Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 75 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 75 of 192)
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the church. In October, 1871, he accepted a
call to Scranton, Pa. He was succeeded by
Rev. Henry Kose, in December, 1871. The
latter remained four years, and was succeeded
by Rev. C. Martin, until 1879, and by Rev.
G. Koopman, until April, 1888.

The pastors from that date have been as
follows: Rev. D. Zwink from 1883 to 1886;
Rev. P. Rech, from 1886 to 1887 ; Rev. D.
Kester, from 1888 to 1891 ; Rev. G. A.
Schneider, from 1893 (present incumbent).

The societies of the church are as follows :

Ladies' Mission Society, organized about
1861 or '62.

Young People's Society of Christian En-
deavor, organized in 1894.

A lot at the southeast corner of Twentieth
and Sassafras streets was purchased in Janu-
ary, 1892, at a cost of $3,000. The church

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and parsonage on Seventeenth street were sold
in 1894, and a handsome brick building, with
parsonage attached, completed during the
spring of 1895, on the lot last mentioned, cost-
ing about $12,000. The new church was dedi-
cated on Sunday forenoon, June 15, 1895,
with impressive exercises.

The congregation also own a house for the
sexton, on the north side of the church.


The Swedish Baptist Church was organ-
ized in March, 1895, under the ministration of
Rev. VVm. Kohler. It numbered thirty-seven
members at the time of organization. The
congregation meet in the former building of
the First German Baptist Church, on Seven-
teenth street, between Peach and Sassafras.

ST. John's evangelical Lutheran and


The records of this venerable church go
back to the beginning of the century. Ad-
herents of the Lutheran Church were among
the first settlers of Erie county. They were
mostly Pennsylvania Germans from Berks,
Lancaster and Dauphin counties, and include
such well-known families as the Riblets,
Browns, Stoughs, Ebersoles, Gingrichs, Zim-
mermans and VVeigels. When the first serv-
ices were held is not known, hut it was by a
traveling missionary, Rev. Mr. Muckenhaupt,
who, from 1803, did pioneer work among the
Lutherans in Erie and Crawford counties,
with Venango as his headquarters. The first
baptisms are recorded August 17, 18, and 19,
1808, when twenty-four children were bap-
tized. Rev. Muckenhaupt was succeeded by
the well-known, scholarly Rev. P. ^V. Colsen,
who was sent in 1816 as a missionary to the
northwestern counties of the State by the
Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsyl-
vania. Rev. Father Heyer, the pioneer mis-
sionary of the Lutheran Church of this coun-
try to India, took up the work, when Rev.
Mr. Colsen succumbed, December 28, 1816, to
sickness contracted while on one of his mis-
sionary tours to Erie. After Father Heyer's
departure. Rev. Messrs. Ruppert and Meyer-
hoeffer looked after the Lutheran congrega-
tion at Erie. In 1820, the first class of cate-

chumens, eight in number, was confirmed.
From 1822 to 1829 there are no records, but
the congregation was probably served as be-
fore, by the traveling missionaries from Craw-
ford county. During the period from 1831 to
1832, Rev. Mr. Schulz attended to the spirit-
ual wants of the body. He was succeeded
in 1832-33 by Rev. Mr. Heilig, the first resi-
dent Lutheran pastor at Erie, and he in turn
by Rev. Messrs. Thanke and Beyer.

On January 1, 1835, the congregation
was reorganized, and a constitution adopted,
with 100 male charter members. Rev. C. F.
Stohlmann, D. D., later a prominent Lutheran
divine of New York city, was elected pastor.
He served with great success from 1835 to
1838. Up to 1835 the congregation wor-
shipped in the schoolhouse on Federal Hill,
In that year it was decided to build on a plot
of five acres, which was given to the congre-
gation by Conrad Brown, sr., as his share
toward the building fund. This land is still
in possession of the congregation. A frame
church costing several thousand dollars was
completed during the pastorate of Rev. Mr.
Kuchler (1838-'44), who founded the congre-
gations at Fairview, Girard and McKean. In
1843 the charge reported 430 communicants.

