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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Under the shadow of the Cross

This is the steeple of the third St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Pottsville, Pennsylvania, whose cornerstone was laid was laid in 1891. This church (and the previous St. Patrick's Churches) has looked down upon many of my family's days. It watched as they walked into it's church for many Sunday Masses, as brides and grooms walked out to start their new lives together, as they visited again carrying new babies for Baptism, and again and again as they prepared to bury their loved ones.

William Cowhey married his second wife, Margaret Foley, in the 2nd St. Patrick's on February 23, 1878. The wedding was attended by Maurice Ryan and Clara Kitchen. They walked into St. Patrick's many times after that day for Baptisms of their new babies: Ellen (no date recorded), Elizabeth in 1881, Thomas in 1883, Ambrose in 1884, and Lena in 1891 and Isabella in 1892, among many others, whose Baptism records have not been as easy to find. (William had 12 children in all, counting both marriages.)

Sadly, the family would attend both Lena's and Bella's funerals shortly after their Baptisms. Both baby girls died very young.

Charles Cowhey, one of William & Margaret's children, walked through the doors of St. Patrick's in 1913 to wed Agnes Carmelita Donnelly. The couple found themselves there celebrating the Baptism of their baby daughter Anna Cowhey in 1914, who would one day be my grandmother.

Thanks to St. Patrick's for keeping good records so that I could learn a little more about the lives of these family members, most whom I never knew. Thanks also to the kind and generous staff at the church. As the older records become brittle and fragile, the church is protecting them by restricting access to them. A few years ago someone was working on entering the data into computer files, but has since passed away. I'm hoping that someone new will take on this volunteer task sometime in the near future, for the benefit of all those whose families lives passed under and around the steeple of St. Patrick's Catholic Church of Pottsville.

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