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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

McKean Township - St Francis Xavier Church

Contributed by Bonnie R Guilford

The information below was provided by Bonnie Guilford in February 2002 but ended up buried on my hard drive. Now that it has been found, some additional information has been added. Most of the data has been extracted from a newspaper article in "The Lake Shore Visitor", 9/2/1988, and the various Histories of Erie County.

Before there was a Diocese of Erie there was St. Frances Xavier Parish in McKean.  The parish began with a chance meeting between a bishop and a small group of Catholic immigrants.  Bishop Francis Kendrick came upon the settlement in 1834 near Elk Creek, Erie County, twelve miles from a town. The settlement, comprised of 30 families of Irish and German descent would be the beginning of St. Francis Parish.

In 1838 the first church was built with the first recorded Mass was in 1842 and was celebrated by Bishop Kendrick.

In 1857, the parish was assigned as a mission to St. Boniface Church and the first baptism was performed by Father J. A. Oberhoeffer. Father A. Rech was assigned in 1863 as the first in residence priest.

In 1876, a second church was built, with major additions or renovations being done in 1922 and 1959. Bishop John Mark Gannon briefly served as pastor in 1923.

Today the third church structure is located on the edge of the town.  It was built in 1968.  A new bell tower was blessed by Father Stephen Kotyuk in July of 1980. Father Kotyuk was appointed in 1964.

The following is from the 1896 Nelson's Biographical Dictionary and History of Erie County, page 326: "St. Francis's Catholic Church was built in 1876. It superceded an old frame building, which stood two miles north of Middleboro, and was dedicated in 1833. The congregation was organized a few years prior. The rector in 1895 was Rev Francis Aaron. A burial ground has been connected with the church from the first, but is intended to be abandoned, the denomination having purchased a more suitable piece of ground at Sterrettania." An earlier page mentions that this new cemetery land was purchased in 1893. Middleboro is now known as the Borough of McKean, and the cemetery is between two portions of the Sterrettania Cemetery on West Road.

Today, the original site of the church and cemetery is marked with a commemorative stone and plaque, along with some gathered gravestones in a cement base. This is located on Buman Road, east of the termination of Milfair Road.

This page was last updated on  Thursday, November 14, 2002 .

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