Parish Spotlight, Region X Register, November 2007 pp 11-12

St. Martin Of Tours Catholic Church, Flaherty

Compiled by Shelly Sims, Ann Sipes & Mary Ann Whelan

The first church building dedicated to St. Martin Of Tours that was erected in Flaherty was built in 1848. Before then, Mass had been held in private homes (stations) for almost three decades.

The first home or "church station" was that of Thomas Boarman, who settled about one mile north of Big Spring around 1822, followed by Ben Elders' home and then by Charles A. Craycroft's home. A story about the parish was told in the Catholic Advocate upon the dedication of the present church Nov. 14,1894.

An original news clipping was loaned to Ann Sipes by Father John Clancy. It provided one of the first histories written about St. Martin's and describes the progress up to the year 1894.

"A magnificent ceremony took place at Flaherty on the 14 Nov 1894 when the Rt. Rev. W.G. McClosky D.D., bishop of Louisville, dedicated the new church of St. Martin's to the service of Almighty God. Long before the appointed hour thousands had gathered from near and far to assist. Precisely at 10 O'clock the Bishop began the ceremony. He was assisted by the. Very Rev. Hugh Daly, Dean of Elizabethtown, and the Revs. Wm. J. Dunn, of Louisville, John Abell of Bethlehem, Thomas York, of Louisville, A. O'Sullivan of Daviess County, George Niehaus of Cloverport, Edward J. Hart of. Colesburg. John O'Connor of Louisville, and J. J. Fitzpatrick, of St. Martin's Church.
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"Altogether the ceremonies of the two days were such as to stir up devotion in the hearts of the careless and encouragement in the hearts of all. St. Martin's stands today a monument to the zeal and earnestness of the people of Flaherty."

In the time previous to the erection of the first church of St. Martin's, Mass was said every month or two, first at the house of Thomas Bowman (Boarman), later at Ben Elder's and finally the priest having lost his house by fire, made his home with Mr. C. A. Craycroft, who had come from Washington County, where he had settled after his arrival from Maryland.

Mass was said at the house Of Mr. Craycroft until the erection of the church. This was accomplished after the many noble and self-sacrificing efforts, principally of Craycroft and Edward Lancaster.  It is not surprising that the children of such fathers would be found working together in the same manner towards erecting a commodious church for the growing congregation of today. The old church was dedicated Aug. 27, 1848, by Rev. David Deparcq, assist Rev. Frs. Augustine Deguaquier and C.L. Coomes, followed by a retreat of four days, the happy result of which was a general communion of one hundred and fifty persons.

Among the principal Catholic families living in this part of the country who were accustomed to hear Mass at "the station near the Big Spring," included the following: John Shephard, Thomas Bowman, John Byrnes, Clement Gristy, George and John B. Medley. After these, yet before the opening of the new church, was Wm. Mitchell, James Pagett, Charles Peak, Abram Rhodes, Henry Cooper, Sylvester Wheatley, Peter Brown, P. P. Nevitt, and William Lancaster.

Immediately after the erection of the church we have the name of Charles Jones, who died last year, having done his duty faithfully towards the erection of the present church of St. Martin's.

After the dedication of the church in 1848, the first baptism recorded is that of Sarah Frances, daughter of William Bryan and Nancy Vowels, b. 17 Nov 1848, godmother, Sarah Ann Craycroft. (In Father Lyon's compilation of the records at St. Martin's, Sarah was actually born 17 Nov 1847, and had been baptized 12 Jan 1848).

The last Baptism recorded at St. Martin's by Father Coomes was administered on 26 Apr 1870, to Laura Isabel, d/o William B. Lancaster and Malvina Jane Dillard. During the long time in which Father Coomes had charge of this mission he was occasionally assisted by Fathers Wathen, Champige, R.A. Abell, Bekkers, and Degauquier. After Father Coomes came Rev. J. Ryan, and Rev. J. Creary, both of whom remained but a short time. In 1871, Fr. Barrett had charge and was succeeded by Rev. James Ryan in 1872. He is at present the Rt. Rev. Bishop of Alton, IL. During the pastorate of Father Ryan, a school was opened and a new pastoral residence was built, and attention given to many needed repairs. He was succeeded by the Father E. VanTroostenberge, who stayed just a short time. He died of yellow fever in the South, where he had gone to nurse and assist the sufferers.

In 1873, Rev. James O'Connor became pastor, staying 17 years. He was succeeded by Rev. John J. Fitzgerald. Fr. Fitzgerald was no stranger to the people of St. Martins, as for a number of years he was in charge of St. John the Baptist and St. Ambrose churches in Hardin County and was spiritual director to the Loretto Sisters at Bethlehem Academy. When he was appointed to St. Martin's he was also charged to care for St. Patrick's at Stithton as a mission. St. Patrick's was attended about twice a month from St. Martin's.

Occasionally, Mass was also said at West Point at the house of Mrs. McCormack, about two miles from the railway station. Fr. Fitzgerald enjoyed the trip on the handcar down the track. Mr. Lynch is section master at West Point and with right good will does he direct his men to "run the hand car down to McCormacks." Besides, when the mills at Grahampton are working and Catholics are in town, Fr.Fitzgerald has said Mass for them as they are far from church and too poor to pay for conveyances to attend at St. Patrick's, the nearest church.

