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History of St Patrick's Catholic Church, Georgetown IA 1914


Posted By: DJ Scieszinski
Date: 5/10/2022 at 13:43:13

The Catholic Messenger
April 9, 1914



St. Patrick's, Georgetown

The year 1849 marks the coming of the first Catholic to Monroe county. Mr. Frank Fitzpatrick was that man. He came from Pennsylvania and was shortly followed by James McDonald, and then came Thos. Boland, James Flattery and a few others were added to the number.

The first mass was said at the home of Thos. Boland in about the year 1851 by a French priest who came from Keokuk. Upon this occasion there were thirteen children baptized. Previous to this time the few Catholics had journeyed to Ottumwa to hear Mass and receive the sacraments.

Father Kreckel of St. Mary church, Ottumwa, was the next priest to visit the rapidly growing band of Catholics. He made a number of visits, saying Mass at the homes of James Flattery, Thos Boland and Hugh Fitzpatrick.

It was in the year 1854 that the first Catholic church, a log building, was erected, with Father Kreckel acting as the pastor and frequently coming from Ottumwa to look after the spiritual needs of the fast growing congregation. The log church was located but a short distance from the present stately and beautiful St. Patrick church at Georgetown.

Father Mitchell succeeded Father Kreckel and became the first resident pastor and the first to make his home in Monroe county. Under his careful guidance and earnest efforts the parish grew very rapidly.

Father Mitchell was succeeded by Father Clifford, who quickly realized that the growing congregation would soon need a larger church.

The present church site of about twenty-five acres was purchased and preparations began for the present stately building. It was decided that stone would be the material used. The members of the parish then got busy and helped to quarry and haul the stone from the Babb quarry about four miles distant. Among the many men who were active in the cutting and hauling of the stone and otherwise aided in the new church project we find the names of Ed Stack, James Sinnott, James Flattery, John Craig, Thos Comer, Michael Reynolds, Thos Boland, Hugh and John Fitzgerald, Richard Malloy, Peter and Edw. Cody, Richard Murray, James O'Brien, J. C. O'Connor, James O'Connor, Mr. McDonough, Jno. Walsh, the Kelleher and Coleman families, John Kirby, Edward (Tip Top) O'Bryan, Thos Navin, John Duggan, John Scully, James and Pierce Cullinane, Dan and Wm Brothers, John Flahive, John and Patrick Griffin, Jno. Carr, Matthew Ennis, and many others who were no less active or liberal in their efforts to push forward to success the new church project.

Bishop Smythe of Dubuque laid the corner stone of the new church on the 19th of May 1864.

The new church was to be no small affair, as will be seen from the following dimensions: 60 x 110 feet, side walls 30 feet high with the gable reaching 62 feet. The tower height is 125 feet.

During the construction of the church, Father Clifford was succeeded by Rev. Bernard P. McMenomy, who took up and completed the work, so well begun by his predecessor, the church being completed in 1868.

Father McMenomy was succeeded by Father Gleason in November of 1869. Father Gleason died a short time after coming, and during the following years St. Patrick church of Georgetown was taken care of by Fathers Malone, Cannon, Harrison, Ryan, Monahan, Hayes and Father Edw. Gaule who was succeeded by his nephew, Father Patrick Gaule. Father "Pat" as he was known to man, woman and child did much to not only strengthen the parish, but he remolded the church, raised the floor, put on a new asbestos slate roof known as "the century roof", new stained glass windows, solid oak pews were added, statues of the twelve apostles and others were also placed in the different corners of the church, and the altars were painted and gilded together with the frescoing of the church.

Father Gaule made of St. Patrick's one of the most beautiful churches in the state, and it would certainly be hard to find its equal as a country church anywhere in the nation.

Rev. William Treacy then came and remained until Feb. 1st, 1912, when he was transferred to Council Bluffs, and Rev P. J. Murphy was appointed pastor and took charge on the 15th of February 1912. Father Murphy at once went earnestly to work for the benefit of St Patrick's parish and quickly came to the conclusion that a school was necessary and along these lines he went to work, and started the erection of a school and residence for the Sisters of Humility, who had been secured to take charge of the school. When the work was well under way Father Murphy was taken sick and for a time was compelled to retire. He went to his home in Connecticut, where he remained for four months. Upon returning to Davenport he assisted Rev. D. J. Flannery at St Anthony's, Davenport, while he was recuperating and getting back his strength. He returned to Georgetown in November of last year after an absence of six months. During Father Murphy's absence the parish was taken care of by Rev. M. J. Hartigan, who pushed on the work started by Father Murphy.

St. Patrick school is a three story building with four large school rooms and a dormitory large enough to accommodate about 50 boys. The building is thoroughly modern and when opened about the fifteenth of January had all the latest furnishings.

The Sisters' residence is also a three story building and in addition to the music rooms and living quarters for the Sisters there is a dormitory capable of accommodating about forty girls. Two Sisters of Humility are already on the ground making arrangements for the opening of the school. At least two more Sisters will come when the school opens in February.

Father Murphy is building wisely and is looking far ahead into the future. This is particularly an age of education and he realizes that the future of the church and nation depends upon the children of today.

Father Murphy is to be congratulated upon what augers so well for the future of Georgetown, and the good people who have made it possible for him to push along this work are entitled to much praise and credit. They through their children will reap the benefit in the years to come. There are many other steps ahead that Father Murphy is already figuring upon, and it is not unlikely but that in the near future Georgetown will come to the front as an educational center and this means much for Georgetown. It is most conveniently located about two miles from the main line of the C. B. & Q. railway in one of the most beautiful spots in Iowa. Father Murphy expects to and will add improvements from time to time that will be in keeping with the work he has already done.

A new hall, a water plant, and an electric light system are among the first improvements that will claim his attention.

The only debt now upon the parish is for the school and Sisters' home, which is expected will be wiped out within a year. A sacred festival just held netted a nice sum which is to be applied to the debt of the school property.


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