Virtual Archives

Virtual Archives: Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio
Historical Document Abstracts

Table of Contents
  • Historic Mount Saint Mary Seminary, Achievement in Western Hills
  • St. Francis Hospital, Achievement in Western Hills
  • (Catholic) Price Hill Celebrities, Achievement in Western Hills
  • St. Aloysius and St. Boniface Churches, Souvenir History of Cumminsville
  • St. Patrick's Church, Souvenir History of Cumminsville
  • St. Pius Church, Souvenir History of Cumminsville
  • St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, Souvenir History of Cumminsville

    Historic Mount Saint Mary Seminary
    by Robert Cox Stump
    As found in Achievement in Western Hills, 1932.

    Price Hill possesses one of the most interesting and historic buildings of Cincinnati, namely the former Mount Saint Mary Seminary of the West -- the venerable Alma Mater of scores of prelates and priests of the Catholic Church who were educated there for many different dioceses of the country.

    Archbishop John Baptist Purcell named this institution for his own Alma Mater at Emmittsburg, Maryland, when he founded it on the brow of the hill overlooking the Cincinnati basin on the east, with the sweep of sister eminences and the gleaming curves of the Ohio River spread out in panorama below. 1,800 ecclesiastical students have been educated for the Catholic priesthood in the century of the Seminary's existence, and the Price Hill buildings are now used by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to uplift and educate orphaned, dependent and under-privileged girls for useful and happy lives.

    After the Seminary, founded by Bishop Edward D. Fenwick, O.P., first head of the Cincinnati diocese, had been located in several places, including Seventh and Sycamore Streets, Eighth and Central Avenue, and at St. Martin's, Brown County, Archbishop Purcell decided to establish it permanently on Price Hill. Patrick Considine donated five acres for a site in 1847. A stone building was erected thereon by John and James Slevin at their own expense -- an approximate cost of $22,000. The Seminary was opened here in 1851. Additions to the building were made during the years 1856 and 1869-1870, a new wing being built in the last named year. The chapel, notably beautiful in design and furnishings, was badly damaged, with the college building, by a fire in 1863, but was at once restored to its former condition.

    The financial difficulties of the Cincinnati Archdiocese, during the Seventies, caused Mount Saint Mary's to be closed temporarily, but it was reopened in 1887 by Archbishop William Henry Elder, $100,000 having been donated by Reuben R. Springer to relieve this crisis in Archdiocesan affairs. St. Gregory Preparatory Seminary was finally located in Mount Washington, and when the Sisters of the good Shepherd bought the Price Hill property in 1904 both the major and minor seminaries were consolidated at Mount Washington. The present fine Mount Saint Mary Seminary building at Norwood Heights was built and dedicated by Archbishop Henry Moeller between the years 1922-1923. There the major Seminary remains, while St. Gregory's is still at Mount Washington, likewise in a fine modern group of buildings. . .

    Local Bishops Connected with the Seminary

    The late Archbishop Henry Moeller, a native Cincinnatian, at one time headed Mount Saint Mary Seminary as Rector. Archbishop Francis J. Beckman, reared on McPherson Avenue, Price Hill, was Rector from 1913 to 1924, and Bishop Urban J. Vehr of Denver, Colorado, also a former Price Hillian, held the rectorship from 1929 until his appointment and consecration to the Western See last year. Archbishop Beckman preached the sermon at the centenary services, conducted by Archbishop John T. McNicholas, in commemoration of the Seminary's centenary, in St. Peterís Cathedral on December 1, 1929.

    Others of the alumni who became Bishops are:
    Bishop Frederick Reese of Detroit
    Bishop H.D. Juncker of Alton, Illinois
    Bishop Josue Young of Erie, Pennsylvania
    Bishop Caspar Borgess of Detroit
    Bishop John Quinlan of Mobile, Alabama
    Bishop Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Arkansas
    Bishop A.M. Toebbe of Covington, Kentucky
    Bishop Joseph Dwenger of Fort Wayne, Indiana
    Bishop John L. Spalding of Peoria, Illinois
    Bishop S.H. Rosecrans of Columbus, Ohio
    Bishop Anthony Durier of Natchez, Mississippi
    Bishop Richard Gilmour of Cleveland, Ohio
    Bishop Nicholas Gallagher of Galveston, Texas
    Bishop Henry J. Richter of Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Bishop N.C. Matz of Denver, Colorado
    Bishop Thomas S. Byrne of Nashville, Tennessee
    Bishop Patrick McGovern of Cheyenne, Wyoming
    Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Bishop Alphonse Smith of Nashville, Tennessee
    Bishop Francis W. Howard of Covington, Kentucky
    Bishop John F. Noll of Fort Wayne, Indiana
    Bishop James J. Hartley of Columbus, Ohio

    Rectors of the Seminary Since the Forties

    The first Rector of the Seminary, after its establishment on Price Hill, was Rev. Michael Hallinan, 1851-1854; Bishop Quinlan, 1854-1859; Rev. William Barry, 1859-1863; Rev. D. O'Regan, 1863; Rev. F.J. Pabisch, 1864-1879; Bishop Thomas S. Byrne, 1887-1894; Monsignor John B. Murray, 1894-1904; Archbishop Moeller, 1904; Monsignor John M. Mackey, 1905-1908; Rev. Joseph A. Shee, 1908-1913; Archbishop Beckman, 1913-1924; Monsignor Louis J. Nau, 1924-1929; Bishop Vehr, 1929-1930; Rev. George J. Rehring, present incumbent.

