The words Irish and Catholic always seem to go together. But, not in my family. We are Irish and Lutheran, which people always find hard to believe. Recently, I had a conversation with a priest and he made a comment about my being Irish Catholic, it was a bit odd to correct him on my being a life long Lutheran.
My Grandmother, Ida (Jaeger) O’Connell’s family was Lutheran and I just assumed that is why we are as well.
Well, studying my families genealogy brought some other reasons to light. Back in the 1800′s my Irish line was Catholic. My great-grandfather Dennis O’Connell was baptized at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middle Granville, NY on 16 Sept 1883. This is the church the family worshiped at while living in Granville, NY. Dennis’ mother, Bridget (Curran) O’Connell died in 1895 and is buried in Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel closed its doors on Easter sunday, 2009. The church still stands and they were trying to sell the building the last time I checked. It was sad to read this, knowing that it was a place my family worshiped and that the church was over 100 years old.
Some of the items that are within St Mary’s came from Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
There were many catholic churches in the area and worshipers chose their church based on the ethnicity. It is obvious that Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the chosen church for the Irish. The current priest has closed all of the other catholic churches in this area and everyone now attends St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
When the family moved from the Granville area to Hudson Falls, they attended St. Paul’s Catholic Church. St Paul’s had a bad fire and now all of the surviving church records are held at St Mary’s. St Mary’s opened their church to all of St Paul’s parishioners and it is now known as St Mary’s/St Paul’s.
In 1917, Dennis O’Connell left his wife (Rose Springer) and children to move to Canada. Sometime before 1930 they divorced and Rose remarried. Since then divorce has run through my family so much, that I am sure the catholic church would never let us back in.
In 2010, I was lucky enough to take a road trip east with my aunt and cousin to visit the places my ancestors lived, worshiped and were put to rest (which were all catholic cemeteries).
I was confirmed at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL and all three of my children were baptized there.
This post was written for submission into the 109 Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.
Last summer, while my aunt, cousin and I were on out trip through the East Coast, I had a great find at the cemetery where I knew my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were buried. About two years ago, I found Dennis and John O’Connell both listed in an index for St. Paul’s / St. Mary’s Cemetery in Hudson Falls. The day after I found the index, I called and spoke with Dorothy at the church and was able to verify that this was indeed my family. It had only taken me about 8 years to find this link. I was ecstatic and knew I would have to make the trip to the cemetery at some point. Well, last summer that all came to life for me. We spent the morning in another town and by late afternoon we had finally found our way to the St. Mary’s /St. Paul’s Cemetery. I thought that I had drawn a picture of the cemetery from the index, but no such luck. Instead we spent a good hour looking for the gravesites. I was angry at myself because I knew better than to go into a cemetery not knowing where to be looking. Though this was a smaller cemetery to what I am used to visiting back home, there was still many stones to be read. We split up and continued the search.
At one point, I found the name Daha and took a few pictures because I knew this line married into ours. I just did not have specifics on the family. Just a brief note I found in an obituary for Dennis O’Connell. After taking 1-2 pictures, I was aggrivated and decided to stop taking pictures to look for the O’Connell family once again. When I did that, my cousin Tracy urged me to continue taking photo’s of the Daha stones, there were many of them. While I reluctantly continued, Tracy and our aunt were moving towards an older section of the cemetery that was further away from all the other stones. I actually tripped over a stone when I was done with the Daha pictures, I looked down and you guessed it, I actually stumbled onto my family plot! I was so excited, the O’Connell family was all buried together. John Sr., his wife Maria, John Jr, his wife Beatrice and Dennis. These were all of the family members that I knew were there. The stone I stumbled on was for Elizabeth O’Connell Daha the gravesite next to her was for Mary O’Connell Herring. Both of these ladies are sisters to Dennis and daughters to John Sr! I was thrilled at the discovery because I did not see either name in the index and when I called the church, this information was not given to me either.
1894 – 1976
St. Paul’s / St. Mary’s Cemetery Hudson Falls, NY
Beatrice is wife of John O’Connell Jr., this is not a line that I have spent any time researching as of yet. I do plan to research their family in the future.
Photo © Terri O’Connell 2011.