Churches and Religious Institutions
VII. The Roman Catholics - 1814
BY JOHN J. CLEARY
AS THE episcopal seat of the Catholic diocese of Trenton, this city occupies a place of dignity and distinction in our religious annals. It is nearly half a century since the diocese of Trenton was created. The Right Rev. Michael J. O'Farrell occupied the see from 1881 to 1894. The Right Rev. James A. McFaul succeeded him for twenty‑three years. Following him came the Right Rev. Thomas J. Walsh, consecrated July 25, 1918. Upon the promotion of Bishop Walsh to the Newark diocese in 1928, the Right Rev. John J. McMahon was appointed to the Trenton see, assuming jurisdiction on May 10 of that year. St. Mary's Church, 1865, originally dedicated for parish purposes January 1, 1871, became in 1881 the diocesan cathedral by choice of Bishop O'Farrell.
It is estimated that the present Catholic population of the city is nearly 50,000, the foreign or bilingual congregations numbering about 30,000.
PREDECESSORS OF THE SACRED HEART‑1814
St. Mary's is not Trenton's oldest parish. That honor belongs to Sacred Heart Church which inherited the history and traditions of St. John's, built in
1848 and destroyed by fire following Sunday evening service, September 30, 1883. St. John's, itself the successor of a little church built in 1814, long served the entire Catholic community from the Five Points and beyond to Riverview. Indeed it drew faithful worshippers every Sunday from the surrounding country as distant as Lawrenceville, Hamilton Square, White Horse, Fallsington (Pa.) and Washington Crossing, many of these devout people travelling afoot. St. John's, built of stuccoed brick, was erected when the Rev. John P. Mackin was the local pastor, the growth of the Catholic population at the time being concurrent on the one hand with the Irish famine of tragic memory and, on the other, with the opening of several large industrial plants here, conspicuous among them the Cooper-Hewitt iron mills. In 1856 it was found necessary to add a wing to the new edifice.
St. John's, as previously stated, was itself the successor of a tiny brick church dating back to 1814, which had been dedicated under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. This was the first Catholic church erected in the State of New Jersey. Occasional services had been held in Trenton before the date named, the record of priestly visitations going back to the last decade of the eighteenth century. The visiting clergy usually came from Philadelphia. Among the places where the faithful gathered for divine service, tradition names the Fox Chase Tavern on Brunswick Avenue and the printing office of Isaac Collins which stood at what is now the southeast corner of State and Broad Streets. Mr. Collins was a Quaker and evidently practised the broad tolerance of his creed. The adherents of the faith at that time were chiefly Irish, French and Germans, who were not only few in number (about thirty families in all), but poor in pocket. An interesting circumstance of the period was the settlement in Trenton of John Baptist Sartori, a Roman consul to the United States, by appointment of the reigning Pope. He arrived here about the year 1800, and selected as the site for his residence what was then the attractive river front at the foot of Federal Street. He erected a spacious frame dwelling and part of it is still standing, having been long ago incorporated into the offices of the New Jersey Steel and Iron Company, later taken over by the American Bridge Company. Mr. Sartori made the visiting missionary fathers of his faith welcome in this riverside mansion, whose doors on Sundays were thrown open to the public for divine services. It will be of interest to copy here one of the distinguished Italian's visiting cards, which is still preserved by his descendants:
IL CONSOLE GENERALE PONTIFICIO
GIOVANNI BATTISTA SARTORI
PRESSO GLI STATI UNITI D’AMERICA
RESIDENTE IN TRENTON, N. J.
Captain John Hargous, formerly of the French navy and evidently a gentleman of means and standing, came to Trenton also in the first decade of the new century. Like Mr. Sartori he viewed with concern the need of some permanent place of worship for his co-religionists here, and the result was that these two gentlemen led in the purchase from the Coxe estate of sufficient ground (120 by 160 feet) at Market and Lamberton Streets for the erection of a church and the laying out of a graveyard alongside, according to a time-honored European custom. It may be well imagined that the dedication of Trenton's first Catholic church, which occurred in 1814, the Right Rev. Michael J. Egan of Philadelphia conducting the ceremony, was an occasion of marked rejoicing among the faithful, but the impression created upon the population of the city generally can be conjectured by the fact that the local press gave the event a bare line or two. The building was of simple and modest design. It had a frontage of fifty feet with a width of thirty feet. An arched ceiling arose twenty feet from the floor. There was a small gallery at the end of the church farthest from the altar. The entrance was on Lamberton Street, being reached by a short flight of wooden steps. It was not until 1830 that the congregation could support a resident pastor. In 1844 Father Mackin succeeded to the pastorate. (For additional details and a list of the names of the priests before Father Mackin, see The Catholic Church of the Diocese of Trenton, by the Rev. Walter J. Leahy, Chapter II. From 1830 to 1844, there were seven successive clergymen in charge.)
The little Lamberton Street church was dedicated June 12, 1814, the only local newspaper mention being this item in the Trenton Federalist of June 6, 1814: “We are given to understand that the Roman Catholic Church lately erected here will be dedicated on Sunday next and Divine service in the forenoon and afternoon.”