    As noted above, the last four Rectors (Presidents) of Mount Saint Maryís have been connected directly with Price Hill, Monsignor Nau serving as pastor of St. Lawrence Church from 1917-1925. Bishop Henry J. Richter, one of its professors, was the first pastor of this parish, serving from 1869 until his appointment to the Bishopric of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1883.

    The valuable social service rendered by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in the Training School for Girls which has succeeded the historic Mount Saint Mary's Seminary carries on its earlier mission of spreading the truths of Christian faith and the principles of Christian morality in this modern day and time.

    St. Francis Hospital by Earl Winter
    As found in Achievement in Western Hills, 1932.

    The cornerstone of St. Francis Hospital was laid in the year 1887 with due ceremonies attended by outstanding lay and clergy leaders of the city. Archbishop W. H. Elder laid the cornerstone for the hospital.

    The site of the present hospital had formerly been known as the St. Peter German Independent Cemetery and had been used for internments from 1831 to December, 1870. Finally, in 1874, it was handed over to the Sisters for the erection of an institution for charitable purposes.

    Owing to considerable bequests of the late Honorable Reuben Springer and Joseph Nurre, whose deeds of generosity and kindness are well remembered by the congregation, the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis were able to erect a hospital not only to carry out the above obligations, but more especially to answer the urgent appeals for admission of incurable patients who could not be accommodated at St. Mary's Hospital, Betts and Linn Streets.

    At present St. Francis Hospital has a capacity of 387 beds. In caring for the incurables, the Sisters carry on a work that was especially dear to the heart of their foundress, Mother Frances Schervier. Men and women of all creeds are united in their praise of the splendid work that St. Francis Hospital is doing.


    (Catholic) Price Hill Celebrities by Robert Cox Stump
    As found in Achievement in Western Hills, 1932.

    Price Hill had its due share of notable citizens, General William S. Rosecrans being a resident on the later White property on the northeast part of our suburb during one period of his brilliant military career, according to old-timers. His brother, Rt. Rev. Sylvester H. Rosecrans, first Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati and first Bishop of Columbus, Ohio, was a member of Mt. St. Mary Seminary faculty, hence residing at that noble old institution. Thereby hangs a rather thrilling tale. Returning one night to the Seminary, after a trip to St. Peter's Cathedral, the future Bishop was held up and wounded by a footpad as he walked up Warsaw Avenue hill. Perhaps recognizing his victim as a clergyman, the thug took to his heels. Fortunately the bullet wound was not serious, Father Rosecrans calmly proceeding on his way to the Seminary where he was given first aid and medical attention.

    By a coincidence, Bishop Joseph H. Albers, the second Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Cincinnati, was assistant pastor to St. Lawrence Church for a short time before serving as Secretary to Archbishop Moeller and as a chaplain in the World War. Rt. Rev. Henry Joseph Richter, first Bishop of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was first permanent pastor of St. Lawrence parish, and his brother's family resided many years on Elberon Avenue, near Phillips Avenue. Dr. Richter was on the Seminary faculty and was chaplain of Mt. St. Vincent (Cedar Grove) Academy of the Sisters of Charity, another local landmark; for a time his residence was on the extensive tract owned by the Sisters. The old Academy is now Seton High School for Girls.

    Gen. E. P. Scammon was a professor also at the Seminary before the Civil War in which he won his high rank as a general officer. Rev. Xavier Donald McLeod, who left the Presbyterian for the Episcopal and finally the Episcopal for the Catholic faith, was too a contemporary faculty member at the Seminary. A brilliant lecturer, poet, historian, and general writer, Father McLeod was killed by a train at Sedamsville, in the Seventies, while serving as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church. . .

    St. Aloysius and St. Boniface Churches
    As found in Souvenir History of Cumminsville, 1914.