The new church of St. Martin's is of the simple gothic rather ornate style of architecture. It is built of brick, with trimmings of terra cotta and cut stone. The extreme dimensions are 115' x 45'. The main entrance is through the tower, which rises 86 feet and is surmounted by a beautiful cross. The clear story is over graceful arches resting on eight iron columns. These are surmounted by graceful and beautiful Corinthian capitals.

Everything is well proportioned and finished in first class style. The donors of the stained glass windows are the Rev. J.J. Fitzgerald, Joshua Lancaster, Mary Rhodes, Mark Lancaster, W. T. McDonough, Joseph Brown, Mrs. McDonough, W. A. Brown, Miss Alma Brown, Mrs. W. A. Brown, P. P. Nevitt, Mrs. P. P. Nevitt, in memory of Thomas Ballard, J. H. Thompson for his deceased relatives, Mr. R. C. Craycroft, Mr. & Mrs. J. W. Medley, Mrs. Isabella Simms in memory of Michael Whelan, Charles Shircliff for his parents, Mr. W.H. Edelin in memory of Mrs. Eliza Edelin and Mrs. Donie Edelin, and Charles Jones, in memory of deceased relatives, and now it stands a memorial to himself.


St. Martin of Tours, Flaherty
Cont. from pg. 11

Besides the above donations many others have been made. The Stations of the Cross, by Mrs. W. H. Edelin, a new missal by Mr. R. C. Craycroft, a fine crucifix, by Ben and Will Whelan and altar cards by Mrs. Dan Whelan and James Brown, the large candlesticks by Mrs. Snyder and the ladies of the congregation, the altar linens by Mrs. Schwabenton, Mrs. P. P. Nevitt and Mrs. Will Craycroft, besides handsome donations from Loeb& Soloman of Vine Grove and Myers & Jacob of Big Springs. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cissell donated over two thousand dollars before their deaths.

Other names mentioned as contributors to the work were Mrs. Mary Catherine Brown, Augustus Brown, F. T. Whelan, Charles Jones, Joe Hall, Richard Flaherty Robert Spalding, B. W. Ritchie, Mrs. Mary Bickett, Lee Hagar, Thomas Hagar, E. C. Hardesty, W. L. Wright, C.A. Montgomery; John P. Osborne, J.W. Newton, J.W. Medley, J. F. Knott, Mrs. Mary Rhodes, Mrs. Eliza Bickett, Fred Edelin, F. M. Lancaster, R. E. Yates, Charles Shircliff, Joseph Peak, M. W. Flaherty, Richard Norris, Joseph Medley, W. B. Lancaster, Robert A. Craycroft, G. C. Redmond, W. E. Pendleton, W. T.
McDonough, Joseph C. Brown, H. P. Jones, W. T. Hughes, G. T. Bickett, J. A. Snyder, W. Craycroft, A. A. Ray, W. H. Hagar, H. T. Peak, A. S. Craycroft, J. H. Thompson, P. P. Nevitt, E. M. Whelan, John Buckman, Mrs. John Mattingly, Joshua Lancaster, E. V. Buckman, R. A. Hamilton, Mrs. Sallie Hardesty, C. H. Peak, Lee Berry, Francis Ritchie, F. E. Hardesty, J. O. Cosby, B. W. Talbot, E. O. Bickett, J. V. Redmond, Ben Lancaster, Edward Lancaster, John Brown, Mrs. Ida Owings, Rev. Anthony . Sullivan, William Osborne, Hilary Rhodes Mrs. Hilf, Mrs. Elizabeth Bickett, Mrs. Bowman, Mrs. Overton, Mrs. Arnet, Ed Ritchie, George Corbett, Lavie Hobbs, Ben Whelan, William Whelan, Doctor Cosby, Sr., R. A. Nevitt, Matilda Mitchell, Elias Ray, Joe Bickett and many others.

Shelly Sims, a member of St. Martin's Historical committee, wrote in 1986 that Thomas Boarman's home was located on what is now the Johnny Mitchell Road, and that Ben Elder's home stood on the present Joe Hamilton farm on KY 1600, west of Flaherty, on the way to Big Springs. The C. A. Craycroft home stood at the foot of Bee Knob Hill, presently the farm of Linda Magar Hobbs.

The fellowship and earnestness of the old parishioners has been retained throughout all these years. There is no better community in which to live than that of St. Martin's and Flaherty.

In 1983, a committee was formed under the guidance of Rev. Joseph Irvin Mouser to study and preserve the history of the parish. Shelly Sims, a lifelong member of St. Martin's wrote a short history. Much of the story of St. Martin's at Flaherty was told by Shelly as she knew it through 1986.

Many Catholics came over into this area from Nelson, Washington and Marion counties. They settled first in the northwestern area of Meade County where St. Theresa's was established in 1831 by Reverend Charles Ignatius Coomes. Shortly after this a church was erected at Plain Dealing on Otter Creek, then one in the Stithton area (presently a part of the Fort Knox reservation). The first St. Patrick's Church was erected on that tract of land which today adjoins the main Post cemetery at Fort Knox. As the population of the county increased, more people settled in the southeastern area of Meade County between Big Spring and Otter Creek. (Father John Lyons, former archivist, wrote that Coomes rode a circuit of parishes covering possibly 200 miles.  Father Coomes kept beautiful records in all these parishes.}

You can find out a lot more about the history of St. Martin's by going to their web site: www.stmartinfl .org