August 3, 1851

Plaque for Catholic Church



Sunday Aug 3d  Went to the consecration of the Catholic

Church dedicated to The virgin Mary. The bishop &

priest took a pail of water and a cedar twig and went

around the house and sprinkled the foundation with the

water and then the aisles & walls and some of the

congregation got a sprinkling. This afternoon went to

our own church.  Frank carried Orinthia home

Oakes A carried Louisa Swan to the hall under our

church to a sing & carried S E Williams & L Kimball

home from it

By 1850, Easton’s Catholic population, which had been almost non-existent before about 1840, now numbered approximately 150, primarily due to the influx of Irish Catholic immigrants, many of whom went to work at the shovel factory.  The Irish had no church of their own, and had been gathering for worship in a hall belonging to the Ames family on those Sundays when an itinerant priest came to town.  The congregation had outgrown that facility, however, and needed their own house of worship.

The Ames family donated a plot of land on Pond Street to the Catholics so that they could build their own church.  The stone plaque in the photograph above commemorates that first church, built in 1850 and consecrated on this very Sunday in 1851.  Evelina and, presumably, other members of the Ames family attended the consecration, a ceremony to which Evelina paid close attention.  They went back to their own Unitarian church in the afternoon.












AUGUST 1976 [date of plaque]

5 thoughts on “August 3, 1851

  1. Was she a catholic as well? Makes sense since she lived in Boston. I’m curious about what generation she is.

    • Evelina was a Unitarian, as were all the Ameses. Coming from old Puritan stock, the Ameses were generally quite skeptical about the Catholic religion. For instance, they and others struggled to envision declaring allegiance to a pope, whom they saw only as a foreign leader. In Easton and elsewhere, Puritan descendants distrusted “popery”, even as the new immigrants in their turn couldn’t understand the rigidity and simplicity of Protestantism. There was significant distrust between the two established cultures.
      The Ames’s attendance at the consecration of the new church was a gesture of good will toward the many Irish Catholic employees of the shovel factory. Afterwards, they all went back to their own very non-Catholic church!

      • Ah, Unitarian, I was thinking possibly Anglican. Thanks for the additional info.

  2. There’s a great anecdote about someone, I think one of the foremen at the shovel factory, who was Irish Catholic coming to Old Oliver as a spokesman for the Catholics to question/protest the reading of the protestant scriptures in the public schools. Oliver reminds him of his humble origins in the town and tells him he can go back to where he came from, if he doesn’t like the way things are done in Easton. That Old Oliver, he was such a card!! 😉 The levels of irony here about the apparently King James scripture being read, being defended by the Unitarian, somewhat anti-Calvinist Oliver are delicious. I don’t now if the Catholics wanted Catholic scriptures, or more likely, no scriptures at all. Chaffin also tells a story about the police station/drunk tank being down near that Catholic Church and how the drunks could wake up to Catholic services in their ears. Supposedly Oliver and his sons gave up booze because of the havoc it was wreaking in their workers.

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