Sunday, August 27, 1848, was the date of the dedication of the new St. John's at Broad and Centre Streets, the edifice being crowded for the occasion, indicating that the Catholic population had grown extensively. Although incomplete at the time, services had been held in the new church on Christmas Day, 1847.
The story of Father Mackin's ministrations among the Catholics of Trenton and of extensive rural sections, to which he often drove in the most trying weather to say mass and administer the Sacraments, forms a glowing chapter in local Catholic annals, equal to the choicest among the missionary efforts that witnessed the cradling of the faith in early New Jersey. Finally his health broke about 1859 and for ten years he travelled or was assigned to lighter charges. Early in the ‘70’s he returned amid the loud acclaim of his old parishioners and until 1873, when he died suddenly of heart disease, he moved among the people of Trenton with striking manifestations of esteem and affection. Not only was Father Mackin popular with hit own flock but he was frequently entertained in the homes of the well-to-do of other creeds. Not a few conversions to the faith took place during his pastorate, his beautifully human qualities attracting all comers and, having won their confidence,
“Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway.”
After the breakdown in health of Father Mackin in 1859, Fathers O'Donnell and Young served until 1861 when the Rev. Anthony Smith assumed charge of the parish. His career and labors will be dealt with under the heading of St. Mary's Cathedral, his most conspicuous accomplishment.
THE SACRED HEART - 1889
SUCCESSOR TO ST. JOHN'S 1848
BROAD AND CENTRE STREETS
With the coming of the Rev. Thaddeus Hogan to Trenton in 1878 and the erection a few years later of the Sacred Heart Church on the site of St. John's, which was destroyed by fire, a new era in Catholic affairs in South Trenton was inaugurated. In the interval between Father Mackin's death and Father Hogan's appointment, the Rev. Patrick Byrne had been pastor and had labored with zeal and eloquence. His strong stand for total abstinence was noteworthy and he attained such prominence in the movement that for several years he was president of the national Catholic Total Abstinence Union. As a result, temperance made remarkable progress locally. He also was a champion of education and one of the monuments of his devotion to this cause was St. John's school and parish hall on Lamberton Street, which was opened in 1876-77. The structure, with sixteen classrooms, made it one of the largest and finest schools of its day in southern New Jersey.
The Sacred Heart Church, which was dedicated June 30, 1889, is a massive structure of grey stone in the Roman style of architecture with two dome‑shaped towers in front. The interior is unusually spacious and handsome, the white marble altars being particularly admired. At the north side a rectory of the same general type as the church and on the south side a clubhouse, also massive and imposing, were erected about the same period. The organization of a home within which Catholic gentlemen should be moulded according to the most approved standards, was dear to the heart of Father Hogan and he achieved his ambition so successfully that the Catholic Club became for years a center of literary and musical activity as well as of physical culture, embracing every form of clean sport. Within its walls eminent speakers, celebrated singers and athletes of national reputation often made their appearance. The audiences were recruited not alone from the parish but from all parts of the city and from all denominations.
Two incidents of the first magnitude crowned Father Hogan's career. Upon motion of Bishop McFaul, he was elevated by the Holy See to the dignity of Monsignor and the ceremonies marking his induction gave occasion for an outpouring of religious and civic rejoicing. Then came the observance of his golden jubilee in the priesthood which also evoked an outburst of affectionate interest, including a lay celebration and an elaborate program of ecclesiastical events. A man of handsome presence, of splendid intellect, and of a deeply spiritual nature, a powerful preacher and an enthusiastic exponent of the rights of Ireland, he passed away amid general community grief in 1918.
The Rev. Peter J. Hart, pastor following Monsignor Hogan's death, built an excellent modern school and a sisters' convent of grey stone on Broad Street above the Sacred Heart Church and otherwise manifested the qualities of progressive leadership. Father Hart having been transferred to St. Peter's Church, New Brunswick, the Rev. John H. Sheedy succeeded to the pastorate of the Sacred Heart Church here, in 1928,
ST. FRANCIS’ CHURCH - 1851
WEST FRONT STREET
The progress of the Catholic body for the first half of the century was not without untoward incidents. A small mortgage remaining on the original church, St. John the Baptist, built in 1814, was found to be burdensome and the sheriff finally intervened; interest in the proposed removal to the new St. John's at Broad and Centre Streets had doubtless dulled the feeling o the parishioners with respect to the old property. However, after several transfers of title, Peter A. Hargous, then of New York (a son of Captain John Hargous), paid off all encumbrances amounting to about $500 and in 1851 had the property regularly vested in the name of the Right Rev. James R. Bayley, bishop of Newark, which diocese then included Trenton. Mr. Hargous’ action enabled the creation of a separate parish for the German Catholics of Trenton, their numbers having grown sufficiently to warrant this step. The Rev. John Gmeiner was the first German pastor (1853) and he soon added to the land in the rear of the church where in 1856 he erected a school. Meanwhile, the name “St. John the Baptist” having been appropriated by the new church at Broad and Centre Streets, the original church under the Germans became known as “St. Francis of Assisi.” Other pastors succeeded and the Germans outgrowing their tiny quarters looked about for a larger edifice. The Rev. William Storr led the movement which resulted in the purchase in 1865 of the former Methodist Church on West Front Street for $11,000. The original little church at Lamberton and Market Streets gradually fell into decay and was razed in the early ‘80’s to make way for dwellings. Previously it was for a time used as a St. John's school annex.
