Wednesday, September 4, 2013

John Jospeh Hogan and the cost to build a log church in the Irish Wilderness

One of the revealing documents we found in our search for information on the Irish Wilderness was a small, pocket-size account book belonging to John Hogan. He kept records in this little notebook of expenses incurred and work accomplished in 1858 and 1859, the years of the building of the settlement in the Ozarks. The telling details of daily transactions - hiring a settler to cut timber, buying supplies at the store (coffee, tea and ague medicine), the cost of a yoke of oxen ($40) - these bring life and breath to the image of life on that pre-Civil War Ozarks frontier. (pages 48 and 49 in Mystery of the Irish Wilderness)

Paid for Church
100 feet plank                        $17.00
2000 boards at 62 per hun       12.40
1000 D_lost by five                   6.20
hauling lumber 4 day at 2          8.00
hauling Shingles 1 day              2.00
D logs for floor 1                       2.00
D logs for buildings 3                6.00
4 days notching 126 1/2             5.06
1/2 day hewing                             .65
Man roofing 4 days                    4.00
400 feet plank                             4.00
hauling same                               2.00
Building fireplace                       3.50
Nails & hardware                        5.00
Calicos Candlestick & _______ 5.50
Altar linens                                 2.00
We think the little log church was built in area near these two trees in Oregon County.

So - the cost of a log church in the pre-Civil War Ozarks was $85.31.  But how to pay for it? Another page details accounts "Rec'd for the Church" which add up to $75.45, leaving a deficit of just $9.86 - a sum many clergy might envy when it comes to church building.

Hogan built more churches during his career:  the little church at Chillicothe, whose stained glass windows were shattered by anti-Catholic night riders - "gentlemen of grips and signs" - who "belabored with sticks and guns the artistic little gems..."; a cathedral for St. Joseph, Missouri, more lavish than he wanted by urging of his most influential parishioner; and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City (first services in 1883) with its now-gold-plated dome. 

In On the Mission in Missouri, Hogan mentions other churches he helped build across north Missouri, but often he doesn't mention their names. One small church built in 1865, however, he does describe:  St. Bridget's church at Peabody (later called Lingo), Missouri, "a small neat, convenient frame church was built, at a cost of about eight hundred dollars, which was subscribed and paid without delay. ... I loved the little building for its name, its devotional seclusion, and the piety of the people who attended it.