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 Rev. James Treacy (1828-1898)

 

 

1860 Pittsburgh Directory

Alfred Tracy, clerk, bds Centre av n Green

Ann Tracy, widow of Patrick, h Centre ay, A

Dennis J Tracy, salesman, h 155 Centre av

Dennis Treacy, salesman, h 155 Centre av

Hugh Treacy, tavern 33? Grant

James Treacy, Rev, h 155 Centre av

Jane Treacy, milliner, 28 Diamond ay

John P. Treacy, student, h 155 centre av

John Trasey, gent, 155 Centre av

Julia A Treacy, milliner, 28 Diamond ay,

Michael Tracy, lab, h Wide ay n Fulton

Michael Tracy, porter, Wylie n Fulton

Mike Tracy, carp, bds 56 Second

Wm Treacy, painer, h 28 Diamond ay

 

1870 Pittsburgh Directory

Alfred J. Treacy, Atty, 116 Fifth Av

Edward Tracey, corder, 38 Darrah , A

James Tracey, lab, 1813 Mary, E B

James Treacey, Rev, 152 Centre Av

John M Tracy, painter, Erin

John S Tracy agent, Robinson, A

John Tracy, machinist, Liberty

John Treacey, 152 Centre Av

Julia Tracy, millinery goods, 28.5 Diamond

M Tracy, tailor, 225 Liberty

Martin Tracy, tailor, Erin

Patrick Tracy, blacksmith, Virgin ay n Liberty

Patrick Treacy, lab, 10 Wylie av

T Tracey, lab, Painter & Sons, W P

Thomas Tracey, lab, 4 Sawmill ay, A

Timothy Tracey, blacksmith, Exchange ay

W Tracey, lab Painter & Sons, W P

Wm Tracy, lab at Duquesne Forge

Wm Tracy, painter, 28.5 Diamond

 

1880 Pittsburgh Directory

Edwd Tracy, coachman, 48 Twelfth

Geo Tracy, lab, East, A

J P Treacy, physician, 129 Wylie av

Jas Tracey, lab, 924 William, s s

Jas Tracy, carp, 1072 Penn av

John Tracy, lab, School ay, bl Davison

Julia Treacy, millinery, 26 Diamond

Patk Tracey watchman, Second av. Frankstown

Patk Tracy, lab, 271 Preble av, A

Sarah Tracey, wid Martin, Shelby n Bedford av

Wm Tracey, lab, 10 Scott ay

Wm Treacy, painter, 26 Diamond

 

http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/t/text/text-idx?c=pitttextdir;page=browse

 

 

 

Rev. James Treacy (b. April 19, 1828 town of Mallow, County Cork d. 8th of November, 1898 Pittsburgh)

 

Father Treacy was tall, well proportioned, of a pleasing and sociable disposition, though somewhat timid or backward in his manner. He was possessed of a very large fund of general knowledge, was a pleasing and persuasive speaker, was a very active laborer in the cause of his divine Master, and was enthusiastic in all that related to his native land. The important part which he took in the affairs of religion in the diocese has already been referred to. As a writer Father Treacy contributed largely to Catholic periodicals, and also wrote a number of pieces of poetry, especially one of considerable length, entitled "Sketches of Irish Faith and Patriotism", which is a work of considerable merit, and would doubtless have appeared in book form had it not been that the author was of too timid a disposition. Parts of it appeared in The Catholic Journal. Few priests in the diocese of Pittsburgh have been held in higher esteem than Rev. James Treacy.

 

1. John Treacy (b. abt 1788 d. 13 Jun 1882 in Pittsburgh, PA) m. Bridget (Biddy) Noonan 29 May 1821 in Mallow, County Cork

1.1 James Treacy b: 19 Apr 1828 in Mallow, Co Cork, Ireland d. 8th of November, 1898 Pittsburgh

1.2 William Treacy b: 6 May 1832 in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland

1.2.1 John Michael Treacy b: 29 Sep 1859

1.2.2 Ellen Bridget Treacy b: 16 Sep 1861 in Pittsburgh, PA

1.2.3 James Richard Treacy b: 12 Nov 1863 d. 22 Dec 1903 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, married

1.2.4 William Patrick Treacy b: 9 Jun 1865 in Pittsburgh, PA

1.2.5 William Joseph Treacy b: 22 Apr 1867

William James Treacy d. 25 Feb 1902 Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, single

1.2.6 Denis Patrick Treacy b: 11 Mar 1869

1.2.7 Julia Agnes Treacy b: 27 Mar 1871 in Pittsburg, PA

1.3 Maryann Treacy b: Apr 1834

1.4 John Patrick Treacy b.c 1839 Mallow

1.5 Mary Tracey b.c. 1838 Mallow?

1.6 Bridget Tracey b.c. 1841 Mallow?

1.7 Dennis Tracey b.c. 1843 Mallow?

1.8 Alfred Tracey b.c. 1845 Mallow?

1.9 Louisa Tracy b.c. 1848 Mallow?

 

His paternal grandmother died in the city of Cork at the remarkably advanced age of one hundred and three years. His father was prosperously engaged in the mercantile business in his native county until 1853, when he came to America, and spent the remainder of his days in Pittsburg. Pa., where lie died at the venerable age of ninety-four years. The parents of our subject reared ten children, who were given liberal educational advantages, and two of the sons are doctors and one is an attorney.