The Rev. Francis Gerber, D.D., succeeded Father Storr and in 1867 built the priests’ house adjoining the church on Front Street. He improved the church itself by alterations, including a graceful set of towers. A parish school was also opened in the rear of the church, The Rev. Peter Jachetti (1870-74) was the next pastor, of whom more below. The Rev. Avellino Szabo then served as pastor for eight years (1874-82), with the Rev. Conrad Elison (1882-83) and the Rev. Joseph Thurnes in turn succeeding. Upon the death of the latter in 1902, the Rev. Joseph Rathner, D.D., entered upon a popular pastorate that continued until his tragic death while gunning in 1926. The Rev. Bartholomew B. Doyle, Dr. Rathner's assistant, administered parish affairs, pending the appointment of a permanent pastor.
ST. MARY'S CATHEDRAL CHURCH - 1865
WARREN AND BANK STREETS
When the Rev. Anthony Smith assumed the pastorate of St. John’s Church, some time after Father Mackin had to vacate because of ill-health, the city generally gained a far-visioned, energetic churchman and citizen who for many years was a stimulating influence for religious and secular advancement. He came here in 1861 with a reputation for the courageous inauguration of large building enterprises, A mere listing of what he accomplished here for the extension of religion and the promotion of civic enterprises would be eloquent of his capacity, his indefatigable spirit, his unusual foresight. Almost immediately on his arrival he purchased an asylum on South Broad Street, particularly for orphans of Civil War soldiers, at the same time introducing the Sisters of Charity to care for the forlorn and to teach in the parish schools.
As the years went on, one important work after another was taken up and pushed to a successful conclusion. The story of this tireless, devoted priest’s work is graphically told in the Right Rev. John H. Fox’s A Century of Catholicity in Trenton (1899) and it may only be briefly summarized here. It soon dawned on Father Smith, as he travelled afoot over the great stretches of his parish, that a new church north of the Assunpink was a necessity of the immediate future. In 1865 he purchased the ground an which St. Mary’s Cathedral stands, at Warren and Bank Streets. It was the geographical center of an area that is today most thickly populated, but in addition the site is valuable beyond price for its historic associations. Here the Battle of Trenton of glorious memory was waged with hottest fire and the position of the property covered today by the cathedral rectory was occupied by the Stacy Potts house where Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall, the Hessian commander, made his headquarters and where, after being mortally wounded, he received the sympathetic visit of General Washington and a little later breathed his last.
Ground was broken for St. Mary's April 23, 1866, and so formidable was Father Smith’s noble design and so inadequate the means of his people at that period, that the work proceeded slowly. Parishioners contributed much of the labor; at the sight of Father Smith himself in the midst of excavating and construction, there was no resisting his enthusiasm.
With solemn ceremonies this really beautiful Gothic temple, adorned with sacred frescoes and enriched with a white marble altar, was finally dedicated January 1, 1871, and coincidentally Father Smith was transferred from St. John’s to the pastorate of St. Mary’s. A parish school, a sisters’ convent, a rectory, a parish cemetery, the building of a combination school and chapel for East Trenton (now St. Joseph’s), the starting of a needed church for Hopewell, the raising of a spire 256 feet high over the cathedral in 1878 - these achievements are to the credit of one who by universal assent towered among the ablest New Jersey clergymen of his day. When the diocese of Trenton was created in 1881, its first bishop selected St. Mary’s for his ecclesiastical seat, and Father Smith became his vicar-general, an office he administered, apart from his pastoral duties, so as to endear himself alike to his spiritual superiors and the priests of the diocese. In the well-chosen yet modest phrasing of Monsignor Fox: “When Father Smith died August 11, 1888, he was mourned not alone by his own people for whom he labored so well for more than twenty-seven years, but by the public generally who recognized in him a faithful servant of God and an eminently good citizen.”
Following Father Smith’s death, St. Mary’s affairs were temporarily administered by the Rev. J. Joseph Smith and the Rev. John McCloskey up to October 1890, when the Rev. James A. McFaul was appointed pastor. Father McFaul had been a curate under Father Smith eleven years previously and he was destined to further honors at the cathedral as time went on. He was appointed vicar-general to Bishop O’Farrell, November 1, 1892, and upon the bishop’s death he was made administrator of the diocese, succeeding to the episcopate three months later. Bishop McFaul continued also as rector until February 1, 1895, when he appointed to that office the Rev. John H. Fox, LL.D.
During the several pastorates, just named, temperance societies for men and women were organized, a new organ was installed, the standard of studies in the parish schools was improved, a handsome convent for the teaching sisters was erected at Warren and Bank Streets, an unusually fine parish hall and gymnasium were built on Bank Street and various important renovations were effected in the cathedral. The various cathedral properties represent a valuation of close to a million dollars. The Right Rev. Monsignor Fox - he was made a domestic prelate of the Holy See in 1904 and had been appointed vicar-general by Bishop McFaul four years previously - has repeatedly received testimonials from his parishioners and the public generally, attesting the success of his spiritual work in Trenton. These testimonials have taken the form of great gatherings in the principal halls of the city with highly complimentary addresses, and in various other expressions of popular approval.