    Long before a church of the Roman faith had been organized here a German Catholic school was instituted and held in a log cabin far out in the West Fork Creek district. The Catholic Churches proper, however, had their beginning in Cumminsville coincident with the advent of steam railways and at a time when the settlement assumed the proportions of a fair-sized village. The opening up of the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railroad, occurring in 1851, brought to Southern Ohio a large influx of Catholic immigrants, the greater portion coming from Ireland. Many of these children of Erin became residents of Cumminsville. Having no near place of worship, these strongly religious villagers, having to go five miles to Cincinnati, or an equal distance to White Oak, in order to hear mass, Archbishop decided they should have a church of their own. Accordingly in 1853, a modest little brick church was built on Linn Street (now Delaney), close to St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum then under construction. The little church was named St. Aloysius and Father H. Lange became its first pastor. In 1854 came a young priest, just ordained -- Rev. Joseph Paul Wittler -- who made his mark and labored indefatigably for the upbuilding of the church. Barring three years when he exchanged pulpits with Father Stephan of St. Bernard, he remained the shepherd of this fold until 1863. Under his guidance the church grew amazingly, due largely to the arrival of a great number of German families, who, joining the suburban movement, came from this city or cam directly from the Fatherland. Accommodations becoming inadequate, a new and larger building was contemplated but the Archbishop, recognizing the wisdom of separate organizations on the basis of nationality, desired and authorized the formation of another parish. On April 6, 1861, at a parish meeting, his wishes were acceded to and the congregation decided to divide by the "drawing of lots," the party remaining to retain the original church property and the departing members to receive the sum of $1,500. The division was accomplished after a Sunday afternoon service on April 13 when it was decided that the German contingent should build a new church -- a heavy task for a congregation lacking in wealthy members. The eloquent Father Joseph Ferneding, vicar-general, preaching under a blossoming cherry tree, so tired their Teutonic ambition that the result was a determination to once carry out the project. Father Wittler, having been appointed pastor of the new parish, which had been placed under the patronage of St. Bonifacius, held a meeting on June 15, 1862, when the first formal steps toward building were taken. A finance committee to determine how much money could be raised by popular subscription was appointed, consisting of John Ankenbauer, Jacob Remly, Bernard Weichmann, Joseph Menke, and Frederic Glassmeier. After considerable difference of opinion, a lot 100X150 feet on the northwest corner of Lakeman and Blue Rock Streets was decided upon and purchased of Timothy Kirby for $600. The settlement of the dispute as to location was greatly facilitated by the tactful humor of vicar-general Ferneding who showed the futility of trying to please everybody, facetiously suggesting "that the church might be built on wheels and drawn to a new place each day of worship, thus satisfying the wishes of all concerned." The lot was therefore purchased October 4, 1862. Architect John Bast drew the plans for the church and parsonage, and John Henry Sanning erected the buildings, completing them in specified time that they might be dedicated on November 13, 1863. The building committee was composed of Joseph Strasser, John Ankenbauer, Michael Poppe, Michael Stigler, Bernard Weichmann, Frederic Niemeier, Joseph Menke, and Frederic Glassmeier.

    On the beautiful autumn morning of November 13, 1863, the sacred function of blessing the church took place, Bishop Rosecrans officiating and Father Wittler celebrating high mass. The congregation was by no means a rich one, but $1,881 was raised among the parishioners. The energetic young pastor took up the task of securing the balance and toiled on the streets of Cincinnati personally soliciting from outsiders financial aid and succeeding in raising the large sum of $6,350. This work, though not rich in temporal rewards, exacted the life of the young priest, frail in body and of delicate health, for, on one of his collection tours, he contracted pneumonia and died on May 14, 1866. Father Wittler was but thirty-seven years of age.

    In September of 1866 came the Rev. Boniface Godfrey Topmoeller, a young man like his predecessor, full of energy and zeal. In 1867 the grounds were enlarged by purchase and in 1870 a school building was erected adjoining the church at a cost of $7,800. In this church and school have all the German Catholic families received both their religious and secular educations. Father Topmoeller served the church faithfully for many years, and like his energetic predecessor received his death blow while on a collecting tour. On a hot sultry day in August of 1887 he was stricken with apoplexy and after lingering many days passed from life August 24, 1887, aged forty-seven years.

    The pastors of St. Boniface since 1873 are Revs. John Dominic Kress (1887-1900), Joseph A. Meyer (1900-1907), and the present pastor, George X. Schmidt. The following assistant pastors have also served: Revs. George X. Schmidt (1892-1896), Henry J. Winner (1896-1898), Anthony Moeller (1898-1900), Bernard Beckemeier (1900-1901), Herman Limbeck (1901-1902), Frederic B. Veil (1902-1905), Charles W. Kuehnle (1906-1913), Louis Evers (1912-1913), Francis B. Sieve and Bernard J. Wellman (1913).

    St. Boniface had given four of her sons to the priesthood -- Revs. John T. Schopp, Louis H. Yauss, P. Robert Glassmeier, and P. Bede Knapke. Two churches have also sprung from this parent congregation -- St. Claire in College Hill and St. Pius in South Cumminsville.