The frame church was superseded in 1861
by a brick structure seating 1,000 persons. It
was built at an expense of $10,000, and fur-
nished with a pipe organ costing $3,800. This
edifice became too small during the pastorate
of the late Rev. A. L. Benze, to whose efforts
the present prosperity of the congregation is
largely due. The building was therefore en-
larged and beautified at a cost of $23,000.
The present parsonage was built in 1868.
During the pastorate of the present pastor,
Rev. G. A. Benze, the Mission property on
Twenty-second street, near East avenue, was
acquired and a chapel erected at an outlay of

From 1844 the following pastors have been
in the service of the church: Rev. F. P.
Feysel, 1845-48; Rev. C. G. Stuebgen, 1848-
53; Rev. F. W. Weiskotten, 1853-54; Rev.
C. A. Brockmann, 1855-59 ; Rev. Jacob Blass,
1859-63 ; Rev. W. Schaefer, 1863-65 ; Rev. G.
Beck, 1865-67 (died while pastor) ; Rev. C.
F. Boehner, 1867-72. April 7, 1867, the late
Rev. A. L. Benze took charge. During his
pastorate of nineteen years he exerted a wide
influence over a large portion of Erie county.



and the congregation grew to be the largest
Protestant organization in the city. At his
death, January 18, 1891, he was one of the
most beloved pastors in Erie. His son, Rev.
G. A. Benze, A. M., the present incumbent,
was elected as his successor, and assumed
charge February 15 of the same year.

Although the mother church of several
others, the church still has a communicant
membership of 1,200, with QOOchildCen in the
two Sunday-schools. Its property is valued
at $87,000. The records, though incomplete,
show 5,336 baptisms from 1808; 1,413 wed-
dings from 1839, and 2,100 funerals from

The following societies are connected with
the church :

Ladies' Society, membership 300, organ-
ized about 1878.

Young People's Union, organized in 1879,
membership 235.

Teacher's Union, membership eighty-five,
organized about 1879.

St. John's Society, membership 200, or-
ganized in 1869.

Work was commenced September 18th,
1895, upon an addition to the church build-
ing, which is expected to cost some $20,000.


This church was organized on the 15th of
August, 1861, by Rev. J. H. W. Stuckenberg.
The church officers first chosen were Samuel
M. Brown and Henry Gingrich, elders; John
T. Brown and Henry Werther, deacons. The
original membership numbered forty-one.
The first place of worship was in a school-
house in South Erie, on Peach street, near
Twenty-sixth. Here the congregation con-
tinued until the completion of a frame build-
ing located on the southwest corner of Peach
and Eleventh streets, which was dedicated on
the day before Good Friday, 1864. The
ground upon which the building stands was
deeded to the Council of the church, June 18th,
1862, for the consideration of $1,200.

The old building becoming unsuitable for
the purpose of the congregation, was sold and
removed to West Nineteenth street, where it
does duty, in two or three parts, as abodes for
private families. The present handsome brick
edifice, on the same site, was dedicated on
June 5, 1887. It has been much improved
since. The pastors of the church have been

as follows : 1861-65, Rev. J. H. W. Stuck-
enberg (who, however, served a portion of
that period as chaplain of the One Hundred
and Forty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Vol-
unteers, during which time the pulpit was
supplied) ; 1866-71, Rev. J. L. Smith; 1872-
74, Rev. J. R. Groff; 1874-80, Rev. H. H.
Bruning ; 1881 until the oresent date. Rev.
Isaac O. Baker. Mr. Baker preached for the
congregation during the summer of 1880, but
did not assume the pastorate until June 12,

The church supports a mission Sunday-
school at Tenth and Wayne streets, known as
Grace Mission. It occupies the old building
of Grace Mission of the Episcopal Church,
which was bought and removed to its present
site. Another mission, known as Zion's,is
maintained at Poplar, between Nineteenth
and Twentieth streets. Zion's Mission was
established in March, 1890, and Grace Mission
in November, 1893.