 

1860 Census - The 7 Ward City Of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania

John Tracey                 M         66        Ireland

Bridget Tracey            F          56        Ireland

James Tracey   M         32        Ireland

Mary Tracey                F          22        Ireland

Bridget Tracey            F          19        Ireland

Dennis Tracey             M         17        Ireland

Alfred Tracey M         15        Ireland

Louisa Tracey F          12        Ireland

 

1870 Census - 13th Ward Pittsburgh Allegheny Pennsylvania

Jos Tracy                     M         42        Ireland, Clergyman, US citizen

John Tracy                   M         76        Ireland, labour, US citizen

Robert Dignam           M         24        Ireland, Clergyman, US citizen

Bridgett Tracy             F          66        Ireland, Keep House

Lousia Tracy               F          22        Ireland

 

1860 Census - The 1st Ward City Of Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania

William Treacy            M         28        Ireland

Julia A Treacy             F          22        Ireland

John Treacy     M         0          Pennsylvania

John Melligan M         18        Ireland

Cornelius Melligan      M         16        Ireland

Patrick Melligan          M         14        Ireland

Rose Fox         F          19        Ireland

Lizzie Rinehart          F          18             Pennsylvania

1870 Census - First Ward Pittsburgh Allegheny Pennsylvania

William Tracy M         37        Ireland, painter

Julia A Tracy   F          33        Ireland, Milliner

John M Tracy M         10        Pennsylvania

Ellen B Tracy F          9          Pennsylvania

James R Tracy             M         6             Pennsylvania

William J Tracy           M         3             Pennsylvania

Dennis P Tracy            M         1             Pennsylvania

John A Neligan           M         13 [18?]             Pennsylvania, Appr to painter

Letitia Neligan            F          28             Pennsylvania, Sales woman

Mary Donohoe            F          20        Ireland, domestic

1880 Census - Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania,

 

self

William Treacy

M

48

Ireland, painter

wife

Julia A. Treacy

F

44

Ireland

son

John M. Treacy

M

20

Pennsylvania, United States, painter

daughter

Ellen B. Treacy

F

18

Pennsylvania, United States, milliner

son

James R. Treacy

M

16

Pennsylvania, United States

son

William P. Treacy

M

14

Pennsylvania, United States

son

Dennis J. Treacy

M

12

Pennsylvania, United States

daughter

Julia A. Treacy

F

10

Pennsylvania, United States

other

Mary Newell

F

21

England

other

Eliza Patterson

F

25

Pennsylvania, United States

father

John Treacy

M

90

Ireland, dry goods merchant

other

P. M. Sheehan

M

47

Ireland

 

1880 Census - Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania

Self      John P Treacy M         41        Ireland, Doctor

Brother            Alfred J Treacy           M         37             Ireland, Lawyer

Wife    Martha Treacy             F          27             Pennsylvania, United States

 

John Treacy d. 10 Jun 1882 Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania of old age

Married, b. Ireland, Age: 94 b.c. 1788

Late Residence: The Diamond for the last 5 years

Name of Physician: J. P. Treacy

 

 

Rev. James Treacy

 

The sketch of few priests of the diocese of Pittsburgh will be read with feelings of livelier interest or sympathy than that of Rev. James Treacy, He was born in the town of Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, April 19, 1828 and made his preparatory studies in the grammar school of a Mr. O'Leary after which he studied in the city of Cork, and passed a very successful examination preparatory to entering the college of Maynooth. But before he had taken this step he was met by Bishop O'Connor who was a special friend of his father and who induced him to come to America and labor on the mission in his diocese, his parents and the rest of the family following him later. Through the kindness of the Very Rev. Superior of St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, I have been favored with the following particulars, taken verbatim from the records of that institution:

 

"James Treacy * * * came to America in February, 1849; and studied moral philosophy in Pittsburgh, and theology for nearly two years; has minor orders; entered the seminary on the 20th of August, 1851. The Bishop of Pittsburgh, to which diocese he belongs, pays $80 a year for his board, tuition, use of books, etc., except clothing of any kind, on the express condition that he will give to the college all the services that may be required of him. However, the state of his health did not allow him to do anything for the college. The only service he rendered to the house was to say night prayers and give occasionally some instruction to the servants of the seminary. At the request of the Rt. Rev. Dr. O'Connor, on the 17th of July, 1852, he was ordained sub-deacon in the chapel by Most Rev. Archbishop Kenrick, deacon on the 20th of July, and priest on the 21st. On the following day, viz.; the 22nd of July 1852, Rev. Mr. Treacy departed, for Pittsburgh at 11 p. m."

 

After a short stay at the cathedral Father Treacy went as assistant to Father Garland of St. Patrick's, in the city. About this time it was deemed necessary to form a new congregation on "The Hill", or that part of city which lay about a mile back from the Point, and nearly equidistant from each of the rivers. Early in the spring of 1853 Rev. John Tuigg, who was then stationed at the cathedral, was entrusted with the work of organizing the new congregation and building a church. A small brick edifice was planned, the first story of which should serve as a church and the second as a school. Early in July of the same year Father Tuigg was named pastor of the new congregation of Altoona, and Father Treacy was appointed to succeed him, with his residence for the present at the cathedral, and with the additional obligation of acting as chaplain to the Mercy Hospital. The new church was dedicated under the invocation of St. Bridget (now St. Bridgid), in December; and the pastor then petitioned off "a suite of rooms" for himself on the second floor, not unlike those which the thoughtful Sunamites built for the prophet Eliseus. Here the good man lodged for a number of years, in the heart of a city, laboring and studying by day and resting by night, and taking his meals in such places as he found best, for the financial panic was then at its height. A school, under the care of a lay teacher was soon opened, which in time passed into the hands of the Sisters of Mercy—and so remains to the present—who resided at the new orphan asylum when it was opened on Tannehill Street nearby in December, 1867. This part of the city, being on high ground, offered no inducements to heavy manufacturers, and for that reason it was built up slowly so that the congregation was for a long time in its infancy ; but with the demand for iron and other articles created by the Rebellion every part of the city was benefited, and the congregation began to emerge from its long obscurity. As a consequence additional accommodations had to be provided for the people, and measures were taken looking to that end in the, spring of 1865. The corner-stone of the new church was laid July 30th, but work on the building progressed rather slowly, owing to the fact that the congregation was still comparatively small. A growing colored population, residing for the most part in that section of the city had to be cared for in spiritual and often in temporal needs, and the pastor, though learned and zealous, was not gifted with a high order of financial ability. When some $25,000 had been spent on the building and the congregation were anxiously looking forward to its completion in the near future, it took fire on Holy Thursday April 8, 1871, and was entirely destroyed. The congregation had to return to the old building, the outstanding debt was almost covered by insurance, but the growth of the congregation had been such that a larger church was demanded, although the old walls were to be used as far as possible. Such was the progress of the work that the basement was ready for occupation before the beginning of winter. Father Treacy had long before resigned the chaplaincy of the hospital; but, owing to the chapel of the colored people, to which reference will now be made, it became necessary for him to have an assistant. The Church was dedicated April 28, 1872, but it entailed a debt which was a very heavy burden during the rest of his pastorate. The old church was then fitted up for a school, the pastor having years before made his home in a rented house, the congregation not being able under the circumstances to build a residence. 

