The following is from the Tioga County Historical Society's reprint of the 1883 History of Tioga County Pennsylvania,1
Rev P J Murphy, of Blossburg, officiates at the Catholic church.
... Temperance Societies -- The Catholic Total Abstinence Society was organized in Jun 1874, with Michael W Ryan president, who held the office about nine months and was succeeded by James Cleary, who has annually been re-elected since. The present officers are: James Cleary, president; P F Ryan, recording secretary; Michael McCarthy, financial secretary; Hugh Kerwin, treasurer. It numbers about 40 members, and has connected with it a cadet association of about 35 members. The association occupies furnished rooms and is a source of much good.
Catholic Knights of America -- Father Matthew Branch, No 196, was organized November 3d, 1881. It is a benevolent and social institution. The family of a deceased member receives $2,000.
The dispensation to work was granted to Michael F McCarty, Thomas M McCarty, Edward Ryan, Daniel Collins, James McCreddie, Cornelius Sullivan, Timothy Donahue, Dennis Keough, Charles Gallagher and Garret Brown.
The present officers are: James McCreddie, president; Michael McCarty, financial secretary; Thomas McCarty, recording secretary; Garret Brown, treasurer. The meetings are held in the same room with those of the C T A society.
...Patrick Bannon, a native of Ireland, came to Blossburg from Schuylkill county in 1841. He early learned the trade of a moulder, but soon took up mining. Previous to his settlement in Blossburg he had been engaged in putting down slopes and superintending the work about collieries in Schuylkill county. He was married to Miss Joana Lonergan of Pottsville in 1839. While in Blossburg he has been engaged in exploring for coal, mining, and work connected with the mines. He was one of the school directors when the union school-house was erected in Blossburg, and also assisted in preparing the foundation for the Catholic church in 1850. Mr Bannon is a public spirited gentleman. He built the place where he now resides, known as Bannon's block.
Bernard Murray was a native of Ireland and came to America in 1827, landing in Quebec. He immediately went to Schuylkill county, and came to Blossburg in 1839. He purchased about that time fifty acres of land in the township of Union, in the Irish settlement, now owned by James A Decoursey. He worked in and about the mines at Blossburg, and was familiarly known as "Uncle Barney." The hill on the east of Blossburg, now known as "Barney's Hill," was named in honor of him. He was a shrewd, witty and warm hearted man. He died December 26th 1868, aged 72 years, and is buried in the Catholic cemetery at Blossburg. His children are: Mary, widow of James Hurley, of Ward; Joseph, of Antrim; Colonel Bernard A, of Blossburg; Thomas, of Illinois; and John, of McIntyre. His widow resides with her son Colonel B A Murray, of Blossburg. She is highly respected for her many kind deeds in days gone by.
... A directory of the business in Blossburg in 1862 would read like this: ... Rev Father S Somers, of St Andrews Catholic Church.
... St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church -- St Andrew's congregation was organized in 1841, and then consisted of twenty members. They held their first services in one of the public halls. Rev John O'Reilly, of St Joseph's, Susquehanna county, Pa, was appointed by Bishop Kendrick of Philadelphia to attend Blossburg and other missions. A circuit of sixty miles was his ordinary field of duty, and this zealous priest frequently encountered opposition and ill treatment. This state of things was soon changed by his pious works, winning eloquence and exalted virtues. Liberal donations were made toward building a church by Mr Calket, of Philadelphia, and Hon Horatio Seymour, of Utica, NY. The foundation trenches were dug by Patrick Bannon, James Mooney, Thomas Dissing and Simon Golden, on 9th of October 1850. In January 1851 the corner stone was laid by Bishop Kendrick. Rev F Ahern at that time had pastoral charge of the mission. The contract for building the church was awarded to John L Evans, of Blossburg. It was a plain wooden edifice, 50 by 30.
The first resident pastor was Rev Francis Maguire, who also attended at Troy, Union, and other missions. Many of these missions have become separate parishes with churches and pastors of their own. Father Maguire was succeeded in 1862 by the Rev Francis McCarty, and the Rev John Laughlin was appointed pastor in October 1864. In June 1866 Rev Michael Murphy took charge of the parish. In 1869 Bishop O'Hara, of Scranton, appointed Rev Gerald McMurray rector of Blossburg and missions. The church edifice proving too small, he undertook the erection of an addition of fifty feet, in which he was successful. Afterward he built the present pastoral residence, at a cost of $2,000.
In July 1872 Rev John Wynn was appointed pastor and Rev J C McDermott assistant. During his administration St John's of Fall Brook was built, a structure 50 by 32 feet. Father Wynn died in Blossburg in March 1879, esteemed not only by his own congregation but by all with whom he was acquainted.
The present pastor, Rev P J Murphy, of Blossburg, in addition to St Andrew's also has charge of St John's at Fall Brook, and St Patrick's of Arnot. The church at Arnot was erected in 1880, under the charge of Father Murphy. It is 45 by 28 feet and cost about $1,500. The three churches are free from debt and are valued at $7,000. They are attended by 1,000 communicants and 300 Sunday-school pupils. The church in Union was erected in March 1880, and Father Murphy attends services there.