THE CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - 1875
Among the rectors who administered successfully at St. Francis' Church on Front Street special mention should be made of the Rev. Peter Jachetti, O.M.C., who, noting the growth of the Catholic population, notably Germans and Italians, beyond the canal, set to work to create a new parish with the consent of his spiritual superiors. The Convent of St. Francis (1874), O.M.C., and the modest frame Lady of Lourdes Chapel on Chestnut Avenue (1875) were the results, the latter being succeeded by the present spacious and imposing Gothic Church of the Immaculate Conception (1890), wherein representatives of all nationalities have been served by the Franciscan order. This church is one of a group of parish buildings, including rectory, grammar and high school and a general auditorium, all of fine architectural proportions, thoroughly equipped and covering a valuable city block. The Revs. Anselm Auling, Francis Lehner, Bonaventure Zoller, Bernardine Ludwig, Peter Shardun and Alphonse Lehrscholl served in turn as pastor. The Very Rev. Austin Fox, O.M.C., is the present rector, the parish enjoying an era of prosperity under his management. Father Peter Jachetti died in his native province in Italy in 1921.
ST. JOSEPH'S CHURCH - 1893
NORTH OLDEN AVENUE
St. Joseph's Church, which had been served from St. Mary's up to April 1893, with the Rev. James A. McFaul as first pastor, was then made an independent center, and the Rev. John H. Fox was appointed as its first resident pastor. Located in East Trenton, the pottery district, this parish has had its ups and downs due to industrial conditions. When Father Fox was promoted to the rectorship of the cathedral in 1895, the Rev. Bernard J. O'Connell and the Rev. Michael O'Reilly were named to St. Joseph's consecutively, and on September 8, 1898, came the Rev. Henry A. Ward. A handsome church of grey stone with bell tower graces St. Joe's Avenue at Olden Avenue in evidence of his devotion, zeal and progressive spirit. The rectory, a three-story edifice of Stockton granite with Indiana limestone trimmings, is also a creditable structure while the parish school in close proximity, which was erected about 1891, has been brought up to every modern demand. Father Ward has completed over thirty years of intelligent supervision of this portion of the Lord's vineyard, and has by his broad public-spirited views earned the warm regard of all concerned with the advancement of East Trenton.
THE BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH - 1912
BELLEVUE AND HERMITAGE AVENITES
The Blessed Sacrament parish, which was created in 1912, has experienced a marvellous development, owing largely to the sudden growth of Catholic population, following the general residential trend towards the West End. A valuable and well-located property at the corner of Bellevue and Hermitage Avenues, purchased 1911, embraces the rectory and a well-constructed three-story stone building combining church and school, with accommodations also for the teaching sisters. The original church, which was of limited size and would soon have had to go anyway, was burned down a few years ago and the site which runs along Hermitage Avenue from Bellevue back to Rutherford, will before a great while accommodate a stately new edifice for divine worship, The Rev. Michael H. Callahan was the first pastor and was succeeded by the Rev. Martin F. Casey (1914), upon whose shoulders most of the building responsibilities have fallen. Father Casey is an indefatigable worker and under his care the parish has prospered spiritually and in its temporalities. He has added to the real estate holdings, which now run six hundred feet on Bellevue Avenue, three hundred feet on Rutherford Avenue, and two hundred and fifty feet on Hermitage Avenue.
ST. ANTHONY'S CHURCH - 1921
OLDEN NEAR HAMILTON AVENUE
St. Anthony's Church on Olden Avenue immediately below Hamilton Avenue, represents the desire to meet church needs in the extreme eastern section. The parish, established in 1921, has grown by leaps and bounds, so that the original sacred edifice now accommodates the faithful only by five successive services each Sunday morning. Overflow congregations attend the various other church gatherings. There is ground for a much larger church, which doubtless will be constructed in the near future. A handsome two-story school in light stone, a sisters' convent and a priests' house, all substantially built, are already provided. The entire property has a frontage of 425 feet with a depth of 275 feet and is now the center of a fast-growing district which within easy memory was fields and commons.
The Very Rev. Alphonse Lehrscholl, O.M.C., was the first pastor and the Very Rev. Sylvester Albaus, O.M.C., is now in charge, and doing fine work. The parish contains 2,800 souls and the school 660 pupils, at the present writing.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY ANGELS - 1927
SOUTH BROAD NEAR CEDAR LANE
The new Church of the Holy Angels, located on South Broad Street near Cedar Lane, marks the progress of religious effort in the extreme southern section of the city. It was opened for service at the midnight mass, Christmas, 1927, and was dedicated a few months later. There is seating capacity for seven hundred and fifty people. The exterior is of granite, of stately proportions, while the interior is of the early renaissance style. It was erected at a cost of $100,000, succeeding a combination church and chapel opened in 1921. The Rev. John F. Walsh is the progressive pastor and the church is a monument to his spiritual zeal and administrative capacity. He is an eloquent preacher, and his record as a war chaplain overseas was such as to make him exceedingly popular with all classes of our citizens.
