St. Patrick's Church, Leetonia, Ohio
Columbiana County, OH Biographies

St. Patrick's Church, Leetonia.—Leetonia, a thriving town, dependent on its coal mining and iron industries, was platted in 1866 by the Leetonia Coal and Iron Company, of which William Lee, a railroad contractor, was one of the incorporators, and from whom the village took its name. About ten years prior to this time some Catholics had settled here, having found employment in the adjacent coal mines. Their spiritual interests were looked after, monthly, or bi-monthly, on week days, by the resident pastors of Summitville, from 1856 to 1862, the Rev. Michael Prendergast being the first priest to visit them. They said Mass for them at Franklin Square, two miles from Leetonia. Between 1862 and 1864 they were attended from Louisville, by the Rev. F. C. Ludwig; and From Alliance between 1864 and 1867, by the Rev. F. Moitrier, who was the first priest to say Mass in the town of Leetonia. In the latter year the Rev. M. Mulcahy, a Basilian, one of the professors at St. Louis' College, Louisville, was charged with the care of Leetonia. In October, 1868, he was succeeded by the Rev. E. W. J. Lindesmith, pastor of Alliance. Father Lindesmith was appointed the first resident pastor of Leetonia, in May, 1872, and remained till July, 1880. Mass was said in private houses until December, 1868. In the fall of that year Father Lindesmith built the first church, a frame building, 40x60 feet, on a lot that had been bought in October, 1867. The church was used for divine services for the first time on Christmas day, 1868. Its interior was finished in the following spring. The church, when completed, was entirely paid for. It was dedicated to St. Barbara, patroness of miners—the congregation, at that time, numbering about 65 families, being composed almost entirely of miners. During the pastorate of Father Lindesmith five more lots, each 60x220 feet, were bought, thus giving the entire property a frontage of 360 feet. The six lots cost $6,400. Their location on the north side of Main Street is admirable. Father Lindesmith built the present frame pastoral residence in 1872. He also bought the beautiful cemetery now in use; it comprises nearly nine acres.

In August, 1880, Father Lindesmith was appointed chaplain in the U. S. Army, by President Hayes. His successor in the pastorate of Leetonia was the Rev. W. J. Fitzgerald, who shortly after his arrival began preparations for building a new church, as the congregation had outgrown the old. His parishioners subscribed quite liberally for that object, thus encouraging their young and energetic pastor. In the fall of 1880 he had plans drawn for a Gothic brick church, for which he received Bishop Gilmour's approbation. In the spring of the following year ground was broken for the foundation, near the western line of the parish property, and on Sunday, July 3, the cornerstone of the new church was blessed and laid by Bishop Gilmour. The handsome structure was brought under roof by October, 1881, and with its interior unfinished was used for the first time, in December of the same year. Father Fitzgerald had intended to complete the church in 1882, but Almighty God, in his unfathomable wisdom, had decreed otherwise. During his brief career the good priest, by his amiability, earnestness and zeal, had won the hearts of his people, and the respect of all of the citizens of Leetonia, without creed or class distinction. After a short illness, when all looked bright and promising to him, the Angel of Death summoned him before his Maker, on March 22, 1882 His unexpected demise was a great affliction for his devout people and a distinct loss not only to his parish, and Leetonia, but also to the diocese. His death was sincerely mourned by all who knew him and his sterling worth. Pending the appointment of his successor, the Rev. James O'Leary attended the parish from Alliance for six weeks. The Rev. John C. Desmond was appointed to the pastorate of Leetonia in May, 1882. He placed the parochial school in charge of four Sisters of St. Joseph. It had been organized during the administration of Father Lindesmith, in 1869, a part of the first church having been used for that purpose; it was conducted by lay teachers. Owing however to lack of means it was discontinued in 1872, and not re-opened until the advent of Father Desmond. During the summer of 1882, at an expense of about $1,000, he had the old church fitted up as a school, and the pastoral residence considerably improved. In the following year he enlarged the school, built a residence for the Sisters and had a furnace placed in the church. The building and improvements cost $2,000. In October, 1884, Father Desmond was succeeded by the Rev. Edward J Murphy, who a few months later made arrangements for finishing the interior of the church. He called a meeting of the congregation for the purpose of getting their views on the subject. It was unanimously resolved to go on with the work, and the members responded generously with their subscriptions. Father Murphy, thus encouraged, had the carpentering, plastering, frescoing, stained glass windows, and elegant furnishings, such as altars, pews, etc., done by competent persons, with the result that the church (52 by 100), beautiful and artistic in every detail, was ready for dedication in the fall of 1887. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Gilmour on Sunday, October 23, of that year, and St. Patrick was chosen the patron of the new church. It has a prominent position, located as it is on one of the highest elevations in the town. The church cost about $20,000, inclusive of altars, pews, etc. At an expense of $1,600 a fine bell and an artistic set of Stations were secured in 1889, and in the following year the former heating apparatus was replaced by a steam heater. A stone wall, and a stone sidewalk run along the entire front of the church property, which, with its buildings, presents a very attractive appearance.

In September, 1892, the Sisters of St. Joseph were succeeded in the charge of the parish school by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. They remained until June, 1900.

History of Columbiana County, Ohio
By: Harold B. Barth
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1926

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