    St. Patrick's Church
    As found in Souvenir History of Cumminsville, 1914.

    On the occasion of the "drawing by lot," referred to in connection with St. Aloysius Church (see above), the English-speaking party were in the ascendancy and won and maintained the original church, the German members forming anew under the patronage of St. Bonifacius. Father Wittler, who had been the pastor and had gone with the German exodus was succeeded by the Rev. David B. Walker who began service in 1862. The need of a new and larger church was now evident and a plot of ground was purchased of Jacob Hoffner. Father Walker, who before entering the priesthood was a civil engineer, laid out the grounds and drew the plans for the present beautiful building of St. Patrick's Church -- architecturally one of the finest in the city -- the general contour being that of the cross for which it stands. In 1870 preparation for the foundation was begun, the ceremonies being opened by the school children turning the sod. Among those who helped dig for the foundation were John Delaney, Patrick Connors, Henry Rice, John Farley, and Michael Flynn, all contractors at that time. With a generosity born of religious zeal their work was cheerfully done without reward except the blessings of a grateful people. The stonework was then laid and remained for over a year before the superstructure was reared. Others who took a prominent part in the organization were the brothers Alexander, James, and Richard Cluxton, Edward Daly, and Patrick Nagel, the latter plastering the edifice. This church was completed in the summer of 1873. After completing the foundations Father Walker went to Rome on a collection mission and while there joined the Jesuits and never returned. He was succeeded by Father D. V. Crowley who assumed the pastorate in 1872, saw the work of the construction through, remaining until 1880. The church has always had a large and influential following and has maintained a school for the instruction of the children of the parish. The pastors have been men of unusual ability. Those who officiated since 1880 are: Revs. Peter Patrick Mazuret (1880-1884), Henry Anderson (1884-1891), John F. Hickey (1891-1911), and the present pastor, Rev. M. P. O'Brien, born and raised in Cumminsville.

    St. Pius Church
    As found in Souvenir History of Cumminsville, 1914.

    Owing to the steady growth of St. Boniface congregation, a movement was started in the fall of 1910 to provide for the numerous membership which belonged to the congregation in South Cumminsville.

    On October 13, 1910, the present pastor of St. Pius Church, Rev. John Berning, was asked to organize the new parish. On December 1st, H. Bertke, Frank Fischer, A. A. Luckey, and Edward Meyer were appointed as the building committee and met at the Sacred Heart rectory, Camp Washington, and approved a plan for a temporary church. The northwest corner of Borden Street and Dreman Avenue was secured for the church purposes. The building was dedicated April 16, 1911, by Rev. F. Henry Bene. Shortly after the day of dedication the congregation met and elected a church committee made up of the following gentlemen: A. A. Luckey, treasurer; Joseph Fischer, secretary; H. Bertke, H. Laubernds, H. Kroner, F. Gerwe, Joseph Heyker, and J. Weitlauf. The congregation numbers 250 families.

    Ground for St. Pius School was broken March 19, 1912. The building was dedicated June 28, 1913, by the Most Rev. Henry Moeller. The school building is 67X102 feet, and contains eight regular class rooms and two music rooms. An auditorium seating 750 is one of the possessions of the congregation in which they take great pride.

    St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum
    As found in Souvenir History of Cumminsville, 1914.

    St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, probably the oldest institution of its kind in Cincinnati, was built in 1855. The grounds, forming a beautiful park-like area, consisting of eleven acres, were practically donated by that friend of the fatherless, Jacob Hoffner. The history of this institution dates back to 1829, when two Sisters of Charity undertook the care of orphan and destitute children on Sycamore Street, near the present site of St. Xavier's College. St. Peter's Benevolent Association for the orphans was organized in 1833, and under its auspices the new asylum began to enlarge its great work of charity. Thus it came about that St. Joseph's in Cumminsville, was built and dedicated to public charity on July 24, 1855, since which time it has increasingly "carried on with energy, progress, and success the gigantic burden of supplying the parental needs of a home to thousands of homeless children. Denominational lines are not drawn in pointing with pride to this "monument of philanthropy" and in support of its institutional existence. Up to the present (1914) over 8,000 children have been cared for in this institution. A school for primary and higher education is connected with the asylum. Greater love hath no man than that he give his life to others; such has been the devotion of Dr. Frank H. Rowe, who for forty-one years served gratuitously as medical attendant to the orphans and Sisters in this institution, only relinquishing this work in May of 1914. A conspicuous event in Cumminsville is the annual picnic or feast of the orphans, held on the Nation's birthday for the last fifty years. One director -- Michael P. Scully -- has attended every picnic and has assumed on each occasion the hauling and serving of the frozen refreshments. The Sisters coming out to make this institutional service their life work, came with their belongings on a canal boat by way of the Miami Canal.

    © 1998-2008 by David J. Endres