The societies of the church are as follows :

Ladies' Working Association, organized
in May, 1882.

Little Helpers, organized in July, 1888.

Mission League, organized in October,

Luther League, organized in Julj', 1893.

Rev. Mr. Fry was called to the charge of
the Mission service in November, 1895.


In the fall of 1881, Erie was visited by the
ministers of a conference of the Eastern Dis-
trict of the Missouri Synod at the request of
several resident Lutherans of this city, for
the purpose of establishing a mission. They
continued their visits here for a period, preach-
ing on each occasion of their coming, until in
December of that year, a congregation com-
posed of five members was formed, by Rev.
John Sieck, of Farnham, N. Y., and a call
sent to the Rev. H. Sieck, of South Bend,
Ind. This call also embraced the missionary
field of Northwestern Pennsylvania and West-
ern New York. Mr. Sieck was installed
April 23, 1882, and at once commenced his
labors. A house was rented on the corner of
Si.xth and Myrtle streets, and was fitted up
both for a pastor's residence and place of
worship. This was used until the fall of the
same year, when a lot on Eleventh, between



Myrtle and Chestnut streets, was purchased
and the frame building now standing there
was erected at a cost of about $1,000. It was
dedicated December 3, 1882. The property
on which the parsonage stands was pur-
chased in August, 1885.

Rev. H. Sieck remained until May, 1886.
He has been succeeded by the following pas-
tors: Rev. C. Morhait, Julv 18, 1886, to
September 4, 1892; Rev. C. Ruppel, Decem-
ber 17, 1892, to December 9, 1894; Rev. Geo.
Johannes, present incumbent, from January
15, 1895. Tiie congregation numbers 135 to
140 members.

The societies of the church are :

Ladies' Aid Society, organized by Mrs.
H. Sieck, Mrs. John Kuppler and Mrs. J.
Reinhard, about 1882.

Concordia Society, organized by Mrs. Ferd-
inand Herhold, E. H. Reinhard and Mrs. E.
H. Reinhard in 1884.

The church is attached to the Missouri
Synod of the Lutheran Church in America,
which started in 1845 with thirteen ministers.
It now numbers 1,500, representing all the
States of the Union, Canada and part of Ger-
many, with between 600,000 and 700,000
communicants. The Erie Church belongs to
the Eastern District, which embraces all of
the New England States, Pennsylvania, New
York, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.

A prosperous Sunday-school is connected
with the church, which was started about the
time of the original organization. The church
added a fine organ in September, 1895.


This church, which has its location on
Tenth street, near German, was organized in
1885, and erected its building in 1890. The
value of the edifice is placed at $4,000. Its
creed is Evangelical Lutheran, and it belongs
to the New York Conference of the Augustana
Synod. The church numbers about 150 com-
municants, and the Sunday-school, organized
in 1891, has some fifty or sixty pupils. Rev.
C. S. Renius, the first settled pastor, still re-
tains that position. The church publishes a
monthly tract in the Swedish language. In
this connection it maybe stated that there are
about 1,200 Swedes in Erie county, who rank
among the most industrious and peaceable citi-
zens. The church societies are :

Sewing Society, organized in 1885.
Young People's Society, organized in No-
vember, 1891.

Sick Aid Society, organized in 1892.


The youngest Lutheran congregation in
the city, was organized November 13, 1892.
The church building at German and Twenty-
third streets, was erected in 1893. Rev. H. K.
Miiller has been pastor since the organization
of the congregation. The parsonage, at 319
East Twenty-third street, is his personal prop-
erty. It was built the same year as the church.
The Sabbath school was organized October 8,

1892, and the Women's Society in February,

1893. The congregation maintains a mission
on Twenty-fifth street, near Penn avenue,
which was established in October, 1893.

ST. Patrick's r. c. church.

Years before the erection of any building,
services of the Catholic Church were performed
by missionaries, who occasionally visited Erie
in order to give the few Catholic families then
residing in the place an opportunity to prac-
tice their religion. As far back as 1887, ihe
Rev. Father McCabe officiated as pastor, the
house on German street occupied as a dwelling
by John Sullivan being owned and used as a
church by the English-speaking Catholics, As
there are no authentic records to show the pro-
gress of this church, a space of some years
will have to be passed over until 1844, at
which time Father R. Brown undertook a
work which, considering the circumstances
and poverty of his small congregation, was
looked upon as no small task, viz. : the build-
ing of St. Patrick's church, on Fourth street,
between French and Holland. Father Brown
remained in charge five years — long enough to
see the building of which he laid the founda-
tion inclosed. He was succeeded by Father
Reynolds, under whose ministry the building
was completed. Father Reynolds remained
about one year, and was succeeded by Rev.
Joseph F. Deane, who remained in charge of
the congregation until Erie became an Episco-
pal See, and the building a pro-cathedral

In 1853, the thirteen counties now belong-



ing to the Diocese of Erie were taken from
the Diocese of Pittsburg, and Rt. Rev. M.
O'Conner, then Bishop of Pittsburg, was trans-
ferred to the newly-erected See of Erie, and
became its first Bishop. He governed the
Diocese of Erie about one year, and was again
transferred to Pittsburg. Rt. Rev. J. M.
Young was appointed to succeed him, and on
April 23, 1854, took charge of the diocese.
Rev. Father Deane was pastor of the church
until Bishop Young's coming to Erie. Imme-
diately after the new Bishop took charge Rev.
William Pollard was appointed pastor, and
after his time the list of priests included Rev.
Thomas Malone, Rev. Charles McCallion,
Rev. William Lambert, Rev. John Ber-
bequi. Rev. J. O'Connor, Rev. Father Kenny
and Rev. Father Tracy. Father Tracy con-
tinued some five or six years, when he was ap-
pointed to the Clearfield church, and the Very
Rev. John D. Coady, Vicar General of the
Diocese, was placed in charge of the congre-
gation. Father Coady remained until the oil
regions rose into importance and called him to
that field. He was succeeded by Rev. Father
Carroll, who is well remembered for his efforts
in the cause of temperance. It was he who
founded the Father Mathew Society, which
worked wonders among the people of his na-

Bishop Young died September 18, 1866, at
the Episcopal residence adjoining the church.
His funeral cortege contained nearly 10,000
people, who sadly followed the remains to the
grave. Bishop Young was born at San ford,
Me., in August, 1808, ordained a priest in
1837, and consecrated Bishop of the Diocese
of Erie in 1854. Very Rev. John D. Coady,
V. G., was appointed administrator, and for
nearly two years governed the diocese.

On the 2d of August, 1868, the present
bishop, Rt. Rev. Tobias Mullen, of Pittsburg,
was consecrated and took charge of the dio-
cese, making his oftici.-d home in the building
which had been occupied by Bishop Young,
on Fourth street, adjoining St. Patrick's

Father Thomas A. Casey became pastor of
St. Patrick's congregation in 1869, and con-
tinued in that relation until his transfer to St.
Peter's Cathedral, in October, 1893. From
1869 to 1875, he was assisted by Rev. James
A. McCabe; from 1875 to 1877, by Rev. E.
T. Murohv ; from 1879 to 1880 bv Rev. T. T-

Calligan ; and from 1880 to 1890, by Rev.
William Dwyer, who was given charge of St.
Andrews' in the latter year. Father Dwyer
was succeeded by Rev. John P. McCloskey,
who was first assistant until September, 1893.
Revs. B. J. Raycroft, Thomas Graham and
A. B. Mechura, acted as second assistants for
a short period during 1890. They were suc-
ceeded by Rev. S. E. Aaron until October,
1893. On the latter date Rev. Hugh Mullen
was appointed pastor, with Rev. P. McGov-
ern as assistant. They served until Novem-
ber 20 of the same year, when Rev. P. M.
Cauley, the present pastor, received his ap-
pointment. January 1, 1894, his brother, Rev.
Joseph M. Cauley, was appointed assistant.

