Thursday, October 23, 2014

BLOODY BILL ANDERSON'S FINAL BATTLE REDUX - at Ray County Fairgrounds this weekend

Bloody Bill Anderson,whose guerrillas killed more than 100 federal troops at the Centralia Massacre of 1864, will meet his fate once again October 24-26. This time though, the Civil War battle - known as the Battle of Albany - will be at the Ray County Fairgrounds in Richmond, Missouri. Reenactors are gathering. Among the scheduled events:
The Battle of Albany re-enactment followed by a wagon carrying Anderson’s body to the Ray County Courthouse square. 
Events on the Ray County Courthouse square include dragging of the body, and photographs of Anderson.

The Ray County Fairgrounds is at 901 West Royle Street in Richmond, Mo. 64085   

More information on this weekend's event is available on their Facebook page:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

John James Caffrey - pioneer priest in OLD MINES, MISSOURI

In the lovely hillside cemetery of St. Joachim's Church, Old Mines, one headstone stands out because of its size and the story carved in stone.  It's the story of a young Irish priest who fell from his horse and drowned in the Meramec River while accomplishing his priestly duties.

Erected by the Priests of the Archdiocese 
of St. Louis 
in the memory of 
their beloved brother in the 
Franklin County 
who was drowned in the Maramec River 
on the 7th of February 1856 
“The Good Shepherd giveth his life for his Sheep” 
St. John
Requiescat in Pace

St. Joachim's was also John Joseph Hogan's first assignment after his ordination in 1852. Pastor and mentor to the two young priests was Father James Fox, a native of County Wicklow Ireland. Far flung settlers and parishes required arduous travel, mostly by horseback, for the few frontier priests who tended the Lord's scattered sheep. St. Patrick's at Armagh was one such parish that Fr. Fox - and undoubtedly his assistants - served. This more detailed account of Father Caffrey's accident comes from the website of St. Patrick's near present day Pacific, Missouri:  
An illustration of the extremely arduous and sometimes dangerous life led by the missionary priests of the time oc­curred during Father Grace’s administration. While the pastor was away, either soliciting funds or making a retreat, Father John McCaffrey, a young pastor at Richwoods, Washington County, took care of Armagh parishioners. He responded to a call for a priest to visit a sick settler living north of the Meramec River. In attempting to cross the river at a point known as “Withington Ford” his horse baulked (sic). Father McCaffrey was evidently injured in falling from his horse, sank into the river and drowned. A few days later his body was found and brought to Old Mines for burial. He was described by a contemporary as a man of excellent qualities of head and heart, and more familiar than any other of the time with Holy Scripture.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Soon after John Hogan was ordained by Archbishop Peter Kenrick (1852), he received his first assignment – assistant to Rev. James Fox, pastor of St. Joachim’s Church in Old Mines. In Father Fox he found a mentor and lifelong friend. Young Father Hogan worked with Father Fox for more than a year, learning the strategies of a frontier priest – hours and days in the saddle, serving parishes across many counties, ministering to scattered Catholics families who were settling the state. 

Since the mid-18th century, Jesuits and other priests had served the spiritual needs of the miners and settlers, mostly French, in the area of Potosi, Richwoods and Old Mines. Tradition says that there were several log churches in this location before the present church was built. It was dedicated in 1831. The church site itself was sold to Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick, another of Hogan's mentors, for a dollar in 1850. (Yes, the church was built before the Church owned the land. So went life on the frontier.)

Father Fox was the pastor of St. Joachim's from 1852 to 1868. During that time he enlarged the original church building. According to a history of the parish:
On November 12, 1854 the church was blessed and placed under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph by Rev. A. S. Paris, priest of the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of St. Louis, assisted by Rev. J. Caffrey (more on Father James Caffrey in a future post) and Rev. S. Grugan, in the presence of a large concourse of people. It was then reconsecrated by Bishop Duggan on November 15, 1857.

St. Joachim's Church today.  (page 27, Mystery of the Irish Wilderness)

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Thursday, October 9, 2014


About this time of year, in the early autumn of 1857, John Joseph Hogan left Chillicothe to survey the cheaper, government land available for purchase in the Ozarks. Look at a road map today and you’ll realize that there still is not an easy way to cover those 400-plus miles from his chosen mission in Chillicothe to southeast Missouri.  Still he was determined:
It seemed to me to be my duty to do whatever might be in my power, to aid these people to rise from their condition of servitude, to ownership and cultivation of land, so as to secure for them, beyond doubt, a settled and permanent mode of existence, that would accord better with their higher social aspirations and religious principles. This, however, could not be done in North Missouri, where land was held at too high a price. 

Hogan wasn’t one to plunge off without a plan.  He had procured plots and surveys of available government lands in the Ozarks and knew where he was going. The itinerary he lists in his memoir (On the Mission in Missouri: 1857-1868) of his first trip southward is short, but it would have been an arduous journey by steamboat on the Missouri River to St. Louis, then train to Iron Mountain or Frederick Town, then by horseback into the hills and over rivers for several weeks. 

Traveling by way of Brunswick, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Old Mines, Potosi, Iron Mountain and Frederick Town, I halted at Greenville, in Wayne County, where I hired a surveyor familiar with the country. I examined the lands on the head waters of Little Black River, Cane Creek, Brushy Creek, in Ripley (now Carter) county, and entered four hundred and eighty acres in a body on Ten Mile Creek, making arrangements at once to put men thereon, opening and cultivating it. 
With the surveyor I rode westward, across the Current River, by Van Buren, up Pike Creek, thence southward over the great divide east of Eleven Points River as far as the head waters of Buffalo Creek, thence eastward along Buffalo Creek and its tributaries to a ford on Current River. At this place there was a mill and homestead owned and occupied by a man named Appollinaris Tucker; he and his family were the only Catholics known to be residing at that time in that district. At the time of my arrival, Mrs. Tucker was in the last stages of her mortal illness, in which it seemed God's Holy Will that she should linger until her longings could be gratified to receive the last Sacraments; and, as it happened, from the hands, of the first priest known to have come into that region of country. After Mrs. Tucker’s death, I returned homewards, by way of Iron Mountain, St. Louis, and Hannibal, to Chillicothe.
Appollinaris and Ellen Tucker purchased government land in 1854 and 1856 in Ripley County. There is no record of the mill after the Civil War or of what became of Appollinaris Tucker.

Tucker Bay Spring, with 24 million gallons a day, is #18 on the list of Missouri's 20 largest springs. A Google search brings up little information and few pictures.  It's located on Forest Service land in the Mark Twain National Forest in Ripley County and the site is difficult to get to. The spring does not have a dramatic gushing-forth-from-the-rocks beauty like Greer Springs or Big Springs, but rises along the lower one-third mile of an intermittent stream, at the base of a hill, seeming to come from a fault. Other than this account by John Joseph Hogan, there seems to be very little known about it or the people who might have lived by it. Tucker Bay Spring remains one of the mysteries in the region known as the Irish Wilderness.

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