 

St. Joseph's Colored Church

 

Reference has already been made in the sketch of Rev. Richard A. Wilson, to the unsuccessful attempt made in the summer of 1844 to open a chapel for the colored Catholics in the city. From that time the matter rested and they were cared for by the pastors of the congregations in which they resided; but on his return from the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore, late in the fall of 1866, Bishop Domenec turned his attention to the formation of a separate congregation for them. As they resided for the most part, as has just been said, in the hill district, he entrusted the work to Father Treacy, at the same time donating $1,000 toward the expenses of a church for their accommodation. A lot was purchased not far from St. Brigdet's upon which a small church was begun; but when the first story was built and a temporay roof put upon it work was suspended. Vespers and instructions were given regularly from that time; and the Sisters of Mercy from the orphan asylum opened a school, but the people heard Mass at St. Bridget's. They were nearly all very poor, and many of them were not constant in their attachment to their religion; the better to do preferring to go to more aristocratic churches and some of the others dropping out if the pastor did not come to their assistance at their beck. For these reasons the church did not realize the expectations of the bishop; and Father Treacy knew them too well to place his expectations very high. The poverty and inconstancy of the people rendered it impossible to pay the debt already contracted, much less to complete and maintain the building; and when the financial crisis of 1873 fell upon the country every effort to save it proving unavailing, it was sold by the foreclosure of the mortgage in November, 1876.

 

The financial crisis fell very heavily on the pastor and people of St. Bridget's. With a debt that they would have found it difficult to carry in prosperous times, it became all but impossible to float it when business was utterly prostrated. In addition to all this other crosses and very heavy ones were preparing for the disheartened pastor into which it will be necessary to enter at some length. The fact that I figured in some of them to considerable extent, as will be seen, and the still more important fact—which I may state once for all—that I have kept a daily journal for more than forty-five years, to which I can refer for anything, religious or other, in which I was a party or witness, places me in a position not only to take a general view and draw from general sources of information, but much more, to go into detail with a full knowledge whereof I speak. A few remarks are necessary for a correct knowledge of our religious and even of our civil history at this time; and this is as fitting a place as any for their introduction.

 

With the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, or Civil War, and the dimensions which it soon attained, a greater demand was created for cannon, shell, iron for war vessels and engines, and other military supplies in which iron and steel were extensively used; and Pittsburgh soon began to enjoy a season of unwonted prosperity. The coal trade and other industries were also greatly benefited; while the demand for able-bodied men for military service reduced the number of laborers and tradesmen, so that they were scarce and could demand almost fabulous wages, as an instance of which I may say that I knew of men refusing to work on the Monongahela wharf for less than $1.75 an hour, and $200 a month was nothing unusual. The activity of the oil trade on the upper Allegheny River also added to the prosperity of the diocese and more especially of Pittsburgh, and continued to do so tin a considerable time after the close of the war. Money was plenty, there were large profits in almost every line of manufacturing and trade, much of the business was carried on borrowed capital, and little account was made of contracting debts. All business was off a solid and on an artificial basis. The county was on stilts. A crisis was inevitable, and that too in the near future, when the conclusion of the unfortunate struggle would put an end to the demand for Pittsburgh's products, permit the men of the army to return to their homes and avocations, and bring the nation down to a solid financial basis. Many, doubtless saw a crisis coming, but determined to make hay while the sun was shining, and find shelter as best they could when the storm should break upon them; others had less foresight, but both the one and the other were submerged.

 

As regards the Catholic portion of the population, many of them had come from abroad both before and during the period now under consideration, nearly all being poor and depending on their chances. Churches had to be provided for them or many of them would be lost to religion, while they had nothing as yet to contribute toward their erection. Many orphans were thrown on the charity of the diocese and had to be provided for both spiritually and temporally; and heavy debts had, as a consequence, to be contracted. For these reasons it is not at all a matter of surprise—though many priests and even prelates have blamed us, ignorant of the real state of affairs here—that at the crisis we were so deeply in debt. If distance lends enchantment to the view, it often lends delusion as well. And if some priests were imprudent in going too far in the erection of elegant buildings, where others costing much less would have equally served all practical purposes, only a part of the blame is to be laid at their doors. Those in authority and their advisers should have seen that a day of reckoning must inevitably come, and should as a prudent safeguard have adopted and enforced a conservative policy; but on the contrary, they themselves set the example in more instances than one by unnecessary extravagance in churches and other buildings. Pastors and church committees are not supposed to have the experience of those who are appointed to govern them; and in those days when debts were carried on notes in the banks the interest was as a rule not less than eight and in some instances as high as twelve per centum, and renewals of the notes were required at the farthest every four months. This consumed an amount of the current income that can easily be imagined and the result was that when the crisis came, it was indeed a crisis. I know that I am anticipating but I think necessary; the matter will be dealt with more in detail when we come to treat of that period of our diocesan history.

 

The outlook in the fall of 1873 was in the last degree discouraging, and indeed alarming in some quarters. Banks regarded as solid were breaking by the dozen; long standing business firms were going under; men supposed to be wealthy were going into bankruptcy; the hard earned dollars of the laborers and tradesmen were lost in insolvent banks; and strong and willing men stood round the factories or wharves, or wandered through the streets in the vain hope of securing a little work to support their destitute families. I was in a position to know these things from painful, personal observation, having been appointed pastor of the Point one of the poorest districts of the city, in January, 1874; and my shallow purse had often to go to bed on an empty stomach, and still pity the numbers it could not relieve. It is little wonder then, that so many churches and other religious institutions of the diocese were driven to the wall, and found it almost impossible to carry their heavy burdens. But what, it may be asked, has this to do with Father Treacy? A great deal.

 

Bishop Domenec, though a man of learning, zeal and piety, was not possessed of business abilities of a very high order, and he soon began to feel that he was not equal to the situation, and could not command the confidence of either the clergy or the moneyed men to any great extent; and the result was that his life became almost a torture to him. I was frequently in conversation with him, and had ample opportunities of knowing his mind. At length he determined to seek relief, and accordingly set out for Rome on November 5, 1875. His intentions were not known except perhaps to a very few, if any, further than that he was very much opposed to the building of the new episcopal residence, a matter that will be treated at length in the sketch of Very Rev. John Hickey; and he frequently declared that he would never live in it. Soon word was received that the diocese had been divided, and that a new one had been established, with Allegheny as its Episcopal See. As the details became known it was found that the division had been made on January 11, 1876, that Bishop Domenec had been transferred to the new See at his own request, and that Very Rev. John Tuigg, rector of St. John's Church, Altoona, and v'car-forane of the diocese, had been promoted to Pittsburgh. The bishop had great influence with Cardinal Simione of the Propaganda, and he acted without his intention being known, or the division would not have been made without some delay and investigation, and perhaps not at all, or at least on different lines. But the dividing line was so manifestly "crooked", literally and figuratively, that it required a prophet with very little inspiration to see that it could not stand. The new bishop was consecrated and the other transferred on March 19th. And now trouble began in earnest; it is not the intention, however, to enter here into any detailed account of the general affairs of the diocese, but only to remark on them in so far as may be necessary to place the part which Father Treacy was called upon or compelled to act in its proper light.

 

Father Treacy, during the quarter of a century of his ministry, had been one of the most beloved and respected priests of the diocese; a man of unblemished character against whom not a whisper of reproach could be uttered. Even as a young priest he had been chosen by Bishop O'Connor to go to Ireland with Rev. John Walsh, as we have seen, to collect for the new cathedral; he had also frequently been employed in other important diocesan business; had for years been a member of the bishop's council; and still more, his name is said to have been one of the three that were sent to Rome for the mitre of Pittsburgh with that of Father Tuigg and another. For years he had been struggling with a heavy debt, owing to the circumstances of the congregation already referred to, and the setting in of the panic; but a far darker cloud now began to overshadow his path, with the placing of the mitre on Bishop Tuigg's head; a cloud which portended a storm that was destined to wreck his unhappy life. In order to arrive at a correct understanding of the whole matter it will be necessary for us to premise at some length; but this will embody a number of important points relating to our history at that time.

 

It was some time before this that the organization known as the Molly Maguires was creating trouble in the anthracite mining regions of northeastern Pennsylvania; and inasmuch as they were, it was said, connected with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, it was believed, or affected to be believed by many, that the two organizations were the same, although this was certainly not the case. Many of the older Irish priests held to it; but among the prelates of the country there was perhaps greater diversity of opinion than among any other class of persons. Bishop Domenec favored the Hibernians and they went to Holy Communion in a body more than once in the cathedral, while Bishop O'Hara of Scranton and Bishop Mullen of Erie were strongly opposed to them. Bishop Tuigg modeled or tried to model his administration as he declared, after that of the Bishop of Erie; but he had neither the learning, the prudence, the breadth of view nor the calm judgment of that prelate. The Emerald Benevolent Association was another organization that was right strong in and about Pittsburgh, with which Bishop Domenec did not interfere, but which a small number of priests regarded with an unfriendly eye, although just for what reason they never deigned to state definitely. If members wished to indulge in a little Masonic mimicry, like some favored societies among us at present, let them have it so. While nothing was ever proved against them, they were condemned simply because they were branches of societies supposed to be inimical to religion and the public good. Both of them are existing at the present day and are not known to be doing any harm, although they do not differ from what they then were. Under the administration of Bishop O'Connor and Bishop Domenec, Father Treacy's conduct was not looked upon with disfavor, much less was it censured; but immediately upon the entering of Bishop Tuigg on the administration of the diocese, he was regarded as the champion and leader of organizations inimical to the best interests of religion and society. From his home on the hill he could contemplate on the far side of the river a bishop under whose administration he had lived and labored for more than fifteen years, had pursued a fine of action that was regarded with favor, had been a trusted counsellor in the ruling of the diocese, and had been treated with such honor that his name had even been sent to Rome as that of a priest who was thought worthy of the mitre in the diocese where he had stood before the religious and civil public with an unblemished character for a quarter of a century ; while on the near side of the same stream he could contemplate the successor of his late bishop no sooner occupying the vacant throne, than he who had not changed his policy, but was pursuing it with the same consciousness of right, was immediately subjected to a persecution such as few priests have had to endure in the history of this country, and one which forced him to retire from the diocese and brought him down broken-hearted to his grave.

 

It would be impossible for me in the space at my disposal, and also inexpedient, to enter into a detailed account of the circumstances attending the closing years of Father Treacy's ministry in the diocese of Pittsburgh; a few salient points will only be touched on, and I will leave it to others to draw the conclusions. When Bishop Tuigg assumed the administration of the diocese of Pittsburgh Father Treacy had been pastor of St. Bridgid's for nearly twenty-three years, having received the little unfinished church from the hands of the future bishop himself. We have glanced at his labors, difficulties and privations there during the greater part of that time; and while it is not claimed nor can it be said that he labored or suffered more than many another, underwent these as they did, in a manner worthy of the appreciation and commendation of his superiors ; and approved himself in the most proper manner to both Bishop O'Connor and Bishop Domenec who found in these a fitting reason for placing greater confidence in him and esteeming him more highly. The question then, will naturally and logically present itself, "'Why did not the same line of conduct commend itself to Bishop Tuigg, at least until he had time and opportunity to familiarize himself with his new surroundings and inquire into the situation?" Father Treacy had not changed his line of action in any particular, and it was never asserted or maintained that he had; and yet Bishop Tuigg entirely changed and reversed the policy of both his predecessors in less than a month after his consecration, although he possessed a smaller measure of both learning and experience than either of them.

 

Father Treacy was not gifted with more than ordinary financial or business ability, but he made the best use he knew how of what had been bestowed on him, and no one could do more, or be expected to do more. For years he had lived in a little room in the church, to which the youngest priest ordained in our day would seriously object; and during the rest of his pastorate he occupied a rented house; he had the Sisters who taught the school come from the orphan asylum near by, instead of building them a convent; and when he was forced to build a church for the accommodation of his increasing congregation, it was, though neat, only a plain, substantial edifice with little attempt at architectural effect, and all this to keep down the debt of his congregation and the high rates of interest that would have to be paid on loans or a mortgage. At the same time not a few priests who had not been half as long on the mission were building and were encouraged to build, costly congregational edifices of various kinds, which had, before the debt on them was finally liquidated, to pay as much if not more in interest than the original buildings cost; and the new episcopal residence, if I am not very much mistaken was one of them. Yet Father Treacy, whose study was to keep down his debt, was the very one who was persecuted for not managing things better; and had his accounts even called in question, though nothing was ever proven against him. So far was this carried that he made a successful appeal to the higher ecclesiastical tribunals. Had he been possessed of the qualities of another priest whom the bishop encountered about the same time, as will appear in its proper place, the result would have been far different.

 

It may be as well here to correct, once for all, an erroneous impression that was generally entertained throughout the country at that time regarding the diocese of Pittsburgh, and especially the clergy laboring zealously in it. The reports that were not only permitted to circulate, but were purposely given out, made the diocese appear bankrupt, and the clergy, or at least the greater body of them rebels against ecclesiastical authority. The diocese was certainly in financial straits, as far as not a few churches and institutions were concerned, owing to the stringency of the times; but it was very far from being bankrupt; and the issue proved that the statements with regard to both the clergy and the finances were false, although many of the former had to suffer sorely. I was in a position to know the facts. Long before the elevation of Bishop Tuigg to the See of Pittsburgh, during his whole active administration of it, and long after, I was pastor of St. Mary of Mercy's Church, which stood nearer to the cathedral than any other in the diocese; was on very familiar terms with both bishops, and frequently conversed with them on diocesan affairs; was for a long time president of the Catholic Institute, the forerunner of the Duquesne University. With all these opportunities and many others of arriving at the correct knowledge of affairs, I can state with perfect truth that nothing could be more unjust or farther from the truth, than to charge the priests of the diocese of Pittsburgh with fomenting or encouraging the troubles with which the church in our diocese was disturbed during those years. It is entirely wrong that a devoted body of priests should have their names go down in our country's church history as rebels and malcontents, when to my certain knowledge and that of all correctly informed persons, the very opposite was the case. Yet we were so regarded by the majority of both prelates and priests in this country who knew of our troubles; and, if I am correctly informed, even Rome itself for a time at least entertained the same opinion of us. But it was the priests of the diocese rather than the bishops who saved religion in those unhappy times. Had the clergy as a body, as they were falsely represented, forgotten their proper place and duty, there is no telling what the extent of the evil might have been. But they did not. They were as a matter of course deeply interested as persons having the good of religion and the honor of the diocese at heart; and being men of education they must have views and opinions, if they had minds at all; but they had the spirit of their sacred calling and as far as it was possible kept the even tenor of their way; although all this time they felt that all they held dear, their priestly character, was being ignorantly or maliciously assailed on every side, and most probably even before the throne of Peter. There were not ten priests of this large diocese actively engaged in the troubles then grieving the heart of Holy Mother Church; and nearly all of these were in it either from necessity or with reluctance. I know the efforts that were made to entangle me in the troubles and the prudence and tact I had to exercise to steer clear. Let justice be done and the truth be known.

 

In the next place there were certain societies to which the bishop took exception; although on general principles he was opposed to nearly all societies of Catholics that were not strictly religious. His special objections, however, were against the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Emerald Beneficial Association. In this he was in accord with a number of priests and bishops, although others held different views, while Bishop Domenec tacitly if not openly favored both. The latter society is no longer heard of among us, and when the case of the former was sent to Rome, though not from the diocese of Pittsburgh, and was subjected to the careful scrutiny with which the supreme authority of the Church treats such questions, the answer came back that the members of the order were not to be disquieted. A short time before Bishop Tuigg's consecration Father Treacy had been elected chaplain of the Emeralds, whether with his knowledge or not, I am unable to say, for such things were then and are now occasionally done without consulting the person interested; but it was merely an honorary office, and he was never called upon and never did perform any ceremony for the organization; and it is doubtful whether he ever attended one of their meetings. Father Treacy was, however, regarded as the champion of these two at least. The Bishop issued a private circular to the clergy of the diocese almost immediately after his consecration, forbidding them to recognize by any official act any society being a branch of anyone out of the parish, or itself having any such branches. And on October 22, 1877, he issued another treating of several points, from which the following is taken: "3. You will not by any official act, in the church or elsewhere, recognize as Catholic any society or association that has not received episcopal approval, or the approval of which was at any time questioned. This approval must be in writing when the society or association has any branch outside of your congregation, or is itself a branch of another society or association." Both the Hibernians and the Emeralds existed and were recognized in the diocese long before the consecration of the bishop, and were regarded favorably by his predecessor. He required Father Treacy to publish a card in certain of the newspapers resigning the position of chaplain of the Emeralds, which he immediately did, stating in it that he had done so by order of the bishop; and it appeared, among others, in the Catholic Journal April 22, just one month after the bishop's consecration. The bishop was displeased that he stated it had been done in obedience to his superior's command, although it was true, and there would have been no occasion for it but for such command. Within a couple of weeks after this time, the members belonging to St. Bridget's Congregation wished to go to Holy Communion in a body; but whether they informed their pastor or not, does not appear, although from all I have been able to learn, they did not, for in all probability the private circular was not known to them; and in any case when they appeared at the altar railing without any uniform, regalia or other insignia, it would have been difficult for any priest to have refused them Holy Communion, when as yet no public document had at all dealt with their organization. Be all this as it may. Father Treacy was called to account as being guilty of disobedience, and was required to make an apology to his people from the altar, which he promptly did, stating that his conduct had been regarded as an act of insubordination, but that while he had acted in good faith, still he wished to make a public acknowledgment of his error. The bishop was not, however, satisfied with this, and demanded of him whether he had not acted out of contempt of authority, presenting him at the same time with a paper to that effect, which he commanded the priest to sign, and which it was his expressed intention to publish in The Catholic Journal and The Evening Leader. But when he had read it he refused to sign it, because the statement it contained was untrue, because he owed to his own priestly dignity not to damage his character in such a manner untruly before his people and the public, and because, if he had disobeyed the orders of his superior, it was only before his own people, to whom he had already made an apology. He then asked permission to withdraw from the diocese, which was refused for the present.

 

The third cause of trouble was The Catholic Journal. For a long time many of the priests and people were dissatisfied with the Catholic paper of the diocese on account of its lack of a progressive spirit; and laymen and non-Catholics, among the latter Mr. John W. Pittock, the founder and principal stockholder of The Sunday and The Evening Leader, were impressed with the necessity of a paper of a more progressive character, and were ready to start one, as we shall see, if they could secure the approval of the church authorities. The matter was frequently discussed among many of the priests and the leading laymen, and Bishop Domenec was well-known to be very much in favor of it. At the semi-annual conference to the clergy, held at the cathedral in October, 1873, the bishop expressed his desire of founding a Catholic paper, like a German one then published, that should, after paying a reasonable dividend to the stockholders, donate any surplus to the orphan asylum. With that object in view he appointed a committee of three priests to take the preliminaries in hand composed of the late Very Rev. Stephen Wall then rector of the seminary, another priest since deceased and myself, and report as soon as convenient. After making inquiries and holding a few meetings they came to the conclusion that it was inexpedient at the present time owing to the opposition of some of the older priests and the financial condition of the times. Some time in the following year Father Treacy started a weekly Catholic paper on his own responsibility, but with the knowledge and consent of the bishop, which he named The Hibernian, not, as will appear, because it was published in the interest of the Hibernians but because of his strong personal sympathy with his countrymen across the water, and because the name would make it appeal to the Irish Catholics in this country. But he found it impossible to do the writing and manage the whole undertaking himself, or with the assistance of such writers as might volunteer an occasional article; and for that reason he determined to associate a number of priests with himself, and continued it under a more general name as a Catholic weekly. To this end he invited a number of them to meet him and discuss the matter, which they did on April 28, 1875; and soon eight of them, of whom I was one, united with him as joint owners and editors. Strangely as their action was misunderstood and misinterpreted, one of the principal objects they had in view was to prevent the paper from falling into the hands of the Hibernians, who were anxious to purchase it and make the organ of their order. This showed the propriety of changing the name, and with the first issue of the following September it appeared as The Catholic Journal. It met with the approval of Bishop Domenec who was much pleased with it, and on the 9th of October appeared his letter of commendation couched in the following terms:

 

"We have read with pleasure the numbers of The Catholic Journal, which is edited by several competent priests of the Pittsburgh diocese. We have been much pleased with the matter it contained and its Catholic tone. Moreover, being convinced that its perusal will be of much benefit to the Catholic community, therefore, we recommend it to the faithful of our diocese. M. Domenec, Bishop of Pittsburgh."

 

Soon after a few laymen were associated with the priests the better to manage the temporal affairs of the company, some of whom were members of the societies to which Bishop Tuigg afterward objected, and others were not; but Bishop Domenec took no cognizance of this circumstance. At the first semi-annual conference of the priests of the diocese under the new administration, held June 20, 1876, the bishop, among other things—I quote from my daily journal—"referred to the Journal, calling it the organ of the societies, and saying that its control had passed into the hands of laymen some of whom were not the best. He told the priests who contributed to cease to do so, to withdraw their names, and to get their money out of it the best way they could." In the first place, the Journal was never the organ of the societies, and it published less news of societies than the two papers that are published in Pittsburgh now do; in the second place, the laymen wrote very little if any for it; and in the third place, it is certainly new doctrine that a Catholic paper could not be in the hands of laymen. The Pittsburgh Catholic, which the bishop favored, although it is the second oldest Catholic paper in the United States, has been in the hands of laymen since it started and to this day, and so have many papers in the land—and out of it for that matter—and it has never been thought amiss. No priest in any way connected with The Catholic Journal ever, in that connection, disobeyed the expressed wish, much less the orders of Bishop Tuigg in the slightest degree, which was their duty; and when he told them publicly at the conference to discontinue writing for that paper they immediately did so; but two of them, of whom I was one and Father Treacy was not the other, presented an address to the bishop stating that the Journal had received the written approval of the bishop of the diocese which had been published in its columns for months, and was still pubUshed; and this after those laymen had been associated with the original stockliolders ; that the paper had not changed its pohcy in any way; that the priests who were conducting it had their priestly character and their money at stake; that they had labored honorably in the diocese for years; and that they respectfully requested him to reconsider his decision. He received the request, thanked those who presented it for its respectful tone, and modified his decision so far as to permit the priests to continue writing for the paper, provided they did not publish any news about the objectionable societies. The representatives of the Journal promptly consented, but asked if notices of the meetings of these societies could not be inserted as paid advertisements; but the bishop absolutely refused, and again the paper complied without hesitation or protest. No paper of that day, or probably any other day, except perhaps The Lake Shore Visitor, of Erie, ever dreamed of excluding notices of Catholic societies, and these had not been proven not to be such, or of being called to account for inserting them; on the contrary, they were and still are glad to furnish such desirable information to the members and to the Catholic public. It is hard to imagine a Catholic paper refusing such information as the spirit and tenor of our times amply demonstrates.

 

Although the Journal was favorably regarded by the majority of the clergy, by Bishop Domenec, and by the public, and would have been a credit and help to rehgion, its life was a constant struggle under the new administration, and it was forced to suspend December 9, 1876. Numbers of influential Catholic laymen were anxious to see a progressive paper in this part of the state, and would have gladly bought it out, had it not been for the opposition of the bishop; and Mr. John W. Pittock spoke on several occasions to the stockholders about purchasing it, and was anxious to do so, managing the financial department and leaving the editorial part entirely under the supervision of the ecclesiastical authorities; but he saw that it could not succeed without the approval of the bishop. He was a very live newspaper man, as we have seen, was successful in everything he undertook, and was in earnest almost to enthusiasm in his desire to own a good Catholic paper. But the openly expressed determination of the bishop was the suppression of the Journal. Under Bishop Domenec the priests who started and conducted the paper had exercised their liberty and were commended and encouraged for it; under his successor they had suffered humihation and loss while they were laboring on in the cause of religion with pure consciences and without change of poHcy. A circumstance is worthy of note in this place. Not long after the Journal suspended publication, and during the administration of Bishop Tuigg the Emeralds started a paper of their own as the organ of a Cathohc society, called The Emerald Vindicator, for which certain priests wrote, although I was in no way whatever connected with it and no objections were made to it. But the Journal was suppressed. Father Treacy had been forced to withdraw from the diocese, and the bishop had most probably heard from Rome.

 

The better to carry the debt on his church Father Treacy, like a few others, discontinued the parochial school in the summer of 1876. For a little more than a year longer he struggled with the difficulties that were besetting him on every side, and near the end of 1877 he retired broken-hearted from a diocese which he had chosen as his field of labor in early manhood, in which he had labored for more than a quarter of a century and whose mitre he was thought worthy to wear by those who knew him best.

 

Those who knew Bishop Tuigg best, and I among them, believed that while his manner was harsh at times, he was still doing what he thought was best for the cause of religion in general and for the diocese in particular. But he was at a disadvantage in several respects. He had a very strong will, lacked the faculty of adapting himself to circumstances, was not fertile in resources, was prone to measure and treat all persons and circumstances according to the same rule, and was not given to consulting persons of experience to any great extent. He had a fair education and training for a parish priest of the time, but nothing more, and was fairly up in business matters. But he lacked experience. When he was appointed to Altoona in the early years of his ministry, the congregation was very small, and as families were constantly being added to it, his strength of character moulded them according to his own ideas, so that his experience in governing was limited, being little more than his own individual will. The town owed its origin and prosperity to the Pennsylvania Railroad, on which nearly all the men were employed in different capacities, and from which the remainder almost entirely drew their trade; he knew what each person earned and what he thought such person should contribute to religion; and he was on such terms with the officials of the different departments that he had most of the contributions handed over to him at the periodical payments from the paymaster's office, a custom which was in vogue in a number of other places similarly circumstanced. The employees knew that it was to their interests to comply with his wishes. In the erection of his parochial buildings, too, he got special rates on the transportation of material on the railroad, which was no small item. The importance of the place and the growth of the congregation soon put him on an equal footing with the older priests of the surrounding country, and the younger ones soon learned to fear him, as instances that I could easily relate would amply prove, especially after he became a member of the bishop's council, and later vicar-forane. It will be seen from this that he had really no practical experience in ruling in any broad sense of the term. A diocese cannot be ruled like a congregation; and every successful priest will not make a successful bishop. And here his dealings with the subject of this sketch w411 be dropped; but it was deemed necessary to say so much in the interest of historic truth, which is not and cannot always be a placid ocean on which to sail.

 

It was the first intention of Father Treacy to enter the archdiocese of Boston where he had a number of friends, although Bishop Domenec wanted him to attach himself to the diocese of Allegheny so as not to make his departure arouse too much feeling; but he concluded to go to Chicago which he did, and soon after entered on the mission in a small town not far from that city with one or more stations attached. But he was now about fifty years of age, and his health which had never been the best even from his student days, was now broken by labors and trials. It was pitiable to see him, when he visited his people here some time after, go into the sacristy of a neighboring church to hear Mass on Sunday; and again, when his very aged father died, who had lived with him for many years, go into a pew as a layman at the funeral. His health became so impaired about the end of 1892 that he was forced to retire from the active exercise of the ministry, and he came to Pittsburgh and stayed for some time with his relations. He seldom visited any of his clerical friends, although they visited him frequently. He then went to Philadelphia, where he spent some time with a brother; but returned to Pittsburgh where he stopped with his brother Dr. John P. Treacy. His health was all this time becoming more enfeebled and his spirit was broken; and here he laid down his heavy cross on the 8th of November, 1898, in the 71st year of his age and the 47th of his priesthood. His funeral took place from St. Bridgid's Church, and his remains were laid to rest in St. Mary's Cemetery.

 

Father Treacy was tall, well proportioned, of a pleasing and sociable disposition, though somewhat timid or backward in his manner. He was possessed of a very large fund of general knowledge, was a pleasing and persuasive speaker, was a very active laborer in the cause of his divine Master, and was enthusiastic in all that related to his native land. The important part which he took in the affairs of religion in the diocese has already been referred to. As a writer Father Treacy contributed largely to Catholic periodicals, and also wrote a number of pieces of poetry, especially one of considerable length, entitled "Sketches of Irish Faith and Patriotism", which is a work of considerable merit, and would doubtless have appeared in book form had it not been that the author was of too timid a disposition. Parts of it appeared in The Catholic Journal. Few priests in the diocese of Pittsburgh have been held in higher esteem than Rev. James Treacy.

Lambing, Andrew Arnold (1914) Brief Biographical Sketches of the Deceased Bishops and Priests who Labored in the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Earliest Times to the Present, with an Historical Introduction.