OTHER CHURCHES (FOREIGN-SPEAKING PEOPLES)
There are in Trenton today eight English-speaking Catholic churches and eleven in which the congregations are addressed bilingually. Among those of the latter class are several of notable size and in which beautiful edifices serve the purposes of religion. St. Hedwig’s (Polish), of which the Right Rev. A. B. Strenski is pastor, is located at Brunswick and Olden Avenues and includes an imposing stone church of fine architectural proportions, together with a parish school with over a thousand pupils. St. Mary’s (Greek), at Malone and Grand Streets, also has a fine church building dedicated in 1893, and a large school. The Rev. Desider Simkow is the pastor. Following are the other bilingual congregations:
Holy Cross (Polish), Cass and Adeline Streets, originally erected in 1891 but since enlarged. Pastor, the Rev. Martin J. Lipinski; school, 900 pupils,
St. Basil’s (Roumanian), Adeline and Beatty Streets (1910). Pastor, the Rev. Aural Bungardenn.
St. James’, Paul Avenue. Pastor, the Rev. Joseph Monacho, with a school attended by 350 pupils.
St. Joachim's (Italian), Butler Street (1901). Pastor, the Rev. Alphonse Palonbi; school, 810 pupils. The Right Rev. Aloysius Pozzi, former pastor,
built the church and school.
St. Michael the Archangel (Slovak), Brunswick Avenue and Pine Street, Pastor, the Rev. Michael J. Kallok.
St. Nicholas Greek Catholic (Hungarian), Adeline and Hudson Streets. Pastor, the Rev. Gabriel Chopen.
St Peter and St. Paul (Slavish), Second Street (1899). An unusually handsome stone church has recently been erected, and the school with 650 pupils is also strictly modern. Pastor, the Rev. Colonan Tomchany.
St. Stanislaus (Polish), 60 Randall Avenue, dedicated in 1892. Pastor, the Rev. Ignatius Kusz, O.M.C. There is also a school for Polish children.
St. Stephen's (Hungarian), 210 Genesee Street, (1903). Pastor, the Rev. John Szabo, D.D. A school is also maintained.
Michael J. O'Farrell, first bishop of the diocese of Trenton, was born in Limerick, Ireland, December 2, 1832, and was educated at All Hallows College, Ireland, and at St. Sulpice in Paris. Joining the Sulpitians, he taught Dogmatic Theology in the Grand Seminary at Montreal, but his health failed and he engaged in missionary service in the United States, subsequently performing pastoral work in New York City, notably in old St. Peter's Church, Barclay Street. He was consecrated bishop of Trenton November 1, 1881. His was the task of organizing a new diocese, comprising the southern tier of New Jersey counties, and to the task he brought zeal, piety and kindly manners which won him friends everywhere. A great scholar, especially erudite in Irish history, he assembled about him in the episcopal residence an immense and varied collection of books, constituting possibly the finest private library of its kind in the city. A champion of education, he conducted a campaign of school building. Many churches here were erected through his care. He was an eloquent speaker in the pulpit and on the lyceum platform and was constantly in demand. It was the irony of fate that so gentle and winning a personality should have to deal with rebellious priests on several occasions, one of them the result of disordered intellect, but he was fully sustained in all his rulings. He passed away April 2, 1894, after only thirteen years in the episcopate, and is buried at St. Michael's Home for Orphans, Hopewell, one of the most useful of the diocesan institutions, which he himself had endowed to the extent of $25,000.
James A. McFaul, second bishop of Trenton, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, June 6, 1850, and was brought to this country as an infant by his parents who settled temporarily in New York City; afterwards, at Bound Brook, N.J., where as a youth he displayed brilliancy of mind and unusual powers of application in his studies. Later, he attended St. Vincent's College in Westmoreland County, Pa., for four years and finished his collegiate course at St. Francis Xavier's College, New York City. After a theological course at Seton Hall Seminary, South Orange, N.J., he was ordained to the priesthood, May 26, 1877. After various assignments in North Jersey, he became assistant to Vicar-General Anthony Smith, at St. Mary's, Trenton. In 1884 he was made pastor at Long Branch; in October 1890, Vicar-General Smith having died, he was returned to St. Mary's, Trenton, as pastor. On November 1, 1892, Bishop O'Farrell made him vicar-general of the diocese, having previously served as chancellor. Upon Bishop O'Farrell's death in April 1894, he succeeded to the see of Trenton, October 18, 1894.
Bishop McFaul proved an administrator of masterful traits; plain in speech and manners, he was charitable to a degree and was noted for his rich fund of Irish humor. He carried on the episcopate with ability and vigor and manifested a great capacity for work. The diocese felt the spur of his ceaseless activities and prospered both in spiritual life and in temporalities. He thought, labored and lived for his priests and people. He was also proud of the historic city which formed his see, and his public addresses often glowed with patriotic enthusiasm. He was earnest to the point of aggressiveness in defense of religion and never shirked a battle in the press or forum. A number of scholarly pastoral letters emanated from his pen. He was one of the organizers and most eloquent promoters of the American Federation of Catholic Societies, which is still in power in its reorganized form as the National Welfare Society. He showed his love for the helpless and unfortunate by the institutions he erected for the aged and orphans, including St. Michael's Children's Home at Hopewell and Morris Hall at Lawrenceville, at the latter of which he is entombed. When he passed away June 16, 1917, a giant in intellect, courage and spirituality was lost to the Church which he had loved with all the depth of a great nature.