In connection with these churches there is a valuable cemetery in Blossburg, regularly laid out and neatly cared for.
Polish Catholic Church -- The church edifice, costing about $3,000, was erected in the year 1873. The first minister was Rev A Claveter, succeeded by Rev B Gramlenricz and Rev L Sprysziki. The attendance is quite large and there is a Sunday-school of about 50. The church is in the bishopric of Scranton, Pa, and under Bishop O'Hara. He visited the parish in the summer of 1879.
There has been erected a small school-house, where the children were instructed both in the Polish and English languages. There are communicants of the church who reside in Morris Run and Arnot.
Temperance Organizations -- An organization of the Catholic Total Abstinence and Benevolent Association was effected August 16th 1874, and in November 1875 a petition to the court of common pleas of Tioga county for a charter was granted, and the society was duly incorporated. The petitioners were Michael Ely, James Kelley, William Clohessy, James Kernan, Henry Gilbert, James Conlon, Thomas Brennin, James Maher, Patrick Finnell, Matt Downs, John Cox, William Ward, Daniel Ahern, Edward Bambury, Thomas Ahern, Edmond Ahern, Thomas Tuckey, Stephen Clisham, John Brannigan, Stephen Hiland, E F Shelley and Pat Tahany. The directors for the first year were Patrick McGuire, Charles Condon and Joseph Murray of Antrim; William O'Neil, James Junk and John Dwyer of Fall Brook; James Cleary, Michael Fauls, and John Donahue of Arnot; John Miller, James Conlon, and James Kelley of Blossburg; David Hayes, Morris Supples and Timothy Donavan of Morris Run.
Michael Ely was president of the Association for seven years in succession, and has every time been one of the representatives to national or State conventions. The other representatives have been John J McCarty and Patrick Woods.
Branches of the association have been organized om Fall Brook, Morris Run, Arnot and Antrim. Its members are chiefly Irish, and the influence exerted over this class of our fellow citizens has been salutary. There is nothing prescriptive in its management, but the association rather seeks to win men and women to sobriety by moral suasion.
The association in Blossburg has five rooms, well furnished, and meets every Sunday afternoon. Its membership is now 50. Its present officers are: President, James Kerwin; vice-president, E F Skelley; recording secretary, William Amey; financial secretary, James Hart; corresponding secretary, John Ely.
St John's Catholic Society was organized by Bishop O'Hara, of Scranton, in August 1873. It was a mission and was supplied by Rev Fathers Wynne and McDermott, of Blossburg. In 1873 it had 75 members. It held services monthly, at first in Converse Hall. The congregation and membership increasing, in 1879 Rev John C McDermott was located in Wellsboro, and the title of St Peter's was given to the church. During the year 1881 the old academy and lot were purchased and the academy building remodeled so as to accommodate the wants of the church, at a cost of about $1,200. A parsonage was bought for $1,000, which has been repaired at considerable expense. Several church festivals have been held, and through the untiring energy and good management of Father McDermott the whole property is paid for and the church is out of debt. There are now about 200 communicants. The church and parsonage occupy a pleasant and commanding site on Academy Hill, one of the most desirable locations in the borough. In addition to the ministerial work at Wellsboro, Father McDermott attends churches at Antrim and Tioga, and at the latter place he has within the past eighteen months erected a church at a cost of about $3,000.
A well conducted Sunday-school is connected with the church at Wellsboro, consisting of about 25 scholars, with Miss Lizzie Connelly as chief teacher.
Father McDermott is a gentleman of culture and refinement, and an indefatigable worker in the affairs of the church.
Catholic Church -- In the early history of Antrim monthly meetings were held by Fathers Wynne and McDermott, of Blossburg, which finally resulted in the erection of a church edifice in 1877, David Cooper doing the work. Services are held there regularly by Rev J C McDermott of Wellsboro. Connected with the church is a Sunday-school. There is also a branch of hate C T A S, which maintains a good temperance influence at Antrim. This society was organized in 1874.
Patrick McCormick was the founder of the "Irish Settlement" in Union. He was born May 1st 1809 in the county of Longford, Ireland, and received an education in his native land. He was a tailor until his emigration. In 1835 he married Miss Ann Skelley, of his native country, by whom he had five children -- Michael, who died in Ireland; Matthew, born in Newark, NJ; Margaret and Frank, born in Ralston, Lycoming county; and Ann, born in Union. In 1837 he came to America, landing in Quebec, from whence he went to Newark, NJ, remaining there until 1840, and then removed to Ralston, Lycoming county. In 1841 he bought 500 acres of wild land in the western portion of Union, adjoining the township of Liberty, and composing what is known as the Irish settlement. He subsequently sold to Peter Skelley 65 acres, to Thomas Skelley 66 acres, to Michael Shanley 100 acres, and to two brothers McCormick 50 acres each, reserving the remainder for himself. In 1847 he built a frame house upon his premises. At the time of his death, which occurred in January 1878, he had 90 acres in a good state of cultivation and 60 acres of woodland, with good buildings and all the appointments of a first-class farm. Mr McCormick was an industrious, intelligent and highly respected citizen, reflecting credit upon the land of his nativity and the home of his adoption.
Thomas Decoursey was born in 1800 in Ireland, where he learned shoemaking. He was married in 1821 to Miss Nora Dyer, by whom he has had five children -- Ann, deceased, wife of Dennis Doud; Felix, Matthias, Thomas and James. Mr Decoursey came to America about 1823, and located at Williamsport, Pa. In the fall of 1848 he purchased 50 acres of wild land in the "Irish Settlement" in Union. He commenced immediately to clear up his farm, and built a house and barn of round logs. As soon as he had the 50 acres cleared he bought 57 acres more. He was one of the most energetic and prominent citizens of the township. He was a Democrat to the day of his death, which occurred in November 1870. His son, James A Decoursey now owns the farm, and is following in the footsteps of his respected father.
... Patrick Skelley was born in Ireland in 1826. He came to America about forty years ago and located in the Irish Settlement in the township of Union. He was married in 1857 to Miss Helen Lee, by whom he has eight children -- Peter, Thomas, William, Mary, Ellen, Patrick, Julia and Margaret. He now owns about 150 acres, 70 acres of which are under cultivation, with a new framed house, two barns and a fine orchard. He donated to the township a lot for a school-house, which stands on the northwest corner of his farm. The Catholic church is located near it.
... Peter Skelley was born in London, July 19th 1809, but was brought up in Ireland. He came to America in 1842 an settled on a tract of land where he now resides, in the Irish settlement. After locating he immediately erected a log house and commenced clearing land. For some years he also worked at the Astorville furnace. He now owns about 40 acres of cleared land and 30 of woodland, it being a tract of the German Lutheran lands purchased by him of Mr McCormick. Mr Skelley never married. His sister keeps house for him.
Patrick Wynne was born in county Longford, Ireland, in October 1828. He attended school there and in this country and has devoted much time to study and reading. He came to America in 1842, with his parents, and assisted in clearing a fallow on the premises where he now resides. In 1856 he married Miss Mary King, daughter of a neighboring settler, by whom he has nine children -- Mary, Michael F, Daniel, Kate, John, James, Edward, Mark, and Andrew. Mr Wynne...
The late James Hurley was a man of delicate constitution and feeble health. He settled in Union, in what is known as the Wynne district, forty-four years ago. His wife was Mary, daughter of Bernard Murray of Blossburg, a lady of energy and resolution. They raised a family of ten children. Mr Hurley died in November 1868. Much of the credit of clearing up the farm is due to Mrs Hurley
... Roman Catholic Church -- For a number of years the Catholics in the Irish settlement and other portions of Union had felt the necessity of organizing a church and having a place of worship.
Accordingly a neat little church was built under the direction of Matthew McCormick, John Kinsella, James A Decoursey, building committee, and it was opened for service in March 1880. It is on a lot on the McCormick estate. Rev Patrick J Murphy, of Blossburg, officiates in it.
Catholic Church -- In July 1873 Rev John Wynne, stationed at Blossburg, made an effort to erect a church at Fall Brook, and succeeded in getting pledged among the Catholic brethren and other friends the sum of $1,000. The Fall Brook Coal Company then generously gave him $1,000 more, and this enabled him to enter into a contract with Joseph Hyland, of Blossburg, for the erection of the edifice. On 31st of August 1873 Bishop O'Hara, of Scranton, assisted by Revs Gerald McMurray, John A Wynne, and John McDermott, laid the corner stone with the imposing ceremonies of the Catholic church. The new building was so far completed by Sunday April 26th 1874 that it was then opened for services, Rev Father Garvey, of Williamsport, delivering the opening sermon.
A large and prosperous Sunday-school was sustained for some time, but during the slack times in Fall Brook many families removed, and it was allowed to dwindle away. It is at present kept up. Miss Honora Dwyer, Miss Lucy Junk and Mary Dwyer are now teachers. Rev P J Murphy, of Blossburg, officiates in the church.
The Catholic Church of Tioga was established about the year 1861, by the purchase of the old village schoolhouse, situated on the northwest corner of Center and Walnut streets, as a cost ii is said of about $550. It was dedicated under the pastorship of Rev Father Gogan, and in 1880 was sold to E A Smead, who removed it to the rear of his hardware store; and a fine church was erected at a cost of $2,300, exclusive of the pulpit and seats, which are not yet put in. The church is in charge of Rev Father J C McDermond, who resides at Wellsboro. On Wednesday September 20th 1882 Bishop O'Hara, of Scranton, confirmed 24 converts as members of this church.