 

 

Rev. James Treacy

 

Rev. James Treacy, Pastor of St. Patrick's Church at Dixon, is one of the most learned, zealous and worthy upholders of the Catholic faith in the State of Illinois. His birthplace is in County Cork, Ireland, and lie is a son of John and Bridget (Noonan) Treacy, who were also born in County Cork. His paternal grandmother died in the city of Cork at the remarkably advanced age of one hundred and three years. His father was prosperously engaged in the mercantile business in his native county until 1853, when he came to America, and spent the remainder of his days in Pittsburg. Pa., where lie died at the venerable age of ninety-four years. The parents of our subject reared ten children, who were given liberal educational advantages, and two of the sons are doctors and one is an attorney. Father Treacy early became a pupil in the schools of his native place, and subsequently his education was advanced under the supervision of the Lazarist Fathers in the city of Cork. He came to the United States in 1849 and entered St. Michael's Seminary at Pittsburg, in which institution of learning he remained two or three years, preparing himself for the sacred office of the priesthood, and he then finished his studies in St. Mary's Seminary at Baltimore, where he was under the instruction of the Rev. Father Varot, later Bishop of Florida, and of Father Freddot, the distinguished moral theologian and author. Thus well prepared for the duties that lay before him in the life that he had chosen, our subject was ordained by the late Archbishop Kendrick, of Baltimore, and was appointed assistant pastor of St. Patrick's Church and Chapel, and of Mercy Hospital at Pittsburg. He occupied that position one year, and then was placed in charge of the building of St. Bridget's Church. He remained a resident of Pittsburg until 1878, and the church there found in him a noble and earnest worker, who threw his whole soul into his labors, and was an ardent champion of whatsoever tended to elevate the community and the status of its citizens, making the cause of the unfortunate and the suffering his own. It was while he was at Pittsburg that the Bishops and Archbishops of the church in council at Baltimore received a dispatch from Cardinal Barnnbo, of Rome, representing the will of the Pope, instructing the assembled council in the most emphatic terms to espouse the cause of the colored man in the most practical manner. This order, promulgated from the head of the Church of Rome, found response in the heart of our subject, and he was one of the first to move in the good work of helping the negro to an education, and to the benefit of the Roman Catholic religion. He built a church and school for the colored people of Pittsburg at a cost of $10,- 000, the school being taught by the Sisters of Mercy. He officiated in the pulpit, and had a colored choir and colored altar boys. He was very successful in his work in other directions, especially among the poorer and more abandoned class, the outcasts of a great manufacturing city. This work was performed by Father Treacy under adverse circumstances it not being popular at that time, but owing to the vast amount of good resulting from it, it has become popular. While in Pittsburg Father Treacy was a member of the Bishops' Council, and held the offices of Chancellor and Secretary. He was also a member of the Orphan Seminary and Cemetery Boards. In the midst of his many arduous duties he found some time to devote to literacy work as an author and as editor of a Catholic journal, first called the Hibernian, and later the Catholic Journal, in which he had a half interest. He prepared two works for publication, which are of great merit, but owing to ill health, brought on by a too close application to his duties, and to the change of scene necessitated thereby, he has not yet given them to the world. One of them is a poem, containing upwards of fifteen thousand lines, illustrative of the glories of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1878 our subject was obliged to abandon his labors in Pittsburg, as his failing health and flagging energies warned him that he must seek to restore his physical powers elsewhere. He removed to Chicago, where he joined his old-time friend, Bishop Foley. He was appointed to attend to the missions at New Dublin, Lena, Apple River and Elizabethtown, and after a short time was sent to look after the church at Rochelle. He remained there six years, and was then appointed to take charge of St. Patrick's Church at Dixon, one of the leading churches of the Catholic faith in Northern Illinois. By his good works and by the example of a pure life guided by lofty principles of right, he has gained the sincere respect and esteem even of the members of other Christian denominations, and has been an influence for much good in the community. Father Treacy looks after the spiritual welfare of three hundred families, including the Catholic societies at Harmon and Ashton. His church at Dixon was founded more than thirty years ago by Father McDermott. In 1887 the original structure in which services were held was partially burned, the walls remaining intact, and the present house of worship is composed of the walls of the original edifice. It is a handsome brick building, of an appropriate style of architecture, and cost, with its rich furnishings, $18,000.

Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States (1892)

 

 

John Patrick Treacy

 

John Patrick Treacy, M.D. Physician was born in Mallon [Mallow] county, Cork, Ireland. His parents were John and Bridget Treacy, both of Ireland. His early education he received in a private school in his native place. In 1855, he came with his parents to this country, and was placed in the National School, and St. Francis College of Cambria county, Pennsylvania. Upon the completion of his studies, he entered, in 1857, the office of Dr. George McCook, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Under the tuition of this able practitioner, he rapidly acquired a thorough acquaintance with the requirements of the medical profession, and, meanwhile, attended a course of lectures in the same city. Subsequently, he attended lectures at the Medical University of New York, and graduated in March, 1861. Upon this occasion he received an honorary diploma, not often conferred upon graduates. In the fall of 1861, he was appointed Surgeon of the Dupont Powder Works, at Wilmington, Delaware, in which position he remained until the fall of 1863. He was then appointed Surgeon of the Tilton Hospital, in Wilmington, Delaware. Subsequently, he abandoned his position as Surgeon and resumed his practice as a private physician. Upon leaving Wilmington, in 1869, he moved to Pittsburgh, and since then has resided in that city, attending to the needs of a large and remunerative practice. He is connected with the Hibernian newspaper, and is noted for his ability, his energy and his many valuable attainments.

The biographical encyclopædia of Pennsylvania of the nineteenth century. Galaxy publishing company, Philadelphia, 1874.

 

James Richard Treacy

 

James R. Treacy, bottler, was born in the first ward, Pittsburg, Nov. 12, 1S63, and has spent the greater part of his life in that city. After receiving a primary education in Pittsburg, he spent two years, 1880-82, at St. Francis' college at Loretto, Pa., and then became clerk in a queensware store in Pittsburg, remaining in this position about seven years. After this he spent a year in the employ of a Pittsburg brokerage firm, and in 1895 was appointed Chinese inspector, by John G. Carlisle. In the performance of the duties of this position he spent six months in Minneapolis and a similar period in Grand Forks, N. D., and then, on Nov. I, 1896, resigned and returned to Pittsburg, where he has since engaged successfully in the bottle business. Although not actively interested in politics, Mr. Treacy believes in the principles advocated by the democratic party, and formerly served for four years as school director from the first ward. He is a member of the Elks and in religious belief is a Catholic.

Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: personal and genealogical, Vol. 1

 

 

Last update: 24 April 2014