Thomas Joseph Walsh, third bishop of Trenton, was born at Parker's Landing, Butler County, Pa., December 6, 1873, the son of Thomas and Helen (Curtin) Walsh. He was educated at the college and theological seminary of St. Bonaventure, Allegheny, N.Y., and at the University of St. Appollinaris, the Pontifical Roman Seminary, Italy, from which he received the degrees of D.D. and D.C.L. In 1913 he received an I.L.D. from St. Bonaventure's. He was ordained to the priesthood by the Right Rev. James E. Quigley in Buffalo, January 27, 1900. He was appointed third assistant rector of St. Joseph's Cathedral, Buffalo, January to June 1900; private secretary to Bishops Quigley and Colton 1900‑15; chancellor of the diocese; rector of St. Joseph's old cathedral, 1915‑18; and reappointed chancellor of the diocese upon the installation of Bishop Dougherty, 1916-18. He was consecrated bishop of Trenton, N.J., July 25, 1918. Both in Buffalo and since he was elevated to the episcopate here, he has been distinguished for his special interest in the bilingual peoples under his care. With a particular view to the promotion of religion and good citizenship among the Italians who constitute a considerable fraction of the Catholic population in all the larger communities of his diocese, Bishop Walsh has established in the suburbs of Trenton the Villa Victoria, Pontifical Institute of Religious Teachers, comprising mother-house, novitiate and normal school. The benevolence of James Brady of New York provided the funds for this purpose, and the same gentleman at his death left a generous endowment. Recent figures give the number of sisters in the community at 38; novices, 20; postulants, 18; and candidates, 12. The general purpose is to enroll young women of this country of Italian extraction who will be thoroughly educated according to American methods and who, speaking both languages, will be the better able to make good Americans and well informed Catholics of the young people of their race who otherwise would grow up in more or less of a foreign atmosphere. English will be the language of all these Italo‑American schools. Arrangements have been made to erect at Villa Victoria several additional buildings to carry out the scope of this great educational work.
Bishop Walsh is a man of progressive ideas, intensely devoted to American institutions, possessing executive qualities of a high order, personally affable and simple in his tastes, earnest and energetic in religious and civic affairs, and just now in the full flower of vigorous manhood. He was consecrated bishop of Newark in May 1928.
The Right Rev. John J. McMahon, D.D., LL.D., fourth bishop of the diocese of Trenton, N.J., was born at Hinsdale, Cattaraugus County, N.Y., September 27, 1875. His early education was received at the Belfast (N.Y.) Seminary and Union High School, where he graduated at the head of his class in 1893. He received the degree of B.A. at St. Bonaventure's College, Allegheny, N.Y., and completed his theological studies at Rome, Italy, where he was ordained May 20, 1900. By appointment of Bishop Quigley of Buffalo he served as assistant priest in Jamestown and Buffalo, and was acting pastor in New Fane, N.Y. He administered the affairs of other parishes. Later Father McMahon was appointed to the office of assistant diocesan superintendent of schools. He established the parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Buffalo, being the first American priest to exercise jurisdiction over an Italian parish in Buffalo diocese. The parish contained 12,000 souls, three Italian priests serving as his assistants. The school with an enormous attendance was his special care. In 1908 he was commissioned to establish St. Mark's parish, Buffalo, which started with 32 families and now has 1,684 souls. The church, school and rectory cost $750,000 with only $96,000 debt remaining. As director of the Holy Name Society of the diocese he raised the adult membership to 51,000 men, with 24,000 junior members. He also performed many assignments of an episcopal nature up to March 7, 1928, when he was elevated by Pope Pius XI to the bishopric at Trenton. He was given a Doctor of Laws degree at St. Bonaventure's College in 1919. He was consecrated on Thursday, April 26, 1928, in St. Joseph's Cathedral, Buffalo, and installed in St. Mary's Cathedral, Trenton, May 10, 1928.
Thaddeus Hogan, Right Rev. Monsignor, was born in County Limerick, Ireland, May 17, 1843. After preliminary studies in local schools he made his theological course at All Hallows and was ordained June 29, 1865, having barely reached the appointed age. Fired with missionary zeal he went to Australia, a virgin country, to labor for religion, but after three years his shattered health compelled a return to Europe. After various assignments in Dublin diocese, he came to the United States and in 1871 was sent to East Newark as pastor. Seven years later his assignment to Trenton occurred, and for two score years thereafter he wrote his name in splendid achievements which are summed up elsewhere in this chapter.
