. N. Strayer, Houtzdale; Miss Maggie McCaulley, Houtzdale. Alto, Miss Mary and Mame Kratzer, Clearfield. Tenor, I. J. Duffey, (leader) Houtzdale;






William Turner, Clearfield. Bass, H. H. Hartman, Houtzdale. Organist, Miss Maggie Leavy, Houtzdale.

     The new pipe organ has a magnificent tone and was skillfully handled. The singing throughout the service was good, and during the celebration of the Mass, they sang with excellent effect "Concone's Mass", incidental to which was a solo, Millard's "Ave Marie" by Miss Cavanaugh, and a duet "Ave Verum" by Mrs. Strayer and Mr. Duffy.

     The elegant building which has just been set apart for its wonted use has been in course of erection for several years, the corner stone having been laid July 25th, 1886. The care and deliberation shown in its construction is made manifest in the completeness of every detail. Father Sheridan is to be congratulated along with his congregation upon the possession of such a beautiful and substantial, temple.

     The Church is 50 x 100 feet on the outside, and is built of native sandstone, roughdressed. The spire is one hundred feet high, and massive buttresses support the building. At each end these buttresses extend above the roof and are finished to correspond with the spire, each one being surmounted with a neat iron cresting. The accompanying excellent picture of the church, made especially for the Journal from a photograph will be found accurate in every particular, and is as perfect as the photograph itself. Any description of the exterior is consequently unnecessary.

The Interior

     Entering through the great arched doorway, and passing through the vestibule the view is a very impressive one.

     Looking down the nave the eye instinctively rests upon the High Altar with its lofty pinnacles, its glittering combination of white and gold, its beautiful statuary and flowers. High up in the gable, above the Altar, is a large circular window of cathedral glass, donated by Father Sheridan, and whether in the mellow light that falls from this beautiful window by day, or in the glare of many gas jets and myriads of candles by night, The Altar is a gorgeous sight to look upon. The Side Altars, occupying niches on each side of the apse in which the High Altar stands, correspond with the latter in form and finish. Upon the one on the left, stands a blue robed statue of The Virgin Mary looking fondly upon the Infant Jesus, lying in her arms; upon that on the right stands St. Joseph. These figures are about two-thirds life size.

     The nave, from the floors to the point where the massive timbers of the ceiling join at an acute angle, is forty-seven feet in height. It is separated from the wings by a line of heavy pillars supporting a






series of lateral arches, these in turn supporting the arched trusses which sustain the weight of the roof. All these heavy timbers are exposed to view finished in white and gold, while the walls are handsomely frescoed and decorated with figures illustrative of Bible history.

     The gothic windows are of fine quality cathedral glass and are truly handsome. They are three feet wide by twelve feet high, each one containing a life-size figure of one of the Saints, wrought in colored glass, and surely no better or more appropriate design could have been devised. They cost $125.00 each, and every one of them was donated to the church and inscribed to the memory of the donor, or as otherwise desired.

     The one on the right of the front entrance is dedicated to the memory of Hugh and Sarah Leavy, deceased, and that on the left to their deceased children, Mary, William, Edward, Robert G., and Sarah.

     The two windows in front over the main entrance, which light the choir gallery, are Dedicated one to John Dougherty and wife and the other to Mrs. John Burgoone.

     Along the north side of the auditorium, the windows are inscribed as follows:
1. To the memory of Mrs. Clark Brown, deceased.
2. To Mrs. Patrick Daley, of DuBois.
3. To the venerable John McLaughlin and wife.
4. To the Leitzinger family.
5. To Mrs. T. Cavan, Washington, D. C.
6. To the Catholic Total Abstinance Society, of Clearfield.

     On the south side, beginning at the front, they are inscribed as follows:
1. To Patrick Daley, deceased.
2. To Thomas Reilly, deceased.
3. To Patrick Sheridan, deceased brother of Rev. P. J. Sheridan.
4. To Miss Josephine Cavan, Washington, D. C.
5. To Timithy Cavan, Washington, D. C.
6. To the Rosary Society of the Church.

     On each side of the High Altar, are the Vestry Rooms, the windows in which are dedicated one to the Kratzer Family, and the other to Charles Mignot.






     Hanging upon the walls between the windows are fourteen large oil chromos, in heavy gothic frames of oak, representing the "Stations of the Cross."

     The auditorium, which includes the nave and the two wings, will comfortably seat six hundred people. It is seated with handsome pews made of a combination of oak and ash in natural finish. They are massive and elegant in appearance and harmonize perfectly with their surroundings.

     The acoustics are perfect, enabling persons in all parts of the house to hear distinctly words spoken from the altar in a low tone.

     The organ loft is reached by means of a spiral iron stairway from the vestibule. The new Hammil pipe organ was put in at a cost of $1,000.00 and was not completed until late Saturday night previous to the dedication. It was made at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

     Taken throughout, the church is handsome, substantial, com­fortable and convenient in all its appointments. Its total cost has been about $19,000.00."

     Since the dedication of the church a new organ was purchased in 1906 from The Felgemaker Company of Erie, Pa., by Father Cavanaugh. The price of this organ was Fourteen Hundred Dollars. It is the organ which is in the church at the present time.

     In 1911 Father Ryan redecorated the church and at that time the new stations of the cross were installed.

     In 1929 the interior of the church was once more redecorated and on that occasion the altars were refinished, being made to conform with the modern type altar. Immediately behind the main altar was erected the beautiful crucifix of the "Dying Christ," this same being donated by the William Usher Family.





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