The following are the societies of the
church :

St. Vincent de Paul Society, organized in

Father Mathew Total Abstinence Society,
organized in 1866.

Rosary Society, organized in 1868.

The Sodality of Young Ladies, organized
in 1868; reorganized in July, 1894.

Children of Mary, organized in 1882.

Third Order of St. Francis, organized May
21, 1891.

The Temperance Cadets, organized Au-
gust 15, 1894.

St. Patrick's Branch, No. 12, C. M. B. A.,
organized March 25, 1879.

St. Patrick's Branch, No. 145, C. M. B.
A., organized May 31, 1895.

Branch No. 10, L. M. C. B. A., organized
March 5, 1890.

In March, 1894, extensive improvements
were undertaken, both on the exterior and in-
terior of the church. They were completed by
May of the same year, at an outlay of about

St. Patrick's Auditorium, a beautiful
pressed brick structure, with white stone trim-
mings, was commenced March 19, 1895. The
foundation alone cost $4,000. The contract
price for enclosing the superstructure was
$14,734. This institution, when completed,
will be thrown open to the general public. It
will be fitted up with a large gymnasium, a
spacious auditorium, meeting rooms, reading
room and library, and will be under the direc-
tion of an experienced instructor, who will
devote his time to the physical and intel-
lectual training of young men from 6 to 9



every evening. The building occupies a full
city lot, running from Fourth to Fifth street,
fronting on both streets. Fart of the outer
wall of this structure was blown down, during
a severe gale, early in the forenoon of Novem-
ber 26, 1895, causing a loss to the contractors
of some 12,000.

St. Patrick's parochial school was estab-
lished-in 1863. The building in which it is
held, on Fourth street, between Holland and
German, was erected in 1865. It is in charge
of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and has an aver-
age attendance ol 400 children. A Sunday-
school is also maintained by the church.

ST. Peter's r. c. cathedral.

The pro-cathedral building on Fourth
street (St. Patrick's) having become too small,
it was decided by Bishop Mullen to build a
new edifice, which should be the cathedral
church of the diocese. A lot was purchased
at the northwest corner of Tenth and Sassa-
fras streets, one of the choicest locations in
the city. Ground for the new structure was
■broken in February, 1873, and the corner-
stone was laid on St. Peter's day, August 1,
1875, with the largest demonstration of a re-
ligious character the city of Erie had wit-
nessed up to that date. Mass was first cele-
brated at St. Patrick's pro-cathedral, after
which the procession, composed of numerous
societies of Erie, Meadville, Gorry, Union
City and other places, and a large concourse
of people, proceeded to the site of the build-
ing, where the ceremonies were conducted by
Rt. Rev. Tobias Mullen. An address was
delivered in English by Bishop Mullen, and
one in German by Rev. Father George Meyer,
of Meadville.

The building was not completed until
August 2, 1893 — more than twenty years
after its commencement — when it was for-
mally dedicated as St. Peter's Cathedral with
exercises of a very interesting nature.

The Cathedral is gothic in style and of
massive and imposing appearance. The
famous C. C. Keely, of Brooklyn, N. Y., was
its architect. It is constructed of Medina,
N. Y., red sandstone, trimmed and orna-
mented with white sandstone, in part from
Amherst, Ohio, and in part from Mercer
county. Pa. The Cathedral is 220 feet in
length, and 112 wide at the transepts. The
main portion of the building is eighty-five feet

wide and the height of its ceiling in the center
aisle is seventy-five feet. Its towers are solid
stone from base to top. The main one of the
three is surmounted by a copper cross, gilt,
eleven feet high. The distance from the street
to the top of the cross is 265 feet. The seat-
ing capacity of the Cathedral is 2,500. Its
cost to September 1, 1895, was $250,000.

Adjoining the Cathedral, on the north, is a
handsome three-story Episcopal residence, of
pressed brick, trimmed with stone, which is
occupied by the bishop and priest who officiate
in the Cathedral.

The institutions attached to the Cathedral
are : St. Joseph's Orphan A.sylum and St.
Vincent's Hospital, an account of which will
be found in another chapter.

The societies of the Cathedral are as fol-
lows :

St. Vincent de Paul Society, for the relief
of the poor, organized in 1893.

Rosary Society, organized at St. Patrick's
Church in 1868.

St. Peter's Branch, No. 20, C. M. B. A.,
organized March 12, 1892.

Young Ladies' Sodality, organized in Sep-
tember, 1893.

Branch No. 7, L. C. M. B. A., organized
March 5, 1890.

Branch No. 49, L. C. M. B. A., organized
April 17, 1892.

At the opening of the Cathedral, Rev.
Father Casey, Vicar General, was appointed
rector, with Rev. John McCloskey and Rev.
S. E. Aaron as his assistants. Upon the death
of Father Casey, Father Aaron became rec-
tor, and Rev. F. J. Bender assistant rector.
These priests are assisted by Rev. Hugh Mul-
len, who is also in charge of St. Ann's con-

In March, 1894, the Bishop purchased a
large piece of land on Eleventh street, be-
tween Peach and Sassafras, upon which a
school building for the Cathedral congrega-
tion is to be erected. The contract for the
building was let .September 24, 1895, at

It may be of interest to add in this con-
nection that Bishop Mullen was born in Ty-
rone, Ireland, in 1818, and consecrated to the
charge of the Erie Diocese August 2, 1868
(see General Church History). Very Rev.
Thomas A. Casey, late Vicar General, was
born in St. Catherine's, Canada, son of James



Casey, the well-known Erie contractor. He
was ordained a priest in 1869, appointed
Vicar General December 25, 1880, and died
February 9, 1894. In November, 1894, Rev.
P. J. Sheridan, of Clearfield, was appointed
to succeed him as Vicar General.


As far as can be ascertained, the first Ger-
man family of the Catholic faith to locate in
Erie was that of Wolfgang Erhart in 1880.
Others of this nationality soon followed,
and these families conceived the idea of
uniting in a congregation in 1888, when
mass was said by Father Mosquelette in a log
house which stood on the northeast corner of
State and Tenth streets, belonging to Mr.
El hart. The following year the same mis-
sionary father, accompanied by Rt. Rev.
Francis Patrick Kenrick, Bishop of Philadel-
phia (to which diocese Erie then belonged),
again visited this people. Services that year
were held in a frame house which was also
the property of Mr. Erhart, on the northeast
corner of French and Fourth streets. The
Bishop confirmed a number to whom the sac-
rament had not yet been administered. In 1887
the congregation, as it may now be called,
bought a lot on the south side of Ninth street,
between Parade and German, and built a
small frame church, where St. Mary's edifice
now stands. At the next visit of the Bishop
to Erie, arrangements were made which led
him to send the first pastor for the German
Catholics of the city, Rev. Ivo Levitz, of the
Order of St. Francis. On his vojage to
America, Father Levitz had, during a severe
and threatening storm, promised that the first
church he would have the happiness of bless-
ing in America should be dedicated to the
" Blessed Mary conceived without sin." As
his field for missionary labor contained a
church already built but not yet blessed,
Father Levitz on the 2d day of August, 1840,

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 75 of 192)