John H. Fox, Right Rev. Monsignor, vicar-general of the diocese of Trenton, was born July 7, 1858, in New Brunswick. After a collegiate and theological course at Seton Hall, South Orange, N.J., he was ordained June 7, 1858. When the diocese of Trenton was created, Father Fox was serving in the northern Counties, but at the request of Bishop O'Farrell he entered the more sparsely settled section of the State and ever since has been an outstanding figure. His first pastoral assignment was at Sea Bright, where after a struggle of some years he found a site and erected the first Catholic church in that fashionable resort. He also bought land and put up churches at Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. On April 23, 1893, Bishop O'Farrell appointed him pastor of St. Joseph's Church, East Trenton, where he labored assiduously despite a labor panic that prostrated industries in that industrial section. About the time the lowering clouds began to lift, he was called to the pastorate of St. Mary's Cathedral, February 1, 1895. The marvellous success of his pastorate here and the various ecclesiastical honors which have come to him in recognition of his labors have been referred to in the sketch of St. Mary's in this same chapter.
Monsignor Fox died Christmas Day, 1928.
The visit of the Most Rev. Francis Satolli to Trenton, June 5 to 12, 1893, was an occasion of splendid note. Cardinal Satolli was the first apostolic delegate to the United States from Rome, the American Delegation having been established at Washington, D.C., on January 24 of that year. On his arrival here on a Saturday evening, he was met at Clinton Street station by a huge procession of Catholic societies, several bands participating, and was escorted en fete to the episcopal residence. Next day, Sunday, he presided at brilliant ceremonies in the cathedral and the Sacred Heart Church and a reception, largely attended by the public generally, was given in his honor at the Catholic Club the same evening.
The explanation of Trenton's having the first Catholic church in New Jersey, antedating such important places as Jersey City and Newark, is that the Catholics of the northern section of the State were long accustomed to go to old St. Peter's Church, New York City, for worship,
See the Catholic Encyclopaedia (fifteen volumes, Robert Appleton Company, 1907) under the headings “New Jersey” and “Diocese of Newark” (to which see Trenton formerly belonged). Under “New Jersey” (p. 792) we read: “St. John's parish at Trenton, now the parish of the Sacred Heart, was the first parish established in New Jersey (1799).” Under “The Diocese of Newark” (p. 780) mention is made of Trenton's first Catholic church (1814) and we learn that Newark’s first church was opened in 1828; Jersey City's in 1837.
An unusual function having both a sacred and a civil character took place at St. John's Church April 30, 1861, when the Rev. Alfred Young, a Princeton graduate and a convert, was the local pastor. Despite the divided feeling in New Jersey over the war he held a large meeting in the church, displayed an American flag in front of the altar, blessed it with elaborate ceremony, led in the singing of the "Star‑Spangled Banner," and then had the stars and stripes raised to the steeple where it floated amid the rolling of drums, the ringing of the church bell and a salute from the commands of Captains Yard and Stafford of Camp Perrine. The Hon. Charles Skelton, the Hon. Andrew Dutcher and the Hon. David Naar delivered patriotic speeches.
The Rev. John P. Mackin is said, besides his herculean labors in Trenton, to have for a time attended to the spiritual needs of Lambertville, Princeton, Bordentown, Burlington and Bristol, in some of which he erected churches. At his funeral services in St. John's Church in 1873, such was Father Mackin's popularity that the edifice was packed with people including many non-Catholics, and a panic ensued upon a cry that the gallery was falling. As a matter of fact a kneeling‑bench had been broken. In the rush from the church, numbers were crushed under foot and several jumped from the windows. The wildest excitement prevailed, the fire department hurried to the scene and all the available doctors in town were summoned. A dozen or more persons were injured, some of them seriously, but only one death resulted, that of Bridget Clark, seventy-five years old. The requiem ceremonies proceeded when quiet was restored. The writer, as an altar boy, witnessed the tragic incident.
St. Francis' Church on East Front Street is the oldest Catholic edifice in the city, although not the oldest church organization. It has been in constant use as a Catholic house of worship since 1866.
Peter P. Cantwell was the first male teacher in Trenton's parochial schools; a native of Ireland, he began teaching in old St. John's in the early '6o's. The late Right Rev. Monsignor William P. Cantwell and the late Dr. Frank V. Cantwell were his sons.
John D. McCormick, editor of the Potter's Journal and a Catholic local historian, performed a signal service by researches which gave due prominence to John Tatham, New Jersey's "Missing Governor" (1690-97). Having been a Jacobite, Mr. McCormick surmised that Tatham was of the Catholic faith. Mr. McCormick’s sketch of the "Missing Govermor's" career appears in full as Appendix H in Smith's History of New Jersey, Sharp's reprint (1890 edition), which may be found in the State Library. Fitzgerald's Legislative Manual, since Mr. McCormick’s discovery, has carried John Tatham's name in its list of governors of East Jersey.
Patrick McCaffrey, M.D., was Trenton's first resident Catholic physician, practising here from the early '50's to 1871. Three of his daughters attained high rank in the Sisters of Mercy whose mother-house is near Pittsburgh, Pa., and a fourth daughter, Anna, was church organist and among the earliest teachers (1854) in St. John's school. Dr. McCaffrey died in 1890 in his eighty-ninth year.
