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Catholics in Indiana in 1840

A friend of this website, Brian Lankford who is studying the history of the Church in Evansville and especially the history of the parish of the Assumption, now gone, founded by one of our favorite historical figures, the Reverend Anthony Deydier.

Brian sent us a copy of the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph from August 22, 1840 1. The article gives a sort of, “play by play” of the laying of the cornerstone of the “first” Assumption church. Father Deydier was sent to Evansville and environs by Bishop Brute, who ordained Deydier at the age of 49, just three years before the article below, from the Catholic Telegraph:

From the South Western Sentinel

We had the pleasure of witnessing the solemn ceremony oi laying the cornerstone of the Catholic church to be erected in this town. The rain, which fell in torrents on Tuesday morning for which the ceremony was first announced, having caused, it to be postponed to the following day (August 5,) the zealous Catholics had more time to prepare suitable accommodations for the attending congregation, which was on that day numerous, and composed of persons of every creed, several clergymen of different denominations being present.

The morning of Wednesday being as fine as could be wished, the procession began to move from the rooms occupied a temporary place, of worship by the Catholics of this place where Americans, Germans Irish and French, belonging to that church, unite every Sunday in perfect concord in their relations towards each other, as well as in the unity of faith on which they pride themselves. The procession was headed by the censor-bearer, next to whom was the cross-bearer, with the sign of redemption lifted in the air, followed by the Very Reverend T. Badin, in Surplice and stole; next by the Reverend Messrs. R. Weinzepflen and A. Deydier acting as Deacon and Subdeacon, with their tunics and dalmatics; and lastly the Right Rev. Janson, Bishop of Nancy and Toul, in France, in his official costume, with the mitre on his head, and the pastoral staff or crozier in his left hand.

On the way to the corner of the intended building, the clergy chanted the Litany in Latin; to which the members of the congregation who could biug respond Ora Pro Nobis, that is, Pray for us. After the blessing of the water by the Bishop, and appropriate prayers and psalms, the Bishop, attended by his officers, went down into the excavation, and saw the stone rightly fixed with mortar, he himself laving souie of it at the four corners,— the rest of the operation being finished by the architect.

In a cavity dug out in the first stone there was deposited a tin box, containing a Catholic Almanack for l840, the names of all the clergy attending on the occasion, those of the principal officers in the General Government and the State of Indiana, with those of the officers of the town, and of some of the principal citizens of Evansville. The hour for commencing the ceremony having already gone by, no time could be spared to put in the names of all the subscribers to the building of the church, as gratitude would have suggested.

After the completion of that ceremony, the Bishop went round all the foundation to bless them; which being done, the Rev. T. Badin cleared away much of the mist of prejudice, which often causes people of other denominations to view Catholics and their religion in an.unfavorable light. The gentleman, not withstanding his advanced age, spoke for a long time to an attentive and respectful congregation, which drew from him many complimentary expressions on their good feelings,— that were truly evinced by the proceeds of the collection made on the spot, amounting to $143. which is no bad specimen of the I liberality of the citizens, in this pressure for money. We understand that Bishop Janson has added the same sum to the collection.

Pontifical high Mass was then sung. The choir gained much credit for itself, especially for Mr. Gaertner, who has been indefatigable in his exertions to form it, and under whom the members have made astonishing progress for the short time he has been teaching.

After the singing of the Gospel, a short address was delivered by the Rev. A Deydier, the Catholic priest of the place; and in conclusion, after the pontifical Benediction, the sacrament of confirmation was administered to two ladies.

The procession then returned,in the order in which it came, to the place whence it started, followed by the whole Catholic congregation, a great number of them singing the hymn Te Deum in German. Nothing could exceed the order and decorium of all the spectators during the performance of this long ceremony, which lasted till nearly half past one.

In addition to the above, there is another article in that copy of the Catholic Telegraph which deals with the foundation of St. Joseph Parish in Terre Haute. The article was written by Fr. Stanislaus Buteux. He was featured in a previous post. Of course, this parish is still active, albeit with a different building.

Communicated for the Telegraph.
Terre Haute, Vigo County, lN. Aug. 11, 1840.

Through the mercy of God, with funds collected by the Rev. S. Buteux, pastor of this place, in various parts of the union, and from the generous liberality of people of all denominations here a Catholic church has been erected in Terra Haute, which, though small, cannot easily be surpassed for convenience and neatness, by any similar edifice in the West. The style of its architecture is Doric. It is a brick building of an oblong form, 65 feet in length, by 45 feet in breadth; but it is so constructed that wings may be added as necessity may require.

On Sunday the 26th of July last, Original St. Joseph Church, Terre Hautethis temple was dedicated to the Almighty,by the Rt. Rev.Dr.De la Hailandiere, Catholic bishop of Vincennes. The universal anxiety to be present on this occasion, manifested by those, who never had the opportunity of witnessing Catholic rites, or of hearing Catholic doctrines, except through the medium of malignant lieing books and pamphlets was truly intense.The ceremony of dedication was announced to commence at 10 o’clock A.M.,but long before that hour, masses of people of every ago and denomination were assembled, more than half of whom could not find accommodation within the church. If “coming events cast their shadows before.” the wisdom of tho design in constructing the building, so as to admit of enlargement is now clearly manifest. The Very Rev. S. P Lalumiere, preached the Dedication sermon, and during five days in the week ensuing; addressed every evening a numerous and very attentive audience. The Rev. Mr Bellier, president of the Catholic college of Vincennes, with the Vincennes choir which he led, attended on this occasion, and performed to admiration.

How important and interesting must it not be to Catholics, all over the union, to learn that in the thriving town of Terre Haute, in the center of of the most fertile and healthful regions in the west, a Catholic church, is now dedicated, and within four miles northwest of Terre Haute, another Catholic church and Seminary are now beinf built; to say nothing of a third church, 20 miles from Terre Haute,near Paris Ill., which is now getting completed—all brick buildings.

The land for many miles below, and for hundreds of miles above and west of Terre Haule, is rich and luxuriant yielding such an abundance of the necessaries of life, that it is becoming empatically, the granary of the south. In addition to these natural advantage*, the great National road passes through Terre Haute; and the Wabash and Erie canal, which will bo connected with the Central canal, by the Cross cut canal of which the basin is at Terre Haute, terminates hero in the town.

The Wabash river, upon which Terre Haute is built, is navigable for steam boats five or six months in the year, and forms an excellent out let for the immense quantities ci grain, flour, pork, &c. &c., yearly transmitted from the surrounding country to New Orleans and intermediate points on the Mississippi. Taking all these things into consideration, few towns in tho west present greater inducements to the industrious Catholic emigrant; nor is there any other region of the United States more abundantly blessed, as it respects soil and natural advantages.

I remain, dear sir, Yours, S. BUTEUX

Finally, it was noted that the “agent” for the Catholic Telegraph in Evansville, was one Francis Linck who was the owner of the Mansion House where Fr. Deydier lived for a short time. Linck donated the bell for the first Assumption Church.

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