Erie County (PA) Genealogy
Conneaut Township -
Saint Lawrence Parish, Albion
The information below has been transcribed
by Andy Pochatko from a booklet written in 1956 by Reverend Ennis A.
Connelly, Pastor. The booklet is titled "History of the St. Lawrence
Parish, Albion, Pennsylvania". Any questions or comments concerning the
information presented may be directed
to Andy Pochatko.
HISTORY OF THE ST. LAWRENCE PARISH
By Reverend Ennis A. Connelly
2 – The First Catholics
The First Catholics who settled in and about
what is now St. Lawrence’s Parish must
have regarded their arrival as of little importance to future generations, for
they have left is no records of themselves. And this is not to be wondered at since, in
their day, inhabitants in this region were taken together, a settlement. They were still face to face with the
frontier; and that meant that life was difficult, requiring all their energies,
and allowing them little or no time to set down their religious history.
life moved with relative slowness at the time. And, in the beginning, the
possibility of a Catholic church of their own must have seemed to them a matter
for future generations to decided. It is easy to see why this should have been
their attitude; they were but a handful at the most; they naturally affiliated
themselves as members of the nearest Catholic church which was then miles
distant; and the parish of which they had become a part, though it was very
extensive, did itself number only a couple hundred souls. Their beginnings were indeed small; but they
were destined to grow and to grow vigorously; and to result eventually in the
splendid group of Catholics who are today members of St. Lawrence’s Parish.
this writing of the parish history, it is difficult just where to begin. No records of Albion’s earliest Catholic
settlers exist; and records of later dare, if not contradictory, are frequently
obscure and confusing. In these
circumstances, we shall do best if we begin at some distance from
Albion, dwelling upon those
factors which, without a doubt, influenced the eventual formation of St.
Lawrence’s Parish; and, gradually, limiting our field, we shall be able at the
right place to focus more clearly upon St. Lawrence’s Parish proper.
seems most fitting then to begin with Crossingville,
once known as Cussewago, which definitely forms a part of the early history of
our parish. A group of Catholic families
which had emigrated from County Donegal, Ireland, in 1792, and which had
settled themselves originally in Pennsylvania’s Nothumberland
County, came to Cussewago in 1800
and founded homes there. The record
indicates that Holy Mass was first said among them in 1807 at the home of Miles Tinney;
and very seldom after that until 1821 when Father Patrick O’Neil was given charge of Cussewago as one of his
1833, the settlers built a church, a log building measuring twenty-four by
thirty-six feet and costing $500. This
was the first Catholic church built in
Northwestern Pennsylvania. The first services in it were conducted by Bishop
Francis P. Kenrick
, to which the diocese the
mission then belonged.
1838, Crossingville was brought under the supervision
of Father Bernard McCabe, who took
up his residence in
Erie as pastor of the
northwestern counties of Pennslyvania. In 1847, a new church which had been built to
supercede the old one was dedicated as St. Philip’s Church. Father
Thomas A. Smith came to Crossingville in 1850 as
its first resident pastor. His parish
included Crawford, Warren, and Venango Counties; from Erie County, Conneaut Township, and therefore Albion, was included in the parish.
1852, Venango, Warren, and Eastern Crawford Counties were taken away from the Crossingville pastorate, which at the same time was
extended to Greenville. These changes, of course, still left the
remaining Erie County townships under its care. Crossingville,
originally in the Philadelphia and later in the Pittsburgh
Diocese was incorporated into the new Erie Diocese in 1853. Father
Kiernan O’Brannigan succeeded Father Smith in Crossingville
and remained in Crossingville until 1865. Then came Father William Byrne, Father John
Quincy Adams who built the rectory, Father M. E. Tracy, Father Hugh
Mullen, Father James McCabe,
Father Martin Meagher and in July of
1898, Father James F. Dugan. On June 27,
during Father Dugan’s pastorate, the
rededication ceremonies of St. Philip’s Church took place. At this point, we can leave St. Philip’s and
turn our attention to another church which was part of St. Philip’s parish,
also influenced the growth of Catholicism in Albion.
Peter’s Church in Conneautville was also closely
associated with Albion
’s little group of Catholics during
the days of
their early history. At one time, as has
been indicated, both Conneautville and
Albion formed a portion of St.
Philip’s Crossingville. St. Peter’s I Conneautville
was established as one of Crossingville’s regular
missions as early as 1853. It was formed
into an independent parish in 1861. It’s first church was built in 1866, and its first resident
pastor, Father J. Kearney,
established himself there the same year.
From 1866 until 1897, Albion Catholics were served in the following
order by the pastors residing in Conneautville: Father J.
Kearney, J. Snively
M. Tracey (who later transferred to Crossingville), J.
Donnelly, M. Meagher, P. McGovern, J. J. Ruffy, B.
Lynch, P. Cauley, and J. Graham.
1897, Father Graham was appointed in
charge of St. John’s
in Girard. But he retained Albion as part of his charge; and
from that time until it was established as a parish in 1914, the
Albion mission was ministered to
from Girard. The next priest to come
from Girard was Father Lawrence McBride
who visited Albion
until 1902. For a short time after Father McBride’s departure
Albion was served more or less
alternately by Fathers Thomas A. Cantlin and James
H. Conlin who were stationed at St. Peter’s
Cathedral in Erie. In 1902, Father Conlin was appointed pastor at
Girard and continued to serve Albion Catholics until 1916.
This page was last updated on Monday, January 26, 2004 .
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