John B. Sartori, one of the benefactors of the early church here, as mentioned in the allusion in this chapter to the original St. John the Baptist Church, was not only pontifical consul to this country but also is mentioned in the secular histories as a manufacturer of calico and again of macaroni near his home at the foot of Federal Street. His career was invested with various romantic details, including his friendly association with the distinguished colony of European refugees, settled in and around Trenton in the early years of the nineteenth century, such as the former King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, and General John Victor Moreau, the latter of whom built a home at Morrisville in 1805. It is said that Bonaparte was godfather to one of Sartori's fourteen children, while Madame Moreau was godmother to another. The Sartori offspring played prominent parts in the commercial and social life of New York, Philadelphia and other cities, but none remained in Trenton. Madame Sartori whom he married in 1804, at Lamberton, Father Stafford, O.S.A. of Philadelphia, officiating, was descended from a noble family of Brittany, which had a checkered career. Her father went to Santo Domingo on a royal mission and there Henriette, de Woofoin (Mrs. Sartori) was born in 1787. At the outbreak of the French Revolution the family fled to this country and settled at Lamberton below Trenton. They for a time occupied historic Bloomsbury. The history of the de Woofoins runs the gamut of high station, persecution and assassination, details of which it is unnecessary to relate in this place. Nor can we follow the Sartoris further than to say that John B., sometimes referred to as "the lay founder of the Catholic Church in Trenton," afflicted by the death of his wife, aged forty-two, following the birth of twins, returned to his native home in Leghorn, Italy, where he eventually died at the age of ninety-eight.
Captain John Hargous, associated with John B. Sartori in the promotion of Trenton's first Catholic church, had served in the French navy and while cruising in the vicinity of Martinique, which echoed with the tumult of the French Revolution, was able to rescue from mob fury a Madame Boisson with her son and daughter, and eventually all found a refuge in the United States, the adventure ending in Captain Hargous' marriage to Miss Boisson. They apparently were among the hunted royalists of France who found security and peace in Trenton. Thus the Sartori and Hargous families, being of the same faith, became intimate. A son was born to the Hargous in 1800 and in time Peter A. Hargous and Eugenie Victorine, Sartori's marriage cemented the family friendship. This younger Hargous later became prominent in New York as a commission merchant and shipowner and there developed a warm intimacy between him and Archbishop Hughes of the metropolis. It was he who in 1851 saved the little church at Lamberton and Market Streets from the sheriff. A cousin, Louis, became a professor of French at Princeton. Peter A. had one sister, Marie Melicie, who never married and lived her life out in Trenton, a devout and generous member of St. Mary's parish. Before the development of building operations on North Clinton Avenue, members of the Hargous family established themselves in a beautiful property on that street (then called the Millham Road), which ran back to the Assunpink and included terraced lawns to the water front, wel-kept gardens, orchards famed for their fruit and a home where generous hospitality was dispensed to the best local society of the period. As part of the old Sartori home still remains in the American Bridge Company's office building on Federal Street, so the Hargous home can still, though with difficulty, be traced in a pair of frame tenements on Seward Avenue. Another relic of this interesting family is found in the bell-tower of the Sacred Heart Church. The bell which has been in use there for nearly three-quarters of a century bears the names of Louis and M. M. Hargous as donors (1857).
The first Catholic graveyard in the city was opened in connection with the first church at Lamberton and Market Streets. Later, burials were made in a plot on Lamberton Street below Bridge, where St. John's schools were afterwards erected. Both of these cemeteries were in time abandoned and the bodies of the pioneers buried therein were removed to St. John's, St. Mary's, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Francis' cemeteries.
St. John's Cemetery, on Lalor Street at the southerly end of Chestnut Avenue, was acquired by the Right Rev. James R. Bayley, bishop of Newark, November 17, 1859, the purchase having been previously negotiated from William I. Shreve to John Cahill and wife, and title was passed October 17, 1864, from Bishop Bayley to the church of St. John the Baptist. The original plot contained eight acres and burials probably began early in the '6o's. Many of the early Catholic settlers of the city are interred there, not a few having been transferred from the older graveyards. The Rev. John P. Mackin, the Right Rev. Monsignor Thaddeus Hogan and a number of clergymen, who had been raised in the parish, are among those whose dust reposes in St. John's Cemetery. It is the oldest Catholic cemetery in Trenton.
St. Mary's Cemetery, located on Olden Avenue south of Liberty Street, consists of nearly thirty-three acres, about fourteen acres of which were purchased from Joseph W. Elberson November 1, 1872, about ten acres of Nathan Wright March 26, 1886, and ten acres from Abner C. Mitchell in 1922. Its most historic monument is a mausoleum of the Hargous family, early benefactors of the Catholic Church in this city.
St. Francis' Cemetery, at Washington and Emory Avenues, is the last resting place of numerous of the early German Catholics of the city. It was dedicated with elaborate ceremonies October 9, 1870.
Our Lady of Lourdes Cemetery is On Cedar Lane, between Olden Avenue and Chambers Street.
St. Peter and St. Paul Cemetery is also located on Cedar Lane.
1929, TRENTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
© 1929, TRENTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY